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Darwin-L Message Log 4:25 (December 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<4:25>From delancey@darkwing.uoregon.edu  Wed Dec  8 16:42:46 1993

Date: Wed, 8 Dec 1993 14:40:21 -0800 (PST)
From: Scott C DeLancey <delancey@darkwing.uoregon.edu>
Subject: Re: extinction and speciation
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

On Wed, 8 Dec 1993, Terrence Peter McGlynn wrote:

> It appears that the analogy of biological extinction has a tighter fit
> than those of speciation analogies.
>
> The two types of lingual extinction are equivalent to those in evolution,
> although biologists rarely refer to anagenesis as an extinction event,
> even though in effect it is.

Actually, neither do linguists, in my experience.  It sounds really
odd to me to refer to Latin as an extinct language; the
traditional phrase "dead language" sounds much better.

> for consideration: Does gene flow (exchange among groups) have the same
> type of role in evolutionary biology as inter-language exchange has
> in linguistics?

I don't see how it could.  It is more analogous to what's called
"dialect borrowing", i.e. exchange between dialects of one language
or between closely- related languages.  The difference is that you
can get inter-language effects between *any* two (or more) languages
that are in contact, regardless of how similar or dissimilar they
are, and that these can be very fundamental effects that radically
alter the shape and organization of a language.

Scott DeLancey			delancey@darkwing.uoregon.edu
Department of Linguistics
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403, USA

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