Eric Hamp and linguistic classification

Alexis Manaster-Ramer manaster at
Sat Jan 30 19:17:11 UTC 1999

----------------------------Original message----------------------------

On Sat, 30 Jan 1999, Larry Trask wrote (among other things):

> As for Eric Hamp, we need not argue about his views, because he has
> recently proclaimed his own position with great clarity, in the
> following three-page article:
> Eric P. Hamp. 1998. `Some draft principles for classification'. In
> Joseph C. Salmons and Brian D. Joseph (eds), Nostratic: Sifting the
> Evidence.  Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Pp. 13-15.
> Hamp says in his first footnote that the statement was
> written in the late 1980s, "in the unfulfilled hope that the public
> press would prefer reasoned discourse and foundational criteria to
> quixotic and episodic speculation".
It is important to compare this is with other works signed by
Eric, such his paper in the Campbell/Mithun "Black Book", where
he uncompromisingly condemns binary comparison and notes that
linguistic classification in the case of IE in particular
started out as he says with cases like fader : pater and not
such (phonetically opaque and hence presumably dear to Larry's
heart) examples as Albanian sy: Greek mati, such as his published
work on the comparison of Chukchee-Kamchatkan and Eskimo-Aleut,
such as his letter cosigned with myself to Scientific American
and published therin which commends their popular treatment of
the topic under discussion and in particular calls for more
(and not, as Larry seems to want, less) open and unbiased
discussion of in particular the Nostratic hypothesis, and such
as his still-unpublished but widely-known and still-held
(I checked last year) proposal for Hattic bein related to IE, etc.

I find it bewildering that Larry suggests that we need not
argue, i.e., presumably should ignore, my citations of
parts of the vast Hamp corpus which he finds inconvenient
and which he keeps refusing to even acknowledge, although
I have cited some of them here more than once and in
print on various occasions.


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