These separate but related essays owe their existence to a combined concern for the workings of text criticism and historical linguistics and for the history of scholarship in these fields. On earlier occasions I have suggested certain views on the development of the so-called comparative method. Few things are more rewarding than to bring implicit preconceptions of the past and present out into the open, as I aimed to do then and as I aim to do now. This time existing tradition is treated as a body - without, I hope, being seriously distorting - and one small portion of its working assumptions is examined. My thanks go to the colleagues and students with whom I have had fruitful discussion, but especially to Zellig S. Harris, and to Henry Hiz who expended much more than just his excellent editorial care on these efforts. I only hope that I have learned as much from him as he has patiently tried to teach me. Lloyd W. Daly has kindly read parts of an earlier version and has contri buted valuable suggestions.