rate of change

manaster at umich.edu manaster at umich.edu
Thu Feb 4 16:18:01 UTC 1999

So Larry and I agree, as we do actually often do.
I am sorry. I think I must have misinterpreted
Larry's earlier posting and thus gotten
a wrong sense of what he was saying.  Thank
you for the clarification.  I WOULD love to
know if you have any feeling about my
probabilistic reinterpretation of Swadesh's
methods (i.e., they can fail abysmally but
not often) and/or about replacing time depth
with some other measure of how complex,
or ramified a lg family is and how difficult
it shouldbe to reconstruct a protolg.

On Thu, 4 Feb 1999, Larry Trask wrote:

> On Tue, 2 Feb 1999 manaster at umich.edu wrote:

> > But there is well-known work on specific rates of specific kinds
> > of change, e.g., the rate at which words are replaced in the
> > 100-item Swadesh list.  We know for certain, even Swadesh
> > towards the end conceded, that this rate is not the same
> > for all languages,  There are examples of the rate being
> > much slower than Swadesh's norm (Icelandic) and ones of it being
> > much faster (Eastern Greenlandic).  This much is or should
> > be widely known.

> Sure.  That was my point.

> If we identifically *one specific type of change*, then we can at least
> approach the problem of trying to measure the rate of that change --
> though not necessarily successfully.

> But this is utterly different from trying to measure the overall rate of
> change -- which is the suggestion I was sismissing.

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