From mclasutt at brigham.net Wed Sep 1 05:50:41 1999 From: mclasutt at brigham.net (Dr. John E. McLaughlin) Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 23:50:41 -0600 Subject: Random Noise in Multilateral Comparison. In-Reply-To: <7a2aac0b.24fcc4d9@aol.com> Message-ID: ECOLING wrote: > In a discussion about Random Noise, > I was making a point that it is much less serious a problem > in Multilateral Comparison than it is when one is trying to make > an argument that two particular selected languages > ARE GENETICALLY RELATED. Actually, random noise is a far MORE serious problem when doing multilateral comparison than when doing binary comparison. Let's say that /t/ represents 20% of the initial consonants in each of four unrelated languages, A, B, C, and D. Comparing just pairs of words from A and B, then 40 out of a thousand pairs of words should have /t/ as the first consonant in each language. Now throw C into the mix. Now A-C will have 40 matches, A-B will have 40 matches, and B-C will have 40 matches for a total of 120 pairs out of 1000 words linking A-B-C. In addition, there will be 8 words with matches all the way across (A-B-C). Add D to the problem and you wind up with 40 words for each possible pairing (A-B, A-C, A-D, B-C, B-D, and C-D), for a total of 240 pairs, along with another 8 words for each possible triplet (A-B-C, A-B-D, A-C-D, B-C-D), for a grand total of 264 "cognate sets" (out of a 1000 possible ones) that include forms from at least 50% of the languages in each set. In other words, we have SIX times as much random noise by doubling the number of languages involved in the comparison. To the uninitiated that is pretty impressive. John E. McLaughlin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor mclasutt at brigham.net Program Director Utah State University On-Line Linguistics http://english.usu.edu/lingnet English Department 3200 Old Main Hill Utah State University Logan, UT 84322-3200 (435) 797-2738 (voice) (435) 797-3797 (fax) From X99Lynx at aol.com Wed Sep 1 07:37:00 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 03:37:00 EDT Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (a test) Message-ID: In a message dated 8/30/99 11:03:55 PM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu wrote: <> I'd like to address this measure of plausibilty - and whether it matters here - in a separate post. But I think I need to say the following: The hypothetical was valid as a matter of method. As I wrote, but you did not quote in your reply, this was explained as my way of finding out what was assumed in the Stammbaum. In fact, I based the hypothetical on a computer model I saw used at a bio-tech firm a while ago. The object was to measure the genetic variations in various demes in a population of plants. The plants were cross-pollinators and heterozygotes. The process focused on one trait or allele at a time. But the program for a baseline assumed a self-pollinating, homozygote (autozygote) in the P and F generations. In other words, it hypothesized a zygote and a resulting individual(s) that had no 'conflicting' dissimilar traits because they only bred with themselves (or rather itself) every generation. The degree of variation was measured against this hypothetical "pure-bred" zygote. No such zygote actually existed. This is not an uncommon methodology. Baselines or approach-points are often off the map of experience. Their value is in that they give an absolute reference for measurement of variation. (The probabilities of the bell-shaped curve, e.g., only approach 100% certainty but cannot actually reach it.) You might check whether all this makes sense with Mr. Tandy. It should. Now, about the substance of what you've written. Let me say there is nothing personal here. You've have already mentioned that you don't know all the nuances of this Stammbaum and the theory behind it. But do understand that this Tree and its approach seems to have a lot of weight behind it (Ringe, UPenn, 'an algorithm developed to produce optimal phylogenies of biological species' and page 369 of Larry Trask's textbook - although he does not seem to necessarily endorse the approach.) This Stammbaum put in such a light might actually mislead people into thinking that there is a degree of certainty in this that the authors might not endorse. I think that happened to me at one point. In any case, whether or not this approach actually adds anything to our knowledge is not a given. There's the question of the kind of data that it is based on, for example. The relative weight put on the specific similarities and differences among the languages in calculating relatedness. I never did ask if reconstructed forms were included in the data. The tree appears to be rooted chronologically, since PIE caps it, and that raises the question of how dates of attestation were handled. And so forth. Here are two basic problems: You wrote: <> I don't believe that's true. You may have misunderstood. What I wrote was that "the Stammbaum with its given assumptions, would not be able to reflect these events accurately." In fact, I believe that the hypothetical tree would LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME. (remember that the hypothesis is that you do not know that "Celtic1" was the actual parent.) This is simply because you would have no way of knowing that what you are calling innovations are actually inherited and vice versa. The attributes of filial "Celtic 6" - the first attested appearance - justifiably look like late innovations. You would be totally justified in looking elsewhere for earlier indications of the parent. The Stammbaum would be perhaps your best guess - given your ignorance. (Please read this with some care.) This is not a specific fault in the Stammbaum or the approach. This is the necesssary degree of uncertainty we have about these past relationships. The time of first attestation is all we have to go by. So, in the extreme case of a parent that is understandably mistaken for a filial, we would have all the paths of descent wrong. This would be just as true if you were handed a bunch of those heterozygous plants and given mistaken dates for the different varieties. You would likely mistake how traits were passed and who was parent to whom. If, on the other hand, we actually knew [Celtic1] (P) was PIE in the diagram, then the Stammbaum should also look roughly the same. That is because moving a hypothetical 'Celtic1' to the top ADDS NO NEW INNOVATIONS TO THE OVERALL SYSTEM. The total number of innovations stays the same. The innovations however attributed to particular branchings would have to change. The basic data you use would be unchanged. The attested phonemes, etc., you assign to a particular time and place would remain the same. What would have to change would ONLY be your chronology and whether a particular feature represented an innovation rather than an inherited feature, or vice versa. I hope you see this. As in genetics, the individual expression of a gene does not tell you by itself where it belongs in the line of descent. That's because basically the parent gene looks exactly like the filial gene. And "shared innovations" are just more localized genes, shared by fewer individuals, and they will tell you nothing about parentage until you have some way to assign a place in time to them. If you assign the wrong place in time, you will quite simply mistake the parent for the F generation and vice versa, through no fault of your own. You wrote: <> I'd really, really ask that you give one example of that. I don't think it is true. Of course, you should not use Grimm's law or similar prehistoric event as a dating mechanism, for the simple reason that is circular. If, e.g., Proto-Celtic were assumed to be PIE, it would not need to change the fact of Grimm's Law, but it might change its dating (which is in controversy in any case.) There should really be no unmerging problems, only a rearrangement of dates and directions of inheritance and a reassessment of what constitutes innovations. YOUR RAW DATA STAYS THE SAME. It's just the interpretation that changes. Of course, you may argue that Hittite and Greek historically appears before Celtic and so must be assumed to be older. That is fine. But it is not linguistic evidence. And to the extent that the Stammbaum and the approach is making any such assumptions, it is extra-linguistic. And should be understood to be so. A completely different issue is this business of the stem. You've describe it many ways, but you still haven't accounted for something. And that is the speakers - perhaps a majority - who are not part of the branch-offs through all the branchings. If the branchings don't happen all at once, then there is a core still extant that these branches are coming from. RIGHT DOWN TO THE LAST BRANCH-OFF. This a is a logical necessity. (EXCEPT of course for the last branch-off!) There must still be speakers who are NOT Tocharin or Italo-Celtic or Greek-Armenian after those languages are represented as branching off. And that means those speakers should be speaking a language between the branch-offs that had an identity of its own. It is not equatable to earlier branch-offs and it cannot be equated with later branch-offs. That core has to have a real existence, separate from the branches. Otherwise your branches are all chronological daughters of each other, one after another. That is why representing that core in the Stammbaum is also a logical necessity. It represents speakers who are speaking a distinct LANGUAGE that isn't any of the branches until at least the final branch. And this is why the Cambridge approach described by Larry Trask seems so much more upfront in what it represents. If I understand correctly, it does not purport to do more than compare relative differences. I would still ask if it assumes that phonological differences are more important than morphological or syntactical differences, etc. But it has the advantage of really being the stemless "mobile" you keep describing. My favorite though is Miguel Carrasquer Vidal's IE tree, which he once put on this list. Another member sent me a more complete version. This 'tree' has the courage to be historical and give dates and that is really the only way that floating, relative relationships can be given any kind of corespondence in time. Regards, Steve Long [ Moderator's comment: The dates assigned by MCV to his tree are his own provisional guesses, though they may be similar to the provisional guesses of any number of other Indo- Europeanists. If you rely on it, please remember that your conclusions have no more weight than those based on the non-dated trees of Ringe or the group at Cambridge, since there is nothing to support those dates other than human intuition. --rma ] From jer at cphling.dk Wed Sep 1 10:59:53 1999 From: jer at cphling.dk (Jens Elmegaard Rasmussen) Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 12:59:53 +0200 Subject: Root aorists vs. marked presents In-Reply-To: <004a01bef213$539310c0$bc70fe8c@lucent.com> Message-ID: On Sun, 29 Aug 1999, Vidhyanath Rao wrote: [...] > In general outline, and using the Vendler classification, the argument > is that root presents refer to activities and root aorists to > achievements. [Of course, only Indic and Hittite matter for root > presents. The picture is also clouded by polymorphism, especially as > this is rather frequent in Vedic. One bone of contention between Jens > and me is whether this polymorphism is primary or secondary. If the stem > formants were derivational, I have a hard time understanding why > polymorphism cannot be original]. [...] Dear Nath and List, I agree that the stem formants are originally derivational, so polymorphism was original. But original does not necessarily mean PIE, it may apply to times much older than that. By the time of the protolanguage it appears that most verbs had lexicalized one particular present-stem formation and one particular aorist formation for any given verb. I do not exclude the survival of separate derivative sets from the same root or even the existence of competing synonymous present or aorist formations with the same verb, but I do not like the general principle to be simply "anything goes", for it is truly impressive how much falls into place in a very neat way if we insist on rigor here too. Incidentally, I cannot accept the statement, "Of course, only Indic and Hittite matter for root presents", for Hittite does not distinguish present and aorist stems, while some of the other groups do: We know from Greek, as from Indic, that *H1ei-mi is indeed a present, while Hitt. u-iz-zi 'comes' could in principle be an analogical formation made to a root aorist, had the question not been decided by the other branches. Thus, I am not at all sure that *e'n-t (Ved. ipf. a'-han, Hitt. prt. kuent) was the injunctive of a present stem and not that of an aorist. If Anatolian cannot show such things, and Indo-Iranian shows occasional shifts from one aspect stem to the other (e.g., Ved. de'hmi, le'hmi using the original aorist stem), then *en(H)- could probably easily have been an aorist, as its drastic meaning of achievement may seem to imply. But this is just a thought on a detail. Jens From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Wed Sep 1 16:54:30 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 11:54:30 -0500 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (a test) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: >On Mon, 30 Aug 1999, Rick Mc Callister wrote: >>> No. An ancestral language cannot co-exist with its own descendant.>> >> Actually it can. >> Both Spanish and its daughter language Ladino are alive, although >> Ladino, the daughter language is endangered. >> English and the Papuan languages [etc.] that spawned Tok Pisin are >> all alive. >The moderator already answered the case of Ladino, but let me answer about >Tok Pisin. Tok Pisin is a creole. English is not an "ancestor" of Tok >Pisin in the same sense that Latin is an "ancestor" of Italian; lineal >descent and creolization are two totally different things. Why not? Creolization and Pidginization are languages with more than one lineal ancestor. There would be no Tok Pisin if it weren't for English. One could argue that the relation between English and Tok Pisin [et al.] isn't that different form the relationship between Latin and the Romance languages. One could also point to the parallel diglossic relationships between English and "New English" and between Latin and Romance during the days when Latin was writen and spoken by [at least part of] the elite while Romance was spoken by the masses. Re mother-daughter languages, it's certainly plausible for dialects to change at different rates and for a dialect, due to isolation or emmigration, to evolve into another language while the parent language is still spoken in the home country [or vice versa if one considers the situation of Icelandic vis-a-vis Norwegian Landsmal/Nynorsk]. Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Wed Sep 1 17:31:19 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 13:31:19 -0400 Subject: Principled Comparative Method - a new tool In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Tue, 31 Aug 1999 X99Lynx at aol.com wrote: > Which brings up an interesting question. Why use 'semantics'? > After all, in the usual presentation of the Comparative Method, the meaning > of the word is just really a way of squaring up different languages. First > of all, to make a guess about whether they may be related. And secondly > "meanings" - generally dictionary/glossary meanings - just line up the > languages in a convenient way so that phonology can be more easily compared. > We can after all imagine two hypothetical languages where every word in one > is phonologically cognate with a corresponding word in the other - and even > have clear historical proof of this total cognation - but at the same time > find in usage none of these cognates are 'semantically' similiar in any way > that is apparent. If this were the case, we wouldn't judge the words to be cognate. Semantics are _not_ just a convenient heuristic for finding cognations; to be judged cognate, the words have to 1) be phonologically derivable by regular sound changes from the proto-language, and 2) have meanings which can have plausibly developed from some meaning in the proto-language. For example, suppose we had a word in Language A meaning 'river', and a word in Language B meaning 'leather'. Suppose that the phonological form of the words is such that they _could_ be derived from a single word in the proto-language via regular sound changes which have already been established. Nevertheless, we would almost certainly not judge these words to be cognate, because it is almost inconceivable that there could have been any semantic developments which would produce the meanings 'river' and 'leather' from any imaginable original meaning in the proto-language. > So might there not be, with the mega-statistical probabilities created by a > mega-data base, a way to avoid the whole issue of meaning? The co-occurence > of sound categories in well-populated distributions should yield high degrees > of statistical certainties (so long as you got the dates right). So if I understand you, you're saying that there could be some probabilistic approach which allows you to conduct language reconstruction without reference to the semantics of the words being compared? How do you know they're cognate, then? > < of prehistoric forms without using the Comparative Method, I'd like to know > about it.>> > I believe internal reconstruction is one often mentioned. Typographical > inference is another. You're right; I should have mentioned Internal Reconstruction. What you mean by "typographical inference"? > < prehistoric languages is that sound changes have a particular property, > namely, they are exceptionless (with a small amount of hand-waving here). > The Comparative Method crucially exploits this property of sound changes.>> > Now, to be fair, what you are speaking about is a working assumption. (In > fact, the most productive thing about Grimm's Law may have been the > 'exceptions'.) Yes, it's quite true that the Neogrammarian Hypothesis (exceptionlessness of sound changes) is a working assumption. It's an assumption which seems warranted, and further, it is the crucial assumption which allows us to conduct the Comparative Method at all. If it's false, all bets are off. It would leave us with no currently known and reliable methodology for engaging in language reconstruction at all. > But it is a little silly to say that the only thing we can say > about prehistoric languages is that their sound changes were exceptionless. I agree it would be silly. I never said any such thing. > In fact, by definition, we don't know anything directly about the sounds of > prehistoric languages. So we don't know, by definition, it the sound > categories included exceptions or not. But we have decrypted prehistoric > languages without any knowledge of what sounds the characters represented. If they were written, then by definition, they are not prehistoric. "Prehistoric" means "before writing". But you're quite right that we can say a lot about the phonological categories of a language without knowing the specific phonetic values for those categories. > < states. One can imagine an automaton-like machine where the transitions can > perform other sorts of operations,.... But if the machine in question is > strictly concatentative (as automata at least canonically are), I'm puzzled > as to how you would model historical sound change in such a machine, since > historical sound change isn't concatenative.>> > It's a little like looking at the pistons in a car engine and asking which > one will get you to Chicago. You are assuming a point-for-point analogy > between the internal system or structure used by the automation and the > external structure it is being applied to analyze. The "linkages "in > "concatenative" do not have to mirror the elements you are analyzing. They > are rather internal relationships yielding values that mathematically > correspond to but do not have to structurally mirror the values you've > attached to external events. > /a/>/a/ may correspond to a single "link" in your concatenation. /a/ > /b/ > may correspond to six, even though your real-life event may correspond to > only one. Those six links represent values you have assigned to /a/ > /b/, > which the machine achieves any why it must in order to match the operations > required. 'Invisible' intermediate formulae in a spreadsheet are a good > example. Okay- I know enough about automata to know in a general way that the arcs might not match up in a neat way with the way we'd represent the processes as high-level, ordered rules. In a previous job, I had to write automata to produce conjugations and declensions in modern German and Japanese, and it was certainly true that not all the arcs corresponded in a neat way to the units that a linguist would ordinarily want to talk about. The discussion was about a particular application of probabilistic automata to measure "distance" (whatever that means) among related lects. I'm wondering if you or someone else could give me a simple f'rinstance to illustrate how this methodology works in detail, and what it's supposed to accomplish. I haven't seen this methodology before, other than on this list. I'm interested, but I don't understand it yet. > < identify a word as a loan from a related language because of the sound > changes it has and has not undergone. For example, while English "cardiac" > does ultimately go back to the PIE word for "heart", you can readily tell > that it is a loan from a non-Germanic language, because it has not undergone > Grimm's Law, which applied exceptionlessly in prehistoric Germanic.>> > Unless of course you are among the number of linguists (no small number) that > find Grimm's Law representing archaisms, in which case you must find another > path for the loan. Are you talking about the Glottalic Theory (i.e., the relatively recent view which gives a radically different obstruent inventory for PIE)? If so, I explained in detail in a recent post why I think this hypothesis is wrong. But if you object to this, we can come up with some other case which doesn't make reference to Grimm's Law to illustrate the point that you can identify a word as a loan word based on the sound changes which it has or has not undergone. Here's another example, if you like. In Gothic, we've got the ordinary Germanic word _waurkjan_ "to work". There's also a noun _waurstw_, meaning "work, deed". We can tell that this second word is a loan from Slavic, because it has an /s/ rather than a /k/, i.e. the satem consonant shift, which did not apply in Germanic; hence, this can't be a native word. > But, in one very important definitional sense, every > word in modern English is a "loan" word. What, for example, is not a loan > word in Old French, if 'Frankish' is described as a "different language?" It is just not true that every word in modern English is a loan word. Some of the words in English are inherited in straight descent from Proto-Indo-European and are not borrowed from anywhere. > < well for languages which don't have a long written tradition.>> > Just as well, eh? No added element of uncertainty at all caused by a lack of > writing? Have you tried your hand at finding the loans in Thracian? We weren't talking about languages for which we have no data. We were talking about modern languages such as the Polynesian languages for which you can get as much data as you like (just go out and interview people), but which don't have many centuries of written tradition as e.g. English does. > < which occurred between related languages soon after their branching, before > very many of the telltale sound changes took place.>> > There is also the problematic case where loans went back and forth without > documentation or were loaned from a third language of which we have an > incomplete record. As long as the loans in question aren't so early that there hadn't been any identifying sound changes yet within the individual branches, we should still be able to identify such words as loan words as I described. > And another where the chronology of the loan is based on > eroneous historical information, so that the giver and taker have been > confused. The loans were were talking about were prehistoric loans, i.e. loans which occurred before the languages came to be written. So I don't see the connection here with historical information. > And another where the inherent arbitrariness of sound changes (why > p>f?) can suggest relationships where commonalities are purely accidental. > Etc. It's true that we're not able to say why particular sound changes happened, but I don't see how this "suggests relationships where commonalities are purely accidental." > By the way, do you think there was an intermediate period between p>f where > there was /p'h/? Just curious? There's no evidence to answer that question one way or the other. We can say with fair certainty that voiceless stops were not _contrastively_ aspirated in Pre-Proto-Germanic, but there is always the possibility that they were _phonetically_ aspirated, as is the situation in modern English. We also know that it's a natural development for a voiceless aspirated stop to develop into a voiceless fricative, as happened e.g. in Greek. So it's possible that the pre-Grimm voiceless stops were phonetically aspirated, but we can't motivate this view. > < chronology of prehistoric sound changes.>> > We have trouble being sure of the continuity of atomic half-lives, the > constancy of gravity and the accuracy of radio-carbon dating. Surely, you > might take a slightly less certain tone about the chronology of prehistoric > sound changes. A certain humility seems to be a characteristic of the better > scientist. After all, you never know when an IE Rosetta Stone or a Quantum > Phyics of Linguistics may show up and demand the humility you can voluntarily > adopt before hand. Let me give you an example here. Suppose that some proto-language has the syllables /*ki *ke *ka *ko *ku/. Suppose that one of the daughter languages first palatalizes *k before *i, giving /*ci *ke *ka *ko *ku/, and then merges *e into *i, giving the attested forms /ci ki ka ko ku/. So suppose you're the linguist trying to figure out which of the rules happened first. If they had applied in the other order, they would have given /*ci *ci *ka *ko *ku/. But this isn't what we find, so we can say with reasonable certainty that palatalization applied first, and then the vowel merger. Of course, there are a lot of cases where the evidence isn't this clear, and the relative chronology you work out has to be more tentative. But there are many, many cases where we have to say that the rules applied in a certain order and not some other order, because another ordering would simply give the wrong results. \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Wed Sep 1 18:02:33 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 14:02:33 -0400 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (a test) In-Reply-To: <01JFF0DFJVPK9VV4NO@LATTE.MEMPHIS.EDU> Message-ID: On Tue, 31 Aug 1999 CONNOLLY at LATTE.MEMPHIS.EDU wrote: > How about this example: medieval Franch, Spanish, Italian etc. beside > medieval Latin, which certainly must be regarded as a living language > but was effectively indistinguishable from the "Vulgar Latin" that was > the actual source of these tongues? Similarly, what about Sanskrit > (still living, for some Indians, and long kept alive for scholarly use) > and modern Indic languages? If they are not descended precisely from > Sanskrit as codified by Pan.ini, that is mere chance; there would be no > *logical* problem in saying that they had, just as there is no logical > problem in saying that medieval Latin coexisted with its descendants, > the medieval romance tongues. In both the case of Latin and of Sanskrit, the earlier litrary/liturgical language was artifically preserved thru a specific prescriptive, scholarly effort. Beyond a certain point, I doubt that they were anybody's native language. If I utter a novel sentence in, say, Tocharian B, does that mean that Tocharian B is a 'living' language? \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From edsel at glo.be Wed Sep 1 18:35:51 1999 From: edsel at glo.be (Eduard Selleslagh) Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 20:35:51 +0200 Subject: Horthmen as 'mGall' Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] -----Original Message----- From: X99Lynx at aol.com Date: Tuesday, August 31, 1999 9:25 AM [snip] >In the amazing complexities of Irish myth, the Fir Bolg, the Tuatha de Danann >and the Milesians are all successive invaders of Ireland - and not >surprisingly all are associated with Gaul or Gaulish tribes. The Fir Bolg >are also called "Belgi" and are sometimes subdivided into "men of Domnu, men >of Gaillion, and men of Bolg." (The Dumnonii are Celts who figure who heavily >in both Gaulish and British history. The Belgae are the northern most >'Gauls' in Ceasar's "Omne Gallia...") [Ed Selleslagh] Please note that J. Caesar actually mentions the Belgae as distinct from the Galli.: "Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur. Hi omnes lingua, institutis, legibus inter se diifferunt. Gallos ab Aquitanis Garunna flumen, a Belgis Matrona et Sequana dividit." [Gaul is divided in three parts, the first of which is inhabited by the Belgae, the other one by the Aquitani, and the third one by those are called in their own language Celtae, in ours Galli. These all differ in language, institutions and laws. The Galli are separated from the Aquitani by the River Garonne, and from the Belgae by the Rivers Marne and Seine.] I'm absolutely no specialist in all things Celtic, but I strongly suspect - as many others - that the Belgae were Brythonic (their name seems related to Welsh 'balch', Eng. 'proud' - maybe another candidate for the origin of 'walch', as a name for the Belgae, I mean???). What is the presently favored classification of Gaulish? Goidelic? 'Common'? The Aquitani are generally classified as Vasconic. The most intriguing thing in Ceasar's account is that 'Galli' is the name given by foreigners, in casu the Romans, which might be of Germanic origin, '(g)walch' or '(h)walch' vel sim. Cf. Gascogne, Guasconia (< Eusko-, i.e. Basque) >The Tuatha de Danaan also are associated with 'France' as the Laighi. They >are often dated to 300 or 100 BCE. They are defeated by the Milesians. >The Milesians, the last of the mythic invaders, are often associated with the >coming of the Goidelic. These "sons of Milidh... are said to have come from >either Spain or France to the island of Ireland, and to be the ancestors of >the Gaels." >In terms of hard evidence, there isn't a lot of it. LaTene has been found in >Ireland, but not very much. The question of when Celts actually got to >Ireland is not settled. But Mallory in ISOIE (see p 274 n 19) suggests that >the evidence points to a series of late arrivals, all presumably with >contacts to continental Celts. [Ed] Geography seems to suggest that the Goidelic Celts belonged to an earlier wave than the Brythonic Celts, if they all came from the continent that is.. >And even St Patrick apparently complains >about late-arriving pagan "rhetorici" arriving from the continent. The >Irish monks who "preserve Western Civilization" are often described as exiles >from the continent. Medieval scholars like "Zimmer and Kuno Meyer contend >that the seeds of that literary culture, which flourished in Ireland of the >sixth century, had been sown therein in the first and second decades of the >preceding century by Gaulish scholars." I see here also that "Dr. Meyer >answers the objection" [that "if so large and so important an invasion of >scholars took place we ought have some reference to the fact in the Irish >annals"] "...was in part due to the fact that their presence was in no way >exceptional but for their newly acquired Christianity." [Ed] This is obviously a totally different time frame. >All of the above is exactly what bothers me about the "mGall". Ireland and >Scotland were filled with folk who could very well identify themselves as >Gauls or descendents of Gauls or of settlers from Gaul/Gallia. Not only >because of this kind of folk origins history, but also because of the simple >established Pan-Celtic connection. And whatever the origins of the word, the >affinity with "Gael" (which occasionally appears as "Gal-") would also have >been a clue. Did the multiple usages of "Gall" over time create so many >semantic versions that we would expect serious loss by collision? In which >case, it wouldn't be impossible that a Germanic usage in some form, being the >most current, slipped in ahead of all the older meanings. "Gallia" itself >would have been a "learned" word and would have had a better chance of >co-existing without collision with that new import. >Of course going back to the original quote, if these Northmen happened to be >from "Valland", that is, Gallia - the term may have referred to nothing more >than their place of origin. The connection with "outlander" or even >"invader" may be unnecessary. >Regards, >Steve [Ed] Could that be 'Hwalland' or 'gualland' vel sim.? Ed. From vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu Wed Sep 1 18:26:15 1999 From: vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu (Vidhyanath Rao) Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 14:26:15 -0400 Subject: nasal pres / root aor Message-ID: Jens Elmegaard Rasmussen wrote: >[...]Again, Strunk has pointed > out a possible relic pair in Hittite as well: hunik-zi/hunink-anzi 'wound' > vs. huek-zi 'stab, kill' which look like n-prs. + root aor. of the same > verb (note the 'unfinished business' implied by the old present stem as > opposed to the terminal aorist). This is fine if huekzi meant only kill'. But how does unfinished' stabbing lead to wound'? From vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu Wed Sep 1 19:19:16 1999 From: vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu (Vidhyanath Rao) Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 15:19:16 -0400 Subject: Perfective-Imperfective Message-ID: proto-language wrote: > "The hamster (has) climbed up behind the bookcase." > [other examples deleted] All above are equally "perfective". > "The hamster (has) climbed behind the bookcase." > [other examples deleted] All above are equally "imperfective", > or would normally be construed so. > I am sure any of our list-members who command Russian will > subscribe to this basic division. Ah, but if you want to see the aorist-imperfect distinction of Modern Greek, Bulgarian, OCS or the perfectum-imperfectum of Latin as expressing perfective-imperfective distinction, the above is simply wrong. In Dahl's questionaire, My brother wrote (an indeterminate set of) letters.'' was translated using aorist. That it would be so in OCS or Latin is as certain as anything concerning non-living languages can be. Most linguists do not want to deny the status of perfective to the aorists and hence they need to come up with a better definition. [The case of Greek is insteresting. If, as sometime claimed in IE-aspectology, verbs such as I worked' were expressed in PIE (or proto-Greek) using the imperfect, when did the change occur?] > Once one has the correct definitions in mind, one can see why Lehmann has no > hesitation in attributing to the IE injunctive (-perfective, +durative), to > the aorist (+perfective, + momentary), to the perfect > (+perfectuve, -momentary) (Winfred Lehmann, Proto-Indo-European Syntax, > Austin, 1974). I presume that you meant imperfect' instead of injunctive'. Anyway, the characterization of perfect is beyond the pale. Perfect can denote the state, and the most wide-spread example *woida' does. And states are supposed to be as imperfective as they come. [Kurylowicz's version, that perfect is a complex construct combining imperfective and perfective, is better.] From vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu Wed Sep 1 18:56:26 1999 From: vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu (Vidhyanath Rao) Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 14:56:26 -0400 Subject: "Perfective" definition Message-ID: wrote: > Larry Trask's definition of "perfective", > which Pat quoted today, is very much on target. >> Larry, for example, in his dictionary defines "perfective" as "A >> superordinate aspectual category involving a lack of explicit >> reference to the internal temporal consistency of a situation", > Other than not knowing what the "superordinate" means here > (general, abstract?), "lack of explicit reference to the internal > temporal consistency of a situation" is very much like the shorter > "treated as an indivisible unit" which I use. Larry's definition sounds very much like Comrie's. I don't have Larry's dictionary at hand, but the above suggests that the imperfective pays attention to the internal make-up of the situation (as Comrie makes explicit). But this is questionable (see, for example, Dahl, Tense and aspect systems, p.76). There is also another objection. There are languages in which morphemes denoting aktionsart combine with perfective-imperfective distinction. For example, in Slave there are prefixes that denote momentary, continuative' (explained as directed durative events) etc (in the grammar by Keren Rice these are called aspect'). There is a separate set of prefixes that denote perfective, imperfective or optative (called markers of modes' by Rice). These go into different slots. There are more than a dozen slots which makes it hard to figure out what is going on. But it seems that, for example, continuative marker and perfective marker can be combined. It seems strange to say that the perfective marker ignores the internal structure of the event specified by the continuative marker, while the imperfective marker pays attention to it. A simpler example is possible if you will let me use hypothetical languages: Consider one, with aspect, in which shake' is formed with a morpheme that generally indicates iteration. [I got this idea from a description of reduplication in Dakota, but it is said not to have tense or aspect.] I shook the tree. Apples fell down.' would be expressed using a perfective. But the action of shaking involves iteration as make explicit by the form. Same thing might go for walk' (iterative of step'). What should we do in this case? [BTW, I still don't know the difference between treat as an indivisible unit' and treat as a whole'. In fact I am not sure that that reply relates to this question, rather than the difference between is objectively indivisible' and is treated as a whole'.] From ECOLING at aol.com Thu Sep 2 03:36:58 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 23:36:58 EDT Subject: Random Noise - quite different questions? Message-ID: I confess that I do not entirely understand the reasoning used by John McLaughlin in his message on this subject today. That is not an oblique criticism, it simply means only what it says. I would appreciate if the logic and assumptions were laid out in greater detail. I promise not to be offended if some of it seems exceedingly elementary. I do attempt one interpretation below, based on the clues I have, to make sense of it for myself. But it involves an assumption about Multilateral Comparison which I do not share. Because of the following phrasing: >In other words, we have SIX times as much random >noise by doubling the number of languages involved in the comparison. I fear that we are discussing quite different questions. If Random Noise is expressed as a percentage of the data available, then it does not increase when there are more languages, it is by definition constant, at whatever percentage was specified. So John's reasoning would seem to require some way of getting results which is not based on proportions but is based on absolute quantity of noise? His reasoning would seem to regard the positive data used by the method of Multilateral Comparison as the data generated by the random noise, rather than the data which escaped the random noise. This seems to suppose that lookalikes which some method suggests to be plausible potential cognates (a method which McLaughlin is considering) are GENERATED by the random noise just as much as they are survivals recognizable DESPITE random noise. With criteria for linking lookalikes sufficiently loose to have no principles behind them, of course we would have anything compared with anything, and then it would be true. But my experience is the reverse, so far, if we are careful to evaluate how strict our judgments of lookalikes are. When Alexis Manaster-Ramer proposed a possible counter-example a year or so ago, saying that Zuni could be linked with IE just as closely as with Amerind, I pointed out that the phonetic resemblances he was permitting when linking Zuni with IE were in fact much looser than the ones being permitted to link Zuni with Amerind. I do NOT believe my judgments were at all colored by a preference one way or the other, they were simply based on "nearness" or "minimal steps of change" or "most plausible steps of change" to get from a common proto-form to the two items being considered as conceivable cognates, in Greenberg's sets of lookalike linkages, and in Manaster-Ramer's sets of lookalike linkages. All that is needed in this case of Multilateral Comparison is the conclusion that the steps needed to link some proto-form to both Zuni and other Amerind are less numerous or rare, on average, than the steps needed to link Zuni and IE. That is a fairly precise statement of how Multilateral Comparison works, but of course with many languages. Fewer steps or differences equals a closer potential relationship (as a working hypothesis to be investigated further, including by other methods) Still needed is much more work on what are common and rare phonetic steps, what are common and rare semantic steps, what are common and rare typological structure steps, etc. Testing and *calibrating* Multilateral Comparison even on families we already know to be genetically related (via the Comparative Method for example) can actually help us to develop more exact knowledge on these kinds of steps. *** To contrast the views on random noise, let us start with a situation in which there had been only regular sound changes, but no random replacements which make identification of cognates any more difficult than typical regular sound changes would do. Then we would, in the ABSENCE of random noise, have a certain number of lookalikes which were good enough to rank as provisional possible cognates, and to be included in the tallies for relative closeness or divergence of some group of languages being considered. Now add random noise. It should in this view DECREASE the number of lookalikes which would be recognizable to whatever algorithmic or human-judgmental method is used, by removing some which otherwise would have been present and found linkable by that method. If it is truly random, it should not change the RELATIVE RANKINGS of closeness vs. divergence, it should only decrease the closeness overall. So, to summarize, I was calculating the LOSS of information from random interferences, loss of information which could be used to identify lookalikes which might actually turn out after more analysis to be cognates. *** I think I can interpret what John said by adding a specification of a different kind. Supposing John is thinking of a form of Multilateral Comparison in which any match between any two languages is regarded as valid, and we do not care what PROPORTION of the total languages or families being compared show a match belonging to a particular vocabulary set. Let me agree at the outset that sometimes Greenberg seems to do this, or does do it. Please accept the word "sometimes" here, I am not interested in discussing whether that "sometimes" is rare or often, because it is a SEPARATE question NOT inherent to Multilateral Comparison (take note of the cases in which Multilateral Comparison has been successfully used in the past, for examples which did not need to take that very loose approach). I do not accept that loose approach. For me, Multilateral Comparison does NOT mean that one can choose for each vocabulary item one thinks might be a proto-cognate set, any pair of languages, and not care what proportion of the languages or families it is represented in. That was NOT true of the Multilateral Comparison done under Catherine the Great, nor I suspect by Greenberg himself in his African Language Classification. Rather, we DO care that the vocabulary be represented "widely" across all members of the putative grouping (whether called a "family" or "stock" or not). The problem is that we do not yet have MODELS of the rate at which such vocabulary representation decreases, becomes less broad, with increasing time depth, discussed precisely relative to this question of the broadness of representation, vs. representation in, at the extreme, only two languages. If we pay no attention to how widely distributed a set of lookalikes are, we are indeed likely to get more noise included and treated as likely cognates, where the patterning might suggest if we were omniscient that the particular lookalikes are not particularly likely to be cognates. There is my attempt to understand what I think John McLaughlin may have been pointing to in his message today. In any case, I wish to reinforce that I expect the rate of tailing off of multiple-language representation of TRUE cognates (under any reasonable algorithm) to be a pattern which we CAN study in known cases. I don't think theoretical calculations are anywhere near as valuable as the study of known cases, in which we attempt to measure how much more difficult matters get as we gradually increase time depth. Do it for Indo-European, for goodness sake, where we AGREE that the languages all belong to one family, and yet MUCH vocabulary is NOT represented throughout the family. That does not cause us to doubt the reality of IE. When pushed by the data pattern, linguists discuss dialect chains or even networks or areal subparts of IE. So how much of this should we expect for different depths of relationship? Get the statistics on this, formulated in a simple and objective way which can be compared with both other known and unknown cases. across different levels of depth of dialects, families, family groupings and super-families of IE, see whether the rate of representation tails off in a linear, geometric, or other pattern with increasing depth, and what the range of variation is for different instances of the "same" time depth (which might depend on different social situations, such as the relative isolation of Icelandic, vs. Scandinavian, vs. mainland Germanic from other closely related languages of their family). Best wishes, Lloyd Anderson From X99Lynx at aol.com Thu Sep 2 04:02:48 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 00:02:48 EDT Subject: color terms Message-ID: In a message dated 8/30/99 11:29:43 PM, wrschmidt at adelphia.net wrote: <> And there's "true blue", "blue laws" and "my blue heaven". But I believe "blue in the face" refers to asphyxiation - "hold my breath until I'm..." <> I think the reference in ON glossaries to "livid" has been misunderstood. The "livid" being referred to is a COLOR. Related in Latin first it seems to the "color" lead leaves on the hands. It came to mean discoloration, a bruise or black and blue mark. But it's also been described as a "leaden" pale-blue. To the Romans, livid was also later a metaphor for envy, spite and maliciousness, based on an actual old Roman saying about your face being the color of lead "with envy." Another case like the Celtic where green and gray seem to merge. "Livid" however meaning anger or rage seems to be very, very recent. But "livid" has for a very long time in referred to being bruised or being "beaten black and blue." Bla or blar (masc sing) in ON is definitely a bluish color, but it appears it carries the grayish or discolored meaning you will see in definitions calling it "livid." Not the emotion. In Greek (when in doubt, check the Greek) we see both "glaukos" and "kuaneos" referring to what we would call blue coloring. Glaukos first meant shiny or glossy and referred to things like the surface on olives and grapes, but it seems to have shifted by analogy to the color of eyes, eventually blue eyes. Kuaneos referred to an early enamel and then to lapis lazuli and described a different color than glaukos or the Hyacinth blue also in use then. These weren't lumped together as "blues" in any record until Plato. I don't know there's anything between glaukos and forms like 'blao' or 'bla:k' but its always interesting to look. <> When you look at it historically, this seems backwards. We are told by Pliny and others that both Celtic men and woman decoratively dyed their bodies blue with 'woad,' Isatis tinctorum - but also "glastrum" - in Latin. Classicists therefore often refer to "woad-colored" warriors, but apparently it wasn't special to warriors or to battle. Cf., Picts. So possibly Bla'mann referred to people who dyed their bodies blue. Or who were beaten black and blue from too much fighting. Like the old "black and blue" division of the NFL. Or specifically to Celts who retained the custom of using woad on their bodies. A better explanation I think for Bla'madr, if we go the way of color, is that it represented a more mundane association with the color or an insignia. Long before Old Norse was recorded or possibly existed, color names were used to refer to factions or affiliations. E.g., the Venetiani in Rome were members of the "blue party," who all wore a blue color called "Venetus," possibly from a dye made in the region of modern Venice. Danes apparently did the same sort of thing according to Saxo. A little like communists being Reds. Or the Blue and the Gray. Or the Purple Gang. Perhaps as appropriate is the pigment/place connection. "Armenia" in Latin and (with an early hint in Greek) which not only referred to the country, but was also the name of a blue made from dyes that were made in Armenia from crushed bluestone. I don't think Bla'madr actually referred to blue, but if it did I'd bet on one of the above - rather than it meaning modern-Viking-myth berserker-style "madness." A word BTW that has an interesting history of its own. Regards, Steve Long From jonpat at staff.cs.su.oz.au Thu Sep 2 04:43:18 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.su.oz.au (jonpat at staff.cs.su.oz.au) Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 14:43:18 +1000 Subject: No subject Message-ID: Ros Frank has asked me to send this item to the list on her behalf as she does not have subscriber access from her current account. I will offer my own account when I can get through the backlog in my mail. jon patrick *********************************8888 I am writing to make a couple of brief comments on the monosyllabic project that Jon Patrick has mentioned on the list. I've beenout of the country for a while so I haven't been able to follow all the discussion of late. Hopefully I won't be repeating to many things that have already been said. First, I would like to point out an aspect of the project that I find particularly interesting, although I don't think it has been mentioned on the list. As I understand the monosyllabic project, at least as it was conceptualized a year or so ago, it can be characterized as having two stages. The first stage is that of coming up with an agreed upon description of the phonological constraints of pre-Basque, i.e., its phonology prior to contact with the Romance languages. That stage requires developing a uniform description. However, as I understand the present situation in Basque there is not total agreement concerning this stage of the reconstruction of Euskera. Stated differently there are disagreements among Basque linguists. That fact would seem to call for more than one set of "rules" to be developed and applied to the data. Or at least in the case of the elements in question, there would need to be two different renditions of the data provided, one that modelled it according to one paradigm and another simulation that would result from the alternate set of premises concerning this pre-Basque phonology. Secondly, as I understand it, once these rules are developed (whether they result in two or more simulations is not the issue), they can be applied to generate the total picture of what monosyllabic root-stems the phonological system in question would have supported/permitted. Some time back I saw an early version of this data in which Jon had indicated which slots were filled and which were empty. In the case of the empty slots, it would seem to me that they might provide the basis for some interesting discussion concerning why they are not filled. At the same time, as Jon knows, in my opinion some of the (apparently) monosyllabic root-stems may, indeed, be composed of a root and a suffixing element. These patterns, of course, can be readily detected by examining the data, e.g., the percentage of root-stems that show the same final elements. For those familiar with the suffixing processes in Euskera, I'm particularly interested in the way that the <-tz> suffixing element may be coming into play in the case of certain examples. Comments? Roz Frank e-mail: roz-frank at uiowa.edu Department of Spanish & Portuguese University of Iowa ------- End of Forwarded Message From X99Lynx at aol.com Thu Sep 2 05:28:57 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 01:28:57 EDT Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (a test) Message-ID: In a message dated 9/1/99 11:28:56 PM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu wrote: <> There was a bit of discussion on this list about all this last year. I won't rehash it and I don't know about Sanskrit. But Latin went clearly quite beyond "artifical" preservation. It was a hard-working, spoken language of international trade, of law and of court and science. I think it was E.B. White who once demonstrated that there were whole communities of merchants, clerics and administrators who never spoke anything but Latin their whole lives. (or something like that. I lost the quote.) It was not the language of the majority of the people, of course. And it was probably mainly a second-language. But Latin sure did represent the main language of a large "language community" in medieval times. And its precision, vocabulary (see Othrid's letter) and multinationalism made it at least as effective at performing as a language than many vernaculars. But I want to mention that I think Larry Trask's statement about parent-duaghter co-existence (that they can't) is a methodological assumption. I think. Obviously there's nothing logically that keeps speakers of a parent tongue from continuing to speak the parent tongue the day after some distant dialect officially becomes a different "language." Regards, S. Long From ECOLING at aol.com Thu Sep 2 12:11:11 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 08:11:11 EDT Subject: nasal pres / root aor Message-ID: In a message dated 9/2/99 1:03:36 AM, vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu writes: >This is fine if huekzi meant only kill'. But how does unfinished' >stabbing lead to wound'? It's that wounding, stabbing, is unfinished killing, or attempt to kill, or etc. Lloyd Anderson From ECOLING at aol.com Thu Sep 2 12:29:42 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 08:29:42 EDT Subject: "Perfective" definition Message-ID: In a message dated 9/2/99 1:36:12 AM, vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu writes as quoted in the second paragraph below. My own intro explanation: Referring to the Athabaskan language Slave: I have added the quotation marks to highlight where I think the use of terms has confused things, and added the brackets to clarify a bit more closely what is actually being referred to, I would think. In any case, unless we understand such an admittedly complex language's system very thoroughly, it is not advisable to try to use it as a counterexample to anything. >It >seems strange to say that the perfective marker ignores the internal >structure of the event specified by the "continuative" [directed durative] "marker" [? event or Aktionsart], while the >imperfective marker pays attention to it. Then... >A simpler example is possible if you will let me use hypothetical >languages: Consider one, with aspect, in which shake' is formed with >a morpheme that generally indicates iteration. [I got this idea from a >description of reduplication in Dakota, but it is said not to have tense >or aspect.] I shook the tree. Apples fell down.' would be expressed using >a perfective. But the action of shaking involves iteration as make >explicit by the form. Same thing might go for walk' (iterative of >step'). What should we do in this case? This is no dilemma at all. A Perfective can be something which has an internal iterative in the fact of the event, and the iterative or durative can thus be Aktionsart not Aspect. The Aktionsart, or the event itself, always takes at least some time duration, even for "explode" etc. But that DOES NOT FORCE the thinking human being to treat it as having internal structure in the DISCOURSE. The internal structure may be purely lexical, irrelevant to the DISCOURSE ASPECT (point of view) of the speaker, who is "treating it as an indivisible whole" or "indivisible unit" -- the two are the same thing as far as I understand the use of ordinary language in this context. The point is, yet again, that the nature of the real world does NOT determine what aspect is appropriate. The speaker's point of view, the function in the discourse, determines that. Saying that some action "really has" internal structure simply cannot count as evidence that a perfective does not mean what its definition says it means. Reality is not the point. Thought is. Language reflects thought, and thought reflects reality, language does not reflect reality directly, but only indirectly. My experience is that every linguist who ends up learning what Aspect is goes through a painful process of developing this concept of the independence of aspectual concepts from the physical facts of reality. The physical facts of reality do influence the STATISTICAL occurrence of aspectual categories, but only that. We must prove what was in the mind of the speaker or writer in order to discover the correlation of meaning with the forms of particular aspectual categories, or even to show that a grammatical category actually is an aspectual category, rather than being lexical Aktionsart (not discourse) or something else. Best wishes, Lloyd Anderson From ECOLING at aol.com Thu Sep 2 12:39:15 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 08:39:15 EDT Subject: IE Trees: innovations unmarked Message-ID: This thread is no longer really about the UPenn work. It is about two other issues. One is that calling a descendant language by the same name as an ancestor does not make it the same language (i.e. unchanged). It may be purely a matter of cultural politics that the same name is used. The other is that trees, as discussed by the proponents of orthodox theory in this thread, do NOT fully reflect notions about retentions vs. innovations. We cannot see from a single binary branch on a tree whether the RIGHT branch innovated (and all further descendants of that branch share such innovation(s)), or whether the LEFT branch innovated (and all further descendants of that branch share such innovation(s)), or whether EACH OF THE TWO branches had innovations common to all descendants from their own respective branch. Perhaps I have missed something, but the defenders of the orthodox theoretical view seem not to be taking the valid part of the commentors' messages with enough weight??? Should we MARK points of innovation on trees, to indicate which branch innovates, or if both or more than two do? Lloyd Anderson Ecological Linguistics From ECOLING at aol.com Thu Sep 2 12:55:53 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 08:55:53 EDT Subject: Exceptions to sound changes Message-ID: In a message dated 9/2/99 12:10:25 AM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu writes: >Yes, it's quite true that the Neogrammarian Hypothesis (exceptionlessness >of sound changes) is a working assumption. It's an assumption which seems >warranted, and further, it is the crucial assumption which allows us to >conduct the Comparative Method at all. If it's false, all bets are off. >It would leave us with no currently known and reliable methodology for >engaging in language reconstruction at all. I believe it is NOT TRUE IN PRACTICE that exceptionlessness of sound change is the crucial assumption, though it is a central working technique (working hypothesis), unless one means the words circularly in some way by definition. 1. We know perfectly well that sound changes are not without exceptions, all over the world. That does not discourage us in general... 2. There are often more detailed conditions, which look like exceptions until we discover more fine-grained conditioning, yet we do not throw out the putative cognate sets just because of that, rather we work to find the more fine-grained conditioning by contexts. 3. Grammatical morphemes are often exempted from following ALL of the "laws" of sound change, yet are still allowed to be regarded as cognate by practicioners of the Comparative Method. 4. Even worse, sociolinguists and dialectologists know of many cases in which sound changes spread slowly across the vocabulary, when observed in process. When observed from a great distance in time, this means that some part of the vocabulary undergoes a particular sound change, another part does not. When combined with fine-grained context conditioning as in (2), this becomes very complex. 5. Yet the bottom line is that, while we look for regular sound changes, we only need to find an approximation to them, in practice, to be satisfied. 6. The above is NOT to be confused with the situation where we are confident that we are WITHIN the limits where a change is regular, and therefore can conclude that a word was borrowed from one language into another, or even in the most difficult cases if we have ideal information, one word was borrowed from one dialect into another closely related dialect. 7. So, if exceptionlessness is not an absolute requirement, ONE of the ways of struggling to deal with this fact, while being able to penetrate greater depths where we do not have so many recurrences of a particular sound correspondence, so less ability to judge whether it is exceptionless or not, is to measure not "identities" but "near identities", with a metric of "nearness" which must be empirically based. This can maintain rigorous method without absolutes. Best wishes, Lloyd Anderson Ecological Linguistics From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Thu Sep 2 16:07:01 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 12:07:01 -0400 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (a test) In-Reply-To: <21216880.24fe319c@aol.com> Message-ID: On Wed, 1 Sep 1999 X99Lynx at aol.com wrote: (Your message is so long that I'm going to have to be selective about which parts I respond to; sorry.) > You might check whether all this makes sense with Mr. Tandy. It should. Just as a minor correction, her name is Tandy Warnow. > But do understand that this Tree and its approach seems to have a lot of > weight behind it (Ringe, UPenn, 'an algorithm developed to produce optimal > phylogenies of biological species' and page 369 of Larry Trask's textbook - > although he does not seem to necessarily endorse the approach.) > This Stammbaum put in such a light might actually mislead people into > thinking that there is a degree of certainty in this that the authors might > not endorse. I think that happened to me at one point. I'd be the last person to say that we ought to judge an approach on the basis of the prestige of its developers. It ought to be judged on its own merits without regard to who thought it up. > In any case, whether or not this approach actually adds anything to our > knowledge is not a given. There's the question of the kind of data that it > is based on, for example. The relative weight put on the specific > similarities and differences among the languages in calculating relatedness. > I never did ask if reconstructed forms were included in the data. The tree > appears to be rooted chronologically, since PIE caps it, and that raises the > question of how dates of attestation were handled. And so forth. To answer these questions: -As I mentioned before, the characters were morphological, phonological, and lexical. The team would prefer to use strictly morphological characters, but the problem is that there aren't enough of them, so they have to flesh out their data set with other types of characters. -I _think_ that all the characters were weighted equally; I could be wrong on this point. I don't remember either reading or hearing anything from the team about weighting any characters more heavily, altho the methodology certainly allows you to do so if you choose. -Reconstructed forms were not included in the data. -Dates of attestation were not taken into consideration at all when producing the unrooted phylogeny. It was produced strictly on the basis of the characteristics of the languages without regard to dating. _After_ this tree had been produced, the team did go on to produce a version of the tree showing the earliest date of attestation for each language against the branchings they had already worked out; it puts certain constraints on when the posited branchings could have happened. > Here are two basic problems: > You wrote: > < character-based approach could not arrive at the tree that you drew.>> > I don't believe that's true. You may have misunderstood. What I wrote was > that "the Stammbaum with its given assumptions, would not be able to reflect > these events accurately." > In fact, I believe that the hypothetical tree would LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME. > (remember that the hypothesis is that you do not know that "Celtic1" was the > actual parent.) This is simply because you would have no way of knowing that > what you are calling innovations are actually inherited and vice versa. The > attributes of filial "Celtic 6" - the first attested appearance - justifiably > look like late innovations. You would be totally justified in looking > elsewhere for earlier indications of the parent. The Stammbaum would be > perhaps your best guess - given your ignorance. > > (Please read this with some care.) This is not a specific fault in the > Stammbaum or the approach. This is the necesssary degree of uncertainty we > have about these past relationships. The time of first attestation is all we > have to go by. So, in the extreme case of a parent that is understandably > mistaken for a filial, we would have all the paths of descent wrong. I think I might have been misunderstood here. Suppose we grant your premise: that a language remained unchanged over many centuries, while various other languages branch off from it and innovate (If this is true, then several of the internal nodes in the tree represent _exactly_ the same language). At the end of the process, what linguists are left with is the terminal nodes of a phylogeny, with no knowledge about the internal structure of the tree. What I'm saying is this: if we took character-based data from the various daughter languages and ran the algorithm we've been discussing over them, that algorithm would _not_ produce a tree where the same language is found on multiple internal nodes within the tree (which is what you're positing). It would produce a tree where all the temporal stages of your unchanging parent language are represented as a single node. As for not being able to tell what's an innovation, this is just wrong in the case of mergers. I'll give a case of this below. > I hope you see this. As in genetics, the individual expression of a gene > does not tell you by itself where it belongs in the line of descent. That's > because basically the parent gene looks exactly like the filial gene. And > "shared innovations" are just more localized genes, shared by fewer > individuals, and they will tell you nothing about parentage until you have > some way to assign a place in time to them. If you assign the wrong place in > time, you will quite simply mistake the parent for the F generation and vice > versa, through no fault of your own. > You wrote: > < because the other branches would have to undergo some impossible > unmergings.>> > I'd really, really ask that you give one example of that. I don't think it is > true. Of course, you should not use Grimm's law or similar prehistoric event > as a dating mechanism, for the simple reason that is circular. If, e.g., > Proto-Celtic were assumed to be PIE, it would not need to change the fact of > Grimm's Law, but it might change its dating (which is in controversy in any > case.) I certainly can. For example, PIE distinguishes three different series of dorsal obstruents: the palatals (*k', *g', *g'h), the velars (*k, *g, *gh), and the labiovelars (*kw, *gw, *gwh). Only one IE language preserves this three-way distinction intact (namely, Luvian of the Anatolian group); all the others merge at least two of the series. Celtic, like most of the European IE languages, merges the palatal series with the velar series. Indo-Iranian, on the other hand, merges the velars and the labiovelars. Celtic therefore cannot be the proto-language for the whole family. There is _no_ _way_ that the Celtic palatal/velar series could come to be unmerged in exactly the same way in Anatolian, Indo-Iranian, etc. Unmergers of this sort simply don't happen; mergers are irreversible. (To be 100% honest, I'd need to qualify that last statement, but the qualification would not be productive here; for the purposes at hand, the statement as I gave it is true.) > There should really be no unmerging problems, only a rearrangement of dates > and directions of inheritance and a reassessment of what constitutes > innovations. YOUR RAW DATA STAYS THE SAME. It's just the interpretation > that changes. That's true when you're producing a phylogeny of biological species. It doesn't work when you're talking about languages. When we're talking about genetic innovations, it doesn't matter what order the innovations happened in; and there's always the possibility of back-mutation, etc. Not so for human language. As I just described in a recent post, the innovations often have to have happened in a particular order, because a different ordering would give the wrong results. Further, there is no linguistic analog to biological back-mutation, because once a phonological merger is done, it's done. You can't undo it. So in linguistics, you don't have the luxury that you have in biology of being able to draw different trees for the same species based on different choices about the temporal ordering. > Of course, you may argue that Hittite and Greek historically appears before > Celtic and so must be assumed to be older. That is fine. But it is not > linguistic evidence. And to the extent that the Stammbaum and the approach > is making any such assumptions, it is extra-linguistic. And should be > understood to be so. I agree with this. As it works out, if you impose the tree I gave on the earliest dates of attestation for the various branches, it has to have been the case that all of the branching took place prior to the earliest attestation of an IE language, namely Hittite. The exceptions are the branchings of Germanic from Balto-Slavic, and the branching of Baltic and Slavic, which could have happened after Hittite was attested. > A completely different issue is this business of the stem. You've describe > it many ways, but you still haven't accounted for something. And that is the > speakers - perhaps a majority - who are not part of the branch-offs through > all the branchings. If the branchings don't happen all at once, then there > is a core still extant that these branches are coming from. RIGHT DOWN TO > THE LAST BRANCH-OFF. This a is a logical necessity. (EXCEPT of course for > the last branch-off!) There must still be speakers who are NOT Tocharin or > Italo-Celtic or Greek-Armenian after those languages are represented as > branching off. Let me say it again: there is no meaningful concept of a "main stem" in this tree. You keep on bringing this up, but it is just meaningless. The branchings in the tree represent unshared innovations; no more, no less. It's simply an accident of history that the branchings happened in such a way that the tree is a bit lopsided in its branchings. Suppose that history had run differently; suppose that all the branchings occurred as they did, but that the Anatolian and Tocharian branches had survived and flourished down to the present, with a great many sub-branches in their parts of the tree. Let's say that Greek, Italic, Celtic, Balto-Slavic, and Germanic had all died out prior to the advent of writing, leaving just a few speakers of Sanskrit and Armenian up in the mountains somewhere to represent the whole left side of the tree. This would in _no_ _way_ change the the meaning of the first two branchings at the top of the tree (PIE branching to Anatolian and an unlabelled node, and the unlabelled node branching to Tocharian and another unlabelled node). In this hypothetical world, someone like you might argue that some line of descent thru the heavily ramified Tocharian or Anatolian branch is the "main stem". But this is meaningless in terms of the criteria on which the tree was worked out. > And that means those speakers should be speaking a language between the > branch-offs that had an identity of its own. It might or might not have a _culturally recognized_ identity of its own. For example, if the speakers of Pre-Proto-Italo-Celtic were engaged in trade with the speakers of Proto-Greco-Armenian-Indo-Iranian-Balto-Slavic- Germanic, they was very likely a period where they considered their language to be the same while being aware that there are differences, as is the case for speakers of American and British English today. On the other hand, it could be like modern Hindi and Urdu, which are the same language, altho the speakers hotly deny it for political reasons. We don't know how these prehistoric groups felt about each other. In terms of the innovations within the branches, it doesn't matter. > It is not equatable to earlier > branch-offs and it cannot be equated with later branch-offs. That core has > to have a real existence, separate from the branches. Otherwise your > branches are all chronological daughters of each other, one after another. > That is why representing that core in the Stammbaum is also a logical > necessity. > It represents speakers who are speaking a distinct LANGUAGE that isn't any of > the branches until at least the final branch. Yes, each of the internal nodes in the tree is intended to represent a particular language which was spoken in some time and place. For example, when the tree shows a branching between the Greco-Armenian branch and the Germanic-Balto-Slavic-Indo-Iranian branch, the claim we're making is that there were two such languages being spoken somewhere. The nodes are not some abstraction; they represent actual posited prehistoric languages, albeit unlabelled. The point where I object is in calling any particular line of descent the "stem". No line of descent has any special status in the tree. \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Thu Sep 2 16:27:56 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 12:27:56 -0400 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (a test) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Wed, 1 Sep 1999, Rick Mc Callister wrote: > Why not? Creolization and Pidginization are languages with more > than one lineal ancestor. There would be no Tok Pisin if it weren't for > English. They're totally different processes. Italian developed from Latin by regular sound change. Creoles don't arise by regular sound change. When a language becomes creolized, it typically inherits little to none of the morphology of its contributer languages, and its undergoes a substantial elaboration in its syntax and phonology, resulting in elements in the language which cannot be attributed to anything obvious in any of the contributor languages. > One could argue that the relation between English and Tok Pisin [et > al.] isn't that different form the relationship between Latin and the > Romance languages. Sociolinguistically, yes. Historically, no. It's true that in both cases, there's one lect which is used more for scholarly purposes, etc. (Latin or English), and another which is used at home and for everyday trade (Italian or Tok Pisin). That's a totally separate question from what the historical relationship is between the languages. Indeed, you can have essentially the same sociolinguistic situation where there is no known genetic connection between the two languages at all (e.g. Spanish and Guarani). > Re mother-daughter languages, it's certainly plausible for dialects > to change at different rates and for a dialect, due to isolation or > emmigration, to evolve into another language while the parent language is > still spoken in the home country [or vice versa if one considers the > situation of Icelandic vis-a-vis Norwegian Landsmal/Nynorsk]. No language is a "living museum" of some earlier stage of the language. All dialects innovate over time, even if we admit that some dialects innovate more rapidly than others. Let me give a well-worn example here. There's a widespread misconception that Appalachian English is a holdover of Elizabethan-era English. It's quite true that Appalachian English retains some archaisms which were lost elsewhere, but that's not the end of the story. There are other dialects of American English which retain archaisms which were lost in Appalachian English. All dialects have innovated; there's no one dialect of American English which retains the original state of affairs. \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From CONNOLLY at LATTE.MEMPHIS.EDU Thu Sep 2 17:00:44 1999 From: CONNOLLY at LATTE.MEMPHIS.EDU (CONNOLLY at LATTE.MEMPHIS.EDU) Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 12:00:44 -0500 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (a test) Message-ID: >On Tue, 31 Aug 1999 CONNOLLY at LATTE.MEMPHIS.EDU wrote: >> How about this example: medieval Franch, Spanish, Italian etc. beside >> medieval Latin, which certainly must be regarded as a living language >> but was effectively indistinguishable from the "Vulgar Latin" that was >> the actual source of these tongues? Similarly, what about Sanskrit >> (still living, for some Indians, and long kept alive for scholarly use) >> and modern Indic languages? If they are not descended precisely from >> Sanskrit as codified by Pan.ini, that is mere chance; there would be no >> *logical* problem in saying that they had, just as there is no logical >> problem in saying that medieval Latin coexisted with its descendants, >> the medieval romance tongues. Sean Crist parried: >In both the case of Latin and of Sanskrit, the earlier litrary/liturgical >language was artifically preserved thru a specific prescriptive, scholarly >effort. Beyond a certain point, I doubt that they were anybody's native >language. I agree completely. But what does that have to do with anything? A language is alive if it is used, i.e. spoken and often, as in these instances, written. And we must concede that people -- even some Americans -- do use second languages. -- On another track, doesn't your argument imply that Esperanto could never be a living language, since it's nobody's first one? >If I utter a novel sentence in, say, Tocharian B, does that mean that >Tocharian B is a 'living' language? No. But if you said it to a group of people who understood it, and they could and did reply in kind, the situation is different. I realize that negatives are difficult to prove, but what arguments could you present that Latin was not a living language among medieval and renaissance churchmen and scholars? They could and did use it for all purposes. Leo Leo A. Connolly Foreign Languages & Literatures connolly at memphis.edu University of Memphis From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Thu Sep 2 17:27:48 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 13:27:48 -0400 Subject: Unicode in linguistics [was Re: Ancestor-descendant distance] In-Reply-To: <199908310803.KAA19824@smtp1.xs4all.nl> Message-ID: On Mon, 30 Aug 1999, R.C. Bakhuizen van den Brink [Rein] wrote: > [ Moderator's comment: > This discussion, while interesting, has gone far beyond the bounds of the > list. Please move to private e-mail or another forum. > --rma ] To be honest, I think that's a bad idea; if there's going to be any kind of coordinated effort to put Indo-European resources online, it would have to be organized thru lists such as this one. I'm sure we'd all agree that having such resources would be good for IE scholarship. Discussion of such a project will necessarily entail forays into the technical details involved. If we can't hash out standards for online IE resources here, is there any other likely forum on the net where it could be done? i don't know of one. To be sure, I could always start a separate mailing list, but this seems like an unproductive duplication of effort. \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] [ Moderator's response: The discussion had drifted from "use of Unicode as a vehicle for representing IE data" to "this product of a software vendor does/doesn't support Unicode". I submit that the latter is irrelevant to the discussion *you* wish to have, which is actually one I am interested in myself, though in a negative sense. I welcome further discussion of the topic you propose above--with appropriate Subject: header(s) to alert those not interested that they can ignore these posts. --rma ] From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Thu Sep 2 20:33:27 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 15:33:27 -0500 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (a test) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: It would seem that there is probably period of time when the parent and daughter languages coexist in diglossia. In most languages, it's perhaps a few generations but in other cases, certain circumstances [ritual usage, elite or administrative usage, etc] can preserve the mother language for a very long time. I'd imagine that the children of the elite were probably growing up speaking Latin at home long after the children of the masses began speaking Romance. I imagine the same is true of Classical Arabic. In any case, the maintainance of Latin and Sankrit as spoken languages among the elite, albeit artificial, differs from you writing a sentence in Tokharian [snip] >In both the case of Latin and of Sanskrit, the earlier litrary/liturgical >language was artifically preserved thru a specific prescriptive, scholarly >effort. Beyond a certain point, I doubt that they were anybody's native >language. >If I utter a novel sentence in, say, Tocharian B, does that mean that >Tocharian B is a 'living' language? > \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) [ moderator snip ] Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Thu Sep 2 20:40:58 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 15:40:58 -0500 Subject: Horthmen as 'mGall' In-Reply-To: <000201bef4aa$c6178380$0b06703e@edsel> Message-ID: I've read many times that the Goidelic Celts were the descendants of the members of the Halstatt culture while Brythonic Celts were descendants of members of the La Tene culture. But given that Celtiberian is also Q-Celtic, I've wondered if P-Celtic wasn't an innovation that started at the center and only made it as far as the island of Great Britain. The 2 concepts are not necessarily mutually excludable, of course, in that the Q-Celts could have moved away from the center during the Halstatt phase while the /q/ > /p/ phonomenon began at the center during the La Tene phase. Inquiring minds want to know more [snip] >Geography seems to suggest that the Goidelic Celts belonged to an earlier wave >than the Brythonic Celts, if they all came from the continent that is.. [snip] Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Thu Sep 2 21:11:56 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 16:11:56 -0500 Subject: nasal pres / root aor In-Reply-To: <009d01bef4ae$faa72f20$9171fe8c@lucent.com> Message-ID: Because if it were finished the victim would be dead :> >Jens Elmegaard Rasmussen wrote: [ moderator snip ] >This is fine if huekzi meant only kill'. But how does unfinished' >stabbing lead to wound'? Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 From s455152 at aix1.uottawa.ca Fri Sep 3 04:30:40 1999 From: s455152 at aix1.uottawa.ca (Stephane Goyette) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 00:30:40 -0400 Subject: To Edward Selleslagh and Larry Trask, on Quebec French nasal vowels. In-Reply-To: <000a01beefb2$34372940$8d02703e@edsel> Message-ID: Sorry I couldn't reply earlier... To Edward Selleslagh: I sincerely apologize if my objections were expressed in too shrill a fashion. It is undeniably true that Quebec French is acoustically quite unlike the Parisian standard, or indeed most European varieties for that matter. On the subject of twenty-based numbering systems: Quebec French doesn't have any form like "septante", "otante" or "nonante". The numeral system in Quebec French is fundamentally that of the standard --except for certain speakers who use forms such as vingt-et-deux, vingt-et-trois, for standard vingt-deux, vingt-trois. Also, some varieties in Eastern Quebec (as well as Acadian French) have feminine forms DEUSSE, TROISSE for DEUX, TROIS. To Larry Trask: your surmise was not illogical. However, it is clear that Quebec French is transplanted seventeenth-century Parisian French, not a transplanted dialect or dialect koine, and the EN/AN merger had of course already taken place in this variety before it was transported to the Americas. My best to you both, Stephane Goyette. University of Ottawa. [ moderator snip ] From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Fri Sep 3 07:52:49 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 17:52:49 +1000 Subject: Basque statistics - methodological contradiction In-Reply-To: Your message of "Fri, 13 Aug 1999 16:14:38 +0100." Message-ID: Date: Fri, 13 Aug 1999 16:14:38 +0100 (BST) From: Larry Trask I was struck by this comment at the very end of LArry's mail of friday 13th August Advance assumptions about what we ought' to find are dangerous. The full text of Larry's comment is below as a response to Lloyd Anderson's proposal( a course I am following) that words should not be discarded from analysis of early basque by Larry's criteria. [ start LT quote] Well, I am unwilling to assume in advance that CV syllable structures must have been typical of Pre-Basque. In fact, my preliminary work suggests strongly that Pre-Basque had an enormous proportion of vowel-initial words, probably totaling at least 50% of the recoverable lexicon, and possibly more. This I consider unusual, though a query last year on the LINGUIST List turned up a few other languages with the same property. Romance languages generally have a much lower proportion of vowel-initial words -- for example, a quick trawl of my biggest Spanish dictionary suggests that about 25% of Spanish words are vowel-initial. So, if we assume that we should automatically be preferring C-initials, we are likely to start preferring Romance words to native Basque words. Advance assumptions about what we ought' to find are dangerous. [end LT quote] This is presented after a long and detailed response to Lloyd Anderson's revision of his 6 rules for deciding what should be used as acceptable words in the study of early basque words. Larry's rules are highly restrictive and my counter argument is that they are too restrictive and they do not let the data speak for themselves. It seems to me, unless I am misreading something, that Larry's final comment objects to someone else entertaining an a priori model of the data as making assumptions, but doesn't perceive that he is making assumptions from his own expectations of what a basque word should look like. cheers Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Fri Sep 3 08:02:53 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 18:02:53 +1000 Subject: Ancestor-descendant distance In-Reply-To: Your message of "Fri, 13 Aug 1999 12:32:46 EDT." <86958a10.24e5a2ae@aol.com> Message-ID: Lloyd Anderson says" We must evaluate the tool against cases where we think we know what answers it should give, and try to see what parameters do limit or might limit its extrapolation to cases where we have no independent basis for drawing a conclusion. This is the explicit reason we started with the Chinese dialect -we had the mother and two daughter languages, we had the linguists representation of the relative chronolgy. The question was - could we repoduce the results of the linguists and from that add more information about the structure of the relative Chronolgy. The answer was "yes". A study of the work of Ringe and company on the family tree of Indo-European, in comparison with the method proposed by Jon Patrick, could be interesting. I would think, from the brief description Patrick supplied, and from what I have read of Ringe's work, that Patrick would want a larger quantity of computerized data than was put into the data set used by Ringe? I suspect so, but maybe not. A small data set merely limits the strength of the conclusions you arrive at. The computation itself is not limited by the dataset size. Indeed the computation could well inform you that the dataset is not large enough to given any statistically reliable result. That alone would be useful. We would be happy to process the data if made available to us. We now have an international standard computer Code, Unicode, which contains most of the characters needed for transliteration (Latin-standard-based letters) and for phonetic transcription (IPA). It would be useful to try to establish a standard for Comparative Data sets, into which all existing computer data sets can be translated, so that the massive sets of data can be made available for studies such as this. here, here Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From X99Lynx at aol.com Fri Sep 3 08:09:59 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 04:09:59 EDT Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (Celtic as PIE) Message-ID: In a message dated 9/2/99 11:39:20 PM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu wrote: <<-Reconstructed forms were not included in the data.>> <> Wait! <>!!!! No it doesn't. Not in the scenario I gave you. Celtic IS PIE! It distinguishes only two. Just a quick note. I am surprised you don't get this. But in this exercise you can't use reconstructions to disprove an alternate history. That's because they already contain the assumptions that you are supposedly testing. I'm saying the assumptions in the Stammbaum can just as easily be read another way. That means all the reconstructions change. PIE DOES NOT HAVE ALL THREE OBSTRUENTS in my scenario. Remember? Because my scenario is that Celtic IS PIE - from day one. If you don't presume those reconstructions, things work out very differently. Especially in your Stammbaum that "includes no reconstructions." <> So, how many mergers does that leave that would have to be unmerged if Celtic were the hypothetical parent? Again, Celtic never merged palatal and velar. Because Celtic IS PIE. So you call whatever is unique in IIr an innovation. (An unshared innovation.) And your problem is solved. Isn't it? No unmergings needed. I was always talking about how the Stammbaum would change and about the real data you were using.. My scenario mades Celtic equal PIE specifically to reveal the kind of assumptions being made that might go beyond the data. You stucvk the assumptions back in there. So you see you've demonstrated no "impossible" unmergings. Regards, Steve Long From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Fri Sep 3 08:41:32 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 18:41:32 +1000 Subject: Principled Comparative Method - a new tool In-Reply-To: Your message of "Wed, 18 Aug 1999 11:56:48 EDT." <6ce63738.24ec31c0@aol.com> Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1999 11:56:48 EDT From: X99Lynx at aol.com In a message dated 8/12/99 11:43:21 PM, jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au quoted: Steve Long said The tools needed first should get the history right, so that the apparent relationship between langauges are not merely artifacts. I must respectfully disagree with you on this Steve. The tools don't get anything right or wrong, they just compute - but if you are referring to the maxim "garbage in garbage out", I would agree entirely with you. The linguists need to get the history right. jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au wrote further: <> I'm wondering if there isn't a possible flaw here in using <>. Reconstructed words have already made assumptions about the relationship between the parent and the daughter languages. In fact they are nothing but a presumed relationship between the daughter languages. To amplify this point -the Chinese data was not a reconstruction -it used 3 documented languages. If you are using reconstructed languages then the only meaningful use of our tool is that it identifies which of two reconstructed relative chronologies is more probable given the patterns in the data. <> Depending on how much reconstruction of the parent you used, could this not be an artifact of the reconstructions? Yes it is an artefact of the reconstruction hence you need 2 reconstructions for the numbers to be meaningful. The strength of the method is that it incorporates not only the phonological changes but the sequence of their application over a statistically representative sample - that is also of course a limitation to its application. My request to linguists is to prepare and present your reconstructions not as fragmentary elements of this word changing to that word, but rather as a system represented by words changing in whatever ways you wish to assert, so that we can get at the problem wholistically not piecemeal. In *PIE, certain aspects are considered the innovations of a particular daughter language because they do not appear in the other daughter languages, and are therefore factored out of the reconstruction. If you only have two daughter languages - as you did above - how do you identify the innovation versus the original form in reconstruction? If I understand "innovation" correctly it has to represented by a rule of insertion from a null position. that's not a problem it's just another rule at a particular point in the Relative Chronolgy. The algortihm will process it correctly. And if you decide in favor of one or the other in reconstruction, it will show up in any further use of that reconstruction. And so one reconstruction has to pay the penalty of innovation and the other not. That would favour placing the non-innovative language closer to its parent than the innovator. That seems sensible all other things being equal, or am I missing something? In effect, you may to some degree be measuring how the relationship between the daughters has been perceived in the reconstructions that you use, as much as anything else. Can we measure anything else? Is the reconstruction ever saying anything else than this is the relationship between mother and daughter. I would think that the method you describe would be much more functional if it at least triangulated daughter languages. And avoided using prior reconstructions - proving itself on its own, so to speak. Yes I appreciate the requirement you are placing here but I don't think it is something that can be done. The question which language is closer to its parent is well-formed and answerable by our method, irregardless of the number of languages involved (the persuasive power of the answer may be variable depending on the quality of the dataset), However the question "how close are these languages" is not "well formed" (that is not answerable from the data) in the sense that any attempt to measure the similarities or differences that ignores their changes from their point of commonality is not modelling the processes they have gone through. I work through a mindset of "well formed questions" which conditions they way I look at data and attempt to analyse them. My perspectives don't always suit people, particularly the way it limits the answerable questions, but I find it useful. I think we have demonstrated the usefulness of our concepts and methods on the Chinese data but others may require more complex tests. We will co-operate if it is at all humanly possible. cheers Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From edsel at glo.be Fri Sep 3 10:25:55 1999 From: edsel at glo.be (Eduard Selleslagh) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 12:25:55 +0200 Subject: Random Noise - quite different questions? Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] -----Original Message----- From: ECOLING at aol.com To: Indo-European at xkl.com Date: Friday, September 03, 1999 3:29 AM Subject: Random Noise - quite different questions? >I confess that I do not entirely understand the reasoning used >by John McLaughlin in his message on this subject today. >That is not an oblique criticism, it simply means only what >it says. I would appreciate if the logic and assumptions were >laid out in greater detail. I promise not to be offended if some >of it seems exceedingly elementary. >I do attempt one interpretation below, based on the >clues I have, to make sense of it for myself. >But it involves an assumption about Multilateral Comparison >which I do not share. >Because of the following phrasing: >>In other words, we have SIX times as much random >>noise by doubling the number of languages involved in the comparison. >I fear that we are discussing quite different questions. >If Random Noise is expressed as a percentage of the data >available, then it does not increase when there are more languages, >it is by definition constant, at whatever percentage was specified. >So John's reasoning would seem >to require some way of getting results which is not based on >proportions but is based on absolute quantity of noise? [snip] >Best wishes, >Lloyd Anderson [Ed] I'm equally intrigued: I would rather expect the amount of spurious results to decrease as the number of languages involved increases, since the number of chance resemblances, false potential cognates etc. (which I would call noise, i.e. meaningless 'results' of the comparison) common to all or a significant number of the languages involved decreases. It is simply a matter of the number of intersecting sets, mathematically speaking. Or was something else intended? Ed From edsel at glo.be Fri Sep 3 10:59:47 1999 From: edsel at glo.be (Eduard Selleslagh) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 12:59:47 +0200 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (a test) Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] (About Latin being a living language in the Middle Age) >>If I utter a novel sentence in, say, Tocharian B, does that mean that >>Tocharian B is a 'living' language? >No. But if you said it to a group of people who understood it, and they could >and did reply in kind, the situation is different. I realize that negatives >are difficult to prove, but what arguments could you present that Latin was >not a living language among medieval and renaissance churchmen and scholars? >They could and did use it for all purposes. >Leo A. Connolly [Ed Selleslagh] There is a modern equivalent: What I call '(European) NATO English'. It is a variety of English that 's nobody's first language, but is used by lots of non-English speaking Europeans as a lingua franca. It is slightly more American than British as far as vocabulary is concerned (phonetically it tends to be more British), and has some weird French and German twists. Just listen to a communique' by the European Commission (in its so-called English version) or watch the 'Europe Direct' program on BBC World TV and you'll know what I'm talking about. Is it English? Yes. Is it alive? Yes. Is it a natural language? No. Ed. From edsel at glo.be Fri Sep 3 11:27:51 1999 From: edsel at glo.be (Eduard Selleslagh) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 13:27:51 +0200 Subject: Horthmen as 'mGall' Message-ID: -----Original Message----- From: Rick Mc Callister To: Indo-European at xkl.com Date: Friday, September 03, 1999 8:14 AM Subject: Re: Horthmen as 'mGall' > I've read many times that the Goidelic Celts were the descendants >of the members of the Halstatt culture while Brythonic Celts were >descendants of members of the La Tene culture. > But given that Celtiberian is also Q-Celtic, I've wondered if >P-Celtic wasn't an innovation that started at the center and only made it >as far as the island of Great Britain. > The 2 concepts are not necessarily mutually excludable, of course, >in that the Q-Celts could have moved away from the center during the >Halstatt phase while the /q/ > /p/ phonomenon began at the center during >the La Tene phase. > Inquiring minds want to know more >[snip] >>Geography seems to suggest that the Goidelic Celts belonged to an earlier >>wave than the Brythonic Celts, if they all came from the continent that is.. >[snip] >Rick Mc Callister [Ed Selleslagh] Qu > p is certainly an innovation, the problem is of course where and when it started. As a non-specialist, I often wondered about the fact that the same phenomenon occurred in Italic (Oscan-Umbrian.). Would that have occured before the Italic-Celtic split, or after it? Apparently after it, because of the more significant common traits of Celtic, not shared by Italic. On the other hand, there is Greek, which shares the same innovation (hippos <>equus), but belongs to a very different IE branch (Have any traces of Q-varieties of Greek been discovered?). So, the qu > p transition seems to be something that can occur in any (IE?)language, like palatalization. Am I completely ignorant of some common knowledge? (I am not in the IE field). Ed. [ Moderator's comment: Mycenaean Greek, written in the Linear B script, preserves the IE labiovelars but writes the word for "horse" e-qo, showing that the merger of *kw with *k^w had taken place earlier. --rma ] From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Fri Sep 3 14:40:16 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 15:40:16 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque lexical items In-Reply-To: Message-ID: No way can I reply in detail to this extremely long posting. I'll reply here to the first point, then later to other points insofar as I have time. On Fri, 27 Aug 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: > My apologies for my lateness in replying to this message but life > has been pandemonium here. This is my repsonse to Larry Trask's > criteria for the admission of words in an analysis of early basque. > Some methodological issues are relevant to all language analyses. > [LT] > Of course, I exclude > verbs, since native verbal roots are never free forms. > This surprised me. Do you mean "sar zaitez" (Come in!) is not legal > euskara and that "sar" is not a word. While the dictionary form of > the word is "sartu" I will use "sar" in the analysis. You've picked out an exceptional case. Let me explain a bit. Ancient verbs containing verbal roots in Basque have the citation form *e-Root-i, where the prefix * is of unknown function (though I've proposed an explanation for its presence) and the suffix *<-i> derives participles of verbs from nouns and adjectives, suggesting a nominalizing force for *. Typical native verbs are come', bring', be in motion' (< , attested) and see' (< , attested). The root is thus not a free form in the citation form (the perfective participle). Nor is it a free form anywhere else: in every finite and non-finite form, the verbal root is always preceded by one or more prefixes, and, in every form but one, it is also followed by one or more suffixes. Certain verbs are problematic, notably the -class verbs like go', wait', do, make' and eat', but I have proposed that these derive from originally regular verbs by regular phonological change followed by analogical reshaping. Hence, for example, and would derive from * and *, and from *. Now, the participle-forming suffix *<-i> is not confined to prefixed verbal roots. It also formerly served to construct participles of verbs from nouns and adjectives. For example, dust, powder' was the source for break' (presumably originally pulverize'); rich' (itself a derivative of the Romance loan domesticated animal') yielded get rich', enrich'; and so on. This suffix *<-i> was displaced by the participle-forming suffix <-tu>, borrowed from Latin, which appears regularly as <-du> after /n/ or /l/. For centuries this has been the regular verb-forming suffix of Basque, and it is still fully productive today: fat', get fat', fatten up'; red', redden'; mixed up, confused', mix up, confuse'; and so on. Note also that a few verbs have switched from *<-i> to <-tu>. For example, get rich' is in our earliest texts, but usually today. Even the ancient -class verb be' appears as or in some varieties. In a few cases, it appears that the old participle in *<-i> became specialized as an adjective after the participle was reshaped with <-tu>. Very likely the adjective is itself one of these cases. This development is quite parallel to English, in which old participles have sometimes become specialized as adjectives: I have mowed the lawn', but new-mown hay'; The metal has melted', but molten metal'; and so on. Now, there are about eight verbs in <-tu> which are unusual: they are universal, they are attested early, but they have no known sources. These are go in', take', sell', lose', be born', create', tie up', ripen, mature', arrive', get out of the way', remove', and perhaps one or two others. Note that these do not contain the prefix *. Accordingly, they appear to be derived from nouns or adjectives whose free forms have been lost. That is, the stems of these verbs are not verbal in origin, but nominal or adjectival. Possible evidence is sell', which may very well derive from *, the ancestor of modern price' (the change /l/ > /r/ between vowels is regular), as is the loss of /i/ before a suffix). Note also that go in', your example, is attested in one early text as (the doubling of the is purely orthographic). All this suggests that these verbs were originally derived from nouns or adjectives by adding the usual verb-forming suffix *<-i>, that the source words generally disappeared from the language, and that the verbs were transferred from the <-i> class to the <-tu> class. Of course, the evidence for this scenario is insufficient for proof. But it's fairly persuasive, nonetheless. In all likelihood, stems like were not originally verbal. Now, my original stricture was against the hundreds of ancient verbs like and , whose roots are never free forms. For the eight or so anomalous verbs like , I have no objection if you want to include their stems in your list, since these stems will meet all of my criteria. Anyway, save only for the anomalous (which has other and more regular variants), these stems will in no way be out of line with the forms of non-verbal lexical items generally. