[An-lang] dialect chains

terrell at fmnh.org terrell at fmnh.org
Sat Jul 26 16:24:47 UTC 2003


The metaphor of the tree was quietly intentionally borrowed by Charles
Darwin from historical linguistics as a clever ploy to help win
acceptance of his concept of descent with modification by means of
natural selection.

See:  Stephen G. Alter (1999) Darwininism and the Linguistic Image.
Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN: 0801858828

John Edward Terrell, PhD
Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60606

-----Original Message-----
From: an-lang-bounces at anu.edu.au [mailto:an-lang-bounces at anu.edu.au] On
Behalf Of Graham Thurgood
Sent: Saturday, July 26, 2003 8:44 AM
To: AN-LANG at anu.edu.au
Subject: [An-lang] dialect chains

Dear all,

    Interesting discussion of dialect chains and subgroups.  Certainly
in my experience with the Chamic languages of Vietnam, Hainan, Sumatra,
and Cambodia, the subgroup as a whole is well-defined on the basis of
shared innovations, but the languages within in the subgroup represent a
dialect chain initially along the coast of Vietnam.  For this, I have
used subgroup (in the sense of Ross's innovation-defined subgroup and
dialect chain for what was originally simply one language stretched out
along a considerable coastal span. More complicated situations, however,
would not be amenable to something so simple.

    A comment on the origins of the tree structure on the basis on
shared innovations: The metaphor seems to have come from the Darwinism
of the time as Bill notes, but the methodology certainly came from the
techniques used for reconstructing the historical paths of various
versions of copied texts, as Piotr notes.

Graham Thurgood

-- Graham Thurgood
gthurgood at csuchico.edu

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