phonetic resemblances

H. Mark Hubey HubeyH at
Thu Jan 28 13:19:46 UTC 1999

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Max W Wheeler wrote:
> ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
> On Wed, 27 Jan 1999, Larry Trask wrote:

> > But I know of no case in which a genetic link has been demonstrated on
> > the basis of phonetic resemblances, nor can I conceive of a way of doing
> > this other than a rigorously statistical one.
> Indeed, but can one imagine a statistical procedure which would take
> account of phonetic resemblance due to lexical borrowing?
> This takes us back to the point raised before on this list. There is no
> algorithm for demonstrating relationship on the basis of word lists.
> Phonetic resemblance may suggest a hypothesis, but it is neither
> necessary nor sufficient to confirm (or its absence, to refute) it.

Indeed there is no proof outside of mathematics. Even physics cannot
that the sun will rise tomorrow. It's just that its probability is so
that we accept it. The same goes with other "laws" of physics like
pV=nRT, etc. What separates physical sciences from social sciences is
great uncertainty and great complexity of the social sciences. The
comes from the complexity. Since we don't know the laws, we cannot
predict anything
and it looks extremely difficult, and it is. Some accept this to mean
that it can't be done, but I don't.

> Max Wheeler

Best Regards,
hubeyh at =-=-=-=

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