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Fri Sep 3 15:45:27 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 16:45:27 +0100 Subject: Perfective-Imperfective In-Reply-To: <001801bef282$ea094960$d69ffad0@patrickr1> Message-ID: On Sun, 29 Aug 1999, proto-language wrote: > Actuallly, I believe the terms momentary and durative are more more > readily understood than perfective and imperfective. > Larry, for example, in his dictionary defines "perfective" as "A > superordinate aspectual category involving a lack of explicit > reference to the internal temporal consistency of a situation", > which, I believe is most unhelpful. But it's accurate. ;-) Don't believe me? Here's Bernard Comrie, writing in his book Aspect, p. 12: "The term perfective' contrasts with imperfective', and denotes a situation viewed in its entirety, without regard to internal temporal constituency." > As grammarians of those languages in which the perfective aspect is > prominent know, the essence of the perfective is "one which desribes an > action which has been or will be definitely completed" (The Russian Verb, > Nevill Forbes, Oxford, 1961). But, among Russianists, the term perfective' is used in a somewhat distinctive way to denote a formal distinction which is regularly made in that language. I might usefully have noted this in my dictionary, but unfortunately I wrote the book within a severe length limit, and I was obliged to omit a number of things I might have preferred to include. Anyway, I am not sure that Forbes's characterization of the Russian perfective is entirely accurate, since it does not match what I have read elsewhere. But I'm not entitled to an opinion here. Maybe somebody else on the list can comment. Forbes, and Ryan, appear to be confusing *perfective* aspect with *completive* aspect -- which is not the same thing. perfective = no internal structure completive = completion Of course, a perfective often does denote a completed action, and hence the confusion, but it need not do so and often does not. If I write Wallace Stevens lived in Hartford', then the form is perfective, but there is this time no suggestion of completion. Indeed, it's not even clear to me what completion' might denote in this context, since living in a place is an atelic activity, and completion is surely only relevant to telic activities. > Larry writes that the perfective aspect "is chiefly expressed by the > simple past-tense form", In *English*, and in the past tense. > and then offers the example "The hamster climbed up behind the > bookcase." But he obviously does not realize that the "up" is what, > in this case, makes the verb of perfective aspect. No. This is a misunderstanding. At most, that up' indicates completion, not perfectivity. The hamster climbed the curtain' is just as perfective as The hamster climbed up the curtain', though you may feel that the second version implies completeness more strongly than the first. > "The hamster (has) climbed up behind the bookcase." > "The hamster climbs up behind the bookcase." > "The hamster will climb up behind the bookcase." > All above are equally "perfective". > "The hamster (has) climbed behind the bookcase." > "The hamster climbs behind the bookcase." > "The hamster climb behind the bookcase." > All above are equally "imperfective", or would normally be construed so. No; I can't agree. > I am sure any of our list-members who command Russian will subscribe > to this basic division. But the facts of Russian are rather different from the facts of English, and both languages are different from other languages. For linguists, perfective' is an aspectual category which may or may not be overtly marked in a given language, by some means or other. What Russian does, or what English does, is interesting, but it is not the alpha and omega of the issue. > If Larry and other modern linguists want to obsfuscate the > traditional meaning of "reflexive (verb)" to cover non-instances of > the definition "A verb which indicates an action of which the > subject or agent and the object are identical" (Mario Pei, > Dictionary of Linguistics, New York, 1954), Well, if I may be permitted an aside, I think anybody who relies on Pei's 1954 dictionary as his linguistic bible is in serious trouble. Pei's dictionary is now woefully outdated, and it wasn't exactly state of the art when he wrote it: Pei was not a linguist (practitioner of linguistics), but a polyglot who developed a side line in writing popular books about linguistics at a time when there weren't many. In one of his other books, Pei attempted a characterization of the Japanese noun. His account is exhaustively divided into four sections, entitled Case', Number', Article' and Gender' -- none of which properties is in fact possessed by the Japanese noun. Bernard Bloch, reviewing this book in Language, described it as "an entertaining collection of miscellaneous observations, many of them true". This is an unbeatable succinct summary of Pei's linguistic efforts. > as he seems to, there is little harm done once one is aware of his > expanded definition but neglecting to identify the *primary* > characteristic of perfective aspect in a definition is, assuredly, > fuzzily "modern" but unfortunately, completely beside the point. No. While possibly traditional, the confusion between perfective and completive is harmful and not to be propagated. Many of our predecessors also maintained that English nouns have five or six cases, but they were wrong, and there can be no justification for propagating their confusion between case-marking and grammatical relations. > It is also surprising that Larry's definition makes no mention of > "definiteness". > "He ate bread" will usually be imperfective; "He ate the bread" will > usually be perfective. First, definiteness *per se* forms no part of the definition of perfectivity. Second, the difference between these interesting examples is not one of perfectivity (both are perfective), but once again one of completion -- not the same thing. Incidentally, in Early Modern English, there was a systematic distinction between pairs like He ate of the bread' (not completive) and He ate the bread' (completive). But both NPs are definite, and both verb-forms are perfective. > The problem, of course, is that English grammarians did not > previously recognize these regular mechanisms in English (and other > IE languages except Slavic), and they are not a part of everyone's > cultural background. Europeean grammarians were generally very slow to recognize the category of aspect at all, since aspect is not very systematically marked in most European languages. Russian is something of an exception, and Russianists were obliged to get to grips with the distinctive Russian verbal system. But it doesn't follow that any given description of Russian is accurate, or that any given writer's terminology can usefully be extended to other languages. Anyway, whatever Forbes might have written, Slavicists today are very careful to distinguish perfectivity from completion: see, for example, pp. 18-21 of the Comrie book mentioned above. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Fri Sep 3 16:11:09 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 17:11:09 +0100 Subject: Conservative dilemma In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Mon, 30 Aug 1999 ECOLING at aol.com wrote: > There are I would assume none today who doubt that > Albanian is proven by the Comparative Method to be > an Indo-European language. > Yet only recently one correspondent stated that Ringe and the > Philadelphia group excluded Albanian from their algorithmic > approach to the family tree of Indo-European because their > algorithms would not work on it. (Their algorithms use less > information than does the Comparative Method, it is safe to say?) Ringe et al. report that the Albanian data are too sparse for their algorithm to be applied to it usefully. They do not elaborate, but I presume the problem is the paucity of inherited material in Albanian, which has been subjected to layer upon layer of heavy influence from other languages, many of them IE. As for "less information", well, it is not so much the quantity as the kind. Ringe's method makes use of certain specified characters, and, if Albanian cannot be clearly classified in terms of these characters, the method won't work. The comparative method uses different kinds of information, and IEists, after a monumental struggle, were finally able to extract enough information of the required type to determine that Albanian was an IE language. [snip of Algic evidence] > Now consider Greenberg's attempt to find a morphological > irregularity to bolster his claims of genetic relationship among > some of the languages of his Amerind. He adduced some alternation I > think it was in 3rd sg. pronominals between y- and t-. This is WEAK > evidence, for exactly the same reasons that it is weak evidence in > the Wiyot-Algonquian case. Because we do NOT (yet?) have evidence > to convince most that all of these "Amerind" languages can be > demonstrated to be related, it is argued against Greenberg that this > could have arisen by chance, and is therefore "not" evidence. But > evidence is evidence, whether or not it is part of a successful > proof (or legal case). It is simply not logically consistent to > accept in one case but not in another this kind of very weak > resemblance, involving the weakest, least information-rich sounds. > (Yes, I could try to argue along with the rest of you that the > Wiyot- Algonquian case might be better if it is specific to > pronominal prefixes; and of course because much more effort has been > spent on it too! But that would be cheating, based on the final > result much later.) The particular morphological alternations identified by Greenberg and cited here are indeed very interesting, and they are precisely the sort of thing we normally count as evidence. But the big problem is that these alternations occur in only a very few of the languages assigned by G to his vast "Amerind" family. Consequently, while they may reasonably be counted as evidence for a group containing the languages exhibiting the alternations, they are of no possible relevance to the validity of Amerind. To put it another way, the dental preterites found in English and in German are a piece of evidence for relating English and German, but they are certainly not evidence for linking English and German to Irish, Russian, Albanian, Greek or Bengali, none of which has dental preterites. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Fri Sep 3 16:46:13 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 17:46:13 +0100 Subject: your mail In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Thu, 2 Sep 1999 jonpat at staff.cs.su.oz.au wrote: > Ros Frank has asked me to send this item to the list on her behalf > as she does not have subscriber access from her current account. I > will offer my own account when I can get through the backlog in my > mail. > jon patrick > *********************************8888 > I am writing to make a couple of brief comments on the monosyllabic > project that Jon Patrick has mentioned on the list. I've beenout of > the country for a while so I haven't been able to follow all the > discussion of late. Hopefully I won't be repeating to many things > that have already been said. > First, I would like to point out an aspect of the project that I > find particularly interesting, although I don't think it has been > mentioned on the list. As I understand the monosyllabic project, at > least as it was conceptualized a year or so ago, it can be > characterized as having two stages. The first stage is that of > coming up with an agreed upon description of the phonological > constraints of pre-Basque, i.e., its phonology prior to contact with > the Romance languages. That stage requires developing a uniform > description. Well, *fairly* uniform, that's all. Even the phonology of PIE is not at present agreed upon by all specialists in all details -- far from it. But the main lines are clear enough. > However, as I understand the present situation in Basque there is > not total agreement concerning this stage of the reconstruction of > Euskera. Stated differently there are disagreements among Basque > linguists. That fact would seem to call for more than one set of > "rules" to be developed and applied to the data. Or at least in the > case of the elements in question, there would need to be two > different renditions of the data provided, one that modelled it > according to one paradigm and another simulation that would result > from the alternate set of premises concerning this pre-Basque > phonology. No, this is too pessimistic. At present, our reconstruction of the segmental phonology of the Pre-Basque of 2000 years ago is agreed upon by everybody in all its main lines. The same is not true of the suprasegmental phonology, which is being vigorously debated, but that is not much of a problem for our purposes here. There are a few debates about the phonetic details of our phonological reconstruction, but these are parochial and have no consequences for the system. It is perfectly possible to present reconstructed Pre-Basque words in a uniform transcription -- say, in Michelena's transcription -- without causing any difficulties. I myself might prefer */ll/ and */nn/ to M's */L/ and */N/, but this makes no difference. Potentially the most serious problem is the /h/, but I know of no one at present who disputes M's conclusion that *most* instances of /h/ are of suprasegmental origin. However, it remains possible to disagree about whether *some* /h/s are of segmental origin. In practice, though, this isn't much of an issue, and we can readily dispose of any difficulties by reconstructing Pre-Basque -- contra M -- with a *phonetic* [h] in our transcriptions, allowing users to draw their own conclusions. > Secondly, as I understand it, once these rules are developed > (whether they result in two or more simulations is not the issue), > they can be applied to generate the total picture of what > monosyllabic root-stems the phonological system in question would > have supported/permitted. This is a hope, no more. Monomorphemic Basque lexical items which are native and ancient (and not verbs) are usually bisyllabic. There are perhaps no more than fifty monosyllabic words, and this may not be enough to provide a clear picture of the structure of monosyllables in Pre-Basque. I'll give you one oddity for free: while word-initial */b/ is *exceedingly* common in bisyllabic words, it is all but unknown in monosyllables. This is curious, and I have no explanation. It may be no more than an accident of survival. > Some time back I saw an early version of this data in which Jon had > indicated which slots were filled and which were empty. In the case > of the empty slots, it would seem to me that they might provide the > basis for some interesting discussion concerning why they are not > filled. Indeed. > At the same time, as Jon knows, in my opinion some of the > (apparently) monosyllabic root-stems may, indeed, be composed of a > root and a suffixing element. These patterns, of course, can be > readily detected by examining the data, e.g., the percentage of > root-stems that show the same final elements. Again, this is a hope, no more. > For those familiar with the suffixing processes in Euskera, I'm > particularly interested in the way that the <-tz> suffixing element > may be coming into play in the case of certain examples. Well, I'm pretty familiar with the Basque word-forming suffixes, but I don't know what you have in mind here. Normally, a word-forming suffix in Basque always contains at least one vowel. Can you cite some examples of what you have in mind? Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Fri Sep 3 17:16:19 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 12:16:19 -0500 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (a test) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: I'm curious whether there is a postulated threshold for language division for early-IE that takes into account population and geographical size [and possibly technology and resources --if this is plausible and relevant] >> And that means those speakers should be speaking a language between the >> branch-offs that had an identity of its own. >It might or might not have a _culturally recognized_ identity of its own. >For example, if the speakers of Pre-Proto-Italo-Celtic were engaged in >trade with the speakers of Proto-Greco-Armenian-Indo-Iranian-Balto-Slavic- >Germanic, they was very likely a period where they considered their >language to be the same while being aware that there are differences, as >is the case for speakers of American and British English today. Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 From proto-language at email.msn.com Fri Sep 3 19:05:03 1999 From: proto-language at email.msn.com (Patrick C. Ryan) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 19:05:03 -0000 Subject: Root aorists vs. marked presents Message-ID: Dear Lloyd, Vidhya, and IEists: Mention was made of Rix. amazon.de lists Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben as currently available for DM118. ----- Original Message ----- From: Vidhyanath Rao To: Sent: Sunday, August 29, 1999 11:40 AM Subject: Re: Root aorists vs. marked presents >> Is it done in Rix: Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben? >> (By the way, I would like to get a copy of that book in any event, can >> anyone tell me an easy way? I think I found it once somewhere on the web, >> don't remember where now, cannot seem to find it again, could not find it >> recently at Amazon.com.) Pat From mclasutt at brigham.net Sat Sep 4 00:39:05 1999 From: mclasutt at brigham.net (Dr. John E. McLaughlin) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 18:39:05 -0600 Subject: Random Noise - quite different questions? In-Reply-To: Message-ID: > -----Original Message----- > From: Indo-European mailing list [mailto:Indo-European at xkl.com]On Behalf > Of ECOLING at aol.com > Sent: Wednesday, September 01, 1999 9:37 PM > To: Indo-European at xkl.com > Subject: Random Noise - quite different questions? > I confess that I do not entirely understand the reasoning used > by John McLaughlin in his message on this subject today. > That is not an oblique criticism, it simply means only what > it says. I would appreciate if the logic and assumptions were > laid out in greater detail. I promise not to be offended if some > of it seems exceedingly elementary. Here's the way it works in a nutshell: Assume a language that we'll call A. This language has a consonant inventory of between 10 and 20 (on the low side, but still quite common). The phoneme /t/ occurs in initial position in 20% of the words of the language (a little on the high side, but quite common for a language with a small consonant inventory). Based on some list of meanings, build a list of 1000 words in A. 200 of these words will begin with /t/. Now assume an unrelated language B. This language also has a consonant inventory of between 10 and 20 and /t/ occurs in initial position 20% of the time. Now take those 1000 words of A and find words with the same meaning in B. 200 of the words in B will begin with /t/. Of the 1000 pairs of words, 20% will have the word in A start with /t/, 20% will have the word in B start with /t/, so 20% of 20% (1000 times .2 times .2) means that 40 pairs of words (with the same meaning) will start with /t/ in both A and B. Total "cognate sets" for two languages--40. Now assume another unrelated language (unrelated to either A or B) C. This language also has the same size consonant inventory and frequency for initial /t/ as we have for A and B. Now find the equivalent word in C for the 1000 meanings we've been using. Between A and B there will be 40 words that randomly match initial /t/. Between A and C there will be 40 words that randomly match initial /t/. Between B and C there will be 40 words that randomly match initial /t/. There will also be 8 words in which all three languages have an initial /t/ for the same meaning (20% of 20% of 20% of 1000). Total "cognate sets" for three languages--120 pairs, 8 triplets. Now add that fourth unrelated language D. This language has the same initial conditions as the other languages. We'll add the 1000 words of D to our multilateral comparison. Now there'll be 40 pairs of words where two languages have initial /t/ for each of the following pairs: A-B, A-C, A-D, B-C, B-D, C-D There'll be 8 triplets of words where three languages have initial /t/ for each of the following triplets: A-B-C, A-B-D, B-C-D There'll also be 1 or 2 quadruplets where all four languages have initial /t/ (20% of 20% of 20% of 20% of 1000 = 1.6). Total "cognate sets" for four languages--240 pairs, 24 triplets, 1 or 2 quadruplets. Just for overkill in the demonstration, we'll add a fifth unrelated language E. Same initial conditions. We now have the following pairs (40 matches each for 400 pairs): A-B, A-C, A-D, A-E, B-C, B-D, B-E, C-D, C-E, D-E The following triplets (8 matches each for 72 triplets): A-B-C, A-B-D, A-B-E, A-C-D, A-C-E, B-C-D, B-C-E, B-D-E, C-D-E The following quadruplets (1.6 matches each for 8 quadruplets): A-B-C-D, A-B-C-E, A-B-D-E, A-C-D-E, B-C-D-E Total "cognate sets" for five languages--400 pairs, 72 triplets, 8 quadruplets Looking at just one of the five languages, the form in A matches the form in one other language in 160 words, it matches the form in two other languages in 40 words, and it matches the form in three other languages in 6 words. As we keep adding languages, the number of possible pairs, triplets, quadruplets begins to multiply so that once six languages are in play, there will be one or two quintuplets in the data and 24 quadruplets. You can easily see how a vast web of "cognation" can be build from random correspondences. Possible variations: 1. Increase semantic latitude: Times the probability of getting a random match by whatever number of related meanings you look at in addition to the first one (increases the probability) 2. Check for two consonants rather than just one: Times the probability of getting one consonant by the probability of getting another one (decreases the probability) 3. Check for the consonant in positions other than initial position: Times the probability by however many other places in the word to check (increases the probability) 4. Increase the number of phonemes that can match the first: Add the probabilities of each consonant together before computing (increases the probability) What about different sizes of consonant inventory? This obviously complicates the issue exponentially, but the basic principles demonstrated above all still apply (the math just gets messier). If one were to compare !Xu with Rotokas, for an extreme example, then there are two possibilities. First, if one compares !Xu /t/ with Rotokas /t/, then the number of random "cognates" will be very small since !Xu /t/ represents only a very small amount of the consonant inventory while Rotokas /t/ is one-sixth of the inventory (but, as with most languages, it probably represents about 20-30% of the initial consonants in the vocabulary of Rotokas). Second, if we compare Rotokas /t/ (the only voiceless coronal obstruent), with !Xu /t/, /th/ (aspirated), /t'/, /ts/, /tsh/, /s/, /tk/ (velarized), /tsk/, /tS/ (postalveolar), /tSh/, /tS'/, /S/, and /tSk/ (the voiceless coronal obstruents in !Xu), the number of random matches increases greatly. In effect, the first method compares one-fourth of the Rotokas vocabulary (/t/ at 25% initial frequency) with perhaps one-twentieth (/t/ at 5% initial frequency) of the !Xu vocabulary, while the second method compares one-fourth of the Rotokas vocabulary (/t/) with one-fourth of the !Xu vocabulary (voiceless coronal obstruents of any stripe at a combined total of 25% initial frequency). Alexis Manaster-Ramer and I saw eye-to-eye on this issue and we had discussed the possibility of co-authoring a paper on it. The Greenbergian multilateral method (as illustrated in the "cognate sets" found in Language in the Americas) makes use of options 1, 3, and 4 above, but not 2 (if a "cognate" can't be found for both "reconstructed" consonants in a language, then just one will do). He also matched different sizes of inventories in the second method described above. Indeed, there is some evidence that the total consonant inventory of each language didn't even come into consideration when comparing forms, so that, for example, /t/ in a Salishan language could be compared to /t'/ in a Siouan language even though the Salishan language has /t'/ in its inventory. Greenberg's "Amerind" classification never rises above the level of random noise. John E. McLaughlin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor mclasutt at brigham.net Program Director Utah State University On-Line Linguistics http://english.usu.edu/lingnet English Department 3200 Old Main Hill Utah State University Logan, UT 84322-3200 (435) 797-2738 (voice) (435) 797-3797 (fax) From X99Lynx at aol.com Sat Sep 4 01:18:46 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 21:18:46 EDT Subject: Principled Comparative Method - a new tool Message-ID: In a message dated 9/1/99 11:10:25 PM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu wrote: <> <> I'd like to make the same point what I did in my prior post. I hope you undertand that by using a reconstruction of the parent here you may be simply creating a loop that guarantees your answer before you even ask it. Was the parent /*ki *ke *ka *ko *ku/ reconstructed using, among others, the daughter's /ci ki ka ko ku/? I think we can assume it was. Otherwise, it would be an incomplete reconstruction. How did we reconstruct /*ki *ke *ka *ko *ku/ if one of the daughter's shows /ci ki ka ko ku/? Well, we must have assumed that a palatalization and a vowel shift happened. Otherwise, how did we get a parent /*ki *ke *ka *ko *ku/ with a daughter /ci ki ka ko ku/? It would not be consistent to settle on that reconstruction unless we also accounted for the changes that could have resulted in /ci ki ka ko ku/. So, now we turn around, act like the reconstruction came out of nowhere and compare the daughter and say, wow, that could have only happened if the palatalization came first! But in fact what this whole supposition proves is that the parent's reconstruction WAS BASED on the prior assumption that those changes happened and /ci ki ka ko ku/ was the result. (ASSUME: C - (Pal/Vow) = *A. It adds no new information to conclude *A + (Pal/Vow) = C.) (I am not suggesting this is done intentionally or dishonestly. It's just that we forget in working with reconstructions that they are reconstructed with certain paths already in mind. In effect, like the man on the deserted island, we are startled to see footsteps, not realizing that they are ours.) If you want to seriously get an idea of how much presumption is built into your example, try a difference "supposition." First, do not presume that the parent is at this point reconstructable. This gets you out of the logic loop. To use /*ki *ke *ka *ko *ku/, but not as a reconstruction, presume that Langauge A is a sister - but lets say one of ten sisters - all showing attested /ki ke ka ko ku/. I hope you see this. I am giving you /ki ke ka ko ku/ and the strongest indication of its presence in the parent I can give. But in exchange, I'm not conceding the reconstruction - so you don't get the "guaranteed" reconstruction- generated result you got in your example. You have to work for it. Notice the uncertainty this creates. Daughters (A1 ...A10) have attested /ki ke ka ko ku/. Daughter (B) has /ci ki ka ko ku/. Palatalization and later vowel merge can still explain why (A) is different than (B). But look at all the other possibilities that arise. One, of course, is that (A1...A10) all reflect a common innovation. And that (B) (/ci ki ka ko ku/) in fact reflects the parent (/*ci *ki *ka *ko *ku/). With *ci> ke by whatever course the sound laws in this situation would allow. Including maybe loss of a conditioning environment - /c/ - and then a phonemic split. (Remember there is no /*ke/ in this version of the reconstructed parent.) And this shows the fundamental uncertainty when we are trying to reconstruct from two daughters. If you assume one has innovated, you assume the other reflects the parent. << But there are many, many cases where we have to say that the rules applied in a certain order and not some other order, because another ordering would simply give the wrong results.>> In attested cases , yes. But that may never be the case where you have to use reconstruction to create that exclusively correct order. Regards, Steve Long From mclasutt at brigham.net Sat Sep 4 07:29:38 1999 From: mclasutt at brigham.net (Dr. John E. McLaughlin) Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999 01:29:38 -0600 Subject: Random Noise - quite different questions? In-Reply-To: Message-ID: > -----Original Message----- > From: Indo-European mailing list [mailto:Indo-European at xkl.com]On Behalf > Of ECOLING at aol.com > Sent: Wednesday, September 01, 1999 9:37 PM > To: Indo-European at xkl.com > Subject: Random Noise - quite different questions? > Do it for Indo-European, for goodness sake, > where we AGREE that the languages all belong > to one family, and yet MUCH vocabulary > is NOT represented throughout the family. > That does not cause us to doubt the reality of IE. > When pushed by the data pattern, linguists discuss > dialect chains or even networks or areal subparts of IE. > So how much of this should we expect for different > depths of relationship? > Get the statistics on this, formulated in a simple > and objective way which can be compared with > both other known and unknown cases. > across different levels of depth of dialects, > families, family groupings and super-families of IE, > see whether the rate of representation tails off in > a linear, geometric, or other pattern with increasing > depth, and what the range of variation is for different > instances of the "same" time depth (which might > depend on different social situations, such as > the relative isolation of Icelandic, vs. Scandinavian, > vs. mainland Germanic from other closely related > languages of their family). Donald Ringe has already done something like this comparing Indo-European with Nostratic ('Nostratic' and the Factor of Chance, Diachronica 12:1.55-74 (1995)). He found that when looking at the number of subgroups represented in cognate sets versus what would be predicted from chance resemblances, Indo-European showed a much-greater-than-chance number of sets with cognates in multiple subgroups and Nostratic showed the number of sets expected from chance. John E. McLaughlin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor mclasutt at brigham.net Program Director Utah State University On-Line Linguistics http://english.usu.edu/lingnet English Department 3200 Old Main Hill Utah State University Logan, UT 84322-3200 (435) 797-2738 (voice) (435) 797-3797 (fax) From X99Lynx at aol.com Sat Sep 4 20:56:47 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999 16:56:47 EDT Subject: History and Sound Laws Message-ID: In a message dated 9/1/99 11:10:25 PM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu replied: <> Not in the big world, it doesn't. But I should have made myself clear. When we speak about human history, "prehistoric" generally refers to matters prior to "recorded history," "before a record or account of historical events." With the current acceptance of "oral histories", even written accounts aren't really required. (But understand that "prehistory" here is really just a subtopic in the general realm of historical science itself. I will refer to that as history "in the big sense.") On the other hand, even within the narrow terminology of linguistics, writing should not be the test of what a prehistoric language is. Perhaps the more accepted definition of a prehistoric language (I see it in Lehmann and Websters) is a language where "sounds and forms have not been preserved." Writing may be irrelevant. And that makes sense. A modern preliterate language would not be prehistoric. What you are talking about is much more properly "preliteracy." Linguistic facts assume historical facts. Whether a language had writing or not at any particular time or place is itself, first of all, a historic fact. NOT a linguistic one. Linguistics may contribute to a finding, but it doesn't have to. We have no idea what Linear A says or what it sounded like. But we feel a great deal of historical certainty in saying that Minoan Culture on Crete in that time period had writing. There is strong historical evidence that the Minoans were literate. But the language itself is not historically preserved. Going back to what you first said: "The only reason we're able to say anything at all about prehistoric languages is that sound changes have a particular property, namely, they are exceptionless...>> I replied: <> My point still stands. "The only reason we're able to say anything at all about prehistoric languages is..." NOT sound changes. In fact, historical science can say a lot about prehistoric languages - distribution in time and place, ethno-cultural context, probability of cross-lingual contact, literacy or non-literacy, what evidence (typonym, onomastic, written record, etc.) can properly be attributed to the time and place of that language, etc. Even in some cases, what the writing may have meant. However, if we have no contemporary account of the sounds of a language, then "by definition, we don't know anything directly about the sounds" of that prehistoric language. I wrote: <> On 9/1/99 11:10:25 PM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu replied: <> Perhaps I was unclear again. Writing or lack of it is irrelevant. If you are going to make a judgement about loans, you MUST do it on the basis of whatever information history (in the big sense, including "prehistory") gives you. You will not be allowed to have Germanic borrow words from Polynesian in 700 BC, because "history" will not allow it. My point was that your conclusions about loans are based on "historical" assumptions about speakers of the two languages being coeval, being in contact, and about how such linguistic events happened in historical time - in the big sense. In fact, you can't make any judgement about reconstructed loans without it resting on the assumption of a great many "historical" (in the big sense) facts. If any of those historical assumptions are wrong, you may get things wrong about those loans. You may get, e.g., "the giver and the taker confused." Regards, Steve Long From jer at cphling.dk Sat Sep 4 13:29:21 1999 From: jer at cphling.dk (Jens Elmegaard Rasmussen) Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999 15:29:21 +0200 Subject: nasal pres / root aor In-Reply-To: <009d01bef4ae$faa72f20$9171fe8c@lucent.com> Message-ID: On Wed, 1 Sep 1999, Vidhyanath Rao wrote: > Jens Elmegaard Rasmussen wrote: >> [...]Again, Strunk has pointed >> out a possible relic pair in Hittite as well: hunik-zi/hunink-anzi 'wound' >> vs. huek-zi 'stab, kill' which look like n-prs. + root aor. of the same >> verb (note the 'unfinished business' implied by the old present stem as >> opposed to the terminal aorist). > This is fine if huekzi meant only kill'. But how does unfinished' > stabbing lead to wound'? Dear Nath and List, I may have been clumsy in reporting Strunk. In his article in the collective volume Hethitisch und Indogermanisch (Innsbruck 1979), Strunk glosses Hitt. hunek-zi by "sticht, verletzt", and huek-zi by "sticht ab, schlachtet". This qualifies well as an instance of present-stem "de conatu" vs. aorist of the accomplished fact. The stabbing only takes aorist form when it leads to real killing. As always, there is a spoilsport somewhere: In Puhvel's Hitt.Etym.Dict. vol. 3 (1991), the two roots are separated. From the contexts, hune/i(n)k- can only be seen to mean 'harm' (Strunk noted that already), and since such a vague semantic specification allows for connection with other IE roots than that of huek-, it _may_ be wrong. But it certainly may also be right. And "harm" vs. "butcher, slaughter" also sounds quite good for uncompleted vs. completed action. Jens From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Sat Sep 4 14:34:42 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999 10:34:42 -0400 Subject: Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic In-Reply-To: <01JFHSH9ZPUQ9VYLKV@LATTE.MEMPHIS.EDU> Message-ID: Let me recap the discussion. Steve Long discussed a hypothetical case in which the Indo-European proto-language remained wholly unchanged over many centuries, with a daughter occasionally branching off from it and innovating. I said that this couldn't happen because no living language is static; a parent language can't co-exist with its daughter. Several on the list have brought up cases such as Latin, Sanskrit, and Arabic as counterexamples to that last assertion. Part of the problem is in defining what we mean by a "living language". If you want to take it to include languages used for scholarly/liturgical purposes and artificially kept static by a conscious, prescriptivist, scholarly effort, then I'll concede that these languages are counterexamples to my claim. However, there are some important qualifications. First, Steve Long's hypothetical case was one which was placed in prehistory. I strongly suspect that literacy is a necessary prerequisite for artificially keeping a language static over many centuries. In principle, this a is falsifiable claim: if we find a modern, pre-literate culture in which there are "high" and "low" registers of the language, and if we conduct comparative and/or internal reconstruction on the "low" variety and end up with a reconstruction which is essentially identical to the "high" variety (at least as close as Classical Latin is to reconstructed Proto-Romance), then it would look like a counterexample to what I've just asserted. I don't know that such cases exist. Second, the main point in Steve Long's hypothetical case was not merely that a language could remain unchanged over time, but that daughter languages could periodically branch off from it and innovate. It doesn't appear that artificially preserved literary languages are able to continue branching in this manner; for example, after the initial branching of Romance into Spanish, Italian, etc., there is no later, novel 12th century branching from literary Latin to some innovative daughter language. So for the purposes of answering Steve Long's earlier post, I stick by my original claim that the hypothetical situation he posed could not have happened. I do concede that Latin, Sanskrit, and Arabic are problematic for a strong version of the claim that no language can co-exist with its daughter. \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From proto-language at email.msn.com Sat Sep 4 21:03:17 1999 From: proto-language at email.msn.com (Patrick C. Ryan) Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999 21:03:17 -0000 Subject: "Perfective" definition Message-ID: Dear Larry, Lloyd, and IEists: ----- Original Message ----- From: Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 1999 2:06 PM > Larry Trask's definition of "perfective", > which Pat quoted today, is very much on target. >> Larry, for example, in his dictionary defines "perfective" as "A >> superordinate aspectual category involving a lack of explicit reference >> to >> the internal temporal consistency of a situation", > Other than not knowing what the "superordinate" means here > (general, abstract?), "lack of explicit reference to the internal > temporal consistency of a situation" is very much like the shorter > "treated as an indivisible unit" which I use. Either works. > The crucial point is to include the concept that it is not what the > situation is in reality, but raher how it is "treated" or "referred to" > in the minds of speakers and listeners. > Beyond that, it is possible to add some prototypical examples, > but they are not definitional, merely illustrative. > The Russian perfective vs. imperfective is NOT the same thing > as the universal term perfective vs. imperfective. > At least in many cases, the Russian so-called "perfective" > is more a telic completive, hence the use of pre-verbs, > much like "climb" vs. "climb up", as Pat rightly notes for > English. > The category so NAMED in any particular language has its own > special flavors, narrowing or broadening of particular uses, > which distinguish it from a pure universal definitional > perfective or imperfective. Traditionally, perfective aspect has had a linguistic definition of "an aspect of verbs that expresses a completed action as distinct from a continuing or not necessraily completed action" (AHD). I have already quoted Pei's earlier definition, which corresponds. So points to be noted: Larry's dictionary does *not* contain your "completive" nor yet "momentary" but does contain "punctual": "The aspect category expressing an action or state which is confined to a single instant of time . . . The punctual is a subdivision of the perfective". Obviously, his "punctual" is very much like your "treated as an indivisible unit", which, according to Larry is only a subdivision of the grander perfective, "A superordinate aspectual category involving a lack of explicit reference to the internal temporal consistency of a situation",. Now I am a native speaker of English but I find his definition not only incomprehensible but frankly, inapplicable to such recognized "perfectives" as those of Russian because it would not differentiate them from the Russian imperfectives. Perhaps one of you would care to explain how Larry's definition could identify the Russian perfective. Secondly, I question the formulation of definitions so broad as to include what I consider to be legitimately different-termed aspects in languages other than those which conform to the traditional use of "perfective". In fact, I would be interested to know a language which has a category "perfective" according to *his* definition but one which does *not* conform to the traditional definition of "perfective". One example will illustrate the problem I have with Larry's and your definition of "perfective". 'Santa Claus was climbing up the chimney.' This verb in this sentence I consider to be perfective and durative. It describes a action with a definite goal which certainly does not restrict itself to single point of time. Pat From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Sun Sep 5 08:37:06 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Sun, 5 Sep 1999 18:37:06 +1000 Subject: Excluding data In-Reply-To: Your message of "Thu, 19 Aug 1999 10:22:57 EDT." Message-ID: Lloyd Anderson's message of 19th Aug expresses, much better that I could, the method I intend to apply in the study of early BAsque. For me the key factor is to present a record of ALL words available for analysis and record HOW I can classify them. In the case of sound imitative words it is important to retain them in the database and show how their phonological profile as a class is similar or not to non-imitative words. In keeping with my last message I find the idea of excluding data because they don't conform to someone's particular expectation about the data inappropriate in trying to produce a generalised stochastic profile of the language. On a specific item mentioned by Lloyd, namely [Expressive and sound-symbolic words are also very much under-recorded for many languages and language families. Many of them are not known to learned scholars who are not native users of the languages, because they are used in language registers which are never the domain of activity of those scholars. So this criterion is PARTLY defective or circular. There is a partly definitional relation between sound-symbolic and narrowness of attestation in recordings.] In basque we have the word for the sound of the heartbeat as and the word for heartbeat as as reported to me by native speakers. My suggestion here is that potential sound symbolic words are so close to the actually words for natural elements that their usage in an analysis of early basque is potentially vitally important to understanding the phonological structure of the language. Has such a potential been found and realised in any other languages? cheers Jon Patrick From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Sun Sep 5 09:12:21 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Sun, 5 Sep 1999 19:12:21 +1000 Subject: Principled Comparative Method - a new tool In-Reply-To: Your message of "Sun, 22 Aug 1999 20:03:41 -0400." Message-ID: Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1999 20:03:41 -0400 (EDT) From: Sean Crist On Thu, 12 Aug 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: > The idea is that the distance between languages is represented by the > series of changes that occur to a large set of words in moving from > their parent form to their daughter forms, so that distance apart is not > measured between the daughter languages but rather by their distance > from their parent. We feel this better represents the real world > process. > Our data has to be the word set in the parent form (reconstructed words > or real words) and then one word set for the each daughter language and > the set of phonological transformation rules between each parent and > daughter for each word in their chronological sequence. Hence we are > modelling the rules and their sequence of application for each word. The > extent to which any of this information is hypothetical merely defines > the hypotheses one is comparing, but importantly it does not effect the > computational method we apply to this data. This post certainly caught my interest, because I've got various ideas myself about how computers could be better used in language reconstruction. In a very general way, I think we have some of the same interests. I do have some comments about your specific approach. If I understand correctly, you're measuring language 'distance' at least partially in terms of how many historical phonological rules a language has undergone since it first diverged from some reconstructed ancestor: the more rules, the greater the distance. (I hope I haven't just plain misunderstood; if so, the following may not apply.) Not exactly, the distance is also a function of the frequency of usage of the rules, the consistency of their usage in the context of other rules. I think the basic problem your approach raises is this: how do you count historical phonological changes? For example, is the Great Vowel Shift in English one rule, or a dozen? It looks like your distance measure will depend a great deal on what choices you make on such questions. It is determined by the dataset you use, not by the algorithm itself. Remember our method works for the rules about particular words only and that one asserts exist in a language and the changes they have undergone. In terms of major movements, they will be identified in the relative chronolgy by their high frequency in the data.The effect will be seen firstly in the canonical PFSA but more strongly in the optimised PFSA as nodes with high frequencies of converging and diverging arcs. It is true that our method will be dependent on the actual words you use. If the sample of words poorly represents the great vowel shift then it will not appear strongly in the final result. I'm sure such a result does not surprise anyone. The rule count is going to depend in part on what phonological theory you're working in. A traditional historical grammar of a language often lists a multitude of small rules which a modern theory can conflate into a shorter list. Exactly how short you can make the list partly depends on what phonological theory you're working in. There may indeed be no phonological rules at all in the traditional sense; phonological change could all be just the reranking of constraints, which is what I'm assuming in my in-progress dissertation. You are correct in perceiving that our method is susceptible to interpretation of what constitutes a rule. We had the problem in the Chinese data of how to deal with allophones and so we did two different analyses, one considered allophnes and the other didn't. There is also the problem of seperating rules that ALWAYS come together, which can therefore be treated as a single rule. I argue that if you can identify a rule, no matter how small then include it (My principle of "don't cut out what you don't know the function of" (like appendices)). Another perspective on this question is my own view that linguists don't know their data as well as they think they do. The jump to generalisations is to quick for my liking. My position was vindicated in the chinese data where we found far more items than the linguist expected that were exceptional by his criteria (Another experience that tells me not to accept the rigid Trask criteria for defining the vocabulary suitable for the study of early basque). Also treating small rules that are supposed to have 100% correlation does no violence to the final PFSA if it is true and should not produce any identification of false structures. The only difference will be that the absolute size of the PFSA will be larger than otherwise which does no harm as the number means little by itself but has to be understood in comparision with an alternative pairing. Should the small rules be present in one mother-daughter pair and not anther then their presence in the model is vital, if they are present in both pairs then they contribute nothing to discrimination between the two pairs. cheers Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Sun Sep 5 09:20:21 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Sun, 5 Sep 1999 19:20:21 +1000 Subject: Online etymological databases In-Reply-To: Your message of "Sun, 22 Aug 1999 20:34:11 -0400." Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1999 20:34:11 -0400 (EDT) From: Sean Crist On Thu, 12 Aug 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: > Our method should be useful to appraise competing reconstructions of > earlier languages,say Indoeuropean, however to date we have not been able > to find the necessary data compiled in one place to easily apply it. > Should anyone have a good database of appropriate data we would be happy > to submit it to our methods. It doesn't exist yet. I'm slowly working on one for Germanic, and there's another effort which is working on one for all of Indo-European. This latter effort is mostly being carried out by people in Holland. I don't have their URL handy, but a web search should turn it up. I wish to commend Sean Crist's proposal's for setting up etymological dictionaries. There is no need for me to respond to his individual items as I am pleased to know of them and agree with him. My suggestion is that some effort be put into identifying the groups working on database resources and to set up a Workshop at one of the major conferences to discuss the issues in getting this material into electronic form and particularly setting some guidelines for minimum information and basic formats. Without some unification of methods the data will exist but be difficult to use. I have had a plenty of experience at trying to get data from a variety of sources into a single system and it is a nasty problem. A little talking now will produce great economy of effort further downstream. cheers Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From X99Lynx at aol.com Sun Sep 5 09:42:24 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Sun, 5 Sep 1999 05:42:24 EDT Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (the stem) Message-ID: In a message dated 9/2/99 11:39:20 PM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu wrote: <> But then you write: <> You can't have it both ways. If you're saying that the branchings are based on some kind of historical analysis, then you can't claim it has the purity of being either unrooted or strictly dealing with the characteristics of the language without regard to dating. You wrote: << _After_ this tree had been produced, the team did go on to produce a version of the tree showing the earliest date of attestation for each language against the branchings they had already worked out; it puts certain constraints on when the posited branchings could have happened.>> Well, I don't know what version we saw here on the list, but I don't need to tell you that dates of attestation are no way of giving dates to "innovations" that all allegedly happened before any of the languages were attested. You wrote: <> But, more importantly, it MUST also occupy the node you've given to PIE. That is the way this tree is set up. Whatever is "innovating" gets a node and a name. But there is always a non-innovating language left over, for the next node to innovate way from. (Otherwise, Graeco-Armenian is innovating away from Italo-Celtic.) So, node after node, there is a language that does not innovate. Left over for the next node to innovate away from. The only node on that tree that represents a non-innovating language is marked PIE. And this tree also posits a group of speakers who are always non-innovators, node after node. And because they are not the innovators, they remain PIE. Right down to the last node. Unless of course they are the last node. <> Not if you put PIE on top. And not if you claim any chronology at all. And not if you claim that you are representing innovations and not just differences. The PIE node cannot represent unshared innovations. Plus, how would you know what "innovations" are unless you knew the opposing condition? You MUST assume a comparison to identify innovations. You can't have innovating without having non-innovating alongside it, in this tree. You can hide that comparison by saying there's no stem. But the comparison is built into your characterization "innovation." And that hidden comparison to something is the hidden stem in this scheme. If this system only described differences, not innovations, your comparison would only be between the nodes - and you would need no stem. Or dotted lines. You write: <> This is inaccurate. The order in which traits change is always critical. And 'back-mutation' is extraordinary event. But more analogously, the re-appearance of recessive traits occurs under only the most orderly of conditions. <> I don't need to disgree with this. As I observed in a prior post, the real question is whether the merger ever occurred. In preliterate IE languages, what you are calling a merger might have been the pre-existing condition. It depends on what happened first. You say AB > A + B never happens. But you've made a prior chronological assumption that AB precedes A + B. Change that assumption and so you get A + B coming first. So what actually happened was a merging - A + B = AB. And that means there is nothing to call "unmerging." The economies are a wash. The total number of changes and innovations stays the same. You have not changed events, but you have changed chronological assumptions and that changes the order. No model of change in time is immune to this process. It governs everything from physics to geology. To even suggest a system dealing with prehistoric languages (with no direct evidence of chronology) is not capable of dual interpretations of unknown sequences is ..., well, too much. You wrote: <> It's not the nodes, it's those dotted lines between them. Every time that you claim that there is a node representing an the innovations of an actual posited prehistoric language, you are necessarily claiming there was a second, contemporary "actual posited prehistoric language" - that DID NOT INNOVATE. If Greco-Armenian was not the parent of the Germanic-Balto-Slavic-Indo-Iranian branch, you're going to have to explain what that line is that is drawn between the two. Can you just get rid of it? What would be omitted if you did? <> There is a line of descent that would be most "special" indeed on this tree. It's the one that - each and every time a node apears - is always the one that doesn't innovate. It has to continue to exist for the next node to emerge from. But the language named at the node is always the one innovating. (Disregard the apparent simultaeneous 3-way split at the end.) That line of decent in this tree, the one that is always the non-innovator, would be most special indeed. Because that one MUST be our best picture of what PIE was like. Precisely, because it never innovated, according to the Stammbaum. Regards, Steve Long From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Sun Sep 5 22:53:41 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 08:53:41 +1000 Subject: Principled Comparative Method - a new tool In-Reply-To: Your message of "Tue, 24 Aug 1999 16:37:16 +0300." Message-ID: Bob Whiting wrote on MOn 23 Aug You seem to be confused about what the topic of discussion is. Basically it is about measuring pathways of change between two daughter languages and a parent to see which of the daughters is closer to the parent *when all three are known*. The method was described in a message posted by Jon Patrick on Thu, 12 Aug 1999 (see http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/ wa?A2=ind9908&L=indo-european&O=T&P=11528 for the message; note put this URL back together before using it). Essentially the method is like counting up the little numbers between the stars on your Texaco road map to figure which route between two places is the shortest. My comments were to the effect that the method could only be effective if all three languages were known and reconstruction of the parent was minimal (and not limited to the comparative method). I'd just like to enhance Bob's descritpion of our method. There are some other factors that contribute the quantitative statistic we arrive at. They are 1. The number of nodes in the network 2. The relative distributions of the outgoing arcs from each node. There is a trade off between these two components such that the idea of a minimum message length is meaningful. As you increase the number of nodes the message length increases. However if the distributions on the outgoing arcs become more regular then the message cost will go down. In fact we do the computation in the opposite direction. We construct the canonical PFSA using the whole data set then attempt to merge states. If the states under comparison have similar distribution properties then the merge will produce a smaller message cost, otherwise we don't do the merge. Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Sun Sep 5 23:39:44 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 09:39:44 +1000 Subject: Principled Comparative Method - a new tool In-Reply-To: Your message of "Wed, 25 Aug 1999 21:56:02 -0400." Message-ID: Date: Wed, 25 Aug 1999 21:56:02 -0400 (EDT) From: Sean Crist On Wed 25 Aug Sean Crist responded to On Tue, 24 Aug 1999, Robert Whiting wrote: > And it is incorrect to describe "In the best case it [a reconstruction] > is only the statistically most probable original relationship between > the forms found in the daughter languages" as a statement about the > comparative method. Please read what is said before going into > knee-jerk reactions. Nothing was said about the comparative method. All right. If I'm recalling correctly, the author of the original message said that one of the things he was measuring was the "distance" between attested forms and reconstructed forms. Since the Comparative Method is the only widely accepted method for reconstructing prehistoric forms, I assumed that the writer was going with reconstructed forms produced by the Comparative Method. You're right, tho, that he didn't specify that this is the case. I can't remember my exact words but I would like to clarify that we have only used the method on attested languages -MIddle Chinese to Beijing and Cantonese . However I offer the conjecture that the method is also useful for assisting in discrimination between COMPETING reconstructions. That is it would tell which reconstruction would be statistically closest to its daughter given the particular dataset available. It also has potential to give some illumination to the systemic structure of the reconstructionS. I understand the idea of computing an optimal path perfectly well, and I've understood from the start of the thread that this was the methodology being employed. My question is this: exactly what happens during the transitions in the probabilistic automata, and how are the probabilities for the transitions determined? Automata normally perform a concatenation operation across each arc between states. One can imagine an automaton-like machine where the transitions can perform other sorts of operations, such as an umlaut rule (i.e., context sensitive substitutions). I'm not sure whether it's proper to use the term "automaton" to describe this richer sort of machine. But if the machine in question is strictly concatentative (as automata at least canonically are), I'm puzzled as to how you would model historical sound change in such a machine, since historical sound change isn't concatenative. I think you may be confounding the notions of an automata and a transducer. An automata more restrcitively is considered as a descritpion of a set of states and symbols that appear in an input stream that activate a transition to a next state. These automata are used often to initiate other computation but that usually is not considered to be part of the automata. A transducer is considered to be something that applies a rule to that transition symbol. Perhaps that's what you are thinking of. The probablities in the PFS Automata come from counting the number of times the transition is made to parse the full dataset. Note the dataset in our case is NOT actually the mother+daughter words but rather the diachronic phonological rules for each word pair. We don't do anything with the rules - we just treat them as a transition symbol. Jon Patrick ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Sun Sep 5 23:53:28 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 09:53:28 +1000 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (a test) In-Reply-To: Your message of "Thu, 26 Aug 1999 01:56:45 EDT." <83142bec.24f6311d@aol.com> Message-ID: On Thu, 26 Aug 1999 01:56:45 EDT Steve long wrote: 5. We would not reconstruct the parent anywhere close to C6, assuming it to be a recent and maybe odd daughter. But in fact that would be the only accurate reconstruction. It really isn't pertinent to say that this could never happen. We could always adjust the scenario enough to make it more possible. Whether it is probable or not does not matter. The point is that if it did happen, the Stammbaum with its given assumptions, would not be able to reflect these events accurately. (But it would give the appearance of an accurate solution.) I think that this happens because the system is based on innovations but not conservations. If you only measure the vectors of change, the vectors of continuity become invisible. A little like reconstructing the lineage of dinosaurs by assuming they are all similar, and then measuring how much they differed. Rather than trying to find a way to rationally measure the similarities in the first place. On the other hand, I have no better system to offer. This does I hope explains my awkward question about how long PIE could continue to co-exist with its daughter languages. And how the answer might affect the direction of reconstructions. This message provoked me to think about how one measures conservation between languages, someting I had never put my mind to before. My first thought was to use one of our numerical taxonomy packages to group words togther based on phone similarity at the "same"position in the wowd. I guess something like identifying edit distance. However now I have an alternative suggestion. What if the PFSA tool I have previously described was used to deal with the unchanged phonological components rather than the changed phonological components? It seems to me that it would then measure the "stability" of the phone elements over time rather than their "instability". Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Mon Sep 6 02:01:21 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 12:01:21 +1000 Subject: Tools for on-line etymological dictionaries [was Re: Ancestor-descendant distance] In-Reply-To: Your message of "Sun, 22 Aug 1999 20:39:56 -0400." Message-ID: [ moderator changed Subject: header ] Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1999 20:39:56 -0400 (EDT) From: Sean Crist On Fri, 13 Aug 1999 ECOLING at aol.com wrote: > We now have an international standard computer Code, Unicode, > which contains most of the characters needed for transliteration > (Latin-standard-based letters) and for phonetic transcription (IPA). > It would be useful to try to establish a standard for Comparative > Data sets, into which all existing computer data sets can be translated, > so that the massive sets of data can be made available for studies > such as this. I agree totally. We're on exactly the same wavelength here. I've looked into this a little and have tried to educate myself about SGML, which would be an obvious candidate for marking up the data sets. I don't know if there are any specific standard sets of SGML tags for marking up dictionaries; if there are, it would probably make sense to start with such a tag set, and extend it with whatever additional tags we need to represent cognations between languages, etc. If anyone on this list has any experience using SGML for such a purpose, please write to me, because I'll need to be tackling this problem before much longer! The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) has created a standard set of markup tags for paper dictionaries. We have used them for converting paper dictionaries to databases, however I believe they will need to be enhanced for creating etymological dictionaries or alternatively databases for historical linguistics. This needs collaborative work between the people interested in the problem. Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Mon Sep 6 04:03:59 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 14:03:59 +1000 Subject: Principled Comparative Method - a new tool In-Reply-To: Your message of "Wed, 01 Sep 1999 13:31:19 -0400." Message-ID: ON Wed, 1 Sep 1999 13:31:19 -0400 (EDT) Sean Crist said Okay- I know enough about automata to know in a general way that the arcs might not match up in a neat way with the way we'd represent the processes as high-level, ordered rules. In a previous job, I had to write automata to produce conjugations and declensions in modern German and Japanese, and it was certainly true that not all the arcs corresponded in a neat way to the units that a linguist would ordinarily want to talk about. The discussion was about a particular application of probabilistic automata to measure "distance" (whatever that means) among related lects. I'm wondering if you or someone else could give me a simple f'rinstance to illustrate how this methodology works in detail, and what it's supposed to accomplish. I haven't seen this methodology before, other than on this list. I'm interested, but I don't understand it yet. I'll try. Lets say you build a probabilistic automata from a data input stream. In our case each input "sentence" is a set of rules describing the relative chronology of a word pair. As you traverse over the PFSA , building new nodes where needed you leave behind on each transition arc an increment to the counter for the number of times you have travelled that arc. You return to the start node when each word-pair rule set is used up. Once all rule sets have been counted in the automata you have the canonical PFSA, that is it will parse all rule sets in your data sample and none others. Note that the transitions counts represent an estimate of the probabilities of transitioning out of that state for those rules. Using the principles of Information Theory we can compute the length of the message you would need to use to optimally encode a description of that PFSA. We talk of that quantity as a "cost" or a "message length" - the meanings are synonymous. So initially we can give you the "cost" of the canonical pFSA. However further investigations can be made. It may well be that parts of the PFSA are identical in which case in terms of minimising the cost of describing the PFSA it would be better to merge a few states and get a shorter message length. The disadvantgae is that now you will allow the PFSA to represent a greater complexity in the data than the canonical PFSA. From our point of view, if merges shorten the message length/cost then the original form of the PFSA was not justified statistically and deserved to be compacted. Note the data is not discarded just the form of its repesentation in the PFSA is altered. Once you have the message length for two competing explanations of the data the difference in cost repsents that one is a better explanatio of the data than the other, or alternatively, one has revealed more structure in the data. The value of the diffeence can be thought of approximately as an odds ratio, 10 bits is 1:2^10(2 to powerof 10) in favour of the shorter message over the longer message. May I suggest that your work with Japanese & German used automata to identify states - the "production" part is not part of automata theory but rather a separate task that automata were used merely to control, perhaps. cheers Jon Patrick ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From X99Lynx at aol.com Mon Sep 6 05:54:24 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 01:54:24 EDT Subject: Horthmen as 'mGall' Message-ID: In a message dated 9/1/99 11:45:25 PM, Ed Selleslagh wrote: <> Yes. But note that all three live in "Gallia." And are "Gallorum" - of the Gauls. Plus there's something else that Caesar does that is apparently meant to tell us something. He uses two different forms in referring to "Gauls" See, e.g., in the same segment, Gallic War 4.5: "His de rebus Caesar certior factus et infirmitatem *Gallorum* veritus,..." But, "Est enim hoc *Gallicae* consuetudinis,... " While Cicero and others make a further distinction, calling the inhabitants of the Roman province of Gallia, "Gallicani." So it may be that the Belgae and Aquitani are of Gaul, but not Gallicae. Sort of the effect we can observe in the specific names, "America" and "Americans" and much larger general geographic names, "the Americas" and "North America." It's worth noting that "Americans" did not give their name to "the Americas." But by an odd twist, it worked the other way around. This is all a bit tricky, because Caesar signals the shift in name designation from the "Keltoi" to the "Galli" or "Gallici". Pausaunias, I think, also notes it also in a matter of fact way, also without explanation. Why the name change? <> This points to a bit of a hole in the Volcae > walha hypothesis. The Belgae and various other more northern Celtic/Gaulish tribes are much closer to where we should expect first contact with Germanic. (Caesar: "proximique sunt Germanis, qui trans Rhenum incolunt...") In fact, the Belgae occupy lands by Caesar's time that would have given them full exposure not only to Rhineland Germanics, but also to Scandinavians. The Volcae, except for Caesar's note about the incursion of some across the Rhine where they are "Germanized", always show up in Gallia Narbonensis, between the Pyrenees and the Rhone. There it seems Volcae represents coalitions. The Volcae Arecomici. The Volcae Tectosages. Whether the Belgae spoke Brythonic is logical enough. But of course there's no proof. In fact there is in archeaological circles a rather strong reaction against making these kind of language to Iron Age cultures comparisons. You wrote: <> There's a pretty strong dispute about the classification "Common Celtic" in general. (The new breed of archaeologists don't like it at all.) One of the odd things about the P-Q distinction is the interesting conclusions it has generated. This is an example I picked up from an official Irish website: <> Some might think the /p/ in five is closer to the original(!) Goidelic, viewed as the oldest version of Celtic, creates other problems, particularly with regard to Gaulish, where the apparent language habits (e.g., /v/ versus /f/) either represent something closer to the original or a Latin influence. (One can however compare the attested -pe ending in the early continental Lapontic Celtic, equivalent to -que in Latin. This might actually bring Goidelic closer to Latin than Lapontic on the p/q scale.) Brythonic, being somewhere in between the two, has its own claim to being closest to Common Celtic. You wrote: <> Boy, does that open a whole 'nother can of worms. You wrote: <> I wrote: <> You wrote: <> I had an intern working for me who seemed to know how to do research spend two days a major school library and she could not find one serious reference to anything but Volcae as the origin of 'walh' - but she was limited to English. Some consideration of the relation between "walh" and either the Celtic or Germanic forms of Gaul or Belgae would seem worth considering. Regards, Steve Long From X99Lynx at aol.com Mon Sep 6 06:16:51 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 02:16:51 EDT Subject: Horthmen as 'mGall' Message-ID: In a message dated 9/3/99 1:00:24 AM, rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu wrote: <> There has been a strong reaction in the archaeological field against making "Celtic" equivalent to "LaTene" at all. You might look at A. Fitzpatrick, 'Celtic' Iron Age Europe and J. Collis, Celts and Politics in Graves-Brown, Jones, and Gamble (eds) Cultural Identity in Archaeology, (1996) Halstatt fares far worse. < /p/ phonomenon began at the center during the La Tene phase.>> It's been mentioned that the /q/ versus /p/ split might in fact be the result of varying exposure to confirmed strong foreign influences. Either the Greeks out of Massalia in southern Gaul or Latin or Etruscan further west. Whether Goidelic is old or new is not clear. <> That's the Atlantis version. Regards, Steve Long From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 6 07:43:07 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 08:43:07 +0100 Subject: IE Trees: innovations unmarked In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Thu, 2 Sep 1999 ECOLING at aol.com wrote: > The other is that trees, as discussed by the proponents > of orthodox theory in this thread, do NOT fully reflect > notions about retentions vs. innovations. > We cannot see from a single binary branch on a tree > whether the RIGHT branch innovated (and all further > descendants of that branch share such innovation(s)), > or whether the LEFT branch innovated (and all further > descendants of that branch share such innovation(s)), > or whether EACH OF THE TWO branches had > innovations common to all descendants from their own > respective branch. > Perhaps I have missed something, but the defenders > of the orthodox theoretical view seem not to be taking > the valid part of the commentors' messages with enough > weight??? > Should we MARK points of innovation on trees, > to indicate which branch innovates, or if both or > more than two do? We don't normally attempt to draw trees in such fine detail: this would scarcely be possible. As a rule, we draw trees that represent significant degrees of divergence, meaning that each daughter of a mother exhibits a significant number of innovations. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 6 07:56:33 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 08:56:33 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (fwd) Message-ID: Roz Frank has asked me to forward this posting to the list, since she is unable to post at present. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk ---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Sat, 04 Sep 1999 17:32:14 CDT From: roslyn frank To: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Subject: Re: your mail [RF] >> I am writing to make a couple of brief comments on the monosyllabic >> project that Jon Patrick has mentioned on the list. I've beenout of >> the country for a while so I haven't been able to follow all the >> discussion of late. Hopefully I won't be repeating to many things >> that have already been said. >> First, I would like to point out an aspect of the project that I >> find particularly interesting, although I don't think it has been >> mentioned on the list. As I understand the monosyllabic project, at >> least as it was conceptualized a year or so ago, it can be >> characterized as having two stages. The first stage is that of >> coming up with an agreed upon description of the phonological >> constraints of pre-Basque, i.e., its phonology prior to contact with >> the Romance languages. That stage requires developing a uniform >> description. [LT] >Well, *fairly* uniform, that's all. Even the phonology of PIE is not at >present agreed upon by all specialists in all details -- far from it. >But the main lines are clear enough. [RF] >> However, as I understand the present situation in Basque there is >> not total agreement concerning this stage of the reconstruction of >> Euskera. Stated differently there are disagreements among Basque >> linguists. That fact would seem to call for more than one set of >> "rules" to be developed and applied to the data. Or at least in the >> case of the elements in question, there would need to be two >> different renditions of the data provided, one that modelled it >> according to one paradigm and another simulation that would result >> from the alternate set of premises concerning this pre-Basque >> phonology. [LT] >No, this is too pessimistic. >At present, our reconstruction of the segmental phonology of the >Pre-Basque of 2000 years ago is agreed upon by everybody in all its main >lines. The same is not true of the suprasegmental phonology, which is >being vigorously debated, but that is not much of a problem for our >purposes here. There are a few debates about the phonetic details of >our phonological reconstruction, but these are parochial and have no >consequences for the system. [RF] As I recall in the exchanges that took place a couple of years ago in the issues of _Mother Tongue_ , there was a rather lively debate about several aspects of the phonological reconstruction. I refer specifically to the differences of opinion expressed by Bill Jacobsen, Jose Ignacio Hualde and yourself. Again I don't have the journal issues in front of me, but I do remember that there were several points of dispute which I don't think were over "phonetic details" but rather more substantive issues, e.g., the presence or absence of /m/ and/or /k/ in Pre-Basque as well as a couple of other items that escape me right now. Also, I've always wondered about the p/b, k/g, t/d alternations in pre-Basque (and/or their *aspirated counterparts). Perhaps you could comment a bit on the distribution of these in modern Basque. It's an intriguing problem. [LT] It is perfectly possible to present >reconstructed Pre-Basque words in a uniform transcription -- say, in >Michelena's transcription -- without causing any difficulties. >I myself might prefer */ll/ and */nn/ to M's */L/ and */N/, but this >makes no difference. [RF] I don't know how Jon is dealing with this kind of transcription problem. [LT] >Potentially the most serious problem is the /h/, but I know of no one at >present who disputes M's conclusion that *most* instances of /h/ are of >suprasegmental origin. However, it remains possible to disagree about >whether *some* /h/s are of segmental origin. In practice, though, this >isn't much of an issue, and we can readily dispose of any difficulties >by reconstructing Pre-Basque -- contra M -- with a *phonetic* [h] in our >transcriptions, allowing users to draw their own conclusions. [RF] Examples? [RF] >> Secondly, as I understand it, once these rules are developed >> (whether they result in two or more simulations is not the issue), >> they can be applied to generate the total picture of what >> monosyllabic root-stems the phonological system in question would >> have supported/permitted. [LT] >This is a hope, no more. Monomorphemic Basque lexical items which are >native and ancient (and not verbs) are usually bisyllabic. There are >perhaps no more than fifty monosyllabic words, and this may not be >enough to provide a clear picture of the structure of monosyllables in >Pre-Basque. [RF] Have you checked Jon's draft listing of these items? To tell you the truth I really don't remember how many monosyllabic items he listed. Again the model would indicate which slots are filled and which are empty sinc the entire ranges of possibilities would be generated by the computer program. [LT] >I'll give you one oddity for free: while word-initial */b/ is >*exceedingly* common in bisyllabic words, it is all but unknown in >monosyllables. This is curious, and I have no explanation. It may be >no more than an accident of survival. [RF] Does that mean that you would argue that /be/ "beneath" is really /pe/ rather than seeing /pe/ as the allophonic representation of /be/? Or do you count /behe/ as two syllables? What about /bal/, bart/ bat/ /behi/ /bein/behin, /beltz/, /bihi/, /bihur/, /bost/, etc. It strikes me that the kind of study that Jon is undertaking would allow us to determine more accurately the distribution of such items. My impression (and it is merely that) is that in the case of relative frequency of monosyllables and bisyllables with word-initial /b/ we would find a higher number of bisyllabic roots, perhaps 3 to 1. However, certainly there are a significant number of monosyllabic parent stems also, particularly when they are compared to certain other monosyllabic parent stems with word-initial consonants. [RF] [snip] [RF] >> At the same time, as Jon knows, in my opinion some of the >> (apparently) monosyllabic root-stems may, indeed, be composed of a >> root and a suffixing element. These patterns, of course, can be >> readily detected by examining the data, e.g., the percentage of >> root-stems that show the same final elements. [LT] >Again, this is a hope, no more. [RF] >> For those familiar with the suffixing processes in Euskera, I'm >> particularly interested in the way that the <-tz> suffixing element >> may be coming into play in the case of certain examples. [LT] >Well, I'm pretty familiar with the Basque word-forming suffixes, but I >don't know what you have in mind here. Normally, a word-forming suffix >in Basque always contains at least one vowel. Can you cite some >examples of what you have in mind? [RF] I don't know exactly what you mean by "word-forming suffix", but the example that I had in mind was a simple and well documented one, that of /bel/ and /beltz/ where /-tz/ has been proposed, I believe by Lakarra (or maybe earlier by Michelena) as a suffixing element. We find /bel/ in composition, e.g., as /goibel/ "sad, dark (as the sky)" which is transparent in terms of its two elements: "high" and "dark". Although today /bel/ is not considered a free-standing morpheme, we do have /beltz/ "black". I have seen /bel/ used by a native speaker in one of the Auspoa series books (sorry, don't have the book with me). My suspicion is that we will discover other potential examples of this consonant cluster (understood as a fossilized/old suffix) in what appear to be non-compositional/primitives that are monosyllables. Agur t'erdi, Roz From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 6 12:57:53 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 13:57:53 +0100 Subject: Conservative dilemma In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Tue, 31 Aug 1999 ECOLING at aol.com wrote: > It appears that Larry Trask is much more balanced in the textbook > he has written than he is in the discussions on email. Curious, but it's true that, in writing my textbook, I went out of my way to try to be fair and balanced. > Here, it seems like pulling teeth to get him to regard > proof as not definitionally related to the Comparative Method. Really? I don't recall ever saying anything about proof' at all. My view is that it is exceedingly difficult to prove anything at all. As a rule, the best that we can hope for is to show that the evidence for some conclusion is so overwhelming that rejection of that conclusion is irrational. And we can't even do that very often. As for the comparative method (no capitals, please), it's the single most valuable and reliable tool we have. But it's not the only one. I myself am a great fan of internal reconstruction, and I have often expressed the hope that mathematical methods (especially probabilistic ones) might be developed into useful tools. > Yet he asserts that in his textbook he has done so. > I have no reason to doubt his word, and accept it. > I have not read his textbook, and am conversing with what > he actually says here on the IE list. Well, my textbook is in the public domain. [ Moderator's comment: Highly unlikely--my copy bears a copyright notice, certainly. I suspect that Larry means "is available to the general public". --rma ] > So why the difficulties on email? Beats me. > Is there some felt need to defeat ANY notion that > there might be ANY value in for example Greenberg's work? > That is certainly what it appears to me to be. > If so, it appears to be something political, > because he has agreed in principle that > Multilateral Comparison can be useful as a heuristic to > generate hypotheses for further investigation by other means. > (He now tells me he has said something like that in his > textbook.) You can find what I say on page 389. A brief summary: It is *possible* that multilateral comparison, skilfully pursued, might be capable of throwing up interesting hypotheses for further investigation by more rigorous methods. But I do *not* believe that MC is capable, all by itself, of establishing previously unknown genetic groupings -- contra Greenberg, who obviously believes that it is. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 6 13:24:28 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 14:24:28 +0100 Subject: Unfair to Greenberg In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Tue, 31 Aug 1999 ECOLING at aol.com wrote: > Concerning the Cambridge use of unrooted trees, > as compared with Greenberg, both of them draw > conclusions about relative similarity, hence potentially > about relative closeness of genetic relationship on a > probabilitistic basis. No, not at all. Greenberg claims absolute relatedness; the Cambridge group do not. > Since Greenberg does not reconstruct > proto-languages, the "roots" of his trees have only the > weakest of implications, if any at all beyond the usual > distinctions from a dialect chain or dialect space, > so that is not an important difference between his > expression of results and the "unrooted trees" of the > Cambridge project. Ask Greenberg if he agrees with this characterization of his work. I'll bet you he doesn't. > Greenberg of course is a human being making human > judgments, therefore not as explicit in what the criteria > of the judgements are as a computer would be, > and potentially not as consistent. Just like any other human > being doing Multilateral Comparison. Greenberg says *not one word* about what his criteria are. Those who have attempted to scrutinize G's work -- Ringe, Campbell, Nichols -- have been forced to make guesses about what G's criteria might be, since he himself provides no clues. This, in my view, is unforgivable. There is no reason at all why G should not publish his criteria explicitly -- assuming he has any. A computer program, of course, does exactly what it's told to do by its constructor, and it's no better and no worse than its instructions. > The Cambridge computer algorithms are of course > applied mechanically, and are therefore completely > consistent. In addition they are explicit about what > their criteria are for decisions. More precisely, the investigators are explicit about their criteria -- or they should be, as the Cambridge group are. > That does not mean the Computer algorithms are better. > Computer algorithms can sometimes be better than an > individual human for very complex tasks if they can be > refined over time by many people, and when appropriate, > conflicting goals can be harmonized or balanced. > But unless done very very well they can also be inferior to > human judgements. Computer algorithms can have biases > built into them, and more consistently applied biases > are worse than biases applied less regularly. But I have never claimed that computer programs are "better" than any other approach for performing any given task. That would be absurd, since it is easy to write a useless program. All I have done is to point out that the Cambridge group make their criteria fully explicit, while Greenberg says nothing at all about his criteria. This observation has nothing to do with the use or non-use of computer programs. > Trask cannot stand the idea that Multilateral Comparison > done by Greenberg and done by Cambridge has much in > common. That's because they have nothing in common that I can think of. I am moderately familiar with G's work, and I am probably more familiar with the Cambridge work than are most people. And I can't see that the two have anything much in common: criteria explicit? C yes, G no. rooted trees? C no, G yes. proof of absolute relatedness claimed? C no, G yes. These look to me like pretty huge differences, not like substantial similarity. > Trask is making a completely unfair comparison below. [snip summary of Greenberg and Cambridge] > The comparison just expressed is not fair by any stretch of the > imagination. Why not? It looks pretty spot-on to me. > To be fair, Trask could have compared Greenberg with another human > being doing classification by Multilateral Comparison. And who might that be? The only other people using MC are not offering any competing results to rival G's. Instead, they buy G's results as beyond reproach and merely work on other groupings not considered by G. It would indeed be interesting and illuminating to see two rival proponents of MC working on much the same languages, but so far that hasn't happened. > (We are after all talking about a situation of very distant > relationships, where are genetic relationships at all, so recurring > sound correspondences are not likely to be established, and THAT > sense of "explicit" cannot distinguish Greenberg from another > human.) Sorry, but this looks to me like that tired old argument: long-rangers can't be held to the same standards of evidence as other people. And I won't buy this. > Or Trask could have generalized and referred to ANY human > making judgments, so the burden of the difference would not > fall selectively on Greenberg. Er -- what? I didn't bring up Greenberg, Lloyd -- you did. > But as stated previously, it is not even > certain that computer algorithms are in general better than > human judgments in these matters. And I've never said anything to the contrary. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From X99Lynx at aol.com Mon Sep 6 16:02:04 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 12:02:04 EDT Subject: the Comparative Method and Semantics Message-ID: In a message dated 9/1/99 11:10:25 PM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu wrote: <> If we just start with the definition of cognation we can be a bit more tidy about this, I think. If cognates are words with common ancestry, then the methods of finding that ancestry can be compared. Note that you use "phonologically derivable" That is the kind of cognation we are talking about here. Phonological. Words that are "semantically derivable" are not cognates in this methodology. (E.g., Miguel Carrasquer Vidal once pointed out on this list that "czerwony" (Pol. "red") <> but that the sound laws did not permit calling the two words cognates. This at-first improbable etymology can be mapped out, but the phonology will not certify it.) (Larry Trask has a neat section on etymology in his textbook, where he observes that other textbook on historical linguistics don't mention it much. It is really worth reading because it, because I think it solidifies the impression that when it comes to what we call "semantics", every word has its own history.) So, really, the "meaning" of a word only makes phonological ancestry more or less likely, it doesn't define it. But the "exceptionless sound laws" support the idea that if two words are a phonologically the same, they have a high probability of common ancestry. Of course there are random exceptions, but these are better accounted for by measuring statistical uncertainty (the old bell-shaped curve) than by making conclusions about probable etymology. That is a much bigger ballpark and the fences can be out of our reach. <> I cannot tell you how unjustified that conclusion is. Not only can I imagine plenty of "semantic developments" that would work. I can also give you about 500 examples of documented developments that are much wilder than 'river' and 'leather'. A historian with a good knowledge of ancient material processes, articles of trade and traffic would not find the connection very challenging, I'm afraid. The example I gave connecting "gay" as liturgical joy and "gay" as a description of status in the work place is much better. And tracking the etymology over hill and dale tells us the two words come from the same parent. And they ARE phonologically cognate. Unless you have the historical background to definitely eliminate the connection between 'river' and 'leather', your off-the-cuff impression is just not enough to settle the matter. Without text and context, there is just no way of knowing if you are right or wrong. In fact, from the historical point of view, your assertion is really unprovable. What's the consequence of you making that judgment? Possibly a bad analysis of a key cognation in two languages and a bad history of phonology between the two languages. The comparative method using phonological analysis is a powerful tool because of all you said about the sound laws. Like carbon-14 dating, it carries a high degree of statistical value with it. Applying it to 'semantics' (except to get started or as a boost of confidence in results) is like using carbon dating to measure the stylistic difference on ancient pottery. It's a different variable altogether. Someone wrote here on the list something like the meaning of a word is the response you get. There's a fundamental truth there. We only have half the information we need when we have the word. We do not necessarily know the effect on the listener - who may well in a local context have heard "leather" and thought "river." <<2) have meanings which can have plausibly developed from some meaning in the proto-language.>> And again this is backwards. We can only guess at meanings in the proto-language by looking at meanings in later language. If our guess at the proto-meaning does not fit a clear phonological match, then it may be that our proto-meaning is wrong. Especially because it is a guess entirely based on later meanings. Reconstruction should not force us to conclude that actual history is wrong, when it is clear that we can only reconstruct words based on actual history. Regards, Steve Long From ECOLING at aol.com Mon Sep 6 23:02:50 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 19:02:50 EDT Subject: Fear of "loss of control"; semantic change Message-ID: The following two paragraphs began a message received privately from Marie-Lucie Tarpent today. In that message she gave permission to quote it to the full list, which because of its references to her own work and to relevant work of others I think is useful. I do not know Paul Newman's book, and would be interested in further discussion of it, also of Marie-Lucie's and Johanna Nichols's various presentations on these topics. Lloyd Anderson *** >I was very pleased to read your message on the topic of denial of >semantic change. I presented a paper at the International Congress >of Historical Linguistics in Vancouver 3 or 4 weeks ago, in which i >mentioned the fear of "loss of control" that seems to underlie the >clinging to "the rigor of the comparative method", more by people >with poor mastery of the CM than otherwise. Semantic leeway is also >addressed by Johanna Nichols in her discussions of the comparative >method. Another good piece of writing on the subject is "On being >right", a small brochure by Paul Newman about Greenberg's work in >African linguistics and related controversial topics in comparative >linguistics. >In my paper "Tsimshianic and Penutian" (IJAL 1997) i also addressed >the subject of semantic range: in several related languages one is >likely to find a similar range of meanings for a given root or stem, >rather than tightly constrained individual meanings which may be more >indicative of borrowing. I also defended starting from phonological >resemblances rather than from a list of meanings in looking for >potential cognates. >... >Marie-Lucie [Tarpent] From X99Lynx at aol.com Tue Sep 7 13:49:41 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Tue, 7 Sep 1999 09:49:41 EDT Subject: NEWS re Early Language Message-ID: Fom the NY Times - 9/7/99 (http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/science/090799sci-paleontology-erectu s.html) (Watch out for wraparound in the browser URL box.) (NOTE: the reporter takes the Out of Africa as majority in this piece, although other recent stories suggest that majority is fast fading. Both Delson and Swisher, mentioned in the article, generally take a multiregional approach.) An Intriguing Find on the Upper West Side By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD An intriguing fossil skull, presumably from a Homo erectus and possibly a revealing piece of evidence for understanding human evolution, has been found not on a parched hill in Africa or along a river in Java, but at a cozy little shop on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. However the skull got there, and this part of the story is murky, paleoanthropologists concluded last week that it is a genuine specimen from Indonesia and could be critical in determining the place of the Homo erectus species in East Asia on the human family tree. Learning that is central to a scholarly controversy over where and how modern humans, Homo sapiens, evolved.... The dark gray skull apparently belonged to a young male, probably in his 20's, but experts who examined it inside and out were struck by some puzzling characteristics. The individual's brain was small, about half the size of Homo sapiens but within the range for Homo erectus. Yet he had a humanlike high forehead, not the sloping kind typical of Homo erectus and other early hominids. A cast made of the inside surface of the skull revealed the brain's configuration, which bore some resemblance to Homo sapiens brains. An apparent swelling in one region of the brain, scientists said, suggested that the Homo erectus was developing the potential for language and speech.... Until this decade, paleoanthropologists generally divided the lineage of genus Homo into three successive species. Homo habilis appeared about 2.5 million years ago, at the time of the first evidence of stone toolmaking. Homo erectus, beginning about 1.8 million years ago, was the first to leave Africa, spreading across Eurasia as far as China and Indonesia. The species was once thought to be the direct ancestor of Homo sapiens.... Now scientists are not so sure. Other distinct species may have emerged and overlapped between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens. Genetic studies point to anatomically modern humans' appearing first in Africa some 100,000 years ago from descendants of the Homo erectus population that remained there. The African branch of Homo erectus is now usually labeled Homo ergaster to distinguish it from the Asian species. If modern humans sprang from Africa, then the Far East Homo erectus was probably an evolutionary dead end, though a few scientists still think otherwise.... The rounded shape of the new skull and the inferred structure of its brain, the examining team said, at least raised the question of whether the Homo erectus of Indonesia was, in fact, evolving toward a more modern human species... Studying the actual skull and casts, the researchers noted that the cranial bone was thick and the brow ridges well developed, both characteristics of Homo erectus..... Douglas Broadfield, a graduate student at City University, said the braincase examination revealed a high degree of cerebral asymmetry, a differential development of the two sides of the brain, that seemed advanced for Homo erectus. It also showed a bump in what is known as the Broca cap or area of the brain, the seat of language capability in modern humans. The combination of asymmetry and a Broca's cap, he said, was rare in Homo erectus. "This is not to say this guy could speak like a modern human," Mr. Broadfield said. "But the potential is there for some higher processing, some type of communication cognition, that we don't see for other H. erectus specimens...." Dr. Carl C. Swisher 3d of the Berkeley Geochronology Center in California will be analyzing sediment found embedded inside the skull, which could yield chemical traces of the specimen's apparent age. Dr. Delson's team said the skull could be anywhere from 100,000 to 1 million years old. The shop owner would not estimate how much money his generosity might have cost him, though some paleontologists speculated that the skull might have commanded up to $500,000 on the open market. /S. Long/ From X99Lynx at aol.com Wed Sep 8 05:22:40 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 01:22:40 EDT Subject: the Chinese study Message-ID: I wrote: <> In a message dated 9/7/99 11:19:07 PM, jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au wrote: <> Well then one of my suggestions was anticipated. I have nothing to complain about here. I wrote <> jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au wrote: <> This would appear to be a moot point from what you said above. But just to be clear: I'm not sure where your algorithm starts, but my point was simple. We find a state B(F1) and C(F1). Languages B and C differ by the use of say one phoneme alone. Otherwise they are identical and coeval. We assume and reconstruct a parent A. The lone phoneme difference between B and C creates an unknown: whether the phoneme in B is from the parent or whether the phoneme in C is from the parent. If we conclude B is identical to the parent, then C carries the "innovation." (Forget about dual innovations for now.) Based on the above there is no statistical certainty at all in choosing B over C or vice versa. It is not the "insertion from the null position" that is the issue I think you will see here, but in fact how that insertion decision affects the reconstruction. Reconstructions should work backward in time. So if "insertion" = "innovation", it presumes in fact that the "inserted" data was not in the parent. But in fact we are in complete uncertainty about that fact. (But again you are not reconstructing.) Since you also said that your approach can only compare two reconstructions, this may not be a problem for you. Although you will not be able to reduce the uncertainty in the example above no matter how many reconstructions you test. Because two alternative reconstructions will not necessarily make one of the choices better than the other. It may seem trivial in terms of the work you are doing. But this fundamental uncertainty in any reconstructive process can yield very different results in subsequent analysis using those reconstructions as a basis. Otherwise most of the observations I made don't even seem to apply. Regards, Steve Long From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 8 07:57:40 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 08:57:40 +0100 Subject: Basque statistics - methodological contradiction In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Fri, 3 Sep 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: [snip quote from me] > This is presented after a long and detailed response to Lloyd > Anderson's revision of his 6 rules for deciding what should be used > as acceptable words in the study of early basque words. Larry's > rules are highly restrictive and my counter argument is that they > are too restrictive and they do not let the data speak for > themselves. The problem with "letting the data speak for themselves" is that ancient Basque words are vastly outnumbered today by words of more recent origin. So, if we can't systematically exclude the newer words, we have no reasonable hope of picking out the ancient ones. > It seems to me, unless I am misreading something, that Larry's final > comment objects to someone else entertaining an a priori model of > the data as making assumptions, but doesn't perceive that he is > making assumptions from his own expectations of what a basque word > should look like. But, Jon, I am *not* making any assumptions in advance as to what a Basque word should look like. Observe that not one of my proposed principal criteria has anything to do with the *phonological form* of a word. My principal criteria are distribution, date of first attestation, and absence of the word in neighboring languages: nothing to do with form at all. My secondary criteria exclude apparent nursery words and imitative words, which admittedly have something to do with form, but both of which can be identified by independent criteria having nothing to do with what I hope or expect to find in Pre-Basque. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 8 08:10:37 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 09:10:37 +0100 Subject: Random Noise - quite different questions? In-Reply-To: <009601bef5ff$69306f00$8602703e@edsel> Message-ID: On Fri, 3 Sep 1999, Eduard Selleslagh wrote: [on John McLaughlin's posting] > I'm equally intrigued: I would rather expect the amount of spurious > results to decrease as the number of languages involved increases, > since the number of chance resemblances, false potential cognates > etc. (which I would call noise, i.e. meaningless 'results' of the > comparison) common to all or a significant number of the languages > involved decreases. It is simply a matter of the number of > intersecting sets, mathematically speaking. Or was something else > intended? As the number of languages under comparison increases, the number of spurious "matches" increases much faster, as John has pointed out. Just how big a problem this is depends on how you proceed. If, for example, you accept as a "hit" a match between only two languages, or only three languages, then increasing the total number of languages under comparison from, say, five to ten to fifteen to twenty will virtually guarantee that the spurious matches will soon overwhelm any real matches that may exist. You can only deal with this by requiring matches to exist among a sizeable proportion of all the languages. If you only accept matches occurring in, say, 75% of all the languages being compared, then spurious matches won't be a problem, but you're not likely to find many genuine matches, either, if any exist, unless the languages are so closely related that the relationship is obvious upon inspection, in which case there is no point in undertaking the exercise. Alexis Manaster Ramer once wrote a paper addressing this issue. Unfortunately, I have the reference at home at the moment, though I can dig it out if anyone wants it. