Re: Human Language. (long post)

Phillip Bigelow (
Tue, 21 Jan 1997 18:18:24 -0800

MSCob wrote:
> Of course, it's possible that Indo-European was
> extraordinarily primitive and unlike human language today.

Extraordinary primitiveness seems highly unlikely.

> Maurice
> Swadesh suggested back in the 20s or 30s, I think, that the Semitic word
> pattern was a relic of earlier stages of language evolution.

Cladistic analysis on the phylogeny of languages is not at the
level acceptability that it is in the biological sciences.
There are numerous caveats that plague the study.
Among the biggies are:

Possible parallelism;
Possible convergence;
Possible loss and later re-acquistion (and even a later loss, again);
Borrowing (blending);

And the worst problem of all, TIMING. In paleontology,
a factual time-line is established. In linguistics,
one is comparing ONLY extant language types, and *inferring*
a time-line.