[Fwd: Re: [An-lang] Proto-Dialect chains]

Piotr Gasiorowski piotr.gasiorowski at inetia.pl
Sat Jul 19 19:04:14 UTC 2003

Some linguists (as well as early evolutionary biologists) realised the
importance of shared innovations as early as the 1860s. August
Schleicher's family-tree model was at least partly inspired by Darwin's
theory of evolution (in 1863 he published a book entitled _Die
Darwinsche Theorie und die Sprachwissenschaft_). However, the real
source of the idea that only shared innovations (as opposed to
retentions) could provide evidence of genetic subgrouping was stemmatics
(the study of manuscript affiliation), which developed during the first
half of the nineteenth century. There's a whole collection of articles
devoted to the those interdisciplinary connections:

Hoenigswald, H.M. and Wiener L.F. (eds.). 1987. _Biological Metaphor and
Cladistic Classification: An Interdisciplinary Perspective_.
Philadelphia: U. of Pennsylvania Press.

I have also found this very interesting paper online:


Piotr Gasiorowski
Adam Mickiewicz University
Poznan, Poland

18-07-03 20:02, Isidore Dyen wrote:
> I is my impression that it was Brugmann that first enunciated the
> principle, but I cannot at this moment say where. An active
> Indoeuropeanist should be able to direct you to it. ID
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "William H. Baxter" <wbaxter at umich.edu>
> Date: Friday, July 18, 2003 11:57 am
> Subject: Re: [An-lang] Proto-Dialect chains
>> Can anyone help me find the intellectual pedigree (whether within
>> linguistics or from elsewhere) of the principle that subgroups
>> should
>> be defined by shared innovations?  I think it's a fine principle,
>> but I
>> am puzzled by the fact that some historical linguists take it as a
>> basic assumption (and don't necessarily remember where they got
>> the
>> idea from), while others seem to be unaware of it, or at least
>> fail to
>> apply it.  There seems to be a good deal of variation from
>> subfield to
>> subfield.
>> Specifically, where did this idea originate (in biology, I
>> suspect),
>> who was first to introduce it to linguistics, where, and under
>> what
>> circumstances?
>> Bill Baxter
>> University of Michigan

An-lang mailing list
An-lang at anu.edu.au

More information about the An-lang mailing list