Evolution of Languages

Jim Rader jrader at M-W.COM
Mon Aug 16 08:50:57 UTC 1999

People on this list might want to know, if they don't already, that
Merritt Ruhlen is a sort of pop proselytizer of Joseph Greenberg's
ideas about the genetic relationships of the world's language
families--though in confidently reconstructing Proto-World, I think
Ruhlen has gone beyond even Greenberg.  Ruhlen openly sneers at
conventional historical linguistics and those who practice it.  Most
linguists sneer right back at him, though I think it fair to say that
even those who seriously think about long-range comparison don't take
Ruhlen too seriously, and feel that Ruhlen's hostility toward
academia has needlessly antagonized many.  I'm sorry to see that
Ruhlen is still finding fora to advance his ideas.  (For anyone
interested, there's a summary of Ruhlen's methodology and a critique
of it in Larry Trask's _Historical Linguistics_ (London: Arnold,
1996), pp, 391-96.)

Jim Rader

> From the Scout Report
> The Evolution of Languages
> http://www.exploratorium.edu/exploring/
> Another great site from Exploratorium (described in the February 21,
> 1997 Scout Report) The Evolution of Language provides users with
> tools to trace and explore the evolution of the spoken and written
> word. Enhanced by audio interviews with linguist Merritt Ruhlen,
> author of _The Origin of Language: Tracing the Evolution of the
> Mother Tongue_, this simple but well crafted site provides a nice
> jumping off point for those interested in the subject. Several
> exercises and tables help users explore how linguists trace word use
> and creation as well as how they group languages into common
> families. Also included is basic information about the history of
> linguistics and the roots of language classification. [REB]
> --
> Grant Barrett
> World New York
> http://www.worldnewyork.com/

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