Sorites Paradox and Ahistorical Accretion

H. Mark Hubey HubeyH at
Fri Mar 12 13:23:10 UTC 1999

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Martin E. HULD wrote:

> To get to your second point, "is it accidental that the word for
> yoking/hitching is <cek> ...?"  What do you mean by accidental?  Are you
> suggesting that God or Joseph Stalin or some other deity had some ulterior
> purpose in mind or that the semantic content of the morpheme is somehow
> responsible for the phonetic features of the form?  If so, that is
> unscientific thinking.  Do you perhaps mean to ask if the phonetic

I would think that this form of thinking belongs mostly to people who
do not know anything about how science is done.

> similarities between the Turkic morphemes and the IE morpheme *ieugw- are
> indicative of a relationship?  The answer is there is no way to tell from
> the limited data of one case.  Are the consonant variations c, ch, y typical

I guess there is a need to look further. If each such occurrence gets
away in isolation nothing will ever be collected. But then if someone
collect as many of these as possible, then the data must be evaluated
to some standard and objective method instead of making up rules as we
along or instead of repeating a heuristic (a rule of thumb) over and

This is not a list for Nostratic but it seems to me that this list is
general methodology should be discussed. I brought these up exactly for
purpose. Somehow when AMR asks for discussion of generalities the
seem to disappear.

> of Turkic cognate sets as the equation of Lat j-. OE ge- OInd. y- and Gk z-
> are of IE?  Are the vowel variations e/U regular patterns as the IE
> eu::ou::u series is?  Is the semantic discrepancy significant?  Is there
> reason to believe that IE stem final -gw is connected with Turkic stem final
> -k?  Is it an 'accident' -in your sense- that Alb. ju (IPA ju:]) and Lith.
> jus (IPA [ju:s]) both signify the second person plural pronoun (Fr. vous,
> Russ vy)?  The answer is yes; despite apparent phonetic and semantic
> similarity, Alb. ju must be from PIE *uos/ues and cognate with R. vy.  gjesh
> 'boil' < PIE *ies- (Gk zeo:), gjesh 'gird' < PIE *ioHs- (Lith juos-iu), and
> gjuaj 'hunt' < PIE *ieAgh-ni- (NHG jagen) show that the reflex of PIE
> initial *i- in Alb. is gj-.

How would one attempt to reach these conclusions other than a repetetion
a the old heuristic standby?

> There are a series of tests for identifying loan words, one of which, as you
> have guessed, is whether the word in question can be shown to be part of a
> morphological family rather than an isolated structure.  Yes, we think of
> these things all the time and try to avoid snap judgments based on single,
> superficial coincidences or even a large collection of unrelated,
> superficial coincidences, in the belief that, as with UFO sightings,
> 1,000,000 times 0 is still 0.

Sound like good common sense. But if a field of study is to have more
a set of proverbs left over from the ancients or a set of heuristics, it
seems that more rigor is needed. Isn't this the right place to discuss
what "rigor" is. I am reading (actually re-reading) Ringe's work from
1995 (Nostratic and the Factor of Chance), and I have very serious
taking it seriously since it is based on his work (1992) on his misuse
the binomial density (which AMR calls "voodoo mathematics"), but the
says that he is at least a demigod if not god. I am seriously curious
what exactly in these papers has left such a serious impression on the
some of whom I am sure inhabit this mailing-list virtual universe. You
seem to
be very bold. Perhaps you can "unconfuse" me on this issue also.

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

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