Darwin-L Message Log 5:96 (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.

<5:96>From HOLSINGE@UCONNVM.BITNET  Tue Jan 18 12:03:50 1994

Date: Tue, 18 Jan 1994 07:53:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Systematics and linguistics
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Scott DeLancey writes:

> There is no imaginable process that would produce convergence in
> vocabularies.  Similarities in vocabulary beyond what can be expected by
> chance can only reflect common inheritance (i.e. genetic relationship)
> or borrowing.

Now I'm confused.  I suggested the parallel with convergent evolution because
Sally Thomason seemed to suggest that borrowing (hybridization as we biologists
would call it) is extremely limited between distantly related languages.  Her
comments were, as I recall, offered in response to my suggestion that perhaps
linguistic evolution is more reticulate than biological evolution.  She was
arguing (and I *thought* Scott agreed with her) that reticulation wasn't the
correct explanation.  Well, if reticulation isn't the answer, then convergence
is the only alternative I can think of.

What am I missing?

-- Kent

|  Kent E. Holsinger            Internet: Holsinge@UConnVM.UConn.edu |
|  Dept. of Ecology &           BITNET:   Holsinge@UConnVM           |
|    Evolutionary Biology, U-43                                      |
|  University of Connecticut                                         |
|  Storrs, CT   06269-3043                                           |

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