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From ECOLING at aol.com Wed Sep 8 13:52:39 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 09:52:39 EDT Subject: Perfective is not Completive Message-ID: Larry Trask is absolutely right when he writes: >Forbes, and Ryan, appear to be confusing *perfective* aspect with >*completive* aspect -- which is not the same thing. > perfective = no internal structure > completive = completion It is a well known fact among specialists in verbal aspect (of which I am one, have done extensive typology of verbal aspect) that what is CALLED "Perfective" in the grammatical tradition of a particular language may or may not bear any relation to what is apparently the same term intended in its universal sense. In the case of Russian, the so-called "perfectives" are, just as Larry Trask says, normally telic completives, rather than being typical perfectives. Thus the following sentence is approximately true: Russian "Perfectives" are not perfectives. There is nothing we can do about such terminological confusions, given that particular grammatical traditions use terms in ways different from their current universal meanings. Indeed, without the particular traditions we would never have developed the typological basis to have universal meanings at all! No one is to blame, it merely "is" this way. Best wishes, Lloyd Anderson Ecological Linguistics From ECOLING at aol.com Wed Sep 8 13:52:35 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 09:52:35 EDT Subject: CV canonical form ?? Message-ID: >[ start LT quote] >Well, I am unwilling to assume in advance that CV syllable structures >must have been typical of Pre-Basque. In fact, my preliminary work >suggests strongly that Pre-Basque had an enormous proportion of >vowel-initial words, probably totaling at least 50% of the recoverable >lexicon, and possibly more. This I consider unusual, though a query >last year on the LINGUIST List turned up a few other languages with the >same property. This portion of what Jon quoted from Larry Trask appears because of its context to be referring to something I wrote, but in fact it was not relevant to my position. I did not propose and I do not propose that we should assume in advance that CV syllable structures are typical of Basque. My point was rather just the opposite, that use of the canonical-form method might tend to exaggerate the importance of CV-structures precisely because they are typologically (world-wide) so common. I was very happy to hear Larry Trask say that early Basque probably had an unusually high proportion of vowel-initial words. THAT I consider an important observation or finding, precisely because of its deviation from statistically most common canonical forms. My argument was solely against the use of typical canonical forms to rule out vocabulary as supposedly part of the native stratum of a reconstructed language. This way of proceeding often distorts. It has a tendency to exaggerate the degree of consistency within a language, because many languages have a mixture of canonical forms (therefore do not have a single overriding exclusive canonical form). Especially when applied to sound-symbolic vocabulary, it is dangerous to use canonical forms developed from other vocabulary, because these two may often differ in typical phonological shapes (canonical forms). Lloyd Anderson Ecological Linguistics From ECOLING at aol.com Wed Sep 8 13:52:50 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 09:52:50 EDT Subject: Tailing off with depth Message-ID: I fail to recognize John McLaughlin's response (see quotes below) as having any bearing on the challenge I issued. His response does not refer to a tailing-off in KNOWN cases with increasing depth. It refers only to a comparison with Nostratic, which is an unknown case, using some method of judging "chance" which is unspecified. Such judgements in the past have been notorious as building in as assumptions the conclusions they come to. Most circularly, they ASSUME certain languages are unrelated which may ultimately not be, or use a looseness of estimating "lookalikes" worthy of the worst caricatures by critics of Greenberg. And just incidentally, I note once again that Multilateral Comparison has some strengths in this regard which are still not correctly represented or even understood. If we take Nostratic as the result not of study of a fixed set of language families chosen A Priori, but rather as a set of language families selected by Multilateral Comparison from among the language families of the world, then the hypothesis of Nostratic is merely that these language families appear (by their data, not their geography) to be likely to be more closely related to each other than to other language families outside that set. And the geography would then be a confirmation, not a fact included in the process of selecting the set of language families. Of course, in practice, Nostratic was set up in an informal process, partly in both ways. As most pioneer discovery processes quite sensibly use all information available, including geography, so there is no "independent" data set available at the beginning to act as a test. Neither McLaughlin nor Trask have really taken up my challenges on getting EMPIRICAL data on the rate of tailing off of information usable for reconstruction. I think the reason for this in the field as a whole is that once the results of the Comparative Method are known, no one is interested any longer in testing the tools that got us there. That is throwing away an enormous part of our most valuable data, the data on how our tools work in cases where we KNOW the answer. This is an empirical question. In the case of Albanian, Trask refers to what may be an excess of loanword etc. influences from neighbors, so that it took linguists using the Comparative Method enormous effort to conclude that there was a stratum of vocabulary inherited from PIE via a specific set of sound changes peculiar to Albanian, rather than borrowed from IE language neighbors. [I believe that is what Trask was saying.] I do not think I have ever seen a discussion of how Multilateral Comparison might handle situations of massive loanwords, or might be enhanced to handle such situations better, short of the full effort of the Comparative Method referred to above. Naive Multilateral Comparison in THIS instance might simply yield the result that the relations of Albanian seem to be all over the map, sometimes with one IE family, sometimes with another, in a fashion which does not suggest subgrouping classification. Would that be sort of like Germanic between Slavic and other IE, but Albanian in a more multipolar way? These are merely decent guesses. I still maintain we always need to study explicitly how each of our tools works. Albanian may be a very important test case of a particular kind for extending our tools to greater time depths. Best wishes, Lloyd Anderson [LA] > Do it for Indo-European, for goodness sake, > where we AGREE that the languages all belong > to one family, and yet MUCH vocabulary > is NOT represented throughout the family. > That does not cause us to doubt the reality of IE. > When pushed by the data pattern, linguists discuss > dialect chains or even networks or areal subparts of IE. > So how much of this should we expect for different > depths of relationship? > Get the statistics on this, formulated in a simple > and objective way which can be compared with > both other known and unknown cases. > across different levels of depth of dialects, > families, family groupings and super-families of IE, > see whether the rate of representation tails off in > a linear, geometric, or other pattern with increasing > depth, and what the range of variation is for different > instances of the "same" time depth (which might > depend on different social situations, such as > the relative isolation of Icelandic, vs. Scandinavian, > vs. mainland Germanic from other closely related > languages of their family). [JM] Donald Ringe has already done something like this comparing Indo-European with Nostratic ('Nostratic' and the Factor of Chance, Diachronica 12:1.55-74 (1995)). He found that when looking at the number of subgroups represented in cognate sets versus what would be predicted from chance resemblances, Indo-European showed a much-greater-than-chance number of sets with cognates in multiple subgroups and Nostratic showed the number of sets expected from chance. From ECOLING at aol.com Wed Sep 8 13:52:47 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 09:52:47 EDT Subject: Retained Information vs. Random Noise Message-ID: John McLaughlin's contribution received today confirms the interpretation I was making of his presentation. That is, one gets the increasing number of PAIRWISE matches between any pair of languages, as one increases the number of languages involved, IF ONE DOES NOT CARE WHAT PROPORTION of the many languages are represented in each purported potential cognate set. As soon as one does care about this, the reasoning used by McLaughlin becomes merely a limiting case, in the event that one does not have any serious controls (as I previously stated). This is a legitimate criticism of some of Greenberg's work. But it is not a criticism of Multilateral Comparison, although McLaughlin presents it that way. The most basic Multilateral Comparison, like the work under Catherine the Great, and like the small table in Greenberg's theoretical intro section to Language in the Americas, has all cells filled, a word is included for each language in the sample for the semantic category defined. As a result, the only judgements being made are about closer or less close. The judgements are NOT about whether a given pairing of words is a cognate or not in any absolute sense. It is the strength of the method that it can work without the need for absolute knowledge on that kind of question. There is a second reason why the criticism is not definitive for Greenberg even in his most lax approaches. We have no empirical studies of how fast the discovery of lookalikes which might be considered plausible potential cognates (for further work) will decrease, with increasing distance of languages from each other, nor with what proportion of a group of descendant languages will be likely to be included in such cognate sets. Greenberg's valid point is that, if we want to avoid MISSING any valid cognates (that is, in my own words, if we want to be over-inclusive at first, and I personally would limit this to pioneer stages of classification at any given depth) then we recognize that among true cognates, they will be retained in a gradually decreasing proportion of related languages as we increase the time and changes separating those languages. THERE WILL PROBABLY BE some valid cognates retained in only two of some sample of 40 very distantly related but indeed genetically related languages. Because the severest critics of Greenberg complain that his methods are not formalizable, we cannot then draw absolute conclusions about the relative roles of valid cognates preserved sporadically in only two or a few languages, vs. pseudo-cognates made possible by random noise. Without complete formalization, it is impossible to draw absolute conclusions such as the following: >Greenberg's "Amerind" classification >never rises above the level of random noise. We simply don't know that. To assume it is true, we would I think have to assume that pseudo-cognates are just as easy to find as true cognates, taken for the sample as a whole. (Notice that this is stated as a RELATIVE COMPARISON OF EASE.) That assumption strikes me as counter-intuitive, as assuming that the small amount of information retained from the common proto-language is not there at all, because if ANY of it were still there, it should make at least some tiny degree more likely that we would find pairs of lookalikes which actually are cognates, than pairs which actually are not ("actually" in the light of some ideal complete knowledge of the distant future). The core difficulty in discussions between Greenberg and critics is to me that the results of the Multilateral Comparison COMPONENT of the many methods Greenberg uses are taken to yield results of the kind claimed by the Comparative Method, when they do not at all. They yield only RELATIVE COMPARISONS, not statements of relation vs. non-relation, of cognacy vs. non-cognacy, taken as absolutes. There are not even any absolute levels of confidence in the results, only relative ones. Multilateral Comparison yields results of the type: X and Y are likely to be more closely related than X and Z. It includes the converse, that X and Z are likely to be less closely related than X and Y (including possibly unrelated). That is all. Comparative Method yields results of the type: X and Y are related, and these [stated] are the sound correspondences which were involved. I must emphasize again, Greenberg's work is not a definition of Multilateral Comparison. Nor is Greenberg's actual accomplishment necessarily the same as what even he says it is. Just as for many other writers and researchers. Multilateral Comparison existed before Greenberg and will exist after him, and has in fact been successfully used by pioneers in language comparison and reconstruction world-wide, in doing *triage* to select which set of languages to study more intensively, often using the Comparative Method. Best wishes, Lloyd Anderson Ecological Linguistics From JoatSimeon at aol.com Wed Sep 8 16:33:28 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 12:33:28 EDT Subject: Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic Message-ID: >kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu writes: >I strongly suspect that literacy is a necessary prerequisite for >artificially keeping a language static over many centuries. -- Sanskrit was preserved orally for centuries; however, it was used only for religious purposes, and primarily as religious poetry. Nobody spoke it in day-to-day life, and children did not learn it from their parents as infants; it was 'dead'. >Second, the main point in Steve Long's hypothetical case was not merely that >a language could remain unchanged over time, but that daughter languages >could periodically branch off from it and innovate. -- I think this is the clincher. These 'learned' liturgical/scholarly languages aren't used for everyday communication, and therefore they can't produce descendant languages themselves, since they're not subject to the same process of gradual change. From alderson at netcom.com Wed Sep 8 18:59:49 1999 From: alderson at netcom.com (Richard M. Alderson III) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 11:59:49 -0700 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (Celtic as PIE) In-Reply-To: <302fe4bf.2500dc57@aol.com> (X99Lynx@aol.com) Message-ID: First, a note on terminology. Below, I use "satem" as short-hand for "Indo- Iranian, Balto-Slavic, Armenian, etc." and "centum" as short-hand for "*NOT* Indo-Iranian, Balto-Slavic, Armenian, etc." I will not debate this choice of short-hand with anyone. On 3 Sep 1999, Steve Long wrote: >Wait! <>!!!! >No it doesn't. Not in the scenario I gave you. Celtic IS PIE! It >distinguishes only two. Your experiment falls apart at this juncture. The evidence for three different series of dorsals is pan-IE: The canonical examples are things like Skt. _kravis._ "raw meat", Latin _cruor_ "gore, blood" in which the "satem" data lead the linguist to expect a labiovelar in "centum" dialects, while the "centum" data lead the linguist to expect a palatal or alveolar fricative in "satem" dialects. (The fact of Luwian maintenance of the three-way distinction is simply icing on the cake of the comparative method.) There is no way to predict which velars in Celtic will be represented as such, and which as palatals, in the "satem" dialects. Therefore, if you insist on placing Celtic at the top of the tree, you make incorrect predictions of the facts in evidence, and you fail. >So, how many mergers does that leave that would have to be unmerged if Celtic >were the hypothetical parent? Again, Celtic never merged palatal and velar. >Because Celtic IS PIE. So you call whatever is unique in IIr an innovation. >(An unshared innovation.) And your problem is solved. Isn't it? No >unmergings needed. The "innovation" is not unshared, but rather occurs across the spectrum. >I was always talking about how the Stammbaum would change and about the real >data you were using.. My scenario mades Celtic equal PIE specifically to >reveal the kind of assumptions being made that might go beyond the data. It is not a matter of assumptions about PIE, but of real data in multiple languages. Your insistence otherwise reveals nothing about the Ringe tree. Rich Alderson From gordonselway at gn.apc.org Wed Sep 8 20:06:31 1999 From: gordonselway at gn.apc.org (Gordon Selway) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 21:06:31 +0100 Subject: Northmen as 'Gaill/Goill' Message-ID: I've been reading (but not yet fully marked, learned or inwardly digested) a recent book by a member of the British Museum staff. He's Simon James, and the book is called 'The Atlantic Celts: ancient people or modern invention?' I've also been trying to gather together all my thoughts on this: as a (non-non-native, but not mother-tongue, and not often practising these days) Gael, I sometimes feel (as no doubt some of my forebears did when outsiders turned up to overturn their societies) resentful and more than a little disturbed at the way they run about 'my' patch and treat it in a way which suggests the dangerous little learning rather than the splendours of knowledge, and (maybe) the use of the past for today's purposes. Which brings me back to James' book (and possibly indeed one of the points in the UPenn tree thread). James' first point is that the inhabitants of these isles most likely did not, at least before the advent of CI Caesar - and maybe not even then, have any, let alone any developed, sense of being Irish or British (in contrast with each other and with being Gaulish). There were certainly ties (which may have been piecemeal rather than concentrated and migratory) within and between the isles, and with either/both and continental Europe. And after all, as far as I can tell from what information I've been able to glean, my ancestors and their other descendants have been moving to and fro between Ireland and Scotland, Scotland and Ireland for for ever. And as someone else with a similar ancestry remarked when I asked about this, 'How do you tell the difference? I usually say I was born on the Stranraer-Larne ferry.' [Apart, btw, from Dennis, are there any other Gaels ono on this list?] Indeed, James suggests that the political units we know of from the time of CIC and the next 150 years or so in Britain were quite probably the essentially personal creations of individual 'Rdubergrafen' (or is it -baronen?), and did not become (as in Gaul -> France) the core of longer-lasting territories. And he also points out that there is little to suggest the arrival of successive waves of invaders from La Thne or Hallstatt cultures, or whatever. Instead he posits cultural dissemination, and the possibility of languages of what we would regard as a Celtic type in these islands perhaps from as early as the third millenium BCE. [Not quite shades of Renfrew, whose views and approving citation of Dillon James does not endores.] I'm not sure I would accept all that he writes. There is some evidence to show that there were migrations to Britain from the North Sea Germanic-speaking areas, that there had been a collapse of Roman culture in Britain, a change of language over much of the country, the introduction of new institutions in many areas (as well as the piecemeal retention of older ones), and some discontinuities which may be detected archaeologically, and well as no apparent discontinuities to correspond with the formal arrival of the English (this is the case where I live now - English of Wessex acquire the area by conquest afair in 577 CE, though of course Wessex arguably had British roots in its formation - yet the Celtic church is still active a generation or two later). And I have already posted (not sure if on this list) about the apparent differences which a local and now retired chiropodist found in the skeletal features of her local patients (which seem to go back before the arrival of the English) and those of recently arrived people/families - and that I show some of her local skeletal features. [ ] But the overall picture - that whatever trends can be detected, whatever changes have been made, are (quite/very) often the result of a host of individual (and) small changes; that there may have been no mass invasions at all, but a continuing accretion - remains. (This is subject to whatever corrections I need to make when I've finally absorbed the book and think I have its arguments aright.) So, perhaps no arrival of Q-Celtic or indeed P-Celtic, but perhaps lots of arrivals over and over again for many centuries - and with possibly Q-Celtic coming with the Laiginn - ?sp - in the third century BCE to produce what appears in history as Gadelic. [I seem to recall other possible ports of embarkation for insular Q-Celtic on the Atlantic coast of Gaul and in the Low Countries, but my notes are packed away. But then I also recall, without any reference to hand, a DNA link between Vtzi, the Brenner iceman, and someone in Co Cork, which may be a sign of migration, or simply a reflection of the extent of the database trawled/] Finally, about the subject line. I do not know how it arose, but as Lady Bracknell did not quite say, it does not inspire confidence; and to make one mistake in one language may be viewed as a misfortune, but to make them in two looks like sheer carelessness. 'mGall' is simple nonsense. The gp is 'na nGall/nan Gall' (depending on whether you are using the Irish or the Scots orthography: eclipsis occurs in Irish and some Scots dialects), the np is '(na) Gaill/Goill'. Sorry if I've moved away from the direction the thread was taking. Gordon At 3:40 pm 2/9/99, Rick Mc Callister wrote: > I've read many times that the Goidelic Celts were the descendants >of the members of the Halstatt culture while Brythonic Celts were >descendants of members of the La Tene culture. > But given that Celtiberian is also Q-Celtic, I've wondered if >P-Celtic wasn't an innovation that started at the center and only made it >as far as the island of Great Britain. > The 2 concepts are not necessarily mutually excludable, of course, >in that the Q-Celts could have moved away from the center during the >Halstatt phase while the /q/ > /p/ phonomenon began at the center during >the La Tene phase. [ moderator snip ] From vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu Wed Sep 8 20:57:55 1999 From: vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu (Vidhyanath Rao) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 16:57:55 -0400 Subject: Root aorists vs. marked presents Message-ID: Jens Elmegaard Rasmussen wrote: > I agree that the stem formants are originally derivational, so > polymorphism was original. But original does not necessarily mean PIE, > it may apply to times much older than that. By the time of the > protolanguage it appears that most verbs had lexicalized one particular > present-stem formation and one particular aorist formation for any > given verb. I do not exclude the survival of separate derivative sets > from the same root or even the existence of competing synonymous > present or aorist formations with the same verb, but I do not like the > general principle to be simply "anything goes", for it is truly > impressive how much falls into place in a very neat way if we insist > on rigor here too. I am not sure what rigor' means here. If it means excluding forms or trying to explain them away when they do not fit into the theory, then it has a serious drawback: this process has a positive feedback: More data we exclude, the stronger the theory seems and we feel more secure in using weaker arguments to exclude even more. The only corrective I can see is to step back once in a while and look at alternate theories. [There are some strange classifications in Sanskrit for which the only reason seems to be reduce polymorphism: For example, da's'ama:na is sometimes called a participle of thematic aorist' in spite of the accent. Reduplicated forms, like acikitat, are assigned to the (plu) perfect in spite of the fact the stem has a thematic vowel, or ju'jos.asi against the accent. I find it hard to call these things rigor'.] > Incidentally, I cannot accept the statement, "Of course, only Indic > and Hittite matter for root presents", for Hittite does not distinguish > present and aorist stems, while some of the other groups do: We know > from Greek, as from Indic, that *H1ei-mi is indeed a present, while > Hitt. u-iz-zi 'comes' could in principle be an analogical formation made > to a root aorist, had the question not been decided by the other > branches. The number of root presents outside Hittite and Indo-Iranian is quite small. Is it a mere accident that two of the earliest attested corpora (only Myc is in the same category and we don't really know its syntax) have the largest number of root presents? Given that we see root presents replaced by other, productive, forms (eimi itself was latter shifted to a future in Greek) are we realy justified in assuming that root presents in Hittite or Sanskrit must be secondary whenever the theory dictates it? > Thus, I am not at all sure that *e'n-t (Ved. ipf. a'-han, Hitt. > prt. kuent) was the injunctive of a present stem and not that of an > aorist. If Anatolian cannot show such things, and Indo-Iranian shows > occasional shifts from one aspect stem to the other (e.g., Ved. de'hmi, > le'hmi using the original aorist stem), then *en(H)- could > probably easily have been an aorist, as its drastic meaning of > achievement may seem to imply. But this is just a thought on a detail. Strangely enough I agree with this halfway. I see -i of primary endings as originally denoting progressive (by which I mean that the reference time is indicated to be in the >interior< of the event time; that this implies the event has a non-zero duration is a mathematical consequence and is not the defining property). However, forms such as *ent were not excluded from performative (this should be uncontroversial), habitual and generic usages (note that both Greek and Vedic allow aorist stems to co-occur with adverbs denoting indefinite repetition and it is hard to escape the feeling that some of these examples denote habituality). Other changes in Indic and Hittite led to the use of hanti/kuenti in these cases. But before this happened, it would not be correct to assume that the aorist' was limited to the perfective domain. From vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu Wed Sep 8 20:59:55 1999 From: vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu (Vidhyanath Rao) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 16:59:55 -0400 Subject: "Perfective" definition Message-ID: Patrick C. Ryan wrote: > Traditionally, perfective aspect has had a linguistic definition of "an > aspect of verbs that expresses a completed action as distinct from a > continuing or not necessraily completed action" (AHD). May be it is because I am a mathematician, but I see nothing wrong with changing definitions as we learn more. Cross-lingusitic definitions must capture the essence of the usage in different languages, have a coherent and objective' definitions. Due to historical reasons, for any given language, the usuage might a bit wider or a bit narrower than the definition allows. And, if it is a lot wider or a lot narrower, we want to assign it to some other category. Occassionally we will come across cases that are hard to place (how much hair must fuzzy-wuzzy lose before he stops being fuzzy?). That is price for dealing with real-life. Just because the definition does not precisely capture the usage of one language (or one genetic/areal group) we should not abandon the definition. > Obviously, his "punctual" is very much like your "treated as an > indivisible unit", which, according to Larry is only a subdivision > of the grander perfective If I understand Lloyd correctly, treated as an indivisible unit' is same as treated as an undivided whole': When the speaker uses the perfective, he is ignoring that the event may be divisible or even carry a derivational marker indicating divisiblity. Puncutal is different in that it is truely indivisible, that is the speaker is not allowed to divide it. Hence it is typically used in the perfective (but in some languages the imperfective of puncutal is used to denote habitual and/or generic). > In fact, I would be interested to know a language which has a category > "perfective" according to *his* definition but one which does *not* > conform to the traditional definition of "perfective". See the long list in Dahl, Tense and Aspect Systems, p.72 From maxdashu at LanMinds.Com Wed Sep 8 21:02:18 1999 From: maxdashu at LanMinds.Com (Max Dashu) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 14:02:18 -0700 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (the stem) Message-ID: >The only node on that tree that represents a non-innovating language is >marked PIE. And this tree also posits a group of speakers who are always >non-innovators, node after node. And because they are not the innovators, >they remain PIE. Right down to the last node. Unless of course they are the >last node. I doubt that any human language ever existed that has not innovated over time. From alderson at netcom.com Thu Sep 9 02:09:33 1999 From: alderson at netcom.com (Richard M. Alderson III) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 19:09:33 -0700 Subject: Principled Comparative Method - a new tool In-Reply-To: <735cc45b.2501cd76@aol.com> (X99Lynx@aol.com) Message-ID: On 3 Sep 1999, Steve Long wrote: >And this shows the fundamental uncertainty when we are trying to reconstruct >from two daughters. If you assume one has innovated, you assume the other >reflects the parent. Let's try another dataset for a moment, with data from three languages: /tSi tSa ka ka ku tSj/ /ti te pa po ku ss/ /kwi kwe kwa ko ku kwi/ ~ kwo and /Si Sa Sa Sa Su Sj/ /ki ke ka ko ku ss/ /ki ke ka ko ku kwi/ Now, which of these three languages has innovated, and which has not? Which represents the parent? Rich Alderson From X99Lynx at aol.com Thu Sep 9 02:15:48 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 22:15:48 EDT Subject: Typographical inference Message-ID: Just taking care of a loose end: In a message dated 9/1/99 11:10:25 PM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu wrote: <> I wrote: <> Sean Crist replied. <> I was hoping someone else would respond. Here's my best account: Philip Baldi mentions "typographical inference" as a third form of reconstruction in Bernard Comrie's 'The World's Major Languages.' (1990), p. 33. Under that category he classifies the work done by Lehmann, Szemerenyi, Hopper and Gamkrelidze - and 'the typologically reconstructed obstruents' that would mandate "an Anti-Grimm's law." Lehmann in his textbook, Historical Linguistics (3d ed, 1992) pp 96-113, describes various typographical approaches including examples of reconstructions and a discussions of contentive typology (e.g., Klimov.) You seen I think a fair number of examples of typographical inference here on the list. I also think one striking thing about the "typographical approaches" described is their strength in helping those who must identify language-types and structure in undeciphered text, i.e., "at ground zero." (As a side bar, looking again at descriptions given above, I'd add that no approach would seem to have a stronger claim on using 'semantics' than one that addresses the broad concepts of tense, aspect, case, etc., which are logically far more universal than the relatively unique and polymorphous meanings of individual words.) Regards, Steve Long [ Moderator's comment: I believe that Mr. Long means "typological" rather than "typographical." --rma ] From X99Lynx at aol.com Thu Sep 9 02:46:17 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 22:46:17 EDT Subject: Evolution and origin of language Message-ID: In a message dated 9/8/99 8:13:54 PM, artabanos at mail.utexas.edu wrote: <> I just received the following forwarded which might helpful: <> From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Thu Sep 9 03:58:17 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 23:58:17 -0400 Subject: Phonemic split In-Reply-To: <302fe4bf.2500dc57@aol.com> Message-ID: In more than one post from Steven Long, there has been discussion of phonemic split, altho Steven did not use this exact terminology in his posts. I think I can make myself clearer if I discuss this all at once rather than responding piecemeal to each of his posts. I'd like to discuss phonemic split generally, and then discuss how it applies to the cases Steven Long brings up. When language change proceeds according to exceptionless sound law, phonemic split occurs when the environment conditioning some allophonic alternation is neutralized. A textbook example occurred in the prehistory of Indo-Iranian. First, */k/ > */c/ before */i/, */y/, */e/ (palatalization). Then, */e/ and */o/ merged into */a/. Notice that this vowel merger destroys one of the conditioning environments for palatalization; you can no longer predict where palatalization should be found. For example, the PIE 3 sg. pres. of the verb for 'to follow' would have been something like *sekweti (I might not have the reconstruction quite right, but it should be something like this; cf. Gk. _hepetai_). In Indo-Iranian, you'd first get the merger of the labiovelars into the velers (*seketi), then palatalization (*seceti), and then the vowel merger (*sacati), coming out in Skt. as _sacate_. After the vowel merger, you can no longer predict where you get */k/ and where you get */c/; at this point, a new phoneme (= constrastive speech sound) has arisen. (As an aside, there were some forms of the verb where the velar was originally followed by */o/ rather than */e/, as in the 1 sg. pres.; this should have given */k/ as the output in Sanskrit, but analogy tends to destroy such alternations within paradigms, and it did so here.) As for phonemic splits which are _not_ the result of the neutralization of environments conditioning an allophonic variation, we'd like to say that such cases don't exist. They can only arise by sporadic sound change, which is contrary to the Neogrammarian Hypothesis. The unfortunate reality is that we do run into such cases every once in a while. There is a case from Iranian which I'm not entirely able to reproduce from memory, but the essence is that there was a single prehistoric phoneme which does seem to sporadically split without any obvious conditioning environment. What we think probably happened is that the dialect of the written records is one which had had massive borrowing from some closely related sister dialect where this phoneme had undergone some sound change. Thus, the words where we get the unexpected segment are actually borrowings. There is external evidence which makes this scenario plausible; if I'm recalling the story right, it's a matter of recorded history that there had been a shift in political power from one city to another, which is a situation where this sort of thing might be expected to happen (i.e., prior to becoming the prestige center itself, the new capitol had been borrowing words from the old prestige center). I hesitate to bring this second sort of case up, because there will tend to be an unbridled reaction to invoke this sort of solution willy-nilly. I want to emphasize that a sporadic phonemic split is an analysis of last resort; it's what you invoke when there is just no other plausible option open to you. To see how this looks on the ground, consider the following hypothetical case, where Languages A and B are assumed to be related: Language A Language B sabos savas 'cucumber' zabate savathe 'sun' I'm looking at the initial consonant; note that Language A has an s/z contrast, while Language B does not. Notice also that the two are in the same environment; there is nothing which could plausibly be conditioning this as an allophonic alternation. There are two possible explanations: 1. The proto-language contrasted */s/ and */z/; Language A maintains the contrast, but there was a merger of */s/ and */z/ in Language B. 2. The proto-language did not contrast */s/ and */z/. Language B maintains this state of affairs, but Language A underwent a sporadic phonemic split. What I'm saying is that we should pick #1 unless there are other, extremely unusual considerations specific to this case which make this explanation implausible. I'm sure that the overwhelming majority of specialists in the field would agree, and with good methodological reason. One other thing I'd note is this. Even if we admit sporadic phonemic splits as an analysis of last resort, one thing which we _cannot_ admit _ever_ is that two daughter languages could both independently innovate by undergoing the same sporadic split in exactly the same way, with the outcome of the split being the same in both languages word for word. Given that the outcome of a sporadic split in a given word is, by definition, not predictable, the statistical probability of a sporadic split repeating itself precisely is mind-bogglingly small. With all of this in mind, let's return to the question whether Proto-Celtic could have been the parent language giving rise to all of the attested Indo-European languages. In essence, what Steven Long is saying is that for any set of attested, related languages, there can be multiple prehistoric scenarios which could equally well give rise to those languages, depending on what language you arbitrarily pick as the proto-language for the entire family. I pointed out that Proto-Celtic could not have given rise to all of the IE languages, because the Celtic velar series would have to sporadically split into a velar series and a palatal series in Anatolian, Indo-Iranian, etc. Steven Long's response was that this split could simply have been an innovation in those branches. So we've got two hypotheses: 1. The proto-language for the IE family had a three-way contrast between palatal, velar, and labiovelar consonants; Celtic merged the palatal and velar series. (Traditional reconstruction.) 2. The proto-language for the IE family had a two-way contrast between velar and labiovelar consonants. There was a sporadic phonemic split giving rise to the three-way distinction found in Luvian, Indo-Iranian (with the later merger in Indo-Iranian between the velars and labiovelars), etc. (Steve Long's Proto-Celtic hypothesis). #1 involves only regular sound changes, while #2 involves a sporadic change. We therefore pick #1. I'd like to note one other thing. Under the most charitable version of Steven Long's PIE = Proto-Celtic hypothesis, we'd have to say that the sporadic phonemic split is a shared innovation of all the languages whose data require it. As I noted earlier, it is impossible that the various branches independently underwent exactly the same sporadic split with parallel outcomes in each word. But note that doing this results in a tree which is radically different in its structure from the one I presented. We'd have to group Indo-Iranian and Anatolian (and probably others) under a single node; but Germanic, Greek, etc. would not be under this node since their situation with the dorsals is like that of Celtic. Steven Long's said that you could take the tree as I presented it and substitute Proto-Celtic as the parent language for the entire family. As I hope I've made clear, even if we accept the account involving a sporadic phonemic split (as we should not), it simply cannot be the case that the tree could still look as it does. \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Thu Sep 9 10:26:01 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 11:26:01 +0100 Subject: Excluding data In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Sun, 5 Sep 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: > Lloyd Anderson's message of 19th Aug expresses, much better that I > could, the method I intend to apply in the study of early BAsque. > For me the key factor is to present a record of ALL words available > for analysis and record HOW I can classify them. In the case of > sound imitative words it is important to retain them in the database > and show how their phonological profile as a class is similar or not > to non-imitative words. But, in order to do that, you must first have some independent criterion for distinguishing imitative words from others. What do you propose? > In keeping with my last message I find the > idea of excluding data because they don't conform to someone's > particular expectation about the data inappropriate in trying to > produce a generalised stochastic profile of the language. First, I myself am not trying to produce a generalized stochastic profile of the language, and hence chiding me for going about my own quite different task in a way that is not suitable for your task is entirely inappropriate. Second, I repeat yet again that I am *not* excluding any data because they don't fit my expectations. I am excluding data for entirely different reasons, reasons that are independent of my expectations and, in my view, entirely justified for the task I have in mind. For example, the universal word smoke' definitely does not fit my expectations, but I have to include it anyway, because it satisfies all of my criteria. > In basque we have the word for the sound of the heartbeat as > and the word for heartbeat as as reported to me by native > speakers. Of course. But this word is not general in Basque. It is more or less confined to the center of the country, being restricted, as far as I can determine, to the Gipuzkoan dialect and to adjoining parts of the Bizkaian dialect. It appears to be unknown in the French Basque Country, unrecorded in the Pyrenean dialects and in High Navarrese, and not general in the Bizkaian dialect. Furthermore, the word is only first recorded, in the form of its derivative , in 1888. On top of this, the word violates at least four of the morpheme-structure constraints which are generally obeyed by words meeting my criteria: (1) No initial voiceless plosive; (2) No initial coronal plosive; (3) No final plosive; (4) No final labial. All this is highly consistent with the conclusion that is a recent innovation in Basque, of strictly imitative origin, confined to the center of the country. To the best of my knowledge, the earliest recorded Basque word for heartbeat' is , though even this dates back only to 1750. This word is not phonologically unusual in any way at all. The word still finds some use in the French Basque Country, but today the most usual word for heartbeat' there is ~ ~ , often with the Romance-derived suffix <-dura>; this word is recorded no earlier than 1880, and it too has a form which marks it off plainly as an expressive formation of no great antiquity. > My suggestion here is that potential sound symbolic words > are so close to the actually words for natural elements that their > usage in an analysis of early basque is potentially vitally > important to understanding the phonological structure of the > language. But all the evidence points to the conclusion that the word *did not exist* in early Basque. How, then, can it possibly shed any light on the phonology of early Basque? Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Thu Sep 9 10:35:51 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 11:35:51 +0100 Subject: Principled Comparative Method - a new tool In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Sun, 5 Sep 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: > Another perspective on this question is my own view that linguists > don't know their data as well as they think they do. The jump to > generalisations is to quick for my liking. My position was > vindicated in the chinese data where we found far more items than > the linguist expected that were exceptional by his criteria (Another > experience that tells me not to accept the rigid Trask criteria for > defining the vocabulary suitable for the study of early basque). Jon, this is not a fair or reasonable characterization of my position. First, I am not jumping to any generalizations at all. I am merely invoking reasonable criteria to try to identify the Basque words with the *strongest* claims to native and ancient status in the language. Only by examining the resulting list can I hope to reach any generalizations at all. Of course there will be a few exceptional forms in the list (I've already mentioned a couple), but I can't *tell* that they're exceptional until I first have a reasonable list on which to base some generalizations. Second, I am not attempting to "define the vocabulary suitable for the study of early Basque", at least not with my initial list. Rather, I am merely hoping to identify the phonological characteristics of native and ancient words -- in particular, their morpheme-structure constraints -- in order *then* to see if the results yield us a tool for identifying the words which may have reasonable claims to ancient status. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Thu Sep 9 11:34:57 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 12:34:57 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (fwd) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Mon, 6 Sep 1999, Roz Frank wrote: [on the reconstruction of Pre-Basque] > As I recall in the exchanges that took place a couple of years ago > in the issues of _Mother Tongue_ , there was a rather lively debate > about several aspects of the phonological reconstruction. I refer > specifically to the differences of opinion expressed by Bill > Jacobsen, Jose Ignacio Hualde and yourself. Again I don't have the > journal issues in front of me, but I do remember that there were > several points of dispute which I don't think were over "phonetic > details" but rather more substantive issues, e.g., the presence or > absence of /m/ and/or /k/ in Pre-Basque as well as a couple of other > items that escape me right now. Hualde has since developed his position in an article. In fact, he does not challenge Michelena's reconstructed phoneme system at all. Rather, he proposes to assign different phonetic features to the proto-phonemes. In particular, while he agrees with Michelena that Pre-Basque had no voicing contrasts in word-initial plosives, he believes that the voicing of initial plosives was facultative, rather than phonetically consistent. Whether you buy this or not (I don't), it has no consequences for our reconstruction, but only for the subsequent development of the system. As for Jacobsen, he expressed skepticism about Michelena's conclusion that no */m/ could be reconstructed for Pre-Basque, but he has never, so far as I know, tried to follow this up. In particular, mhe has never tried to argue that */m/ must have been present in Pre-Basque after all. In the absence of any such case, there remains no reason to query Michelena's conclusion, which remains well substantiated. > Also, I've always wondered about the p/b, k/g, t/d alternations in > pre-Basque (and/or their *aspirated counterparts). Perhaps you could > comment a bit on the distribution of these in modern Basque. It's an > intriguing problem. It certainly is, or rather they certainly are, since you've pointed to two quite different issues. Most of the voicing alternations are confined to word-formation, where they are well understood, phonetically motivated, and unproblematic. But there remains a residue of cases which are more refractory, a fine example being ~ cut'. These cases are not understood, but they are not numerous, and at present they constiture no more than an intriguing but peripheral puzzle. The instances are too few, too scattered and too varied to allow us to draw any generalizations. All we can say at present is that a few words variably exhibit /b/ or /p/ (virtually all examples involve these two plosives) for reasons that are not understood. As for the aspiration, that is one issue on which we still do not have full agreement. The matter is much too complex to be discussed in detail here. Michelena's conclusion, which I endorse, was that *most* instances of the aspiration are of suprasegmental origin, possibly associated with the word-stress at an early stage. Michelena left open the possibility that *some* instances of /h/ (though not of the aspirated plosives), at least in word-initial position, might have resulted from the lenition of earlier consonants. There is a tiny amount of evidence to support this, but not enough to make a persuasive case. > [LT] >> Potentially the most serious problem is the /h/, but I know of no one at >> present who disputes M's conclusion that *most* instances of /h/ are of >> suprasegmental origin. However, it remains possible to disagree about >> whether *some* /h/s are of segmental origin. In practice, though, this >> isn't much of an issue, and we can readily dispose of any difficulties >> by reconstructing Pre-Basque -- contra M -- with a *phonetic* [h] in our >> transcriptions, allowing users to draw their own conclusions. > [RF] > Examples? Sure. For ~ leaf', Michelena reconstructs *, with his fortis rhotic. If we prefer, we could write *<[h]oRi> instead. It probably makes little difference, so long as we are consistent. > [LT] >> I'll give you one oddity for free: while word-initial */b/ is >> *exceedingly* common in bisyllabic words, it is all but unknown in >> monosyllables. This is curious, and I have no explanation. It may be >> no more than an accident of survival. > Does that mean that you would argue that /be/ "beneath" is really /pe/ > rather than seeing /pe/ as the allophonic representation of /be/? The independent word is (two syllables) in the north. As a suffix, it is (quite regularly) reduced to <-be>, with a variant <-pe> arising regularly after a voiceless consonant and then being extended to other positions. > Or do you count /behe/ as two syllables? I certainly do, since it is pronounced as two syllables in the dialects retaining the aspiration. > What about /bal/, I presume you mean sheaf (of grain)', pile (of grain) laid out on the threshing-floor before threshing'. There are two problems. First, the word is about equally recorded as and as . In all likelihood, then, the earlier form is *, since loss of final /a/ from nouns is a very frequent phenmenon in Basque, probably because suffixed <-a> is the omnipresent article, and speakers sometimes conclude that a final /a/ in a noun is the suffixed article and remove it. Second, the word is almost certainly borrowed from Romance. We have Gascon threshing-floor', with a derivative sheaves of grain spread out for threshing', and Gascon, Bearnais chaff, husk (of grain)'. Even Castilian has a derivative part of the threshing-floor where the sheaves are laid out'. > bart/ Western last night' is clearly a reduced form of , preserved today in the east. > bat/ And one' is pretty clearly derived from earlier *. > /behi/ But cow' is two syllables in the aspirating dialects. > /bein/behin, And once' is also two syllables in the north. The dialects which have lost the aspiration have, as a result, acquired a number of new monosyllables which are still bisyllabic in the north and which were formerly bisyllabic in the south. I don't count these as ancient monosyllables, with good reason. /beltz/, Well, black' is a very interesting case. Native words rarely end in consonant clusters, and this is just about the only word I can think of ending in the unusual cluster <-ltz>. The word is surely built upon the ancient element * dark', not recorded as such but present in numerous compounds and easily reconstructible. In all likelihood, the earlier form was *, as proposed by Michelena. An item BELEX(-), occasionally BELEXS- or BELS-, is frequent in the Aquitanian names and appears to represent the same word, with the last (and rarest) variant seemingly already showing the contraction. Michelena proposes that the contraction took place because the adjective was regularly postposed (as is normal in Basque), and because postposed items in Basque frequently undergo otherwise irregular reductions. (By the way, note also that is a moderately frequent element also in medieval Basque personal names.) /bihi/, And grain' also has two syllables. There is a tiny amount of evidence pointing to original *, but not enough to be decisive. > /bihur/, And twisted' (and other senses) is also two syllables. > /bost/, The word ~ five' is also very interesting. It is certain that eastern is more conservative, and that western results from a familiar sound change. But that still leaves among the fifty or so native monosyllables that I mentioned earlier. However, this too ends, unusually, in a consonant cluster, and I myself suspect a lost vowel -- probably *, conceivably *. Michelena himself hinted at *, but never endorsed this openly. > etc. It strikes me that the kind of study that Jon is undertaking > would allow us to determine more accurately the distribution of such > items. But not for Pre-Basque, if he insists on taking all recorded Basque words as his database. > My impression (and it is merely that) is that in the case of > relative frequency of monosyllables and bisyllables with > word-initial /b/ we would find a higher number of bisyllabic roots, > perhaps 3 to 1. Much higher. It's easy to list dozens of native bisyllables with initial /b/, but almost impossible to find any native monosyllables with initial /b/. > However, certainly there are a significant > number of monosyllabic parent stems also, particularly when they are > compared to certain other monosyllabic parent stems with word-initial > consonants. This remains to be seen, at least for native and ancient words. Whoops -- the workmen need my office. Back later. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From ECOLING at aol.com Thu Sep 9 12:11:39 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 08:11:39 EDT Subject: Imperfective of punctuals Message-ID: In a message dated 9/9/99 1:58:11 AM, vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu writes: >If I understand Lloyd correctly, treated as an indivisible unit' is same >as treated as an undivided whole': When the speaker uses the perfective, >he is ignoring that the event may be divisible or even carry a >derivational marker indicating divisiblity. Yes, that is the point, speaker psychology not real world nature. >Puncutal is different in that it is truely indivisible, >that is the speaker is not allowed to divide it. Well, almost, it can refer to the inherent suddenness of an event. Part of the real world not of speaker psychology. An "Aktionsart" then. >Hence it is typically used in the perfective (but in some languages the >imperfective of puncutal is used to denote habitual and/or generic). In such cases it is not an aspect! (since both perfective and imperfective can co-occur with it) "Iterative" may sometimes refer to such a combination of punctual Aktionsart with imperfective aspect, though "iterative" can also be a real aspect too, applying in principle to any kind of Aktionsart. Lloyd Anderson From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Thu Sep 9 12:53:28 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 13:53:28 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (PS) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: Sorry for the break, but the workmen arrived to install the new network in my office, so I had to clear out. On Mon, 6 Sep 1999, Roz Frank wrote: > I don't know exactly what you mean by "word-forming suffix", but the > example that I had in mind was a simple and well documented one, > that of /bel/ and /beltz/ where /-tz/ has been proposed, I believe > by Lakarra (or maybe earlier by Michelena) as a suffixing element. > We find /bel/ in composition, e.g., as /goibel/ "sad, dark (as the > sky)" which is transparent in terms of its two elements: > "high" and "dark". Although today /bel/ is not considered a > free-standing morpheme, we do have /beltz/ "black". I have seen > /bel/ used by a native speaker in one of the Auspoa series books > (sorry, don't have the book with me). My suspicion is that we will > discover other potential examples of this consonant cluster > (understood as a fossilized/old suffix) in what appear to be > non-compositional/primitives that are monosyllables. I've already addressed in an earlier posting. There is no doubt of the former existence of * dark', though I am astonished to be told that a modern speaker is on record as using it, since it is nowhere recorded in the literature as a free form. It is clear that certain recurrent Basque morphs are ancient monosyllables. Apart from *, we have * round' for sure, and several other candidates of varying degrees of plausibility. And I myself suspect that Basque words with final clusters generally result from some kind of vowel loss, though I lack the evidence to make a strong case. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Thu Sep 9 13:41:53 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 14:41:53 +0100 Subject: NEWS re Early Language In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Tue, 7 Sep 1999 X99Lynx at aol.com wrote: > (NOTE: the reporter takes the Out of Africa as majority in this piece, > although other recent stories suggest that majority is fast fading. I doubt it. So far as I can tell, out-of-Africa is still very much the majority view among specialists. One of the "other recent stories" alluded to is doubtless the recent brief article in Scientific American. But... That article was written by a staff writer, not by a specialist. SA is not a scholarly journal, but a popular magazine. SA's record is patchy. It publishes some great stuff, but also some shoddy stuff. In my own field of linguistics, its record is poor: it focuses on spectacular but dubious ideas, rather than on solid achievements. > Both Delson and Swisher, mentioned in the article, generally take a > multiregional approach.) > An Intriguing Find on the Upper West Side > By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD > An intriguing fossil skull, presumably from a Homo erectus and possibly a > revealing piece of evidence for understanding human evolution, has been > found not on a parched hill in Africa or along a river in Java, but at a > cozy little shop on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. > > However the skull got there, and this part of the story is murky, And I should think so. Fossils are generally only valuable when they are found *in situ*. I'm sorry, but a fantastically ancient hominid fossil found sitting on a shelf in a shop in Manhattan stretches my credulity to breaking point. > paleoanthropologists concluded last week that it is a genuine specimen > from Indonesia And this is beyond belief. It is practically impossible to identify the original location of a displaced fossil unless it happens to be identical to a type already known to be abundantly and uniquely attested in some particular location. In this case, we have a specimen of a type which the article goes on to describe as unique and not previously known. And yet some unnamed "paleoanthropologists" have glanced at it and concluded at once that it comes from Indonesia. Is this supposed to be serious? Did the skull have an Indonesian exit visa stamped on it, or what? ;-) How could any serious scientist *possibly* determine the source of a unique fossil turning up in such a bizarre location, just by inspection? > and could be critical in determining the place of the > Homo erectus species in East Asia on the human family tree. Learning > that is central to a scholarly controversy over where and how modern > humans, Homo sapiens, evolved.... > The dark gray skull apparently belonged to a young male, probably in > his 20's, but experts who examined it inside and out were struck by > some puzzling characteristics. The individual's brain was small, > about half the size of Homo sapiens but within the range for Homo > erectus. Yet he had a humanlike high forehead, not the sloping kind > typical of Homo erectus and other early hominids. So: like nothing else ever seen before. Well, I've heard this before. Strangely enough, it was eventually realized that Piltdown Man didn't come from Piltdown after all. So why have our unnamed experts decided at once that Manhattan Man comes from Indonesia? ;-) > A cast made of the inside surface of the skull revealed the brain's > configuration, which bore some resemblance to Homo sapiens brains. But *all* hominid skulls bear "some resemblance" to human skulls. As for conclusions about hominid brains, I'm not aware that hominid brains are exactly thick on the ground. So, on what basis can anybody conclude that the (missing) brain of this fellow resembled our own in anything other than outward shape, if that? > An apparent swelling in one region of the brain, scientists said, > suggested that the Homo erectus was developing the potential for > language and speech.... Ah, there we have yet again that "scientists said", so beloved of journalists. Which scientists? With what qualifications? On the basis of what evidence? Who has concluded that this is a *Homo erectus* skull, when apparently it looks nothing like any other *H. erectus* skull ever found? And what on earth is the intended content of "developing the potential for language and speech"? > Until this decade, paleoanthropologists generally divided the lineage of > genus Homo into three successive species. Homo habilis appeared about > 2.5 million years ago, at the time of the first evidence of stone > toolmaking. Homo erectus, beginning about 1.8 million years ago, was the > first to leave Africa, spreading across Eurasia as far as China and > Indonesia. The species was once thought to be the direct ancestor of > Homo sapiens.... > Now scientists are not so sure. Other distinct species may have emerged > and overlapped between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens. Genetic studies > point to anatomically modern humans' appearing first in Africa some > 100,000 years ago from descendants of the Homo erectus population that > remained there. The African branch of Homo erectus is now usually > labeled Homo ergaster to distinguish it from the Asian species. If > modern humans sprang from Africa, then the Far East Homo erectus was > probably an evolutionary dead end, though a few scientists still think > otherwise.... The one thing that seems certain to me, an outsider, is that our picture of human origins is becoming steadily more complex and bush-like than we used to think was the case. > The rounded shape of the new skull and the inferred structure of its > brain, the examining team said, at least raised the question of whether > the Homo erectus of Indonesia was, in fact, evolving toward a more > modern human species... > Studying the actual skull and casts, the researchers noted that the > cranial bone was thick and the brow ridges well developed, both > characteristics of Homo erectus..... > Douglas Broadfield, a graduate student at City University, said the > braincase examination revealed a high degree of cerebral asymmetry, a > differential development of the two sides of the brain, that seemed > advanced for Homo erectus. It also showed a bump in what is known as the > Broca cap or area of the brain, the seat of language capability in > modern humans. The combination of asymmetry and a Broca's cap, he said, > was rare in Homo erectus. I see. So this skull doesn't look like an *erectus* skull after all. > "This is not to say this guy could speak like a modern human," Mr. > Broadfield said. "But the potential is there for some higher processing, > some type of communication cognition, that we don't see for other H. > erectus specimens...." Oh, "the potential is there", eh? What does this mean? > Dr. Carl C. Swisher 3d of the Berkeley Geochronology Center in > California will be analyzing sediment found embedded inside the skull, > which could yield chemical traces of the specimen's apparent age. Dr. > Delson's team said the skull could be anywhere from 100,000 to 1 million > years old. Right. Let's see if I follow. A fossil skull has been found in a Manhattan shop. So it's been out of the ground for an unknown period of time, and meanwhile in unknown locations. So what reason is there to suppose that any sediment found inside it dates from the original burial of the skull, and not from its locations since removal? And now, Dr. Swisher, who has apparently not yet carried out any dating tests at all, is prepared to announce that the skull is between 100,000 and 1 million years old. Uh-huh. Sure. To sum up. That sober scientific journal, the New York Times, tells us that a mysterious skull, of a type never seen anywhere else in the world, turns up in a shop in Manhattan. Mostly unidentified people look at it, declare it unhesitatingly to be of Indonesian origin, to be a *Homo erectus* specimen (even though it looks nothing like any other known *erectus* skull), declare it to be over 100,000 years old without carrying out any tests, and tell us that the missing brain that once inhabited this curiosity was similar to our own brains and full of all sorts of exciting but unidentified "potential" for this, that and the other. You'll forgive me if my pulsebeat has failed to accelerate. ;-) Larry Trask (who lives only a few miles from Piltdown) COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Thu Sep 9 13:53:09 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 14:53:09 +0100 Subject: Tailing off with depth In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Wed, 8 Sep 1999 ECOLING at aol.com wrote: > And just incidentally, I note once again that > Multilateral Comparison has some strengths in this regard > which are still not correctly represented or even understood. > If we take Nostratic as the result not of study of a fixed set > of language families chosen A Priori, but rather as a set of > language families selected by Multilateral Comparison > from among the language families of the world, > then the hypothesis of Nostratic is merely that these language > families appear (by their data, not their geography) > to be likely to be more closely related to each other > than to other language families outside that set. > And the geography would then be a confirmation, > not a fact included in the process of selecting the set > of language families. But the proponents of Nostratic -- Illich-Svitych, Dolgopolsky, and others -- have *not* worked with MC. Whatever one may think of Nostratic, it cannot be adduced as an example of the application of MC. > Neither McLaughlin nor Trask have really taken up > my challenges on getting EMPIRICAL data on the rate of > tailing off of information usable for reconstruction. That's because this problem is very hard, perhaps even intractable. The term rate' implies a time element, yet comparative reconstruction has no time element within it. > In the case of Albanian, Trask refers to what may be > an excess of loanword etc. influences from neighbors, > so that it took linguists using the Comparative Method > enormous effort to conclude that there was a stratum > of vocabulary inherited from PIE via a specific set > of sound changes peculiar to Albanian, > rather than borrowed from IE language neighbors. > [I believe that is what Trask was saying.] Yes; that is right. > I do not think I have ever seen a discussion of how > Multilateral Comparison might handle situations of > massive loanwords, or might be enhanced to handle > such situations better, short of the full effort of the > Comparative Method referred to above. That's because there isn't one. The proponents of MC, implicitly or explicitly, dismiss the problem of loan words as inconsequential. Read pp. 12-14 of Ruhlen's 1994 Wiley book, in which he dismisses borrowing as a trivial issue. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Thu Sep 9 14:27:55 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 15:27:55 +0100 Subject: Retained Information vs. Random Noise In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Wed, 8 Sep 1999 ECOLING at aol.com wrote: > The most basic Multilateral Comparison, like the work > under Catherine the Great, and like the small table in > Greenberg's theoretical intro section to Language in the Americas, > has all cells filled, a word is included for each language in the > sample for the semantic category defined. As a result, > the only judgements being made are about closer or less close. > The judgements are NOT about whether a given pairing of words > is a cognate or not in any absolute sense. It is the strength of > the method that it can work without the need for absolute > knowledge on that kind of question. But that is not how Greenberg does it, and not how any proponent of MC I have ever heard of does it. All the MC people I have ever seen claim absolute cognation, and they do this expressly and at times heatedly. You ought to see the very rude mail I get from some of the MC people when I challenge their comparisons. > There is a second reason why the criticism is not definitive for > Greenberg even in his most lax approaches. We have no empirical > studies of how fast the discovery of lookalikes which might be > considered plausible potential cognates (for further work) will > decrease, with increasing distance of languages from each other, nor > with what proportion of a group of descendant languages will be > likely to be included in such cognate sets. Actually, we do have a few empirical studies of a lexicostatistical nature, but these, for obvious reasons, cannot normally include a time factor. Some of the most interesting work of this sort I have seen is still unpublished, but should be published within about a year. > Greenberg's valid point is that, if we want to avoid MISSING any > valid cognates Sorry, but I don't think this is Greenberg's point at all, though it's admittedly easy to interpret him like this. Anyway, the point is *not* to avoid missing any valid cognates -- a pointless and futile enterprise, in my view. The point is to find sufficient positive evidence for relatedness, over and above chance resemblances, that the null hypothesis of unrelatedness cannot be maintained. > (that is, in my own words, if we want to be over-inclusive at first, > and I personally would limit this to pioneer stages of classification > at any given depth) > then we recognize that among true cognates, they will be retained > in a gradually decreasing proportion of related languages as we > increase the time and changes separating those languages. > THERE WILL PROBABLY BE some valid cognates retained > in only two of some sample of 40 very distantly related but > indeed genetically related languages. No quarrel there, but why stop at two languages? Distantly related languages may in fact retain no cognates at all, a state of affairs generally indistinguishable from unrelatedness. Anyway, the point is not whether any true cognates survive, but whether such sparse cognates can be distinguished from chance resemblances. And that question requires rigorous mathematical methods. > Because the severest critics of Greenberg complain that his methods > are not formalizable, No. Nobody is complaining that G's methods are not formalizable: even comparative reconstruction is not formalizable. The problem is that G's methods are utterly *inexplicit*, and that they provide no basis for distinguishing cognates from chance resemblances. > we cannot then draw absolute conclusions > about the relative roles of valid cognates preserved sporadically > in only two or a few languages, vs. pseudo-cognates made possible > by random noise. Without complete formalization, it is impossible > to draw absolute conclusions such as the following: >> Greenberg's "Amerind" classification >> never rises above the level of random noise. > We simply don't know that. Agreed, but it is *Greenberg's* responsibility to demonstrate that his Amerind comparisons rise significantly above the level of chance. And he hasn't even attempted this. G's critics can see no reason to believe that G's comparisons *do* rise above the chance level, and they say so. It's not their responsibility to devote years of effort to demonstrating that the comparisons don't rise above chance. > To assume it is true, we would I think have to assume that > pseudo-cognates are just as easy to find as true cognates, > taken for the sample as a whole. (Notice that this is stated > as a RELATIVE COMPARISON OF EASE.) My experience of MC work is that spurious "cognates" are a whole lot easier to find than real cognates. Hell, I've done it myself, with Basque and Hungarian (among others), and Lyle Campbell has e-published a beautiful demonstration that Old Japanese belongs to Amerind better than any single American language. > That assumption strikes me as counter-intuitive, Really? Try reading a few issues of Mother Tongue. ;-) > as assuming that the small amount of > information retained from the common proto-language is > not there at all, because if ANY of it were still there, > it should make at least some tiny degree more likely that we > would find pairs of lookalikes which actually are cognates, > than pairs which actually are not ("actually" in the light of > some ideal complete knowledge of the distant future). Sorry, but intuitions are not relevant. You need hard-nosed statistical tests, of a sort which are currently being developed, though we still have a way to go. > The core difficulty in discussions between Greenberg and > critics is to me that the results of the Multilateral Comparison > COMPONENT of the many methods Greenberg uses are > taken to yield results of the kind claimed by the Comparative > Method, when they do not at all. They yield only > RELATIVE COMPARISONS, not statements of relation vs. > non-relation, of cognacy vs. non-cognacy, taken as absolutes. > There are not even any absolute levels of confidence in the > results, only relative ones. That's not how Greenberg sees it, or Ruhlen, or Bengtson, or Fleming, or any other proponent of MC I've come across. > Multilateral Comparison yields results of the type: > X and Y are likely to be more closely related than X and Z. > It includes the converse, that X and Z are likely to be less closely > related than X and Y (including possibly unrelated). > That is all. Regardless of whether this statement is true or not, it has nothing to do with the results claimed by Greenberg and by other proponents of MC, who certainly do claim proof of absolute relatedness -- in Ruhlen's case, extending to all known languages. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From HSTAHLKE at gw.bsu.edu Thu Sep 9 14:44:28 1999 From: HSTAHLKE at gw.bsu.edu (Herb Stahlke) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 09:44:28 -0500 Subject: Evolution and origin of language Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] A couple of places you might check: Cambridge Anthropological Journal 8;1 (1998) has a group of articles collected under the heading "The Origins of Speech". Larry Trask does a nice job of setting the tone for these with an attempt at a consensus linguistic position. Terrence W. Deacon's The Symbolic Species, published by Norton (1997), deals with some of the anthropological issues but goes into considerable depth in biology, neurology, evolution, semiotics, etc. Herb Stahlke Ball State University >>> Tom Wier 01/08 2:30 PM >>> I have a question which is fairly offtopic, about the evolution and origin of language. [ moderator snip ] From HSTAHLKE at gw.bsu.edu Thu Sep 9 15:02:12 1999 From: HSTAHLKE at gw.bsu.edu (Herb Stahlke) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 10:02:12 -0500 Subject: Conservative dilemma Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] >>> Larry Trask 09/06 7:57 AM >>> It is *possible* that multilateral comparison, skilfully pursued, might be capable of throwing up interesting hypotheses for further investigation by more rigorous methods. But I do *not* believe that MC is capable, all by itself, of establishing previously unknown genetic groupings -- contra Greenberg, who obviously believes that it is. >>>>>> Unfortunately nearly all of the reference to Greenberg's work in this discussion has been to his Language in the Americas. His earlier work in Africa not only established at least two previously unknown genetic gouping, Niger-Congo and Afro-Asiatic, but has stood the test of four decades of research. The Afro-Asiatic classification has been modified largely by Bender's work on Omotic, and Niger-Congo has seen some interesting internal restructuring, most of it reported in Bendor-Samuel's (1989) The Niger-Congo Languages. In the Niger-Congo case, the restructuring has confirmed doubts that Greenberg expressed about some of the subgrouping, e.g., the status of Benue-Congo and Kwa. However, before Greenberg, Mande and West Atlantic were not commonly thought to be part of the same group that contained B-C and Kwa, and the Adamawa-Eastern languages and the Kordofanian languages had simply been dropped in the geographical/ethnic catch-all "Sudanic". The full Nilo-Saharan, especially the inclusion of Songhay, remains uncertain, and the inclusion of Hatsa and Sandawe into Khoisan is at about the same level. However, the Hamitic of Nilo-Hamitic is something Greenberg effectively debunked. Perhaps this is why many Africanists are bemused at the intensity of the Americanist reaction to Greenberg's work. As to Greenberg's alleged absolutism in his claims of relationship, what is relevant is what the field does with his work, not what he thinks it means. As Bill Welmers used to say of G's Niger-Congo, "G hasn't proved that the languages are genetically related; he's made it inconceivable that they aren't." Herb Stahlke Ball State University From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Thu Sep 9 15:03:27 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 16:03:27 +0100 Subject: Plosive-liquid clusters in euskara borrowed from IE? In-Reply-To: Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] On Fri, 27 Aug 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: [JP earlier] >>> But I am saying that words we have today that are not identified as >>> having any alternative history could be fairly considered for >>> informing about early euskara. [LT] >> Here I can't agree. I have the gravest reservations about including >> words not recorded before 1871, or before 1935; about including words >> found nowhere but in Larramendi's dictionary or in Hiribarren's >> dictionary; about including words recorded only in one small area; about >> including words reported only by the Dutch linguist van Eys or only by >> the Spanish polymath Hervas y Panduro; about including all sorts of >> things which, in my view, are deeply suspect for one reason or another. [JP] > I think you position is extremely conservative. My response is as above. OK. Let's consider two fairly extreme cases. Basque head' is abundantly attested in all varieties at all periods; it is first attested in 1042 (exceptionally early by Basque standards); it forms numerous compounds and derivatives; it appears in many surnames and place names, some of them attested in the Middle Ages; and it does not appear to be shared with any other known language. But Basque color' is first attested only in about 1800; it is recorded *only* in a book written by the Spanish writer Hervas y Panduro, who himself knew no Basque; it is attested nowhere else at all before the 1890s, when the Basque nationalists discovered it in Hervas's book and started using it, since when it has become established in the language; it occurs in no Basque text written before the 1890s and in no dictionary before 1905; it forms no derivative recorded until well into the 20th century. So, even though the word is commonplace today, our sole authority for its historical reality is Hervas Now, I take the following view. Basque is a maximally strong candidate for native and ancient status, and must be included in any list of the type I propose. But is quite otherwise: its native and ancient status is dubious in the extreme, and it must be excluded from my list. Of course, the evidence does not *prove* that is not native and ancient. It merely makes the word a feeble candidate for such status. Does anybody see anything unreasonable about this? Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From alderson at netcom.com Thu Sep 9 19:32:09 1999 From: alderson at netcom.com (Richard M. Alderson III) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 12:32:09 -0700 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (the stem) In-Reply-To: (X99Lynx@aol.com) Message-ID: On 5 Sep 1999, Steve Long wrote: >That is the way this tree is set up. Whatever is "innovating" gets a node >and a name. But there is always a non-innovating language left over, for the >next node to innovate way from. (Otherwise, Graeco-Armenian is innovating >away from Italo-Celtic.) So, node after node, there is a language that does >not innovate. Left over for the next node to innovate away from. Well, no. Not necessarily. For example, there are those who would see the Hittite verb system ("mi" vs. "hi", both forming presents and preterites) as original, and the rest of Indo-European as innovating away from that system to the Brugmannian three-way distinction of "present" vs. "aorist" vs. "perfect", the endings of the latter corresponding to the preterite of the Hittite "hi" conjugation in form but not in meaning. In this case, the branch you want to see as somehow stem-like is the innovator. Another example, taken from Watkins' _How to Kill a Dragon_: One phrase recurrent in religious texts in Indo-Iranian and Italic is reconstructed as *pah2- *wiHro- *peku- "protect men (and) cattle" In Indo-Iranian, the verb *pah2- is replaced by the synonym *tra:- "protect"; in Indic specifically, *wiHro- is replaced by an alliterative synonym, _puruS.a-_. In Italic, the verb is replaced by the phrase _*salwa *seru-_ "keep safe"; in Latin specifically, *wiHro- is replaced by the alliterative _pastores_ "shepherds", a derivative of the root *pah2-. Which of these two is closer to the prototype? Rich Alderson From vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu Thu Sep 9 19:34:30 1999 From: vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu (Vidhyanath Rao) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 15:34:30 -0400 Subject: Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic Message-ID: wrote: > -- Sanskrit was preserved orally for centuries; however, it was used > only for religious purposes, and primarily as religious poetry. > Nobody spoke it in day-to-day life, Are we supposed to take this as applying at all times in the past or starting from certain point in time? If the latter, what is that point in time? And what is the evidence for this? The counter-evidence is and has been well-known to specialists for a long time. We find grammars go out of their way to mention such idioms as dasya: samprayacchati'', is carrying on with the servant girl'. Of what use is this for religious poetry? And are medicine, political science, mathematics/astronomy etc religion? Why did people use Sanskrit for these? I suspect that the quoted assertion is based on the texts that are available, especially from before 3rd c. Applying the same argument, we must conclude that Prakrit was used only for religious purposes before 3rd c., as Prakrit texts from before then are all Jain religious texts. Texts are preserved only when people take the trouble to preserve them. In India, the texts had to preserved by memorization or copying rather frequently (typical life of a palm leaf manuscript was about 300-400 years). It should be obvious why religious texts were more likely to be preserved. (what kind of Hebrew texts are preserved from before 2nd c. BCE?) --- On the other hand, it is not true that Sanskrit did not change, either. We tend to look only at phonology and morpholog, forgetting that syntax is an integral part of any language. If you arrange Sanskrit works per their relative chronology, you can see the syntax change, tracking the changes in the popular language'', especially in the earlier periods. This brings up an important point: when is a language a single language? Let us take Tamil, for example. The phonology of formal Tamil, as used today, is, as far as we can ascertain, the same as the phonology of about 1200 years ago (if not earlier). The phonology of colloquial Tamil has undoubtedly changed though the extent is not clear. Butcomparing texts makes it clear that syntax and semantics have changed considerably. Formal Tamil of today is not much different from colloquial Tamil in syntax. Is formal Tamil a living language or a dead language? After all, nobody speaks it at home. They learn it at school, reading books or listening to teachers (and, nowadays, scholars on mass media). On the other hand, if you give me a sentence in formal Tamil and ask if it is grammatical, I do not check it with rule books, but with my (presumably) intuitive knowledge of what is grammatical in colloquial Tamil. (This can lead to different results compared to Tamil of 1200 years ago: Back then, the morphe -kir- formed progressives; today it is the general present). [A weaker version was already made by A. B. Keith, Sanskrit literature'' who compared Sanskrit vs MIA to queen's English vs Cockney.] From alderson at netcom.com Thu Sep 9 21:28:17 1999 From: alderson at netcom.com (Richard M. Alderson III) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 14:28:17 -0700 Subject: Celtic p's & q's [was Re: Horthmen as 'mGall'] In-Reply-To: (X99Lynx@aol.com) Message-ID: On 6 Sep 1999, Steve Long wrote: >One of the odd things about the P-Q distinction is the interesting conclusions >it has generated. This is an example I picked up from an official Irish >website: > < Goidelic preserves the velar element of the Indo-European labiovelar qu > sound (later written c), whereas Brythonic renders this sound as p. Thus > Irish cuig or coo-ig (or cuig), "five" corresponds to Welsh pump.>> >Some might think the /p/ in five is closer to the original(!) The dangers of examining linguistic evidence without a thorough grounding: PIE *p > 0 in Celtic (cf. OIr. _athair_ vs. Latin _pater_, for example). The Proto-Celtic etymon for "5" must be *k{^w}enk{^w}e, like that of Latin _quinque_, where PIE *p => *k{^w} by an anticipatory replacement in expected *penk{^w}e. (Whether we wish to call it an assimilation or not is another question). This form would develop quite unremarkably to OIr. _coic_ and Welsh _pump_. Note that the Germanic evidence (Gothic _fimf_ etc.) has been argued as showing a *k{^w}e > *p development similar to that in p-Celtic and p-Italic, whether from *penk{^w}e or from *k{^w}enk{^w}e; it has also been argued that the second *p is due to the influence of the first, that is, the reverse of the Latin and Celtic development. Rich Alderson From X99Lynx at aol.com Thu Sep 9 22:16:43 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 18:16:43 EDT Subject: Accuracy vs."Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic" Message-ID: In a message dated 9/8/99 4:06:14 AM, Sean Crist wrote: <> This is incorrect. And inaccurate. This discussion began with Larry Trask's statement: <> In a message Mon, 30 Aug 1999, Rick Mc Callister argued with the quote: <> In a message dated 8/31/99 10:40:36 PM, you finally began your message by quoting Rick Mc Callister: <> My response on this issue was was: <> Still seems to make pretty darn good sense. I don't see any place where you said "a parent language can't co-exist with its daughter" before Trask said it. In fact you brought up a completely difference issue in your response. What you wrote was: <> I explained that experience was no barrier to taking an hypothetical extreme case to test the technique. We've never experienced absolute zero Kelvin, but scientists have no problem using it as hypothetical base point for measuring absolute temperatures. There are a hundred other examples. The main objection to using these kinds of hypotheses are from those whose systems are too weak to withstand the test. More importantly, our whole discussion was about the "innovations" being used in the Stammbaum. It really doesn't matter if my hypothetical language innovated like crazy. The REAL POINT is that it DID NOT ADOPT any of the innovations assigned to the descending branches in the Stammbaum. My hypothetical language could have been very innovative. It just did not share the innovations you identify with the branching of Anatolian, Tocharian, Italo-Gallic, etc. That language B-T-W actually comes right out of the Stammbaum. It is the "narrow PIE" or proto-language that keeps hanging around while the various nodes branch-off with innovations. Finally, I am not stupid enough to argue that a language can exist for any period of time without innovating. Neither am I stupid enough to try to prove that a language must always innovate in every direction all the time. But both ideas are really VERY irrelevant to what we're talking about here. Regards, Steve From X99Lynx at aol.com Fri Sep 10 00:47:00 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 20:47:00 EDT Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (the stem) Message-ID: In a message dated 9/9/99 1:20:32 AM, maxdashu at LanMinds.Com wrote: <> I do too. But "non-innovating" has a very limited meaning here. The Stammbaum cannot possibly claim to represent all the innovations in all of the IE languages it includes. The "nodes" represent certain specific innovations. The "non-innovating" language that is assumed in the Stammbaum is only "non-innovating" as to that limited group of innovations. Otherwise, that language could be quite innovative, I suppose. I wrote: <> This is a fair read I believe of what the Stammbaum must assume for it to make any sense. The Stammbaum posits a "non-innovating" language. But to be fair, again , the description non-innovating only would only apply to the small circle of "innovations" covered by the Stammbaum. Regards, Steve Long From X99Lynx at aol.com Fri Sep 10 02:40:11 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 22:40:11 EDT Subject: Typographical inference Message-ID: <<[ Moderator's comment: I believe that Mr. Long means "typological" rather than "typographical." --rma ]>> You're absolutely right. I sometimes use a wp program that macros longer words without my typing them. So I just didn't just make the mistake once. I should have paid attention and I'm sorry for not catching it. Steve Long From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Fri Sep 10 04:06:03 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 00:06:03 -0400 Subject: Relative chronology In-Reply-To: <735cc45b.2501cd76@aol.com> Message-ID: In an earlier post, I discussed a hypothetical case where a prehistoric language had the series *ki *ke *ka *ko *ku. Then a palatalization rule k > c / _i applied; and then a merger e > i applied, giving attested /ci ki ka ko ku/. Let's call this attested language Language A. Steven Long amplified this hypothetical situation by adding a related, attested language which I'll call Language B. Language B has /ka ke ki ko ku/; i.e. it preserves the state of affairs which I stipulated for Proto-AB. Steven Long correctly pointed out that if all we have are these two languages, there is actually a possible alternative analysis: it could be that Proto-AB looked like Language A, with Language B undergoing the rules *ki > ke and *ci > ki. Both analyses work, in the sense that both analyses correctly predict the attested forms. Given that we can't decide between the two analyses within the Comparative Method, this is one of those cases where it's OK to fall back on your notions about what's phonetically plausible. We note that palatalization rules like ki > ci are widely attested in the languages of the world, but un-palatalization rules like ci > ki are much rarer. If we accept this reasoning, then Proto-AB must have had *ka *ke *ki *ko *ku, and more importantly here, the palatalization and vowel merger must have applied in the order I gave them here, and cannot have applied in the other order. There might be other reason to believe that this is so. For example, the palatalization and merger might have produced alternations within paradigms: Proto-AB Language A Language B *tak-utu takutu takut 'I run' *tak-id tacid takit 'you run' *tak-el takil takel 'they run' (Let's say -u > 0 in Language B, and that final consonants devoice, just to show that Language B differs from Proto-AB in other respects.) At this point, no phonologist or historical linguist would take seriously the idea that Language A represents the original situation. Note that even if we didn't have any evidence for Language B, we could still correctly and unambiguously reconstruct Proto-AB purely by performing Internal Reconstruction on Language A, thanks to the morphologically conditioned alternations. We can definitively work out the relative chronology of the sound changes purely by looking at Language A. But if this still isn't enough for you, suppose that Proto-AB contrasted */k/ and */c/; thus, Proto-AB contrasted the series *ki *ke *ka *ko *ku against *ci *ce *ca *co *cu. Suppose again that Language B happens to preserve this situation (while innovating in other respects). At this point, Steven Long's alternative analysis becomes altogether impossible, because the palatalization rule in Language A involves a merger. In the case of monomorphemic words, for example, there'd be no way to undo the merger (and note also that at this point, Internal Reconstruction of Language A alone can't give us the whole picture, since we can't tell whether /ci/ represents original *ci or original *ki; but the evidence of Language B does allow us to tell). As I discussed in detail in my last post on phonemic split, we never posit a sporadic phonemic split if there is an alternative account available strictly in terms of regular sound change. So given what we know at this point, the data of Languages A and B force us to reconstruct Proto-AB in one way and not another; and they force us to order the palatalization and vowel merger rules in Language A in one order and not the other. It makes no difference whether Proto-AB is attested or not. Unless I've made some egregious oversight in the way I've set up the hypothetical situation, this particular set of facts admits only one analysis. Now, it true that there are many cases where the data we have aren't adequate to distinguish the ordering of two particular rules. It's also true that there are cases where we can't tell exactly how the rules should be formulated, and where the ordering of the rules depends on which of the possible formulations we pick. But it is quite often possible to go into considerable detail about the orderings of rules; we can often tell quite a lot. \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From X99Lynx at aol.com Fri Sep 10 04:17:07 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 00:17:07 EDT Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (Celtic as PIE) Message-ID: In a message dated 9/9/99 12:05:18 AM, alderson at netcom.com wrote: <<>No it doesn't. Not in the scenario I gave you. Celtic IS PIE! It >distinguishes only two. Your experiment falls apart at this juncture. The evidence for three different series of dorsals is pan-IE: The canonical examples are things like Skt. _kravis._ "raw meat", Latin _cruor_ "gore, blood" in which the "satem" data lead the linguist to expect a labiovelar in "centum" dialects, while the "centum" data lead the linguist to expect a palatal or alveolar fricative in "satem" dialects.>> What "data" is that? The data used in the approach that created the Stammbaum? If you are saying that the whole IE canon stands behind the Stammbaum, well then yes I guess my experiment falls apart. But only because it was addressed to what the Stammbaum was saying. Not the IE canon. I want to remind you that one of the statements made about the data behind the Stammbaum is that it includes no reconstructions. And the only basis for chronology was attestation. Aren't we talking about what that limited data yielded? Can its conclusions stand on its own? Please? I have too much respect for the study of IE and the people on this list (and too much respect for my own ignorance) to challenge anything you've said above. But I don't think it's even-handed or necessary to place the entire IE canon between my points and the Stammbaum's approach. If the approach used by the Stammbaum were testing the PIE 3-obstruent reconstruction by going to the documented data, and disagreed with it, I'm sure you would be one of the first to ask what assumptions were behind the program. This is really no different. Chronological conclusions, conclusions about what constituted "innovations", conclusions about when individual languages branched off from "the proto-language" are quite clearly represented in the Stammbaum. Were those conclusions stricly based on the data, with no reconstructions and limited chronological assumptions? Then let the process support itself. I don't believe the approach behind the Stammbaum can contradict the Celtic = PIE assumption. Not by itself. You do have to bring in the IE canon to do that. But the existence of the three dorsal obstruents series in PIE is a reconstruction. So why bring it in? It's not part of the protocol. Please don't give this approach eyes where it's blind. That will not allow us to see what it is really capable of doing. <> This is a whole different matter. How else would you test a reconstruction than by how well it predicted the actual outcome? In the Stammbaum approach, that should not be the test. The process should start with the data and go where the data sends it. Please understand this. If you found certain evidence that PIE had only two obstruents tomorrow, what would you think? It would simply mean that the "incorrect predictions" were irrelevant and the evidence for three obstruents would have to be explained in some other way. Would a logic program be able to yield that kind of conclusion from the data if you told it to assume ahead of time that there were three obstruents in PIE? If you wanted an honest analysis, wouldn't you want it to go to the raw data without that assumption? I pretty much believed (mainly on authority) that PIE had three obstruents before I thought up the scenario. I think I still do. Whether it did or not does not matter for this purpose. It only distracts from seeing what the process can do for itself. <<(The fact of Luwian maintenance of the three-way distinction is simply icing on the cake of the comparative method.)>> You know of course I didn't say that. What I wrote was that Luwian was the only documented instance of 3 obstruents. To use anything else would be to use a reconstruction. The Stammbaum approach supposedly does not use reconstructions. Luwian is all you get as direct (not reconstructed) evidence of three. You wrote: <> So therefore Celtic, which is part of that spectrum, could at one time have had 3 obstruents? That would also take care of the unmerging problem. <> If you take a second look at this, I think you may change your mind. Regards, Steve Long From X99Lynx at aol.com Fri Sep 10 05:18:31 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 01:18:31 EDT Subject: Phonemic split Message-ID: In a message dated 9/9/99 10:23:48 PM, you wrote: <<...because the Celtic velar series would have to sporadically split into a velar series and a palatal series in Anatolian, Indo-Iranian, etc. Steven Long's response was that this split could simply have been an innovation in those branches....>> <<2. The proto-language for the IE family had a two-way contrast between velar and labiovelar consonants. There was a sporadic phonemic split giving rise to the three-way distinction found in Luvian, Indo-Iranian (with the later merger in Indo-Iranian between the velars and labiovelars), etc. (Steve Long's Proto-Celtic hypothesis). #1 involves only regular sound changes, while #2 involves a sporadic change. We therefore pick #1.>> Two quick observations. 1. Unless your premise is that the three obstruent distinction was there from the very start of human speech, you are going to have to find a way for language to acquire obstruent sets. Otherwise you follow an obvious path, where if all 20 daughters have a total of lets say 20 "obstruents" together, then the reconstructed parent must have had all twenty "obstruents". (Please don't take "obstruents" literally.) Either the "sporadic phonemic split" needed to create 3 different obstruents out of less than 3 happened somewhere along the line, or three obstruents have always been with us. If that emergence ever happened, you can look back into Nostratic times or you can look to the satem group. What I think is doubly ironic is that the satem effect itself clearly spread among presumably "centum" languages in a way that needed no prior excuse for its existence. Yet the addition (or rather spread) of a new obstruent among the same group is not so favored. The very use of the words "split" and "merge" of course presumes that the process was self-generating rather than an adoption or acceptance. The process that produced the "spread" of satem cannot be explained that way. 2. I actually believe (on compelling authority) that there were three obstruents series in PIE. My whole point, I think you know, is that the approach used to derive the Stammbaum could not discriminate the hypothetical "Celtic1...Celtic6" from PIE (or for that matter any of the daughter language groups.) Using reconstructed obstruents doesn't change that, especially since your approach doesn't use reconstructions. My even bigger point was, because the approach is blind to continuity, it really can't identify more than the differences between languages. It can't really identify "innovations" because it can't be sure that they are innovations. It doesn't know what the original was. And because it is blind to continuity, it can't be relied upon to see chronology properly. To the extent you are now relying on reconstructions to fill in those holes, you are simply reflecting the assumptions already in those reconstructions. And there is nothing new in that. So far I haven't seen anything that contradicts this assessment of the approach described as deriving the Stammbaum. Regards, Steve Long From X99Lynx at aol.com Fri Sep 10 05:41:19 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 01:41:19 EDT Subject: Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic Message-ID: In a message dated 9/8/99 4:06:14 AM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu wrote: <> No it wasn't. A main point in my hypothesis was that the Stammbaum was not showing a language that it clearly assumed existed. And that was a language that shared none of the innovations that "created" the daughters. This narrow PIE or proto-language is always the one that is NOT INNOVATING on the Stammbaum. A corollary of that point is that a system like the Stammbaum that only recognizes "innovations" would not recognize continuities, even if it were right in front of its face. That was the point of the "Celtic1.....Celtic6" example. <> And I'll keep saying it doesn't matter. The hypothetical does not ask total lack of innovation. It only needs the language to not share in any of the innovations that cause branching in the Stammbaum. And if you look closely and objectively, you'll see that is precisely the language that the Stammbaum posits but does not show. Regards, Steve Long From X99Lynx at aol.com Fri Sep 10 05:43:23 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 01:43:23 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: In a message dated 9/8/99 4:06:14 AM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu wrote: <> When Larry Trask made the assertion that a parent cannot co-exist with a daughter, I tried to avoid it by renaming the narrow PIE language/proto languages "Celtic1....Celtic6." To avoid the terminology issue. Somehow this has turned into a dialogue about the eternal changeability of language. Which is irrelevant. Here's why: How long did Old Norse stay Old Norse? How long has Modern English stayed Modern English? What's the longest a "language" can stay the same language? Can it stay the same "language" for a hundred years? Two hundred years? Does anyone have an answer? Can a "language" stay the same "language" for 400 years? Let's assume that's the outside margin. Now, how long does it take for a dialect to develop in that parent and turn into a different language? Anybody who has used "the perpetual changeability of language" buzz phrase can put down their hands. Your answer is obvious - in no time flat. Certainly less than 400 years. If a language can definitionally stay the same language for 400 years, and if a daughter can develop in last than 400 years, then its obvious. A daughter can be in existence while the parent is alive and well. Here's another example: When was the last exact date Latin was a "living" language, a "natural" language, a "first language? Pick any date. January 17, 601 AD. Let's say the last native speaker died that day. What language was everyone else speaking in the meantime? Or did they all switch to Romance daughter languages the next day? (You can't really call those daughters dialects at that point, because if a dialect of Latin survived, then Latin survived.) Common sense says that Latin as a native language would have had to co-exist with vernacular languages that lived on after it died. Or those vernacular languages would have had to come out of nowhere the day Latin died. Common sense says parent and daughter can co-exist. Once again, I believe Larry Trask was referring to a methodological assumption. Though I don't know the basis of it. Regards, Steve Long From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Fri Sep 10 09:45:56 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 19:45:56 +1000 Subject: Plosive-liquid clusters in euskara borrowed from IE? In-Reply-To: Your message of "Thu, 09 Sep 1999 16:03:27 +0100." Message-ID: [JP] > I think you position is extremely conservative. My response is as above. [LT] OK. Let's consider two fairly extreme cases. Basque head' is abundantly attested in all varieties at all periods; it is first attested in 1042 (exceptionally early by Basque standards); it forms numerous compounds and derivatives; it appears in many surnames and place names, some of them attested in the Middle Ages; and it does not appear to be shared with any other known language. But Basque color' is first attested only in about 1800; it is recorded *only* in a book written by the Spanish writer Hervas y Panduro, who himself knew no Basque; it is attested nowhere else at all before the 1890s, when the Basque nationalists discovered it in Hervas's book and started using it, since when it has become established in the language; it occurs in no Basque text written before the 1890s and in no dictionary before 1905; it forms no derivative recorded until well into the 20th century. So, even though the word is commonplace today, our sole authority for its historical reality is Hervas Now, I take the following view. Basque is a maximally strong candidate for native and ancient status, and must be included in any list of the type I propose. But is quite otherwise: its native and ancient status is dubious in the extreme, and it must be excluded from my list. Of course, the evidence does not *prove* that is not native and ancient. It merely makes the word a feeble candidate for such status. Does anybody see anything unreasonable about this? [JP] I don't see anything at all unreasonable about your position. I fully agree that the meaning you have cited above should not be used in a analsysis of basque phonology. Nor is that inconsistent with my statement that if we have reliable evidence about the history of the word it should be used in preparing these lists. However, Azkue reports a 2nd meaning of it a "river fish" from Zuberoa and its use as a variant of from Bizkaia. Perhaps that may justify still including the word in the list - what do you think? jon Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From lmfosse at online.no Fri Sep 10 10:01:05 1999 From: lmfosse at online.no (Lars Martin Fosse) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 12:01:05 +0200 Subject: SV: Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic Message-ID: Vidhyanath Rao [SMTP:vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu] skrev 09. september 1999 21:35: > wrote: >> -- Sanskrit was preserved orally for centuries; however, it was used >> only for religious purposes, and primarily as religious poetry. >> Nobody spoke it in day-to-day life, > The counter-evidence is and has been well-known to specialists for a long > time. ... In addition to Vidyanath Rao's information, I would like to add that Sanskrit existed at different levels of proficiency. It was not only a religious language, it was also an epic language, and it was apparently - in a simplified form - used as a lingua franca all over India after the Prakrits had become too different to be mutually comprehensible. We talk about Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, a version of Sanskrit that does not adhere strictly to Paninian grammatical rules, and we also have so-called Epigraphical Hybrid Sanskrit, a version with clear influence from the vernaculars. (See Damsteegt, T. (1978). Epigraphical Hybrid Sanskrit. Leiden, E. J. Brill.). Allthough Sanskrit had competition from the Prakrits, the fact that it eventually became the lingua franca of the Buddhists should indicate to what extent it was used and understood - at one level or another - all over South Asia and all the way to Central Asia, where we have dug up quite a lot of Skt. manuscripts. It may not have been the "mother tongue" of many people, but otherwise, it must have been the English of ancient South Asia. Lars Martin Fosse Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114, 0674 Oslo Norway Phone/Fax: +47 22 32 12 19 Email: lmfosse at online.no From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Fri Sep 10 11:02:08 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 21:02:08 +1000 Subject: the Chinese study In-Reply-To: Your message of "Wed, 08 Sep 1999 01:22:40 EDT." Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] I wrote <> jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au wrote: <> This would appear to be a moot point from what you said above. But just to be clear: I'm not sure where your algorithm starts, but my point was simple. We find a state B(F1) and C(F1). Languages B and C differ by the use of say one phoneme alone. Otherwise they are identical and coeval. We assume and reconstruct a parent A. The lone phoneme difference between B and C creates an unknown: whether the phoneme in B is from the parent or whether the phoneme in C is from the parent. If we conclude B is identical to the parent, then C carries the "innovation." (Forget about dual innovations for now.) Based on the above there is no statistical certainty at all in choosing B over C or vice versa. It is not the "insertion from the null position" that is the issue I think you will see here, but in fact how that insertion decision affects the reconstruction. Reconstructions should work backward in time. So if "insertion" = "innovation", it presumes in fact that the "inserted" data was not in the parent. But in fact we are in complete uncertainty about that fact. (But again you are not reconstructing.) OK, I think I understand your question and the problem statement. I would frame your question a different way. Firstly you have the issue of what is the optimal reconstruction for a given child. So you construct multiple putative parents for a child and use our method to choose the reconstructed parent that best fits the data. You repeat this process for the sister language and so arrive at two reconstructed parents, one for each daughter. Then you determine the distance of the daughters from the other's parent. Whichever gives you the - accumulatively least cost would be the preferred parent. I will speculate (but get back to you later on the matter) that the message length for describing the pair of daughter languages for each putative parent is directly additive because you are merely describing the cost of one followed by the cost of the other. (FOOTNOTE: there could be some coding strategies that might be usable to compress the message lengths, say for example merging the two PFSAs of the daughters for each of the putative parents). Does this answer your question? - not directly. I think the answer is in your own words. There is no discriminatory information in the data as described that a coding strategy could exploit to give you a choice of solutions. Since you also said that your approach can only compare two reconstructions, this may not be a problem for you. Although you will not be able to reduce the uncertainty in the example above no matter how many reconstructions you test. Because two alternative reconstructions will not necessarily make one of the choices better than the other. An off the cuff answer is I agree with you. Remember however that our method relies on a reasonably sized data sample. So if the innovation is rarely used in the sample it will contribute little to discriminating the models. Single occurences of rules make little contribution to the discriminating between competitive parents (no pun intended) It may seem trivial in terms of the work you are doing. But this fundamental uncertainty in any reconstructive process can yield very different results in subsequent analysis using those reconstructions as a basis. I don't have any sensitivity to the strength of this comment as my historical linguistic knowledge is limited, so i shall accept it on your word. Jon patrick From mclasutt at brigham.net Fri Sep 10 12:11:01 1999 From: mclasutt at brigham.net (Dr. John E. McLaughlin) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 06:11:01 -0600 Subject: Conservative dilemma In-Reply-To: Message-ID: Herb Stahlke wrote: > Perhaps > this is why many Africanists are bemused at the intensity of the > Americanist > reaction to Greenberg's work. > As to Greenberg's alleged absolutism in his claims of > relationship, what is > relevant is what the field does with his work, not what he thinks > it means. As > Bill Welmers used to say of G's Niger-Congo, "G hasn't proved that the > languages are genetically related; he's made it inconceivable that they > aren't." This is the main difference between Greenberg's African work and his "Amerind" work. G. has NOT made it inconceivable that the "Amerind" languages are genetically unrelated. There is also a fundamental anthropological difference between Africa and Native America. African was generally populated "from within", that is, no one had to come there in order for it to be full of people (indeed, it's the only continent that was not populated through immigration). The Americas were colonized by immigrants. Greenberg assumes one tribe speaking one language (excluding the much later Na-Dene and Eskimo-Aleut immigrations) entered the Americas and then differentiated. We cannot (at this time, and possibly never) prove whether the populating of the Americas was a one-time, one-tribe, one-language event, or a multi-time, multi-tribe, multi-language event. Indeed, Greenberg himself believes there were three events--one for Amerind, one for Na-Dene, and one for Eskimo-Aleut over the course of the last 40 some-odd thousand years. Just three immigrations in 40,000 years. Hmmmm. That's the difference between the Americas and Africa. Africa's had a stable indigenous population. The Americas haven't. Indeed, it's quite possible that northwestern North America has been the site of many groups of people from Asia, speaking different languages, landing on the shores of or walking across the "bridge" to a New World. John E. McLaughlin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor mclasutt at brigham.net Program Director Utah State University On-Line Linguistics http://english.usu.edu/lingnet English Department 3200 Old Main Hill Utah State University Logan, UT 84322-3200 (435) 797-2738 (voice) (435) 797-3797 (fax) From edsel at glo.be Fri Sep 10 12:32:31 1999 From: edsel at glo.be (Eduard Selleslagh) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 14:32:31 +0200 Subject: Northmen as 'mGall' Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] This is in response to Steve Long's posting of Thursday, September 09, 1999, Subject: Re: Northmen as 'mGall' [Ed Selleslagh] Thanks for the interesting additional information. Here are a few additional remarks in relation with your reply. >In a message dated 9/1/99 11:45:25 PM, Ed Selleslagh wrote: ><the Galli.: "Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt >Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli >appellantur....>> >Yes. But note that all three live in "Gallia." And are "Gallorum" - of the >Gauls. [Ed] I also mentioned that Caesar says they spoke different languages (implying : groupwise!), and had different institutions and laws. >Plus there's something else that Caesar does that is apparently meant to tell >us something. He uses two different forms in referring to "Gauls" See, >e.g., in the same segment, Gallic War 4.5: >"His de rebus Caesar certior factus et infirmitatem *Gallorum* veritus,..." >But, "Est enim hoc *Gallicae* consuetudinis,... " >While Cicero and others make a further distinction, calling the inhabitants >of the Roman province of Gallia, "Gallicani." >So it may be that the Belgae and Aquitani are of Gaul, but not Gallicae. >Sort of the effect we can observe in the specific names, "America" and >"Americans" and much larger general geographic names, "the Americas" and >"North America." It's worth noting that "Americans" did not give their name >to "the Americas." But by an odd twist, it worked the other way around. >This is all a bit tricky, because Caesar signals the shift in name >designation from the "Keltoi" to the "Galli" or "Gallici". Pausaunias, I >think, also notes it also in a matter of fact way, also without explanation. >Why the name change? [Ed] Probably for the kind of reasons you mentioned : Peruvians live in the Americas, but are not Americans. The 'shift' from Celtae to Galli is due to the different usages among Celts and Romans, according to Caesar; cf. Shqiptar/Albanian. ><name seems related to Welsh 'balch', Eng. 'proud' - maybe another candidate >for the origin of 'walch', as a name for the Belgae, I mean???). >> >This points to a bit of a hole in the Volcae > walha hypothesis. The Belgae >and various other more northern Celtic/Gaulish tribes are much closer to >where we should expect first contact with Germanic. (Caesar: "proximique >sunt Germanis, qui trans Rhenum incolunt...") In fact, the Belgae occupy >lands by Caesar's time that would have given them full exposure not only to >Rhineland Germanics, but also to Scandinavians. [Ed] This is absolutely true. In the first part of De Bello Gallico Caesar goes on saying that the Belgae are so fierce ('horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae..') because they constantly fight with the Germani (seen as barbarians, I suppose) and are shielded from 'omnia quae pertinent ad effeminandos animos', i.e. 'more refined' imports from the Mediterranian. It is also possible that Caesar misinterpreted his interpreter's words who may have said that the name 'Belgae' meant something like 'the proud/brave ones' (cf. Welsh 'balchai') and went on to find plausible reasons for that - at least that's what I guess MIGHT have happened, without any further substantiation. >The Volcae, except for Caesar's note about the incursion of some across the >Rhine where they are "Germanized", always show up in Gallia Narbonensis, >between the Pyrenees and the Rhone. There it seems Volcae represents >coalitions. The Volcae Arecomici. The Volcae Tectosages. [Ed] That's the main reason why I have a lot of doubts about the Volcae > Walh hypothesis. >Whether the Belgae spoke Brythonic is logical enough. But of course there's >no proof. In fact there is in archeaological circles a rather strong >reaction against making these kind of language to Iron Age cultures >comparisons. [Ed] That's not exactly what I was doing: I only mentioned a POSSIBLE P-Celtic origin of their (self-given?) name, but there is somewhat more, like toponyms: in southern central Wallonia, not far from N. France, there are quite a few toponyms of Celtic origin, a number of them similar to Breton (i.e. P-Celtic) toponyms, like Marbehan, while farther north, there are river names that are very likely descended from 'Aber' (river mouth, estuary, firth, sometimes river, in Welsh and Breton) like Amel (both in S. Hollandand in E. Belgium: Ger. /du. Amel, Fr. Amblève), Amer (also used as 'river bank meadows'). BUT: Things are never simple. In SE. Holland, E. Belgium and NE. France, very close to the Rhineland, the toponyms of Celtic origin seem to be rather Gallic: -magus (Nijmegen), -dunum (Lugdunum/Liège, Verdun) and -briga, unless of course, these had become common Celtic usages. Maybe this has something to do with the incursion of the (southern, properly Gallic) Volcae across the Rhine you mentioned? There are more confusing facts, but they can be explained (if they are real, not chance resemblances) by placing them in a pre-Celtic time frame: a number of toponyms or river names in S. Belgium ('Wallonia') look like Vasconic, e.g. the rivers Our (Bq. ur = water), Ourthe (Bq. urt(h)e = nowadays 'year', but presumably its earlier meaning may have been something like 'water/rain season'; there is still a custom of water throwing and rhymes ['ur goiena, ur barrena...] about it on New Year's Day in the Basque Country. Urt(h)e can also be explained as 'water area', since the suffix -te has various meanings, all related to space and time 'intervals'), and a ford in the river Ourthe called 'Tibièwé' (possibly *tibi-a-wé´. Walloon wé = Fr. gué, Eng. ford. Bq. ibi = ford, and in Basque [not in this case] and Iberian doublets with and without initial t are quite common). Of course, I cannot prove this in any way: I just present it for your information. >You wrote: ><'Common'?... >Geography seems to suggest that the Goidelic Celts belonged to an earlier >wave than the Brythonic Celts, if they all came from the continent that is..>> >There's a pretty strong dispute about the classification "Common Celtic" in >general. (The new breed of archaeologists don't like it at all.) One of the >odd things about the P-Q distinction is the interesting conclusions it has >generated. This is an example I picked up from an official Irish website: ><that Goidelic preserves the velar element of the Indo-European >labiovelar qu sound (later written c), whereas Brythonic renders this >sound as p. Thus Irish cuig or coo-ig (or cuig), "five" corresponds to >Welsh pump.>> Some might think the /p/ in five is closer to the original(!) >Goidelic, viewed as the oldest version of Celtic, creates other problems, >particularly with regard to Gaulish, where the apparent language habits >(e.g., /v/ versus /f/) either represent something closer to the original or a >Latin influence. [Ed] Isn't that rather /w/? (How do we know what the Latin character V actually meant to the Galli?). To me, it looks more like a similar evolution in Germanic. >(One can however compare the attested -pe ending in the early continental >Lapontic Celtic, equivalent to -que in Latin. This might actually bring >Goidelic closer to Latin than Lapontic on the p/q scale.) >Brythonic, being somewhere in between the two, has its own claim to being >closest to Common Celtic. [Ed] I don't understand that reasoning. >You wrote: ><> >Boy, does that open a whole 'nother can of worms. [Ed] I don't think so: All Aquitanian inscriptions, in whatever alphabet or language, point to Aquitanian as a direct ancestor, or at least a very close relative of the direct ancestor, of Basque. There is a long standing consensus on that. Of course, this may only apply to the southern part (nowadays the Landes/Landak and the N. Basque Country/Iparralde) of the area between the Garonne and the Pyrenees: the river name and the toponyms of the famous wines on the S bank are generally considered Celtic. >You wrote: ><given by foreigners, in casu the Romans, which might be of Germanic origin, >'(g)walch' or '(h)walch' vel sim. Cf. Gascogne, Guasconia (< Eusko-, i.e. >Basque)>> [Ed] I might add that probably Eusko- > the tribe of the Ausci mentioned by the Romans (in th N. Basque Country). Eusko- > Guasconia, Gascogne is believed to have involved Germanic intervention (Visigoths): Eusko- > Wasko- (by metathesis of the /w/ sound) , reinterpreted by Romance speakers as Guasco-; this last phenomenon is quite common in Spanish, and still active ('very well' > beri güell !!). >I wrote: ><> >You wrote: ><> >I had an intern working for me who seemed to know how to do research spend >two days a major school library and she could not find one serious reference >to anything but Volcae as the origin of 'walh' - but she was limited to >English. [Ed] I'm not surprised: on the one hand, there is a tendency to copy earlier publications, especially if there are no direct alternatives in sight, and on the other hand, frequent repetition seems to create an impression of proven truth - a fact well known to all kinds of manipulators of public opinion.. >Some consideration of the relation between "walh" and either the Celtic or >Germanic forms of Gaul or Belgae would seem worth considering. >Regards, >Steve Long [Ed] It certainly would. I would be very happy if somebody with more competence in linguistics and history than I have would take it up. Ed. From X99Lynx at aol.com Fri Sep 10 13:24:29 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 09:24:29 EDT Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (the stem) Message-ID: I wrote: <> In a message dated 9/10/99 2:59:15 AM, you wrote: <> Yes. Larry Trask and Jens also mentioned the Schwundhypothese. But I'm pretty sure (I may be wrong) that in the Stammbaum the 'innovations' considered always attach to the node or branch. That was the way it was described in the first posts on all this - with the branch representing the "unshared innovation." Also I don't think the Stammbaum approach can recognize anything as sophisticated as changing verb systems. Based on what's been said so far, at least. Regards, Steve Long From henryh at ling.upenn.edu Fri Sep 10 16:17:56 1999 From: henryh at ling.upenn.edu (Henry M. Hoenigswald) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 11:17:56 -0500 Subject: Phonemic split Message-ID: Traditionalists, including, via Jakobson, generativists, want their segments bite-sized ([allo]'phones' Æ 'phonemes') and claim a privileged existence in nature for that particular kind of segment. Some also believe they are painting a scenario of just what goes on phonetically and sociolinguistically along putative lines of descent (such is Janda's commendable but not necessarily feasible concern [1999; I thank the author for an advance copy] and operate with two, and only two, separable events, one merger and one split, when in fact, and despite what is said, there are only homonyms and non-homonyms are to be handled. This is the stuff of which the 19th century+ formulation of sound-change and the (highly successful) 'comparative' method is made where sporadic sound change is excluded, not for any possible empirical reason but by definition. Notational preferences, such as the choice of some one segmentation, do not matter for that purpose, homonyms being homonyms under any notation. Some think it elegant to imply, say, that the Indo-Iranian merging of IE /o/ with /e/ after /t/ is 'the same (rule?)' as the merging of /o/ with /e/ after /kw/. If, however, we elect to make our statements about ..CV.. sequences rather than about C.. and about ..V separately, /te/ and /to/ merge while /kwe/ and /kwo/ don't. None of this directly describes events, let alone events with a chronology.- See Hoenigswald 1999 [Lehmann Festschrift] (where it would have been better to speak noncommittally of 'entities' rather than 'phonemes' so as to forestall undesirable implications; Bhat's critique [Hoenigswald loc. cit., fn. 5] is instructive). The question is what the sociolinguistic welter has to be like in order to qualify for profitable interpretation in the grand old framework of descent, replacement, merger.. and all the rest. Henry M. Hoenigswald 908 Westdale Avenue Swarthmore PA 19081-1804 Tel: 1-610 543-8086 From X99Lynx at aol.com Fri Sep 10 15:29:12 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 11:29:12 EDT Subject: NEWS re Early Language Message-ID: In a message dated 9/10/99 12:56:39 AM, larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk wrote: <> This is my fault. The article was very long and I clipped the part about how the skull was traced back to being on the recorded inventory and drawings of finds I think made by a British team. It hit the black market at some point. (Money like$500,000 will do that to many artifacts.) The account is in the full article which I gave the URL for. I'm sure you'll find it plausible. <> I think it has an inventory ID# on it. Matched a field drawing. <> Ha. Wait till they dig up the Brooklyn Man. But I think that Delson did the ID. I may have clipped that. B-T-W, this text came across on a Paleo wire service, so it's third generation. Again the original is at the URL. Or the actual real-life paper, if you guys get it over there. <> Delson's team did the estimate based I would guess on the usual homo erectus dating. Swisher is a heavyweight in the field of physio-chemical dating, and his methodology has earned some very serious respect over the years. <> They were talking about the inside of the brain case versus the ridges and such on the outside. <> I think that the Broca's cap business is a bit out of date. And it has been found a number of times before in early homo. The point I would take is the same one you did: <> You also wrote: <> No. if you look at the NSF forum report I mentioned in connection with the jaw canal studies you'll see that it seems the majority of the attendees were multiregionalists. I think the opinion generally breaks down to paleobiologists versus generalist geneticists. (Think of it as a little like African cultural anthropologists suddenly announcing new evidence for Basque linguistic origins.) African Eve is of couse much more spectacular than all this, but there's a lot that can go into genetic descent between then and now. Not the least of which is that the mtDNA tells us nothing about the male line. There's nothing to say that one of Eve's daughters didn't go for one of those semi-erectus he-men along the way. Rate of mutation, which is also heavily assumed in Eve, is also a serious uncertainty. There's simply no way to confirm or disprove the assumed rates over 20,000 years, much less 100's of thousands of years. <<(who lives only a few miles from Piltdown)>> And of course with a certain humility about what tomorrow may bring, we can't exclude the possibility that what will turn up in that gravel pit next time is African Eve. Regards, Steve Long From alderson at netcom.com Fri Sep 10 17:12:31 1999 From: alderson at netcom.com (Richard M. Alderson III) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 10:12:31 -0700 Subject: Typological inference In-Reply-To: (X99Lynx@aol.com) Message-ID: On 8 Sep 1999, Steve Long wrote: >I also think one striking thing about the "[typological] approaches" >described is their strength in helping those who must identify language- >types and structure in undeciphered text, i.e., "at ground zero." If a text is undeciphered, it is unclear to me how any amount of typological information could be put to use. Typology makes reference to concepts such as "noun", "verb", "adjective", "subject", "object", and so on, which cannot be applied to an undeciphered text. Perhaps you mean something other than "undeciphered"? Rich Alderson From rozfrank at hotmail.com Fri Sep 10 20:06:28 1999 From: rozfrank at hotmail.com (roslyn frank) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 15:06:28 CDT Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (fwd) Message-ID: >From: Larry Trask >Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 12:34:57 +0100 (BST) >On Mon, 6 Sep 1999, Roz Frank wrote: >[on the reconstruction of Pre-Basque] [LT] >Hualde has since developed his position in an article. In fact, he does >not challenge Michelena's reconstructed phoneme system at all. Rather, >he proposes to assign different phonetic features to the proto-phonemes. >In particular, while he agrees with Michelena that Pre-Basque had no >voicing contrasts in word-initial plosives, he believes that the voicing >of initial plosives was facultative, rather than phonetically >consistent. [snip] [RF] Could you explain a bit more what is meant by the term "facultative" as opposed to "phonetically consistent" by giving a few examples? [big snippet] >> bat/ [LT] >And one' is pretty clearly derived from earlier *. [RF] This is an example that I've never fully understood. There is no attested evidence, to my knowledge, for any form like * and quite obviously it's a reconstruction. It it not, therefore, the reconstruction that eliminates this item from consideration as a monosyllabic parent-stem? >> /behi/ [LT] >But cow' is two syllables in the aspirating dialects. >> /bein/behin, >And once' is also two syllables in the north. The dialects >which have lost the aspiration have, as a result, acquired a number of >new monosyllables which are still bisyllabic in the north and which were >formerly bisyllabic in the south. I don't count these as ancient >monosyllables, with good reason. [RF] Again, doesn't the logic of this statement rest on the presupposition (within the reconstruction) that the aspirating northern dialects are the original ones, i.e., the ones showing us the "mother" forms (at least for this type of item) and the monosyllabic unaspirated southern variants the "daughter" forms? In other words are there not two choices: 1) to assume that the "older" form was monosyllabic and that the aspirated variants are innovations and, hence, came from a suprasegmental element, namely, aspiration, which was not found in the phonological system of the "older-parent"; or 2) as you have reconstructed it, to assume that the "older" form was bisyllabic and that the non-aspirated variants are innovations. Could you explain the rationale for choosing 2 over 1, particularly since we have no other sources for reconstructing earlier stages of Euskera than the information coded into the dialects themselves? Here I refer to the fact that the Basque reconstructions cannot draw on comparative data from other members of a larger language family, e.g., as in the case of IE studies. You end your discussion above by adding "with good reason". Could you elaborate? I am curious because your position (see below) concerning word-initial /h/ is that it is of suprasegmental origin, although it, too, is considered primarily a northern characteristic if I am not mistaken. >[LT] >>Potentially the most serious problem is the /h/, but I know of no one at >>present who disputes M's conclusion that *most* instances of /h/ are of >>suprasegmental origin. However, it remains possible to disagree about >>whether *some* /h/s are of segmental origin. In practice, though, this >>isn't much of an issue, and we can readily dispose of any difficulties >>by reconstructing Pre-Basque -- contra M -- with a *phonetic* [h] in our >>transcriptions, allowing users to draw their own conclusions. >[RF] >Examples? {LT] Sure. For ~ leaf', Michelena reconstructs *, with his fortis rhotic. If we prefer, we could write *<[h]oRi> instead. It probably makes little difference, so long as we are consistent. [RF] Does it follow, therefore, that we could also write as * or as *? Keep in mind, I'm not trying to support any particular interpretation here, rather I'm attempting to understand the logical process involved in constructing an argument that gives priority to forms found in one dialect over those found in another. Specifically, I am interested in examining the kinds of argumentation utilized when the comparison in question is intended to lead to a reconstruction where no parent-form of the language is available (no triangulation) as is the case at hand. Izan untsa, Roz From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Fri Sep 10 21:25:33 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 16:25:33 -0500 Subject: Pre-Basque lexical items In-Reply-To: Message-ID: Is this possibly a loan from Latin related to Spanish ? or perhaps from some hypothetical Celtic cognate to English ? or [stretching things a bit] even from Frankish or Gethic? [snip] >Possible evidence is sell', which may very well derive from >*, the ancestor of modern price' (the change /l/ > /r/ >between vowels is regular), as is the loss of /i/ before a suffix). [snip] Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Fri Sep 10 22:06:54 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 17:06:54 -0500 Subject: Celtic p's & q's [was Re: Horthmen as 'mGall'] In-Reply-To: <199909092128.OAA27314@netcom2.netcom.com> Message-ID: So why don't we count "one two three *whour *whim/*whigh" in English "eins zwei drei *wier wum/*wunch" in German Or conversely, why don't we suffer from feartburn and feartbreak in English? [snip] >Note that the Germanic evidence (Gothic _fimf_ etc.) has been argued as >showing >a *k{^w}e > *p development similar to that in p-Celtic and p-Italic, whether >from *penk{^w}e or from *k{^w}enk{^w}e; it has also been argued that the >second >*p is due to the influence of the first, that is, the reverse of the Latin and >Celtic development. > Rich Alderson Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Sat Sep 11 01:00:15 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 21:00:15 -0400 Subject: History and Sound Laws In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Sat, 4 Sep 1999 X99Lynx at aol.com wrote: > Going back to what you first said: > "The only reason we're able to say anything at all about prehistoric > languages is that sound changes have a particular property, namely, they are > exceptionless...>> > I replied: > < prehistoric languages. So we don't know, by definition, if the sound > categories included exceptions or not. But we have decrypted prehistoric > languages without any knowledge of what sounds the characters represented.>> > My point still stands. "The only reason we're able to say anything at all > about prehistoric languages is..." NOT sound changes. In fact, historical > science can say a lot about prehistoric languages - distribution in time and > place, ethno-cultural context, probability of cross-lingual contact, literacy > or non-literacy, what evidence (typonym, onomastic, written record, etc.) can > properly be attributed to the time and place of that language, etc. Even in > some cases, what the writing may have meant. You're misunderstanding my point. In brief, my point is that if you deny the regularity of sound changes, you kick the props out from under both the Comparative Method and Internal Reconstruction. All bets are off at that point. Unless you come up with some new methodology which doesn't rely on the regularity of sound changes, this leaves us with no way to reconstruct prehistoric languages. If individual sounds in individual words just randomly changed, I don't see how we could project languages back into prehistory. Fortunately for historical linguistics, that's not how human language seems to work. As for your point: "In fact, by definition, we don't know anything directly about the sounds of prehistoric languages. So we don't know, by definition, if the sound categories included exceptions or not." [I assume you mean 'sound changes', not 'sound categories'.] I'm afraid this is a misunderstanding. It's quite true that we can't know for certain what the phonetic values were for the phonological categories in the languages we reconstruct. That's not relevant here; we're talking about categories, not phonetic values. If a prehistoric sound change has somehow admitted an exception, we'd often be able to tell (e.g. if the first consonant of the PIE word for 'father' had somehow escaped Grimm's Law, then the Old English texts would spell it 'paedar', not 'faedar'). > On 9/1/99 11:10:25 PM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu replied: > < occurred before the languages came to be written. So I don't see the > connection here with historical information.>> > > Perhaps I was unclear again. Writing or lack of it is irrelevant. If you > are going to make a judgement about loans, you MUST do it on the basis of > whatever information history (in the big sense, including "prehistory") gives > you. You will not be allowed to have Germanic borrow words from Polynesian > in 700 BC, because "history" will not allow it. Agreed. > My point was that your conclusions about loans are based on "historical" > assumptions about speakers of the two languages being coeval, being in > contact, and about how such linguistic events happened in historical time - > in the big sense. In fact, you can't make any judgement about reconstructed > loans without it resting on the assumption of a great many "historical" (in > the big sense) facts. But the problem is, the loan words are often our main evidence that languages were in contact in prehistory. This is true of the loan words from Italo-Celtic into Pre-Proto-Germanic, for example; it's those loan words which are our evidence that these groups were in contact. > If any of those historical assumptions are wrong, you > may get things wrong about those loans. You may get, e.g., "the giver and > the taker confused." As I've said, you can often tell on purely linguistic grounds that the loan has to have happened in one direction and not the other. For example, we can tell that 'skirt' was borrowed from Old Norse into Old English and not the other way around, because Old English would have changed it to 'shirt' (and it did in fact do so, with the ON cognate 'skirt' being borrowed later to give rise to a doublet). \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Sat Sep 11 02:15:26 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 22:15:26 -0400 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (the stem) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Sun, 5 Sep 1999 X99Lynx at aol.com wrote: > In a message dated 9/2/99 11:39:20 PM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu wrote: > < producing the unrooted phylogeny. It was produced strictly on the basis > of the characteristics of the languages without regard to dating.>> > But then you write: > < way that the tree is a bit lopsided in its branchings.>> > You can't have it both ways. If you're saying that the branchings are based > on some kind of historical analysis, ... No, I never said that. The first was a statement about the methodology by which the relations among the IE languages were deduced. The second was a statement that if the events (migrations, battles, etc.) of prehistory had happened differently, the family tree for IE might have chanced to look more like A than B: A /\ B /\ / \ /\ /\ /\ /\ I'm saying it's just an accident of human events that the tree for the IE family looks more like B. If it _did_ look like A, it would be clearer that there is no main stem. That's all I'm saying. > Well, I don't know what version we saw here on the list, but I don't need to > tell you that dates of attestation are no way of giving dates to > "innovations" that all allegedly happened before any of the languages were > attested. Well, yes and no. The innovations characterizing a language can't have happened later than it's earliest attestation. If we accept c. 4000 B.C.E. as the latest date of PIE unity prior to the first branching, and given that Sanskrit and Hittite are both attested by the second millenium B.C.E., we're left with a _range_ of dates within which these branchings must have happened. We can also tell in what order the branchings happened. We don't know the absolute dates for the branchings, however. I'd expect that there will be attempts to match up the branchings in this tree with the archaeological evidence (subject, of course, to the long litany of caveats which I need not repeat). For example, it's been previously argued that the apparent invasion of the Carpithian basin (Hungary) around the beginning of the third millenium B.C.E. represents an invasion of Indo-European speakers. We might very, very, very tentatively identify this with the branching off of the Italo-Celtic group. The point is that one can at least imagine knowing more detailed dates for some of the branchings. > That is the way this tree is set up. Whatever is "innovating" gets a node > and a name. But there is always a non-innovating language left over, for the > next node to innovate way from. No, no, no. The claim is that there are innovations on both sides. The other language is not "non-innovating". Each innovates on some matters and retains on others. > (Otherwise, Graeco-Armenian is innovating away from Italo-Celtic.) So, > node after node, there is a language that does not innovate. That is absolutely not the claim which is being made. This is a serious misunderstanding of what the tree is intended to represent. > The only node on that tree that represents a non-innovating language is > marked PIE. And this tree also posits a group of speakers who are always > non-innovators, node after node. And because they are not the innovators, > they remain PIE. Right down to the last node. Unless of course they are the > last node. The claim is that there are no non-innovators. > Plus, how would you know > what "innovations" are unless you knew the opposing condition? Let me give an example here. The Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic branches underwent a phonological rule known as RUKI retraction, by which *s is retracted after *r, *u, *k, *i. Take a look at the tree and see how this relates; given the geometry of the tree, this can only be an innovation. > You MUST > assume a comparison to identify innovations. You can't have innovating > without having non-innovating alongside it, in this tree. It's true that you can imagine cases where you can't tell which is the innovation; there could even be cases where both branches innovate, and the original form is retained in neither branch. But that's OK, since what we're doing is showing relatedness on the basis of shared characteristics. This won't always work, as in the case where the innovation is an irreversible phonological merger; the branch with the merger has innovated. But for lexical characters, for example, there can certainly be cases where you can't tell who innovated. > You write: > < the innovations happened in; and there's always the possibility of > back-mutation, etc.>> > This is inaccurate. The order in which traits change is always critical. > And 'back-mutation' is extraordinary event. But more analogously, the > re-appearance of recessive traits occurs under only the most orderly of > conditions. Let me explain more precisely what I mean. Suppose we have two biological species which are are comparing, A and B. Suppose that we are comparing their DNA, and we note that 7% of their DNA differs. Let's say that the differences are scattered all over the chromosomes, so that these differences must be the product of many mutations. Let's also say that there are no surviving intermediate relatives which might help us work out the chronology of mutations on the basis of shared innovations. What I'm saying is that we can't tell what order the mutations happened in. (I'm not a biologist, but this is how a computational biologist explained it to me.) Human language, as I noted, is different; you often can tell that the changes must have happened in one order and not the other. I answered many of your other points in great detail elsewhere, so I won't repeat them here. > It's not the nodes, it's those dotted lines between them. Every time that > you claim that there is a node representing an the innovations of an actual > posited prehistoric language, you are necessarily claiming there was a > second, contemporary "actual posited prehistoric language" - that DID NOT > INNOVATE. As I've already emphasized, the part about "DID NOT INNOVATE" is in no way a part of the claim. I don't know where you got that idea. > < "stem". No line of descent has any special status in the tree.>> > There is a line of descent that would be most "special" indeed on this tree. > It's the one that - each and every time a node apears - is always the one > that doesn't innovate. It has to continue to exist for the next node to > emerge from. But the language named at the node is always the one > innovating. (Disregard the apparent simultaeneous 3-way split at the end.) > That line of decent in this tree, the one that is always the non-innovator, > would be most special indeed. Because that one MUST be our best picture of > what PIE was like. Precisely, because it never innovated, according to the > Stammbaum. Once again, that last sentence is simply an erroneous interpretation of the tree. It appears that both of these paragraphs depend entirely on that misinterpretation. \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From mclasutt at brigham.net Sat Sep 11 02:46:10 1999 From: mclasutt at brigham.net (Dr. John E. McLaughlin) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 20:46:10 -0600 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (the stem) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: Steve Long wrote: > The "nodes" represent certain specific innovations. The "non-innovating" > language that is assumed in the Stammbaum is only > "non-innovating" as to that > limited group of innovations. Otherwise, that language could be quite > innovative, I suppose. > I wrote: > < marked PIE. And this tree also posits a group of speakers who are always > non-innovators, node after node. And because they are not the > innovators, > they remain PIE. Right down to the last node. Unless of course > they are the > last node.>> > This is a fair read I believe of what the Stammbaum must assume for it to > make any sense. The Stammbaum posits a "non-innovating" > language. But to be > fair, again , the description non-innovating only would only apply to the > small circle of "innovations" covered by the Stammbaum. Actually, you're still clouding the issue of "innovating" versus "non-innovating" in order, it seems, to label nodes. (Assuming, of course, that I haven't misread your intent.) Assume a family tree as follows with lots of nodes and intermediate points clearly labelled. This should look quite similar to the UPenn IE tree. (Stammbaum is a German word and I personally prefer English constructions that Americans can actually understand. We, as scholars, sometimes seem too quick to adopt something foreign before using our own language resources. It's like we're trying to hide something from the masses.) A | A'___ | | B C | B'_____ | | D E Your argument, that the branch represents the innovating group and the trunk represents the non-innovating, would imply that A, A', B, B' and D were all the same speech form. That is not at all what the UPenn tree implies, nor is it what any tree implies. There are innovations going on between A and A', but they don't lead to language diversity because they affect the whole community. B and C are then differentiated because C innovates something and B doesn't. There are now more innovations between B and B', but they again don't lead to diversity because they affect the whole community. Now D and E are separated because the community in E innovates something that D doesn't. Now, are A and D the same language? Certainly not because there have been innovations going on between A and A' and between B and B' that affected the whole community, therefore not leading to increased diversity, but nonetheless making the parent language A as opaque to D as it is to E or C. John E. McLaughlin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor mclasutt at brigham.net Program Director Utah State University On-Line Linguistics http://english.usu.edu/lingnet English Department 3200 Old Main Hill Utah State University Logan, UT 84322-3200 (435) 797-2738 (voice) (435) 797-3797 (fax) From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Sat Sep 11 03:12:51 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 23:12:51 -0400 Subject: The Comparative Method and semantics In-Reply-To: Message-ID: In an earlier post, I stated that to be judged cognate, a pair of words in related languages must both be derivable from the proto-language by regular sound change. Further, we have to have some plausible account by which the meanings of the two words could have developed from some single meaning in the proto-language. Steven Long objected to the second criterion, stating that it should be adequate for the phonology to match. He correctly pointed out that there are cases where accepted cognates have wildly different meanings. This is true. What I'm saying, however, is that if we don't have a plausible account for the semantic development, we shouldn't judge the words to be cognate. The reason is that there are other ways the situation could have arisen. In any etymological dictionary of even a very well-studied language, there are many words labelled "of unknown origin". No doubt, some of these have cognates in other languages which we've simply missed so far; but it is equally doubtless that some of these words were novel coinages, loans from unattested prehistoric languages, etc. And doubtless, there are cases where a word existed in the proto-language and was lost in all its daughters but this one (in which case we can't reconstruct it for the parent language; those are the breaks). In all of these cases, we don't know and often can't know which story is the right one. Given that languages pick up new words, it's bound to happen now and then that that pairs of words will chance to arise with phonological forms which _could_ have arisen by regular sound change from some word in the proto-language, but actually didn't. What can tip us off to such cases is a wild mismatch in the semantics. _If_ we have a plausible account for how the meanings of the words could have come to mean what they do, we can accept the words as cognate. Bear in mind, tho, that it's better to miss a real cognate than to include a false one, for reasons I'll go into in a later post. On Mon, 6 Sep 1999 X99Lynx at aol.com wrote: > ...when it comes to what we call "semantics", every word has its > own history... I agree totally. > So, really, the "meaning" of a word only makes phonological ancestry more or > less likely, it doesn't define it. > But the "exceptionless sound laws" support the idea that if two words are a > phonologically the same, they have a high probability of common ancestry. As I've pointed out, this is incorrect. There are several other ways that such pairs could arise. > Unless you have the historical background to definitely eliminate the > connection between 'river' and 'leather', your off-the-cuff impression is > just not enough to settle the matter. It's the other way around. Until you have a reasonable account by which 'river' and 'leather' could both rise from some earlier meaning, you have to hold that the words have not been demonstrated to be cognate. > <<2) have meanings which can have plausibly developed from some meaning in > the proto-language.>> > And again this is backwards. We can only guess at meanings in the > proto-language by looking at meanings in later language. That's why I said 'some meaning', not 'the meaning'. If you suspect that two words are cognate, but the meanings are substantially different, you have to come up with some meaning for the word in the proto-language which could have given rise to the attested meanings. \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Sat Sep 11 04:04:23 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 00:04:23 -0400 Subject: Accepting fewer etymologies In-Reply-To: Message-ID: In my last post, I said that it is better to miss a real cognation than to accept a false one. I'm partly writing to explain why I say that and what I mean by it. I'm partly also responding the the separate discussion about Larry Trask's set of criteria for judging a word in Basque to be native. I'm sure it will surprise nobody that I agree with Trask on this matter. Rather than restate the matter in my own words, I'd like to give a quote from the introduction of Don Ringe's book on the relative chronology of the sound changes in Tocharian. ------------------------------ p. xvi (emphasis, when it occurs, is Don Ringe's): There is more uncertainty and disagreement concerning the sound changes in Tocharian than in almost any other area of IE linguistics. This is due in part to the number and complexity of the changes involved, and in even greater part to the fact that relatively few Tocharian words have obvious IE etymologies. However, methodological difficulties are also involved. One might suppose that the uncertainties regarding sound changes in Tocharian can be resolved by proposing many new etymologies for Tocharian words; presumably such a procedure would greatly increase the number of examples of individual sound changes, and so would place the proposed changes on a firmer footing. Apparently many scholars have drawn just such a conclusion; at any rate, the "etymological method" of research in Tocharian has been and continues to be extremely popular. Yet the etymological approach is BAD METHODOLOGY, which leads to fatal errors for the following reasons. Strictly speaking, a relationship between languages can only be PROVED by demonstrating that the similarities between them cannot reasonably be attributed to borrowing or to chance. For Tocharian this is not problematic: the extraordinarily high preponderance of r-stems among the basic kinship terms and the reappearance of word-final -r in the mediopassive endings 3sg. -ta"r, 3pl. -nta"r are sufficient to prove that these languages belong to the Indo-European family. But in order to progress beyond a mere demonstration of relationship one must employ traditional comparative techniques based on the discovery and exploitation of sound correspondences. Unfortunately, unless the linguistic relationship being investigated is very close, only a small minority of the historically genuine correspondences will appear to be statistically significant; the rest will be too rare. How, then, can we distinguish genuine correspondences and cognates from mirages? There is one procedure, and only one, which elevates comparative reconstruction above the level of mere guesswork. That procedure is the RIGOROUS application of the comparative method, based on the recognition of STRICT sound correspondences and ultimately on the observation that sound changes which have been carried to completion in a linguistic community are almost always completely regular (i.e. are "sound laws"). ALL etymologies not based on those principles are in effect _Gleichklangsetymologien_; by themselves they have no probative value at all, and any hypothesis which crucially depends on such etymologies will be forever beyond proof. (That is true even of putative cognate sets which contribute to probabilitic proofs of relationship; in the aggregate the similarities they exhibit are most unlikely to be the result of chance, but individual examples can and do exhibit chance resemblances.) But this circumstance creates a methodological paradox: we cannot propose reliable Tocharian etymologies until we have discovered the sound laws, yet we can only discover the Tocharian sound laws by the analysis of reliable etymologies! The paradox can be resolved only by adducing support of another kind for our etymologies, and for most the only available support is inherent plausibility. Tocharian words which agree closely in meaning with solidly reconstructed PIE words, and which strongly resemble those PIE words in shape, and which are unlikely to have undergone analogical changes (because they are derivationally isolated), can be accepted as the reflexes of those PIE words on the grounds on inherent plausibility. Sound laws can be worked out on the basis of these basic etymologies; further etymological proposals can then be tested against those sound laws, and the reliable etymological base of Tocharian can thus be expanded step by step. But even though this is the only feasible course, we must not forget that the core of "plausible" etymologies on which it is based constitutes an inherent weakness, and that weakness must be minimized by keeping the basic etymological core to a minimum. As Jochem Schindler observed to me some years ago, "It is a matter of which etymologies one cannot do without." It follows that we can improve the reliability of our proposed Tocharian sound laws not by finding more etymologies, but by accepting FEWER. That is exactly what I have tried to do. The vast majority of the Tocharian etymologies that I have accepted in this book are so plausible that they were proposed within the first few decades of serious research on Tocharian; few later etymologies have been admitted, and I have proposed very few of my own. I have also tried to apply rigorous standards to etymologies in other IE languages and to the reconstruction of the PIE lexicon, rejecting, for example, a great deal of the material included in Pokorny 1959. It should be emphasized that this is not in any sense a revolutionary idea or procedure. It is the logical result of a determination to take the regularity of sound change seriously; as such it is implicit in and exemplified by the work of all my teachers and mentors and of careful historical linguists generally. It is also the most clearly principled way to meet the challenge of Klaus Schmidt (1980:396-7), who rightly calls for higher standards in Tocharian etymological studies. I am therefore resolved to ignore any criticism which suggests that i have accepted substantially too few etymologies (though of course individual cases are always subject to discussion). Conversely, there is a real danger that I have accepted too many etymologies--especially my own etymological suggestions--and the reader should bear that in mind. [end quote] \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From JoatSimeon at aol.com Sat Sep 11 07:08:24 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 03:08:24 EDT Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (the stem) Message-ID: The "non-innovating" language in the stem is an optical illusion due to the method of portrayal, not what's meant to be conveyed. Eg, if we have a stem with Anatolian branching off and then Tocharian, and then Indo-Iranian, that doesn't mean that the PIE from which Anatolian branches off is the one from which Indo-Iranian does. From JoatSimeon at aol.com Sat Sep 11 07:23:51 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 03:23:51 EDT Subject: Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic Message-ID: >X99Lynx at aol.com writes: <showing a language that it clearly assumed existed. And that was a language that >shared none of the innovations that "created" the daughters. This narrow PIE or >proto-language is always the one that is NOT INNOVATING on the > Stammbaum. -- incorrect. The Stammbaum shows a language that is innovating just as the daughter language does _up to_ the time of split. After which it innovates one way, while the daughter language innovates in another. Which is to say, the language from which Indo-Iranian split was not the same as that from which Anatolian split. The futher length of the stem represents a period of shared innovations. Or to put in another way, think not of the languages, but of the people who spoke them. It's just as accurate to say that the other IE language-speakers split away from, say, the Anatolians as the other way 'round. Group A moves so that it's too distant from the others to share innovations. It encounters other unrelated languages. It now has linguistic innovations which do not spread to the rest of the former speech-community; and it does not acquire the innovations proceeding in the other areas of the former speech-community. (Eg., it doesn't lose laryngeals). It becomes Anatolian. But by the time that happens, the people back in the original speech area have had innovations of their own, and they're no longer speaking quite the same thing as they were when Group A left. Now the people speaking our (changed) ur-IE stretch out to the east. Innovations occurr there that don't spread all the way across the speech-community. (Satemization, for instance). Now the Indo-Iranian languages have, amoeba-like, split off from the body of the western IE languages. They're both innovating in ways they don't share. Shortly thereafter, a tentacle stretches out to the southeast from the western group and the Graeco-Armenian group breaks away and starts to have innovations not shared by its former neighbors; conversely, they have innovations _it_ doesn't have.... From JoatSimeon at aol.com Sat Sep 11 07:27:51 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 03:27:51 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: >X99Lynx at aol.com writes: <with vernacular languages that lived on after it died. Or those vernacular >languages would have had to come out of nowhere the day Latin died. -- no, they all developed simultaneously. Latin "died" by becoming dozens of dialects which gradually lost mutual comprehensibility. The process is gradual and cannot be given sharp dates, by its nature. Latin was alive in 100 AD. It was dead in 1000 AD. That's about as close as you can get. From JoatSimeon at aol.com Sat Sep 11 07:32:30 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 03:32:30 EDT Subject: SV: Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] In a message dated 9/11/99 12:22:46 AM Mountain Daylight Time, lmfosse at online.no writes: << In addition to Vidyanath Rao's information, I would like to add that >Sanskrit existed at different levels of proficiency. It was not only a >religious language, it was also an epic language, and it was apparently - in a >simplified form - used as a lingua franca all over India after the Prakrits >had become too different to be mutually comprehensible. -- just as Latin was in the post-Roman West. >It may not have been the "mother tongue" of many people, but otherwise, it >must have been the English of ancient South Asia. -- the _Latin_ of ancient South Asia. There was never an area outside South Asia where Sanskrit continued to be used as a living language, as is the case with English. For that matter, there are several million people now in South Asia who do use English as their mother tongue, learned in childhood, besides the tens of millions who learn it as a secondary language acquired in adulthood. As far as I know -- correct me if I'm wrong -- there was no large group in ancient South Asia who used Sanskrit as their household language after the divergence of the Prakrits. From mclasutt at brigham.net Sat Sep 11 13:08:44 1999 From: mclasutt at brigham.net (Dr. John E. McLaughlin) Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 07:08:44 -0600 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: <3e6f4755.2509f47b@aol.com> Message-ID: Steve Long wrote: > Now, how long does it take for a dialect to develop in that > parent and turn > into a different language? > If a language can definitionally stay the same language for 400 > years, and if > a daughter can develop in last than 400 years, then its obvious. > A daughter > can be in existence while the parent is alive and well. Here's a real-world example. The Shoshoni language is spoken over a broad dialect continuum from southwest Nevada to central Wyoming. We'll focus on one of those dialects--Wind River, or Eastern, Shoshoni. In the early eighteenth century, several of the bands of Eastern Shoshoni moved south onto the plains of Texas to be nearer the Mexican horse supplies. Several low-level phonetic shifts then occurred in the language of that Texas bunch. Documentary evidence from 1786 and 1825 suggest that the most dramatic of those shifts occurred during that time frame. While the phonological structure of Comanche remains similar to Eastern Shoshoni, the phonetics make the two languages mutually unintelligible without practice (like Spanish and Portuguese). Eastern Shoshoni has not undergone any noticeable sound changes in that same time period (based on analysis of the whole dialect continuum and the easy way that the Comanche changes can be tracked from modern Eastern Shoshoni). All the specialists in this language situation (the late Wick Miller, myself, James Armagost, and Jean Charney) agreed on this historical situation. I would say that this is a clear real-world example of a daughter co-existing with a parent. John E. McLaughlin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor mclasutt at brigham.net Program Director Utah State University On-Line Linguistics http://english.usu.edu/lingnet English Department 3200 Old Main Hill Utah State University Logan, UT 84322-3200 (435) 797-2738 (voice) (435) 797-3797 (fax) From mclasutt at brigham.net Sat Sep 11 13:42:03 1999 From: mclasutt at brigham.net (Dr. John E. McLaughlin) Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 07:42:03 -0600 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (the stem) In-Reply-To: <53370641.250a608d@aol.com> Message-ID: Steve Long wrote: > I wrote: > < gets a node > and a name. But there is always a non-innovating language left > over, for the > next node to innovate way from.>> > But I'm pretty sure (I may be wrong) that in the Stammbaum the > 'innovations' > considered always attach to the node or branch. That was the way it was > described in the first posts on all this - with the branch > representing the > "unshared innovation." The classic approach to the subgrouping of a language family and drawing a tree is to identify "shared innovations". "Shared retentions" do not count in identifying a linguistic unit. However, there is NO standard method of identifying which branch represents the innovating language and which does not. The UPenn IE tree, as drawn, is really an artificial shape, as are all trees drawn with a single central trunk. Language families are not really trees with a single main trunk and many smaller branches. Language families are bushes that begin dividing shortly above ground and have branches that go off in many different directions without a central trunk. The main trunk approach mimics those common biological diagrams that show all the different types of life branching off a main trunk that leads to man. It implies determinism. Indo-European trees in Northwestern Europe and the United States have often been drawn the same way with a main trunk leading to Germanic. It's chauvinistic and deterministic as well--the main trunk leads inexorably to the "top" of the tree--"Germanic-speaking man". We would be much better off with drawing bushes. The family bush drawn on the endplate of the American Heritage Dictionary is how a relationship chart should look. Unfortunately, it's hard to do on the internet. John E. McLaughlin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor mclasutt at brigham.net Program Director Utah State University On-Line Linguistics http://english.usu.edu/lingnet English Department 3200 Old Main Hill Utah State University Logan, UT 84322-3200 (435) 797-2738 (voice) (435) 797-3797 (fax) From X99Lynx at aol.com Sat Sep 11 14:30:40 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 10:30:40 EDT Subject: Typological inference Message-ID: In a message dated 9/11/99 3:32:42 AM, alderson at netcom.com wrote: << Typology makes reference to concepts such as "noun", "verb", "adjective", "subject", "object", and so on, which cannot be applied to an undeciphered text. >> That's exactly it. I'm on the road and don't have my stuff with me, but the example was deciphering old Asian text by identifying the sentence elements, etc. The first thing was connectives between names Ithink than comparatives, than S-V-O structure, by process of elimination, etc. Regards, Steve Long From X99Lynx at aol.com Sat Sep 11 14:35:03 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 10:35:03 EDT Subject: Celtic p's & q's [was Re: Horthmen as 'mGall'] Message-ID: In a message dated 9/11/99 4:37:21 AM, rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu wrote: <> Just as a side note: Boy, would you have an argument for 'loss by collision' here. SL From X99Lynx at aol.com Sat Sep 11 15:29:52 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 11:29:52 EDT Subject: History and Sound Laws Message-ID: In a message dated 9/11/99 4:58:02 AM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu wrote: <> But it's the other way around. Grimm's Law was derived from evidence like "faedar'. Please recognize that "the law" proves nothing more than that the pattern exists and has predictive value. It wasn't handed down on some tablet somewhere. More importantly Grimm's Law IS an exception. The basis of all phonetic continuity is that it DOESN'T change randomly or unpredictively. The basic formula therefore is p > p, not p > f. Grimm's Law is only derivable because in the rest of IE we see directly (not reconstructed) p > p. If Germanic and Grimm's Law never existed, you would have still have continuity and a strong reason to infer common ancestry in the rest of IE. <> You should have seen how I was mauled on this list when I suggested Greek/Euskara contact. The fact is that we have very good reason to conjecture strong contacts between southern and northern Europe. And that evidence is archaeological. If you had an example of a true clash between proximate material remains and linguistic evidence - e.g., like Germanic/Polynesian in 700 BCE - I don't know what would happen. Obviously, the linguistic evidence would have to be powerful and DATABLE - which brings back the dating of material remains. (You certainly couldn't just find the usual "common ON phonemes" in Algonquin you see on the web.) I don't know how Tocharian went, but I think there you had some actual preliminary historical evidence in Asian records that would justify looking. <> I don't have my stuff with me, but if this is prehistorical, how do you get the chronology. You understand that by saying <> and then saying it actually happened later, you are demonstrating the real question. Yes, English did change it to 'shirt'. So how do you do the chronology - that the full doublet came later - if you have no documentation? How could the sound laws make 'skirt' necessary, if they also produced 'shirt?' If you have historic evidence for this, than this is not we are talking about. As far as the direction of the loan, if prehistoric, how do you know it ( and all similiar changes) went ON>OE? My bet is you have to make a historical assumption. Regards, Steve Long From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Sat Sep 11 19:31:27 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 14:31:27 -0500 Subject: Northmen as 'mGall' In-Reply-To: <004c01befb88$9a577720$c302703e@edsel> Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] [snip] I've read in various places about the Belgae invading Britain [present East Anglia, I think] shortly before the time of Caesar. Some writers speculate about a link between the Belgae and the Firbolg --although I suspect bVlg may be a recurring name in this case >><>name seems related to Welsh 'balch', Eng. 'proud' - maybe another candidate >>for the origin of 'walch', as a name for the Belgae, I mean???). >> [snip] >Urt(h)e can also be explained as 'water area', since the suffix -te has >various meanings, all related to space and time 'intervals'), and a ford in >the river Ourthe called 'Tibièwé' (possibly *tibi-a-wé´. Walloon wé >= Fr. gué, Eng. ford. Bq. ibi = ford, and in Basque [not in this case] >and Iberian doublets with and without initial t are quite common). Of course, >I cannot prove this in any way: I just present it for your information. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but isn't French gue/ from Latin vadum, which looks as if it's a borrowing from a Germanic cognate of English wade [or else a very cognate-looking cognate] [snip] > >>(One can however compare the attested -pe ending in the early continental >>Lapontic Celtic, equivalent to -que in Latin. This might actually bring >>Goidelic closer to Latin than Lapontic on the p/q scale.) But Italic also had its p/q dichotomy, as does Romance to an extent BTW: How common is this dichotomy among world languages? Is it equally common all over or just common in Western IE? The only other instance I can think is possibly Iraqi Arabic [snip] Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 [ Moderator 8- to 7-bit transcription: >Urt(h)e can also be explained as 'water area', since the suffix -te has >various meanings, all related to space and time 'intervals'), and a ford in >the river Ourthe called 'Tibi{\e}w{\'e}' (possibly *tibi-a-w{\'e}'. Walloon >w{\'e} = Fr. gu{\'e}, Eng. ford. Bq. ibi = ford, and in Basque [not in >this case] and Iberian doublets with and without initial t are quite common). >Of course, I cannot prove this in any way: I just present it for your >information. From rozfrank at hotmail.com Sat Sep 11 22:42:39 1999 From: rozfrank at hotmail.com (roslyn frank) Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 17:42:39 CDT Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (PS) Message-ID: >On Thus, 9 Sep 1999, Larry Trask wrote: >I've already addressed in an earlier posting. There is no doubt >of the former existence of * dark', though I am astonished to be >told that a modern speaker is on record as using it, since it is nowhere >recorded in the literature as a free form. >It is clear that certain recurrent Basque morphs are ancient >monosyllables. Apart from *, we have * round' for sure, and >several other candidates of varying degrees of plausibility. >And I myself suspect that Basque words with final clusters generally >result from some kind of vowel loss, though I lack the evidence to make >a strong case. I tend to agree with you here and would say that other examples ending in *<-etz> (such as *) might eventually be identified which would reinforce your case. An anecdotal and not very scientific piece of evidence (or counter-evidence depending on your point of view) is the following from a late 19th century interview conducted by an Englishmen with two (apparently) Basque-speaking bear-trainers from Biarritz. The conversation itself took place in what looks like a mixture of French and Spanish. At one point the Englishman records that they called their bear by the name "Belis" which I assume was the Englishman's rendition of "Beltz" (Black). The question is how faithful should we consider the Englishman's rendition to be of the phonology of the original utterance. Similarly, from my point of view there are problems in interpreting Aquitanian inscriptions that read BELEX(-), occasionally BELEXS- or BELS-, and concluding that * was the original form (without bringing in other evidence), keeping in mind that at that time -the time when the incriptions were produced- we have no evidence for a written tradition in Euskera, i.e., there was no standardized form of writing/transcribing Euskera -something that only came into being in the XXth century. Nor is there any particular reason to think that the individuals who carved the stones were copying from designs written by monolingual Basque speakers. Stated differently, one would assume that the stone-smiths who carved the Latin/Vulgar Latin texts which have Basque names interspersed (is that the right way to phrase it?) were probably copying their letters from a document prepared by someone familiar with Latin/Vulgar Latin. It is not clear whether that person was a Basque speaker or whether, what happened was more similar to the case cited above in which an Englishman tried to render his "impression" of what he "heard", i.e, a Basque word that he transliterated into English phonology. (And, yes, Larry, we've gone around on this one before in a different venue.) [LT] /beltz/, Well, black' is a very interesting case. Native words rarely end in consonant clusters, and this is just about the only word I can think of ending in the unusual cluster <-ltz>. The word is surely built upon the ancient element * dark', not recorded as such but present in numerous compounds and easily reconstructible. In all likelihood, the earlier form was *, as proposed by Michelena. An item BELEX(-), occasionally BELEXS- or BELS-, is frequent in the Aquitanian names and appears to represent the same word, with the last (and rarest) variant seemingly already showing the contraction. Michelena proposes that the contraction took place because the adjective was regularly postposed (as is normal in Basque), and because postposed items in Basque frequently undergo otherwise irregular reductions. (By the way, note also that is a moderately frequent element also in medieval Basque personal names.) [RF] And apparently in those of bears. Bye, Roz Frank Department of Spanish & Portuguese University of Iowa From roz-frank at uiowa.edu Sun Sep 12 02:56:23 1999 From: roz-frank at uiowa.edu (Roslyn M. Frank) Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 21:56:23 -0500 Subject: Pre-Basque lexical items In-Reply-To: Message-ID: At 04:25 PM 9/10/99 -0500, Rick Mc Callister wrote: > Is this possibly a loan from Latin related to Spanish ? >or perhaps from some hypothetical Celtic cognate to English ? >or [stretching things a bit] even from Frankish or Gethic? Isn't there any category at all for lexical items that were in the pre-IE languages of Europe and ended up surviving in Basque and one or more of the IE languages? What is said about the old verb form or primitive verb /ekarri/ "to carry"? It is primitive, as Larry has explained, because of the final /i/ as opposed to verbal constructions that create the infinitive by adding /-tu/, e.g., as in the case of /saldu/. However, /sal/ is not anymore of a free-standing morpheme in Euskera than /ekarr/ is. They differ in that the former carries /-i/ which is an infinitive marker that is no longer productive in the language. Back to the problems of this category: in most cases it is easier simply to say that Basque borrowed the word from one of its IE neighbors. Nonetheless, a form like /ekarri/ is more convincing morphologically than /saldu/ because of its more ancient suffixing element. It would suggest that if it is a loan, then it was loaned when /i/ was still a productive suffixing element in the language. And I have no idea how one would date that time-depth. On the other hand Larry's suggestion below is not devoid of merit. >[snip] >[LT] >>Possible evidence is sell', which may very well derive from >>*, the ancestor of modern price' (the change /l/ > /r/ >>between vowels is regular), as is the loss of /i/ before a suffix). On that note, I remember that Larry mentioned once on this list that /ikasi/ "to learn" was a loan word. I meant to follow that up. Can you explain to us the reasoning there? Thanks. Bye, Roz Frank ******************************************************************************* Roslyn M. Frank Professor ******************************************************************************* Department of Spanish & Portuguese University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 52242 email: fax: (319)-335-2270 From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Sun Sep 12 13:49:29 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Sun, 12 Sep 1999 09:49:29 -0400 Subject: Phonemic split In-Reply-To: <84f450e0.2509eea7@aol.com> Message-ID: On Fri, 10 Sep 1999 X99Lynx at aol.com wrote: > 1. Unless your premise is that the three obstruent distinction was there > from the very start of human speech, you are going to have to find a way > for language to acquire obstruent sets. Otherwise you follow an obvious path, > where if all 20 daughters have a total of lets say 20 "obstruents" together, > then the reconstructed parent must have had all twenty "obstruents". (Please > don't take "obstruents" literally.) > Either the "sporadic phonemic split" needed to create 3 different obstruents > out of less than 3 happened somewhere along the line, or three obstruents > have always been with us. Or a new distinction arose because the conditioning environment for some earlier alternation was neutralized by regular sound change. I went into some detail about this at the beginning of my post. > My even bigger point was, because the approach is blind to continuity, it > really can't identify more than the differences between languages. It can't > really identify "innovations" because it can't be sure that they are > innovations. It doesn't know what the original was. And because it is blind > to continuity, it can't be relied upon to see chronology properly. To the > extent you are now relying on reconstructions to fill in those holes, you are > simply reflecting the assumptions already in those reconstructions. And > there is nothing new in that. Yes; when we're talking about the unrooted tree which is the immediate product of the algorithm in question, I think all of the things you've said in this paragraph are true. Once you pick a point on the tree as the root, however, these things are no longer true. At this point, you're introducing a host of claims about what is original and what is an innovation. For example, if Italic and Celtic share some characteristic, and if the languages both higher and lower in the tree share some other value for that character, it must be case that Italo-Celtic's value for the character is an innovation and not a retention. \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From proto-language at email.msn.com Sun Sep 12 23:21:43 1999 From: proto-language at email.msn.com (Patrick C. Ryan) Date: Sun, 12 Sep 1999 23:21:43 -0000 Subject: Perfective-Imperfective Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] From: Larry Trask Sent: Friday, September 03, 1999 3:45 PM Dear Larry and Lloyd and IEists: In this posting, I will attempt to address the questions that Larry (3.9.99) has brought up concerning my posting of 29.8.99, and those brought up by Lloyd in his subsequent comments (8.9.99). [PR] Larry, for example, in his dictionary defines "perfective" as "A superordinate aspectual category involving a lack of explicit reference to the internal temporal consistency of a situation", which, I believe is most unhelpful. [LT] But it's accurate. ;-) Don't believe me? Here's Bernard Comrie, writing in his book Aspect, p. 12: "The term perfective' contrasts with imperfective', and denotes a situation viewed in its entirety, without regard to internal temporal constituency." [PR] Several points need to be made concerning Larry's overly confident statement. 1. Yes, it is obvious that you adopted Comrie's 1981 definition of '(im)perfective' in its entirety. 2. But you are far less candid than Comrie about its 'accuracy', who also says, on p. 11 of _Aspect_: "As already indicated, in discussions of aspect, as opposed to many other areas of linguistics, there is no generally accepted terminology". A. Now you may think, Larry, that because *you* have adopted Comrie's definition of '(im)perfective', and published it in your dictionary of grammatical terms, that you have certified the general acceptance of the definition. It strains my credulity - if it does not yours - to believe that all those, who in 1981, held different opinions regarding the definition of 'perfective', which *Comrie* recognized, were instantly persuaded when the oracle spoke, or you published. And, in fact, we can easily find recent evidence that *all* linguists do not subscribe to the theories of Comrie, his definitions, nor the deductions that have been made from them; see, e.g.: Vincent deCaen, "Parameters of Aspect", in the Linguist archives. 3. I have delayed responding to Larry and Lloyd pending the arrival and thorough reading of Comrie's book, _Aspect_. Unfortunately, I found what I suspected I would find. Comrie offers his odd definition of 'perfective', which in my opinion is on a par with the meaningless pseudo-definitions of the idealist philosophers, without the slightest attempt to justify it. 4. Now Larry refers to the "superordinate" nature of 'perfective/imperfective'. And Comrie's awkward definition *may* be loosely interpreted as Lloyd did when he affirmed Comrie's definition and equated it with his own term. I can interpret Comrie's Gothic definition myself: I interpret *his* "perfective" to mean: 'a verbal action characterized as a point in time'; and *his* "imperfective" to mean: 'a verbal action characterized as points in time'. But, these definitions already have familiar names: 'momentary', a term that the eminent linguist W. P. Lehmann uses but Larry has not seen fit to enter in his grammatical dictionary (why???), and since he prefers 'punctual', he obviously is unwilling to recognize anyone else's preferences; and 'durative' (Larry does include that; thank you, Larry). Now Larry does not dispute the connection between 'punctual' with the 'perfective' (in fact, he calls it a "subdivision") nor yet between 'durative' with the 'impefective' (again, he calls it a "subdivison"). What is the relevance of all this to Indo-European? W. P. Lehmann in _Proto-Indo-European Syntax_, describes the fundamental pair of forms of the IE root: CV'C, 'durative', and CVC', 'momentary' (Larry's 'punctual'). These forms are anterior to any further inflections, and therefore may be characterized as "superordinate". Now, I have no problem with the introduction of *new* terms for old concepts. I have no problem with 'punctual' for 'momentary'. Old wine in new bottles may enhance the experience. But, I could not disagree more with Lloyd's position that: "There is nothing we can do about such terminological confusions, given that particular grammatical traditions use terms in ways different from their current universal meanings." It is my impression that he basically concurs with the assignments of meaning given by Comrie and adopted by Larry. I think that is gravely wrong. I attempted to show that 'perfective' had an established meaning that differed from Comrie's and Larry's by citing a definition from Pei's older linguistic dictionary. It is a most unattractive experience to see a scholar's work dismissed *without an argument* on the basis of a cruel ad hominem attack. [This is what LT wrote] "Well, if I may be permitted an aside, I think anybody who relies on Pei's 1954 dictionary as his linguistic bible is in serious trouble. Pei's dictionary is now woefully outdated, and it wasn't exactly state of the art when he wrote it: Pei was not a linguist (practitioner of linguistics), but a polyglot who developed a side line in writing popular books about linguistics at a time when there weren't many. In one of his other books, Pei attempted a characterization of the Japanese noun. His account is exhaustively divided into four sections, entitled Case', Number', Article' and Gender' -- none of which properties is in fact possessed by the Japanese noun. Bernard Bloch, reviewing this book in Language, described it as 'an entertaining collection of miscellaneous observations, many of them true'. This is an unbeatable succinct summary of Pei's linguistic efforts." [PR continues] If any of you who do not know Larry's style was actually looking for an argument that would show nicely how Pei's definition of 'perfective' ("a verbal aspect expressing a non-habitual or one-time action, or an action considered from the point of view of its completion") was inferior to Comrie's, cited above, you would, of course, have been disappointed. But even Larry's ad hominem's against Pei are not really valid. If Pei were a greengrocer rather than a polyglot, that origin would not prevent him from citing a valid definition of 'perfective'. Now, I wonder how many of the readers of this list believe that Pei - regardless of what he was or was not - personally concocted *all* the definitions in his dictionary. Is it perhaps likelier that he utilized definitions that were current among linguists at the time of his writing? Larry, in contrast to Comrie, who is much more open about disagreement, perhaps is unaware that linguists disagree with him and Comrie though Comrie is not. Next, Larry heaped ridicule on a work by Pei on Japanese. The question of whether Pei was right or wrong in his analysis of Japanese has no bearing whatsoever on the question of whether he selected a definition of 'perfective' that was current in his day, let alone whether they or he were right or wrong in defining it so, Of course, the implication is that Pei is an inferior scholar, firstly; and then secondly, that his definitions are passe. Well, the Web usually provides up-to-date information if any source does, and the new Merriam-Webster dictionary had this to say: Main Entry: per·fec·tive Pronunciation: p&r-'fek-tiv also 'p&r-fik- Function: adjective Date: 1596 1 archaic a : tending to make perfect b : becoming better 2 : expressing action as complete or as implying the notion of completion, conclusion, or result [ Moderator's 8- to 7-bit transcription: Main Entry: per{\cdot}fec{\cdot}tive \cdot is the TeX command to produce a dot centered on the line --rma ] Well, of course, the writers of dictionaries only record what they consider to be usage; and, horribile dictu, they are not even (practicing) linguists. So, regardless of the boundless light that Comrie has shed on the concept of 'perfective', apparently, unless the scholars at MW are incompetent as well as non-linguists, Pei's definition is not far from what many of us non-practicing linguists and other ignoramuses are employing today. And, of course, the AHD, which has some pretentions of being linguistically oriented, defines it as: "perfective aspect. An aspect of verbs that expresses a completed action as distinct from a continuing or not necessarily completed action". Now, if these dictionaries were arrogantly imposing their ideas of what 'perfective' *should be* on a gullible readership, that would be a serious matter. But that is not what they are doing! They are recording, accurately or inaccurately, *USAGE*. Now I wrote previously: As grammarians of those languages in which the perfective aspect is prominent know, the essence of the perfective is "one which describes an action which has been or will be definitely completed" (The Russian Verb, Nevill Forbes, Oxford, 1961). This usage, I have showed, is old and but also current among non-Comrie/Trask adherents, and for anyone who stops for one moment to consider what 'perfectum' acually means ('completed'), it is natural and logical and appropriate. To use it in another way is unjustified under any circumstances, and the constant modish redefinition of terms is part of the problem in linguistics today. No one knows for sure what the hell you are talking about! [LR responded] But, among Russianists, the term perfective' is used in a somewhat distinctive way to denote a formal distinction which is regularly made in that language. I might usefully have noted this in my dictionary, but unfortunately I wrote the book within a severe length limit, and I was obliged to omit a number of things I might have preferred to include. Anyway, I am not sure that Forbes's characterization of the Russian perfective is entirely accurate, since it does not match what I have read elsewhere. But I'm not entitled to an opinion here. Maybe somebody else on the list can comment. [PR] Notice the subtle ad hominem! Forbes grammar, which has been a respected standard for many years, is slyly slighted. [LT continued] Forbes, and Ryan, appear to be confusing *perfective* aspect with *completive* aspect -- which is not the same thing. [PR] It is perhaps not surprising that I did not employ in my answers the term "*completive* since it nowhere appears in Larry's dictionary due to severe length limits, no doubt, And there is a better reason for its non-inclusion: it was not needed then, and it is not needed now. The preserved meaning of 'perfective' (not Comrie's re-definition) perfectly (pun!) covers it. [LT added] perfective = no internal structure completive = completion [PR] However illuminating these definitions might be thought to be ("completive = completion"; who could have a problem with that?), Larry's short definition for 'perfective', i.e. 'no internal structure', is simply incredible. There is no possible verbal action which does not have 'internal structure' *in this universe*! [LT continued] Of course, a perfective often does denote a completed action, and hence the confusion, but it need not do so and often does not. If I write Wallace Stevens lived in Hartford', then the form is perfective, but there is this time no suggestion of completion. Indeed, it's not even clear to me what completion' might denote in this context, since living in a place is an atelic activity, and completion is surely only relevant to telic activities. [PR responds] I sometimes wonder if Larry reasons in this way or merely argues in this way. The sentence 'Wallace Stevens lived in Hartford' is *not* perfective since, as Larry correctly notes, only telic activities can be completed or considered to be in the process of completion. What anyone who speaks English without wishing to impose a pre-defined and artificial interpretation on it would understand was that Wallace lived in Hartford for some indefinite or understood or immaterial period of time, which makes it 'durative'; and I would be willing to wager that his life there had some "internal structure". [PR continued] Larry writes that the perfective aspect "is chiefly expressed by the simple past-tense form", [LT interjected] In *English*, and in the past tense. [PR continued] and then offers the example "The hamster climbed up behind the bookcase." But he obviously does not realize that the "up" is what, in this case, makes the verb of perfective aspect. [LT responded] No. This is a misunderstanding. At most, that up' indicates completion, not perfectivity. The hamster climbed the curtain' is just as perfective as The hamster climbed up the curtain', though you may feel that the second version implies completeness more strongly than the first. [PR comments] Yes, it is a misunderstanding on your part and Comrie's of what the 'perfective' means based on its etymology and previous and continuing usage. What you and Comrie choose to call 'imperfective' is simply 'durative'; and what you both call 'perfective', already has a name: 'punctual' or 'momentary'. The sentence Larry offered can be variously interpreted according to the context; without a context, it cannot be definitively interpreted : 'After the hamster climbed up behind the bookcase, I came into the room.' Obviously, here the commonest interpretation will be 'punctual' or 'momentary' AND 'perfective.' 'The hamster climbed up behind the bookcase while I came into the room.' Here, the commonest interpretation will be 'durative' BUT STILL 'perfective'. [PR gave some further erxamples] "The hamster (has) climbed up behind the bookcase." "The hamster climbs up behind the bookcase." "The hamster will climb up behind the bookcase." All above are equally "perfective". "The hamster (has) climbed behind the bookcase." "The hamster climbs behind the bookcase." "The hamster will climb behind the bookcase." All above are equally "imperfective", or would normally be construed so. [LT objected] No; I can't agree. [PR responded to this laconic objection] I am sure any of our list-members who command Russian will subscribe to this basic division. [LT objected] But the facts of Russian are rather different from the facts of English, and both languages are different from other languages. For linguists, perfective' is an aspectual category which may or may not be overtly marked in a given language, by some means or other. What Russian does, or what English does, is interesting, but it is not the alpha and omega of the issue. [PR responds] See how cleverly Larry shifts the question to a strawman issue. I am not asserting that the "facts of Russian are (not) different from the facts of English". Anyone who did would be simply ignorant. And another strawman: I am not asserting that the 'perfective', however it may be defined, is overtly marked in any given language. The alpha and omega of the issue is rather: is there a concept which, marked or not, is discernible in some fashion, and which recognizes a difference between durative and punctual/momentary verbal activity? And the answer to that is resoundingly "Yes". And for the very simplest of reasons. In discourse, it has been *universally* found to be useful to discriminate between a situation in which an action which precedes or follows another action (punctual/momentary), and a situation in which an action is simultaneous with another action (durative). A language-speaker who was incapable of making this distinction when clarity required it would be linguistically developmentally disadvantaged. Is there any such language? NO! Now I have omitted the mini-discussion regarding 'reflexive' because this posting is already too long. I will be glad to discuss its merits or lack of merit at some subsequent time if there is any further interest. [LT continued] No. While possibly traditional, the confusion between perfective and completive is harmful and not to be propagated. [PR interjects] And this is so revealing and sad! Read again what Larry wrote above and see if you are not similarly saddened. Well, there is always the possibility of a Linguistic Inquisition. [LT continued] Many of our predecessors also maintained that English nouns have five or six cases, but they were wrong, and there can be no justification for propagating their confusion between case-marking and grammatical relations. [PR] Larry is, of course, free to assume that only his ideas have validity however unattractive that position may be. What he will never admit is that his choices (Comrie, etc.) are *choices*, and not glimpses of the Eternal Truth that has been denied all those of us who disagree with him and his *choices*. IMHO, there is a case (pun!) to be made for more than two cases in English singular nouns based on their grammatical relations. Of course, Larry prefers to acknowledge only as a case that which has been overtly marked. This is not too objectionable until one realizes that there are languages other than English which might be consulted. For example, hardly anyone would question that IE had an accusative case, which is frequently marked. However, in IE neuter nouns have one form for nominative and accusative. If we follow the logic applied to English nouns, should we say that IE neuter nouns had no accusative; or that IE neuter nouns had no nominative? Or should we say that, in neuter nouns, the nominative and accusative cases have the same marking; and, applied to English, that the nominative and accusative cases of the noun have the same marking (0)? I am also omitting the discussion of 'definiteness', which I will also be glad to take up later. Finally (thank God, they say), I wish to address a point made by Lloyd. [LA wrote] It is a well known fact among specialists in verbal aspect (of which I am one, have done extensive typology of verbal aspect) that what is CALLED "Perfective" in the grammatical tradition of a particular language may or may not bear any relation to what is apparently the same term intended in its universal sense. In the case of Russian, the so-called "perfectives" are, just as Larry Trask says, normally telic completives, rather than being typical perfectives. Thus the following sentence is approximately true: Russian "Perfectives" are not perfectives. [PR responds] I think it is unpardonable for the possibility to exist that "what is CALLED 'Perfective' in the grammatical tradition of a particular language . . . may not bear any relation to what is apparently the same term intended in its universal sense." Of what conceivable value is it to take a term, 'perfective', which had, and apparently still continues to have a definition at odds which the "universal" one, and apply it to a new category? If there is a category which may or may not subsume the given traditional perfectives, and no word existed for it, a word should have been invented or coined! But, in fact, there is a happy conclusion to all this. There is no need to coin a word for the basal distinction that Comrie and Larry seek to make with the misapplication and distortion of the terms 'imperfective' and 'perfective'. Terms already exist: 'durative' and 'punctual/momentary'. And I challenge Trask or anyone else to show me and the readers of this list an instance of Comrie's and Larry's 'perfective/imperfective' that cannot be related to these concepts. 'Perfective' and 'imperfective' should be re-defined and restored to their traditional meanings. While Larry may scoff at Pei, dictionaries (after all, not written by linguists), I dare him to scoff at W. P. Lehmann, who, in his book on Proto-Indo-European synatx, *clearly* employs 'perfective' in the traditional sense, a category of IE which is indicated by the "perfect" endings. Pat From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 13 08:09:49 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999 09:09:49 +0100 Subject: Plosive-liquid clusters in euskara borrowed from IE? In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Fri, 10 Sep 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: [on Basque head' and color'] > I don't see anything at all unreasonable about your position. I > fully agree that the meaning you have cited above should not be used > in a analsysis of basque phonology. Nor is that inconsistent with my > statement that if we have reliable evidence about the history of the > word it should be used in preparing these lists. However, Azkue > reports a 2nd meaning of it a "river fish" from Zuberoa and its use > as a variant of from Bizkaia. Perhaps that may justify > still including the word in the list - what do you think? Well, the strictly Zuberoan word gudgeon' is hardly likely to be the same word as the putative color'. I would immediately suspect a loan from Gascon or Bearnais, but I lack the resources to pursue this in my office. Azkue cites as a local Bizkaian name for a kind of sea snail. Again, I don't see how this can be related to . Now, Azkue *does* try to relate Hervas's to the Bizkaian word faded, washed out'. But this can't be right. There is no trace of evidence in Basque for a privative suffix of the form *<-ul>, or indeed for a suffix of this form at all. In fact, has precisely the form of an expressive adjective denoting a defect. Such adjectives are found all over the country, though any given one is generally confined to a small area. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 13 09:18:51 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999 10:18:51 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (fwd) In-Reply-To: <19990910200629.74039.qmail@hotmail.com> Message-ID: On Fri, 10 Sep 1999, roslyn frank wrote: > [LT] >> Hualde has since developed his position in an article. In fact, he does >> not challenge Michelena's reconstructed phoneme system at all. Rather, >> he proposes to assign different phonetic features to the proto-phonemes. >> In particular, while he agrees with Michelena that Pre-Basque had no >> voicing contrasts in word-initial plosives, he believes that the voicing >> of initial plosives was facultative, rather than phonetically >> consistent. > Could you explain a bit more what is meant by the term "facultative" as > opposed to "phonetically consistent" by giving a few examples? Well, facultative variation is free variation: a speaker may choose either variant freely, and it makes no difference. Michelena's reconstructed Pre-Basque plosive system is */(p) t k b d g/, where the symbols should not be taken too literally: they are chosen to represent the usual modern reflexes of the segments. (Note that */p/ was rare at best.) The two series, "fortis" */p t k/ and "lenis" */b d g/, contrasted only word-medially and mostly only intervocalically. Elsewhere the contrast was neutralized, and word-initially only the lenis plosives appeared. In M's view, lenis */b d g/ have generally developed into modern /b d g/, and hence ancient words generally do not begin with any of /p t k/ (from */p t k/), unless some identifiable process has intervened to bring about such a result. But Hualde's view is that word-initial */b d g/ were facultatively voiced: that is, speakers sometimes realized them as voiced [b d g], but at other times as voiceless [p t k], in an indifferent manner. So, take Latin PACE(M) peace', which appears in modern Basque both as and as . M's view is that the word was originally borrowed only as *, and that results from later re-borrowing or reshaping under continuing Romance influence. Hualde, in contrast, assumes that the original Pre-Basque * was pronounced indifferently as [bake] or as [pake], leading to the observed variants. I myself follow Michelena here, but note that, in any case, Hualde's interpretation has no consequences for the Pre-Basque phoneme system, but only for the phonetic realizations of the phonemes. >> And one' is pretty clearly derived from earlier *. > This is an example that I've never fully understood. There is no > attested evidence, to my knowledge, for any form like * and > quite obviously it's a reconstruction. It it not, therefore, the > reconstruction that eliminates this item from consideration as a > monosyllabic parent-stem? It is, but we must prefer reconstructed forms to modern ones when we have the evidence to support the reconstructions. In this case, we have the well-supported observation that final plosives in lexical items are almost always secondary in Basque (probably absolutely always), and we have the evidence of words like one apiece' and nine' (< *), which appear to contain our * as their first element, though with vowel assimilation. [on the bisyllabic status of cow' and once'] > Again, doesn't the logic of this statement rest on the > presupposition (within the reconstruction) that the aspirating > northern dialects are the original ones, i.e., the ones showing us > the "mother" forms (at least for this type of item) and the > monosyllabic unaspirated southern variants the "daughter" forms? In > other words are there not two choices: 1) to assume that the "older" > form was monosyllabic and that the aspirated variants are > innovations and, hence, came from a suprasegmental element, namely, > aspiration, which was not found in the phonological system of the > "older-parent"; or 2) as you have reconstructed it, to assume that > the "older" form was bisyllabic and that the non-aspirated variants > are innovations. > Could you explain the rationale for choosing 2 over 1, particularly > since we have no other sources for reconstructing earlier stages of > Euskera than the information coded into the dialects themselves? > Here I refer to the fact that the Basque reconstructions cannot draw > on comparative data from other members of a larger language family, > e.g., as in the case of IE studies. True, but we can perform internal reconstruction, and we can also perform comparative reconstruction when the several dialects exhibit systematic differences. The evidence for the antiquity of the aspiration in Basque is large and of various kinds. Here I can only briefly make a couple of points. First, it is linguistically unusual and unnatural to create new syllables in the middle of a word. Hence northern versus southern points clearly to the conservative nature of . Second, we have minimal pairs in the aspirating dialects, like six' and boy, servant'. If we took * as the ancestral form in both cases, we would have no principled basis for explaining the modern contrast. It appears that we must reconstruct two Pre-Basque forms with differing numbers of syllables, with the contrast surviving in the north but lost in the south after the loss of the aspiration. Third, aspiration survives today in the north. It was also very prominent in the west, in Bizkaia and Araba, during the Middle Ages, as our written records show. For the central dialects, there is no direct attestation of any aspiration. By far the most parsimonious scenario is a Pre-Basque aspiration in all varieties, followed by early loss in the center, much later loss in the west, and retention down to today in the north. Fourth, we have good evidence that ancient Aquitanian was an ancestral form of Basque -- and the written aspiration is pervasive in the Aquitanian materials. > You end your discussion above by adding "with good reason". Could you > elaborate? I've deleted the passage, and now I can't remember just what the context was. But all of Michelena's conclusions are based upon a magisterial scrutiny of the evidence, presented at great length in his 600-page book Fonetica Historica Vasca and elsewhere. > I am curious because your position (see below) concerning > word-initial /h/ is that it is of suprasegmental origin, although > it, too, is considered primarily a northern characteristic if I am > not mistaken. Today, the aspiration is confined to the northern varieties, apart from a few words borrowed from northern varieties into varieties just south of the Pyrenees. But the historical evidence shows that this was not always so. [on Pre-Basque reconstructions with [h] ] > Does it follow, therefore, that we could also write as > * or as *? Yes. Michelena writes *, and this is customary among Vasconists. But there's no reason we couldn't write *, if we preferred -- so long as we are consistent. > Keep in mind, I'm not trying to support any particular > interpretation here, rather I'm attempting to understand the logical > process involved in constructing an argument that gives priority to > forms found in one dialect over those found in another. Linguistic naturalness, comparative evidence, and written records. > Specifically, I am interested in examining the kinds of > argumentation utilized when the comparison in question is intended > to lead to a reconstruction where no parent-form of the language is > available (no triangulation) as is the case at hand. Not quite so. Bear in mind that comparative reconstruction *can* be done in Basque when the several dialects differ in a systematic manner. