consensus view

Alexis Manaster-Ramer manaster at
Wed Mar 3 16:31:15 UTC 1999

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

Benji Wald writes (inter alia):

> AMR made the attractive point that the actual reconstruction takes more
> work than the demonstration of relationship.  Indeed, Greenberg quipped
> that of all the languages that have changed in the last century,
> Proto-Indo-European has changed the most. I hasten to add, no guilt by
> association is intended...

Thank you.  I would like to add that there are two points on which I
differ from what Greenberg has stated (although I sometimes wonder if
he really believes what he says).  (i) In some cases, e.g., the famous
demonstration that Vietnamese is Mon-Khmer and the one that Pama-Nyungan
lgs are Australian, it was necessary to look at specific sound laws, so
in SOME cases language relatedness cannot apparently be established
as easily as Greenberg seems to think.  (ii) Unlike Greenberg, I do
not hold that one must first accept a relationship before attempting
reconstruction.  In reality, you can take a propose relationship as
a working hypothesis, try to do a reconstruction, and then use the
degree of success you have had with the reconstruction as an argument
for or against the hypothesis.


More information about the Histling mailing list