LINGUIST List 6.1086

Sat Aug 12 1995

Disc: Uniformitarianism, Re: 1080

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. Alexis Manaster Ramer, Uniformitarianism

Message 1: Uniformitarianism

Date: Sat, 12 Aug 1995 09:39:31 Uniformitarianism
From: Alexis Manaster Ramer <amrCS.Wayne.EDU>
Subject: Uniformitarianism

In response to the request for info on this topic, uniformitarianism
as I understand it is the doctrine, which appears to have originated
in geology, that assumes that the same laws apply to various processes
(originally, geological, then biological, but also social and linguistic)
in all time periods, thus allowing in particular reconstruction of
various aspects of prehistory. I first read of it in some the essays
of Stephen J. Gould, for whom this is a favorite theme. A useful
source esp. for us linguists is the collection of articles Language
and Earth, ed. by Bernd Naumann et al., 1992, Amsterdam/Philadelphia:
John Benjamins, although many potential readers will be turned off bu
the fact that several important contributions are in German, which all
too few scholars read any more. The index to this work lists many many
references to uniformitarianism in different chapters.

Although I have not read any, I would think there would be books on
Charles Lyell, who is supposed to have fathered modern geology, which
would deal with this topic at length.

Alexis Manaster Ramer
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