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Of word families and language trees: New and old metaphors in studies on language history

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List,  Johann-Mattis       
Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Geisler_Word_Moderna_2023.pdf
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Citation

Geisler, H., & List, J.-M. (2022). Of word families and language trees: New and old metaphors in studies on language history. Moderna, 24(1-2), 134-148. doi:10.19272/202201902005.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000D-9CD3-5
Abstract
For a long time, metaphors have played an important role in depicting language
history. In this study, we contrast early metaphors on language history, such as the family
tree or the wave model, with recent metaphors that were popularized after the quantitative
turn, such as forests of trees or phylogenetic networks. Speculating about metaphors which
could become important in the future, we conclude that a vivid discussion about the usefulness and the concrete implications of metaphors plays a key role for the development ofmodels for language history in historical linguistics.