The view of mathematicians is quite negative

Yuri Tambovtsev yutamb at
Thu Oct 21 18:51:19 UTC 2010

Dear Fred, I attend the joint seminar of mathematicians, philosophers and linguists. So, I can tell you that the view of mathematicians on linguistics is quite negative. Half of philosophers support them. What makes them sad is that there is too much "water" in the articles and report of linguists. That means that the usual linguistic opus lacks strong definitions and proof. I began to notice recently it is true. Even if you take the best linguistic journal "Language" it is true. The usual drawback is there is no proof. Instead of proving his theory a linguist makes references to other linguists. It does not matter what is or that linguist said about this or that. One must prove his point by facts from the language. Every linguist knows that comparative method does not work. If one takes Romance languages, one can't reconstruct Latin. Yet, this method has been applied and is applied to different language families. It is quite vivid with Finno-Ugric family. They put Hungarian into the Ugric subgroup of the Finno-Ugric family together with Mansi and Hanty. However, Hungarian is so different from them that it pricks the eye. Hungarian is quite different on the phonetic, lexical and grammatical level. May be, it is better to open for Hungarian a new group, rather than crush it into the Ugric subgroup. May be, because of its weak fundamental, many linguistics departments are closed at different universities first. I should say Prof. Frederick J. Newmeyer meant it when he put his global question to this list. Nevertheless, though the discussion went astray, it was quite interesting. I am dealing with phonological statistics for some 40 years. What I like about it is that it is quite reliable. I have computed about 300 languages. So, who can prove the reverse if the particular speech sound has the particular frequency of occurrence in the particular language? That is that. Looking forward to hearing your comments about the proof in linguistics to yutamb at  Be well, yours sincerely Yuri Tambovtsev, NPU, Novosibirsk, Russia. 

More information about the Funknet mailing list