Although there have long been links between research in historical linguistics and research in biological evolution, the last few years have witnessed growth in historical linguistic research that treats languages as evolutionary systems that can be investigated using tools from computational phylogenetics. In this review, I explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of using computational tools for historical linguistics. I describe the theory that underlies treating languages as evolutionary systems (in general terms), present the results of classifying languages lexically, and review some of the implications of this research.


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