Re: memetic speciation? [was what's in a meme]

Bill Benzon (
Thu, 19 Jun 1997 13:49:01 +0000

Date: Thu, 19 Jun 1997 13:49:01 +0000
From: Bill Benzon <>
Subject: Re: memetic speciation? [was what's in a meme]

Dr I Price wrote:

> Yet at a more general level the correlation of linguistic and genetic
> speciation in homo sapiens does seem to exist. My limited source is
> Gould's
> Essay 'Grimm's greatest tale' in the Bully for Brontosauraus
> Collection
> [1991] and the work described by Jared Diamond in 'The Third
> Chimpanzee'.
> My inclinination is to grant language a larger role in cultural
> determination.

Yes, at the top taxonomic level there is a pretty good correlation
between groups of languages as identified by standard comparative
methods and groups of humans as identified in studies by
Cavelli-Sforza's group. But that's only the top-level classification in
a system which has perhaps a half-dozen more levels. Linguists are aware
of the problem and some suspect that taxonomic trees may not be the way
to represent the relationships among closely related languages.

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