John McNeill johnm at ROM.ON.CA
Sun Feb 28 00:14:09 CST 1999

Dr. Joseph E. Laferriere wrote:

>I hope there is some limitation put on which languages
>are so permitted. A publication, for example, in Hopi
>and Yoruba will do few people any good. I would suggest
>the following list:

I wonder upon what hasis this list of languages is selected.  In the 1997 paper
in Taxon to which I referred earlier, I note:

... the reality that, in the world as a whole,
languages such as Chinese, Hindi, Russian, Arabic and Bengali, have
many more speakers than any of the languages using the Roman
script, with the exception of English and Spanish (Famighetti 1995,
p. 642; Crystal 1987, p. 287).

Crystal, D. 1987. The Cambridge encyclopedia of language. Cambridge
      University Press. viii + 472 pp.
Famighetti, R. 1995. The world almanac and book of facts 1996.
      World Almanac Books, Mahwah, New Jersey. 976 pp.

Hence, from Laferriere's list, English, Chinese, Russian and Arabic can be
justified in terms of extent of use, but why French, German and Portuguese?.  In
particular, given the inclusion of so many European languages, why not the next
most widely spoken after English, namely Spanish?

John McNeill

  John McNeill, Director Emeritus, Royal Ontario Museum,
  100 Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2C6, Canada.
  Tel. and fax # 416-586-5744  e-mail: johnm at

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