We claim that making sense of the typological diversity of languages demands a historical/evolutionary approach. We are pleased that the target paper (Dunn et al. 2011a) has served to bring discussion of this claim into prominence, and are grateful that leading typologists have taken the time to respond (commentaries denoted by boldface). It is unfortunate though that a number of the commentaries in this special issue show significant misunderstandings of our paper.

In the following section we try to explain the basic underlying reasoning, turning in the remaining sections to some of these recurrent points of contention. In the final section, we collect some responses to points made in individual commentaries that did not fit neatly into the body of our response.

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