Re: Darwin on cultural evolution

From: Chris Taylor (christ@ebi.ac.uk)
Date: Fri 13 Feb 2004 - 13:33:16 GMT

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    Chuck D is _so_ the man :)

    derek gatherer wrote:

    > Here's a passage from Darwin's Descent of Man 2nd Ed.
    > Chaper 3:
    >
    > "The formation of different languages and of distinct
    > species, and the proofs that both have been developed
    > through a gradual process, are curiously parallel.[Sir
    > C. Lyell in The Geological Evidences of the Antiquity
    > of Man, 1863, chap. xxiii] But we can trace the
    > formation of many words further back than that of
    > species, for we can perceive how they actually arose
    > from the imitation of various sounds. We find in
    > distinct languages striking homologies due to
    > community of descent, and analogies due to a similar
    > process of formation. The manner in which certain
    > letters or sounds change when others change is very
    > like correlated growth. We have in both cases the
    > re-duplication of parts, the effects of long-continued
    > use, and so forth. The frequent presence of rudiments,
    > both in languages and in species, is still more
    > remarkable. The letter m in the word am, means I; so
    > that in the expression I am, a superfluous and useless
    > rudiment has been retained. In the spelling also of
    > words, letters often remain as the rudiments of
    > ancient forms of pronunciation. Languages, like
    > organic beings, can be classed in groups under groups;
    > and they can be classed either naturally according to
    > descent, or artificially by other characters. Dominant
    > languages and dialects spread widely, and lead to the
    > gradual extinction of other tongues. A language, like
    > a species, when once extinct, never, as Sir C. Lyell
    > remarks, reappears. The same language never has two
    > birth-places. Distinct languages may be crossed or
    > blended together.[Rev. F. W. Farrar, in an interesting
    > article, entitled Philology and Darwinism," in Nature,
    > March 24, 1870, p. 528] We see variability in every
    > tongue, and new words are continually cropping up; but
    > as there is a limit to the powers of the memory,
    > single words, like whole languages, gradually become
    > extinct. As Max Muller[Nature, January 6, 1870, p.
    > 257.] has well remarked:- "A struggle for life is
    > constantly going on amongst the words and grammatical
    > forms in each language. The better, the shorter, the
    > easier forms are constantly gaining the upper hand,
    > and they owe their success to their own inherent
    > virtue." To these more important causes of the
    > survival of certain words, mere novelty and fashion
    > may be added; for there is in the mind of man a strong
    > love for slight changes in all things. The survival or
    > preservation of certain favoured words in the struggle
    > for existence is natural selection.
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > ___________________________________________________________
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    > ===============================================================
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    >

    -- 
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      Chris Taylor (christ@ebi.ac.uk)
      MIAPE Project -- psidev.sf.net
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ===============================================================
    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit
    


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