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 13 09:24:02 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999 10:24:02 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque lexical items In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Fri, 10 Sep 1999, Rick Mc Callister wrote: > Is this possibly a loan from Latin related to Spanish ? > or perhaps from some hypothetical Celtic cognate to English ? > or [stretching things a bit] even from Frankish or Gethic? > [snip] >> Possible evidence is sell', which may very well derive from >> *, the ancestor of modern price' (the change /l/ > /r/ >> between vowels is regular), as is the loss of /i/ before a suffix). Exactly this has been proposed several times. But there is no certain instance of a Germanic loan into Basque, and it is not clear that Basque has ever been in direct contact with a Germanic language. The Visigoths were there for a while, but it is far from certain that the Visigoths were still speaking Gothic by the time the Basques met them. Frankish loans into Basque exist, but seem always to enter via Gallo-Romance, and not directly. No decent Celtic source appears to be available. So, maybe, but there exists no supporting evidence. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 13 10:57:55 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999 11:57:55 +0100 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: <3e6f4755.2509f47b@aol.com> Message-ID: On Fri, 10 Sep 1999 X99Lynx at aol.com wrote: > In a message dated 9/8/99 4:06:14 AM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu wrote: > < and Arabic as counterexamples to that last assertion. Part of the > problem is in defining what we mean by a "living language". >> In linguistics, we usually define living language' as language currently existing as a mother tongue'. Even this doesn't get rid of all the problems, but it does exclude things like Latin, Sanskrit and classical Arabic. In this sense, a language is not living merely because it is in use. Of course, this definition of living language' may not be suitable for all purposes, but I think it *is* appropriate for some purposes. > When Larry Trask made the assertion that a parent cannot co-exist with a > daughter, I tried to avoid it by renaming the narrow PIE language/proto > languages "Celtic1....Celtic6." To avoid the terminology issue. But others have already pointed out the great difficulty with this. > Somehow this has turned into a dialogue about the eternal changeability of > language. Which is irrelevant. No; I don't think so. The fact that living languages are constantly changing is central here, and trying to ignore it leads at once into absurdities. > Here's why: > How long did Old Norse stay Old Norse? This is purely a matter of definition and convenience, not a matter of linguistic reality. > How long has Modern English stayed Modern English? Same thing. Labels like Old English', Middle English', Early Modern English' and Modern English' are arbitrary conveniences only. Nothing happened in 1700 to turn Early Modern English into Modern English. > What's the longest a "language" can stay the same language? One day? ;-) Since a language is always changing, it must be different today from the way it was yesterday. Not very different, of course, but different. > Can it stay the same "language" for a hundred years? Two hundred years? No, it can't stay literally the same, but it can change sufficiently little in that time that we have no reason to refrain from giving it the same name. In fact, it doesn't even have to change so little. We are happy to apply the label Greek' to the language of Pericles and to the language of an Athenian taxi-driver, but it doesn't follow that Greek has "remained the same language". > Does anyone have an answer? Can a "language" stay the same > "language" for 400 years? Let's assume that's the outside margin. There can be no answer until you explain what you mean by "the same language". In the last 400 years, Icelandic has changed rather little, English has changed much more, and some other languages may have changed dramatically. > Now, how long does it take for a dialect to develop in that parent > and turn into a different language? There can be no principled answer, since the distinction between a dialect' and a language' is not a principled one, but rather a linguistically arbitrary one based largely on social, political and educational factors. > Anybody who has used "the perpetual changeability of language" buzz > phrase can put down their hands. Your answer is obvious - in no > time flat. Certainly less than 400 years. It isn't a "buzz phrase": it's a fundamental truth. You can't wave away the central fact of ceaseless language change as though it were of no relevance to the discussion. > If a language can definitionally stay the same language for 400 > years, and if a daughter can develop in last than 400 years, then > its obvious. A daughter can be in existence while the parent is > alive and well. No; this doesn't follow. Let's take a real case. In the 17th century, Dutch was introduced into South Africa by settlers. Since then, the Dutch spoken in South Africa has, of course, steadily diverged from European Dutch -- or, to put it another way, European Dutch has steadily diverged from African Dutch. Now, until the 1920s (I think it was), African Dutch, commonly called Cape Dutch', was generally regarded as a dialect of Dutch. But then perceptions changed: Cape Dutch was officially named Afrikaans', and it began to be generally regarded as a distinct language. Today Afrikaans has its own distinct standard form, and everybody regards it as a separate language. But Dutch and Afrikaans are still largely mutually intelligible, though each sounds very strange to speakers of the other, and there are some lexical differences which impede communication. But the new autonomous status of Afrikaans results from a political decision, and not from any linguistic events. Nothing happened in 1925 to convert Afrikaans from a Dutch dialect to a separate language, except for a political decision that this should become so. It is probably safe to say that modern Afrikaans is rather more different from 17th-century Dutch than is modern standard Dutch. But neither modern variety is identical to 17th-century Dutch. Moreover, 17th-century Dutch was itself not uniform. Today the varieties of Dutch spoken in West Flanders and in northern France are not at all mutually comprehensible with standard Dutch, and I have no reason to suppose that things were any different in the 17th century. For political reasons, though, all these are regarded as varieties of a single language, Dutch. But it need not be like that, and, for a while, it wasn't. For some time the Dutch-speakers in Belgium took the view that they spoke something called Flemish', a different language from Dutch. But, some years ago, they abandoned this idea, and they now agree that they speak Dutch. > Here's another example: When was the last exact date Latin was a > "living" language, a "natural" language, a "first language? Pick > any date. January 17, 601 AD. Let's say the last native speaker > died that day. Impossible. There has never been a "last native speaker" of Latin. The language has millions of native speakers today. But, because of accumulated changes, the modern varieties are so different from the language of the Romans, and from one another, that we no longer find it convenient to call them Latin'. Of course, if we wanted to, we could speak of Paris Latin', Barcelona Latin', and so on, but no one has seen any point in this. > What language was everyone else speaking in the meantime? Or did > they all switch to Romance daughter languages the next day? This is a non-question. There was no date on which Latin disappeared and was replaced by Romance. The linguistic division between spoken Latin' and Romance' is a purely arbitrary one, and any date assigned to it is no more than a matter of taxonomic convenience. > (You can't really call those daughters dialects at that point, > because if a dialect of Latin survived, then Latin survived.) But "dialects of Latin" survive today! They just aren't very similar to the Latin you would have heard in the streets of Rome 2000 years ago. > Common sense says that Latin as a native language would have had to > co-exist with vernacular languages that lived on after it died. No, "common sense" says nothing of the sort. This view requires that some varieties of Latin would have had to develop into entirely distinct languages while other varieties remained entirely unchanged -- an impossibility. In fact, written Latin continued for many centuries to coexist with a large number of Romance varieties, but that's a separate point. > Or those vernacular languages would have had to come out of nowhere > the day Latin died. No. Such bizarre conclusions arise from the use of an inappropriate model, one involving an impossible reification of the notion language'. > Common sense says parent and daughter can co-exist. Nope. > Once again, I believe Larry Trask was referring to a methodological > assumption. Though I don't know the basis of it. If a language splits into two or more regional varieties which become so distinct that we must count them as distinct languages, then both are different from their common ancestor. One may be more conservative than the other, but both are different, and there is no principled basis for regarding just one of them as identical to that ancestor. In the Dutch/Afrikaans case, we find it convenient to apply the label Dutch' both to the 17th-century ancestor and to the modern language of the Netherlands and Belgium, while we no longer find it convenient to apply the same label to Afrikaans -- though we did until recently, and we could do so again if the political, social and educational facts changed. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From nicholas.widdows at traceplc.co.uk Mon Sep 13 16:30:31 1999 From: nicholas.widdows at traceplc.co.uk (Nicholas Widdows) Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999 17:30:31 +0100 Subject: Typological inference Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] >> I also think one striking thing about the "[typological] approaches" >> described is their strength in helping those who must identify language- >> types and structure in undeciphered text, i.e., "at ground zero." > If a text is undeciphered, it is unclear to me how any amount of typological > information could be put to use. Typology makes reference to concepts such > as "noun", "verb", "adjective", "subject", "object", and so on, which cannot > be applied to an undeciphered text. Perhaps you mean something other than > "undeciphered"? I would have thought the approaches used to start on Linear B (positing that two glyphs had the same consonant and had a m./f. vowel alternation) and cuneiform Persian (matching a guessed X son of-Y to Y son of-Z) could in fact yield some grammatical and even typological information for a completely unknown language, if you were lucky; then give clues to meaning, if very lucky. If you had a text with phrases such as GENEK NIBAKOT and ZUQUD NIBAKOT and GENEK BI ZUQUD NIBAKUR and the element BI and the endings -OT and -UR recurred often, you'd suspect you had "and" and singular and plural concord. (If you had BI joining more than two elements that'd rule out sentence 3 being a passive.) If the common order was NIBAKOT GENEK etc. then you'd suspect SVO. If you found either pattern GENEK DEVKULOT ZUQUDU or GENEKA DEVKULOT ZUQUD recurring, you could infer accusative or ergative. If you had NUKIGAP NULEVE NUZUQ and RATAG RAFUNA RAQOB without the guessed coordinator BI then you'd guess you had a noun and its adjectives. If first Genek then Zuqud then others appeared in a series of formulae of succeeding date, you could guess the verb meant "succeeded" rather than "slew"; you could get "son" and a genitive just from the formula;... well, it's a start. Nicholas Widdows From alderson at netcom.com Mon Sep 13 22:05:09 1999 From: alderson at netcom.com (Richard M. Alderson III) Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999 15:05:09 -0700 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (Celtic as PIE) In-Reply-To: (X99Lynx@aol.com) Message-ID: On 10 Sep 1999, Steve Long wrote: >I don't believe the approach behind the Stammbaum can contradict the Celtic = >PIE assumption. Not by itself. You do have to bring in the IE canon to do >that. But the existence of the three dorsal obstruents series in PIE is a >reconstruction. So why bring it in? It's not part of the protocol. Please >don't give this approach eyes where it's blind. That will not allow us to see >what it is really capable of doing. I finally understand the point you are trying to make, but it is based on a complete misunderstanding of the purpose and mechanism of the tree presented here by Mr. Crist. The entirety of the tree is based on reconstructions as you are using the term here, to see whether a mechanistic examination of all those reconstructions could provide insights into relative chronologies of the innovations which separate the different sub-families of Indo-European, similar to impressionis- tic trees drawn by Indo-Europeanists after a visual inspection of the data ever since August Schleicher in the late 1850's. You appear to want it to be an algorithmic examination of the raw data by a computer to see whether or not the machine could obtain the same results as 200 years of human study; it was not, nor could it be, given the state of the art in artificial intelligence (an area to which I devoted several years study). This explains why Mr. Crist, you, and I have been talking at cross-purposes: We were answering a question you were not asking, our answers based on knowing what the tree represented. Rich Alderson From alderson at netcom.com Mon Sep 13 22:48:34 1999 From: alderson at netcom.com (Richard M. Alderson III) Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999 15:48:34 -0700 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (the stem) In-Reply-To: <53370641.250a608d@aol.com> (X99Lynx@aol.com) Message-ID: On 10 Sep 1999, Steve Long wrote: >But I'm pretty sure (I may be wrong) that in the Stammbaum the 'innovations' >considered always attach to the node or branch. That was the way it was >described in the first posts on all this - with the branch representing the >"unshared innovation." Also I don't think the Stammbaum approach can >recognize anything as sophisticated as changing verb systems. Based on >what's been said so far, at least. You have misunderstood the word "branch" in this context; a better description of what is examined in the tree is that each *fork* represents a pair of sets of innovations, with a group of dialects on one side of the fork showing one set and dialects on the other side showing the other set. It may be the case that one set in each pair is null, but it is not necessary that it always be the "left" set (in the representation of the tree presented in this list). That is to say, "branch" above is the abstract verbal noun from the denomina- tive verb "branch" rather than the noun "branch" on which the verb is built. Rich Alderson From ECOLING at aol.com Tue Sep 14 05:01:40 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999 01:01:40 EDT Subject: Punctual, treated as perfective Message-ID: Responding to Pat's note received today: "Punctual" (as Pat notes) is indeed a subdivision, or special case of, the perfective, exactly as Larry Trask said; or as I would prefer to treat it, the punctual (applied to real-world events) is a category of events (and may be a grammatically marked category) which is usually treated as a perfective, if a language has a perfective / imperfective distinction. The "punctual" is not in my view equivalent to "treated as an indivisible unit" (as Pat thought). It is rather a term appropriate to apply to a special kind of event, a kind of event which in an aspectual system is almost always treated as a perfective. It is crucial to carefully keep the difference between EVENTS (as they actually are in reality) and ASPECTUAL REFERENCES (which reflect how they are conceived by speakers). Aspectual references are partly independent of any real-world nature of events, they are partly free choices made by the speaker. *** In addition, there is a confusion between grammatical traditions of particular languages and the tradition of universal definitions of ideal grammatical categories. When referring to grammatical traditions of particular languages, we must talk about "uses" of the term "Perfective" for a grammatical category, rather than definitions (the definitions are secondary to the actual usages). There is no single referent for the following. "the traditional uses of "Perfective" " There are many conflicting traditional uses of grammatical categories which may all be called "Perfective" or which may be called by some other term. There is not only one. What they are called may have only the most indirect relation to the semantic ranges they cover in actually usage. Though usually there is a partial relation. If on the other hand we are speaking in a single tradition of universal definitions of ideal grammatical categories, then the following reference can make sense: "the traditional definition of "perfective" " But then we must be careful NOT to include as examples of the "perfective" any particular grammatical category of a particular language, certainly not merely because the tradition of THAT language calls it "Perfective". FIRST we must demonstrate that the range of usage of that category in that language are such as to justify it as fitting under the term "perfective" of the universal tradition. The Russian telic completives are not the same kind of category as the universal category of "perfectives". They do not cover the same semantic ranges, though they do have a statistical correlation, completives being more frequently treated from a "perfective" point of view. Pat's example: >'Santa Claus was climbing up the chimney.' >This verb in this sentence I consider to be perfective and durative. It >describes a action with a definite goal which certainly does not restrict >itself to single point of time. works with the universal definition of "perfective" if we substitute "telic completive" for "perfective" and possibly "imperfective" for "durative". the sentence does express a telic completive (aiming to climb up the chimney), but it is regarded as an extended space within which other events may occur, hence an imperfective. It normally is used only when referring to a separate event within it, that separate event usually a perfective: 'Santa Claus was climbing up the chimney when someone lit a fire' This is a typical imperfective within whose time span occurs an event TREATED AS a perfective. Russian actually has this combination in a typical telic completive verb (marked by the prefix for the attainment of goal) in a rare imperfective form (marked by a suffix most often -ivat', -yvat' ). Best wishes, Lloyd Anderson From ECOLING at aol.com Tue Sep 14 05:01:38 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999 01:01:38 EDT Subject: Multilateral Comparison mis-evaluated Message-ID: Larry Trask writes, in a message concerning retained info vs. spurious proposed cognates in Multilateral Comparison: >Anyway, the point is *not* to avoid missing any valid cognates -- a >pointless and futile enterprise, in my view. The point is to find >sufficient positive evidence for relatedness, over and above chance >resemblances, that the null hypothesis of unrelatedness cannot be >maintained. That may be Trask's claim about "the point" to him! Actually, the legitimate point of Multilateral Comparison is NEITHER OF THE ABOVE. It's legitimate use is to be a heuristic for selecting which sets of languages are MORE LIKELY to be fields for fruitful study of deep relationships than others. Or put another way, starting from any particular language or known family, what are the MORE LIKELY links of that language or family to other languages or families. Not proven, just more likely as compared to less likely. Trask agreed with the possible value of Multilateral Comparison as a heuristic; so it is simply incomprehensible to me that he then insists on ONLY evaluating it as some kind of proof of relatedness passing some threshhold of strength of proof. THAT task is for methods other than Multilateral Comparison, in Trask's view. Specifically the Comparative Method, Internal Reconstruction, and others. Trask has his own preferences, but others need not choose the same preferences. It is not immoral to want to work on pioneering edges, recognizing that one can be less certain of one's results, whether overviews or details, that one will make perhaps more errors, and surely a different kind of errors (since those who work within more limited domains may be working under a framework with unquestioned false assumptions which make many of their results wrong, at least in some detail, or worse). Trask's statement quoted above is thus not what it claims to be or appears to be. It is rather a circular expression of the kind of work Trask prefers to do, but expressed as if other choices are not legitimate, other choices which are KNOWN to be necessary for the progress of science. Heuristics are simply unavoidable. Trask, like Greenberg, misstates what his logic can legitimately lead him to. Given what Trask has said elsewhere, his statement quoted above would follow IF one took as an assumption that only proof and not heuristics could be "the point". Each of those can be "the point" in some contexts, there is no justification for trying to throw out either of them. Therefore, the application to Multilateral Comparison of a "test" (criterion of sufficiency for "proof") which is not appropriate to a heuristic, when Trask acknowledges that Multilateral Comparison might be a useful heuristic, is a form of discourse which seriously misstates what Multilateral Comparison can do. Use a test which evaluates it as a heuristic, and include ALL cases of its use, including its use for Northern Eurasia under Catherine the Great, and its use in pioneering stages of many language families, and the conclusion will be different. (This comparison with Greenberg is not intended to infuriate Trask, it is merely to say that we should use the results of the work of each person and of each tool of analysis for what they are most useful for, and that will of course be for different purposes in the cases of different persons. That is completely obvious to me. It constantly boggles my mind that eminent academics somehow so often forget this obligation of respect to the rest of society.) I don't consider it honorable to apply an inappropriate "test" to something, when one has oneself said it is not a tool of the kind for which such a test would be appropriate. Trask has said MC cannot provide "proof" of the kind CM can. And he has said it can be a heuristic. Then he should apply tests to it which are appropriate to heuristics. Trask at least give the appearance (very strongly so) of wanting to deny any role for Multilateral Comparison, by focusing attention only on abuses of it, instead of focusing on where it can be useful. Trask is of course welcome to choose his own preferred domains and tools of work. But he should not try to deny the usefulness within their own domains of effectiveness (as proven by the cases mentioned above) of other tools which he himself simply does not want to use, or to admit that he uses (since I firmly believe Trask could not have become so competent and successful without using heuristics himself). Almost by definition, Multilateral Comparison applied to a larger number of languages or language families cannot be as detailed or deep a study as can the Comparative Method when applied to a smaller number of languages or language families. So what? That does not mean we are best served by using only ONE of these two approaches. No more than by never using any other heuristic, or never using any other method of detailed analysis of evidence. Sincerely Lloyd Anderson Ecological Linguistics From ECOLING at aol.com Tue Sep 14 05:01:49 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999 01:01:49 EDT Subject: Typology before decipherment? Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] Rich Alderson wrote in reply to Steve Long: >If a text is undeciphered, it is unclear to me how any amount of typological >information could be put to use. Typology makes reference to concepts such as >"noun", "verb", "adjective", "subject", "object", and so on, which cannot be >applied to an undeciphered text. Perhaps you mean something other than >"undeciphered"? There are indeed situations in which typology is used before successful decipherment. I suspect Chadwick used it for Linear B. But a case I am more recently aware of is Indus Valley, which is not generally regarded as deciphered (no disrespect intended towards anyone). Like other scripts with what Peter Daniels at least has called "virtual bilinguals", one can look for indications of numeral systems. Having recognized numerals with some plausibility, one can then perhaps correlate plural vs. dual vs. singular as shown by the numerals with changes in the morphology of suffixes on words near the numerals, words which might be nouns counted by those numerals. Will the morphemes correlating with singular vs. plural be the very last morphemes in those words? Or will they occupy the next-last slot (allowing for different cases)? Or what? There is typological knowledge about the relative closeness to the root or stem of categories of number vs. gender vs. case; some arrangements tend to be much more common than others. Typological information can be both used and abused in such a situation, either to recognize a common pattern, or to force an interpretation that might be at odds with the evidence of the script itself. More properly, at the current state of our knowledge, typological catalogs can be used as heuristics. Best wishes, Lloyd Anderson Ecological Linguistics From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Tue Sep 14 06:10:06 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999 16:10:06 +1000 Subject: Pre-Basque lexical items In-Reply-To: Your message of "Fri, 03 Sep 1999 15:40:16 +0100." Message-ID: On Fri, 3 Sep 1999 15:40:16 +0100 (BST) LT said Now, my original stricture was against the hundreds of ancient verbs like and , whose roots are never free forms. For the eight or so anomalous verbs like , I have no objection if you want to include their stems in your list, since these stems will meet all of my criteria. Anyway, save only for the anomalous (which has other and more regular variants), these stems will in no way be out of line with the forms of non-verbal lexical items generally. I don't think I understand this part of your the message (the remainder was very informative, thank you). I know I have seen and used in the imperative. Are you saying that they (and the other <-i> verbs should not be used in their stem form in analysis of early basque? It is certainly my intention to use the tu/du class of verbs using only their stems. cheers Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From X99Lynx at aol.com Tue Sep 14 07:22:00 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999 03:22:00 EDT Subject: Relative chronology and absolute certainty Message-ID: In a message dated 9/10/1999 11:39:12 PM, Sean Crist wrote: <> I just wanted to go back and make a number of things clear about the original point of this tread. The issue up till this post was whether the comparative method would yield the single result given in Sean Crist's original hypothetical ("Suppose that one of the daughter languages first palatalizes *k before *i, giving /*ci *ke *ka *ko *ku/, and then merges *e into *i, giving the attested forms /ci ki ka ko ku/...,"etc.) My point was that there is a "fundamental uncertainty when we are trying to reconstruct from two daughters." And Sean here concedes that uncertainty, but continues in his post to use some additional approaches to get to a single result. Now, my pointing out the duality that happens whenever you reconstruct from two equal and coeval daughters wasn't aimed at the comparative method. It was to point out that there is a degree of uncertainty that sound rules can't be eliminated. I need to emphasize that this is not an indictment of the comparative method. This is built in to our status as observers. It applies to more than historical linguistics. You'll find the same sort of principle in the physical sciences. It simply means that there are degrees of certainty and that conclusions dealing with time and reconstructing the order of events are never absolute, but a matter of probabilties. And the acceptible presence of an alternative possible explanation that can never be eliminated. Sean goes on to write: <> Now going to what's 'phonetically plausible" is fine. It is outside Sean's original hypothetical, which was originally about internal necessity. This is another case of an assumption about phonetic history, which is well and good, but you can see why it is important that it is stated. If the proposed solution to the hypothetical is phonetic plausibility, then that allows us to examine how valid that assumption is. And how much uncertainty it creates. < ci are widely attested in the languages of the world, but un-palatalization rules like ci > ki are much rarer. If we accept this reasoning, then Proto-AB must have had *ka *ke *ki *ko *ku, >> Now take a look at the logic here. ki > ci is widely attested. ci > ki is much rarer. Accepting that, then the proto language MUST HAVE HAD a certain reconstruction. But we know that's not true. The rarity of ci > ki only affects probabilty. It doesn't make the reconstruction absolutely certain at all. In fact, it makes absolute certainty an absolute error. So why is such absolute terminology being used? Putting aside that this fact about the world's languages' habits re 'palatalization' wasn't part of the original hypothesis, we can still ask a very important question. Just how widely attested is ci > ki and just how rare is ki > ci? Especially in the context of discussions about algorithms and statistics, wouldn't it be appropriate to talk about what the occurences are here? How often has ki > ci happened? How often has ci > ki happened? Is there a count of these events? If there was ever a place where statistics in linguistics would be helpful, this is a good one. Because this is exactly the kind of assertion that really needs some back-up before it should be credibly accepted as the basis for accepting this reconstruction. (I won't go into how selective this external evidence is. If we are going to bring the pattern of the world's languages into this, why are we excluding the possibility that /c/ in the hypothetical might represent loans - like intervocalic /s/'s in Latin - or other more intricate pathways. Obviously the history of the palatal-velar sound changes in this particular language or its contemporaries would be more relevant than loose generalizations from the world's languages. But a hypothetical language can have a dozen different hypothetical histories, and we should stop somewhere.) <> But we should not accept this reasoning. Not if it is used to justify another absolute statement. Because the reasoning only perhaps makes it likely. It tells us nothing that justifies such certainty. Sean continues to add additional hypotheticals to the hypothetical. One is particularly interesting: <> The new hypothetical Sean is referring to is: <<... Language A takutu 'I run' tacid 'you run' takil 'they run'>> It amazed me to learn that without "any evidence for Language B, we could still correctly and unambiguously reconstruct Proto-AB purely by performing Internal Reconstruction" on the evidence given above. I presume this has something to do with some rule about the phonetic formation of second persons or something gleaned from the world's languages that allows us to recreate the parent with such absolute certainty. This is an important rule and I wish I knew it. Sean continues: <> Once again, there would be no need to undo a merger. This is a two step process, between parent and daughter. No steps left for unmerging. <> And as I pointed out, positing a sporadic split in reconstruction is never the only other alternative. But more importantly this absolute approach - assuming 100% certainty when we know that sporadic changes or things that look like sporadic changes exist - guarantees sooner or later a false picture of what actually, historically happened. If a sense of statistical or practical uncertainty can be accepted and even made good use of in quantum physics, it certainly has some use in historical linguistics. Regards, Steve Long From a.korn at em.uni-frankfurt.de Tue Sep 14 10:19:14 1999 From: a.korn at em.uni-frankfurt.de (agnes korn) Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999 12:19:14 +0200 Subject: TITUS Texte Message-ID: Liebe KollegInnen, von den TITUS-Texten (http://titus.uni-frankfurt.de/ , unter "Textus") sind einige jetzt auch in HTML-Format vorraetig; weitere sollen folgen. Beste Gruesse Agnes Korn Dear colleagues, an increasing number of texts on the TITUS server (http://titus.uni-frankfurt.de/ , see "textus") are now also available in HTML. Best regards Agnes Korn ........................................................................ Agnes Korn Vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft : Tel. + 49 - 69 - 798 22 847 Universitaet Frankfurt : Fax + 49 - 69 - 798 22 873 PF 11 19 32 : http://titus.uni-frankfurt.de D - 60054 Frankfurt : mailto:a.korn at em.uni-frankfurt.de From stevegus at aye.net Wed Sep 15 04:09:23 1999 From: stevegus at aye.net (Steve Gustafson) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 00:09:23 -0400 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: JoatSimeon at aol.com scripsit: > Latin "died" by becoming dozens of > dialects which gradually lost mutual comprehensibility. The process is > gradual and cannot be given sharp dates, by its nature. > Latin was alive in 100 AD. It was dead in 1000 AD. That's about as close > as you can get. Much depends on what your definition is of language "death." It seems to me that a language can be a learnt language, or even a learned language, while still "living," in that people continue to use it for something other than an intellectual exercise. There are many examples that make bright lines hard to draw. You have languages that maintain a traditional written syntax where the underlying speech patterns have profoundly changed. (French surely, and English perhaps) You have languages that maintain a traditional written form where the underlying sound system has drastically changed, no doubt to the point of [hypothetical] mutual unintelligibility. (French, English, Gaelic, Burmese, Tibetan). Looked at with the proper mental squint, written English is as much a dead language as Latin is. The spread of 'USA Today' prose style and the popularity of the Living Bible suggest that more contemporary speakers than we might suspect cannot understand classical English without special study. In 1000 A.D., there were communities of men and women who spoke Latin to one another on a daily basis, even if few of them learned the language as their mother tongue. Hundreds of authors continued to write original Latin texts. Latin continued to evolve new vocabulary and syntactical devices until at least the 1400-1500 period, where a puristic movement more or less forced the language into premature death by insisting on Roman models as the arbiters of good style. The resulting Latin might be more intelligible to Cicero, but it was artificially cut off, both from developments in contemporary vernaculars, and from the specialized vocabularies of the professions that used to write or speak Latin in their daily labours. It was at this time that the language began to wither like a cut flower. -- Glande accelerata velocior; machina tractore viae ferreae potentior; alta aedificia uno saltu insilire valens. From JoatSimeon at aol.com Wed Sep 15 05:13:55 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 01:13:55 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: In a message dated 9/14/99 10:10:46 PM Mountain Daylight Time, mclasutt at brigham.net writes: << Eastern Shoshoni has not undergone any noticeable sound changes in that same time period (based on analysis of the whole dialect continuum and the easy way that the Comanche changes can be tracked from modern Eastern Shoshoni). >> -- well, you can use modern Lithuanian as a "proto-Language" for Latvian, but isn't this sort of off-topic for the instances (Latin, Sanskrit) that we were using of dead liturgical languages? From JoatSimeon at aol.com Wed Sep 15 05:35:48 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 01:35:48 EDT Subject: History and Sound Laws Message-ID: >X99Lynx at aol.com writes: >I don't have my stuff with me, but if this [shirt/skirt] is prehistorical, >how do you get the chronology. -- because we have written records from the period of this loan (9th-11th centuries CE, during the Viking-era Scandinavian settlements in England) and it's "shirt" in Anglo-Saxon and "skirt" in Old Norse. >How could the sound laws make 'skirt' necessary, if they also produced >'shirt?' -- different patterns of sound-shift were operating in North and West Germanic respectively. From X99Lynx at aol.com Wed Sep 15 06:03:57 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 02:03:57 EDT Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (the stem) Message-ID: In a message dated 9/14/1999 3:35:38 PM, mclasutt at brigham.net writes: <> No I'm not clouding anything. That IS how the nodes are labeled in this tree, at least according to the way its been described. <> It would be far less clouding to just use the UPenn tree. You are causing the confusion by finding some need to "assume" some other tree than the case in point. Specifically you are assuming things that are not in the description weve been given. Start with this: On 9/03/1999 12:39:20 AM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu wrote: <> You go on, on the other hand, to describe a completely different tree that has a stem where common innovations are going on in between the branchings. If that kind of data was included in the UPenn tree, then in fact there would be a stem, wouldn't there? And significant events would be going on in that stem. But more than once we've been assurred this tree is "stemless". That's why you have to make up your own tree. In connection with what's going on in the stem of your assumed tree, you wrote: <> And I've said as much. If such innovations were included in the data, they are not acknowledged in this Stammbaum. But more importantly you've lost the fact that the nodes represent supposedly a real time event derived from unreconstructed data - an "unshared innovation" that happened at a specific time reflected by a specific branching. There may have been a thousand innovations before the branching, but the only ones represented on this "tree" are in theory the ones that give "relative" dates to the branchings daughter languages. <> But they clearly don't affect the "whole community." They do not include the previous branching A'. So now we have two sets of unshared innovations offsetting A' - those that happened at the time A' supposedly branched and those that happened afterward. So were these two sets of "unshared innovations" part of the "data" that is the supposed basis of the tree we are talking about? Please understand my problem with this particular tree. It's been put forward as an empirically based, assumption-free computer-based analysis of the data. We've been told that no reconstructions were used in the raw data. So are we to assume that the program reconstructed not only the pre-attestation shared innovations that represent the nodes, but also your unrepresented (B, B')innovations? Well, it better have reconstructed both, because your (B, B') innovations are also "unshared innovations" as far as A' is concerned. We've been told that the only chronological information that was used was the dates of attestation. So how did the program determine "innovations" from before the date of first attestation? And how did it determine the "relative" chronology of those innovations? Did it have to go through the painful path that Sean Crist took in his ci/ki example? Does this very smart program know that ki>ci "rarely" occurs in the world's languages? We've been told that it is stemless, only reflecting relationships. So how did the program know what is an innovation and what is merely is merely a vestige of the previous state of the language in question? And how did it know which branching innovation came first? (Please don't bring up the comparative method, unless you know that this amazing program also does the comparative method.) When i asked about chronological assumptions, this is the reply I got: on 8/19/1999 6:41:16 PM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu wrote: <> This is what is inherently misleading about the tree in question. It supposedly takes the data and only sets up rootless relationships, like the Cambridge tree described by Larry Trask. But in fact all the relationships are based on deep assumptions about what happened when. Those "unshared innovations" must happen in a very specific order and along specific lines of descent for the relationships to hold up. Which brings me back to why I insisted that some line in the Stammbaum must be "innovation-free." It was solely to make the point that a stem (and a root) was premised in the Stammbaum, whether it was admitted or not. There are a limited number of innovations indicated on that tree. They are apparently the only ones relevant to what the tree is illustrating - the supposed chronological "relatedness" of the languages. My point was that per se there was a sequence of branches that did not "innovate" (within the narrow set of innovations included in the Stammbaum) all the way done to the last nodes. And that this would be the logical "stem." Branch-offs being just that, innovations away from the stem. The latest answer to this point is I believe that both lines coming out of the node can be considered innovating. That's convenient, but chronologically absurd. Unless both happened on the same day, the diagramm should show a branch off a branch, illustrating a significant innovation/divergence in the "proto-language" - the stem. And more importantly this allows us to ask how the algorithm figured out, without reconstruction, when and what this unnoted innovation was. We can't ask that question when that fact is buried in a "stemless" Stammbaum. I hope I've brought up enough reasons above for you to reconsider your conclusion that the "tree" in question is just like any other IE tree. Regards, Steve Long From X99Lynx at aol.com Wed Sep 15 06:20:18 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 02:20:18 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: In a message dated 9/14/1999 11:29:41 PM, JoatSimeon at aol.com writes: <> So a parent language "gradually" dies while daughter languages "gradually" develop. So, logically - while this "gradual" process is happening - a parent and daughter can co-exist. Gradually, of course. From X99Lynx at aol.com Wed Sep 15 06:55:41 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 02:55:41 EDT Subject: The Comparative Method and "semantics" Message-ID: I wrote: << But the "exceptionless sound laws" support the idea that if two words are a phonologically the same, they have a high probability of common ancestry.> In a message dated 9/14/1999 6:37:16 PM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu writes: <> Quick note. I'm dealing with Hurricane Floyd. Take a close look at what you are saying here, I wrote that "if two words are a phonologically the same [within the workings of the sound rules, of course], they have a high probability of common ancestry" You write that's "incorrect." Because "There are several other ways that such pairs could arise." That doesn't follow. The fact there are other ways they could arise only means that the probability is not 100%. It doesn't mean the probability is not high. You're denying that the phonetics can yield a high level of confidence about ancestry strikes me as odd. I don't think you really think the statement is incorrect. If you think about it. Regards, Steve Long From X99Lynx at aol.com Wed Sep 15 07:27:31 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 03:27:31 EDT Subject: Phonemic split Message-ID: I wrote: <> In a message dated 9/15/1999 2:54:56 AM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu replied: <> But, in any case, the absolute elimination of celtic based on 3 obstruents becomes less than absolute. <> Well, we;ve been through this before. How do you attribute some other value to the "earlier" PIE node, especially if you are not using reconstructions as data? It goes back to how you identify the difference between what is change and what is a vestige. Without of course being circular or going outside the "data" you are using to support your result. Regards, Steve Long From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 15 08:26:51 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 09:26:51 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque lexical items In-Reply-To: <4.1.19990911213548.0097ad50@blue.weeg.uiowa.edu> Message-ID: On Sat, 11 Sep 1999, Roslyn M. Frank wrote: > Isn't there any category at all for lexical items that were in the > pre-IE languages of Europe and ended up surviving in Basque and one > or more of the IE languages? There is, in principle, a category, but it's not so easy to find words that belong to it. The Romance languages contain a number of words which have no known etymology. Apart from those whose form suggests an expressive origin, these are often labeled pre-Roman' by Romanists, but this label is no more than an admission of defeat, since nothing is known of any possible source languages. A few of these words have found their way into Basque, but, in most such cases, it seems pretty clear that Basque has taken the word from Romance, and not directly from the hypothetical source language. As Michelena liked to remark, not everything that is pre-Roman in Basque is necessarily ancient in that language. I know of no single case of a Basque word which can be shown to have been borrowed directly from a pre-IE language, but then it's not very clear how such a thing could ever be demonstrated. > What is said about the old verb form or primitive verb /ekarri/ "to > carry"? It is primitive, as Larry has explained, because of the > final /i/ as opposed to verbal constructions that create the > infinitive by adding /-tu/, e.g., as in the case of /saldu/. > However, /sal/ is not anymore of a free-standing morpheme in Euskera > than /ekarr/ is. They differ in that the former carries /-i/ which > is an infinitive marker that is no longer productive in the > language. Actually, the suffix <-i> marks a perfective participle. There is no reason to doubt the antiquity of in Basque, though I would gloss it as bring', not as carry'. (English carry', = transport on one's person', is not really lexicalized in Basque.) But it is far from clear that the Basque verb is shared with any other language. The popular suggestion, of course, is that derives from the same source as English carry'. But all the sources I have available agree that carry' is a borrowing from Old French transport by vehicle', itself ultimately from Latin cart, wagon'. > Back to the problems of this category: in most cases it is easier > simply to say that Basque borrowed the word from one of its IE > neighbors. It's not a question of what's easier: it's a question of which way the evidence points. > Nonetheless, a form like /ekarri/ is more convincing morphologically > than /saldu/ because of its more ancient suffixing element. Convincing in what way? I know of no evidence that was borrowed into Basque from another language. The verb looks native, and it can be inflected synthetically, which is evidence for ancient existence in the language. It also forms a causative , with the ancient causative marker <-ra->, another sign of ancient status. > It would suggest that if it is a loan, then it was loaned when /i/ > was still a productive suffixing element in the language. Agreed, but I see no reason to suspect a loan. > And I have no idea how one would date that time-depth. We can't. It's generally impossible to assign a time-depth to anything in Basque before the arrival of the Romans: there is no evidence. > On the other hand Larry's suggestion below is not devoid > of merit. [on the possibility of sell' from *, modern payment, cost, value, price', prize'] The suggestion is not mine, but Michelena's, though I like it. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Wed Sep 15 09:20:59 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 19:20:59 +1000 Subject: Basque statistics - methodological contradiction In-Reply-To: Your message of "Wed, 08 Sep 1999 08:57:40 +0100." Message-ID: On Wed, 8 Sep 1999 08:57:40 +0100 (BST) Larry Trask said On Fri, 3 Sep 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: [snip quote from me] > This is presented after a long and detailed response to Lloyd > Anderson's revision of his 6 rules for deciding what should be used > as acceptable words in the study of early basque words. Larry's > rules are highly restrictive and my counter argument is that they > are too restrictive and they do not let the data speak for > themselves. The problem with "letting the data speak for themselves" is that ancient Basque words are vastly outnumbered today by words of more recent origin. So, if we can't systematically exclude the newer words, we have no reasonable hope of picking out the ancient ones. We agree on this item, we just have slightly different criteria on acheiving systematic exclusion. > It seems to me, unless I am misreading something, that Larry's final > comment objects to someone else entertaining an a priori model of > the data as making assumptions, but doesn't perceive that he is > making assumptions from his own expectations of what a basque word > should look like. But, Jon, I am *not* making any assumptions in advance as to what a Basque word should look like. Observe that not one of my proposed principal criteria has anything to do with the *phonological form* of a word. My principal criteria are distribution, date of first attestation, and absence of the word in neighboring languages: nothing to do with form at all. My secondary criteria exclude apparent nursery words and imitative words, which admittedly have something to do with form, but both of which can be identified by independent criteria having nothing to do with what I hope or expect to find in Pre-Basque. I agree that this is what you have expressed clearly in the list. I also think our differing views have been presented along with Lloyd Anderson's observations of some of the issues that can arise from your criteria, that is, they are not entirely value free and they can exclude useful evidence. However I am concerned that you also operate with unspoken criteria, that is from you undoubted rich knowledge of euskara, so that new possibilities are quickly excluded without being given the merit of systematic and comprehensive analysis. I DO NOT assert you do this deliberately. I just think it happens because you view the materials from your particular experiences. Others have the potential to use different deconstructions to arrive at different illuminations, that is those of us whose minds are unclouded by prior knowledge. cheers Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From lmfosse at online.no Wed Sep 15 09:24:39 1999 From: lmfosse at online.no (Lars Martin Fosse) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 11:24:39 +0200 Subject: SV: SV: Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic Message-ID: JoatSimeon at aol.com [SMTP:JoatSimeon at aol.com] skrev 11. september 1999 09:33: > As far as I know -- correct me if I'm wrong -- there was no large group in > ancient South Asia who used Sanskrit as their household language after the > divergence of the Prakrits. That is perfectly correct, as I made clear a few lines above. It is also true that Skt. was not spoken outside India as a mother tongue. I compared Skt. with English as it is used today in South Asia, but your comparison with Medieval Latin is of course perfectly apt, too. The point here is that it was not confined to religous usage, but also used as a link language for more mundane purposes. Damsteegt shows that inscriptions produced on behalf of women and e.g. bankers use "Hybrid" Skt. - in other words Skt. that is not in accordance with "shishta" or Paninian usage - whereas inscriptions made on behalf of a king always are in correct Skt. The sociological implications are interesting. Best regards, Lars Martin Fosse Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114, 0674 Oslo Norway Phone/Fax: +47 22 32 12 19 Email: lmfosse at online.no From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Wed Sep 15 10:35:19 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 20:35:19 +1000 Subject: Excluding data In-Reply-To: Your message of "Thu, 09 Sep 1999 11:26:01 +0100." Message-ID: Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 11:26:01 +0100 (BST) From: Larry Trask On Sun, 5 Sep 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: > Lloyd Anderson's message of 19th Aug expresses, much better that I > could, the method I intend to apply in the study of early BAsque. > For me the key factor is to present a record of ALL words available > for analysis and record HOW I can classify them. In the case of > sound imitative words it is important to retain them in the database > and show how their phonological profile as a class is similar or not > to non-imitative words. But, in order to do that, you must first have some independent criterion for distinguishing imitative words from others. What do you propose? Good question. At first it will have to be based on expert opinion. > In keeping with my last message I find the > idea of excluding data because they don't conform to someone's > particular expectation about the data inappropriate in trying to > produce a generalised stochastic profile of the language. First, I myself am not trying to produce a generalized stochastic profile of the language, and hence chiding me for going about my own quite different task in a way that is not suitable for your task is entirely inappropriate. Is that what we are doing to each other? Talking at crossed purposes. Second, I repeat yet again that I am *not* excluding any data because they don't fit my expectations. I am excluding data for entirely different reasons, reasons that are independent of my expectations and, in my view, entirely justified for the task I have in mind. For example, the universal word smoke' definitely does not fit my expectations, but I have to include it anyway, because it satisfies all of my criteria. See below > In basque we have the word for the sound of the heartbeat as > and the word for heartbeat as as reported to me by native > speakers. Of course. But this word is not general in Basque. It is more or less confined to the center of the country, being restricted, as far as I can determine, to the Gipuzkoan dialect and to adjoining parts of the Bizkaian dialect. It appears to be unknown in the French Basque Country, unrecorded in the Pyrenean dialects and in High Navarrese, and not general in the Bizkaian dialect. Furthermore, the word is only first recorded, in the form of its derivative , in 1888. On top of this, the word violates at least four of the morpheme-structure constraints which are generally obeyed by words meeting my criteria: (1) No initial voiceless plosive; (2) No initial coronal plosive; (3) No final plosive; (4) No final labial. This is a key point that I opened up in my previous mail item. I speculate that the initial 6 criteria you defined, create a close coincidence with an expectation about what the phonological profile of early euskara should be (as for example what is defined above) , hence the possibility of revealing more structure to euskara is limited by this unspoken correspondence. I seek to test my speculation by using a less restrictive criteria and by studying classes of words not previously given individual scrutiny. You could say why bother to do this when talented scholars have already worked over all the material available in euskara. I have two responses to that. Computers enable us to do a more systematic job on a larger volume of data, more quickly, hence we are likely to pick up omissions and oversights of earlier workers. A bit like using modern technology to reprocess the tailings of 19th century gold mines. Secondly, my experience has taught me that linguists don't know their material as well as they think they do, so to me statments of generalisations I take a little more scpetically than most others. This of course is an intrinsic human oversight, not just the province of linguists and one I could equally be accused of committing. Jon patrick ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Wed Sep 15 10:42:02 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 20:42:02 +1000 Subject: Principled Comparative Method - a new tool In-Reply-To: Your message of "Thu, 09 Sep 1999 11:35:51 +0100." Message-ID: Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 11:35:51 +0100 (BST) From: Larry Trask On Sun, 5 Sep 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: > Another perspective on this question is my own view that linguists > don't know their data as well as they think they do. The jump to > generalisations is to quick for my liking. My position was > vindicated in the chinese data where we found far more items than > the linguist expected that were exceptional by his criteria (Another > experience that tells me not to accept the rigid Trask criteria for > defining the vocabulary suitable for the study of early basque). Jon, this is not a fair or reasonable characterization of my position. I do not wish to misrepresent your position - it would only serve to create misunderstanding. I am making a general comment based on my experience and it is an expression of how I view ANY linguistic materials I now approach. It just so happens that some of that material you are connected to, e.g. the Mitxelena reconstruction of Basque phonolgy and your own additions to it. First, I am not jumping to any generalizations at all. I am merely invoking reasonable criteria to try to identify the Basque words with the *strongest* claims to native and ancient status in the language. Only by examining the resulting list can I hope to reach any generalizations at all. answered in previous mail item Of course there will be a few exceptional forms in the list (I've already mentioned a couple), but I can't *tell* that they're exceptional until I first have a reasonable list on which to base some generalizations. Second, I am not attempting to "define the vocabulary suitable for the study of early Basque", at least not with my initial list. Rather, I am merely hoping to identify the phonological characteristics of native and ancient words -- in particular, their morpheme-structure constraints -- in order *then* to see if the results yield us a tool for identifying the words which may have reasonable claims to ancient status. Here we both have a common task - perhaps your in-depth knowledge and my computing expertise could be brought together to do something really creative on the topic cheers Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From HSTAHLKE at gw.bsu.edu Wed Sep 15 13:23:52 1999 From: HSTAHLKE at gw.bsu.edu (Herb Stahlke) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 08:23:52 -0500 Subject: Conservative dilemma Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] >>> "Dr. John E. McLaughlin" 09/10 7:11 AM >>> Herb Stahlke wrote: > Perhaps this is why many Africanists are bemused at the intensity of the > Americanist reaction to Greenberg's work. > As to Greenberg's alleged absolutism in his claims of relationship, what is > relevant is what the field does with his work, not what he thinks it means. > As Bill Welmers used to say of G's Niger-Congo, "G hasn't proved that the > languages are genetically related; he's made it inconceivable that they > aren't." McLaughlin writes: This is the main difference between Greenberg's African work and his "Amerind" work. G. has NOT made it inconceivable that the "Amerind" languages are genetically unrelated. >>>>>>>> I can't argue this since I don't know the American data. The literature I've read, however, suggests that, while "inconceivable" is too strong a word, the case is not without merit. >>>>>>>>>> McLaughlin writes: There is also a fundamental anthropological difference between Africa and Native America. African was generally populated "from within", that is, no one had to come there in order for it to be full of people (indeed, it's the only continent that was not populated through immigration). The Americas were colonized by immigrants. Greenberg assumes one tribe speaking one language (excluding the much later Na-Dene and Eskimo-Aleut immigrations) entered the Americas and then differentiated. We cannot (at this time, and possibly never) prove whether the populating of the Americas was a one-time, one-tribe, one-language event, or a multi-time, multi-tribe, multi-language event. Indeed, Greenberg himself believes there were three events--one for Amerind, one for Na-Dene, and one for Eskimo-Aleut over the course of the last 40 some-odd thousand years. Just three immigrations in 40,000 years. >>>>>>>>>>>>> The opportunities for migration have been limited by geology. That several related groups could have migrated over a period of a few thousand years, and at a time depth of 40,000 years it would be hard to tell the difference. The comparative method has never been extended back more than about a quarter of that time depth. That the non-Na-Dene and non-Eskimo-Aleut migrations were consistently earlier seems indisputable. >>>>>>>>>>>>> McLaughlin writes: Hmmmm. That's the difference between the Americas and Africa. Africa's had a stable indigenous population. The Americas haven't. Indeed, it's quite possible that northwestern North America has been the site of many groups of people from Asia, speaking different languages, landing on the shores of or walking across the "bridge" to a New World. >>>>>>>>>> This apparent difference is deceiving. The Khoi-San languages, with or without the Tanzanian pair, represent a clearly distinct group probably originating in southern Africa. Although all but substratal information on pre-Bantu pygmy languages has disappeared, and the substratal information isn't any better than in most other parts of the world (worse, in fact), they must have represented at least one ancient language family that has disappeared. Beyond those, the major migrations appear to have east to west (most of Niger-Congo) and north to south (Cushitic, Nilotic, and Bantu, in that order). Nilo-Saharan, if Songhay belongs in it, may represent a central Sahara to Great Lakes migration. Cushitic, as a branch of Afro-Asiatic, represents either a group that originated somewhere along the Red Sea or a migration from the Arabian Peninsula. A-A probably is NE African in origin. All of these represent time depths of rather less than 40k: N-C and A-A in 10k-15k range, and Nilo-Saharan and older. At these time depths, it's hard to make a case that extra-continent vs. intra-continental orign makes much of a difference. Herb Stahlke From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 15 13:50:12 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 14:50:12 +0100 Subject: Perfective-Imperfective In-Reply-To: <000a01befd75$9492c440$e69ffad0@oemcomputer> Message-ID: I can't possibly reply at length to Pat Ryan's vast posting, but I'll try to deal with the major points. First, it is a plain fact that our linguistic terminology is much less orderly and consistent than we might wish. Nobody knows this better than I do: I've had to grapple with it in writing my several dictionaries. Second, aspect is an area in which our terminology has long been exceptionally variable and inconsistent. Partly that's because the data are so messy and hard to interpret. And partly it's because there are two independent traditions of aspect study in Europe, the Slavic one and the "western" one. Being based on the facts of different languages, these traditions differ in many respects, not least in terminology. It is, however, the western tradition which has generally prevailed among general linguists, at least in the English-speaking world, insofar as anything has prevailed. Now, I know of five scholarly book-length studies of aspect published in the last 15 years: those by Dahl, by Comrie, by Binnick, by Smith and by Verkuyl. Verkuyl's book I exclude below, since the author, for his own reasons, deliberately refrains from offering plain-language definitions of the aspectual categories he recognizes. Of the others, Comrie, of course, uses about the same definition of perfective' as that found in my dictionary. Smith does the same. Binnick offers no view of his own, but observes that Comrie's definition is now the one most widely used. He cites some examples, involving wording like "indivisible situation" and "integral action". Dahl does not deny this observation, but confesses to dissatisfaction with this definition, on the interesting ground that it is too restrictive: it excludes certain forms traditionally called perfective'. But even Dahl expressly denies the identification of perfective' with completive': he regards the two as quite distinct, and he emphatically does not equate the perfective with completion. So, in place of the wide variation in terminology of 50 years ago, we now have a near-consensus among those who have investigated aspect most carefully. The definition of perfective' in my dictionary is the one now most widely used, and I suggest that we should, for once, agree on this definition, as a small step toward the goal of unifying our terminology -- a goal which I trust is shared by Pat Ryan. This near-consensus has developed in the last several decades. Older works often use different terms, but that is no excuse for choosing *some* older term or definition and trying to continue it today. Anyway, neither Pei's outdated dictionary nor general-purpose English dictionaries like Merriam-Webster can reasonably be cited as authorities on the present-day technical terminology of linguistics. The use of perfective' cited in MW, in AHD, in the second edition of the OED, and in other general dictionaries, is outdated and no longer in general use among linguists. The only rational response is to change the dictionaries, not to insist heatedly that the definitions must be right because they're in print. By the way, I happen to be the consultant on general linguistic terms for the next edition of the OED. My job is to scrutinize the existing and new entries written by the editors. While most of the draft entries I see are pretty good, I occasionally have to correct entries which are inadequate or outdated. And I can assure you that, when we get to perfective', I will certainly be advising an update of the entry in the second edition, which is now woefully out of date. And Pat Ryan will then be able to consult the OED for the latest word on the use of perfective' in linguistics. ;-) As for the etymology of perfect', this is utterly irrelevant. Committing the etymological fallacy -- insisting that words must mean what their etyma meant -- is the most fundamental kind of error I can think of. For example, our linguistic term sentence' derives from Latin feeling, way of thinking, opinion', a derivative of feel'. Does Pat, or anyone, want to maintain that sentence' must mean opinion' because its Latin source did? No? Then why try to claim that our term perfective' must mean the same as Latin ? (And, by the way, the more direct English descendant of is perfect' -- which doesn't mean the same as perfective', but which also doesn't mean complete'.) As for Pei, my little aside was merely to show -- correctly -- that Pei's work was not even held in high regard by the professional linguists of his own day. I myself enjoyed reading Pei's books when I was a kid, but I wouldn't dream of treating them as reliable sources today. In his dictionary, Pei doubtless did his best to record the uses current in his day, but his day was half a century ago, and things have moved on. An example. All my students who have ever been taught any grammar have been taught that English items like my', your' and his' are "possessive pronouns". This is the traditional, and established, analysis. It is also dead wrong. These things are not pronouns at all, but determiners, as can be easily shown. So, I carefully teach my students that these things are determiners, and warn them that traditional writings constantly get this wrong. It makes no difference that a thousand books, possibly including Pei's dictionary and Merriam-Webster, call these things "pronouns". The tradition is wrong and must be corrected. As for Forbes's grammar of Russian, well. Forbes's account is not entirely consistent with what is said by the specialists who have examined Russian. All of Comrie, Dahl and Binnick (at least) provide accounts of Russian which are at variance with Forbes's account: all agree that the Russian contrast is not merely one of completion versus non-completion, but something rather more subtle. Now, Pat accuses me of being less than candid in my dictionary. Not guilty. Read the preface, and consult, for example, the entries for continuous' and progressive'. Quote from Comrie: > "As already indicated, in discussions of aspect, as opposed to many > other areas of linguistics, there is no generally accepted > terminology". Correct, of course, but the work of Comrie and of others has taken us some way toward an accepted terminology. Anyway, Pat, weren't you telling us just the other day that there *was* an accepted sense of perfective'? > I can interpret Comrie's Gothic definition myself: I interpret *his* > "perfective" to mean: 'a verbal action characterized as a point in > time'; and *his* "imperfective" to mean: 'a verbal action > characterized as points in time'. No; certainly not. Comrie emphatically does not define perfective' to mean punctual'. He is entirely clear about this, and he defines punctual' in very different terms from perfective' in chapter 2. By the way, I use punctual' in my dictionary because that is *by far* the most usual term. The alternative momentary' (or momentaneous') is rare, and I did not judge it important enough to enter in my dictionary. Look at the five books cited above: of these, only Dahl mentions momentaneous' at all, and then only in a quote from a particular writer who uses it. Pat also seems to be uncertain as to what I mean by superordinate'. By this I mean that perfective' and imperfective' are broad labels which can be subdivided into several more specific aspectual types. For example, all of the habitual', the iterative' and the progressive' constitute varieties of the imperfective. > However illuminating these definitions might be thought to be > ("completive = completion"; who could have a problem with that?), > Larry's short definition for 'perfective', i.e. 'no internal > structure', is simply incredible. There is no possible verbal action > which does not have 'internal structure' *in this universe*! A misunderstanding. The issue is not whether an action has an internal structure, but whether it is *linguistically presented* as having one. We are talking about linguistic structure, not about the nature of the non-linguistic universe. In most European languages, lightning' is a noun, while in many American languages it's a verb. The real world is the same, but the linguistic facts are different. And you can't claim that lightning' is not a noun because lightning isn't a thing, or because the equivalent word in another language is a verb. > The sentence 'Wallace Stevens lived in Hartford' is *not* perfective > since, as Larry correctly notes, only telic activities can be > completed or considered to be in the process of completion. What > anyone who speaks English without wishing to impose a pre-defined > and artificial interpretation on it would understand was that > Wallace lived in Hartford for some indefinite or understood or > immaterial period of time, which makes it 'durative'; and I would be > willing to wager that his life there had some "internal structure". It did, but this is not relevant, since it is not linguistically expressed in my example, which *presents* Stevens's time in Hartford without structure. > Larry is, of course, free to assume that only his ideas have > validity however unattractive that position may be. What he will > never admit is that his choices (Comrie, etc.) are *choices*, and > not glimpses of the Eternal Truth that has been denied all those of > us who disagree with him and his *choices*. Really? I claim no eternal truth: I am merely reporting on the contemporary usage of professional linguists. It is you, Pat, who want to claim that Pei and Forbes revealed the "Eternal Truth" decades ago, and that we are wrong to deny it. [responding to Lloyd Anderson] > I think it is unpardonable for the possibility to exist that "what > is CALLED 'Perfective' in the grammatical tradition of a particular > language . . . may not bear any relation to what is apparently the > same term intended in its universal sense." Well, whatever you may think about it, that's the way the world is. Lloyd is quite right. > Of what conceivable value is it to take a term, 'perfective', which > had, and apparently still continues to have a definition at odds > which the "universal" one, and apply it to a new category? This is not what has happened. Rather, our use of perfective' has emerged from what was formerly a highly inconsistent set of usages involving two independent traditions. > 'Perfective' and 'imperfective' should be re-defined and restored to > their traditional meanings. But they have no established traditional meanings. I advise you to read Binnick's book, which provides an excellent summary of the historical confusion and disagreement over aspect and its associated terminology. > While Larry may scoff at Pei, dictionaries (after all, not written > by linguists), I dare him to scoff at W. P. Lehmann, who, in his > book on Proto-Indo-European synatx, *clearly* employs 'perfective' > in the traditional sense, a category of IE which is indicated by the > "perfect" endings. This is not what Lehmann says. Lehmann argues that PIE had a perfective' set of forms which, in the daughter languages, evolved into other functions, including (in some daughters only) a perfect. Lehmann is using his terms in a way that seems good to him, but this is not necessarily the way they would be used by anyone else. As I have emphasized, our use of aspectual terminology has been characterized by colossal inconsistency. But we now have a widely agreed sense of perfective'. So let's use it. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From gordonselway at gn.apc.org Wed Sep 15 14:12:48 1999 From: gordonselway at gn.apc.org (Gordon Selway) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 15:12:48 +0100 Subject: Typology before decipherment? Message-ID: I'd been thinking about the example Lloyd gives, though it predates both Ventris and Chadwick. The work mentioned was done by Alice Kober (based in New York I think, and in the 30s). There was work done about classifying the script as well, but I do not recall when or by whom, though it was certainly refined by Ventris and/or Chadwick. If there is sufficient material, and the typology can be established by means such as this, then you can probably propose specific known candidates, refer to the (limited range of) inflections &c which you can see changing, and try out the likely letter(-group)s to see if they fit. As usual, my textbooks are packed away, and I am writing from memory, so am open to correction on detail. Kober showed that there were words with similar beginnings but with two, three or more sets of endings, iirc, and that there were some words with rather more different endings. These could well be from an inflected language, though without an a priori guess which you could not argue for them being nouns, adjectives or verbs. Some forms were grouped as 'Kober's triplets', though whether they were np nouns in each case form, adjectives in cases where the genders show different desinences, or verbs I do not recall. Certainly, there were more case forms possible (as in Homer) than in Attic, when it came to be accepted the tables were all Greek if they were Linear B. The number of cases though (not just Indus Valley, but Linear A, &c) where a solution is claimed but not widely accepted, or apparently correct - I suspect that the difficulty of solving gets in the way of the notion that it is easy if you have the right key, so that probability you will experience the ease of working with the right key is discounted as a test of validity [I was introduced to the material when it was still disputed, but the decipherment seemed obviously on the right lines when set out: maybe being a schoolboy with a twelve year old's understanding of classical Greek and having one of the classics masters explain the thing may have influenced this. It's also possible, though I am not sure, that I went along to a kind of extramural lunch-time university lecture by Chadwick on the subject]. So I guess our good and learned moderator may be thinking about the question in prospect, not in hindsight, when he wrote as below At 1:01 am 14/9/99, ECOLING at aol.com wrote: [ moderator snip ] >There are indeed situations in which typology is used before successful >decipherment. I suspect Chadwick used it for Linear B. >But a case I am more recently aware of is Indus Valley, >which is not generally regarded as deciphered >(no disrespect intended towards anyone). Gordon Selway From edsel at glo.be Wed Sep 15 16:12:35 1999 From: edsel at glo.be (Eduard Selleslagh) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 18:12:35 +0200 Subject: Northmen as 'mGall' Message-ID: -----Original Message----- From: Rick Mc Callister Date: Wednesday, September 15, 1999 7:48 AM [ moderator snip ] >Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but isn't French gue/ from Latin vadum, which >looks as if it's a borrowing from a Germanic cognate of English wade [or else >a very cognate-looking cognate] [Ed] No, it's an old PIE root that is found in several branches of IE. Ed. From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 15 16:47:02 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 17:47:02 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque lexical items In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Tue, 14 Sep 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: [LT] > Now, my original stricture was against the hundreds of ancient verbs > like and , whose roots are never free forms. For the > eight or so anomalous verbs like , I have no objection if you > want to include their stems in your list, since these stems will meet > all of my criteria. Anyway, save only for the anomalous (which > has other and more regular variants), these stems will in no way be out > of line with the forms of non-verbal lexical items generally. > I don't think I understand this part of your the message (the > remainder was very informative, thank you). I know I have seen > and used in the imperative. Are you saying that they > (and the other <-i> verbs should not be used in their stem form in > analysis of early basque? It is certainly my intention to use the > tu/du class of verbs using only their stems. The ancient verbs, like and , are a problem for me, because my interest is in the morpheme-structure rules of Pre-Basque lexical items, and the roots of such verbs never occur as free forms. The morphologically simplest forms, such as and , the so-called radical' form of a verb, consist of the stems of the verbs functioning as free forms. But these stems invariably contain the prefix * preceding the verbal root -- the roots being <-tor(r)-> and <-kus-> in my examples. So, I can't use the stems, because these are not monomorphemic: they always contain that prefix. But I can't use the roots, either, because these are invariably word-internal, which produces several complications. My solution is to omit these verbs entirely from my initial list, and to leave them for later consideration. In any case, it is already clear that ancient verbal roots are constructed according to very different rules from those applying to other lexical items, and I will be interested in characterizing the differences explicitly, so a separate list for verbal roots is desirable from my point of view. What you should do about them depends on your purposes. But bear in mind that, if you take the stems as data, these stems are bimorphemic and always contain that prefix. This is something that will bugger up the data for some purposes (including mine), though perhaps not for all purposes. For the <-tu> class of verbs, the material preceding the suffix <-tu> does not contain any prefixes and is normally monomorphemic (though not in all cases). But, of course, apart from borrowed verbs, which are numerous and always put into the <-tu> class, almost all <-tu> verbs are derived from other (non-verbal) lexical items. Since the majority of these other lexical items still exist in the language, I presume you would probably not want to include both the derived verb and its source word. For example, you probably wouldn't want to list both black' and blacken'. But, for the <-tu> verbs which have no identifiable source word, such as sell', I don't see any great problem with listing the stems ( in this case), though you might bear in mind that such a stem will often not be phonologically identical to its source word (witness the possible * as the source word for ). That is, the stems of such verbs will have undergone the phonological developments which are regular in Basque word-formation, such as the loss of a final /i/ in a first element. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu Wed Sep 15 14:24:46 1999 From: vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu (Vidhyanath Rao) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 10:24:46 -0400 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: Larry Trask wrote: > In linguistics, we usually define living language' as language > currently existing as a mother tongue'. Even this doesn't get rid of > all the problems, but it does exclude things like Latin, Sanskrit and > classical Arabic. In this sense, a language is not living merely > because it is in use. Is formal Tamil a living language? And, if you try to regard formal and colloquial Tamil as different registers, how do you tell different registers of a langauge from two distinct languages? > No; I don't think so. The fact that living languages are constantly > changing is central here, and trying to ignore it leads at once into > absurdities. Can a non-living language change? I agree that the terms language', dialect' or register' are quite fuzzy and how we draw the lines depends on political and social factors. But so does the term living language'. From vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu Wed Sep 15 14:32:54 1999 From: vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu (Vidhyanath Rao) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 10:32:54 -0400 Subject: Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic Message-ID: wrote: > As far as I know -- correct me if I'm wrong -- there was no large > group in ancient South Asia who used Sanskrit as their household > language after the divergence of the Prakrits. But the Sanskrit people wrote in during 3rd c. was quite understandable to the Prakrit speakers, while the change in syntax would have made it quite confusing to 4ht c. BCE Sanskrit spkears. Is the Sanskrit of dramas a register of MIA (due to the nearness of syntax) or a dialect of Panini's language (with which it shared phonology, and, varying with author's milieu, morphology)? From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Wed Sep 15 19:48:21 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 14:48:21 -0500 Subject: Typology before decipherment? In-Reply-To: <1861707a.250f30bd@aol.com> Message-ID: [ Moderator's note: The following is quoted from a post by Lloyd Anderson. --rma ] >Rich Alderson wrote in reply to Steve Long: >>If a text is undeciphered, it is unclear to me how any amount of typological >>information could be put to use. Typology makes reference to concepts >>such as >>"noun", "verb", "adjective", "subject", "object", and so on, which cannot be >>applied to an undeciphered text. Perhaps you mean something other than >>"undeciphered"? >There are indeed situations in which typology is used before successful >decipherment. I suspect Chadwick used it for Linear B. >But a case I am more recently aware of is Indus Valley, >which is not generally regarded as deciphered >(no disrespect intended towards anyone). [snip] Or perhaps "tentative typology" as Ventris used by focusing on word endings Can you elaborate a bit on the Indus Valley script? I'm aware of the proposed "star"-"fish" rebus but what else has been proposed recently? Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 From roz-frank at uiowa.edu Wed Sep 15 23:04:13 1999 From: roz-frank at uiowa.edu (Roslyn M. Frank) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 18:04:13 -0500 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (fwd) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: Part 1 At 10:18 AM 9/13/99 +0100, Larry Trask wrote: [on the bisyllabic rather than monsyllabic nature of vs. "cow"] [LT] >First, it is linguistically unusual and unnatural to create new >syllables in the middle of a word. Hence northern versus >southern points clearly to the conservative nature of . [RF] Sorry I don't understand this argument. Particularly I don't follow the meaning of the terms "unusual" and "unnatural". The first seems to refer to statistically demonstrated probabilities based on cross-linguistic/typological studies, while the second's meaning is more obscure. In making these comments I have in mind several points that Steve Long has made in recent mailings concerning the methodology used in comparative reconstructions when several dialects/daughter languages are used to recreate the earlier state of a linguistic system. [LT] >Second, we have minimal pairs in the aspirating dialects, like >six' and boy, servant'. If we took * as the ancestral >form in both cases, we would have no principled basis for explaining the >modern contrast. [RF] Unless is a more recent/ancient loan word, i.e., related to items such as in Spanish. In this respect I don't argue with your logic, only your particular example. Had it been a different one where the loan word status of one of the items was less questionable and had the sample in question consisted of a half dozen or so such examples of minimal pairs, its power of persuasion would have been greater. This is a case where a more statistically driven model might give us much better results. But that assumes the need to collect data without eliminating one or the other of the possibilities. For instance, one would need to collect data for all the southern/central dialects in order to see how the problem of polysemy is dealt with. In otherwords a stronger argument would be to show that in northern dialects there are indeed an extended set of minimal pairs in which the presence of /h/ (or [h] ?) is the only distinguishing characteristic. The only one that comes to my mind is that of /sei/ "six" and /sehi/ "boy, servant." To my knowledge, northern dialects do notcontrast /behi/ "cow" with */bei/ meaning something else; nor /behe/ "low, below, beneath" with */be/ meaning something else. That doesn't mean that there might not be other minimal pairs that could be examined. Larry then concludes: [LT] >It appears that we must reconstruct two Pre-Basque >forms [/sei/ and /sehi/] with differing numbers of syllables, with the contrast surviving >in the north but lost in the south after the loss of the aspiration. [RF] In other words, you argue that root-stems which are monsyllabic (and unaspirated) in southern dialects should be considered bisyllabic in Pre-Basque. [LT] >Third, aspiration survives today in the north. It was also very >prominent in the west, in Bizkaia and Araba, during the Middle Ages, as >our written records show. For the central dialects, there is no direct >attestation of any aspiration. By far the most parsimonious scenario is >a Pre-Basque aspiration in all varieties, followed by early loss in the >center, much later loss in the west, and retention down to today in the >north. [RF] Why is this "by far the most parsimonious scenario"? Do you mean that the lack of aspiration in central dialects means they are the least stable and hence most deviant (at least for this item)? Isn't there another way of looking at data which portrays features found in "central dialects" (geographically speaking) as being more representative of "core" or "earlier" features"? I'm not necessarily subscribing to this view, simply stating it. [LT] >Fourth, we have good evidence that ancient Aquitanian was an ancestral >form of Basque -- and the written aspiration is pervasive in the >Aquitanian materials. > [RF] Again there are a number of prior assumptions involved in that argument, e.g., that Aquitanian was, indeed, an ancestral form of Basque and not simply a(nother northern) dialect. Since we are talking about aspiration I would like to return to an earlier mailing where I queried Larry concerning the position taken in the reconstruction concerning the distribution of p/b, k/g, t/d alternations and their aspirated counterparts in pre-Basque. The exchange was the following: [RF] > Also, I've always wondered about the p/b, k/g, t/d alternations in > pre-Basque (and/or their *aspirated counterparts). Perhaps you could > comment a bit on the distribution of these in modern Basque. It's an > intriguing problem. [snip] [LT] As for the aspiration, that is one issue on which we still do not have full agreement. The matter is much too complex to be discussed in detail here. Michelena's conclusion, which I endorse, was that *most* instances of the aspiration are of suprasegmental origin, possibly associated with the word-stress at an early stage. Michelena left open the possibility that *some* instances of /h/ (though not of the aspirated plosives), at least in word-initial position, might have resulted from the lenition of earlier consonants. There is a tiny amount of evidence to support this, but not enough to make a persuasive case. [snip] > [LT] >> Potentially the most serious problem is the /h/, but I know of no one at >> present who disputes M's conclusion that *most* instances of /h/ are of >> suprasegmental origin. However, it remains possible to disagree about >> whether *some* /h/s are of segmental origin. In practice, though, this >> isn't much of an issue, and we can readily dispose of any difficulties >> by reconstructing Pre-Basque -- contra M -- with a *phonetic* [h] in our >> transcriptions, allowing users to draw their own conclusions. [RF] At another point in our earlier discussion, I asked whether the monosyllabic root-stems in southern Basque dialects (which have aspirated bisyllabic counterparts in northern dialects) were considered bisyllabic, i.e., whether the forms in the northern dialects were given preference in reconstructions. Specifically we were speaking of root-stems with an initial /b/. Larry's response indicated that the reconstruction took the northern variants as representing the earlier stage and, therefore, the southern ones would show a loss of aspiration and consequently a falling together of the two syllables into one. Yet it seems to me that there may be other ways to look at the problem, particularly since the status of aspirated consonant series in pre-Basque doesn't seem to be fully understood. Let me suggest two alternate scenarios and then I would like others to explain why these are excluded as explanations. For our examples we shall use the bisyllabic root-stem /behe/ (N) and its monosyllabic counterpart /be/ (S) whose meaning in both dialectal groups is "low, below, beneath." Alternate Reconstructions: 1) Let us assume that the parent form had a phoneme in */bh/ and that northern dialects retained it while the southern dialects lost it. This would mean that the parent form was monosyllabic in */bhe/. Next, over time the northern dialects lost track of the phonemic status of */bh/ and the aspiration was rearticulated as /behe/. Or even that there developed at some part an allophone of */bh/ in */beh-/. This would make the northern dialects more conservative in one sense for they would have retained a trace of the original aspirated phoneme, but also innovative in that, in the process, they converted the earlier monosyllabic item into a bisyllabic one. On the other hand, the southern dialects would be conservative in retaining the monosyllabic nature of the parent form, but innovative in terms of the loss of aspiration. 2) Let us assume that the parent form had no aspirated consonants, i.e., that the earlier form of the item was */be/. Then let us further assume that at least some of the northern dialects developed aspirated consonants, a characteristic that might have also spread to some extent to the southern dialects but did not fully take hold. Over time the aspirated consonant (or allophone of */b-/) in */bh/ which had developed in these dialects, perhaps under pressure from those dialects that lacked this characteristic, rearticulated all the monosyllabic CV root-stems in /bh/ into */bVhV/. In the case of the southern dialects the monosyllabic non-aspirated form */be/ was retained: there was no innovation. Canonical Reconstruction: 3) Let us assume that the parent form was */behe/, identical to that found in northern dialects today, as Larry has suggested. That reconstruction of events means the innovation/loss would have occurred in the southern dialects, while the northern ones would be viewed as more conservative (for this feature). This is the standard interpretation, if I understand Larry's remarks correctly. With respect to this interpretation I would like to ask what role, if any, was played in this scenario by the aspirated consonants of the northern dialects, e.g., /bh/. I would mention, as Larry has, that the alternation between /b/ and /p/ is a common feature in southern dialects as well as northern ones. Please excuse my simplistic descriptions of these hypothetical events. I am certain that others on the list can improve on them as well as point out whether (3) is, indeed, the best and/or only explanation that can be given to the data. Again, I insist that I have absolutely no interest in promoting one description over another, only in hearing from others on the list (and obviously from Larry) concerning their opinions as to which of the three hypothetical scenarios listed above best describes the data. Also, I am interested in hearing any other reasons why one of the solutions *ought* to be preferred/adopted and the other two rejected. I should mention that there are probably other solutions/scenarios that could be mapped in addition to the three sketched out here. Ondo ibili, Roz From roz-frank at uiowa.edu Wed Sep 15 23:26:54 1999 From: roz-frank at uiowa.edu (Roslyn M. Frank) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 18:26:54 -0500 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (fwd) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: Part II. [on whether northern dialectal bisyllabic root-stems in /behe/ should be considered representative of Pre-Basque rather than their monosyllabic southern counterparts in /be/] Continuing the discussion of how one determines criteria for choosing the forms of one daughter language/dialect' over those of her sister.... Earlier I brought up a problem related to the reconstruction based on the following data set of attested items where in southern dialects the forms are monosyllabic, e.g., /be/ "low, below, beneath" while they are bisyllabic with aspiration in northern dialects, e.g., /behe/ "low, below, beneath." Northern dialects are characterized, in general, by aspirated consonants which are to my knowledge, generally speaking, absent from the southern dialects today In the earlier discussion my example was that of /behe/ versus /be. In on of three scenarios proposed for the reconstruction of the data I argued that the parent-form could have been */bhe and that when the aspiration was lost in the southern dialects it resulted in /be/ while in northern dialects there would have been an alternate form produced in */behe/ which coexisted for some time with */bhe/. Eventually the second variant of the original root stem */bhe/ took over and */bhe/ was lost, leaving */behe/ as the only attested option for this consonant, one that is alleged to have been aspirated in the past. Again, that is one scenario. In an unrelated discussion Larry brings up the fact that he will accept the root-stem "smoke" for his database of reconstructed items: LT] >Second, I repeat yet again that I am *not* excluding any data because >they don't fit my expectations. I am excluding data for entirely >different reasons, reasons that are independent of my expectations and, >in my view, entirely justified for the task I have in mind. For >example, the universal word smoke' definitely does not fit my >expectations, but I have to include it anyway, because it satisfies all >of my criteria. [RF] However, my question is the following: since this root stem has several different attested representations, which one should you choose? You seem to have chosen a southern variant, namely, /ke/. I refer to the fact that this item is often pronounced /ke/ and /kee/ in southern dialects but frequently /khe/ in northern ones. I emphasize the fact that /khe/ is considered a common variant of this item in the northern dialects, but not */khehe/ to my knowledge. Is this evidence for anything? And to make things more complicated there is ample evidence for a variant in /ekhe/ "smoke" in northern dialects whereas this appears as /eke/ in southern dialects. I assume that Hualde would list /kehe/ also. So faced with these representations of the same word, how does one go about reconstructing the form? Keeping in mind that the attested cases are /ekhe/, /khe/, /kehe/, /eke/ /ke/ and /kee/, which one should be assigned the role of best representing the earlier form? Or should none of them play that role? And was it originally monosyllabic or bisyllabic. Finally, will the reconstruction of this form, i.e., the choices that are made, have any bearing on the way that we reconstruct /behe/ vs. /be/? Or stated differently, doesn't the set of choices we make about the reconstruction of the proto-form of /behe/ vs. /be/ bear on the way that we reconstruct the proto-form of the root-stem meaning "smoke"? Finally, aren't we caught in a dilemna when we admit at the onset that the mechanisms (formerly) governing the aspiration of b/t/k and /p/t/g/ in Euskera are poorly understood. [LT] >As for the aspiration, that is one issue on which we still do not have >full agreement. The matter is much too complex to be discussed in >detail here. Agur t'erdi, Roz Frank From stevegus at aye.net Thu Sep 16 04:07:32 1999 From: stevegus at aye.net (Steve Gustafson) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 00:07:32 -0400 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: JoatSimeon at aol.com scripsit: > -- well, you can use modern Lithuanian as a "proto-Language" for Latvian, but > isn't this sort of off-topic for the instances (Latin, Sanskrit) that we were > using of dead liturgical languages? Similarly, in one sense you could use modern Icelandic as a "proto-language" for Norwegian, and probably the other Scandinavian Germanic languages as well. Now, modern Icelandic is partly explained by the romantic attachment of the Icelanders to their Norse past; and their standardized language reflects that allegiance. A similarly romantic spelling was inflicted long after the fact on Faeroese, even if the conventional values of the Latin alphabet will not serve you well if you try to pronounce Faeroese based on the writing. In writing, Faeroese seems a dialect only slightly different from Icelandic, and might serve just as well as a proto-language for Scandinavian. But Faeroese writing was invented in the nineteenth century by Hammershaimb. It seems to represent a tradition that isn't really there. This begs the Latin question once more. The spelling of Faeroese, Gaelic, or English depends as much on a will towards cultural antiquarianism and the prestige of norms laid down in the past, at least as much as it does with the standard use of the technology embodied in the alphabet. I don't think you can answer the question of when Latin (or Sanskrit, or English) "died" without answering the question: when did written Latin start to become a foreign language; and more importantly, when did it -cease- to be "merely" a normalized, learned, written language that was obviously related to, but profoundly different in vocabulary, syntax, and usage, from the spoken Romance that was the mother tongue of many Latin writers? I don't have an answer to this, but in the case of Latin it seems not to have occurred much before Dante and Petrarch lived. --- Glande accelerata velocior; machina tractore viae ferreae potentior; alta aedificia uno saltu insilire valens. From mclasutt at brigham.net Thu Sep 16 05:51:59 1999 From: mclasutt at brigham.net (Dr. John E. McLaughlin) Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 23:51:59 -0600 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: Message-ID: Joat Simeon wrote: > << Eastern Shoshoni has not undergone any noticeable sound > changes in that same > time period (based on analysis of the whole dialect continuum and > the easy way > that the Comanche changes can be tracked from modern Eastern Shoshoni). >> > -- well, you can use modern Lithuanian as a "proto-Language" for > Latvian, but > isn't this sort of off-topic for the instances (Latin, Sanskrit) > that we were > using of dead liturgical languages? The original question wasn't really related to Latin or Sanskrit specifically, but to the question of can a parent and daughter co-exist. It was originally raised in relation to the UPenn IE family tree. John E. McLaughlin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor mclasutt at brigham.net Program Director Utah State University On-Line Linguistics http://english.usu.edu/lingnet English Department 3200 Old Main Hill Utah State University Logan, UT 84322-3200 (435) 797-2738 (voice) (435) 797-3797 (fax) From mclasutt at brigham.net Thu Sep 16 07:42:47 1999 From: mclasutt at brigham.net (Dr. John E. McLaughlin) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 01:42:47 -0600 Subject: The Comparative Method and "semantics" In-Reply-To: <5ae283b.25109ced@aol.com> Message-ID: Steve Long wrote: > I wrote that "if two words are a phonologically the same [within > the workings > of the sound rules, of course], they have a high probability of common > ancestry" > You [kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu] write that's "incorrect." Because > "There are several other ways that > such pairs could arise." > That doesn't follow. The fact there are other ways they could arise only > means that the probability is not 100%. It doesn't mean the > probability is > not high. But you haven't demonstrated that the probability is even high. Take, for example, the English [ber] 'bear (n)', 'bare', 'bear (vb)'. According to your criteria, these three should have a high probability of being part of the same cognate set. They aren't. Without considering semantics, we're lost. Only by looking at semantics do we know which of the potential IE sister forms are really cognate with each of these three. The first is from PIE *bheros 'brown' (I'm using the PIE forms in the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology); the second is from PIE *bhosos 'uncovered'; and the third is from PIE *bher- 'carry, give birth'. Or how about 'ash' from PIE *os- 'deciduous tree sp'? Your methodology would also have to match 'ash' (residue of burning) as well, even though all the IE cognates for *os- are tree species. If you're going to make the claim that phonetics alone can establish cognate sets with a "high probability", then prove it. Conduct an experiment in which you do just that and then show us the probabilities so we can see your evidence of "high probability". Don't just argue from logic, use the Baconian model and perform the experiment. John E. McLaughlin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor mclasutt at brigham.net Program Director Utah State University On-Line Linguistics http://english.usu.edu/lingnet English Department 3200 Old Main Hill Utah State University Logan, UT 84322-3200 (435) 797-2738 (voice) (435) 797-3797 (fax) From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Thu Sep 16 08:21:05 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 09:21:05 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (PS) In-Reply-To: <19990911224239.65373.qmail@hotmail.com> Message-ID: On Sat, 11 Sep 1999, roslyn frank wrote: [on Basque black'] > An anecdotal and not very scientific piece of evidence (or > counter-evidence depending on your point of view) is the following > from a late 19th century interview conducted by an Englishmen with > two (apparently) Basque-speaking bear-trainers from Biarritz. The > conversation itself took place in what looks like a mixture of > French and Spanish. At one point the Englishman records that they > called their bear by the name "Belis" which I assume was the > Englishman's rendition of "Beltz" (Black). The question is how > faithful should we consider the Englishman's rendition to be of the > phonology of the original utterance. It is impossible to judge how accurate the Englishman's rendering might have been. Moreover, we can't be sure that the bear's name was , and in fact I doubt it. It would be most unusual to give an animal the name : in my experience, the form would be , with the article, and in fact I have encountered exactly this name given to at least one dog. > Similarly, from my point of view there are problems in interpreting > Aquitanian inscriptions that read BELEX(-), occasionally BELEXS- or > BELS-, and concluding that * was the original form (without > bringing in other evidence), Indeed, and the identification of the Aquitanian item with is by no means certain, though it is plausible. Anyway, we do have a modest amount of further evidence favoring the reconstruction of as * -- not least the observation that perhaps no other word in the language ends in the cluster <-ltz>. > keeping in mind that at that time -the time when the incriptions > were produced- we have no evidence for a written tradition in > Euskera, i.e., there was no standardized form of > writing/transcribing Euskera -something that only came into being in > the XXth century. Agreed, of course, since Aquitanian itself was apparently never written at all. All we have is Aquitanian names embedded in Latin texts, and written, as far as possible, with Latin spelling conventions. In most respects, those conventions appear to have been broadly adequate, but the big exception was the sibilants: Pre-Basque (and therefore presumably Aquitanian) was rich in contrasting sibilants, while Latin had only the single sibilant /s/ and only the single character for writing sibilants. It appears that the otherwise unneeded Latin was pressed into service to write some of the sibilants, probably especially the affricates, but that no consistent system of transcription was achieved. It is quite noticeable that, in Aquitanian, the graphs , , and are used in a somewhat haphazard way, with the same morpheme being variously spelled. > Nor is there any particular reason to think that the individuals who > carved the stones were copying from designs written by monolingual > Basque speakers. Stated differently, one would assume that the > stone-smiths who carved the Latin/Vulgar Latin texts which have > Basque names interspersed (is that the right way to phrase it?) Yes, except that the Latin is generally classical in form. > were probably copying their letters from a document > prepared by someone familiar with Latin/Vulgar Latin. It is not known whether the carvers were copying anything, though it is clear that the texts were written by someone who knew Latin. The funerary stelae were probably carved by professionals, but the votive inscriptions, which are generally just scrawled on bits of slate or similar material, were very likely made by the donors themselves. Note that we sometimes find Aquitanian case-endings in place of the expected Latin ones, suggesting that the inscriptions were made by native speakers of Aquitanian. > It is not clear whether that person was a Basque speaker or whether, > what happened was more similar to the case cited above in which an > Englishman tried to render his "impression" of what he "heard", i.e, > a Basque word that he transliterated into English phonology. (And, > yes, Larry, we've gone around on this one before in a different > venue.) Apart from the sibilants, the transcriptions of the Aquitanian names are generally highly consistent. This could mean either that the inscriptions were made by native Aquitanian speakers, or that the Aquitanian names were easily and accurately heard by the carvers, who had no trouble in putting them into Latin spelling. In either case, we can have some confidence in the accuracy of the transcriptions. