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Essay 1 - The human biological genome was first discovered...

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The human biological genome was first discovered in the 1950’s by two scientists who eventually won the Nobel Prize. Since then, the map of the genome has grown enormously, and modern scientists are seriously discussing creating humans in test tubes. Although the study of linguistics is not as scientific, the classification of linguistic families closely resembles the classification of biological organisms. However, the genetic relatedness of language is still an inconclusive science. Though the definition of a language family is generally agreed upon—all languages in that family have descended from a common source—the constitution of a family and methods of recognizing genetic relatedness are still heavily debated. Finally, there are two theories which dominate current linguistic analysis: Macrofamilies and the monogenesis hypothnesis. The definition of a language family follows the same basic rules. All languages started from a parent language. The languages that evolve from the proto, or parent language, are called daughter languages. Indo-European, the linguistic phylum that’s descendents includes Iranian, European, Sardinian and Indian, has a parent language called Proto-Indo-European. Likewise, the Germanic family’s parent is called proto- Germanic. Because there are no historical records of Proto languages, they are generally reconstructed from what modern linguists know about the daughter languages. More modern parents languages, such as Latin, are more or less preserved with written or oral records. However, because there are no historical records of ancient languages, historians and linguists use various methods of recognizing genetic relatedness to group languages into families. The groupers can be divided into two distinct categories: the “lumpers” and the splitters. The lumpers, in essence, attempt to lump families together by looking for
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similar characteristics, or universals, across all languages. The splitters criticize the lumpers for throwing families together without evidence, and like to compare only two languages at one time. Instead of comparing “many languages across a few words” as the lumpers do, splitters look “at a few languages across many words” (Campbell 315). Nevertheless, all groupers must use some type there of method for recognizing genetic relatedness. Though there are many techniques for doing so, not all of them are universally accepted by linguistics. In fact, most approaches have at least one fault in proving that a group of words is related. The basic methods used by groupers are known as lexical comparisons and grammatical similarities. The lexical comparison technique involves the evaluation of words and deciding
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This note was uploaded on 05/04/2008 for the course BUAD 305 taught by Professor Davila during the Spring '07 term at USC.

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Essay 1 - The human biological genome was first discovered...

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