Dr. Ruhlen's work focuses on creating top-level databases for all the world's language families, concentrating on language families that have had no databases of any kind previously available (Amerind, Na-Dene, Miao-Yao, Afro-Asiatic, Eskimo-Aleut). Though there are still lacunae remaining to be filled in, he and his colleagues are now close to having a world-wide database that will provide the evidence with which they can try to work out the overall phylogeny of the human family tree based on linguistic evidence. It will be interesting to see to what extent this tree -- if it can be discovered -- corresponds to similar trees being constructed by geneticists.
Professor Merritt Ruhlen earned his PhD in linguistics from Stanford in 1973. He has been a Fulbright Fellow in Rumania and a Correspondant of the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. He has also served as a State Department interpreter in French and Rumanian.
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