2016-04-13

Blogpost on Monogenesis, Polygenesis, and Militant Agnosticism

Whether language originated once or multiple times is an open question in linguistics. While the question is the topic of multiple discussions, it is usually ignored in classical historical linguistics, where a radical agnosticism is maintained instead. This agnosticism is justified, given the large time gap between the time when we assume that language originated and the time depth we can achieve with our methods for reconstruction. It has, however, strong implications on our methodology, since we are always forced to prove that two or more languages are genetically related before we are allowed to compare them. This is different in biology where the Tree of Life is taken for granted by most scholars. I discuss this question in more detail in a blogpost I wrote for David Morrison's blog The Genealogical World of Phylogenetic Networks and which you may find here.