Linguists like to argue!?

Herbert Stahlke hstahlke at WORLDNET.ATT.NET
Sun Jun 2 05:31:20 UTC 2002

Most of James Landau's proposal is at least plausible, if not very well
grounded in evidence.  However, the paragraph I retained below is straight
straw man, or maybe just straight man.  Lots of IEists doubt, question, or
reject outright the various forms of the Nostratic Hypothesis and its even
more remote varieties like Eurasian, although some are looking more
carefully at some of the published arguments and evidence.  However, I have
yet to see serious argument by an IEist that IE is unrelated to Dravidian or
Uralic or Afro-Asiatic.  Rather the argument is that such relationships are
seriously underdetermined by the data.  Even the most violently hostile of
Greenberg's or Ruhlen's critics, for example, will not say that monogenesis
is impossible.  They'll say simply that our methods can't take us back
anywhere near such a time.  One interesting treatment of connections, with
borrowing in both directions, between PIE and other languages of Western
Asia, the Caucasus, Asia Minor, and Mesopotamia is Gamkrelidze and Ivanov's
compendious Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans published in English in
1995 in a translation by Johanna Nichols.


James A. Landau writes:

Someone who wishes to argue that IE is unrelated to other language families
must then, by my analysis, argue that the predecessors of the PIE speakers
INVENTED language sometime shortly after the END of the Ice Age, with no
input from the proto-Basques etc.  who were their neighbors in the late Ice
Age.  (Perhaps the proto-Basques etc. independently invented language after
the end of the Ice Age as well).  I find this to be a preposterously late
date for the invention of language, considering that Cro-Magnon man was
creating cave art DURING the Ice Age, and I can't imagine Cro-Magnon man
inventing art before having language.

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