Arabic and IE

Alexis Manaster-Ramer manaster at
Sat Jan 30 19:12:42 UTC 1999

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Robert Ratcliffe and Shilpi Bhadra are I am sure trying
to be helpful, but it is surely disinformation to tell
someone who is clearly a novice to the field that
Semitic is not related to IE period (as per Bhadra)
or at least not now known to be so related (as per
Ratcliffe) instead of saying that

(a) the vast majority of linguists have never studied
the question at all,
(b) of the small number who have, most probably think
there is insufficient evidence for positing a relationship,
but many think that there is, and
many (I think many more) others that the evidence
points to a fairly high probability of
a relationship, but
(c) among the much much smaller number who have
studied the problem INTENSIVELY, the proportions
seem to shift toward more support and less opposition
of a relationship, but
(d) no one has really done a census, so the proportions
I suggested in (b) and (c) are anecdotal,
(e) those who support or if dead did support a
relationship include some leading specialists in
IE and/or Semitic, e.g., the great IEnist Holger
Pedersen, even if most of the leading specialists
in each field have always either ignored the question
or been against,
(f) such "respectable" sources as Encyclopedia
Britannica now mention the hypothesis of this
relationship as a serious scientific proposal
as do some encyclopedias of linguistics, and
(g) such a complex answer is quite normal in any
science for any number of questions, e.g., in
primatology the question of whether, in addition
to bonobo and human, there is just one or actually
two other species (one or two chimp species if you
will) in the genus Homo/Pan.

I really fail to see why reasonable scholars keep
trying to deny that opinions which they do not
share on topics which they may not have studied
in depth (I know of no published work by either
poster on this topic) actually exist, instead of
being content that at least for now theirs is
the majority position.

People who do not believe in transformations in
syntax (like me) do not normally try to deny
the existence of a man named Chomsky, I do not
see why so many linguists try to deny the existence
(now or before they died)
of Pedersen, Dolgopolsky, Illich-Svitych, Bomhard,
Moller, Starostin, or indeed my own.


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