On Wed, 9 Sep 1998, Robin Gaskell wrote: > Some time back, on Conlang, I ventured the thought that because of > successive waves of invasion of Britain, English was the 'most evolved' of > the national languages. > Considerable singeing followed, and I was told, in effect, to wash my > mouth out with soap and water, and that you can't say languages "evolve." Maybe "evolve" is the wrong word or concept, but languages certainly "drift" by phonological change; both English and Chinese had inflections that became more and more indistinct, forcing the order of words to take over their functions, which fed-back until the endings were gone. Endings erode most easily when the leading syllable is heavily stressed, as in Germanic languages; in Chinese some terminal phonemes became tones, perhaps to disambiguate all the near-homonyms. At least that's the last theory I heard ... Something similar may have happened to Vulgar Latin when imposed on "substrates" of Celtic/Germanic languages. (True pidgin/creolization apparently did not occur.) Anyway, all the Romance languages became more analytic. So, analytic languages can either begin as such, or synthetic langs can "drift" in that direction.