Life and language are discrete combinatorial systems (DCSs) in which the basic building blocks are finite sets of elementary units: nucleotides or codons in a DNA sequence and letters or words in a language. Different combinations of these finite units give rise to potentially infinite numbers of genes or sentences. This type of DCS can be represented as an Alphabetic Bipartite Network (alpha-BiN) where there are two kinds of nodes, one type represents the elementary units while the other type represents their combinations. There is an edge between a node corresponding to an elementary unit u and a node corresponding to a particular combination v if u is present in v. Naturally, the partition consisting of the nodes representing elementary units is fixed, while the other partition is allowed to grow unboundedly. Here, we extend recent analytical findings for alpha-BiNs derived in [Europhys. Lett. 79, 28001 (2007)] and empirically investigate two real world
systems: the codon-gene network and the phoneme-language network. The evolution equations for alpha-BiNs under different growth rules are derived, and the corresponding degree distributions computed. It is shown that asymptotically the degree distribution of alpha-BiNs can be described as a family of beta distributions. The one-mode projections of the theoretical as well as the real world alpha-BiNs are also studied. We propose a comparison of the real world degree distributions and our theoretical predictions as a means for inferring the mechanisms underlying the growth of real world systems.