Alexis on classification

manaster at manaster at
Wed Jan 28 14:02:20 UTC 1998

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Johanna Nichols professes not to know what I am talking about
when I say "Recent attacks on Altaic by Nichols are based on third-hands
sources" and asks for references.  Here they are:
 Nichols (1992: 4), in an otherwise well-informed
book,  claims that, after eliminating purely typological similarities
between Turkic, Mongolian, and Tungusic,
the evidence [sc. for Altaic] was reduced to the pronominal root
resemblances and a set of putative cognates. When the cognates proved not
to be valid, Altaic was abandoned, and the received view now is that
Turkic, Mongolian, and Tungusic are unrelated (see Unger 1990 [=our Unger
Nichols, J. 1992. Linguistic Diversity in Space and Time.
Chicago--London: University of Chicago Press.
Unger, J. M. 1990b.  Summary report of the Altaic panel.   In Baldi, P.
(ed.), Linguistic change and reconstruction methodology.Berlin--New York:
Mouton de   Gruyter. 479-482.
This is from a forthcoming paper by R-S Georg, R. Michalove, P. Sidwell,
and myself, to appear in JL, and dealing with the history and current
state of Altaic studies, in which we discuss in some detail several
recent misrepresentations of the same, by Nichols and others.
Of course, one can quibble as to whether 1992 is 'recent'.
PS. As for our conflicting opinions of the mass of work
dealing with Greenberg's Amerind hypothesis, I think it
is more appropriate if I leave it to others to decide whether
my critique is or is not of an entirely different order
(as I believe) than those of most other authors.

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