Darwin-L Message Log 5:97 (January 1994)

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.

<5:97>From CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu  Tue Jan 18 12:56:52 1994

Date: Tue, 18 Jan 94 13:00 CDT
From: Tom Cravens <CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu>
Subject: Re: Systematics and linguistics
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

I've been off list for a month, so have missed much, but here's two
cents worth on lexical resemblance across languages (with apologies for
any repetition of what Scott or Sally may have said).

The alternative to convergence at least (I must admit ignorance of
reticulation) is fortuitous happenstance. Every language has a
limited phonological inventory, and internal constraints on combining
them. The more two language have similarities in inventory and similar
constraints, the more likely it is that words will exist with similar or
identical form, and *very* occasionally, by the purest of accident except in
the case of sound symbolism and such, words with coincident form may turn
out to have similar meaning.

Tom Cravens

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