I originally asked this question on philosophy.stackexchange, but the consensus was that this was better asked here
Deleuze & Guattari introduce the idea of the rhizome in their text A thousand Plateaus as a metaphor closer to the reality than aboroscent (tree-like) descriptions can.
The question then becomes how does one theorise rhizomatically? Is the evolution of language a good example to theorise with - after all it is traditionally described by a tree? Can one, for example, suggest the existence of a tap-root was actually forced onto linguists by their chosen mode of description - a tree - whereas a rhizomatic description does away with a point-like origin.
We also have a picture of say the Indo-European language family starting of at some distant tap-root and slowly diversifying and splitting into many languages, with each branch then developing in perpetual isolation. In this picture, one cannot visualise creolisation where two languages at one time far apart is put into sudden contact and either one perishes, or a new hybrid (creole) develops. Or two languages that were in close contact and actually mutually intelligible, by some force are closed off from each other, and so developing independently eventually become mutually unintelligible.
Can one say then that the Rhizome is arguably closer ontologically to the reality of language than the 'traditional linguistic' image - the tree?
Has this formulation been used in the philosophy of language/evolutionary linguistics at all? If it has, by whom - and what has been the reception?