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Why is linguistics limited in how much it can look back in time?


I've often seen that "we can only look back in time a short distance in linguistics". What prevents linguistics from deducing information far in the past? Is this limit something that can be pushed back with development of the science of linguistics?

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I'm intending for this to be a "canonical" question, so feel free to improve on the post. For reference, here is an answer on Stack Exchange that answers part of this question. ‭user53100‭ about 2 months ago

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