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Thu Sep 16 08:38:02 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 09:38:02 +0100 Subject: Excluding data In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Wed, 15 Sep 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: [LT, on Basque heartbeat'] > Of course. But this word is not general in Basque. It is more or less > confined to the center of the country, being restricted, as far as I can > determine, to the Gipuzkoan dialect and to adjoining parts of the > Bizkaian dialect. It appears to be unknown in the French Basque > Country, unrecorded in the Pyrenean dialects and in High Navarrese, and > not general in the Bizkaian dialect. Furthermore, the word is only > first recorded, in the form of its derivative , in 1888. > On top of this, the word violates at least four of the > morpheme-structure constraints which are generally obeyed by words > meeting my criteria: > (1) No initial voiceless plosive; > (2) No initial coronal plosive; > (3) No final plosive; > (4) No final labial. > This is a key point that I opened up in my previous mail item. I > speculate that the initial 6 criteria you defined, create a close > coincidence with an expectation about what the phonological profile > of early euskara should be (as for example what is defined above) , > hence the possibility of revealing more structure to euskara is > limited by this unspoken correspondence. Sorry, but I don't see how my criteria do anything of the sort. The word is excluded because of its very late first attestation and because of its limited distribution in the language, not because of its form. If the word had proved to be found throughout the language and first recorded in the 16th century, then it would be in my list, regardless of its bizarre form. The four observations listed above are just that: observations about what appears to be generally true about words that *do* satisfy my criteria. The word is not excluded because it fails to meet these four criteria: it is excluded for other, and highly principled reasons, and I merely note afterward that it furthermore has a bizarre form. Now, in a study of Pre-Basque, as opposed to a study of modern Basque, what would be the point of including in a list of lexical items? This word is *most* unlikely to be ancient in Basque, and it is a fine example of the kind of thing I want to eliminate from consideration at once. > I seek to test my speculation by using a less restrictive criteria > and by studying classes of words not previously given individual > scrutiny. You could say why bother to do this when talented scholars > have already worked over all the material available in euskara. I > have two responses to that. Computers enable us to do a more > systematic job on a larger volume of data, more quickly, hence we > are likely to pick up omissions and oversights of earlier workers. Well, I have nothing against computers, but I don't regard them as a form of magic. If you put together a list of words 95% of which are not ancient in Basque, what exactly can your computer program do that will be informative about Pre-Basque? > A bit like using modern technology to reprocess the tailings of 19th > century gold mines. A colorful analogy, but I'm afraid I don't follow it. > Secondly, my experience has taught me that linguists don't know > their material as well as they think they do, so to me statments of > generalisations I take a little more scpetically than most others. But the generalizations can come only after the list has been compiled in the first place. We are talking about how the list should be compiled, not about the generalizations that will emerge from it -- though, as I have pointed out often, I *think* I have a pretty good idea what those generalizations will look like -- though I'm prepared to be surprised on occasion. But, once more: I *never* exclude a word from my list because it doesn't match any generalizations about form which I may have in mind. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Thu Sep 16 11:03:42 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 12:03:42 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque lexical items In-Reply-To: <4.1.19990911213548.0097ad50@blue.weeg.uiowa.edu> Message-ID: On Sat, 11 Sep 1999, Roslyn M. Frank wrote: > On that note, I remember that Larry mentioned once on this list that > /ikasi/ "to learn" was a loan word. I meant to follow that up. Can you > explain to us the reasoning there? Thanks. No, there must be a misunderstanding. I don't think I've ever suggested that Basque learn, study' might be a loan word. And I know of no evidence to support such a conclusion. This verb looks entirely native; it forms a typical ancient causative teach'; and it resembles nothing in any language known to have been in contact with Basque. Unless you take seriously Loepelmann's off-the-wall suggestion that it derives from Castilian insert, push in' (and other senses), which nobody does. When you learn something, I suppose you push it into yourself in some sense, but this etymology looks no more plausible than most of the rest of L's suggestions. Government health warning: The Surgeon General has determined that reading Loepelmann's alleged etymological dictionary of Basque is seriously damaging to mental health. As a dictionary, it makes a decent doorstop. When Michelena reviewed the book, he opened his review with one of the most wonderful dry comments I have ever seen: "It cannot be said that this book fills a gap." Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From lmfosse at online.no Thu Sep 16 16:16:49 1999 From: lmfosse at online.no (Lars Martin Fosse) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 18:16:49 +0200 Subject: SV: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: Vidhyanath Rao [SMTP:vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu] skrev 15. september 1999 16:25: > I agree that the terms language', dialect' or register' are quite fuzzy > and how we draw the lines depends on political and social factors. But so > does the term living language'. I think there is some merit to Vidyanath Rao's point here. Not only Tamil, which he mentions, but also other "living" Indian languages have several registers, and their written forms may be quite different from the spoken language. Furthermore, within a Hindu context, all Indian languages apparently at all times have been intimately connected with Sanskrit, which exchanged a great number of lexical elements with the Prakrits and later vernaculars. (One sometimes wonders if Sanskrit isn't an undead rather than a dead language :-).) The development of Sanskritized *shuddh* Hindi would be a case in point. Here, the popular version of Hindi/Urdu, so-called Hindustani, has been rejected as a language of culture in favour of a language you can only speak if you have higher education. (The same applies to Urdu, mutatis mutandis: Urdu gets much of its vocabulary from Persian and Arabic). Thus we may ask: is shuddh Hindi a living natural language (most speakers don't learn it on their mother's knee), or is it an artificial language produced through language engineering, but based on a natural language (Hindustani)? (I should add that loaning from Skt. is more extensive in shuddh Hindi than loans from Greek and Latin in European languages. Some speakers make a point of using the skt. form "pita" (father) instead of the normal "bap"). The more Sanskrit, the better. Urdu and Hindi are technically the same language, but when the well-educated and cultured speakers of both idioms bring out the majestic parts of their vocabulary, all they seem to share are the vector verbs and the syntactic rules. Behind much of this would seem to lie the concept of the "ideal language", which has to be different from what is normally used by the less sophisticated members of society. Idioms such as shuddh Hindi could then be regarded as a sociolect. But it is also a "statement" expressing a cultural ideal, and its speakers would try to disseminate it and make it a standard form of the language, much like High German in Germany. And if they succeed, what would we have then? A language - not just a dialect or a sociolect - with a Neo-Indo-Aryan grammar and a heavily Sanskritized vocabulary. It would seem that Sanskrit doesn't really die, it just transmigrates through Samsara like good Indians should :-). Not to mention that some people try to reintroduce it as a first language, learnt on mother's knee. Which would make it a bit like Hebrew if they were to succeed. To sum up: If Skt. is used - like Latin in the middle ages - un till today, while at the same time interacting strongly with vernaculars in certain cultural contexts (ruled by religion, but not simply religious - an important point), how dead is it *really*? Knowledge of Skt. is on the wane in India (people apparently prefer a business education), but it would seem that the corpse is still kicking. Best regards, Lars Martin Fosse Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114, 0674 Oslo Norway Phone/Fax: +47 22 32 12 19 Email: lmfosse at online.no From jer at cphling.dk Thu Sep 16 16:58:28 1999 From: jer at cphling.dk (Jens Elmegaard Rasmussen) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 18:58:28 +0200 Subject: Accepting fewer etymologies In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Sat, 11 Sep 1999, Sean Crist wrote: > In my last post, I said that it is better to miss a real cognation than to > accept a false one. > [...] Don Ringe's book on the relative chronology of the sound changes > in Tocharian: >[...] ------------------------------ > > p. xvi (emphasis, when it occurs, is Don Ringe's): > There is one procedure, and only one, which elevates comparative > reconstruction above the level of mere guesswork. That procedure is the > RIGOROUS application of the comparative method, based on the recognition > of STRICT sound correspondences and ultimately on the observation that > sound changes which have been carried to completion in a linguistic > community are almost always completely regular (i.e. are "sound laws"). > ALL etymologies not based on those principles are in effect > _Gleichklangsetymologien_; by themselves they have no probative value at > all, and any hypothesis which crucially depends on such etymologies will > be forever beyond proof. [...] > It follows that we can improve the reliability of our proposed > Tocharian sound laws not by finding more etymologies, but by accepting > FEWER. That is exactly what I have tried to do. [...] Nice quote! Though known to me already, it is gratifying to see it cited with the applause it deserves. My desperate question is: How does one make people in non-rigorous linguistics (comparative or other) understand that these principles reflect superior, not inferior and deficient, scholarly standards? Where I know the field, the sheer survival of Indo-European studies (perhaps even of good objective reasoning) appears to depend crucially on the propagation of these principles to quarters where it is rather the opposite (the "exciting point of view") that is at a premium. Anyone out there who has ever succeeded in convincing those "in charge" of linguistics that the rigorous methods of good old comparative linguistics constitute a point in our favor and not in our disfavor? If so, what did you say to them? Please help the needy with important advice! Jens From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Thu Sep 16 18:09:57 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 13:09:57 -0500 Subject: Pre-Basque lexical items/ekarri/carrus In-Reply-To: Message-ID: How about the etymology of Latin carrus? I've seen it < Gaulish carros or whatnot Watkins links "carry" with Latin correre Are these universally perceived as IE? [Watkins gives *kers-] [snip] >Actually, the suffix <-i> marks a perfective participle. There is no >reason to doubt the antiquity of in Basque, though I would >gloss it as bring', not as carry'. (English carry', = transport on >one's person', is not really lexicalized in Basque.) But it is far from >clear that the Basque verb is shared with any other language. The >popular suggestion, of course, is that derives from the same >source as English carry'. But all the sources I have available agree >that carry' is a borrowing from Old French transport by >vehicle', itself ultimately from Latin cart, wagon'. [snip] Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 From alderson at netcom.com Thu Sep 16 18:03:58 1999 From: alderson at netcom.com (Richard M. Alderson III) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 11:03:58 -0700 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (the stem) In-Reply-To: (X99Lynx@aol.com) Message-ID: On 15 Sep 1999, Steve Long wrote: >We've been told that no reconstructions were used in the raw data. So are we >to assume that the program reconstructed not only the pre-attestation shared >innovations that represent the nodes, but also your unrepresented (B, B') >innovations? Well, it better have reconstructed both, because your (B, B') >innovations are also "unshared innovations" as far as A' is concerned. Yes, and you have been told so, though perhaps not in so many words: *Both* sides of each fork represent innovations, as has been pointed out to you several times. >We've been told that the only chronological information that was used was the >dates of attestation. So how did the program determine "innovations" from >before the date of first attestation? And how did it determine the "relative" >chronology of those innovations? Did it have to go through the painful path >that Sean Crist took in his ci/ki example? Does this very smart program know >that ki>ci "rarely" occurs in the world's languages? We were also told that the chronological information was not added to the data from which the program drew its conclusions until after a relative chronology had already been worked out. And as I have pointed out in a previous message, the data used by the program are what *you* want to call reconstructions, although that is not how the word is used by linguists. The program was not handed a list of Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and Germanic words and expected to derive Grimm's Law therefrom, but was rather given the information that Grimm's Law encodes (where Grimm's Law could be substituted with Verner's Law, or Siever's Laws, or whichever change(s) you like). >We've been told that it is stemless, only reflecting relationships. So how >did the program know what is an innovation and what is merely is merely a >vestige of the previous state of the language in question? And how did it >know which branching innovation came first? If it is written as I would have done it, it contains a large number of heuristics derived from 200 years of linguistic theory, such as "palatal stops develop into (alveolo-)palatal affricates much more often than such affricates develop into palatal stops", and presented with the data gleaned over the last two centuries of IE studies. It would then process the data through the rules (heuristics) it had been given, and provide the most likely output in the form of a tree of innovations. Perhaps Mr. Crist knows if it was done significantly differently? >The latest answer to this point is I believe that both lines coming out of the >node can be considered innovating. That's convenient, but chronologically >absurd. Unless both happened on the same day, the diagramm should show a >branch off a branch, illustrating a significant innovation/divergence in the >"proto-language" - the stem. What is absurd is your insistence on seeing this tree not for what it is, but for what you think it ought to have been. The innovations in question are not single-point phenomena, nor does any branch on the tree represent a single change: Germanic, for example, is defined not only by Grimm's Law and Verner's Law, but by having PIE *m rather than PIE *bh in the plural oblique cases, and PIE *dh as a past-tense formant unlike any other in all of IE, and PIE *e > PG. *i, PIE *o > PG. *a, PIE *a: > PG. *o:, PIE *e: > PG. *a:, etc. ad nauseam. *ALL* of these, *each and every one*, is a part of the set of innovations that make Germanic different from the ten or so other branches. Rich Alderson From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Thu Sep 16 18:31:22 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 13:31:22 -0500 Subject: Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic In-Reply-To: <007701beffad$e06cbbc0$8870fe8c@lucent.com> Message-ID: And I imagine that Medieval Latin, which included terminology appropriate to Medieval society and technology] was easier to understand for Romance speakers than Classical Latin and that Modern Standard Arabic is easier for "dialect" speakers than Koranic Arabic. This seems to tell us that although these languages may be hooked to "life support" that they're still continued living [or surviving or subsisting, if you wish] in a certain sense. Someone with more knowledge of Arabic can answer whether or not the situation of Arabic vis-a-vis its dialects is analogous to that of Latin and Romance in Medieval times [As well as whether the notion that Saudi Arabic is very close to the international standard --and fairly close to Koranic Arabic- is gross exageration or not] > wrote: >> As far as I know -- correct me if I'm wrong -- there was no large >> group in ancient South Asia who used Sanskrit as their household >> language after the divergence of the Prakrits. >But the Sanskrit people wrote in during 3rd c. was quite understandable to >the Prakrit speakers, while the change in syntax would have made it quite >confusing to 4ht c. BCE Sanskrit spkears. Is the Sanskrit of dramas a >register of MIA (due to the nearness of syntax) or a dialect of Panini's >language (with which it shared phonology, and, varying with author's >milieu, morphology)? Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 From JoatSimeon at aol.com Thu Sep 16 18:24:17 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 14:24:17 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: stevegus at aye.net writes: >Much depends on what your definition is of language "death." -- the general definition is that a "dead" language is one which is not learned naturally -- that is, in infancy, from one's parents/caregivers. Instead it's learned after the acquisition of the mother tongue -- usually in school or some equivalent. Such languages may endure as scholastic _lingua franca_, but that's a different matter. The only case of language death being reversed that I know of is Modern Hebrew. >Looked at with the proper mental squint, written English is as much a dead >language as Latin is. -- this is a gross exaggeration. The _spelling_ of written English is archaic (non-phonetic) because it became standardized during a massive sound-shift, but using modern pronunciation it can be read aloud and understood by any native speaker of the language. From JoatSimeon at aol.com Thu Sep 16 18:40:03 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 14:40:03 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: >X99Lynx at aol.com writes: >So a parent language "gradually" dies while daughter languages "gradually" >develop. So, logically - while this "gradual" process is happening - a >parent and daughter can co-exist. Gradually, of course. -- At no point were Classical Latin and, say, Tuscan (substitute Romance language of choice) spoken at the same time. To understand the process, consider a thought experiment. Take a farmer from some Tuscan village, and sit him at a table. Next, resurrect his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc., back to the time of the Emperor Vespasian. Sit them all the same table in chronological order. Each man will be able to speak to his neighbor, and to a few on either side. The first man and the modern Tuscan will _not_ be able to speak to each other. He speaks Latin; the contemporary Tuscan speaks Italian. These are distinct languages. Go down the table. You won't find anyone who learned Latin _and_ Tuscan/Italian from his mother. There's no overlap. The daughter and the parent do not coexist. Because the parent _is_ the daughter and vice versa. The process of the development of the daughter is the _same thing_ as the death of the parent. They occurr simultaneously, as part of the same process. NB: If there were no other Romance languages, we'd call Italian "Latin", as we call Modern Greek "Greek" even though it's not the same language as Classical Greek and Classical isn't the same language as Mycenaean. (Just as we call the language we're talking in "English" and Alfred the Great called his "Englisc". They're not the same language, and a speaker of one would have to learn the other like a foreign tongue.) If Greek had survived outside the Aegean area -- say, if Southern Spain had become Greek speaking in the 5th century BCE and stayed that way, and the Bactrian Greek kingdom hadn't been overrun by nomads -- then we'd have three languages, "Aegean", "Tartessian", and "Bactrian", all members of the "Hellenic family of languages". From JoatSimeon at aol.com Thu Sep 16 18:45:20 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 14:45:20 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: >vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu writes: >Is formal Tamil a living language? And, if you try to regard formal and >colloquial Tamil as different registers, how do you tell different registers >of a langauge from two distinct languages? -- if you read a piece of formal Tamil out loud, can a colloquial-Tamil-speaker who hasn't received any training in formal Tamil understand it? From alderson at netcom.com Thu Sep 16 19:23:52 1999 From: alderson at netcom.com (Richard M. Alderson III) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 12:23:52 -0700 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: <1870caa6.251094a2@aol.com> (X99Lynx@aol.com) Message-ID: On 15 Sep 1999, Steve Long wrote: >In a message dated 9/14/1999 11:29:41 PM, JoatSimeon at aol.com writes: >>Latin "died" by becoming dozens of dialects which gradually lost mutual >>comprehensibility. The process is gradual... >So a parent language "gradually" dies while daughter languages "gradually" >develop. So, logically - while this "gradual" process is happening - a parent >and daughter can co-exist. Gradually, of course. NO! Or, alternatively, yes, sure, but not the way you mean. At no time in the history of a language do its (unsophisticated) speakers perceive themselves as speaking anything other than the language of their remotest ancestors, nor do they expect their remotest descendants to speak other than as they themselves do. At most, if there is a development not adopted by a member of an older generation (say a great-grandparent), they will notice that "Pawpaw says things differently" but they will not speak of different languages, nor should they. The historical recognition that earlier attested language L and later attested languages S, P, C, F, I, R, O, D, ..., are different can only come with a much longer view than any single human lifespan--and is irrelevant in the context of single generations. Language, although mostly a political concept, is best defined in terms of mutual comprehensibility, and different, contiguous generations of a single language community do not suffer a lack of mutual comprehensibility. As for the example of Eastern Shoshoni and Comanche, were the two groups not separated by geography, we would likely not consider Comanche a different language but rather a "highly divergent dialect" (demonstrating the political nature of the definition of language), and not be tempted to speak of a parent and child co-existing. I do agree that the example is important, for making us think about the question harder than learned liturgical languages. Rich Alderson From alderson at netcom.com Thu Sep 16 20:19:24 1999 From: alderson at netcom.com (Richard M. Alderson III) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 13:19:24 -0700 Subject: Typology before decipherment? In-Reply-To: (gordonselway@gn.apc.org) Message-ID: On 15 Sep 1999, Gordon Selway wrote: >So I guess our [...] moderator may be thinking about the question in prospect, >not in hindsight, when he wrote as below text quoted by Lloyd Anderson in his own response to what I had written, which was >>If a text is undeciphered, it is unclear to me how any amount of typological >>information could be put to use. Typology makes reference to concepts such >>as "noun", "verb", "adjective", "subject", "object", and so on, which cannot >>be applied to an undeciphered text. Perhaps you mean something other than >>"undeciphered"? My apologies to Mr. Selway and to the readers for over-anxious editing. Rich Alderson From BMScott at stratos.net Thu Sep 16 23:52:51 1999 From: BMScott at stratos.net (Brian M. Scott) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 19:52:51 -0400 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (the stem) Message-ID: X99Lynx at aol.com wrote: > < "non-innovating" in order, it seems, to label nodes.>> > No I'm not clouding anything. That IS how the nodes are labeled in this > tree, at least according to the way its been described. This is incorrect: Date: Fri, 13 Aug 1999 01:24:56 -0400 From: Sean Crist Subject: Re: The UPenn IE Tree On Thu, 12 Aug 1999 X99Lynx at aol.com wrote: [...] > So here at this first juncture: > PIE > / \ > / Anatolian > Does this mean that PIE co-exists with Anatolian? It would have to wouldn't > it? This is a question of terminology. In strict terms, we could call this something like proto-Tocharo-Italo-Celtico-Greco-Armenian-Balto-Slavic- Germanic-Indo-Iranian. When we're talking about this many undifferentiated branches, such terminology is obviously unwieldy. In more usable terms, we would talk about "the innovations shared by all the IE branches except Anatolian", etc. Note that already mention is made of innovations resulting in the unnamed node at the bottom of the left-hand branch. > There are a limited number of innovations indicated on that tree. They are > apparently the only ones relevant to what the tree is illustrating - the > supposed chronological "relatedness" of the languages. As I understand the algorithm, a binary character that has one value in Anatolian and the other in everything else would contribute to the branching shown above irrespective of whether both values, the Anatolian value, or the other value is an innovation with respect to PIE. The tree does not directly show innovations at all. > The latest answer to this point is I believe that both lines coming out of > the node can be considered innovating. That's convenient, but > chronologically absurd. Unless both happened on the same day, the diagramm > should show a branch off a branch, illustrating a significant > innovation/divergence in the "proto-language" - the stem. Innovations don't happen in a day, and none of the nodes can be pinned to a moment in time; presumably the forks (to the extent that they represent historical fact) are the result of gradual divergence. You're asking for either an impossible (even meaningless) level of chronological detail or a non-branching node, which so far as I can see is incompatible with the algorithm. Brian M. Scott From j-hualde at staff.uiuc.edu Thu Sep 16 15:15:09 1999 From: j-hualde at staff.uiuc.edu (=?iso-8859-1?Q?Jos=E9?= Ignacio Hualde) Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 08:15:09 -0700 Subject: Ancient Basque Stops Message-ID: [ Moderator's note: The following post is in response to recent discussions between Larry Trask and Roz Frank. Because it is strictly concerned with the interpretation of the Basque data, it is not strictly relevant to the Indo-European list, but I post it out of courtesy to Mr. Hualde. I have set the Reply-To: address to Mr. Hualde rather than to the list. I will not post follow-ups to the Indo-European list; those wishing to pursue this particular question further should move the discussion to another venue. --rma ] Good morning everyone. I hope I am allowed to post this message, even though I am not a member of this list. Dale Hartkemeyer has forwarded me two or three recent messages regarding the ancient Basque plosives and I would like to be given the opportunity to clarify my position, since it has been the subject of some exchanges. The problem of the ancient Basque plosives, as stated by Martinet and others before him, can be summarized as follows: " How come Basque, which has a robust opposition between voiceless and voiced oral stops in intervocalic position, shows a much weaker contrast in word-initial position?" From Martinet's structuralist standpoint this is a problem because the word-initial position is supposed to be the one where the greatest number of contrasts is found in any language. To solve this problem, Martinet made up a story that has to do with an ancient contrast between fortis and lenis stops which was later somehow replaced by the modern voiced/voiceless contrast. Michelena adopts a version of this hypothesis, which has become the standard account. My view is different. Basque differs from most languages presenting assimilation in voice across morpheme- and word-boundaries in that it is the morpheme- or word-initial consonant that assimilates to the preceding morpheme- or word-final one, instead of the other way round. So in Basque /s+d/ becomes [st], etc., whereas in, say, Spanish, /s+d/ becomes [zd]. E.g. the initial /d/ of "s/he is coming" becomes /t/ in [estator] "s/he is not coming", [menditi(k)tator] "s/he is coming from the mountain", etc. Or, to give you another example, whereas "head"starts with a /b/, the same morpheme starts with /p/ in, say, [ajspuru] "stone head". Nowadays, there is little chance that Basque speakers will identify initial [p] and [b] as allophonic variants, bacause of (a) their familiarity with Spanish or French and (b) because the assimilation rule tends to apply only in restricted phrasal contexts. BUT assuming that this assimilation applied more frequently in the past (as Michelena also assumes) it stands to reason that if and , and , and so on for lots of plosive-initial words, are variants of the same word in different phonological context, this would inevitably lead towards a merger of the voiced and voiceless oral stops in morpheme- and word-initial position (where the alternation is found) but not morpheme-internally. End of the story. The more complicated Martinet-Michelena hypothesis (which in addition requires an unexplained transformation from ancient to modern Basque) is, in my view, simply not needed and has no serious evidence in its favor. Thanks for allowing me to clarify my position. From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Fri Sep 17 10:55:31 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 20:55:31 +1000 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (PS) In-Reply-To: Your message of "Thu, 16 Sep 1999 09:21:05 +0100." Message-ID: ON Thu, 16 Sep 1999 09:21:05 +0100 (BST) Larry Trask said in repsonse to Ros Frank Indeed, and the identification of the Aquitanian item with is by no means certain, though it is plausible. Anyway, we do have a modest amount of further evidence favoring the reconstruction of as * -- not least the observation that perhaps no other word in the language ends in the cluster <-ltz>. My useful computer tells me there are 4 such words altz - alder tree beltz - black bultz - push, thrust giltz - key and the only words ending in <-lVtz>, justto identify evidence relevant to the lost vowel question, are -latz - latz = rough, crude -letz - no examples -litz - no examples -lotz - hilotz = corpse odolotz = coldblooded -lutz - no examples Jon patrick ______________________________________________________________ From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Fri Sep 17 11:13:59 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 21:13:59 +1000 Subject: Excluding data In-Reply-To: Your message of "Thu, 16 Sep 1999 09:38:02 +0100." Message-ID: ON Thu, 16 Sep 1999 09:38:02 +0100 (BST) Larry Trask said Sorry, but I don't see how my criteria do anything of the sort. The word is excluded because of its very late first attestation and because of its limited distribution in the language, not because of its form. If the word had proved to be found throughout the language and first recorded in the 16th century, then it would be in my list, regardless of its bizarre form. The four observations listed above are just that: observations about what appears to be generally true about words that *do* satisfy my criteria. The word is not excluded because it fails to meet these four criteria: it is excluded for other, and highly principled reasons, and I merely note afterward that it furthermore has a bizarre form. Now, in a study of Pre-Basque, as opposed to a study of modern Basque, what would be the point of including in a list of lexical items? This word is *most* unlikely to be ancient in Basque, and it is a fine example of the kind of thing I want to eliminate from consideration at once. This comment is a red herring. My commentaries were not about the inclusion or exclusion of this word in the analysis but that your criteria have high correlation with a model of the phonology that you object to being re-analysed from a different perspective. > I seek to test my speculation by using a less restrictive criteria > and by studying classes of words not previously given individual > scrutiny. You could say why bother to do this when talented scholars > have already worked over all the material available in euskara. I > have two responses to that. Computers enable us to do a more > systematic job on a larger volume of data, more quickly, hence we > are likely to pick up omissions and oversights of earlier workers. Well, I have nothing against computers, but I don't regard them as a form of magic. If you put together a list of words 95% of which are not ancient in Basque, what exactly can your computer program do that will be informative about Pre-Basque? Once again you are choosing to make inaccurate assertions. I think it was discussed previously in the list as the Straw Man arguement. A counter arguement to your position is "if you put together a list of of words of 5% of which are only ancient Basque how informative of the whole picture is that." > A bit like using modern technology to reprocess the tailings of 19th > century gold mines. A colorful analogy, but I'm afraid I don't follow it. Pity. It is the essence of our debate. > Secondly, my experience has taught me that linguists don't know > their material as well as they think they do, so to me statments of > generalisations I take a little more scpetically than most others. But the generalizations can come only after the list has been compiled in the first place. We are talking about how the list should be compiled, not about the generalizations that will emerge from it -- though, as I have pointed out often, I *think* I have a pretty good idea what those generalizations will look like -- though I'm prepared to be surprised on occasion. But, once more: I *never* exclude a word from my list because it doesn't match any generalizations about form which I may have in mind. I've never asserted that you did. However I do think that your criteria are designed to create an analysis that is more strongly consistent with the generalisations you "think you have a pretty good idea" about. My comment is that the human mind is more frail than we give it credit and a computer based analaysis helps us be more rigorous in our undertakings. It is unwarranted that you imply I present it as a tool of magic. I think we have seen an example of the extensiveness if not rigour of method that the computer can assist us with from the small analysis of the consonant cluster <-ltz> I presented in the previous message. Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From mclasutt at brigham.net Fri Sep 17 13:00:56 1999 From: mclasutt at brigham.net (Dr. John E. McLaughlin) Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 07:00:56 -0600 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: <199909161923.MAA28855@netcom2.netcom.com> Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] Rich Alderson wrote: > Language, although mostly a political concept, is best defined in terms of > mutual comprehensibility, and different, contiguous generations of a single > language community do not suffer a lack of mutual comprehensibility. > As for the example of Eastern Shoshoni and Comanche, were the two groups not > separated by geography, we would likely not consider Comanche a different > language but rather a "highly divergent dialect" (demonstrating the political > nature of the definition of language), and not be tempted to speak of a > parent and child co-existing. I do agree that the example is important, for > making us think about the question harder than learned liturgical languages. Indeed, some nonspecialists in this language group have considered both Comanche and Panamint (a language separated from Shoshoni at even greater time depth than Comanche) to be "dialects" of Shoshoni, yet neither shares the key criterion of mutual comprehensibility (at some high percentage) with Shoshoni and it takes months (not weeks or days) of practice before much comprehensibility can be achieved at all. Even then, it's always the case of, "I can mostly understand them, but they still can't understand me," when a Panamint or Comanche visits Shoshoni country. Often, the criteria for language separation in Europe are quite different than the criteria applied to the Americas. Chumash is a classic case. There were 5-7 distinct languages in this extinct family, yet most classifications of the world's languages out there list only Chumash as if it were one language. Here's the problem: There is no clear dividing line between dialect and language based solely on mutual comprehensibility. Is 90% comprehensibility between two people enough to link them? How about 80% comprehensibility? How about 80% comprehensibility on first meeting and 90% after a month of exposure? Or 20% comprehensibility? Or 20% comprehensibility when speaking at normal speed versus 40% comprehensibility when speaking very slowly? We have to make language vs. dialect judgments based on other criteria as well as comprehensibility. I once met a couple of fellow hikers on the Appalachian Trail in western North Carolina. They were from Scotland speaking English. I was from Utah speaking English. Yet there was less than 50% mutual comprehensibility. We finally resorted to the common context, hand signals, and a very slowly spoken "Swadesh list" of forms to "communicate". Were we actually speaking the "same language"? I've observed Spanish speakers and Portuguese speakers doing the same thing with about the same level of success, yet they are considered to be speaking two languages. Back to the case of Eastern Shoshoni versus Comanche, Eastern Shoshoni speakers have virtually no understanding of Comanche on first meeting, even when spoken slowly, but Comanche speakers have a greater understanding of Eastern Shoshoni when spoken (very) slowly on the first meeting. The Comanche sound shifts have made Comanche more opaque to Shoshoni than Shoshoni is to Comanche. This obscures the pure mutual comprehensibility question even further. Joat Simeon made an interesting thought experiment about speakers of Tuscan in an earlier post. You place the modern Tuscan at one end of the table with an unbroken chain of ancestors down to the other end who speaks Latin. In the Eastern Shoshoni-Comanche case, we'll put the common ancestor at the head of the table and his post-1700 descendants down each side. The descendants down the Shoshoni side of the table can still understand the common ancestor even though there have been some changes over the last 300 years (just as we could still understand American speech from 1700 if we heard it). A short ways down the Comanche side of the table, however, there is a marked change in the language so that granddad has difficulty understanding grandson and there is no understanding between great-grandfather and great-grandson. After that there is no more ability to talk across the table either. Now, you might object that this doesn't happen in the real world--that great-grandfathers can always understand their great-grandchildren. You're correct. But we all need to remember that an individual's speech also changes during their lifetime, so that great-grandpa's speech isn't the same at age 80 as it was at age 10. Joat Simeon's thought experiment relies on the assumption that everyone at the table is speaking as they did at the age of 20. At the head of the table sits a man who speaks Eastern Shoshoni. At the foot of the northern side of the table sits a woman who speaks Eastern Shoshoni and can understand the man seated at the head of the table. At the foot of the southern side of the table sits a man who speaks Comanche and cannot really understand either the woman seated across from him or the man seated at the head of the table. John E. McLaughlin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor mclasutt at brigham.net Program Director Utah State University On-Line Linguistics http://english.usu.edu/lingnet English Department 3200 Old Main Hill Utah State University Logan, UT 84322-3200 (435) 797-2738 (voice) (435) 797-3797 (fax) From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Fri Sep 17 13:28:06 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 14:28:06 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (fwd) In-Reply-To: <4.1.19990915153842.00973c80@blue.weeg.uiowa.edu> Message-ID: OK; I propose to reply to Roz's long two-part posting in several instalments, as time permits. On Wed, 15 Sep 1999, Roslyn M. Frank wrote: > [LT] >> First, it is linguistically unusual and unnatural to create new >> syllables in the middle of a word. Hence northern versus >> southern points clearly to the conservative nature of . > Sorry I don't understand this argument. Particularly I don't follow > the meaning of the terms "unusual" and "unnatural". The first seems > to refer to statistically demonstrated probabilities based on > cross-linguistic/typological studies, while the second's meaning is > more obscure. In making these comments I have in mind several points > that Steve Long has made in recent mailings concerning the > methodology used in comparative reconstructions when several > dialects/daughter languages are used to recreate the earlier state > of a linguistic system. Several things. First, the loss of syllables is *far* more frequent in languages than the creation of syllables -- excluding, of course, the addition of affixes -- though creation of syllables is certainly attested. So, given a north/south difference like / , we naturally first suspect syllable loss, not syllable gain. Second, the loss of the maximally weak consonant /h/ is *extremely* frequent in languages, and readily understandable. The history of English provides some magnificent examples: Jim Milroy has written at length on the steady loss of /h/ in English during the last thousand years or so. But we also find /h/-loss in Latin, French, Spanish, Greek, Hawaiian, Swedish, and zillions of other languages. In contrast, the insertion of /h/ is a rare process. It is certainly attested, though the few cases I have seen involve word-initial position, not word-medial position. Failing evidence to the contrary, then, we naturally look for /h/-loss, not for /h/-insertion. Third, it is demonstrable that the western Basque dialects, Bizkaian and Araban, formerly had /h/ but have lost it. Occam's Razor militates against positing *two* processes, an /h/-insertion and an /h/-loss, in the same language when the data require only one process. (By the way, /h/ has recently been lost also from the coast of Lapurdi, at least in casual speech, though it remains in formal speech, and the written records show its former presence there.) Fourth, we have a dictum in comparative reconstruction. If variety A has a contrast which is absent from related variety B, then, unless there are very good reasons for doing something else, we reconstruct the contrast for the common ancestor, and conclude that the contrast has been lost in B. Since the northern varieties of Basque have an /h/-zero contrast, absent in the south, we therefore prefer to reconstruct the contrast for the common ancestor, and to assume that the southern varieties have lost it. > [LT] >> Second, we have minimal pairs in the aspirating dialects, like >> six' and boy, servant'. If we took * as the ancestral >> form in both cases, we would have no principled basis for explaining the >> modern contrast. > Unless is a more recent/ancient loan word, i.e., related > to items such as in Spanish. It is *extremely* unlikely that Basque is borrowed from Romance: its form militates against that. However, there are plenty of other words available to make the same point: see below. > In this respect I don't argue > with your logic, only your particular example. Had it been a > different one where the loan word status of one of the items was > less questionable and had the sample in question consisted of a half > dozen or so such examples of minimal pairs, its power of persuasion > would have been greater. This is a case where a more statistically > driven model might give us much better results. But that assumes the > need to collect data without eliminating one or the other of the > possibilities. For instance, one would need to collect data for all > the southern/central dialects in order to see how the problem of > polysemy is dealt with. In otherwords a stronger argument would be > to show that in northern dialects there are indeed an extended set > of minimal pairs in which the presence of /h/ (or [h] ?) is the only > distinguishing characteristic. The only one that comes to my mind is > that of /sei/ "six" and /sehi/ "boy, servant." To my knowledge, > northern dialects do notcontrast /behi/ "cow" with */bei/ meaning > something else; nor /behe/ "low, below, beneath" with */be/ meaning > something else. That doesn't mean that there might not be other > minimal pairs that could be examined. We don't really need minimal pairs. Take a look at some further northern forms. ~ material', yes', vulture', high place', top', root', vein', body', morning', a certain agricultural implement', ~ four', night', foot', pain', and many others. But: desire', habitually', mud', cow', once', bran', grain', mouth', turf, sod', ability', feeble', palm of the hand', tongue', and many others. Now, if you want to maintain that the forms without /h/ are original, and that the forms with /h/ are innovations, then you must provide a conditioning factor. That is, you must explain what the rules are for deciding when /h/ is inserted and when it is not. Since I can see no possible basis for doing this, I conclude -- like everybody -- that the /h/ is original, and that the southern dialects have lost it, producing a number of new monosyllables there. > [LT] >> It appears that we must reconstruct two Pre-Basque >> forms [/sei/ and /sehi/] with differing numbers of syllables, with the >> contrast surviving >> in the north but lost in the south after the loss of the aspiration. > In other words, you argue that root-stems > which are monsyllabic (and unaspirated) in southern dialects should be > considered bisyllabic in Pre-Basque. Yes. Absolutely. All the evidence points that way. Consider some further evidence. Latin duck' was borrowed into Pre-Basque as *. With the categorical loss of intervocalic /n/ in medieval Basque, this has become in the north, but variously , or in the south. In this case, and likewise with other loans from Latin, it is perfectly clear that the forms with three syllables are conservative, and that the two-syllable form is an innovation. The southern dialects have lost syllables. > [LT] >> Third, aspiration survives today in the north. It was also very >> prominent in the west, in Bizkaia and Araba, during the Middle Ages, as >> our written records show. For the central dialects, there is no direct >> attestation of any aspiration. By far the most parsimonious scenario is >> a Pre-Basque aspiration in all varieties, followed by early loss in the >> center, much later loss in the west, and retention down to today in the >> north. > Why is this "by far the most parsimonious scenario"? Do you mean > that the lack of aspiration in central dialects means they are the > least stable and hence most deviant (at least for this item)? I wouldn't say "least stable" or "most deviant". I would describe them as "innovating". > Isn't there another way of looking at data which portrays features > found in "central dialects" (geographically speaking) as being more > representative of "core" or "earlier" features"? I'm not > necessarily subscribing to this view, simply stating it. If I may ignore certain issues in the discussion of the homeland problem, where such ideas have indeed been put forward, then the most prominent position among dialectologists -- introduced, I believe, by the Italian Neolinguists -- is that central dialects tend to be the most innovating, and peripheral dialects the most conservative -- exactly as concluded in our case. > [LT] >> Fourth, we have good evidence that ancient Aquitanian was an ancestral >> form of Basque -- and the written aspiration is pervasive in the >> Aquitanian materials. > Again there are a number of prior assumptions involved in that > argument, e.g., that Aquitanian was, indeed, an ancestral form of > Basque and not simply a(nother northern) dialect. Since most of the surviving Aquitanian texts come from the north, it is possible that our texts mostly preserved a northern variety of Aquitanian which has died out, while Basque descends from a southern variety which is sparsely recorded. But the letter is just as prominent in the few southern inscriptions as it is in the northern ones. Anyway, we don't need to appeal to Aquitanian to conclude that /h/ is a conservative feature in Basque, not an innovation: *all* the evidence points that way. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Fri Sep 17 16:11:38 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 17:11:38 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (part 2) In-Reply-To: <4.1.19990915153842.00973c80@blue.weeg.uiowa.edu> Message-ID: On Wed, 15 Sep 1999, Roslyn M. Frank wrote: > At another point in our earlier discussion, I asked whether the > monosyllabic root-stems in southern Basque dialects (which have > aspirated bisyllabic counterparts in northern dialects) were > considered bisyllabic, i.e., whether the forms in the northern > dialects were given preference in reconstructions. Yes, and with good reason, as explained earlier. > Specifically we were speaking of root-stems with an initial /b/. > Larry's response indicated that the reconstruction took the northern > variants as representing the earlier stage and, therefore, the > southern ones would show a loss of aspiration and consequently a > falling together of the two syllables into one. Absolutely. This is the only interpretation consistent with the evidence. > Yet it seems to me that there may be other ways to look at the > problem, particularly since the status of aspirated consonant series > in pre-Basque doesn't seem to be fully understood. True, though in Pre-Basque it seems likely that aspiration was probably entirely non-distinctive, and that the marginally or substantially contrastive value which it now has in the north results from other changes. > Let me suggest two alternate scenarios and then I would like others > to explain why these are excluded as explanations. OK, but, looking ahead, note this. It is usually easy to invent all kinds of scenarios that are more or less consistent with the data. But the issue is the evidence that can be adduced in favor of any given proposal. > For our examples we shall use the bisyllabic root-stem /behe/ (N) > and its monosyllabic counterpart /be/ (S) whose meaning in both > dialectal groups is below'. To be honest, I am not aware that below' exists today as an independent word in the north, though it is attested there in older literature, and its former presence is assured by its numerous derivatives, such as downward' (<-ra> allative). In the south, the independent word still exists today; it is usually in Bizkaian and elsewhere. As a suffix, it is everywhere <-be>, with a variant <-pe>. > Alternate Reconstructions: > 1) Let us assume that the parent form had a phoneme in */bh/ and > that northern dialects retained it while the southern dialects lost > it. This would mean that the parent form was monosyllabic in */bhe/. > Next, over time the northern dialects lost track of the phonemic > status of */bh/ and the aspiration was rearticulated as /behe/. Or > even that there developed at some part an allophone of */bh/ in > */beh-/. > This would make the northern dialects more conservative in one sense > for they would have retained a trace of the original aspirated > phoneme, but also innovative in that, in the process, they converted > the earlier monosyllabic item into a bisyllabic one. On the other > hand, the southern dialects would be conservative in retaining the > monosyllabic nature of the parent form, but innovative in terms of > the loss of aspiration. The problem here is lack of evidence, plus a degree of unnaturalness. To begin with, aspirated voiced plosives like /bh/ are rare in the world's languages, though certainly attested. But there exists no trace of evidence in Basque for such sounds. There exists not a single Basque form recorded anywhere with an aspirated /b d g/, and positing such unusual sounds requires something in the way of evidence. Moreover, as my last posting showed, it is not only words with initial /b d g/ that are involved, but words with all sorts of initials. For example, to account for northern desire', southern , you apparently need also to posit an aspirated nasal */nh/; for northern tallow', southern , you need to posit an aspirated sibilant */zh/; and so on. And what do you do about cases like northern mouth', ability', finger', and so on, all of which have initial vowels? An account that says nothing about all these other cases cannot be preferred to the simple and obvious interpretation of the mere loss of /h/ in the south. > 2) Let us assume that the parent form had no aspirated consonants, > i.e., that the earlier form of the item was */be/. Then let us > further assume that at least some of the northern dialects developed > aspirated consonants, a characteristic that might have also spread > to some extent to the southern dialects but did not fully take hold. > Over time the aspirated consonant (or allophone of */b-/) in */bh/ > which had developed in these dialects, perhaps under pressure from > those dialects that lacked this characteristic, rearticulated all > the monosyllabic CV root-stems in /bh/ into */bVhV/. In the case of > the southern dialects the monosyllabic non-aspirated form */be/ was > retained: there was no innovation. But then how do you account for the widespread Bizkaian form , with double /e/ but no aspiration? Or for northern old', southern ~ ? And what about the loans from Latin, like northern duck', southern ~ ~ ? What can this account say about these, bearing in mind that the Latin source is ? Anyway, a sequence * > * > is not something I've ever seen before in any language. > Canonical Reconstruction: 3) Let us assume that the parent form was > */behe/, identical to that found in northern dialects today, as > Larry has suggested. That reconstruction of events means the > innovation/loss would have occurred in the southern dialects, while > the northern ones would be viewed as more conservative (for this > feature). This is the standard interpretation, if I understand > Larry's remarks correctly. It is. > With respect to this interpretation I would like to ask what role, > if any, was played in this scenario by the aspirated consonants of > the northern dialects, e.g., /bh/. No such segments exist, nor are they attested anywhere in Basque. The only Basque consonants which can bear the aspiration are /p t k/ (word-initially, or at the beginning of a second syllable when not immediately preceded by a sibilant), plus all liquids and /n/ (at the beginning of a second syllable only). > I would mention, as Larry has, that the alternation between /b/ and > /p/ is a common feature in southern dialects as well as northern > ones. Yes, but the voicing alternations, in the vast majority of cases, have well-understood origins. A typical example: cart' + * round' Rule 1: /i/ is lost at the end of a first element in word-formation, except after /b/, when it remains: * Rule 2: a plosive becomes /t/ before a morpheme boundary: * Rule 3: /t/ devoices a following plosive: * Rule 4: /t/ is lost before another plosive: cartwheel' (the modern form) All of these rules are entirely regular and abundantly documented in Basque word-formation. Not one is doubtful or *ad hoc*. More examples: eye' + head' > eyebrow' eye' + skin' > eyelid' bread' + <-gin> maker' > baker' > Please excuse my simplistic descriptions of these hypothetical > events. I am certain that others on the list can improve on them as > well as point out whether (3) is, indeed, the best and/or only > explanation that can be given to the data. It is, certainly. > Again, I insist that I have absolutely no interest in promoting one > description over another, only in hearing from others on the list > (and obviously from Larry) concerning their opinions as to which of > the three hypothetical scenarios listed above best describes the > data. Also, I am interested in hearing any other reasons why one of > the solutions *ought* to be preferred/adopted and the other two > rejected. I should mention that there are probably other > solutions/scenarios that could be mapped in addition to the three > sketched out here. Yes, but only the standard view accounts satisfactorily for the data. Since this also happens to be by far the simplest and most natural interpretation, what possible ground can there be for querying it? Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Fri Sep 17 17:05:16 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 12:05:16 -0500 Subject: SV: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: <01BF006F.BD8A71C0.lmfosse@online.no> Message-ID: You say that in jest but what you need to do invent some impressive sounding linguistic term and we can all declare victory How about "Zombie-sprache"? or "Athanatic language"? [snip] (One >sometimes wonders if Sanskrit isn't an undead rather than a dead language >:-).) [snip] Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 From stevegus at aye.net Fri Sep 17 14:14:06 1999 From: stevegus at aye.net (Steven A. Gustafson) Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 10:14:06 -0400 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: JoatSimeon at aol.com wrote: >> Looked at with the proper mental squint, written English is as much a dead >> language as Latin is. > -- this is a gross exaggeration. The _spelling_ of written English is > archaic (non-phonetic) because it became standardized during a massive > sound-shift, but using modern pronunciation it can be read aloud and > understood by any native speaker of the language. It may be an exaggeration, but I would suggest that it isn't as far-fetched as you might think. First, a fluent English reader needs to internalize etymological data, which she applies as she goes along. Coming across an unfamiliar written word, she must first attempt to determine whether it is a native Germanic word, or a Norman word, or a later French word, or a learned Greco-Latin word, or something else entirely, before she knows what set of rules to apply to attempt to pronounce it. At the time of the Counter-Reformation there was a great deal of fuss being made about standardizing the pronunciation of Latin in the Roman Church liturgy. This suggests that Latin was pronounced very differently from one region to another before. From our vantage point, it is hard to say how much people understood back then when they heard Latin being spoken aloud in the local pronunciation; but I suspect they understood quite a bit of it --- depending, again, on how much etymological data they had internalized, the better to internally reconstruct more familiar structures out of the Latin words and syntax. Similarly, contemporary English speakers may be able to follow familiar texts read from the Declaration of Independence or the King James Bible; but new texts in similar styles may be much harder for them to grasp. I know that when I sit down to watch Shakespeare performed, it takes me about fifteen minutes or so before I am able to follow what is being said. Before I have readjusted my set, spoken Shakespeare sounds like gibberish. Still, I can -read- the Shakespeare without a problem. -- Steven A. Gustafson, attorney at law Fox & Cotner: PHONE (812) 945 9600 FAX (812) 945 9615 http://www.foxcotner.com Ecce domina quae fidet omnia micantia aurea esse, et scalam in caelos emit. Adveniente novit ipsa, etiamsi clausae sint portae cauponum, propositum assequitur verbo. From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Fri Sep 17 16:32:19 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 17:32:19 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (part 3) In-Reply-To: <4.1.19990915182306.009722e0@blue.weeg.uiowa.edu> Message-ID: On Wed, 15 Sep 1999, Roslyn M. Frank wrote: > Earlier I brought up a problem related to the reconstruction based > on the following data set of attested items where in southern > dialects the forms are monosyllabic, e.g., /be/ "low, below, > beneath" while they are bisyllabic with aspiration in northern > dialects, e.g., /behe/ "low, below, beneath." Northern dialects are > characterized, in general, by aspirated consonants which are to my > knowledge, generally speaking, absent from the southern dialects > today Correct, though only certain consonants, in certain positions, can be aspirated in northern varieties today. And recall that the aspiration is abundantly recorded in the western dialects in the Middle Ages, though only /h/. Aspirated plosives are not recorded there, though they may have existed anyway. Other aspirated consonants *are* recorded there: for example, medieval for modern , a place name. > In an unrelated discussion Larry brings up the fact that he will > accept the root-stem "smoke" for his database of reconstructed > items: Right. I have to. > However, my question is the following: since this root stem has > several different attested representations, which one should you > choose? You seem to have chosen a southern variant, namely, /ke/. > I refer to the fact that this item is often pronounced /ke/ and > /kee/ in southern dialects but frequently /khe/ in northern ones. I > emphasize the fact that /khe/ is considered a common variant of this > item in the northern dialects, but not */khehe/ to my knowledge. Is > this evidence for anything? The word is usually in the north, in the south. I query the reality of the suggested *, which I have never encountered anywhere. True, plus the article <-a> is commonly pronounced in many varieties, but this is easy to explain, and not relevant. Certainly * does not exist, and it couldn't: the aspirating varieties permit only one aspiration per word. > And to make things more complicated there is ample evidence for a > variant in /ekhe/ "smoke" in northern dialects whereas this appears > as /eke/ in southern dialects. I'd like to know what evidence this is. There exists a localized High Navarrese variant , which is quite mysterious. But I know of no such northern form as *. (There *is* a northern word ~ , but it means material for making something'.) I must confess, though, that I would be pleased if the highly anomalous could be shown to be a reduced form of an earlier *. That would remove the single most anomalous form from my list. Don't see how to do it, though, on present evidence. > I assume that Hualde would list /kehe/ also. No, I don't think so. No such form as * is recorded anywhere, and nobody has proposed it as a reconstruction. > So faced with these representations of the same word, > how does one go about reconstructing the form? Keeping in mind that > the attested cases are /ekhe/, /khe/, /kehe/, /eke/ /ke/ and /kee/, I can't agree, I'm afraid, unless you can cite some documentary evidence for the reality of the ones I have queried. > which one should be assigned the role of best representing the > earlier form? My choice is the virtually universal , since I ignore the aspiration in citing forms (for my particular purposes here, I mean). The variant is too localized to be taken as more conservative, much as I might like to do that. > Or should none of them play that role? And was it > originally monosyllabic or bisyllabic. The evidence at present says monosyllabic. > Finally, will the > reconstruction of this form, i.e., the choices that are made, have > any bearing on the way that we reconstruct /behe/ vs. /be/? I don't think so. An original * offers no difficulties at all. The word for smoke' is anomalous, that's all, with its initial /k/ and its mysterious variant . No other word in the language behaves like this one, and I'm trying to work out the general rules, not to account for isolated anomalies. > Or stated differently, doesn't the set of choices we make about the > reconstruction of the proto-form of /behe/ vs. /be/ bear on the way > that we reconstruct the proto-form of the root-stem meaning "smoke"? Not that I can see. > Finally, aren't we caught in a dilemna when we admit at the onset > that the mechanisms (formerly) governing the aspiration of b/t/k and > /p/t/g/ in Euskera are poorly understood. The *origin* of the aspiration is indeed poorly understood. But that's an entirely different issue from deciding whether forms with or without the aspiration are more conservative. We may safely reconstruct * for below' without bothering our heads about where that aspiration came from originally. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From JoatSimeon at aol.com Fri Sep 17 17:55:40 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 13:55:40 EDT Subject: SV: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: >lmfosse at online.no writes: >Furthermore, within a Hindu context, all Indian languages apparently at all >times have been intimately connected with Sanskrit, which exchanged a great >number of lexical elements with the Prakrits and later vernaculars. (One >sometimes wonders if Sanskrit isn't an undead rather than a dead language >:-). >> -- similarly, Latin has been a continuing influence on the European languages; even English grammarians originally used Latin models, doing some violence to the language in the process. From HSTAHLKE at gw.bsu.edu Fri Sep 17 20:24:07 1999 From: HSTAHLKE at gw.bsu.edu (Herb Stahlke) Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 15:24:07 -0500 Subject: Accepting fewer etymologies Message-ID: >>> Jens Elmegaard Rasmussen 09/16 11:58 AM >>> My desperate question is: How does one make people in non-rigorous linguistics (comparative or other) understand that these principles reflect superior, not inferior and deficient, scholarly standards? Where I know the field, the sheer survival of Indo-European studies (perhaps even of good objective reasoning) appears to depend crucially on the propagation of these principles to quarters where it is rather the opposite (the "exciting point of view") that is at a premium. Anyone out there who has ever succeeded in convincing those "in charge" of linguistics that the rigorous methods of good old comparative linguistics constitute a point in our favor and not in our disfavor? If so, what did you say to them? Please help the needy with important advice! >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> There is little question that rigorous comparative linguistics must end up at this point, that the rigorous application of the comparative method, as the Ringe quote specifies, is the only way to get carefully reasoned, testable results. However, that leaves us still with the methodological question of how one gets to the point at which the CM becomes usable. In IE details of relationships have been well enough worked out that one can start with the CM. In a place like Africa, South America, Australia, or New Guinea, on the other hand, we need ways to determine which languages are promising candidates for the CM, and we need other methods to formulate those hypotheses. This is where lexicostatistics and, in Africa, mass comparison, have proved useful. It is not that groupings established by these methods are to be considered as strongly motivated. Rather, it means that we can formulate hypotheses that we can then test with the comparative method. This is not a matter of discarding rigor for the "exciting point of view"; it's a matter of having some basis for deciding where to start. Herb Stahlke From roz-frank at uiowa.edu Sat Sep 18 00:26:44 1999 From: roz-frank at uiowa.edu (Roslyn M. Frank) Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 19:26:44 -0500 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (PS) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: At 09:21 AM 9/16/99 +0100, you wrote: >On Sat, 11 Sep 1999, roslyn frank wrote: >[on Basque black'] >> An anecdotal and not very scientific piece of evidence (or >> counter-evidence depending on your point of view) is the following >> from a late 19th century interview conducted by an Englishmen with >> two (apparently) Basque-speaking bear-trainers from Biarritz. The >> conversation itself took place in what looks like a mixture of >> French and Spanish. At one point the Englishman records that they >> called their bear by the name "Belis" which I assume was the >> Englishman's rendition of "Beltz" (Black). The question is how >> faithful should we consider the Englishman's rendition to be of the >> phonology of the original utterance. >It is impossible to judge how accurate the Englishman's rendering might >have been. Moreover, we can't be sure that the bear's name was , >and in fact I doubt it. It would be most unusual to give an animal the >name : in my experience, the form would be , with the >article, and in fact I have encountered exactly this name given to at >least one dog. True. There isn't much way to determine what exactly the speaker's said, whether it was or only the Englishman rendered what he heard as . However I'm not so certain that I agree with you that one would expect to encounter as the nickname for the animal. I think things may be a bit more complicated. Whereas today if a Basque speaker is asked to translate a word from English to Basque, s/he will normally do so by attaching the former distal demonstrative to the item, i.e., the word appears with the suffixing element <-a>. However, does it follow that this "pseudo" definite article is used by Basque speakers when creating nicknames for animals and people? And it is commonplace for last names ending in to appear as , e.g., Urbeltz, not *Urbeltza. In the same way "love" is a commonplace first name, not . Or, for example, we find "little" often used as a nickname, not . >From a cognitive perspective, does the creation of nicknames of this type tend [in all languages] to respond to the vocative usage? If they do, then it would be logical (I think) for the item not to carry the <-a> suffix in Euskera. On that note, although the terms "lord, sir" will be translated as , my friends' mastiff still responds to . >> Similarly, from my point of view there are problems in interpreting >> Aquitanian inscriptions that read BELEX(-), occasionally BELEXS- or >> BELS-, and concluding that * was the original form (without >> bringing in other evidence), >Indeed, and the identification of the Aquitanian item with is by >no means certain, though it is plausible. Anyway, we do have a modest >amount of further evidence favoring the reconstruction of as >* -- not least the observation that perhaps no other word in the >language ends in the cluster <-ltz>. Agreed. >> keeping in mind that at that time -the time when the incriptions >> were produced- we have no evidence for a written tradition in >> Euskera, i.e., there was no standardized form of >> writing/transcribing Euskera -something that only came into being in >> the XXth century. >Agreed, of course, since Aquitanian itself was apparently never written >at all. All we have is Aquitanian names embedded in Latin texts, and >written, as far as possible, with Latin spelling conventions. In most >respects, those conventions appear to have been broadly adequate, but >the big exception was the sibilants: Pre-Basque (and therefore >presumably Aquitanian) was rich in contrasting sibilants, while Latin >had only the single sibilant /s/ and only the single character for >writing sibilants. It appears that the otherwise unneeded Latin was >pressed into service to write some of the sibilants, probably especially >the affricates, but that no consistent system of transcription was >achieved. It is quite noticeable that, in Aquitanian, the graphs , >, and are used in a somewhat haphazard way, with the same >morpheme being variously spelled. Further proof that they were attempting to render sounds that were foreign to the language they were writing in, although after reading recent mailings to the list, I wonder just how many alphabets are as faithful to the phonology of the language as in the case of Latin or Spanish. I'm also curious whether in IE studies similar data of the presence/influence of non-IE languages have been detected through the analysis of such anomalies in texts written in IE languages. In other words, if we assume that alphabets are unstable in terms of their power of referentiality, i.e., their ability to reflect way the language in question is/was actually spoken, what does that mean in terms of level accuracy of linguistic data derived from early IE inscriptions? [snip] >It is not known whether the carvers were copying anything, though it is >clear that the texts were written by someone who knew Latin. The >funerary stelae were probably carved by professionals, but the votive >inscriptions, which are generally just scrawled on bits of slate or >similar material, were very likely made by the donors themselves. >Note that we sometimes find Aquitanian case-endings in place of the >expected Latin ones, suggesting that the inscriptions were made by >native speakers of Aquitanian. Interesting. Isn't there also the fact that Basque last names often include case-endings in them and perhaps more so at that time when the notion of a "last name" was far less stable and/or formalized? I refer to the fact that "last names" frequently refer(red) to geographical locations where the Stammhaus was located, i.e., the , and as a result the individual was identified with the site or location and, hence, the need for a genitive ending, although I assume you are talking about other kinds of examples where the donor really appears to have been bilingual (not just repeating the genitive ending on an already existing name), a bit like the trilingual author of the _Glosas Emilienses_ (a source of very early examples of Castillian) who wrote notes to himself in the margins in his native tongue, Euskera, while translating the Latin text into Castillian. It's interesting how many times this document is discussed in canonical histories of the Spanish language but without any mention of the marginal notes that are clearly visible in reproductions of the manuscript. H'mmmmm. Agur t'erdi, Roz ************************************************************************ Roslyn M. Frank Professor ************************************************************************ Department of Spanish & Portuguese University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 52242 email: fax: (319)-335-2990 From X99Lynx at aol.com Sat Sep 18 03:37:39 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 23:37:39 EDT Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (the stem) Message-ID: In a message dated 9/17/1999 2:09:06 AM, alderson at netcom.com writes: < PG. *i, PIE *o > PG. *a, PIE *a: > PG. *o:, PIE *e: > PG. *a:, etc. ad nauseam.>> In a message dated 9/03/1999 12:39:20 AM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu writes: <<-Reconstructed forms were not included in the data.>> Well, I don't know what * in front of all those vowels mean, but obviously either you and Mr. Crist are talking about two different trees. Or sometime recently PIE was crossed off the list of reconstructed languages. You write: <> I have some reason to think that I'm not the one who is seeing this tree for what it is. The example above just being one instance. It might be far more productve to take a critical look at what you are defending for a moment. Do you find nothing extraordinary about writing <> when you have an unqualified quote that no reconstructed data was used? Could it be that you misunderstand what the tree is about? <> Once again you are not aware of what was said about the tree. The case where both sides innovate was given as a possibility, but not necessary. In a message dated 9/14/1999 2:40:06 PM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu wrote, specifically in response to my bringing up the issue: <> <> And if I'm not mistaken it was also given a date for Grimm's Law and an assumption that of course that Law is relatively unique to Germanic languages. Now here's how Sean Crist (to the best of his understanding, of course) described the basic "units" being measured by the algorithm and reflected in the Stammbaum: >From a message dated 8/24/99 10:02:51 PM from kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu: << as far as I'm aware, Ringe et. al. don't make any statements regarding mutual intelligibility. It's a matter of innovations being shared or not shared. Presumably, two dialects which had recently branched (i.e., undergone innovations which are not shared) would remain mutually intelligible for awhile, ...>> I can only take that to mean that Grimm's Law (as some form of quantitive raw data?) would mark the branching off of Germanic. Nothing more and nothing less. Whenever the Law is deemed to have taken effect in relative chronology would be the point of branching off of Germanic, UNLESS it branched off before Grimm Law - in which case that law would not even show up in the analysis. I don't have a copy of the methods statement - I'd love to see it - but the point of branching is supposed to be a real event. In which case all later innovations should be irrelevant. Please follow me closely on this one. Innovations that occur after branching should not be included in the data, or they will falsify the relative or absolute time of occurence of the actual branching. So the algorithm must either assume Grimm's Law happened at the point of branching (and include that data). Or date it afterwards and exclude all GL data. Again I'd love to see a formal statement of the methodology here. But I've gone over it with some very good research people and I'm pretty sure I'm right. My basic question is how does this "algorithm" and its tree improve our understanding in that case? What could the algorithm applied to the data tell us about Grimm's law that it hasn't been told to tell us? Is it capable of testing whether that law is not in fact a late innovation but an early archaism? Of course not. I recall a different value was given to a particular phoneme or lexical element and that somehow brought Italo-Celtic into a single group. The entirely pertinent question is why any of the values were given and whether they simply reflect the same guess work that would go into them without the trappings of a computer application. My problem has always been with what this apparent use of technology adds. That's why I asked questions about what was assumed in the data. What does it add about Grimm's Law? I suspect nothing much. Because, e.g., it must already assumes Grimm's law happened at a specific relative time. When I mentioned Miguel Carrasquer Vidal's tree you said it was based on intuition. If you really look deep into the methodology applied here, I think you'll see that it is based on nothing more than that - but wears the cloak of being a statistical analysis. I suspect MCV's tree is superior for that simple reason. It has the courage to place branchings in a real time and place, based on both history and linguistics that can be understood and evaluated. The way this approach has been described, it does none of that. And finally if YOU do understand the way this algorithm arrives at any kind of independently derived chronology (as opposed to an assumed one), please explain how adding dates of attestation in any way would have any statistical effect on the chronology of most of the branchings shown in this tree. I've thought about this and tried to give the benefit of the doubt. And it simply does not make sense. There are many good uses that a computer with proper use of statistical probability can add to our understanding of the "divergence" found in IE languages. But I have good reason to suspect that this application does nothing more than feed back the results that it was given in the first place. And I have been reminded that I should say again that I have not seen any detailed statement of the methodology used and should qualify everything I've said accordingly. Regards, Steve Long From X99Lynx at aol.com Sat Sep 18 06:08:13 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999 02:08:13 EDT Subject: The Comparative Method and "semantics" Message-ID: I wrote that "if two words are a phonologically the same [within the workings of the sound rules, of course], they have a high probability of common ancestry" [kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu] wrote that's "incorrect." Because "There are several other ways that such pairs could arise." I wrote: That doesn't follow. The fact there are other ways they could arise only means that the probability is not 100%. It doesn't mean the probability is not high. On 9/16/1999 10:54:47 PM, mclasutt at brigham.net writes: <> #1 - But let me point out that Sean Crist's statement about other ways pairs could form does not disprove it. Thats important as a starting point because it brings up the issue of probabilities. (Or do you think Sean's statement does disprove high probability" so in your opinion there's no need to go on? Just to check on what you think would make the high probability statement false.) #2 - You write: <> Do you think the examples you mention disprove the high probability claim for phonetic match-ups (within the sound laws of course)? You realize of course that a few examples could represent extreme deviations from the norm statistically. Is there any research that yields the percentage of cognation that can be expected among words whose etymology can be documented? BTW I was trying to restate the "exceptionlessness" of the sound laws. This is often called a working assumption and an effective one. If it is effective than presumably it has a "relatively" high probability of revealing cognation. If phonetic matching doesn't give one a much better than fifty-fifty chance of cognation than that certainly does put the onus on "semantics." Which brings me to the next point: #3 - You write: <> You say they aren't. May we examine that on "semantic" grounds? How sure are you of that? What are your grounds? You write: <> You've used reconstructions as your source. Are those reconstructions based on other sound matches? But let's say you didn't have those reconstructions. How would you go about showing that <<[ber] 'bear (n)', 'bare', 'bear (vb)'>> are not cognate? Most importantly, how would you estimate the chance of error (reconstructing on your own) in your finding that the three forms are not cognate? Would you allow for any unknown history concerning these words? I don't have the old OED with me, but my guess is that the latest of these words is not documented before 1000 AD. Would say 5000 years of undocumented meanings (in languages undergoing ceaseless change) would be enough for you to concede even a small degree of uncertainty? (Neither do I have the original forms these words were first documented in, but do those early forms show phonetic matches? If they don't, shouldn't you be using those first documented forms to determine phonetic relatedness?) Based on the above, how much uncertainty statistically would you estimate? How would you calculate your uncertainty in standard deviations? #4 - You write <> In the wake of the Ringe quote Sean Crist gave us, my question is whether that is such a bad state to be in. Especially with regard to semantics. It's not that we can't guess at meaning, but that we should admit that we are guessing. (For example, I have some reason to think that PIE color terms are anachronisms, that the ancients described objects with only incidental reference to what we now call color. *bheros 'brown' should apply to every other brown animal from here to Anatolia, along with everything else vaguely brown. And that makes bear = brown seem even weaker. But I really have no way of putting a number on my uncertainty. But bear = brown will do until something else comes along.) <> Or are misled into thinking we "know" their relationship. If "bear" was originally an analogy to some other animal or a reference to its pelt as covering or if brown derived from bear or whatever, perhaps 3000 years separates us from those meaning and I question too much certainty about such matters. <> I'd love to accept the challenge, but I'm afraid that it demands some serious resources. But let me ask you this.. If we gathered all the word pairs we could find in a language who had historically documented common ancestors (no reconstructions for obvious reasons), wouldn't you expect to find a high degree of phonetic similarity? And if we gathered all the homonyms with historically documented non-cognancy, wouldn't you expect to find a much lower frequency? Or do you expect that documented cognancy would show no particular correlation with phonetic similarity? Regards, Steve Long From proto-language at email.msn.com Sat Sep 18 01:29:33 1999 From: proto-language at email.msn.com (Patrick C. Ryan) Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999 01:29:33 -0000 Subject: Perfective-Imperfective Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] ----- Original Message ----- From: Larry Trask Sent: Wednesday, September 15, 1999 1:50 PM This posting will be a partial response to Lloyd's comments of 9/14/99 and a fuller response to Larry's comments of 9/15/99. My comments will be addressed to points made in both postings in a convenient order. [LT] "So, in place of the wide variation in terminology of 50 years ago, we now have a near-consensus among those who have investigated aspect most carefully. The definition of perfective' in my dictionary is the one now most widely used, and I suggest that we should, for once, agree on this definition, as a small step toward the goal of unifying our terminology -- a goal which I trust is shared by Pat Ryan." [PR] I am totally in favor a rational unification of terminology. I wonder what proof we really have --- aside from the Larry's bare assertion --- that the definition of 'perfective' used in Larry's dictionary is "now most widely used". It is certainly true that a number of writers on the subject of aspect have, apparently, followed Comrie. But I was surprised when I read R. M. W. Dixon's _The rise and fall of languages_ (1997) to read on pp. 118-9: "Biblical Hebrew, for instance, had no tenses, using instead grammatical marking for aspect - perfective (an action with a temporal end, e.g. 'John sang a hymn') or imperfective (an action with no temporal end specified, e.g. 'John sang')." Dixon is a current, well-known linguist who, I suppose on the basis of what he has written, cited above, does not subscribe to the Comrie definitions of imperfective/perfective. I think it would be advisable for Larry to realize that when he purports to write a dictionary, he should be describing and acknowledging real current professional usage *not* writing a catechism of definitions he and Comrie would desire to see adopted. We are long past 1984, and, however much some might want it, 'war' is not 'peace'. And I certainly disagree with Larry when he says: "Anyway, neither Pei's outdated dictionary nor general-purpose English dictionaries like Merriam-Webster can reasonably be cited as authorities on the present-day technical terminology of linguistics. The use of 'perfective' cited in MW, in AHD, in the second edition of the OED, and in other general dictionaries, is outdated and no longer in general use among linguists." What Larry obviously is unwilling to acknowledge is that these dictionaries, if they are doing *their* jobs properly (does he dispute it?), are recording *USAGE* no matter whatever Larry thinks might be the *proper* definition. I sincerely hope that he does not succeed in imposing his and Comrie's definition on the non-linguist and linguist readership of these dictionaries as he threatens. Frankly, I believe his demonstrated attitude makes him unqualified to be an adviser on usage in dictionaries like the OED. I also vehemently disagree with Larry when he writes: "As for the etymology of perfect', this is utterly irrelevant. Committing the etymological fallacy -- insisting that words must mean what their etyma meant -- is the most fundamental kind of error I can think of." In its most extreme interpretation, there is some truth in this, provided one emends the statement to 'perfective' rather than 'perfect', which we have not been discussing. However, to neglect the etymological meaning of a word while making a *new* assignment of meaning, which is what Comrie did, or to adopt it as Larry did, is irresponsible and totally unjustified. Let us provisionally assume that Comrie's definition of 'perfective' ("denotes a situation viewed in its entirety, without regard to internal temporal constituency") actually means something in English (what in God's name would an 'internal temporal constituent' be???). If it were true that verbal notions could be "superordinate"ly divided into those for which this definition had some meaning, and those for which it did not, it would still be highly inappropriate to adopt the term "perfective" for it when "perfective" had and has an established older and current (dictionaries and Dixon) meaning established through usage which corresponds to what Trask would like to call, *unnecessarily* introducing a new term, 'completive' (which, of course, he did not bother to include in his dictionary). Why not call it - if it exists at all - 'integral' (cf. Binnick) or something else which, at least, bears a *passing*, a nodding resemblance in meaning to its purported idea? Having asked the question, I will attempt to answer it. Bernard Comrie has done much valuable work over the years with which I am personally familiar. However, in the case of his book _Aspect_, I sincerely and honestly believe he is idiosyncratically deviant from start to finish. His prestige, based on his previous work, has created a Pied Piper effect; and those eager to acknowledge his past contributions have adopted his views without sufficient critical appraisal. I could give many examples from his book that make assertions contrary to what specialists in the various fields assert (for example, "the Arabic Perfective, which is a perfective relative past"; the idea that kataba/yaktubu represents a past/present division is an idea held by *no* AAist of which I am aware; what entitles Comrie to contradict all previous Arabists? And how likely is it that he understands Arabic better than they do?). I will offer only an opinion on a subject upon which I believe I am entitled to render a completely informed judgment as Muttersprachler. Comrie informs us on p. 28 regarding English 'used to + V', that "it is often claimed that a further element of the meaning of these forms is that the situation described no longer holds", which he *denies*. I have lived in the East, West, Central and South of the United States, and listened to video and film mass media regularly, and I am one of those who would "often" claim that "I used to come at 7 PM" implies absolutely that "I no longer come at 7 PM though I did in he past". If it does not imply that to Comrie, I can only suggest that he may be a non-native speaker of English who has never mastered its nuances; and, as such, is unqualified to lecture those who are on the interpretation of phrases such as "NP used to V". This is what anyone who was reasonable might have suspected from the "it is often claimed ...". Why is it so "often" claimed if many do not understand it as I do? And what entitles Comrie to "correct" our native interpretations? His professorial authority? Perhaps the situation is different in England since Larry has adopted Comrie's mistaken (IMHO) interpretation of 'habitual' by citing in his dictionary "Lisa used to smoke", which is all the more surprising since he defines it traditionally ("The aspect category which expresses an action which is regularly or consistently performed by some entity"; NOTE: not "... which **was** regularly or consistently performed"). The habitual aspect in English is purely expressed by "Lisa always smoked", "Lisa always smokes", and "Lisa will always smoke". Larry and Comrie are both incorrect in asserting that "English has a distinct habitual form in the past tense only". But, Larry and Comrie will probably disagree since they apparently both believe that any connection between the meaning of 'habitual' and habitual, THE LINGUISTIC TERM, is purely coincidental. I find this absolutely incredible! What possible benefit can be gained by *re*-defining words contrary to their established meanings? Now, those of you who are actually IEists on this list were probably surprised to learn from Larry that "my, thy", etc. are *not* possessive pronouns. No doubt, it would surprise Beekes (1995, not exactly the Ice Age), who discusses IE "possessives" on pp. 210-211 of his _Comparative Indo-European Linguistics_. But read what Larry intones ex cathedra: "The tradition is wrong and must be corrected." I doubt very sincerely whether Beekes would object to considering "possessives" a member of a larger class of words called "determiners", but I feel certain he would, and I certainly do strenuously object to Larry attempting to force the interpretations and terminology of the school to which he and Comrie happen to adhere on those who prefer an alternative and equally legitimate approach, school, and terminology. Must we all recite the Comriean Creed to discuss linguistics? I thought that kind of blind dogma and unthinking profession went out with Marx and the other barbarians. Moreover, I find it deliciously laughable to contemplate that Larry or Comrie or any of their ilk would "correct" Beekes, an eminent linguist who employs terms so that no one needs Larry's dictionary to understand them; and, who incidentally knows more about comparative linguistics than most of those who would foolishly dare to "correct" him. And on the subject of comparative linguistics, let us read what Professor Comrie has to say about Indo-European, so that we may savor the flavor of his genius. Comrie informs us on p. 83 that "while the distinction between Present and Aorist and the forms of either can be traced back to Proto-Indo-European, the same cannot be said of the Imperfect". IMHO, this is incorrect. The aorist without prefix [*H(1)e-, indicating past *tense* (Beekes)], which is *wida't (+zero-grade, +secondary) contrasts by *one* feature only and therefore directly with the injunctive, *we'yd-t (-zero-grade, +secondary). However, let us try to abstract the basic thought behind Comrie's juxtaposition of present and aorist, which typically differ in that the prefixed aorist has zero-grade with thematic secondary endings [*H(1)e'-wid-at] while the root present is un-prefixed, full-grade, with athematic primary endings [*we'yd-ti]. And then Comrie informs us that: "The nature of the Imperfect, both synchronically and diachronically, becomes clearer if one thinks *not* (emphasis added) of Present stem versus Aorist stem, but of Imperfective stem versus Perfective stem". Now one could find many things to criticize in this formulation but let us focus on what I think is the main thought here. Since the IE present stem has normally full-grade as does the imperfect stem (non-Proto-Indo-European though it may be, according to Comrie), differing most notably by the lack of the past-tense-prefix in the present, I presume Comrie is identifying full-grade verbal roots with his notion of Imperfective, zero-grade verbal roots with his Perfective; and suggesting that, because of the past-tense prefix of the normal aorist and imperfect, that, set in the past, these contrast along the lines of his postulated Perfective/Imperfective. ===================================================================== Now, here is the $64 question. As trained IE linguists, do you all believe the contrast between zero-grade and full-grade verbal roots in IE is *better* characterized as a contrast between Comrie's and Trask's notions of *Perfective* and *Imperfective*, or by the contrast of momentary and durative as has been traditional? ===================================================================== Now, to dispose of some other red herrings. Larry wrote: "all agree that the Russian contrast is not merely one of completion versus non-completion, but something rather more subtle." I have, over and over again, suggested, without communicating with Larry apparently, that the idea of the perfective as it has been traditionally understood, is that it identifies the logical termination of a verbal action, e.g. 'eat up the bread'. But whether the act is portrayed as "completed" or not, it is still perfective; e.g. 'He is eating up the bread' describes a verbal action with a logical termination point but is also characterized as an action with duration, i.e. it is progressive. Any verbal action which has been completed at any time presumes a previous verbal action of completing. 'Punctual', on the other hand, is another red herring. If one uses momentary for an action regarded as a point in time, and durative for an action regarded over points in time, then 'punctual' can be reserved for characterizing actions of very short duration, like sneezing. Larry's dictionary example of 'punctual' is misleading: "Hillary reached the summit of Everest". What if we say "Hillary reached the summit of Everest during the night". What constitutes the 'summit'; the last 10', the last 50', the last 150'? Now, Larry does recognize an important fact: "The issue is not whether an action has an internal structure, but whether it is *linguistically presented* as having one. We are talking about linguistic structure, not about the nature of the non-linguistic universe." This is half way there. Lloyd expressed it much better, when he said: "It is crucial to carefully keep the difference between EVENTS (as they actually are in reality) and ASPECTUAL REFERENCES (which reflect how they are conceived by speakers). Aspectual references are partly independent of any real-world nature of events, they are partly free choices made by the speaker. This is, I believe, the crux of the question, and a point of view completely overlooked and misunderstood by Comrie though there may be hope for Larry. Although 'sneeze' would be regarded conventionally as punctual verbal action, it can be portrayed iteratively: "He was sneezing all the way home". Iterative is a repetition of punctual activity over a certain period without implying habituality. Although one could think of sneezing as telic (getting something out of one's nose by forceful release of air), generally, it would be understood as atelic, hence, it must be imperfective. Now I return to my interpretation of the significance of zero-grade vs. full-grade in IE. Regardless of whether the *event* is normally punctual (sneeze) or non-punctual (run), the reference to it can be conceptualized as a point, before and after which something can occur, or as points, during which something contemporaneously occurs. And, as a suggestion that this may be the right track, I mention Beekes suggestion that the thematic vowel (-*e/o-) may be an indication of definiteness. I believe the thematic vowel is most parsimoniously explained as a result of an un-prefixed zero-grade root (CVCe'/o') contrasting with a un-prefixed full-grade root (CeC). I think this suggests that momentary activity is more often linked to perfective activity though the connection, as we have seen, is not exclusive. Pat PATRICK C. RYAN | PROTO-LANGUAGE at email.msn.com (501) 227-9947 * 9115 W. 34th St. Little Rock, AR 72204-4441 USA WEBPAGES: PROTO-LANGUAGE: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2803/index.html and PROTO-RELIGION: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2803/proto-religion/indexR.html "Veit ek, at ek hekk, vindga meipi, nftr allar nmu, geiri undapr . . . a ~eim meipi er mangi veit hvers hann af rstum renn." (Havamal 138) From X99Lynx at aol.com Sat Sep 18 07:00:56 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999 03:00:56 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: In a message dated 9/17/1999 3:23:25 AM, JoatSimeon at aol.com writes: <<-- At no point were Classical Latin and, say, Tuscan (substitute Romance language of choice) spoken at the same time. >> I just want to know one thing. How the heck do you know that? When was Tuscan first spoken? What is the basis of your dating? Where do you find this? How do you know that a recognizable Tuscan wasn't being spoken in Tuscany at the same time Classical Latin was being spoken in Rome? <> I'm pretty sure I remember this right. The lastword was that Mycenean was considered almost indistinguishable from Classical period Aeolian. S. Long [ Moderator's comment: Mycenaean is an example of South Greek, like Arcado-Cypriot and Attic-Ionic, and is in fact closely related to the former, while Aeolian is, like Doric, a North Greek family of dialects. Further, Mycenaean still had labiovelars rather than labials as in Aeolic, so was most certainly distinguishable on those grounds if nothing else. --rma ] From X99Lynx at aol.com Sat Sep 18 06:48:47 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999 02:48:47 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: In a message dated 9/17/1999 4:20:38 AM, alderson at netcom.com writes: <> I'm on the run but I must point out that the terms "parent" and "daughter" languages have been used hundreds of times on this list without the least reference to "political concepts" or "mutual comprehensibility." These terms was used in the same sense that "proto" language has been used time and time again. Parent and daughter languages have been referred to again and again and they identified an ancestral relationship between two apparently distinct identifiable languages. The idea that the speakers awareness of ancestry was somehow a factor in identifying "PIE" "proto-Germanic" versus "Germanic" has never come up. Please go back in the archives and check out how you've used the words in the past and you will see that they simply referred to the descent of one language from another. E.g., proto-Germanic/Germanic. No one has bothered in the past to note that Basque isn't really a political language but a polymorphous mass of bubbling speech that never stayed the same but has always changed in its very essentials on a regular basis and therefore not exist alongside of anything that on this list would be called proto-Basque, which wasn't really a language but a similar bubbling mass of speech. What's so difficult about believing "Latin" was a living recognizable language at the same time an early Italian language was developing among some Latin speakers? We see documents where the two exist along side of one another. So? But more importantly why is there so much effort being expanded in trying to avoid the possibility that language might be said to coexist with its parent (as the word has been used a thousand times on this list)? Regards, Steve Long From X99Lynx at aol.com Sat Sep 18 08:08:15 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999 04:08:15 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: I'm on the road dodging the aftermath of Floyd and I'd like to respond to this post in full, but two things pop out: 1. The fact that Latin was clearly a living, identifiable language at some point would seem to make it a ideal example of a parent who would have coexisted in its last days with the first phases of its Romance daughters. It has surprised me how the arguments have gone on this issue. Here is an example of Larry Trask changing the criterion in midstream: On 9/15/1999 5:36:44 AM, Larry Trask responds: <> Then Larry Trask quotes me: <> Then Larry Trask responds: <> So Latin is a dead language but it has millions of native speakers today. This I suppose gets around the problem of conceding that a language easily recognized as Latin could have been spoken at the same time as something that could be recognized not as Latin but as an early form of French. (I hope to get to the definitions later. But for now let's define language as something like whatever Larry Trask is referring to whenever he has mentioned whatever it is he calls "Basque.") 