Tom Wier wrote:
> No -- traceability and theoretical existence are entirely separate issues.
> We believe that some distant ancestor of English existed perhaps 100k
> years or more ago, but there is no real way to prove this;  extremely
> long-range comparison is not at all widely accepted (pace Merritt Ruhlen).

Of course, I didn't mean that the ancestor could be reconstructed or
anything like that.  I just meant that modern languages have existed
that long in some form or another.  I suppose I shouldn't've used the
word "traced".

> Since we can't really know what the original language was like, it is probably
> better to prove this in the way you've already shown -- saying that genders are
> likely to be lost typologically begs the question:  how did they get there in the
> first place?  We know that gender is only one of many semantic fields that can
> be grammaticalized, just as case systems can rise and fall.  There is no reason
> to suppose that I know of that gender should be treated any differently.

Yeah, that's what I was trying to say, only you stated it better.  :-)

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