Article in Discover magazine

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at UWOSH.EDU
Mon Mar 14 10:34:02 CST 2005

At 10:28 AM 3/14/2005, Robin Leech wrote:
>I believe it is to do with numbers, as you so well pointed out.
>When there were few people, for example, second names were not needed.
>I could know you as Tom, others as Ken, Henry, Hans, Dieter, Ian or
>whatever. >snip<

All very true, but I bet it's even more fundamental than that.  I'll bet
there is a formula that factors in number of phonemes in a language plus
some sort of rules for linking them and will give you the maximum number of
unique words of a given number of syllables that can be generated in that
language.  And I'll just bet that if there are binomens instead of
uninomens, that maximum is WAY bigger (a square, maybe).

Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:       lammers at
phone:      920-424-1002
fax:           920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and
biogeography of the Campanulaceae s. lat.

"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                               -- Anonymous

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