2. LT also writes: <> Here's the way at this point I would illustrate how much of a buzz phrase it is. One that never really adds anything or illuminates anything. But is convenient in dodging substantive dialogue. When was the last time Larry Trask mentioned in a post the phrase "the central fact of ceaseless language change" to support any point he was making about Basque? Ever? How could the central fact about Basque escape mention? Or is it when he writes e.g., <>. is that somehow connected with "the central fact of ceaseless change" in Basque? I also happen to believe that there is ceaseless change in language. I hear it and see it every day. But its hardly the central fact. For one thing, Mt Rushmore and the moon are also subject to ceaseless change. But the change is not really material to the identification of either. Similarly, what central to what we call the Standard German is not ceaseless change whether material , but how German speakers use the same sounds and syntax. If they didn't they're would be no German language. Of course, some changes are an important of language. But hardly "the central fact." LT also writes: <> In a post just before this one, Larry Trask writes "we have good evidence that ancient Aquitanian was an ancestral form of Basque...." I suppose this supports the idea that Latin might be just an ancestral form of French. So I take it that he would agree - using the same purely arbitrary and no more than taxonimically covenient terms he applies to Basque - that Latin could have coexisted with filial form of Latin we might call Aquitanian, I mean French. Regards, Steve Long From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Sun Sep 19 13:53:42 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Sun, 19 Sep 1999 14:53:42 +0100 Subject: Basque statistics - methodological contradiction In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Wed, 15 Sep 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: > I agree that this is what you have expressed clearly in the list. I > also think our differing views have been presented along with Lloyd > Anderson's observations of some of the issues that can arise from > your criteria, that is, they are not entirely value free and they > can exclude useful evidence. However I am concerned that you also > operate with unspoken criteria, that is from you undoubted rich > knowledge of euskara, so that new possibilities are quickly excluded > without being given the merit of systematic and comprehensive > analysis. I DO NOT assert you do this deliberately. I just think it > happens because you view the materials from your particular > experiences. Others have the potential to use different > deconstructions to arrive at different illuminations, that is those > of us whose minds are unclouded by prior knowledge. Possibly so. But, if we are interested only in Pre-Basque, then I still don't see how anything much can be concluded by starting with the modern Basque lexicon, the vast bulk of which was not in the language 2000 years ago. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Sun Sep 19 15:07:58 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Sun, 19 Sep 1999 16:07:58 +0100 Subject: Conservative dilemma In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Thu, 9 Sep 1999, Herb Stahlke wrote: > Unfortunately nearly all of the reference to Greenberg's work in > this discussion has been to his Language in the Americas. His > earlier work in Africa not only established at least two previously > unknown genetic gouping, Niger-Congo and Afro-Asiatic, but has stood > the test of four decades of research. Yes, of course. Curiously, I have on occasion found myself defending Greenberg's African work against what I saw as unfair criticism of it. However, I would maintain that the linguistic position in Africa is (and was) really rather different from the position obtaining in the other parts of the world to which Greenberg has directed his attention, in that major groupings were already well established before Greenberg came along. Maybe it's a little generous to give Greenberg credit for establishing Afro-Asiatic, whose unity was already widely recognized. True, G clarified its membership and its internal structure, but he didn't invent the grouping. > The Afro-Asiatic classification has been modified largely by > Bender's work on Omotic, and Niger-Congo has seen some interesting > internal restructuring, most of it reported in Bendor-Samuel's > (1989) The Niger-Congo Languages. In the Niger-Congo case, the > restructuring has confirmed doubts that Greenberg expressed about > some of the subgrouping, e.g., the status of Benue-Congo and Kwa. > However, before Greenberg, Mande and West Atlantic were not commonly > thought to be part of the same group that contained B-C and Kwa, and > the Adamawa-Eastern languages and the Kordofanian languages had > simply been dropped in the geographical/ethnic catch-all "Sudanic". Perhaps G's major achievement in Africa was in clarifying the positions of the assorted Sudanic' languages, at least to the extent of providing better working hypotheses. But, even today, it remains debatable whether all the languages assigned by G to his Kordofanian group really belong to Niger-Congo, or even whether they constitute a valid taxon at all. > The full Nilo-Saharan, especially the inclusion of Songhay, remains > uncertain, Yes, agreed. I think Nilo-Saharan is best regarded as a geographical residue' grouping, containing all the languages in the area that don't appear to belong to one of the neighboring large families. Some of the Nilo-Saharan languages are certainly related, but it has not been shown that they all are, and I suggest that Nilo-Saharan should be regarded as, at best, a working hypothesis, and not as an established family. I have been told that G came very close to positing no fewer than ten distinct families before finally tossing all ten into his Nilo-Saharan' pot. > and the inclusion of Hatsa and Sandawe into Khoisan is at about the > same level. Or perhaps even more doubtful. Khoisan' is pretty clearly another residue group, containing four units no two of which have yet been shown to be related. > However, the Hamitic of Nilo-Hamitic is something Greenberg > effectively debunked. Agreed. > Perhaps this is why many Africanists are bemused at the intensity of > the Americanist reaction to Greenberg's work. G gave the Africanists something that was better than what they had before, as perhaps all Africanists would agree. But it is hard to see that G has done as much for the Americanists. If we put aside Eskimo-Aleut and Na-Dene, both of which were already widely accepted anyway, then G found the Americanists with 140-odd secure families and a number of ambitious but unsubstantiated proposals of larger groupings, and he gave them a single monster family instead -- much as had earlier done in the Papuan case. It is perhaps not so surprising that the Americanists have failed to see this as a step forward. > As to Greenberg's alleged absolutism in his claims of relationship, > what is relevant is what the field does with his work, not what he > thinks it means. As Bill Welmers used to say of G's Niger-Congo, "G > hasn't proved that the languages are genetically related; he's made > it inconceivable that they aren't." A nice comment. But who would want to make the equivalent remark for Amerind, or for Indo-Pacific? Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From petegray at btinternet.com Sat Sep 18 19:35:25 1999 From: petegray at btinternet.com (petegray) Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999 20:35:25 +0100 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: Joat's argument that > the parent _is_ the daughter and vice versa. seems to ignore geography. His argument might show "the parent is the daughter in the same place" but it can't show what happens if daughter leaves home. Peter From petegray at btinternet.com Sat Sep 18 19:16:01 1999 From: petegray at btinternet.com (petegray) Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999 20:16:01 +0100 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: A further example of at least an aunt and a daughter co-existing might be seen in the Katherevousa and the Demotike forms of modern Greek. No one learnt Katherevousa as a mother tongue, but in the 60's we could hardly claim that it was not "Greek", just because it had no mother speakers. Peter From petegray at btinternet.com Sat Sep 18 19:29:45 1999 From: petegray at btinternet.com (petegray) Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999 20:29:45 +0100 Subject: Accepting fewer etymologies Message-ID: The principle of working only with core elements ("fewer") is laudable, but I would hate to see only praise for it without an acknowledgement of the obvious dangers. There is a difference between: (a) a system of sound changes and etymologies clearly exemplified by a few central cognates, and supported by a large body of similar such relationships, and (b) a proposed system based on a small corpus, competing with alternative systems based on other small corpora. Unless the system determined by or exemplified by the "fewer" examples can actually be shown to be regularly true for a significant proportion of the words accepted as cognate, then it remains unproven. If the system itself is used to decide which words are cognate, then there is a danger of the argument being circular. Peter From edsel at glo.be Sun Sep 19 16:04:52 1999 From: edsel at glo.be (Eduard Selleslagh) Date: Sun, 19 Sep 1999 18:04:52 +0200 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (fwd) Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] -----Original Message----- From: Roslyn M. Frank Date: Thursday, September 16, 1999 5:26 PM [snip] >In an unrelated discussion Larry brings up the fact that he will accept the >root-stem "smoke" for his database of reconstructed items: >LT] >>Second, I repeat yet again that I am *not* excluding any data because >>they don't fit my expectations. I am excluding data for entirely >>different reasons, reasons that are independent of my expectations and, >>in my view, entirely justified for the task I have in mind. For >>example, the universal word smoke' definitely does not fit my >>expectations, but I have to include it anyway, because it satisfies all >>of my criteria. >[RF] >However, my question is the following: since this root stem has several >different attested representations, which one should you choose? You seem to >have chosen a southern variant, namely, /ke/. I refer to the fact that this >item is often pronounced /ke/ and /kee/ in southern dialects but frequently >/khe/ in northern ones. I emphasize the fact that /khe/ is considered a common >variant of this item in the northern dialects, but not */khehe/ to my >knowledge. Is this evidence for anything? >And to make things more complicated there is ample evidence for a variant in >/ekhe/ "smoke" in northern dialects whereas this appears as /eke/ in southern >dialects. I assume that Hualde would list /kehe/ also. So faced with these >representations of the same word, how does one go about reconstructing the >form? Keeping in mind that the attested cases are /ekhe/, /khe/, /kehe/, >/eke/ /ke/ and /kee/, which one should be assigned the role of best >representing the earlier form? Or should none of them play that role? And was >it originally monosyllabic or bisyllabic. Finally, will the reconstruction of >this form, i.e., the choices that are made, have any bearing on the way that >we reconstruct /behe/ vs. /be/? Or stated differently, doesn't the set of >choices we make about the reconstruction of the proto-form of /behe/ vs. /be/ >bear on the way that we reconstruct the proto-form of the root-stem meaning >"smoke"? [Ed Selleslagh] Two remarks: 1. KE could be related (but how?) to Greek KAPNO'S, ''smoke', i.e. to the first syllable, the second being derived from the IE root that gave rise to Grk. pneuma, 'breath, wind, etc.', Lat. ventus, 'wind' and Eng. wind. I am not sure whether KAPNO'S is considered entirely IE, but if it is, the Basque word isn't original Basque. 2. If it is of IE origin, maube via ancient Greek, the aspiration would be secondary, I think. Ed. From edsel at glo.be Sun Sep 19 16:43:20 1999 From: edsel at glo.be (Eduard Selleslagh) Date: Sun, 19 Sep 1999 18:43:20 +0200 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] -----Original Message----- From: Larry Trask Date: Wednesday, September 15, 1999 11:41 AM [snip] >No; this doesn't follow. Let's take a real case. >In the 17th century, Dutch was introduced into South Africa by settlers. >Since then, the Dutch spoken in South Africa has, of course, steadily >diverged from European Dutch -- or, to put it another way, European >Dutch has steadily diverged from African Dutch. >Now, until the 1920s (I think it was), African Dutch, commonly called >Cape Dutch', was generally regarded as a dialect of Dutch. But then >perceptions changed: Cape Dutch was officially named Afrikaans', and it >began to be generally regarded as a distinct language. Today Afrikaans >has its own distinct standard form, and everybody regards it as a >separate language. But Dutch and Afrikaans are still largely mutually >intelligible, though each sounds very strange to speakers of the other, >and there are some lexical differences which impede communication. >But the new autonomous status of Afrikaans results from a political >decision, and not from any linguistic events. Nothing happened in 1925 >to convert Afrikaans from a Dutch dialect to a separate language, except >for a political decision that this should become so. [Ed Selleslagh] This is only one, important, aspect: the other one is that Afrikaans has diverged considerably, and has some characteristics of a Creole (Bantu and English influences). >It is probably safe to say that modern Afrikaans is rather more >different from 17th-century Dutch than is modern standard Dutch. >But neither modern variety is identical to 17th-century Dutch. >Moreover, 17th-century Dutch was itself not uniform. Today the >varieties of Dutch spoken in West Flanders and in northern France are >not at all mutually comprehensible with standard Dutch, and I have no >reason to suppose that things were any different in the 17th century. [Ed] They are mutually intelligible with most Flemish speakers of standard Dutch, i.e. people used to a wide variety of dialects, not with most Dutchmen, who are used to a more homogeneous language. >For political reasons, though, all these are regarded as varieties of a >single language, Dutch. But it need not be like that, and, for a while, >it wasn't. For some time the Dutch-speakers in Belgium took the view >that they spoke something called Flemish', a different language from >Dutch. But, some years ago, they abandoned this idea, and they now >agree that they speak Dutch. [Ed] Note that there has never been a unified, standard Flemish. In fact there are three major groups of dialects: from W to E (West- and East-)Flemish (Ingwaeonic origins), Brabants (Frankish), and Limburgs (which is close to Rhineland/Low German). These groups continue into S. Holland, up to the lower Rhine/Waal/Maas. To the untrained ear, and if spoken in their lowest registers, these dialects can hardly be called mutually intelligible. However, nowadays most people (if they don't use standard Dutch) speak some thing in between standard Dutch and local dialect. A bit like many people on the BBC, who speak a language half-way between Queen's English and e.g. Cockney. >If a language splits into two or more regional varieties which become so >distinct that we must count them as distinct languages, then both are >different from their common ancestor. One may be more conservative than >the other, but both are different, and there is no principled basis for >regarding just one of them as identical to that ancestor. In the >Dutch/Afrikaans case, we find it convenient to apply the label Dutch' >both to the 17th-century ancestor and to the modern language of the >Netherlands and Belgium, while we no longer find it convenient to apply >the same label to Afrikaans -- though we did until recently, and we >could do so again if the political, social and educational facts >changed. [Ed] The basis of the standard Dutch was always the dialect of the culturally and economically dominant region: first West Flanders (Brugge), the Antwerp (Brabants), then Amsterdam but with a vast admixture of Antwerp immigrants' language (as a consequence of the religion wars). That's the main reason for the differences in Dutch of various periods. Ed From BMScott at stratos.net Mon Sep 20 04:15:00 1999 From: BMScott at stratos.net (Brian M. Scott) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 00:15:00 -0400 Subject: Excluding data Message-ID: Jon Patrick wrote: > This comment is a red herring. My commentaries were not > about the inclusion or exclusion of this word in the > analysis but that your criteria have high correlation > with a model of the phonology that you object to being > re-analysed from a different perspective. Such a correlation - should it prove to exist - could also result from the accuracy of the model, so it cannot in itself cast doubt on the criteria. If you wish to argue that they are methodologically unsound, you'll need more substantial reasons than the likelihood that their application here will produce unsurprising results. After all, the criteria themselves have *no* correlation with phonological specifics. Bearing in mind that the object of study is Pre-Basque, what *methodological* objection is there to the initial exclusion of words without early attestations and words of limited distribution? Brian M. Scott From JoatSimeon at aol.com Mon Sep 20 05:41:23 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 01:41:23 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: >stevegus at aye.net writes: >Similarly, contemporary English speakers may be able to follow familiar >texts read from the Declaration of Independence or the King James Bible; >but new texts in similar styles may be much harder for them to grasp. -- are we talking about contemporary written English, or documents from 500 years ago? These are separate questions. Both the spoken and written forms of English have changed a good deal in the past five centuries. The written less than the spoken, because of the early date at which the conventional spelling was fixed, of course. >I know that when I sit down to watch Shakespeare performed, it takes me >about fifteen minutes or so before I am able to follow what is being said. >Before I have readjusted my set, spoken Shakespeare sounds like gibberish. -- that's odd; I've never had any problem with it. The current film "Shakeseare In Love" uses large chunks of text taken straight from "Romeo and Juliet", and the audiences -- few of them familiar with Shakespeare in these degenerate days -- don't have any problem with it either. From JoatSimeon at aol.com Mon Sep 20 06:05:08 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 02:05:08 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: >X99Lynx at aol.com writes: >>-- At no point were Classical Latin and, say, Tuscan (substitute Romance >>language of choice) spoken at the same time. >> >When was Tuscan first spoken? What is the basis of your dating? -- I just went through an careful step-by-step illustration showing why this is a meaningless question, a semantic null set based on a misapprehension of how languages change and segue seamlessly into their successors. Go back to the table with the successive generations sitting side-by-side from 100 AD to 2000 AD. Where is the last Latin speaker? Where is the first Tuscan speaker? >How do you know that a recognizable Tuscan wasn't being spoken in Tuscany at >the same time Classical Latin was being spoken in Rome? -- because when Classical Latin was spoken in Latium, Tuscany spoke Etruscan, of course. Classical Latin in Rome segued into the Italian dialect of Latium just as Classical Latin in Etruria segued into Tuscan -- these are not mysterious processes, and are well-attested. >and Classical isn't the same language as Mycenaean.>> >I'm pretty sure I remember this right. The lastword was that Mycenean was >considered almost indistinguishable from Classical period Aeolian. -- no, it's _ancestral_ to _South Greek_ dialects like Arcadio-Cypriot. Not to Aeolian. And Mycenaean is far more archaic than any Classical dialect whatsoever. It retains the "w" for example, which even Homer drops (Wannax ==> annax) and hasn't undergone fundamental shifts like *gw == b (Mycenaean 'guasileus' or 'guous' to Classical 'basileus' or 'bous'). From JoatSimeon at aol.com Mon Sep 20 06:11:43 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 02:11:43 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: >X99Lynx at aol.com writes: >No one has bothered in the past to note that Basque isn't really a political >language but a polymorphous mass of bubbling speech that never stayed the same >but has always changed in its very essentials on a regular basis -- actually, that's a fair description of any language. All languages do change all the time. And they're all pretty polymorphous bundles of dialects. Except for the dead ones, of course. >What's so difficult about believing "Latin" was a living recognizable >language at the same time an early Italian language was developing among >some Latin speakers? -- because the very fact of developing "Italian" features means that they're shedding the features which make us refer to what they're speaking as "Latin". "Birth of Italian" is the _same thing_ as "death of Latin". >We see documents where the two exist along side of one another. So? -- so what? We see documents today where Latin coexists with every modern language; that doesn't mean that Latin is a living language in 1999 CE. It just means that the Vatican chancery uses it, as innumerable people have used it as a secondary, "learned" language. None of them speak it as their first language. From JoatSimeon at aol.com Mon Sep 20 06:26:01 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 02:26:01 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: >X99Lynx at aol.com writes: >a parent who would have coexisted in its last days with the first phases of its Romance daughters. -- Language is a continuous process of change through time. We attach names to points on the trajectory, calling them "Latin" or "Italian", but the trajectory is a seamless curve. The language at any given time is like a single frame in a movie. What we do with the CM is to run the film backward. >Similarly, what central to what we call the Standard German is not ceaseless >change whether material , but how German speakers use the same sounds and >syntax. If they didn't they're would be no German language. -- and when enough changes have accumulated at some time in the future, there _won't_ be any Standard German, as the term is understood today. And back before enough changes had accumulated, there _wasn't_ any Standard German either; in fact, if you subtract enough changes, you get PIE, which isn't at all like German. That's why the change is the central fact, you see. A language looks like a fixed set of sounds and grammatical relationships only if you look at it as it is at a fixed moment in time. Then it looks like a describable "thing". But if you add in the time dimension, you see that the 'language' is a moving picture, not a freeze-frame. The whole process of language is a process of change. >In a post just before this one, Larry Trask writes "we have good evidence >that ancient Aquitanian was an ancestral form of Basque...." I suppose this >supports the idea that Latin might be just an ancestral form of French. -- yes, actually, if you don't start mistaking the map for the territory. Latin _is_ an ancestral form of French (and Italian and Spanish and Catalan and so forth). Does anyone doubt that? From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Mon Sep 20 07:07:15 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 17:07:15 +1000 Subject: Basque statistics - methodological importance In-Reply-To: Your message of "Sun, 19 Sep 1999 14:53:42 +0100." Message-ID: Date: Sun, 19 Sep 1999 14:53:42 +0100 (BST) From: Larry Trask On Wed, 15 Sep 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: > I agree that this is what you have expressed clearly in the list. I > also think our differing views have been presented along with Lloyd > Anderson's observations of some of the issues that can arise from > your criteria, that is, they are not entirely value free and they > can exclude useful evidence. However I am concerned that you also > operate with unspoken criteria, that is from you undoubted rich > knowledge of euskara, so that new possibilities are quickly excluded > without being given the merit of systematic and comprehensive > analysis. I DO NOT assert you do this deliberately. I just think it > happens because you view the materials from your particular > experiences. Others have the potential to use different > deconstructions to arrive at different illuminations, that is those > of us whose minds are unclouded by prior knowledge. Possibly so. But, if we are interested only in Pre-Basque, then I still don't see how anything much can be concluded by starting with the modern Basque lexicon, the vast bulk of which was not in the language 2000 years ago. Larry, I've never taken such a position in any uncritical way. I have said we can start with the Azkue list and apply a series of systematic analyses to that list moderated in part by the knowledge created by scholars like yourself and Mitxelena. I have insisted on "slightly" different criteria to you and I have insisted on assessing every item on that list giving public account of just how each element is to be categorised - something that is not available in the literature of euskara (IMHO). But more importantly I've asserted a computer based analysis will bring RIGOUR to the process by two essential characteristics 1-comprehensiveness, 2 consistency of method. I think it is fair reading over the breadth of your contributions to the list they are values you uphold. I'm asserting one can achieve them MORE consistently, than has been done in the past, when a computer is employed to assist in the work, because it enables one to apply the same analytical methods to ALL examples one can muster and it can eliminate the frailties and exception-taking that ALL of US apply in any work of this type, dare I say of any type of work. Hence I expect we will collect a little more golddust out of the tailings left behind by the great minings performed by yourself and Mitxelena. cheers Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From JoatSimeon at aol.com Mon Sep 20 07:26:32 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 03:26:32 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: >petegray at btinternet.com writes: << His argument might show "the parent is the daughter in the same place" but it can't show what happens if daughter leaves home. >> -- if one branch moves off, and another stays in the same geographical location, you get two daughters, not a daughter and a parent. Italian and Catalan would be examples of this; Italian developed out of Latin on its own original turf, and Catalan on foreign territory. From JoatSimeon at aol.com Mon Sep 20 07:31:25 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 03:31:25 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: We're dealing with two related, but somewhat distinct, processes of change. First, there's the inevitable change that a language undergoes even if it doesn't spread over a wide area, but instead remains confined to one small enough that dialects don't diverge past the point of mutual comprehensibility. Eg., Greek, or Basque, or pre-1600 English. Over time, such a language will change to the point that it's no longer mutually comprehensible with its predecessor, even if it continues to bear the same name. On the other hand, there's the case of a language -- PIE would be the archetypical example here -- which spreads so far geographically that its dialects no longer share enough of the _same_ innovations to continue to be mutually comprehensible. All the dialects -- including the one occupying the original 'home turf' of the linguistic family -- change and become different languages eventually; they just don't become the _same_ successor-language. As with PIE, or, more recently, Romance or Germanic. From JoatSimeon at aol.com Mon Sep 20 07:38:11 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 03:38:11 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: >petegray at btinternet.com writes: >Katherevousa and the Demotike forms of modern Greek. No one learnt >Katherevousa as a mother tongue, but in the 60's we could hardly claim that >it was not "Greek", just because it had no mother speakers. >> -- Katherervousa was an artificial creation; an archaized form of modern Greek. As soon as the government stopped insisting on its use in the state apparatus, it vanished without trace. This is an illustration of how helpless governments, National Academies and other 'formalists' are in the face of actual linguistic evolution, as embodied in the real popular speech-forms. From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 20 07:53:28 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 08:53:28 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (PS) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Fri, 17 Sep 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: > ON Thu, 16 Sep 1999 09:21:05 +0100 (BST) > Larry Trask said in repsonse to Ros Frank > Indeed, and the identification of the Aquitanian item with is by > no means certain, though it is plausible. Anyway, we do have a modest > amount of further evidence favoring the reconstruction of as > * -- not least the observation that perhaps no other word in the > language ends in the cluster <-ltz>. > My useful computer tells me there are 4 such words > altz - alder tree > beltz - black > bultz - push, thrust > giltz - key Very useful, indeed -- it's nice to be able to interrogate a database on things like this. But is widely attested as <(h)altza>, and is widely attested as . We may therefore surmise that the forms with final <-a> are original, and that the shorter forms derive from loss of this final <-a>, a common phenomenon in Basque, arising from the fact that final <-a> is the Basque article. Speakers therefore often analyze a word-final <-a> as the article and remove it. For , this analysis is confirmed by the observation that is universally the combining form: lock up', not *, and so on, even in the varieties in which the noun is . As for , this is not a native word. It derives from Spanish or a related form, and it too has the stem , as in the verb push'. It appears that the widespread nominal form likewise derives from loss of the final <-a>. Jon's data therefore confirm my belief that is the only word in the language ending in <-ltz>. Thanks, Jon. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From lmfosse at online.no Mon Sep 20 09:21:15 1999 From: lmfosse at online.no (Lars Martin Fosse) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 11:21:15 +0200 Subject: "Dead" languages Message-ID: LMF:> >sometimes wonders if Sanskrit isn't an undead rather than a dead language Rick Mc Callister [SMTP:rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu] skrev 17. september 1999 19:05: > You say that in jest but what you need to do invent some impressive > sounding linguistic term and we can all declare victory > How about "Zombie-sprache"? or "Athanatic language"? JoatSimeon wrote: >-- similarly, Latin has been a continuing influence on the European >languages; even English grammarians originally used Latin models, doing some >violence to the language in the process. I would claim that the influence of Skt. on Indic vernaculars at times has been more intense than the influence of Latin on European vernaculars. However, this is not really my point: My point is rather the relevance of the term "dead language". The term dead depends upon the definition. If by "dead" you mean "not learned on mother's knee", both Latin and Sanskrit are dead languages (although I would not feel entirely certain that not some Brahmin children learn Skt. on their mother's knee - I have met Sanskrit speaking women). But is this really an interesting definition? We would probably all agree that Latin is a dead language today, just like Old Norse (in Scandinavia, with the exception of Iceland), Old English or Chuch Slavonic. But is it an interesting proposition to claim that Latin was dead, say, 500 years ago? As long as a language is used for general communication among groups of people, production of literature as well as a vocabulary source for vernaculars, the claim that it is dead sounds a bit strange. Hittite is dead, Akkadian is dead, Osco-Umbrian is dead: None of these languages have any use today and are only studied as literary sources. But when you have heard an Indian scholar talk for an hour in splendid Sanskrit - and heard him exchange jokes in Sanskrit with a colleague a bit later - then the term dead seems nonsensical. Which is why I think we need to modify our thinking: not to "win" the discussion by introducing a new linguistic term, but because realities are not covered by the concepts we use. Best regards Lars Martin Fosse Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114, 0674 Oslo Norway Phone/Fax: +47 22 32 12 19 Email: lmfosse at online.no From ECOLING at aol.com Mon Sep 20 14:31:09 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 10:31:09 EDT Subject: Typology before decipherment? Message-ID: Another example of the early stages in deciphering a yet-undeciphered writing system is Mayan. Until 1960, it was believed that Mayan writing was not phonetic, and the only thing that was well understood was the dates, a "long count" with five positional values, 400 x 360 days 20 x 360 days 360 days 20 days day and many ancillary cycles, 20 x 13 and 365 (which combine to make a 52 x 365 cycle), lunar cycles, venus cycles (65 x 584 = 104 x 365 etc.). In 1960, Tatiana Proskouriakoff observed that at the site of Piedras Negras, there were temples, each with several stelae on them, and the dates on those stelae spanned approximately a human lifetime. Further, there was a particular glyph which recurred with on of the earliest in each set of dates, another glyph with a middle date, and another with one of the latest in each set of dates. She inferred that these were verbs, specifically birth, accession, and death, and it turned out she was right. This was the seminar paper in the decipherment of Mayan writing as history. Was typology involved? One can argue yes and no. The important point I want to make with the above example is that one can indeed "decipher" a script partly using only internal evidence. In later stages of the decipherment of Mayan, typology has indeed been used, in quite a number of small ways, including noting mostly verb-initial word order (with date or other introductory element possibly preceding the verb). It is not always labeled as "typological" reasoning, simply because it is taken for granted as legitimate. That is of course AFTER the language(s) were more or less known, though Mayan was assumed on iconographic and ethnographic evidence from before any content except dating was deciphered, in this case. But in the last year or so, the understanding of what the languages were has shifted from a mixture of Yucatec and Chol to an ancestor very closely related to the existing Ch'orti and its ancestor Ch'olti (and yes there was a change /l/ to /r/ in some contexts). Typological reasoning might be considered involved in a part of that more exact identification of language. In cases such as the work of Proskouriakoff, it is indeed possible to identify Nouns and Verbs based simply on patterning within an undeciphered script. Luck and persistence are of course involved, and an attitude that does not attempt to push a pet theory, but is willing to take the risk of being wrong, by using what evidence is known, with plausible enlightened common sense. Best wishes, Lloyd Anderson Ecological Linguistics From mclasutt at brigham.net Mon Sep 20 14:49:54 1999 From: mclasutt at brigham.net (Dr. John E. McLaughlin) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 08:49:54 -0600 Subject: Conservative dilemma In-Reply-To: Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] Herb Stahlke wrote: > McLaughlin writes: > G. has NOT made it inconceivable that the "Amerind" languages are genetically > unrelated. > >>>>>>>> Stahlke responds: > I can't argue this since I don't know the American data. The literature I've > read, however, suggests that, while "inconceivable" is too strong a word, the > case is not without merit. There isn't as much merit as you might think. Much of Greenberg's "evidence" consists of a loosely spun web of information that is just as easily accounted for by sound symbolism and language universals. Some of G's strongest morphological arguments aren't even exclusively American. With the inexactness of his methodology and data, the majority of serious Americanists find nothing there at all. You must be reading the popular press rather than the serious Americanist authors. > >>>>>>>>>> > McLaughlin writes: > There is also a fundamental anthropological difference between Africa and > Native America. African was generally populated "from within", that is, no > one had to come there in order for it to be full of people (indeed, it's the > only continent that was not populated through immigration). The Americas > were colonized by immigrants. Greenberg assumes one tribe speaking one > language (excluding the much later Na-Dene and Eskimo-Aleut immigrations) > entered the Americas and then differentiated. We cannot (at this time, and > possibly never) prove whether the populating of the Americas was a one-time, > one-tribe, one-language event, or a multi-time, multi-tribe, multi-language > event. Indeed, Greenberg himself believes there were three events--one for > Amerind, one for Na-Dene, and one for Eskimo-Aleut over the course of the > last 40 some-odd thousand years. Just three immigrations in 40,000 years. > >>>>>>>>>>>>> Stahlke responds: > The opportunities for migration have been limited by geology. That several > related groups could have migrated over a period of a few thousand years, and > at a time depth of 40,000 years it would be hard to tell the difference. The > comparative method has never been extended back more than about a quarter of > that time depth. That the non-Na-Dene and non-Eskimo-Aleut migrations were > consistently earlier seems indisputable. I don't completely understand your second sentence. Geology is NOT a major factor here. The Bering Strait route was open for several thousand years. And after that, sea crossing was (and still is) quite possible. A sea crossing is the most likely source of the Na-Dene presence in America and the actual source of the Eskimo-Aleut presence. You have also hit upon the main problem with G's work--he IS trying to extend the comparative method (his version) back to between 12 and 40k by positiing his "Amerind". He's saying that everything in Native America (excluding E-A and N-D) is related. And actually, the N-D and E-A migrations are indisputably LATER than G's proposed Amerind presence. > McLaughlin writes: > Hmmmm. > That's the difference between the Americas and Africa. Africa's had a stable > indigenous population. The Americas haven't. Indeed, it's quite possible > that northwestern North America has been the site of many groups of people > from Asia, speaking different languages, landing on the shores of or walking > across the "bridge" to a New World. > >>>>>>>>>> Stahlke responds: > This apparent difference is deceiving. The Khoi-San languages, with or > without the Tanzanian pair, represent a clearly distinct group probably > originating in southern Africa. Although all but substratal information on > pre-Bantu pygmy languages has disappeared, and the substratal information > isn't any better than in most other parts of the world (worse, in fact), they > must have represented at least one ancient language family that has > disappeared. Beyond those, the major migrations appear to have east to west > (most of Niger-Congo) and north to south (Cushitic, Nilotic, and Bantu, in > that order). Nilo-Saharan, if Songhay belongs in it, may represent a central > Sahara to Great Lakes migration. Cushitic, as a branch of Afro-Asiatic, > represents either a group that originated somewhere along the Red Sea or a > migration from the Arabian Peninsula. A-A probably is NE African in origin. > All of these represent time depths of rather less than 40k: N-C and A-A in > 10k-15k range, and Nilo-Saharan and older. At these time depths, it's hard > to make a case that extra-continent vs. intra-continental orign makes much of > a difference. You're missing the point. You're describing a mixing and matching WITHIN the confines of native Africa. But still within Africa. You haven't described a single event here of an EXTERNAL group coming into Africa and affecting the mix of languages. In the Americas, we're talking about just the opposite. We're discussing groups from northeast Asia coming INTO America from outside a number of times overland during the life of the Bering bridge and by sea afterwards. These immigrants would be bringing languages from OUTSIDE the Americas, not just moving around within the same group of languages as you're describing for Africa (and as also happened within the American continents). This could have happened many, many times, although G's "Amerind" implies ONE migration by land at least 12k (but more likely much earlier) ago, one migration (possibly by sea) for Na-Dene, and one migration by sea for Eskimo-Aleut. Africa and the Americas are apples and oranges as far as linguistic history and population history is concerned. John E. McLaughlin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor mclasutt at brigham.net Program Director Utah State University On-Line Linguistics http://english.usu.edu/lingnet English Department 3200 Old Main Hill Utah State University Logan, UT 84322-3200 (435) 797-2738 (voice) (435) 797-3797 (fax) From vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu Mon Sep 20 13:45:59 1999 From: vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu (Vidhyanath Rao) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 09:45:59 -0400 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: wrote: >> vidynath at math.ohio-state.edu writes: >> Is formal Tamil a living language? And, if you try to regard formal and >> colloquial Tamil as different registers, how do you tell different >> registers of a langauge from two distinct languages? > -- if you read a piece of formal Tamil out loud, can a > colloquial-Tamil-speaker who hasn't received any training in formal Tamil > understand it? There are three problems with this. First is the implicit assumption that command of a language is determined by understanding it, rather than being able to produce new correct' sentences in it. Secondly, I don't know what training in formal Tamil' means. Some decades ago, movie dialogues contained good doses of formal Tamil. Nowadays, non-entertainment programs on TV and public speeches are usually in formal Tamil. Within the last generation, the percentage of children who never went to school has decreased dramatically. Given that exposure to a language in early childhood leads rather quickly to passive mastery, the suggested experiment is not really possible. [One thing we can try is to use children of expatriates who have not been taught their mother tongue'. But then I expect the result to be negative, based on what have heard about.] Finally, there is the assumption that 3rd-4th c. Prakrit speakers who were around those who could speak Sanskrit but were never taught it could not understand Sanskrit. Available evidence does not support this. Servants growing up in royal or Brahmin households are often portrayed in dramas and stories as being able to understand Sanskrit (but, barring exceptional cases, not as capable of speaking it: the sounds unique to Sanskrit were thought to be beyond such people, women etc.). Modern equivalents also support this: When standard tricks' such as compounds with words used postpositionally instead of nominal inflection (such as mu:lam or dva:ra: for the instrumental) or nouns combined with a small class of high frequency verbs instead of finite verbs are used, Indians, who often know a surprising amount of Sanskrit nouns, even if they don't know the correct pronunciation', are surprised to find that they can understand a good percentage of simple sentences. Actually, it seems that even the pronunciation difference might be overblown. It is commonly assumed that the pronunciation of Sanskrit always followed/s the values given in the primers. This is and was not the case. Handbooks attached to Vedic schools give minute rules positing different values suggestive of Prakritic pronunciation. For example, a common mantra used after pujas often goes  ... namo bajam ...'. I will leave it to you to figure out what bajam' stands for. Johnston, in his notes to Buddhacarita, cites examples of transcriptions into Chinese and metrical anomalies that suggest a Prakritic pronunciation. We cannot ignore the effects of these on understandability either. (The same applied to Latin, as Steven Gustafson pointed out.) From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Mon Sep 20 16:58:59 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 12:58:59 -0400 Subject: Relative chronology and absolute certainty In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Tue, 14 Sep 1999 X99Lynx at aol.com wrote: > Now take a look at the logic here. ki > ci is widely attested. ci > ki is > much rarer. Accepting that, then the proto language MUST HAVE HAD a certain > reconstruction. > But we know that's not true. The rarity of ci > ki only affects probabilty. > It doesn't make the reconstruction absolutely certain at all. In fact, it > makes absolute certainty an absolute error. > So why is such absolute terminology being used? Putting aside that this fact > about the world's languages' habits re 'palatalization' wasn't part of the > original hypothesis, we can still ask a very important question. > Just how widely attested is ci > ki and just how rare is ki > ci? Especially > in the context of discussions about algorithms and statistics, wouldn't it be > appropriate to talk about what the occurences are here? How often has ki > > ci happened? How often has ci > ki happened? Is there a count of these > events? > If there was ever a place where statistics in linguistics would be helpful, > this is a good one. Because this is exactly the kind of assertion that > really needs some back-up before it should be credibly accepted as the basis > for accepting this reconstruction. In principle, this would not be a bad thing, but I think it is impossible in practice. The problem has to do with counting the events. Would you include a rule in the count if it were /qi/ > /ci/ (voiceless uvular stop to voiceless palatal stop)? What about /qi/ > /ki/ (also a fronting induced by a front vowel, but not one that results in a palatal)? What about /kwi/ > /ti/ (which happened in Greek)? What if there's a concomitant change of the manner of articulation, e.g. stop to affricate, as happened in Old English? Are you going to count any old case where a front vowel has dragged a dorsal consonant forward in any way, or are you going to count it only when it's really /ki/ > /ci/? Does the sound change count if it has not yet become contrastive? Would we count modern English, given that the /k/ of /ki/ is articulated somewhat further forward than the /k/ of /ku/? If a change started in a more limited set of cases and then spread to others, do we count it as one rule or two? Also bear in mind that the documentation of the world's languages varies wildly in its quality. It's not uncommon to run up against a case where the only grammar of a now-dead language was written in the 1920's by an anthropologist with little linguistic training, leaving the modern linguist to scratch his/her head and try to extrapolate as well as possible. Two linguists might well argue over exactly what the grammar is trying to say- and in this case, might argue whether a ki > ci rule has happened or not, thus leading to differences of opinion on your totals. > (I won't go into how selective this external evidence is. If we are going to > bring the pattern of the world's languages into this, why are we excluding > the possibility that /c/ in the hypothetical might represent loans - like > intervocalic /s/'s in Latin - or other more intricate pathways. Given that there is a morphologically conditioned /k/ ~ /c/ alternation in our hypothetical, I don't see how this situation could have arisen thru loan words. > But we should not accept this reasoning. Not if it is used to justify > another absolute statement. Because the reasoning only perhaps makes it > likely. It tells us nothing that justifies such certainty. Once again, you're bringing in that word 'absolute'. This was already hashed over. In science, no statement is absolute. We have to always be prepared to revise what we believe if the evidence demands it. When a scientist make an assertion, it is on this shared understanding. However, there are cases where the evidence speaks so plainly to a particular conclusion that it would be perverse not to treat it as true. I think that the analysis I've given for our hypothetical language family is such a case; every bit of evidence within the hypothetical points to it being correct. If you gave this as a toy problem to a dozen competent historical linguists, I'd be quite surprised if anyone differed in the basic analysis of the facts. (You'd get variation in how the facts are formally modelled, but I'm sure they'd all agree on the relative chronology, for example.) > The new hypothetical Sean is referring to is: > <<... Language A > takutu 'I run' > tacid 'you run' > takil 'they run'>> > It amazed me to learn that without "any evidence for Language B, we could > still > correctly and unambiguously reconstruct Proto-AB purely by performing > Internal Reconstruction" on the evidence given above. I presume this has > something to do with some rule about the phonetic formation of second persons > or something gleaned from the world's languages that allows us to recreate > the parent with such absolute certainty. This is an important rule and I > wish I knew it. It's noting special about the second person; nor in any direct way am I extrapolating from the other languages of the world. It's simply an application of first-year undergraduate phonology to a particularly clear case. > Sean continues: > < */k/ and */c/; thus, Proto-AB contrasted the series *ki *ke *ka *ko *ku > against *ci *ce *ca *co *cu....In the case of monomorphemic words, for > example, there'd be no way to undo the merger....>> > Once again, there would be no need to undo a merger. This is a two step > process, between parent and daughter. No steps left for unmerging. You're just plain not understanding. Consider the following words; let's assume they're monomorphemic. Language A Language B cim cim "more" cibi kibi "before" Suppose there hadn't been a */c/ - */k/ contrast in Proto-AB; it was all */k/. Okay, them how did Language B develop the contrast? There's no conditioning environment to tell you where you get /c/ and where you get /k/ in Language B, so you're forced to assume a sporadic split. This is definitely the wrong way to go; the right thing to do is to assume that the contrast existed in Proto-AB, and Language A has had a merger. I just don't know how I can make this any clearer. \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From sarant at village.uunet.lu Mon Sep 20 16:39:54 1999 From: sarant at village.uunet.lu (Nikos Sarantakos) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 18:39:54 +0200 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: <000801bf02b4$75e0d160$1205063e@xpoxkjlf> Message-ID: At 20:16 18/09/99 +0100, petegray wrote: >A further example of at least an aunt and a daughter co-existing might be >seen in the Katherevousa and the Demotike forms of modern Greek. No one >learnt Katherevousa as a mother tongue, but in the 60's we could hardly >claim that it was not "Greek", just because it had no mother speakers. >Peter No-one learnt it by one's mother (although this cannot be known with certainty) but everyone was being taught Katharevousa in primary school, no? But why do you consider it an "aunt"? Weren't they both K. and D. daughters of the same mother? nikos sarantakos From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Mon Sep 20 18:22:25 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 13:22:25 -0500 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: Message-ID: Last summer I showed a Scottish-Nicaraguan movie called Carla's Song to my advanced 4th semester Spanish students. While they could understand most of the Spanish without relying on the subtitles, except for a few cusswords they were completely lost trying to understand the Glaswegians. Several students asked me what language they were speaking and why they cussed in English instead of their own language. I've never seen this degree of bewilderment when Spanish and Portuguese speakers get together. It definitely defies conventional notions of language separation [snip] >I once met a couple of fellow hikers on the >Appalachian Trail in western North Carolina. They were from Scotland >speaking English. I was from Utah speaking English. Yet there was less >than 50% mutual comprehensibility. We finally resorted to the common >context, hand signals, and a very slowly spoken "Swadesh list" of forms to >"communicate". Were we actually speaking the "same language"? I've >observed Spanish speakers and Portuguese speakers doing the same thing with >about the same level of success, yet they are considered to be speaking two >languages. [snip] Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 From ECOLING at aol.com Mon Sep 20 19:02:00 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 15:02:00 EDT Subject: IE Tree more revealing ? Message-ID: Whatever one thinks of Steve Long's points, it is to me COMPLETELY WITHOUT QUESTION that the form of our family trees could be vastly improved, so that we can more easily take them as a framework and follow the relation between hypothesized innovations and branchings. (There seems to be some agreement about this. Please see below.) And so that we can more easily check on the reasoning built into any computer classifications and tree structures. In a message dated 9/15/99 6:25:49 AM, alderson at netcom.com writes: >The entirety of the [IE] tree is based on reconstructions In that case, Steve Long is of course correct in highlighting any statements that no reconstructions were used, if there were indeed such statements (I'm not checking that just now). And more important in the long run, Steve Long is correct in pointing out that the results may IN EFFECT be not very much more than the formalization of results which were in fact arrived at by the 200 years of careful study by other methods. Steve at least once appeared to me to equate it with "intuitive" etc., which I think is too strong, because those 200 years of study have yielded a lot of solid analysis, but it might be somewhat more supportable to use terms like "not formalized" or "not explicit", since the result of 200 years of work is partly rejected dead ends as well as results now considered standard doctrine. To the extent that the results of the computer work might be easily changed by WHICH particular innovations are included, even assuming a correct analysis of reconstructions and innovations is used as data, this also is cause for concern. For this reason, the tiny modification in the data used which caused Italo-Celtic to be classified differently is an illustration of the possible (!) non-robustness of the method. We should try hard to make certain we understand the relation between conclusions and the data on which they are based. As to Steve Long's other point, about the ambiguity of what is the "stem" vs. a "branch", I think people are still talking past each other to at least some degree. If an Italo-Celtic branch is defined by certain innovations, not given in the visual diagram usually presented for the IE tree, perhaps we would do better to have a diagram which could only be printed on an 11 x 17 inch sheet of paper (which would not fit on an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet), and which did include major innovations on each of the branches. In such a diagram, we would perhaps see an Italo-Celtic branch with two or three innovations in common, not many, so what the two families had in common was still pretty close to PIE, while the other branch (what Steve Long regards as the stem) would ALSO have a few innovations in common, which separated them from the Italo-Celtic. Is it the case that the remaining IE languages do share any common innovations which exclude Italo-Celtic? If not, then the remainder could legitimately be regarded as still derived from the stem itself, rather than forming just another branch different from the Italo-Celtic one? The second possibility, that there are no innovations shared by all IE languages other than Anatolian, Tocharian, and Italo-Celtic (I am not checking against Ringe's work just now) brings us certainly much closer to the view of an unrooted tree, in which Italo-Celtic branched off together at one point, and other groupings or individual languages branched off at other points. Rich Alderson writes to Steve Long (and the list): >You have misunderstood the word "branch" in this context; a better description >of what is examined in the tree is that each *fork* represents a pair of sets >of innovations, with a group of dialects on one side of the fork showing one >set and dialects on the other side showing the other set. It may be the case >that one set in each pair is null, but it is not necessary that it always be >the "left" set (in the representation of the tree presented in this list). I believe Steve Long is focusing on the cases in which one of the branches in fact contains no innovations, in which case we need to think about an un-rooted PORTION of the tree. We cannot tell such cases apart with the currently most common notation for such trees, no innovations marked. Brian M. Scott BMScott at stratos.net writes: >As I understand the algorithm, a binary character that has one value in >Anatolian and the other in everything else would contribute to the >branching shown above irrespective of whether both values, the Anatolian >value, or the other value is an innovation with respect to PIE. The >tree does not directly show innovations at all. To that degree, it should be represented as an unrooted tree? It may be that Steve Long's points can assist us in improving our family-tree diagrams, marking on their branches the innovations, perhaps especially mergers, which lead us to draw particular historical conclusions. John McLaughlin has some very useful comments about the biases of the kinds of family trees we often see in biology, with the "trunk" leading to man by some kind of predeterminism. He says: >The family bush drawn on the endplate >of the American Heritage Dictionary >is how a relationship chart should look. I agree heartily. In the case we are mostly discussing, the UPenn tree for IE makes stronger claims than the AHD bush, because it groups together several of the families which are shown in the American Heritage Dictionary as descending independently directly from the root. I believe Steve Long's points apply more to the UPenn IE tree than they would to the bush in AHD. Some of his points might in effect be partly answered by the AHD version, since the AHD version would grant more equal status to the descendants, and could more easily accomodate differences as to what was original vs. innovated (I am NOT arguing any substance in that line just now). I think listening to all of this discussion, my own tentative conclusion is that the FORM (purely the form) of the UPenn IE tree, like most family trees without indications of innovations on ALL of the branches, leaves us with a highly unnecessary gap between data and results, a gap in which there may in fact be lots of structure which professionals may be fully aware of, but which is not made available to anyone in as educationally effective manner as is possible. I think John McLaughlin's comments are on the right track here. So what improvements would our list members want to make? I strongly believe that searching for the most legitimate part of a critique, and responding productively to that, is a much better way of proceeding than trying to defend some abstract doctrine and discredit the portions of a critique that may be wrong. First, because it directs all of our limited amounts of attention into more productive channels, and second, because it strengthens the standard and the educational presentation of the standard, to make those improvements which we can legitimately see. Therefore, John McLaughlin's critique, and some elements of Steve Long's critique, should be made, I believe. We should make it clear why family trees which do not distinguish between innovating and non-innovating branches are rather dangerous both for our own understandings and for the education of new entrants into the field. Best wishes, Lloyd Anderson From ECOLING at aol.com Mon Sep 20 19:02:07 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 15:02:07 EDT Subject: Excluding Basque data Message-ID: My point in this discussion has been that with the convenience of modern computers, WE DO NOT HAVE TO DECIDE EARLY in any sense that constrains us from changing our decision later in a "what if" exploration! In other words, by TAGGING our data with its various attestations and properties, we can encode everything that Larry Trask wants, and still be able to consider a wider range of data if we want to do so, not merely what Jon Patrick wants to include, but any other set of choices as well. We can tabulate statistics from the same database, now using one set of criteria, now another, to see what the effect is on the patterns we observe. We actually have a chance to analyze whether we think some set of criteria such as Larry Trask's have some definitial or implicational relation with particular canonical forms, and indeed even with the degree of uniformity of canonical forms within the set of data included in any one use of the database. Because of this flexibility provided by databases with tagged data, we can avoid any need to debate methodology as some PRIOR step, because we can explore different methodologies on the fly, whenever we feel like it. Then more efforts will go into actual discoveries, and less into the kinds of meta-discussions we have had here. Best wishes, Lloyd Anderson From ECOLING at aol.com Mon Sep 20 19:01:56 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 15:01:56 EDT Subject: Difficult Perfective-Imperfective Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] Pat Ryan is quite properly indignant that there is such terminological confusion in the field of Verbal Aspect. He cites Bernard Comrie, who notes this lack of agreement. There should perhaps have been some newly created term for what is meant. But this solution is not available to us yet in the current problem, JUST AS we cannot "fix" the problem that what is called "passive" in the grammar of one language does not match exactly what is called "passive" in the grammar of some other language. It is no one's fault that such is the case, languages differ, and yet we cannot have an infinite number of distinct terminologies, for they would then do us no good. We have to be satisfied with partial overlaps of reference. Some grammatical traditions call "passive" what is more properly called "middle voice". That is one of the more extreme cases, and we cannot make it vanish. I am a firm advocate of not deviating from common sense and ordinary usage of language. I even avoid using "phonemic system" because "system" is sufficient to imply structure, so I normally use "sound system". So much for merely one example of my aversion to elitist perfectionism, or fancier terminology than is necessary to make clear distinctions. HOWEVER... Any solution for perfective / imperfective is much more difficult than Pat Ryan yet imagines, because Pat does not distinguish between how a speaker chooses to regard a situation in the discourse of the moment (what the universal /typological grammarians call perfective/imperfective) from how we might characterize a real-world event (as lasting in time or as compact in time, what the universal/typological grammarians often call punctual vs. durative, or terms with similar meanings). There is a need to distinguish these two concepts, whatever one calls them. Pat's proposed "solution" is to not distinguish them. That is no solution, it is simply wishing the problem would go away. We need BOTH concepts in careful treatments of the grammar of one and the same language. THIS DISTINCTION IS CRUCIAL The fact that this distinction is not often carefully made (as it has not been made by Pat Ryan) is part of the source for terminological dilemmas (of the sort Comrie noted). In a message dated 9/15/99 3:20:32 AM, proto-language at email.msn.com writes: >I can interpret Comrie's Gothic definition myself: I interpret *his* >"perfective" to mean: 'a verbal action characterized as a point in time'; and >*his* "imperfective" to mean: 'a verbal action characterized as points in >time'. If one reads "characterized as" in two different meanings, one gets the two different concepts, one perfective vs. imperfective (discourse treatment by the speaker), the other punctual (or momentary) vs. durative (more lexical, referring to real-world events as types of what is called "Aktionsart", not to how speakers treat them in discourse structure in terms of background and foreground). I agree with Pat Ryan that the terminological situation is most unfortunate, and wish we had a solution. Since terms for abstract concepts which are successful in actual usage almost always grow from terms for more concrete concepts, and since any term for the concrete concepts is likely to be like "punctual / momentary" or like "durative", I believe the current "perfective / imperfective" arose in the only way such terms can arise and be successful. That origin probably entailed the kind of confusion we are now dealing with. Currently we simply have to say what "perfective / imperfective" means in universal / typological grammar, where precision is required, and then specify that the terms are also used with a quite different sense in the tradition of Russian etc. grammar. I would not be so bold as to suggest another term instead, I think that would be even more disruptive. \I do not have confidence that I could choose a good one. Something totally unheard-of, like "frepive" vs. "infrepive", is unlikely to succeed. I sincerely ask that Pat Ryan begin to make the distinction which is noted several times above, and has been noted in quite a number of earlier messages, before again offering solutions or condemning the terminological situation which we are all saddled with. I am glad if Pat liked my wording of this distinction: >Lloyd expressed it much better, when he said: "It is crucial to carefully keep >the difference between EVENTS (as they actually are in reality) and ASPECTUAL >REFERENCES (which reflect how they are conceived by speakers). Aspectual >references are partly independent of any real-world nature of events, they are >partly free choices made by the speaker. >This is, I believe, the crux of the question, and a point of view completely >overlooked and misunderstood by Comrie though there may be hope for Larry. But I am puzzled why Pat thinks Comrie and Trask do not understand it. I believe they make approximately the same distinction I was expressing. Pat gives the example of an imperfective (iterative) "He was sneezing all the way home". But that is not the most important reason why "sneeze" can be given an imperfective treatment. Nor is it because it is predominantly atelic (as Pat correctly notes): >Although one could think of sneezing as telic (getting >something out of one's nose by forceful release of air), generally, it would >be understood as atelic, hence, it must be imperfective. The "hence, it must be imperfective" does not follow from its being atelic. In fact, it is most usually treated as a perfective (unless iterative), if one means "to give a sneeze" rather than "to continue sneezing again and again". Rather, "sneeze" can be treated as imperfective because it can occur in a context like this: "While John was sneezing, the lights went out." Since a SINGLE sneeze (not necessarily iterative) can take a longer time than the lights going out, the sneezing can be reasonably treated as a background, having internal parts over time, in relation to the lights going out which can be treated as the foreground, without internal temporal structure. Such cases are not common, but they are evidence that punctual and perfective are not the same KINDS of concepts. Sincerely, Lloyd Anderson From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Mon Sep 20 20:02:20 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 15:02:20 -0500 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (PS) In-Reply-To: <199909192228.RAA29082@sunmuw1.MUW.Edu> Message-ID: Superficially, at least, those four words look possibly IE altz -- aliso, etc. beltz -- ?related to root of blue, black, blank bultz -- ?related to root of Spanish empujar, impulso glitz -- ?related to Latin clave the endings need BIG explanation, though [snip] >My useful computer tells me there are 4 such words >altz - alder tree >beltz - black >bultz - push, thrust >giltz - key [snip] Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 From roz-frank at uiowa.edu Mon Sep 20 21:47:34 1999 From: roz-frank at uiowa.edu (Roslyn M. Frank) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 16:47:34 -0500 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (part 3) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: At 05:32 PM 9/17/99 +0100, you wrote: >On Wed, 15 Sep 1999, Roslyn M. Frank wrote: [RF] > So faced with these representations of the same word, > how does one go about reconstructing the form? Keeping in mind that > the attested cases are /ekhe/, /khe/, /kehe/, /eke/ /ke/ and /kee/, [LT] >I can't agree, I'm afraid, unless you can cite some documentary evidence >for the reality of the ones I have queried. [RF] Leaving aside the item /kehe/ which I thought I had seen proposed, but at the moment I can't find the reference, the sources are pretty much the standard ones, starting with Azkue's dictionary. I don't know whether you are referring to some other type of "documentary evidence" other than that provided by the standard dictionaries of the Basque language which include dialectal variants. Again, in reference to the possible importance of such an item (I refer to the phonological variants represented by this item), I would suggest that if the item is archaic in some fashion, i.e., if it retains some earlier features of the language that otherwise have been lost, then one would not expect to find a large number of similar items precisely because it retains an older feature(s) no longer regularly present in the dialect(s)/language. You seem to dismiss it as irrelevant because its features are not more widespread. Yet I would argue that such items should definitely be kept in the data set in case at a later time other evidence should come forward that would allow for the puzzle pieces to fit together in a different fashion. bye, Roz ************************************************************************ Roslyn M. Frank Professor ************************************************************************ Department of Spanish & Portuguese University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 52242 email: fax: (319)-335-2990 From roz-frank at uiowa.edu Mon Sep 20 22:47:46 1999 From: roz-frank at uiowa.edu (Roslyn M. Frank) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 17:47:46 -0500 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (fwd) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: At 02:28 PM 9/17/99 +0100, Larry Trask wrote: [LT] >OK; I propose to reply to Roz's long two-part posting in several >instalments, as time permits. >On Wed, 15 Sep 1999, Roslyn M. Frank wrote: [LT] >Fourth, we have a dictum in comparative reconstruction. If variety A >has a contrast which is absent from related variety B, then, unless >there are very good reasons for doing something else, we reconstruct the >contrast for the common ancestor, and conclude that the contrast has >been lost in B. Since the northern varieties of Basque have an /h/-zero >contrast, absent in the south, we therefore prefer to reconstruct the >contrast for the common ancestor, and to assume that the southern >varieties have lost it. The question is determining the rules for discovering what a "contrast" might be. That is one of the points I have been trying to make in my postings. For instance, as you well know, /h/ is considered a suprasegmental feature in many environments. You yourself have stated this. Secondly, it is also a well known fact that in Euskera vowels are often separated by an intrusive consonant and not always the same one. For example, we have the root-stem /ao/ which also appears as /aho/, /abo/ apo/ and /ago/. Indeed, the /abo/ as in /abokada/ (/abo-ka-da/) "bocanada (Sp.)" or "mouthful", more literally, "an action done repeatedly with the mouth, mouthing over and over") is commonplace. Are we to assume an original /aho/ which was reduced to /ao/ in souther dialects? Or was the original form /ao/ which then under certain conditions was pronounced as /aho/ so as to avoid the falling together of the two vowels: so that root-stem wasn't in danger of undegoing permanent reduction (to */o/) rather than only a momentary one as has occurred in the case of some compounds (/aomen/ vs. /omen/). In other words there are many examples where there is an intervocalic /h/ whose status is unclear. Next, in referring to an /h/-zero contrast, I assume you are referring back to your example of the minimal pair in /sei/ and /sehi/. >> [LT] >>> Second, we have minimal pairs in the aspirating dialects, like >>> six' and boy, servant'. If we took * as the ancestral >>> form in both cases, we would have no principled basis for explaining the >>> modern contrast. >> Unless is a more recent/ancient loan word, i.e., related >> to items such as in Spanish. >It is *extremely* unlikely that Basque is borrowed from Romance: >its form militates against that. However, there are plenty of other >words available to make the same point: see below. But I think in another venue you argued that was a loan word in Euskera. >> In this respect I don't argue >> with your logic, only your particular example. Had it been a >> different one where the loan word status of one of the items was >> less questionable and had the sample in question consisted of a half >> dozen or so such examples of minimal pairs, its power of persuasion >> would have been greater. This is a case where a more statistically >> driven model might give us much better results. But that assumes the >> need to collect data without eliminating one or the other of the >> possibilities. For instance, one would need to collect data for all >> the southern/central dialects in order to see how the problem of >> polysemy is dealt with. In otherwords a stronger argument would be >> to show that in northern dialects there are indeed an extended set >> of minimal pairs in which the presence of /h/ (or [h] ?) is the only >> distinguishing characteristic. The only one that comes to my mind is >> that of /sei/ "six" and /sehi/ "boy, servant." To my knowledge, >> northern dialects do notcontrast /behi/ "cow" with */bei/ meaning >> something else; nor /behe/ "low, below, beneath" with */be/ meaning >> something else. That doesn't mean that there might not be other >> minimal pairs that could be examined. [LT] >We don't really need minimal pairs. [RF] But we do, Larry. You offered one example which I challenged. Indeed, for the case to be made, one should be able to identify sets of minimal pairs in northern dialects that differ only in the presence/absence of the intervocalic /h/ and whose meanings are totally different. The following lists do not provide that sort of information. [LT] >Take a look at some further >northern forms. > ~ material', yes', vulture', high >place', top', root', vein', body', >morning', a certain agricultural implement', ~ >four', night', foot', pain', and many others. [RF] But many of these forms are identical in northern and southern dialects??!! So what does this prove? What are you trying to argue? In the case of I believe the northern variants include /gehi/. [LT] >But: > desire', habitually', mud', cow', >once', bran', grain', mouth', turf, >sod', ability', feeble', palm of the hand', > tongue', and many others. [RF] As I said, these are not examples of minimal pairs. Nor are these examples consistent in the sense that each of them has a northern and southern variants, e.g., one with /h/ and another without. So that leaves us where we started: there are northern variants that have /h/ and southern ones that don't. And... [LT] >Now, if you want to maintain that the forms without /h/ are original, >and that the forms with /h/ are innovations, then you must provide a >conditioning factor. That is, you must explain what the rules are for >deciding when /h/ is inserted and when it is not. Since I can see no >possible basis for doing this, I conclude -- like everybody -- that the >/h/ is original, and that the southern dialects have lost it, producing >a number of new monosyllables there. [RT] Could one not argue that the conditioning factor was the introduction of a consonant, a mechanism intended to keep the two vowels of the root-stem from falling together, especially in compounds where stress could have led to their reduction. The latter would have led to a loss of recognition of the root-stem and hence the meaning of the compound; and that could have affected the shape of the root-stem itself. Mechanisms that allow for the maintenance of the phonological shape of root-stems would seem to me to be particularly important in a language such as Euskera, i.e., typologically speaking. Again if were could come up with a list of minimal pairs in northern dialects that differ only in the presence/absence of /h/, we would have a very strong case. But we can't. Didn't they exist? And if they didn't exist, why not? Indeed, what I would like to determine is whether there are any examples at all of minimal pairs other than that of /sei/ vs. /sehi/ which we've discussed above? Ondo ibili, Roz ************************************************************************ Roslyn M. Frank Professor ************************************************************************ Department of Spanish & Portuguese University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 52242 email: fax: (319)-335-2990 From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Mon Sep 20 23:53:59 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 19:53:59 -0400 Subject: Clarifications regarding "UPenn Tree" In-Reply-To: Message-ID: I'd like to clarify some issues regarding the tree produced by Ringe, Warnow, and Taylor. Following is a portion of the input to an earlier run of the program; I've edited it a little for clarity, and it's not the most recent version, but the essential form has not changed: Char. 1 2 3 4 5 6 ... __________________________ Hi 2 1 1 2 1 3 ... Ar 1 2 4 1 3 4 ... Gr 1 2 1 1 2 1 ... Al 3 3 3 5 3 4 ... TB 4 4 2 3 1 1 ... Ve 2 1 2 6 1 2 ... Av 2 1 2 7 1 2 ... OCS 2 5 2 8 4 5 ... Li 5 6 4 9 5 6 ... OE 6 7 5 10 6 2 ... OI 7 8 2 11 7 1 ... La 2 9 2 2 2 8 ... The meaning of the characters and their values are: 1. augment 1. present 2 &c. absent 2. thematized aorist 1. absent 2. present or immediately reconstructable 3 aorist lost, or unclear 3. productive function of *-sk'e'/o'- 1. iterative 2. inchoative 3. causative 4 &c. other, or lost 4. function of *dhi' 1. imperative (only) 2. past (with imperative relics) 3 &c. lost or unclear 5. mediopassive primary marker (sg., 3pl.) 1. *-r 2. *-y (= */-i/) 3 &c. lost 6. thematic optative 1. *-oy- 2. *-a:- 3 &c. absent, or preform obscure What the algorithm does is to take this coded input, and to figure out which of the 34,459,425 possible trees is the best fit for the IE family. The team actually used a rather larger set of characters, but this subset illustrates what the table of characters looks like. I trust that the abbreviations for the languages representing each branch are readily recognizable. One thing I'd point out is that if several branches have all lost something which existed in PIE, each of these languages is assigned a _unique_ value for the corresponding character. If one were to code them all with the _same_ number (meaning 'lost' or 'not present'), this would tend to group all of those languages together. But we know that a loss of a morphological category, etc., is certainly something which can readily happen as a parallel innovation, so each language which underwent such a loss is given a unique value to prevent them from being incorrectly grouped. This is _all_ that the input to the program looks like. To give the complete input would merely be a matter of extending the chart further to the right for the rest of the characters (I'm just too lazy to type it all here). There have been some rather fantastic guesses in recent posts about what kind of input the program takes and what kind of computation it can do. I hope it's clearer now that the program takes a table like to one above as its input and gives a tree like the one I gave as its output. In an earlier post, I said that "reconstructed forms were not included in the data." I see now that I should have clarified what I meant by this, because there has been some misunderstanding. What I meant is that there is no row in the table for PIE as there is for Hittite, Old English, etc. Including such a row with characters coded for PIE might be one way of trying to determine the root node (remember that the algorithm produces an unrooted tree); but this isn't what the team chose to do. That's what I meant when I said that reconstructions weren't used. I definitely did _not_ mean that there wasn't any reconstruction involved in any way at all. The team made standard assumptions about what reconstructed PIE looks like, and is was this standard set of assumptions which permitted them to create the table which served as input to the program. For example, the optative *-oy- turns out in different ways in different languages depending on the language-specific sound changes; but it is by performing comparative reconstruction that one can recognize that these superficially different reflexes in fact all derive from the same PIE suffix. The appropriate languages are are accordingly all assigned the same character value. I hope this has cleared up how the tree was produced and what the algorithm in question is intended to do and is able to do. \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Tue Sep 21 00:48:46 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 20:48:46 -0400 Subject: Updates regarding UPenn tree In-Reply-To: <5282be2e.25146303@aol.com> Message-ID: I've finally had a chance to talk to Don Ringe a few times recently, and I've got some answers to questions which previously came up on this list, and some other new information. Regarding the grouping of Italo-Celtic, here's the scoop. Going back to early versions of the work, the optative has always been included as a character. Most branches of Indo-European have a reflex of *-oy-; Italic and Celtic have *-a:-, and others (Hittite, Armenian, Albanian, and arguably Tocharian) don't have it, either because they never had it or because they lost it. If you go back to the tree I gave, you'll see that this situation _allows_ an Italo-Celtic grouping, but does not _force_ it. (Either *-a:- is an Italo-Celtic innovation, or else the ancestor of Greco-Armenian-Balto-Slavic-Germanic-Indo-Iranian used to have *-a:- too and then replaced it with *-oy-. If the latter is true, then we need not group Italic and Celtic together). Later, the team added _two_ new characters which forced the Italo-Celtic sub-branch (not just one character as I previously incorrectly reported). One was the *p..kw > *kw..kw character (a sound change shared by Italic and Celtic), and the other is the morphological construction underlying Latin -tio (Don says that a lookalike in Armenian can be shown to be an independent innovation, but I don't know the details). So much for Italo-Celtic. A bit of very recent news regarding the tree is that in the most recent runs, the position of Germanic has turned out to be even more indeterminate that the team had originally thought. As I noted earlier, the team had claimed that Germanic patterns with Italo-Celtic with regard to lexical characters, but with Balto-Slavic with regard to morphological, etc. characters. What the team had already found is that if they take Germanic out and run the algorithm again, they robustly get the same tree over and over. When they put Germanic in, they've now found that it keeps showing up in all sorts of different places in the tree. There were several side points to this which were mentioned in passing. One is this: if the tree is a perfect phylogeny (roughly, one where the character values are distributed so that there are no parallel innovations involved), the algorithm will give the right result. However, if the set of characters is such that there is no perfect phylogeny, the algorithm is not guaranteed to give the best possible tree; it will give a pretty-good one, but not necessarily the best one. As best as I understood, different runs of the program will give different results in this case (Don used the word "randomizing" in this context; this is getting into the gory internals of the algorithm which I don't understand). What this means is that things which stay the same run after run are the things you can take with a greater level of confidence (e.g., the grouping of the satem core; the early branching of Anatolian, etc.). Places where you get more variation between runs are places where the data are more indeterminate; Germanic is a case in point, and Albanian had already turned out to be so indeterminate that there was no point in including it. Given the current, mature set of characters, and leaving Germanic out, the same tree keeps coming up, which is a very good sign. I asked Don in passing if the team had considered the position of Phrygian in the tree. I already knew that the team could not include Phrygian because the attestion is so very poor that they wouldn't be able to assign values for most of the characters; but once the tree had already been drawn, they might be able to tell from what little data we have where Phrygian might fit in. Don said something about the mediopassive which I didn't understand (Don is known for lecturing at a very rapid pace), but he said "One way you could work it is this," and drew a tree on the blackboard which had Phrygian branching off after Italo-Celtic, but before Greco-Armenian. What I understood was that Phrygian seems to pattern with the "core" (Greco-Armenian + satem core) in some respects but not others. One other comment in passing led me to believe that I might have been wrong when I earlier said that the characters had been equally weighted, but I didn't get any details. That's the latest from UPenn; coming up next, we have the weather and the sports scores. \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From X99Lynx at aol.com Tue Sep 21 08:10:30 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 04:10:30 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: In a message dated 9/20/99 12:22:11 AM, the Moderator commented: [ Moderator's comment: Mycenaean is an example of South Greek, like Arcado-Cypriot and Attic-Ionic, and is in fact closely related to the former, while Aeolian is, like Doric, a North Greek family of dialects. Further, Mycenaean still had labiovelars rather than labials as in Aeolic, so was most certainly distinguishable on those grounds if nothing else. --rma ] >> I was responding to the post which seemed to treat Mycenaean as a parent to Classic period Greek. I recalled that Sappho wrote (or sang) in Aeolian. I guess I was thinking of Arcadian. But the Aeolic was not far off. The divisions I'm familiar with sometimes class Aeolian with Arcadian-Cypriot. They also primarily divide Greek east-west. Strabo (below) has Arcadian as pure Aeolian, from before the latter was hybridized by contact with Doric. This is from my notes: 1. I.V. - The Mycenaean Linear B dialect was found to be best preserved in the southern (Arcado-Cyprian) group, and to be distinct from the Ionian-Attic dialect; the theory that Mycenaean was the mother tongue of all Greek dialects conflicts with the facts: "...Mycenaean presents many dialectal phenomena of quite recent aspect and is in some traits as far from 'common [early] Greek' as the dialects known a millennium later." (Chadwick) Tovar writes: "The weak point in Risch's argument is that it ignores the fact that against the innovations which appear in Mycenaean (and Arcado-Cyprian), Ionic shows many old forms." A. Tovar, "On the Position of the Linear B Dialect," Mycenaean Studies, ed. by E.L. Bennet, Jr. (University of Wisconsin Press, 1964). 2. CB- <> 3. <<...West Greek (covering not only Northwest Greek, such as Aetolian, and Locrian, but also Doric, which includes Laconian (the dialect of Sparta), Corinthian, Megaran, Cretan, and Rhodian. Attic-Ionic and Arcado-Cypriot are sometimes classed together as East Greek, with Aeolic being seen as intermediate between East and West Greek. >> -B. Joseph 4. <> - Brian D. Joseph <> 56) Strabo Geography 8.1.2 (Loeb): <<...And just as the Aeolic element predominated in the parts outside the Isthmus, so too the people inside the Isthmus were in earlier times Aeolians; and then they became mixed with other peoples, since, in the first place, Ionians from Attica seized the Aegialus, and, secondly, the Heracleidae brought back the Dorians, who founded both Megara and many of the cities of the Peloponnesus. ...The Ionians, however, were soon driven out again by the Achaeans, an Aeolic tribe; and so there were left in the Peloponnesus only the two tribes, the Aeolian and the Dorian. Now all the peoples who had less intercourse with the Dorians--as was the case with the Arcadians ... since [these] were wholly mountaineers... -- these peoples spoke the Aeolic dialect, whereas the rest used a sort of mixture of the two, some leaning more to the Aeolic and some less. And, I might almost say, even now the people of each city speaks a different dialect, although, because of the predominance which has been gained by the Dorians, one and all are reputed to speak the Doric. Such, then, are the tribes of the Greeks, and such in general terms is their ethnic division.>> Regards, S. Long From X99Lynx at aol.com Tue Sep 21 08:20:54 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 04:20:54 EDT Subject: The Comparative Method and semantics Message-ID: In a message dated 9/14/99 5:37:16 PM, Sean Crist wrote: <> This wasn't an objection. It really is more of an observation. The way the sound laws were described in your prior posts, the very idea that they can be called "exceptionless," creates a strong impression. That level of dependability is rather rare in tools used to study the past. <> It's a little more subtle than that. The simple fact is that you probably would not call a match cognate unless the sound rules demonstrated they were fundamentally 'identical'. But you would call a match cognate without finding 'identical' meanings. In fact, I bet that most of the cognates that are found in non-modern IE languages are not identical in documented meaning. Often far from it. The tight rigor of the sound laws suddenly gives way to such rather loose and somewhat subjective standards as "plausible" earlier common meanings. It seems like it might make sense to avoid these rather arbitrary standards, if possible. Sean Crist wrote: <> And of course my question is how "reasonable" and "plausible" pan out in execution. When we deal with real, documented meaning changes in historical words, the only thing that often makes them plausible is that they happened. After all we are dealing with "meaning" here, which includes as referents everything humans perceived in the world as it is and as its changed in the course of @5000 years. Plausibility is a tall order because you are taking it upon yourself to judge the associations that ancient people made in order to communicate both old and new ideas. And I really don't think that most historians would raise much of an eyebrow if they were told that some people somewhere found some association between a trade good like leather and a trade route like a river. But we DO have a usage of "river" that could explain such a synonym - "rivered" is documented in 15th C English as referring to a type of wool (ie, washed in a river.) The same process could have applied to a kind of cleaned or water-softened leather. Implausibility can be nothing more than a lack or an ignorance of historical information. Hardly something to base decisive final decisions on. Not unless you've exhausted text and historical context. The fact that a glossary doesn't have it is no reason to jump to any important conclusions. Conversely and just as importantly, a standard like plausibility also creates the possibility that you are accepting ancestral meanings that seem to make sense only because they are general and basic enough to include a wide range of meanings. <> "Plausibility" doesn't necessary eliminate false cognates. It may actually create them. I suspect 'plausible' proto-meanings may tend to be unnatural ones, reducing those meanings to implausible proto-abstractions. In early Greek, "kentron" referred to a bee sting, to getting pricked, to a sharp stick. The journey that word traveled to get to "shopping center" brought it from a very concrete meaning to a very abstract one and back again. And the invention of Geometry was a stop along the way. If we look for "center" as something more abstract than a bug bite in PIE, we may help create a false cognate. Abstractions are 'plausible' ways of finding a common meaning, but they may yield implausible proto-languages. That's what "plausible semantics" possibly has done in terms of some *PIE reconstruction - not on the sound side, but in terms of meaning. I can't think of a more telling example than from this recent post on the list (from <>): <> 18 roots for "glisten/glitter"! Can you imagine what the Xmas songs must have been like back then! The language desribed above of course is implausible. Not one word at a time. But overall. Plausibility as a standard seems to have allowed "cognacy" in many words simply because they could be reduced to meanings like 'glisten/glitter.' The fact is that we are always on thin ice whenever we think that we can reconstruct meanings thousands of years before the written word. Sounds seem to have staying power. Meanings do not. <> If you are looking to limit the number of cognates the sound laws produce, 'plausible semantics' may not be the best way to do that. You may end up with 18 different reconstructed plausible proto-words that mean 'glitter/glisten'. I am not saying that probable or possible meanings should not be included. Just that they really can't reasonably settle the issue of cognancy. We just know too little about proto-meanings. If however you can accept a certain amount of probablistic uncertainty in just designating phonetic 'cognates,' then that problem becomes manageable. Why let something as arbitrary and imprecise as proto-semantics settle issues that arise from what you feel is the precise application of the sound laws? Regards, Steve Long From X99Lynx at aol.com Tue Sep 21 09:07:22 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 05:07:22 EDT Subject: Few Etymologies/Implausible Dinosaurs Message-ID: In a message dated 9/14/99 6:09:51 PM, kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu quoted "Don Ringe's book on the relative chronology of the sound changes in Tocharian": <<....But this circumstance creates a methodological paradox: we cannot propose reliable Tocharian etymologies until we have discovered the sound laws, yet we can only discover the Tocharian sound laws by the analysis of reliable etymologies! <> This approach of course seeks to increase certainty by only using those "etymologies" that are really, really certain. I do not know what was considered "inherently plausible." But a notable problem with this approach might be mentioned. (I'll by-pass the glaring one of how one determines "inherent plausibility.") When you put all your eggs in just a very few baskets, you are betting heavily that you've picked the right baskets. If your system is built on very few examples, your system if wrong will be a lot more wrong than if you use a broad base. That's easy enough to understand. You haven't hedged your bets. What's even more risky is to choose those few baskets as if the others don't exist. If you for example were sampling geologic strata, you'd rather have a few pure mineral samples than a lot of mixed ones, of course. But you may not have that luxury. And PREJUDGING samples to favor the pure ones will make things simplier and "elegant," but most definitely not accurate. Prejudging samples on the basis of "inherent plausibility" might become a little like tossing out the big dinosaur bones because nothing that big could have "plausibly" existed. So that we get a nice tidy normal size dinosaur and therefore can reconstruct what all dinosaurs were like - nice, tidy and normal sized. The fact is that EVERY WORD in Tocharian has an etymology. And Tocharian is a bit implausible to begin with. And because of the circumstance of that oddly placed culture, many of those etymologies should predictably seem implausible in the context of the rest of the IE language group. (And certainly to someone living in the 20th Century ace.) In fact, perhaps it is the plausible ones that should give pause - precisely because they are too easy a way to understand a very alien situation. It might be further pointed out that if you pick your etymologies based on what seems "plausible", the sound laws you derive will be "plausible". And when you later apply those sound laws to exclude other etymologies, you are just getting a preordained result. Your sound laws just reflect your judgment of what you decided in the first place. And you run the risk of not recognizing what may be in your eyes "implausible," BUT is NEVERTHELESS much more reflective of the truth. If you eliminate the improbable beforehand, you can be sure you will never identify the improbable when it happens. And it is a rule of probability that the improbable will happen. So one might expect this approach to miss the improbable, even if it is at the very core of Tocharian. The smaller your sample, the greater your chance of a very large error. Particularly if you choose your samples based on what's "plausible" - if the plausible is not what actually happened all those years ago. Implausibly, it turns out, dinosaurs were not normal-sized at all. Once again, if limiting etymologies in this way is necessary to make the comparative method work, then it has to be done. The only thing to remember is that the results - no matter how elegant - must carry a built in measure of uncertainty. And it may be rather improper to say your findings are certain or absolute or anything more than perhaps an educated guess. Regards, Steve Long From edsel at glo.be Tue Sep 21 10:09:07 1999 From: edsel at glo.be (Eduard Selleslagh) Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 12:09:07 +0200 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] -----Original Message----- From: petegray Date: Monday, September 20, 1999 9:45 AM >A further example of at least an aunt and a daughter co-existing might be >seen in the Katherevousa and the Demotike forms of modern Greek. No one >learnt Katherevousa as a mother tongue, but in the 60's we could hardly >claim that it was not "Greek", just because it had no mother speakers. >Peter [Ed Selleslagh] Katharévousa is an artificial invention of 19th century intellectuals who wanted a 'purified' (as the name indicates: katharos = pure) modern Greek, i.e. freed of all kinds of non-Greek words (Turkish, Italian, other Balkan lgs., ...) and even some flection forms which were regarded as popular mix-ups or simplistic. It is voluntarily archaeicizing. It was very influential, however, and re-introduced lost words (e.g. xenodocheio(n) = hotel) even in Dhimotikí. It has always been a written language. Ed. From X99Lynx at aol.com Tue Sep 21 17:05:13 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 13:05:13 EDT Subject: Accepting fewer etymologies Message-ID: In a message dated 9/20/99 2:53:17 AM, petegray at btinternet.com wrote: <> And consider the criterion for choosing which small sample of etymologies will yield the sound rules - "inherent plausibility." I don't at this point have any clear guiding examples of what "inherent plausibility" may mean. But one would only ask what potential sound rules - occurring outside that rather subjective criterion - are being eliminated. The answer seems to be that discovering these lost true cognates are not worth the cost of the false cognates they bring with them. But doesn't the elimination of some potentially critical sound rule put into question the validity of any "cognate" you find? If you don't have Verner's Rule, doesn't Grimm's Law look quite faulty and therefore unusable? Doesn't that lead you to finding something less ambitious than those "laws" to decribe your system? And can't that possibly lead you to using your narrowly "derived" sound laws to find a list of "inherently plausible" cognates that were never really there? Regards, Steve Long From alderson at netcom.com Tue Sep 21 20:32:40 1999 From: alderson at netcom.com (Richard M. Alderson III) Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 13:32:40 -0700 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: <4a75244b.25148fcf@aol.com> (X99Lynx@aol.com) Message-ID: On 18 Sep 1999, Steve Long once again wrote on the subject topic, concluding >But more importantly why is there so much effort being expanded in trying to >avoid the possibility that language might be said to coexist with its parent >(as the word has been used a thousand times on this list)? to which I can only say that I've expended my efforts, obviously in vain, in an attempt to educate a non-linguist on the intricacies of a field in which I have spent 30 years now. Since Mr. Long is unwilling to entertain even for a moment that his notion of how the world must work might be incorrect, I must confess myself equally unwilling to debate the issue any longer. Rich Alderson From alderson at netcom.com Tue Sep 21 20:45:28 1999 From: alderson at netcom.com (Richard M. Alderson III) Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 13:45:28 -0700 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: <000801bf02b4$75e0d160$1205063e@xpoxkjlf> (petegray@btinternet.com) Message-ID: On 18 Sep 1999, Peter Gray wrote: >A further example of at least an aunt and a daughter co-existing might be seen >in the Katherevousa and the Demotike forms of modern Greek. No one learnt >Katherevousa as a mother tongue, but in the 60's we could hardly claim that it >was not "Greek", just because it had no mother speakers. Let me emphasize that: NO ONE LEARNT KATHEREVOUSA AS A MOTHER TONGUE. This is exactly analogous to the situation with Latin in western Europe or Sanskrit in Asia: Those who use(d) either did not learn it as a mother tongue. Rich Alderson From HSTAHLKE at gw.bsu.edu Tue Sep 21 21:05:40 1999 From: HSTAHLKE at gw.bsu.edu (Herb Stahlke) Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 16:05:40 -0500 Subject: Linguasphere web site Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] I just ran across the web site www.linguasphere.org, prepared largely by David Dalby at SOAS. Dalby has been involved in a sort of areal-typological classification scheme for over thirty years, including considerable work in Africa. His classificatory scheme claims not to be diachronic but synchronic, looking at shared vocabulary and shared features of other sorts. His lexical similarity measure is a limited use of the Swadesh 100 and 200 word lists. What he's hoping to come up with, as I read his material, is a theory-neutral classification of the world's languages, which he numbers at around 12,000+, into groups defined on the ground of geographical proximity and various sorts of linguistic similarities. He struggles a bit with terminology for different degrees of relationship, from closely similar dialects to distinct languages. His comparative theory looks rather like that of Malcolm Guthrie, in his Comparative Bantu, who also claimed not to be doing genetic classification but some sort of synchronic classification. Guthrie's work was vey careful, and his Bantu zone system is still found widely in comparative Bantu terminology. However, his historical inferences have generally been rejected. One of these inferences, for example, was that the homeland of a language group is its synchronic area of greatest similarity, which placed the Bantu homeland somewhere south of the Great Lakes rather than in the Nigeria-Cameroun border areas. His overall classification is decimal, dividing the world into 5 geosectors and 5 phylosectors. It looks as if each geosector is a collection of 10 sets, as he calls them, which may be either geozones, unrelated groups inhabiting a region, or phylozones, related groups inhabiting a region. For example, his geosector North America comprises Arctic (1), Athabaskic (2), Algonkic (3), Pacific Coast geozone (24), Transamerica geozone (3), Gulf geozone (8), Aztecotanic (2), Otomangic (1), Mayanic (1), and Meso-America geozone (9). The parenthesized numbers indicate the number of sets (next smaller unit of classification representing Swadesh rates of 25-30+ shared vocabulary items. He recognizes but does not address the problem of determining what items might be shared vocabulary. He does not use the comparative method at all, although his groupings frequently represent the results of the CM. Dalby lays out some high-minded humanitarian goals and motivations that he hopes his global classification will further. This is a curious scheme that a lot of work and thought has gone into, but I'm not sure quite what comes out of it, beyond some sort of theory-neutral global referential system for language groups, languages, and dialects. Herb Stahlke From X99Lynx at aol.com Wed Sep 22 01:27:36 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 21:27:36 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: In a message dated 9/21/99 7:58:57 PM, JoatSimeon at aol.com wrote: <> So, <>, <> and <>. So somewhere along the line "Tuscany" spoke Etruscan, spoke Latin and spoke Tuscan. None of this answers my question. I'll ask again. How do you know that a recognizable Tuscan wasn't being spoken in Tuscany at the same time Classical Latin was being spoken in Rome? Do you have any real evidence either way? S. Long [ Moderator's response: Apparently none that you will accept. I hereby call a halt to this branch of this discussion on the list. Take it to private e-mail if you wish to respond. --rma ] From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Wed Sep 22 02:28:17 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 22:28:17 -0400 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: <4d471911.25172894@aol.com> Message-ID: On Mon, 20 Sep 1999 JoatSimeon at aol.com wrote: >> I'm pretty sure I remember this right. The lastword was that Mycenean was >> considered almost indistinguishable from Classical period Aeolian. > -- no, it's _ancestral_ to _South Greek_ dialects like Arcadio-Cypriot. Not > to Aeolian. To a first order of approximation, this is correct; but at a finer level of detail, it appears that things are a little more complicated. (Maybe you already know this; the way you phrased it is the sort of nearly-true little white lie which one might tell to an introductory class.) If one were to draw a family tree of the Greek dialects, it might look something like this: Proto-Greek / | \ \______________ ____/ | \ \ / | \ \ West Gk South Gk Aiolic Pamphylian (Doric, | | | | NW Gk) | | Myc \ / | \ / \ \ Attic/ Arcadian Cypriot Ionic (I hope you can make that out; it's a little hard to draw this complicated a tree in ASCII!) I should note right off the bat that it's a little hokey to be drawing a tree at all in this case, because it is certain that after the original branching, there were many cases where innovations spread from one dialect to another. This is the sort of thing that happens when dialects are still in contact; much the same thing happened within West Germanic, for example. It messes up the tree. But if you want to draw a tree, this is probably the right way to draw it. Also note that Arcadian and Cypriot aren't grouped in this tree as a single node under the South Greek node. It used to be customary to group them, but the view now is that Arcadian and Cypriot don't share common innovations as Attic and Ionic do. In any case, Mycenaean is very close to Proto-South-Greek, but it has a few innovations not shared by the later, classical South Greek dialects which seem to make it an "aunt" rather than a direct ancestor. For example, Mycenaean seems to have lost the verb augment, which the other South Greek dialects retain. Also, the noun cases are collapsed differently; Mycenaean appears to collapse {Dat Loc} {Instr Abl} {Gen} while the 1st millenium BCE dialects collapse {Dat Loc Inst} {Abl Gen} (and if you look at it, you'll see that the Myc. system cannot be the direct ancestor of the system of the other South Greek dialects). There might be other such cases, but those are the ones I know about. (I'll probably know about more later, because I'm taking Linear B this semester, and what I just wrote are basically a part of my class notes from Monday. :-) > And Mycenaean is far more archaic than any Classical dialect whatsoever. It > retains the "w" for example, which even Homer drops (Wannax ==> annax) and > hasn't undergone fundamental shifts like *gw == b (Mycenaean 'guasileus' or > 'guous' to Classical 'basileus' or 'bous'). Some of the other dialects do retain the "w" down into the classical period; it shows up in inscriptions in some of the more obscure dialects. You're quite right about the loss of the labiovelars, tho; and this is one of those cases where the innovation must have spread thruout the dialect continuum later, since the same thing happens in the non-South-Greek dialects as well. \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From ECOLING at aol.com Wed Sep 22 02:36:43 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 22:36:43 EDT Subject: Parent & Daughter Message-ID: In a message dated 9/21/99 9:36:20 PM, JoatSimeon at aol.com writes: >>What's so difficult about believing "Latin" was a living recognizable >>language at the same time an early Italian language was developing among >>some Latin speakers? >-- because the very fact of developing "Italian" features means that they're >shedding the features which make us refer to what they're speaking as >"Latin". "Birth of Italian" is the _same thing_ as "death of Latin". In this particular exchange, Steve Long was the more precise one. He specified "some Latin speakers" (as distinct from other Latin speakers). In the reply, the two were lumped as one: "they" is used as if there were only one "they", whereas in fact, SOME Latin speakers might have not changed a range of significant features of their language, while OTHER Latin speakers might have already changed them very significantly in the direction of Italian. If at any point the difference between two dialects of this sort became great enough to impair communication, so that we must accept two different language, then the unchanged dialects are the parent language, the strongly changed languages are a daughter language, and the two do coexist. Steve Long was in principle correct about this. I think it is rare that one dialect changes this far before another changes in any significant ways, though it should not be rare that one dialect changes enough to become a distinct language, while another changes so little as to be still the same language (by the mutual intelligibility criterion). However, this entire discussion has taken us far afield from our starting point, which I believe involved principaly the question whether the standard form of Stammbaum family trees leaves innovations unspecified on what appears to be a "stem". I discussed this in a message recently submitted to the IE list. Lloyd Anderson Ecological Linguistics From stevegus at aye.net Wed Sep 22 04:24:48 1999 From: stevegus at aye.net (Steve Gustafson) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 00:24:48 -0400 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: JoatSimeon at aol.com writes: >> Similarly, contemporary English speakers may be able to follow familiar >> texts read from the Declaration of Independence or the King James Bible; >> but new texts in similar styles may be much harder for them to grasp. > -- are we talking about contemporary written English, or documents from > 500 years ago? These are separate questions. Both the spoken and written > forms of English have changed a good deal in the past five centuries. The > written less than the spoken, because of the early date at which the > conventional spelling was fixed, of course. Some writers --- lawyers and academics are the usual suspects --- are accused of cultivating deliberately archaic forms of written English whose syntax and vocabulary are reportedly beyond the comprehension of large numbers of otherwise literate people. At least in the law, this is a deliberate preservation of archaism. Indiana lawyers almost invariably introduce their deeds with a long introductory clause framed by the words "This indenture. . . . witnesseth:" hardly any of them could give an account of why they call the deed an indenture, or why it witnesseth anything. In seventeenth century conveyances these words meant something, and were used intelligently. They are no more. The preservation of this strange syntax, archaic verb forms, and odd vocabulary in documents allegedly in "English" muddies the water, at least for me, of the -difference- between written Latin and spoken Romance during the period of more than six hundred years when anything worth writing throughout the Western Empire was written in Latin. I suspect that the decision to abandon "Latin" as a written representation of speech was made more or less consciously and intelligently, at some time between the time of Charlemagne and that of Dante. It seems clear that for Gregory of Tours (539-594), he was writing essentially a learned version of his speech; he tried to serve unfamiliar grammatical and spelling norms, and gives a glimpse of what was actually happening when he failed. Paul the Deacon (ca. 785) contains far fewer revealing solecisms in his spelling and grammar; for him, it seems Latin was becoming a foreign language, as it always had been for Bede and Alcuin. (He may also have had a classicising editor.) On the other hand, Gregory's usages that prefigure Romance are still alive in Richer of St. Remy (ca. 998). And, part of the problem seems to have been that Latin pedagogy was -improving-; classical norms were being rediscovered and followed. These changes, made in an attempt to improve the standards of Latin usage, widened the gulf between speech and writing. >> I know that when I sit down to watch Shakespeare performed, it takes me >> about fifteen minutes or so before I am able to follow what is being said. >> Before I have readjusted my set, spoken Shakespeare sounds like gibberish. > -- that's odd; I've never had any problem with it. > The current film "Shakeseare In Love" uses large chunks of text taken > straight from "Romeo and Juliet", and the audiences -- few of them familiar > with Shakespeare in these degenerate days -- don't have any problem with it > either. Part of the difficulty may be the stage-British dialect in which Shakespeare is conventionally spoken and recorded. With its dropped r's and vowel changes, it levels a number of phonemic distinctions in majority English. Shakespeare himself, of course, spoke perfectly good American. -- Glande accelerata velocior; machina tractore viae ferreae potentior; alta aedificia uno saltu insilire valens. From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Wed Sep 22 06:32:50 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 16:32:50 +1000 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (PS) In-Reply-To: Your message of "Mon, 20 Sep 1999 08:53:28 +0100." Message-ID: Jon's data therefore confirm my belief that is the only word in the language ending in <-ltz>. Thanks, Jon. It's a pleasure to help, larry, but don't thank me thank the Azkue wordlist. I think my arguement for the RIGOUR of computer based aids for analysis are now confirmed and I don't have to persue the issue any further - end of stream. cheers Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From BMScott at stratos.net Wed Sep 22 07:33:03 1999 From: BMScott at stratos.net (Brian M. Scott) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 03:33:03 -0400 Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (the stem) Message-ID: X99Lynx at aol.com wrote: > < Latin, and Germanic words and expected to derive Grimm's > Law therefrom, but was rather given the information that > Grimm's Law encodes...