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I don't know for sure about scholarly work on memes, but language changes over time. Language is used to convey ideas, and in turn is changed, shaped by which ideas need to be represented in different cultures and different times. Maybe on some level you could consider components of language (words, grammatical rules) to be that discrete unit.

Languages definitely have been classified phylogenetically/cladistically. Drift and change eventually leads to different languages stemming from a common ancestor. See for instance Indo-European languages or even Nostratic languages.

For instance, on a more granular level, examples of this phenomenon would be the more and more common confusion between "it's" and "its" or "your" and "you're" as well as "they're" and "their". It's a minor drift, a permutation which seems almost a neutral mutation at a very low level of language. But I see people using it more often, even educated people who seem to have otherwise perfect command of English (I couldn't find scholarly work on this topic though).