>> > And if I'm not mistaken it was also given a date for Grimm's > Law and an assumption that of course that Law is relatively > unique to Germanic languages. You are mistaken: it was given no dates, even relative ones. It was given data on 300+ characters for 12 languages, the earliest attested in each of the branches (counting Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian as two branches each). A character is a property on which languages can differ; the centum/satem character, for instance, is two-valued (satemized vs. non-satemized). In effect it had a 12 by 300+ matrix of numerically encoded character values. It then attempted to build an unrooted tree on the assumption that identical values of a character in different languages are not the result of independent, identical innovation or borrowing. (The reality of borrowing is also dealt with; I'm describing the basic idea only.) This is the assumption underlying the notion of a perfect phylogeny, which you can find described at . Quite detailed information is available in the papers available there. The algorithm does not root the tree; that was done afterward on the basis of linguistic considerations. > I don't have a copy of the methods statement - I'd love to see > it - but the point of branching is supposed to be a real event. Do you mean historically, or in the construction of the tree? Historically it is certainly not a point event, and in the tree it is simply a consequence of what character values are shared by which languages. For example, all character values common to Latin and Old Irish that are shared at most with Tocharian B or Hittite contribute to the branching that separates Lat. and OIr from everything else except Toch. B and Hitt. > My problem has always been with what this apparent use of > technology adds. This is discussed in some detail in papers available at the UPenn site. Brian M. Scott From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Wed Sep 22 08:11:51 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 18:11:51 +1000 Subject: Excluding Basque data In-Reply-To: Your message of "Mon, 20 Sep 1999 15:02:07 EDT." <129d1611.2517deaf@aol.com> Message-ID: On Mon, 20 Sep 1999 15:02:07 EDT [ LA} said Because of this flexibility provided by databases with tagged data, we can avoid any need to debate methodology as some PRIOR step, because we can explore different methodologies on the fly, whenever we feel like it. Then more efforts will go into actual discoveries, and less into the kinds of meta-discussions we have had here. I can only agree heartily with this observation. let's get on with tagging and publicising the data, then each can do their own with it and we will be able to appraise their analysis having the same information. Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Wed Sep 22 08:22:29 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 18:22:29 +1000 Subject: Excluding data In-Reply-To: Your message of "Mon, 20 Sep 1999 00:15:00 -0400." <37E5B4C4.4E41@stratos.net> Message-ID: "Brian M. Scott" wrote: Jon Patrick wrote: > This comment is a red herring. My commentaries were not > about the inclusion or exclusion of this word in the > analysis but that your criteria have high correlation > with a model of the phonology that you object to being > re-analysed from a different perspective. Such a correlation - should it prove to exist - could also result from the accuracy of the model, so it cannot in itself cast doubt on the criteria. If you wish to argue that they are methodologically unsound, you'll need more substantial reasons than the likelihood that their application here will produce unsurprising results. After all, the criteria themselves have *no* correlation with phonological specifics. Unless of course the phonological specifics we have now have been developed on just that material in the first place. Bearing in mind that the object of study is Pre-Basque, what *methodological* objection is there to the initial exclusion of words without early attestations we know that early glossaries/dictionaries do not contain words that did exist at their time of compilation. So I believe that a word in the list compiled by Azkue at the turn of this century should be used in any anlsysis unless it can be shown to be derivative from some foreign source. The default is "basque" not "foreign". and words of limited distribution? we know some words of limited distribution are in fact the earlier forms of words. For example, certain words with aspirations are only found in the north (the dialects with least speakers) but are believed to be earlier. Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 22 08:57:59 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 09:57:59 +0100 Subject: Excluding Basque data In-Reply-To: <129d1611.2517deaf@aol.com> Message-ID: On Mon, 20 Sep 1999 ECOLING at aol.com wrote: > My point in this discussion has been that > with the convenience of modern computers, > WE DO NOT HAVE TO DECIDE EARLY > in any sense that constrains us from changing our > decision later in a "what if" exploration! > In other words, by TAGGING our data with > its various attestations and properties, we can > encode everything that Larry Trask wants, > and still be able to consider a wider range of > data if we want to do so, not merely what Jon Patrick > wants to include, but any other set of choices as well. > We can tabulate statistics from the same database, > now using one set of criteria, now another, > to see what the effect is on the patterns we observe. > We actually have a chance to analyze whether we > think some set of criteria such as Larry Trask's > have some definitial or implicational relation with > particular canonical forms, and indeed even with the > degree of uniformity of canonical forms within > the set of data included in any one use of the database. > Because of this flexibility provided by databases with > tagged data, we can avoid any need to debate methodology > as some PRIOR step, because we can explore different > methodologies on the fly, whenever we feel like it. > Then more efforts will go into actual discoveries, > and less into the kinds of meta-discussions we have had here. A database, and especially a tagged database, is indeed a valuable tool. And I agree that it possesses a good deal of potential flexibility. However, a database just sits there and does nothing until we tell a program to do something with it. For the kind of study I have in mind, that means telling the program to include or exclude entries meeting certain criteria selected by the investigator -- just as I proposed in the first place. Hence, while the compiling of the database may require no initial methodology, manipulating it certainly does require some initial decisions. So I don't see how working with a database, instead of with paper, gets around the central issue we have been discussing: the choice of criteria for proceeding. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 22 09:13:04 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 10:13:04 +0100 Subject: Excluding data In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Fri, 17 Sep 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: [on my comments on Basque sound of a heartbeat'] > This comment is a red herring. My commentaries were not about the > inclusion or exclusion of this word in the analysis but that your > criteria have high correlation with a model of the phonology that > you object to being re-analysed from a different perspective. Jon, I am baffled by your persistence on this point. I have made it perfectly clear that my criteria for selecting words are non-phonological in nature, as indeed they must be. I cannot possibly select words according to predetermined phonological criteria in order to make a study of the phonological properties of the result: that would be pointless. I exclude because of its very late first attestation and because of its limited distribution in the language. That the word has such a curious phonological form does not surprise me, but its form has nothing to do with its exclusion. [LT] > Well, I have nothing against computers, but I don't regard them as a > form of magic. If you put together a list of words 95% of which are not > ancient in Basque, what exactly can your computer program do that will > be informative about Pre-Basque? > Once again you are choosing to make inaccurate assertions. I think it was > discussed previously in the list as the Straw Man arguement. > A counter arguement to your position is "if you put together a list of of > words of 5% of which are only ancient Basque how informative of the whole > picture is that." But I'm not interested in "the whole picture". I'm only interested in the forms of Pre-Basque words, and the vast majority of modern Basque words did not exist in Pre-Basque. Anyway, we have no words which are "only ancient Basque". If a word is not recorded in the historical period, then it simply does not exist, as far as we are concerned, and it is not available for examination. [LT] > But the generalizations can come only after the list has been compiled > in the first place. We are talking about how the list should be > compiled, not about the generalizations that will emerge from it -- > though, as I have pointed out often, I *think* I have a pretty good idea > what those generalizations will look like -- though I'm prepared to be > surprised on occasion. But, once more: I *never* exclude a word from my > list because it doesn't match any generalizations about form which I may > have in mind. > I've never asserted that you did. However I do think that your > criteria are designed to create an analysis that is more strongly > consistent with the generalisations you "think you have a pretty > good idea" about. I flatly deny this, and I challenge you to back up your assertion. > My comment is that the human mind is more frail > than we give it credit and a computer based analaysis helps us be > more rigorous in our undertakings. It is unwarranted that you imply > I present it as a tool of magic. What I'm objecting to is your apparent suggestion that taking the words off the page and putting them into a database on a computer somehow frees us from the necessity of choosing criteria for selecting words for whatever purpose we have in mind. Databases are easier to work with than paper, but they are useless until we choose to do something with them, and that means selection according to criteria determined by the human investigator. > I think we have seen an example of > the extensiveness if not rigour of method that the computer can > assist us with from the small analysis of the consonant cluster > <-ltz> I presented in the previous message. I have already agreed that it is helpful to have a convenient and fast way of answering questions like "what attested Basque words end in <-ltz>?" But the result obtained is meaningless until it is interpreted. In this case, it is trivial to show that, of the four words turned up, only black' can plausibly be projected back to an early stage in a form exhibiting this final cluster -- exactly the conclusion I had already reached without using a database. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From petegray at btinternet.com Tue Sep 21 18:49:40 1999 From: petegray at btinternet.com (petegray) Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 19:49:40 +0100 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: Steven said: >.... This suggests that Latin was pronounced very > differently from one region to another before. There is a story about Dr Jonson, that although he spoke French adequately, he insisted on speaking in Latin to visiting dignitaries from that country - with the unfortunate effect that neither party could understand the other, since the two pronunciations of Latin were so far removed. I cannot vouch for the truth of the story, unfortunately, but the circumstances make sense. There is substantial evidence for difference pronunciations of Latin between the Continent and England. Peter From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 22 09:55:56 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 10:55:56 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (PS) In-Reply-To: <4.1.19990917183114.0097fae0@blue.weeg.uiowa.edu> Message-ID: On Fri, 17 Sep 1999, Roslyn M. Frank wrote: [on that bear-name , possibly ?? black'] > True. There isn't much way to determine what exactly the speaker's > said, whether it was or only the Englishman > rendered what he heard as . However I'm not so certain that I > agree with you that one would expect to encounter as the > nickname for the animal. I think things may be a bit more > complicated. Whereas today if a Basque speaker is asked to translate > a word from English to Basque, s/he will normally do so by attaching > the former distal demonstrative to the item, i.e., the word appears > with the suffixing element <-a>. Yes, this practice is universal among Basque-speakers, except among those from the far eastern end of the country, where a speaker asked for (say) black' will often respond with , rather than with the definite form which you will be given everywhere else. > However, does it follow that this "pseudo" definite article I don't see anything pseudo- about it. It's just the article. For most Basque-speakers, the citation form of a noun or an adjective includes the article. French-speakers often do much the same in their language. > is used by Basque speakers when creating nicknames for animals and > people? In my experience, it more commonly is, though not exceptionlessly so by any means. In fact, the use or non-use of the article in these cases is governed by rules which are at best complex and obscure, if indeed any rules exist at all. > And it is commonplace for last names ending in to appear as > , e.g., Urbeltz, not *Urbeltza. Yes, but surnames are a different case, since they were created quite a few centuries ago, before Basque began to be recorded in texts. We have good reason to suppose that the modern omnipresence of the article in Basque has only developed within the last few centuries. Picaud's 12th-century glossary, the first piece of relevant written evidence we have, records some nouns with the article and others without, suggesting that, at that time, the article was just beginning to be used in citation forms. Basque surnames, which probably mostly date from a period slightly later than the 12th century, likewise show great variation in the presence or absence of the article. This is well illustrated by that most stereotypical of all Basque surnames, which appears about equally as and as , (the) new house'. > In the same way "love" is a commonplace first > name, not . Ah, but this is a very special case. The female given name is the usual Basque equivalent of the Spanish name , resulting from an accidental similarity in form between this name and the Basque word , which I would gloss as beloved', not as love'. If the word had genuinely been pressed into service as a given name in its own right, then we would expect it to be the equivalent of the (rare) Spanish name , not of . > Or, for example, we find "little" often > used as a nickname, not . I agree. This item, when used as a nickname or as a sobriquet, usually does not take the article. But its opposite big' usually does: recall, for example, Pio Baroja's famous fictional character Big Jim', in which <(h)andi> takes the article. Anyway, black', in my experience, usually does take the article. The personal name Nunno the Black', Black Nunno', is frequent in medieval documents, attested as early as 984 and recurring a number of times in the 11th and 12th centuries. (The item is the usual western variant of common .) > >From a cognitive perspective, does the creation of nicknames of > this type tend [in all languages] to respond to the vocative usage? > If they do, then it would be logical (I think) for the item not to > carry the <-a> suffix in Euskera. On that note, although the terms > "lord, sir" will be translated as , my friends' mastiff still > responds to . I can't comment on what happens in all languages. But Basque vocatives are also interesting. In the modern language, these overwhelmingly occur with the article, as in sir' (from ), madam' (from ), man' (from ), and so on. But there are interesting exceptions: for example, the vocative of boy' is, in my experience, practically always , and not . Don't ask me why. [on the spelling of Aquitanian names in Latin texts] > Further proof that they were attempting to render sounds that were > foreign to the language they were writing in, although after reading > recent mailings to the list, I wonder just how many alphabets are as > faithful to the phonology of the language as in the case of Latin or > Spanish. Depends largely on how recently the writing system was invented and established. But it's really only the Aquitanian sibilants that show marked fluctuation in spelling, confirming strongly our independent conclusion that Pre-Basque had a lot of sibilants, in comparison with the one of Latin. > Interesting. Isn't there also the fact that Basque last names often > include case-endings in them Sorry; I don't follow. I'm not aware that a Basque surname ever contains a case-ending, apart from the genitive <-en>, as in names like , literally Michael's (place)', and , literally the smith's (place)', with the place' understood. What have you got in mind? If you're thinking of the very frequent affix <-ko>, found in all those wonderful surnames like , and , this is not a case-ending at all, but a relational (syntactic) suffix. > and perhaps more so at that time when the notion of a "last name" > was far less stable and/or formalized? I refer to the fact that > "last names" frequently refer(red) to geographical locations where > the Stammhaus was located, i.e., the , and as a result the > individual was identified with the site or location and, hence, the > need for a genitive ending, Yes. Basque surnames are overwhelmingly geographical in origin: they tell where some ancestor of the name-bearer lived. This is not surprising, given the enormous importance of households in traditional Basque society. Very few surnames derive from personal characteristics, and, interestingly, none at all from professions or offices. Hence we find lots of names like the smith's (place)', but none at all like * (the) smith'. > although I assume you are talking about other kinds of examples > where the donor really appears to have been bilingual (not just > repeating the genitive ending on an already existing name), a bit > like the trilingual author of the _Glosas Emilienses_ (a source of > very early examples of Castillian) who wrote notes to himself in the > margins in his native tongue, Euskera, while translating the Latin > text into Castillian. It's interesting how many times this document > is discussed in canonical histories of the Spanish language but > without any mention of the marginal notes that are clearly visible > in reproductions of the manuscript. H'mmmmm. True. The Emilian Glosses are far more celebrated among Vasconists than among Hispanists, even though they provide the first written record of both Basque and (I believe) Castilian. But then Castilian begins to be abundantly recorded shortly afterward, while Basque doesn't. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 22 10:07:20 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 11:07:20 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (PS) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Mon, 20 Sep 1999, Rick Mc Callister wrote: > Superficially, at least, those four words look possibly IE > altz -- aliso, etc. Yes, the Basque word is widely suspected of having a common origin with the IE word, but the details are utterly obscure. > beltz -- ?related to root of blue, black, blank No. Basque * dark', though not attested independently, occurs in a sizeable number of formations, and must surely be present in . > bultz -- ?related to root of Spanish empujar, impulso Actually, . > giltz -- ?related to Latin clave If so, the phonology is highly irregular. Latino-Romance , if borrowed early, should have yielded a Basque *, by the usual rules. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 22 10:49:48 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 11:49:48 +0100 Subject: Perfective-Imperfective In-Reply-To: <000f01bf0175$43f82300$119ffad0@oemcomputer> Message-ID: On Sat, 18 Sep 1999, Patrick C. Ryan wrote: > I wonder what proof we really have --- aside from the Larry's bare > assertion --- that the definition of 'perfective' used in Larry's > dictionary is "now most widely used". It is certainly true that a > number of writers on the subject of aspect have, apparently, > followed Comrie. Well, read the literature on aspect. [on Dixon on Biblical Hebrew] > Dixon is a current, well-known linguist who, I suppose on the basis > of what he has written, cited above, does not subscribe to the > Comrie definitions of imperfective/perfective. Sorry; doesn't follow. Dixon is talking about a language with its own aspectual contrasts and its own established terminology. Hebrew is no more a basis for a universal definition than Russian is. > I think it would be advisable for Larry to realize that when he > purports to write a dictionary, he should be describing and > acknowledging real current professional usage *not* writing a > catechism of definitions he and Comrie would desire to see adopted. > We are long past 1984, and, however much some might want it, 'war' > is not 'peace'. I have already made it clear that I *am* describing "real current professional usage", while you are clinging to an outdated view. [on my rejection of Pei and of general dictionaries of English as reliable sources for linguistic terminology] > What Larry obviously is unwilling to acknowledge is that these > dictionaries, if they are doing *their* jobs properly (does he > dispute it?), are recording *USAGE* no matter whatever Larry thinks > might be the *proper* definition. I sincerely hope that he does not > succeed in imposing his and Comrie's definition on the non-linguist > and linguist readership of these dictionaries as he threatens. > Frankly, I believe his demonstrated attitude makes him unqualified > to be an adviser on usage in dictionaries like the OED. Dear, dear. I'm afraid it's up to you, Pat, to compile the Ryan English Dictionary. The editors of the OED seem pretty pleased with my work so far, and they are showing no inclination to sack me, I'm afraid. No doubt we can look forward to a ceremonial burning of the third edition of the OED in Arkansas. ;-) [on my rejection of the etymological fallacy] > In its most extreme interpretation, there is some truth in this, > provided one emends the statement to 'perfective' rather than > 'perfect', which we have not been discussing. However, to neglect > the etymological meaning of a word while making a *new* assignment > of meaning, which is what Comrie did, No, he didn't. > or to adopt it as Larry did, is irresponsible and totally > unjustified. Nonsense. Balderdash. I am reporting on contemporary use, and etymology is neither here nor there. > Let us provisionally assume that Comrie's definition of 'perfective' > ("denotes a situation viewed in its entirety, without regard to > internal temporal constituency") actually means something in English > (what in God's name would an 'internal temporal constituent' be???). Not constituent', but constituency'. It means structure'. > If it were true that verbal notions could be "superordinate"ly > divided into those for which this definition had some meaning, and > those for which it did not, it would still be highly inappropriate > to adopt the term "perfective" for it when "perfective" had and has > an established older and current (dictionaries and Dixon) meaning > established through usage which corresponds to what Trask would like > to call, *unnecessarily* introducing a new term, 'completive' > (which, of course, he did not bother to include in his dictionary). I didn't introduce completive'. And it's absent from my dictionary because I was forced to deliver a book within a specified length. Not my preference. > Why not call it - if it exists at all - 'integral' (cf. Binnick) or > something else which, at least, bears a *passing*, a nodding > resemblance in meaning to its purported idea? Hmmm. Having complained bitterly that I am (allegedly) ignoring established terminology in favor of my own coinages, you are now advising us to coin a new term for a concept which already has an established name. Uh-huh. > Having asked the question, I will attempt to answer it. Bernard > Comrie has done much valuable work over the years with which I am > personally familiar. However, in the case of his book _Aspect_, I > sincerely and honestly believe he is idiosyncratically deviant from > start to finish. "Idiosyncratically deviant from start to finish", eh? So: one of the most erudite and respected linguists on the planet doesn't know what he's talking about, while you do? Really? > His prestige, based on his previous work, has created a Pied Piper > effect; and those eager to acknowledge his past contributions have > adopted his views without sufficient critical appraisal. Nonsense. Read the reviews of Comrie's book. Or read the later work which cites it, such as Binnick's book. You seem to be saying that Comrie's work is great when it matches your ideas, but trash when you don't agree with it. > I could give many examples from his book that make assertions > contrary to what specialists in the various fields assert (for > example, "the Arabic Perfective, which is a perfective relative > past"; the idea that kataba/yaktubu represents a past/present > division is an idea held by *no* AAist of which I am aware; what > entitles Comrie to contradict all previous Arabists? And how likely > is it that he understands Arabic better than they do?). I would be *veeeery* careful about challenging Comrie's knowledge of any language he writes about. There exist few linguists with greater knowledge of more languages than Comrie has. > I will offer only an opinion on a subject upon which I believe I am > entitled to render a completely informed judgment as > Muttersprachler. Comrie informs us on p. 28 regarding English 'used > to + V', that "it is often claimed that a further element of the > meaning of these forms is that the situation described no longer > holds", which he *denies*. Of course he does. And he's right. > I have lived in the East, West, Central and South of the United > States, and listened to video and film mass media regularly, and I > am one of those who would "often" claim that "I used to come at 7 > PM" implies absolutely that "I no longer come at 7 PM though I did > in he past". But you are overlooking something crucial: the first-person subject. That makes a *big* difference, as it does in a wide variety of cases: Mike thinks that Susie is younger than she is.' ##I think that Susie is younger than she is.' Schubert died before he finished his last symphony.' ##I died before I finished my last symphony.' Mike will wash the dishes. I'll wash the dishes.' (different interpretation) First-person effects are pervasive in English, and must be factored out of our analyses. > If it does not imply that to Comrie, I can only suggest that he may > be a non-native speaker of English who has never mastered its > nuances; and, as such, is unqualified to lecture those who are on > the interpretation of phrases such as "NP used to V". This is what > anyone who was reasonable might have suspected from the "it is often > claimed ...". Why is it so "often" claimed if many do not understand > it as I do? And what entitles Comrie to "correct" our native > interpretations? His professorial authority? Well. Let me defend my old friend Bernard against these disgraceful slurs. I've known Bernard for twenty years, and I can assure you all that he is indeed a native speaker of English, born and raised in England. But the much bigger slur is that Comrie is the sort of linguist who merely reports his own intuitions, without looking at the data. Bernard is an enormously knowledgeable linguist. He speaks Russian almost like a native, and he is fluent in a number of other languages. He has made serious studies of a large number of languages, and he's done fieldwork in places ranging from Siberia to New Guinea. And he *never* makes a statement he can't back up with plenty of hard data. Anyway, it is trivial to demonstrate that Comrie is right: English used to' does *not* entail no longer'. An example. Several years ago I was teaching bridge to some of my friends here in Brighton. One was Ian, and Ian had unusual trouble in mastering the bidding system, especially the no-trump bids. More than a year ago, he left Brighton, and I haven't played bridge with him, or even seen him, since then. Got it? Now, it is perfectly normal for me to say, when discussing the past, Ian used to have trouble with no-trump bids'. This emphatically does *not* imply ...but he doesn't now.' Now does it? For all I know, Ian is still struggling with no-trump bids, but I just don't have any information. This single example, I submit, is enough to prove that Comrie is right and that Ryan is wrong. Nothing surprising here: we linguists learned years ago that naive native-speaker intuitions are untrustworthy, and that the facts can be determined only by careful examination of real usage. And Comrie has carried out just such an examination of the used to' construction. End of story. That's enough of this for now. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 22 11:06:04 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 12:06:04 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (part 3) In-Reply-To: <4.1.19990920163445.009817b0@blue.weeg.uiowa.edu> Message-ID: On Mon, 20 Sep 1999, Roslyn M. Frank wrote: > [RF] >> So faced with these representations of the same word, >> how does one go about reconstructing the form? Keeping in mind that >> the attested cases are /ekhe/, /khe/, /kehe/, /eke/ /ke/ and /kee/, > [LT] >> I can't agree, I'm afraid, unless you can cite some documentary evidence >> for the reality of the ones I have queried. > [RF] > Leaving aside the item /kehe/ which I thought I had seen proposed, > but at the moment I can't find the reference, the sources are pretty > much the standard ones, starting with Azkue's dictionary. I don't > know whether you are referring to some other type of "documentary > evidence" other than that provided by the standard dictionaries of > the Basque language which include dialectal variants. Well, I'm afraid I can find nothing in Azkue apart from common southern , northern , and the severely localized Navarrese and Roncalese variant . The other forms cited are not present in their alphabetical positions, and Azkue normally puts everything in its alphabetical place. > Again, in reference to the possible importance of such an item (I > refer to the phonological variants represented by this item), I > would suggest that if the item is archaic in some fashion, i.e., if > it retains some earlier features of the language that otherwise have > been lost, then one would not expect to find a large number of > similar items precisely because it retains an older feature(s) no > longer regularly present in the dialect(s)/language. Sorry; I don't follow. First, it is not immediately obvious which of several variant forms is most archaic. That can only be determined by careful analysis, if even then. Second, the point about the word for smoke' is that its regional variation is exceptional in a unique respect -- in fact, in two unique respects. Failing evidence (and we have none here), it is impossible to determine the source of this anomalous behavior, and impossible to say anything about what form might be most conservative. Third, it is not generally the case that archaic phonological features survive in just one or two words, though there certainly exist cases of this. More commonly, an archaic phonological feature, if it persists at all, persists in all surviving words of a relevant form (I exclude proper names, which are complicated). > You seem to dismiss it as irrelevant because its features are not > more widespread. No, I don't dismiss the word as irrelevant. I merely note that it exhibits uniquely anomalous behavior, behavior which, in our present state of knowledge, is wholly inexplicable. > Yet I would argue that such items should definitely be > kept in the data set in case at a later time other evidence should > come forward that would allow for the puzzle pieces to fit together > in a different fashion. But I have already said openly that I must include in my list, because it satisfies all of my criteria, in spite of its anomalous form. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 22 11:26:05 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 12:26:05 +0100 Subject: Perfective-Imperfective (2) In-Reply-To: <000f01bf0175$43f82300$119ffad0@oemcomputer> Message-ID: On Sat, 18 Sep 1999, Patrick C. Ryan wrote: > Perhaps the situation is different in England since Larry has > adopted Comrie's mistaken (IMHO) interpretation of 'habitual' by > citing in his dictionary "Lisa used to smoke", which is all the more > surprising since he defines it traditionally ("The aspect category > which expresses an action which is regularly or consistently > performed by some entity"; NOTE: not "... which **was** regularly or > consistently performed"). The was' is not part of the definition of the habitual. It is merely a feature of English that it has a distinctive habitual form only in the past tense. Other languages differ. For example, Spanish has a habitual auxiliary , which can be used in any tense. This is a familiar headache for Spanish learners of English, who are constantly trying to render their overt present habitual into English by saying thinks like Lisa uses to smoke' (intended Lisa smokes'). Basque is like Spanish, by the way: it too has an overt habitual auxiliary usable in any tense. But English doesn't. > The habitual aspect in English is purely expressed by "Lisa always > smoked", "Lisa always smokes", and "Lisa will always smoke". No. In the present, the ordinary form is Lisa smokes'. In the past, it can be either Lisa used to smoke' or Lisa smoked', depending upon context. Only the second of these three is overtly marked as a habitual, but the other two forms can receive a habitual interpretation -- though they need not. As for Lisa always smokes', this hardly sounds to me like native English without a complement: Lisa always smokes at parties' is fine, and so is Lisa always smokes after dinner', but ??Lisa always smokes' is not the sort of thing I often say or hear. What earthly content does it bear beyond that of Lisa smokes'? > Larry and Comrie are both incorrect in asserting > that "English has a distinct habitual form in the past tense only". Nope. This is true. The overt used to' construction exists only in the past. In the non-past, the form used to express the habitual also has other functions. > But, Larry and Comrie will probably disagree since they apparently > both believe that any connection between the meaning of 'habitual' > and habitual, THE LINGUISTIC TERM, is purely coincidental. I find > this absolutely incredible! What possible benefit can be gained by > *re*-defining words contrary to their established meanings? Nobody is doing any such thing. Once again, you are confusing linguistic forms with real-world states of affairs -- a fatal error. Also, or perhaps or, you are confusing linguistic terms with ordinary English words -- another fatal error. Take the case of work', which is both an everyday word and a technical term in physics. The everyday sense is not at all equivalent to the precisely defined physical sense, as any physics teacher knows (I used to be one), and as every physics student must learn if he wants to get anywhere. It's the same with linguistic terms: there is no requirement that our technical term habitual' must be equivalent to the everyday word habitual', and in fact it isn't. Example: Lisa smoked in those days.' This has a habitual interpretation, but it does not have the form of an overt habitual. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From maxw at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 22 13:14:20 1999 From: maxw at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Max Wheeler) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 14:14:20 +0100 Subject: "Dead" languages Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] [Lars Martin Fosse] > is not really my point: My point is rather the relevance of the term "dead > language". The term dead depends upon the definition. If by "dead" you mean > "not learned on mother's knee", both Latin and Sanskrit are dead languages > (although I would not feel entirely certain that not some Brahmin children > learn Skt. on their mother's knee - I have met Sanskrit speaking women). But > is this really an interesting definition? We would probably all agree that > Latin is a dead language today, just like Old Norse (in Scandinavia, with the > exception of Iceland), Old English or Chuch Slavonic. But is it an > interesting proposition to claim that Latin was dead, say, 500 years ago? As > long as a language is used for general communication among groups of people, > production of literature as well as a vocabulary source for vernaculars, the > claim that it is dead sounds a bit strange. Hittite is dead, Akkadian is > dead, Osco-Umbrian is dead: None of these languages have any use today and > are only studied as literary sources. But when you have heard an Indian > scholar talk for an hour in splendid Sanskrit - and heard him exchange jokes > in Sanskrit with a colleague a bit later - then the term dead seems > nonsensical. Which is why I think we need to modify our thinking: not to > "win" the discussion by introducing a new linguistic term, but because > realities are not covered by the concepts we use. It's OK, of course, to query the applicability of the "death" metaphor to languages. But in linguistics, and, in particular, historical linguistics, isn't there a consesnus to take "dead" language to mean precisely one which has no native speakers, that is, speakers who learnt the language informally, by face-to-face interaction with other speakers --I was about to say "with other native speakers" and then remembered the case of Hebrew which came to have native speakers again after being 'dead' for two millennia. The name usually used for e.g. Sanskrit, Arabic, Latin, or Hebrew while it had no native speakers, is "classical language". Such a language may well have an extremely wide range of functions, but is learnt formally, through instruction, by people who have some distinct native language. So Old English, Akkadian, Ancient Egyptian, and so on are [+dead, -classical], while Sanskrit, Latin (in Middle Ages and Rensaissance, at least) are [+dead, +classical] Max Wheeler ______________________________________________________________ Max W. Wheeler School of Cognitive & Computing Sciences University of Sussex Falmer BRIGHTON BN1 9QH, G.B. Tel: +44 (0)1273 678975 Fax: +44 (0)1273 671320 Email: maxw at cogs.susx.ac.uk ______________________________________________________________ From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 22 13:25:14 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 14:25:14 +0100 Subject: Perfective-Imperfective (3) In-Reply-To: <000f01bf0175$43f82300$119ffad0@oemcomputer> Message-ID: On Sat, 18 Sep 1999, Patrick C. Ryan wrote: > Now, those of you who are actually IEists on this list were probably > surprised to learn from Larry that "my, thy", etc. are *not* > possessive pronouns. No doubt, it would surprise Beekes (1995, not > exactly the Ice Age), who discusses IE "possessives" on pp. 210-211 > of his _Comparative Indo-European Linguistics_. But read what Larry > intones ex cathedra: > "The tradition is wrong and must be corrected." > I doubt very sincerely whether Beekes would object to considering > "possessives" a member of a larger class of words called > "determiners", but I feel certain he would, and I certainly do > strenuously object to Larry attempting to force the interpretations > and terminology of the school to which he and Comrie happen to > adhere on those who prefer an alternative and equally legitimate > approach, school, and terminology. Must we all recite the Comriean > Creed to discuss linguistics? I thought that kind of blind dogma and > unthinking profession went out with Marx and the other barbarians. > Moreover, I find it deliciously laughable to contemplate that Larry > or Comrie or any of their ilk would "correct" Beekes, an eminent > linguist who employs terms so that no one needs Larry's dictionary > to understand them; and, who incidentally knows more about > comparative linguistics than most of those who would foolishly dare > to "correct" him. OK; some facts. First, Beekes does not use the term possessive pronoun' at all in the passage cited by Ryan: he uses only the term possessive', which no one can object to. Hence Ryan's rather snide comments are pointless. Second, Beekes is talking about PIE, while I was talking about English. Whatever may be the case in PIE, or in any other language, the facts of English are clear: words like my' and your' are not pronouns, but determiners. Possessive determiners, of course, but determiners. This is easy to see, using a frame for noun phrases: ___ was nice. (singular); ___ were nice. (plural) Real pronouns can go into these blanks to make good sentences: She was nice; It was nice; They were nice; Something was nice; Nothing was nice; That was nice; and so on. This is also true for the *real* possessive pronouns in English: Mine was nice; Ours was nice. But it doesn't work with the determiners: *My was nice; *Your was nice; *Our was nice. End of story. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 22 14:05:33 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 15:05:33 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (fwd) In-Reply-To: <4.1.19990920164940.00985980@blue.weeg.uiowa.edu> Message-ID: On Mon, 20 Sep 1999, Roslyn M. Frank wrote: > [LT] >> Fourth, we have a dictum in comparative reconstruction. If variety A >> has a contrast which is absent from related variety B, then, unless >> there are very good reasons for doing something else, we reconstruct the >> contrast for the common ancestor, and conclude that the contrast has >> been lost in B. Since the northern varieties of Basque have an /h/-zero >> contrast, absent in the south, we therefore prefer to reconstruct the >> contrast for the common ancestor, and to assume that the southern >> varieties have lost it. > The question is determining the rules for discovering what a > "contrast" might be. That is one of the points I have been trying to > make in my postings. For instance, as you well know, /h/ is > considered a suprasegmental feature in many environments. You > yourself have stated this. No, I haven't. I have pointed out that Michelena reached the conclusion that the historical Basque aspiration was, at least in most cases, of suprasegmental origin. That doesn't mean that the aspiration is a suprasegmental in the varieties retaining it today, and in fact it isn't. > Secondly, it is also a well known fact that in Euskera vowels are > often separated by an intrusive consonant and not always the same > one. Correct. Basque doesn't like hiatus, and it employs various strategies to eliminate hiatus whenever this arises. One of these strategies, in the varieties retaining the aspiration, is to insert /h/ between the vowels, but only when those vowels are in the first two syllables, since the aspiration cannot occur later than the onset of the second syllable. Other varieties sometimes insert any of /b d g r/. > For example, we have the root-stem /ao/ > which also appears as /aho/, /abo/ apo/ and /ago/. Not sure about ?, which I've never seen and can't find in any dictionary, but the others are genuine. > Indeed, the /abo/ > as in /abokada/ (/abo-ka-da/) "bocanada (Sp.)" or "mouthful", more > literally, "an action done repeatedly with the mouth, mouthing over > and over") is commonplace. Yes, but itself is well recorded for mouth', at least in Bizkaian. > Are we to assume an original /aho/ which > was reduced to /ao/ in souther dialects? On the basis of the evidence, this is clearly the best conclusion. > Or was the original form > /ao/ which then under certain conditions was pronounced as /aho/ so > as to avoid the falling together of the two vowels: As far back as we can reconstruct, the best choice is an original *. The origin of this is beyond our powers of recovery. > so that root-stem wasn't in danger of undegoing permanent reduction > (to */o/) rather than only a momentary one as has occurred in the > case of some compounds (/aomen/ vs. /omen/). In other words there > are many examples where there is an intervocalic /h/ whose status is > unclear. Agreed. In particular, we cannot always tell whether a phonetic [h] should be assigned to Pre-Basque or regarded as a later development -- though in very many cases we *can* make this decision. > Next, in referring to an /h/-zero contrast, I assume you are > referring back to your example of the minimal pair in /sei/ and > /sehi/. Yes, except that we need not appeal to minimal pairs, which are few. The point is that the presence or absence of the aspiration is, generally speaking, totally unpredictable, which is what we mean by contrastive'. [on Basque six'] > But I think in another venue you argued that was a loan word > in Euskera. No, I did not. Quite the contrary: I have several times argued *against* the proposal, put forward by several other people, that is borrowed from Romance. The problem is the phonology. The Latin for six' was /seks/, and all the descendants of this in Romance varieties in contact with Basque have a final sibilant, as far as I know, as in Castilian /seis/ and French /sis/. Now, when Basque borrows a Latin or Romance word containing a final sibilant, it *always* renders that sibilant with some sibilant of its own, without exception. So, Latin /seks/ should have produced a Basque * or something similar, while Castilian /seis/ should have produced a Basque * if borrowed early or * if borrowed late. But the only Basque form recorded anywhere is , and hence I conclude that a borrowing from Latin or Romance is impossible. > [LT] >> We don't really need minimal pairs. > But we do, Larry. You offered one example which I challenged. Indeed, for > the case to be made, one should be able to identify sets of minimal pairs > in northern dialects that differ only in the presence/absence of the > intervocalic /h/ and whose meanings are totally different. The following > lists do not provide that sort of information. [snip lists] Not so, I'm afraid. Minimal pairs are desirable but not essential. If you want to argue that the absence of /h/ is original, and that modern instances of /h/ result from insertion, then you *must* provide an explicit statement of the circumstances in which the /h/ is inserted. If you can't do that -- and I don't think you can -- then you cannot maintain an analysis involving /h/-insertion. [on the same list] > But many of these forms are identical in northern and southern > dialects??!! So what does this prove? What are you trying to argue? The point is that the occurrence of /h/ in the north is *not predictable* on the basis of the southern forms, which you propose to take as conservative. > In the case of I believe the northern variants include /gehi/. Correct. Basque ~ material, quantity' does have a northern variant . This raises another interesting issue which I don't propose to go into here. [still on that list] > As I said, these are not examples of minimal pairs. Nor are these > examples consistent in the sense that each of them has a northern > and southern variants, e.g., one with /h/ and another without. *Exactly* the point. Northern varieties freely contrast the presence of /h/ with the absence of /h/, in an unpredictable manner, while southern varieties have only the absence of /h/. Since we cannot predict where the /h/s will occur in the north, we must reconstruct proto-forms containing /h/ in the appropriate places, and recognize loss of /h/ in the south. > So that leaves us where we started: there are northern variants that > have /h/ and southern ones that don't. And... Indeed. But the northern varieties are clearly more conservative here. No other conclusion makes any sense. [on the need to provide a conditioning factor for the introduction of /h/, if that analysis is proposed] > Could one not argue that the conditioning factor was the > introduction of a consonant, a mechanism intended to keep the two > vowels of the root-stem from falling together, especially in > compounds where stress could have led to their reduction. The latter > would have led to a loss of recognition of the root-stem and hence > the meaning of the compound; and that could have affected the shape > of the root-stem itself. Mechanisms that allow for the maintenance > of the phonological shape of root-stems would seem to me to be > particularly important in a language such as Euskera, i.e., > typologically speaking. No; this doesn't work. It fails to account for the existence of northern forms like , , , , , , and so on. In your account, these should have acquired an inserted /h/, just like , , , , and so on -- but they didn't. So an analysis involving /h/-insertion to break up hiatus doesn't work. > Again if were could come up with a list of minimal pairs in northern > dialects that differ only in the presence/absence of /h/, we would have a > very strong case. But we can't. But we don't need minimal pairs. How many minimal pairs can you cite in English for the consonant (as in ship' and fish') and (as in measure' and vision')? Not very many, right? Does it follow that these two sounds constitute a single phoneme? No, it doesn't, because the distribution of the two sounds is *unpredictable*. Same question for the sound of think' and the sound of this'. And the same answer. > Didn't they exist? And if they didn't exist, why not? Nobody knows how many earlier lexical items have been lost from Basque without being recorded. As for the paucity of minimal pairs, well, I have my own ideas about that, but I don't have the evidence to make a strong case, and so I'll keep silent. > Indeed, what I would like to determine is whether there are any > examples at all of minimal pairs other than that of /sei/ vs. /sehi/ > which we've discussed above? I can't answer this question without doing a bit of digging. But bear in mind that / *does* exist, and that's enough: the occurrence of /h/ cannot be predicted. Oh, there is this nice set: busy, occupied', thread, fiber', ram'. What do you make of this set? Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 22 14:40:41 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 15:40:41 +0100 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: <61f20bdb.2514a26f@aol.com> Message-ID: On Sat, 18 Sep 1999 X99Lynx at aol.com wrote: > 1. The fact that Latin was clearly a living, identifiable language > at some point would seem to make it a ideal example of a parent who > would have coexisted in its last days with the first phases of its > Romance daughters. It has surprised me how the arguments have gone > on this issue. Here is an example of Larry Trask changing the > criterion in midstream: > On 9/15/1999 5:36:44 AM, Larry Trask responds: > < currently existing as a mother tongue'. Even this doesn't get rid of > all the problems, but it does exclude things like Latin,... >> > Then Larry Trask quotes me: > < January 17, 601 AD. Let's say the last native speaker died that > day.>> > Then Larry Trask responds: > < The language has millions of native speakers today...>> > So Latin is a dead language but it has millions of native speakers > today. Indeed, but only if we use the name Latin' in two rather different senses. In the conventional sense, Latin' is the language of the Romans, and it's long dead as a mother tongue. In my (slightly tongue-in-cheek) extended sense, Latin' is still applied to the modern descendants of the speech of the Romans. My point was merely that this extended sense is not impossible in principle, but that it is not used in practice, because we find it inconvenient. But we have no such difficulty in applying Greek' or English' to a long sequence of rather different varieties succeeding one another over centuries or millennia. The main reason we don't do the same with Latin' is that the several modern varieties are so different from one another. If Italian were the only surviving Romance language, we might very well choose to call it Latin', just as we do in the case of Greek. > This I suppose gets around the problem of conceding that a language > easily recognized as Latin could have been spoken at the same time > as something that could be recognized not as Latin but as an early > form of French. Sorry, but I don't believe this is possible in any substantial sense. > (I hope to get to the definitions later. But for > now let's define language as something like whatever Larry Trask is > referring to whenever he has mentioned whatever it is he calls > "Basque.") Not unreasonable, but bear in mind that it is impossible to define the term language' (as opposed to, say, dialect') in any rigorous and principled way. The linguistic world is just not like that. > 2. LT also writes: > < the central fact of ceaseless language change as though it were of no > relevance to the discussion.>> > Here's the way at this point I would illustrate how much of a buzz > phrase it is. One that never really adds anything or illuminates > anything. But is convenient in dodging substantive dialogue. Naughty, and unnecessary. I cannot accept, and I imagine no linguist can accept, any dialogue based upon the plainly false premise that a language' is an absolute, reified object, clearly distinct from every other language. > When was the last time Larry Trask mentioned in a post the phrase > "the central fact of ceaseless language change" to support any point > he was making about Basque? Ever? How could the central fact about > Basque escape mention? Steve, forgive me, but this is just silly. I have in fact written a 500-page book on the history and prehistory of Basque. I have also made frequent references, on this list, to changes in Basque, mainly (though not wholly) in response to postings from Roz Frank and Jon Patrick. Whatever are you talking about? > Or is it when he writes e.g., < for the antiquity of the aspiration in Basque is large and of > various kinds>>. is that somehow connected with "the central fact of > ceaseless change" in Basque? Of course it is. Whatever else could I be talking about? > I also happen to believe that there is ceaseless change in language. > I hear it and see it every day. But its hardly the central fact. > For one thing, Mt Rushmore and the moon are also subject to > ceaseless change. But the change is not really material to the > identification of either. Possibly so, but languages are different in this respect, if only because they change so much faster than the moon. > Similarly, what central to what we call > the Standard German is not ceaseless change whether material , but > how German speakers use the same sounds and syntax. If they didn't > they're would be no German language. Something has gone badly wrong here, and this passage is incoherent. But the example is a nice one. In what sense *is* there a German language? Why are the local speech varieties of Bonn, Berlin, Hamburg, Zurich, Vienna, Strasbourg, the South Tyrol and Luxembourg all the German language' -- if they are? Why is the speech of the Netherlands not German' when the nearly identical speech just across the German border *is* German'? The German language' is a sociopolitical fact, not a linguistic one. German isn't just "out there". It is a reality created and maintained by people who believe there is, or should be, a German language'. No more. > Of course, some changes are an important of language. But hardly "the > central fact." Central in terms of the topics under discussion, though, I'd say. > LT also writes: > < The linguistic division between spoken Latin' and Romance' is a purely > arbitrary one, and any date assigned to it is no more than a matter of > taxonomic convenience.... we no longer find it convenient to call them > Latin'. Of course, if we wanted to, we could speak of Paris Latin', > Barcelona Latin', and so on, but no one has > seen any point in this.>> > In a post just before this one, Larry Trask writes "we have good > evidence that ancient Aquitanian was an ancestral form of > Basque...." I suppose this supports the idea that Latin might be > just an ancestral form of French. No, it does not. The conclusion that Aquitanian was an ancestral form of Basque has *no consequences whatever* for the ancestry of French. What on earth are you talking about? > So I take it that he would agree - using the same purely arbitrary > and no more than taxonimically covenient terms he applies to Basque > - that Latin could have coexisted with filial form of Latin we might > call Aquitanian, I mean French. Sorry, but I definitely do not agree, if by this you mean that a speech variety indistinguishable from that of Caesar could have coexisted, as a mother tongue, alongside a variety of Latin so changed as to be incomprehensible to Caesar. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Wed Sep 22 14:49:54 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 15:49:54 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (fwd) In-Reply-To: <006601bf02be$1d671580$3305703e@edsel> Message-ID: On Sun, 19 Sep 1999, Eduard Selleslagh wrote: [on Basque smoke'] > Two remarks: > 1. KE could be related (but how?) to Greek KAPNO'S, ''smoke', i.e. > to the first syllable, the second being derived from the IE root > that gave rise to Grk. pneuma, 'breath, wind, etc.', Lat. ventus, > 'wind' and Eng. wind. I don't think this is the etymology preferred by specialists. It certainly isn't the one preferred by Buck, who relates Greek to Lithuanian breath, vapor', probably Latin vapor, steam', and Gothic choke', "etc." Watkins appears to accept this, at least broadly, and he implies that Pokorny does too, but I don't have Pokorny handy. > I am not sure whether KAPNO'S is considered entirely IE, but if it > is, the Basque word isn't original Basque. This doesn't follow. Whatever the source of the Greek word, I can see no case for deriving the Basque word from the Greek, or from any other IE source. Basque has never been in contact with Greek, which in any event has no form that could serve as a source for , and no suitable cognate is attested in any IE language known to have been in contact with Basque. > 2. If it is of IE origin, maube via ancient Greek, the aspiration > would be secondary, I think. The Basque aspiration appears to be generally of suprasegmental origin anyway, and not of segmental origin. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From sarant at village.uunet.lu Wed Sep 22 06:31:34 1999 From: sarant at village.uunet.lu (Nikos Sarantakos) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 08:31:34 +0200 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: <43dc0a92.25173e63@aol.com> Message-ID: At 03:38 20/09/99 EDT, JoatSimeon at aol.com wrote: >>petegray at btinternet.com writes: >>Katherevousa and the Demotike forms of modern Greek. No one learnt >>Katherevousa as a mother tongue, but in the 60's we could hardly claim that >>it was not "Greek", just because it had no mother speakers. >> >-- Katherervousa was an artificial creation; an archaized form of modern >Greek. As soon as the government stopped insisting on its use in the state >apparatus, it vanished without trace. >This is an illustration of how helpless governments, National Academies and >other 'formalists' are in the face of actual linguistic evolution, as >embodied in the real popular speech-forms. I beg to differ. As you perhaps know, in Greece (I am a Greek) the katharevousa vs demotiki battle was an embittered one, and I certainly was for demotiki, but "vanished without trace" is the understatement of the century. It is not that many people are still using it. It is, rather, that Kath. has passed to Dem. a lot of structures that Dem. lacked, a lot of grammatical types, a lot of phonetics (well, my terminology is vague). Modern Greek has taken a lot of words from Ancient, many of which are following the ancient grammar. Demotiki had been normalizing this, but the Katharevousa domination via school and state apparatus has now entrenched the ancient types, so we have parallel types for, say, the conjugation of similar verbs, or of nouns, depending on whether the word is ancient or modern. Even some consonant clusters that were current in ancient and katharevousa but not in demotiki have now been reinstated in popular speech. For instance initial [pt] of ancient words was commonly being transformed into [ft] in popular speech. No longer. The process may begin anew now that Kath. is not being taught, but it has at least taken many decades of delay. Nikos Sarantakos From elwhitaker at ftc-i.net Wed Sep 22 13:46:02 1999 From: elwhitaker at ftc-i.net (Elizabeth Whitaker) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 09:46:02 -0400 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: <991c2b13.25173ccd@aol.com> Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] At 03:31 AM 9/20/99 -0400, JoatSimeon at aol.com wrote: >We're dealing with two related, but somewhat distinct, processes of change. >First, there's the inevitable change that a language undergoes even if it >doesn't spread over a wide area, but instead remains confined to one small >enough that dialects don't diverge past the point of mutual comprehensibility. >Eg., Greek, or Basque, or pre-1600 English. I don't know about Greek or Basque, but I doubt that two English peasants who lived in geographically distant locations (and remember most people before 1600 in England would have had to walk -- *most* of the time -- to get anywhere in England) such as the northwest and the southeast would have been able to satisfactorily understand each other's speech. In modern English, it seems to be a truism that the more educated tend to be less regional in their speech patterns. Elizabeth Whitaker ELWHITAKER at ftc-i.net From kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu Wed Sep 22 17:41:58 1999 From: kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu (Sean Crist) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 13:41:58 -0400 Subject: Respect In-Reply-To: <199909212032.NAA16666@netcom2.netcom.com> Message-ID: On Tue, 21 Sep 1999, Richard M. Alderson III wrote: > to which I can only say that I've expended my efforts, obviously in > vain, in an attempt to educate a non-linguist on the intricacies of a > field in which I have spent 30 years now. Since Mr. Long is unwilling > to entertain even for a moment that his notion of how the world must > work might be incorrect, I must confess myself equally unwilling to > debate the issue any longer. I'm glad you said this, because I had been resisting saying something of this sort myself. It isn't just Steve Long. You'd think that some of the non-specialists would appreciate the efforts that we're making here; ordinarily, we get paid to do this (not paid much in my case because I'm just an ABD [all but dissertation], but paid just the same). What we've gotten in return are consistently hot-headed posts telling us just how wrong we are, how wrong our methodology is, how wrong our conclusions are, how wrong the whole field of historical linguistics is after some 200 years of work. It's certainly OK to hold opinions which are at variance with the majority scholarly view; I can certainly think of cases where I do so myself. Probably nobody agrees with the majority on every point. But there seems to be a certain glee here in attacking every point, and doing so with arguments which in many cases reflect sheer ignorance. It is starting to get very tiresome. If you guys are trying to get all the specialists to throw up their hands and leave, you're doing a good job of it. \/ __ __ _\_ --Sean Crist (kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu) --- | | \ / http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/ _| ,| ,| ----- _| ,| ,| [_] | | | [_] From alderson at netcom.com Wed Sep 22 18:15:55 1999 From: alderson at netcom.com (Richard M. Alderson III) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 11:15:55 -0700 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: <51721547.25189776@aol.com> (X99Lynx@aol.com) Message-ID: On 21 Sep 1999, Steve Long wrote: >I guess I was thinking of Arcadian. But the Aeolic was not far off. The >divisions I'm familiar with sometimes class Aeolian with Arcadian-Cypriot. >They also primarily divide Greek east-west. Strabo (below) has Arcadian as >pure Aeolian, from before the latter was hybridized by contact with Doric. Strabo, of course, was not a modern linguist, with access to information about Mycenaean Greek, or to any other notion of linguistic change than language mixture. At the time Strabo wrote, the Doric dialects had moved southward into the vacuum created by the de-population of Arcadia in the so-called Catastrophe of the 12th Century (for which see the writings of, e. g., Drews); Strabo could see that, unlike Attic and Ionic, Arcadian had /a:/ (a feature shared with both Doric and Aeolic dialects) but did not share other features with the latter pair. The division which he made into East and West Greek was based on the political realities of the time in which he wrote, coupled with the lacks to which I referred above. >Tovar writes: "The weak point in Risch's argument is that it ignores the fact >that against the innovations which appear in Mycenaean (and Arcado-Cyprian), >Ionic shows many old forms." I don't see the relevance to this discussion, though it is relevant to another thread: Both sides of this portion of the Greek bush innovated differently. >2. CB- < (message from Sean Crist on Mon, 20 Sep 1999 20:48:46 -0400 (EDT)) Message-ID: On 20 Sep 1999, Sean Crist wrote: >Later, the team added _two_ new characters which forced the Italo-Celtic >sub-branch (not just one character as I previously incorrectly reported). >One was the *p..kw > *kw..kw character (a sound change shared by Italic >and Celtic) And potentially by Germanic, as well: Cf. the word for "5". Rich Alderson From alderson at netcom.com Wed Sep 22 18:45:24 1999 From: alderson at netcom.com (Richard M. Alderson III) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 11:45:24 -0700 Subject: Accepting fewer etymologies In-Reply-To: <426c1c9e.251914c9@aol.com> (X99Lynx@aol.com) Message-ID: On 21 Sep 1999, Steve Long wrote: >But doesn't the elimination of some potentially critical sound rule put into >question the validity of any "cognate" you find? If you don't have Verner's >Rule, doesn't Grimm's Law look quite faulty and therefore unusable? Doesn't >that lead you to finding something less ambitious than those "laws" to decribe >your system? And can't that possibly lead you to using your narrowly >"derived" sound laws to find a list of "inherently plausible" cognates that >were never really there? Perhaps, yes, no, and no. You see, if a set of correspondences shows a (possible) pattern of exceptions, we do not, as you seem to think, throw out the set, but rather, seek to find the explanation. But it is only by looking at a subset of the data that the first rule can be hypothesized for testing, to learn that a second rule may be necessary. Your concern over "plausible semantics" is laudable, but misguided: What is meant is that first we see what can be determined by looking only at near or exact matches in the semantics of otherwise phonetically plausible potential cognates. By restricting ourselves only to such, we have a much better chance of seeing *any* pattern at all. It is only after we have a (relatively) secure set of correspondences, based on what we choose to call "plausible semantics", that we can legitimately look for less immediately plausible cognate sets by noting phonetically plausible matches. Rich Alderson From dalazal at hotmail.com Wed Sep 22 19:05:48 1999 From: dalazal at hotmail.com (Diogo Almeida) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 12:05:48 PDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] > Last summer I showed a Scottish-Nicaraguan movie called Carla's >Song to my advanced 4th semester Spanish students. While they could >understand most of the Spanish without relying on the subtitles, except for >a few cusswords they were completely lost trying to understand the >Glaswegians. Several students asked me what language they were speaking and >why they cussed in English instead of their own language. [ moderator snip ] >> I once met a couple of fellow hikers on the Appalachian Trail in western >> North Carolina. They were from Scotland speaking English. I was from Utah >> speaking English. Yet there was less than 50% mutual comprehensibility. >> We finally resorted to the common context, hand signals, and a very slowly >> spoken "Swadesh list" of forms to "communicate". [ moderator snip ] This is funny, because it reminds me of my trip to Dublin in last February. I stayed there in a hostel, and I shared a room with an american girl (from Chicago) and two spanish guys (from Barcelona). The situation was interesting: The girl spoke AmE as her mother tongue, but she was also fluent in Spanish; one of the guys from Barcelona was bilingual (Spanish and Catalan) and spoke a rather basic English, the other one was monolingual (Spanish) and spoke English very well; I'm brazilian (and Brazilian Portuguese is my mother tongue), I'm rather fluent in English and I had some spanish lessons (something like 6 months) a couple of years ago. We could all communicate in English and Spanish among ourselves (although in diferent levels of fluency). What happened, actually, is that I spoke English with the girl and Spanish with the guys, and when we were all together we mixed a little bit the two languages. We were not used to Irish English, though. The american girl could communicate quite easily with the Irish, the spanish guy that spoke good English and I had some problems, the other spanish guy couldn't communicate at all. Now, whenever the two guys spoke Spanish to me, they'd slow the rythm of their speech and use less slang, and then I would understand them almost like I understand Portuguese. But when they were talking naturally between themselves, my comprehension of what they were saying was much, much lower (something like 40%, instead of the previous, say, 95-100%). And I must say that I'm not an average Portuguese-speaking person, that is: I have had some training in Spanish, I'm fluent in French and I have studied Latin as well. Once they've all asked me to speak a little Portuguese and I told them several jokes in Portuguese. When I spoke slowly, they could understand pretty much what the joke was about, but when I spoke like I normally do in Portuguese, they couldn't understand a thing of what I was saying, maybe just one or two words. I should also say that I think (I'm not 100% sure of it) that it is harder to a brazilian to undertand Castillian than it is to understand Argentinian or Uruguaian Spanish. I've been to the border of Brazil with Argentina, Uruguai and Paraguai, and people down there communicate without any problem. Even though there is a sort of mixture of the two "languages" there (what we call "Portuqol"), what I could observe is that Spanish-speakers would speak Spanish to Brazilians and be understood, and vice-versa. Diogo Alvares de Azevedo e Almeida From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Wed Sep 22 20:14:53 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 15:14:53 -0500 Subject: Was: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Now: Greek/Pelasgian In-Reply-To: <51721547.25189776@aol.com> Message-ID: Briquel's Les pelasges en Italie [or some similar title] includes claims that the "Pelasgians" in Italy which are sometimes equated with the Etruscans had their origins principally in Thessaly, Beotia, Lesbos, Arcadia which made me wonder if his sources had confused Pelasgians with pre-Doric Greeks I can see the possibility that the Romans and other Italic peoples may have conflated the origins of the Etruscans with those of Greek colonists But it's my understanding that the Pelasgians were pre-Greek, possibly Anatolian [or other IE] speakers Anyone out there want to try to explain what I may have missed? [snip] >2. CB- <Greek dialects (Thessalian, Beotian and Lesbian) and two southern ones >(Arcadian in Peloponnese and Cypriot), though the last are sometimes referred >to as the separate Arcado-Cypriot language.... In later Aeolian,... >labiovelar consonants turned into labials before e, i.>> [snip] Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 From rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu Wed Sep 22 20:34:09 1999 From: rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu (Rick Mc Callister) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 15:34:09 -0500 Subject: Updates regarding UPenn tree In-Reply-To: Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] I'd like to know more about the Italo-Celtic p/kw split Most linguists I've talked to seem to dismiss it as a parallel development by taking into account the loss of initial /p-/ in Celtic, I guess but could it have developed analogous to r-final vs. non r-final varieties of American and British English? or could a tendency to confuse these have started before the putative split? [snip] >Later, the team added _two_ new characters which forced the Italo-Celtic >sub-branch (not just one character as I previously incorrectly reported). >One was the *p..kw > *kw..kw character (a sound change shared by Italic >and Celtic), [snip] Rick Mc Callister W-1634 Mississippi University for Women Columbus MS 39701 From petegray at btinternet.com Wed Sep 22 19:23:20 1999 From: petegray at btinternet.com (petegray) Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 20:23:20 +0100 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: > Katharivousa ... has always been a written language. (and other posts) My point - to remind those of you kind enough to respond - was that we could not realistically call it anything but Greek. So the "aunt" (the artificial archaising construct) exists alongside the daughter (Demotike). Peter From proto-language at email.msn.com Thu Sep 23 23:25:54 1999 From: proto-language at email.msn.com (Patrick C. Ryan) Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 23:25:54 -0000 Subject: Difficult Perfective-Imperfective Message-ID: Dear Lloyd and IEists: ----- Original Message ----- From: Sent: Monday, September 20, 1999 7:01 PM [L(oyd) A(nderson) wrote] > Any solution for perfective / imperfective > is much more difficult than Pat Ryan yet imagines, > because Pat does not distinguish between how a speaker chooses > to regard a situation in the discourse of the moment (what > the universal /typological grammarians call perfective/imperfective) > from how we might characterize a real-world event > (as lasting in time or as compact in time, what the universal/typological > grammarians often call punctual vs. durative, or terms with > similar meanings). There is a need to distinguish these two > concepts, whatever one calls them. Pat's proposed "solution" > is to not distinguish them. That is no solution, it is simply wishing > the problem would go away. We need BOTH concepts in careful > treatments of the grammar of one and the same language. [PR responds] I must sincerely apologize to you, Lloyd, and the list if I inadvertently gave this false impression. I certainly am willing and do make a distinction between 1) how a speaker chooses to regard a situation in the discourse of the moment; and 2) how we might characterize a real-world event. My principal objections with regard to "what the universal/typological grammarians often call perfective/imperfective" are: 1) the terminology is inappropriate etymologically and from different historical usage; and 2) The Comrie definitions of the two superordinate categories, which Trask has adopted wholesale, are so Hegelian as to be a) virtually meaningless; and b) incapable of being consistently applied. But I do not doubt for one moment that there is a superordinate category, that attempts to classify verbal actions/states in discourse as ideally occupying a moment (one point - 'before' or 'after' which something else happens) or as ideally occupying a space of time (more than one point - 'during' which something else happens). I believe these two categories are represented morphologically by IE roots in the full-grade (points) and zero-grade (point). Lehmann chose to term these "durative" and "momentary", which more accurately describe the functions of these forms than does either the pair "perfective/imperfective" or the Comriean definitions offered. Whether a verb is presented telically or atelically has nothing to do intrinsically with whether the discourser presents the action as a moment, before or after which something else happens; or as a space of time, during which something happens. After/before I ate, he came (atelic, momentary). After/before I ate up the bread, he came (telic, momentary). While he ate, I drank (atelic, durative). While he ate up the bread, I drank (telic, durative). Whether a verb is punctual or non-punctual also has nothing to do intrinsically with whether the discourser presents the action as a moment, before or after which something else happens; or as a space of time, during which something happens. After/before I sneezed, he came (punctual, momentary). After/before I sang, he listened (non-punctual, momentary). While I sneezed, he came (iterative, serial punctual; durative) While I sang, he listened (non-punctual, durative). I believe the core of the problem is adopting a poor definition for "aspect" such as "A grammatical category which relates to the internal temporal structure of a situation", which, I opine, is so inclusively colorful as to be colorless (white); and worse yet, allows mistakes like 1) considering the "perfect" an aspect when it is clearly a tense, and describes a situation exists in one tense and which persists into the next tense period: a) After I had caught cold, he did also (implies that 'I still had the cold when he caught cold'); b) After I have caught cold, he catches cold (implies that 'I still have the cold when he catches cold').; c) After I am to have caught cold, he is to catch cold (implies that 'I am still to have the cold when he is to catch cold; non-modal future; German, ich werde, etc.). 2) considering the 'progressive' an aspect and separate in some way from the durative when it is simply a grammatical form in some languages to more emphatically bring out the duration of an event: a) After/before I was singing, he listened = After/before I sang, he listened (punctual, momentary). b) While I was singing, he listened = While I sang, he listened (non-punctual, durative). 3) considering the 'habitual' an aspect when it is simply a grammatical form in some languages to more emphatically bring out the repetition of an event in a certain tense without implying its duration: a) which can be punctual ('I always sneeze') or non-punctual ('I always sing'), momentary, ('I always sneezed when I smelled it'), or durative ('I always sneezed as long as I smelled it'); and, contrary to Comrie/Trask, in any tense ('I always sneezed'; 'I am always to sneeze', etc.). [LA] > A solution is not available to us yet in the current problem, > JUST AS we cannot "fix" the problem that what is called "passive" > in the grammar of one language does not match exactly what is called > "passive" in the grammar of some other language. It is no one's > fault that such is the case, languages differ, and yet we cannot > have an infinite number of distinct terminologies, for they would > then do us no good. We have to be satisfied with partial overlaps > of reference. Some grammatical traditions call "passive" what > is more properly called "middle voice". That is one of the more > extreme cases, and we cannot make it vanish. [PR] The solution is available --- to initiate a rational and appropriate terminology with definitions that can be discriminatorily applied. [LA] > I am a firm advocate of not deviating from common sense and > ordinary usage of language. I even avoid using "phonemic system" > because "system" is sufficient to imply structure, so I normally > use "sound system". So much for merely one example of my > aversion to elitist perfectionism, or fancier terminology than > is necessary to make clear distinctions. > HOWEVER... > Any solution for perfective / imperfective > is much more difficult than Pat Ryan yet imagines, > because Pat does not distinguish between how a speaker chooses > to regard a situation in the discourse of the moment (what > the universal /typological grammarians call perfective/imperfective) > from how we might characterize a real-world event > (as lasting in time or as compact in time, what the universal/typological > grammarians often call punctual vs. durative, or terms with > similar meanings). There is a need to distinguish these two > concepts, whatever one calls them. Pat's proposed "solution" > is to not distinguish them. That is no solution, it is simply wishing > the problem would go away. We need BOTH concepts in careful > treatments of the grammar of one and the same language. [PR] I hope I have cleared up above any misunderstanding of my position. [LA] > THIS DISTINCTION IS CRUCIAL > The fact that this distinction is not often carefully made > (as it has not been made by Pat Ryan) is part of the source for > terminological dilemmas (of the sort Comrie noted). > In a message dated 9/15/99 3:20:32 AM, proto-language at email.msn.com writes: >> I can interpret Comrie's Gothic definition myself: I interpret *his* >> "perfective" to mean: 'a verbal action characterized as a point in time'; >> and *his* "imperfective" to mean: 'a verbal action characterized as points >> in time'. > If one reads "characterized as" in two different meanings, > one gets the two different concepts, > one perfective vs. imperfective (discourse treatment by the speaker), > the other punctual (or momentary) vs. durative > (more lexical, referring to real-world events as types of > what is called "Aktionsart", not to how speakers treat them > in discourse structure in terms of background and foreground). [PR] I hope I have demonstrated above that I *do* and *have* made the distinction; I do not confuse discourse setting and Aktionsart. [LA] [ moderator snip ] >> Lloyd expressed it much better, when he said: "It is crucial to carefully >> keep the difference between EVENTS (as they actually are in reality) and >> ASPECTUAL REFERENCES (which reflect how they are conceived by speakers). >> Aspectual references are partly independent of any real-world nature of >> events, they are partly free choices made by the speaker. >> This is, I believe, the crux of the question, and a point of view completely >> overlooked and misunderstood by Comrie though there may be hope for Larry. > But I am puzzled why Pat thinks Comrie and Trask do not understand it. > I believe they make approximately the same distinction I was expressing. [PR] I do not believe one can really interpret the Trask/Comrie definition *at all*, let alone to correspond with your definition. [LA] > Pat gives the example of an imperfective (iterative) > "He was sneezing all the way home". > But that is not the most important reason why "sneeze" can be given an > imperfective treatment. > Nor is it because it is predominantly atelic (as Pat correctly notes): [PR previously] >> Although one could think of sneezing as telic (getting something out of >> one's nose by forceful release of air), generally, it would be understood as >> atelic, hence, it must be imperfective. [LA] > The "hence, it must be imperfective" does not follow from its being atelic. > In fact, it is most usually treated as a perfective (unless iterative), > if one means "to give a sneeze" rather than "to continue sneezing again and > again". [PR] Lloyd, I am using 'imperfective' in my sense not in the Comriean definitional sense. [LA] > Rather, "sneeze" can be treated as imperfective > because it can occur in a context like this: > "While John was sneezing, the lights went out." > Since a SINGLE sneeze (not necessarily iterative) > can take a longer time than the lights going out, > the sneezing can be reasonably treated as a background, > having internal parts over time, in relation to > the lights going out which can be treated as the foreground, > without internal temporal structure. [PR] 'treated as a background, have internal parts over time': this, to me, is a definition that could very well belong to 'durative'; and I would analyze the above sentence as a verb employed in a durative context, the Aktionsart of which is iterative, a serial punctual verbak notion, and the English progressive form has been attached to emphasize the duration of the event as background for another contemporal event. [LA] > Such cases are not common, > but they are evidence that punctual and perfective are not the same > KINDS of concepts. Pat PATRICK C. RYAN | PROTO-LANGUAGE at email.msn.com (501) 227-9947 * 9115 W. 34th St. Little Rock, AR 72204-4441 USA WEBPAGES: PROTO-LANGUAGE: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2803/index.html and PROTO-RELIGION: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2803/proto-religion/indexR.html "Veit ek, at ek hekk, vindga meipi, nftr allar nmu, geiri undapr . . . a ~eim meipi er mangi veit hvers hann af rstum renn." (Havamal 138) From X99Lynx at aol.com Fri Sep 24 08:39:13 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 04:39:13 EDT Subject: Change and What Remains Message-ID: I wrote: <> In a message dated 9/23/99 9:50:52 PM, Larry Trask wrote: <> Larry, what you know about Basque blows me away every time. But that's not the issue. The question I asked was <> I checked some. Never saw it and you've written a great deal about Basque on this list. It's a rather specific question. We're talking about buzz phrases. And my point was that you wouldn't use THAT buzz phrase in discussing substantive matters where you had material points to make. I'll try to tell you why that might be. The Antique Roadshow was on PBS the other day and I just happen to overhear a fellow from Sotheby's telling the owner of some antigue not to worry about what's disappeared in the piece, because "it's what remains that counts." To say that change is "the central fact" about IE languages is a curious thing. Because if change were the central fact, then you wouldn't really be concerned about what "remained." In studies where change IS the central fact - like chaos and fractals and random number theory - one never mentions ancestry or "antiquity" or cognation. (On the other hand, "the central fact" when classic physics or chemistry looks at change is continuity - i.e., the conservation of energy and matter.) When you talk about the <>, you are not talking about change. You are talking about what stayed the same. If you had written "there can be no evidence for the antiquity of the aspiration in Basque because the central fact of ceaseless change SWEEPS ALL SUCH EVIDENCE AWAY", it would be a different story. But the central fact in your actual statement relates to the evidence that remained despite change. It may be hard to see this because sound laws are so much about the rules of "change" between languages (oops! or whatever they're called). But if these were a complete change without something remaining, you'd never recognize any kind of descent or cognation. Change would obliderate the evidence. If change were as thorough as it is in other areas, there'd be no evidence left of a PIE. Or a proto-Basque. That's what pure change does. The sound rules (the predictability of changes) are nothing more than bridges that allow you to overcome changes and find continuity. If you find any connection between Basque and proto-Basque, it's going to be because SOMETHING stayed the same. That is "the central fact." Change is actually only an obstacle to your finding what the connection is between the present and the past. In one of my other lives, I'm intensely involved with the American electronic media. I see change in language at roaring rates. "Ceaseless change" is not the news here. What withstands "ceaseless change" is really the hot question. Because in the end that's all that allows us understand each other. The sounds and meanings we recognize above the din. (As far as how this relates to your statement that an ancestor cannot co-exist with a daughter language, the rate and degree of change is really the question. Simply bringing up "ceaseless change" tells us nothing about whether enough "remained" of ancestor so that it could co-exist with the daughter.) I never expected to have a particularly friendly reception on this list to the approaches I've taken. I expected to be called far worse than tiring or silly. I do hope - or did for a time - that a bit of open-mindedness might at least give these ideas an accurate hearing - if not necessarily a fair one. Regards, Steve Long From lmfosse at online.no Fri Sep 24 08:38:15 1999 From: lmfosse at online.no (Lars Martin Fosse) Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 10:38:15 +0200 Subject: SV: "Dead" languages Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] Max Wheeler [SMTP:maxw at cogs.susx.ac.uk] skrev 22. september 1999 15:14: > The name usually used for e.g. Sanskrit, Arabic, Latin, or Hebrew while it > had no native speakers, is "classical language". Such a language may well > have an extremely wide range of functions, but is learnt formally, through > instruction, by people who have some distinct native language. > So Old English, Akkadian, Ancient Egyptian, and so on are [+dead, > -classical], while Sanskrit, Latin (in Middle Ages and Rensaissance, at > least) are [+dead, +classical] I realize this must seem like a rather hairsplitting terminological discussion. But then, if you try to make a speaker of Sanskrit or Pali understand that the language he's speaking is dead, you may meet some incomprehension.... May I suggest something to this effect: 1. Dead language: Not in use for communicative purposes. E. g. Hittite, Accadian 2. Natural language: Has a community of speakers that learns it as their first language (mother again). E. g. English, French etc 3. Active classical language: Used by a community of speakers who learn it as a second language while having no community of speakers using it as a first language. E. g. Sanskrit, Latin 500 years ago etc. 4. Passive classical language: E. g. Church Slavonic, Latin, Ancient Greek . May be used for liturgical purposes, but not for active oral or written communication. 5. Invented language: Artificially constructed language with a community of speakers. E. g. Esperanto (about 100,000 speakers and a fairly substantial literature), Ido, Volapuek. Since Ido and Volapuek are not in use any more, we might even introduce the term Dead Invented Language :-). Languages 2, 3, 5 are all "living" in the sense that they are in practical use. Esperanto is neither natural nor dead, but could in principle become a language of some note if, for instance, the European Union decided to introduce it as the European link language (which to my mind would be a good idea). It would then function like a active classical language without being classical. The advantage of the classification given above is that it conforms to realities in a better manner than the traditional dichotomy between living and dead languages does. And you don't have the feeling that you are stepping hard on somebody's feelings when you tell them that their favourite sacred language is dead. There is something to be said for diplomacy, too. Best regards, Lars Martin Fosse Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114, 0674 Oslo Norway Phone/Fax: +47 22 32 12 19 Email: lmfosse at online.no From edsel at glo.be Fri Sep 24 10:21:14 1999 From: edsel at glo.be (Eduard Selleslagh) Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 12:21:14 +0200 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (fwd) Message-ID: -----Original Message----- From: Larry Trask Date: Friday, September 24, 1999 5:26 AM >On Sun, 19 Sep 1999, Eduard Selleslagh wrote: >[on Basque smoke'] >> Two remarks: >> 1. KE could be related (but how?) to Greek KAPNO'S, ''smoke', i.e. >> to the first syllable, the second being derived from the IE root >> that gave rise to Grk. pneuma, 'breath, wind, etc.', Lat. ventus, >> 'wind' and Eng. wind. >I don't think this is the etymology preferred by specialists. It >certainly isn't the one preferred by Buck, who relates Greek to >Lithuanian breath, vapor', probably Latin vapor, >steam', and Gothic choke', "etc." Watkins appears to >accept this, at least broadly, and he implies that Pokorny does too, but >I don't have Pokorny handy. [Ed Selleslagh] It always looked to me as if the specialists were at a loss to come up with a good IE etymology of (and the verb , 'to smoke'). The relatively well-known etymologies you cite are rather difficult to defend in a straightforward way: among themselves, the Lithuanian, Latin and Gothic words are consistent with a common ascendance (root: kuep-, with long e) (even though Lat. vapor ought to be 'quapor'?), but is hard to fit into the series: why isn't the kv/hw/v (actually /w/) /p/ in Greek, as it should? Where does the -n- of -pn- fit in (from a derivative affix?)? >> I am not sure whether KAPNO'S is considered entirely IE, but if it >> is, the Basque word isn't original Basque. >This doesn't follow. Whatever the source of the Greek word, I can see >no case for deriving the Basque word from the Greek, or from any other >IE source. Basque has never been in contact with Greek, which in any >event has no form that could serve as a source for , and no suitable >cognate is attested in any IE language known to have been in contact >with Basque. [Ed] Supposing KE is derived from KAPNÓS, that is. I wouldn't be so sure Basque has never been in contact with Greek: at a certain moment, Basque (or a Pyrenean ancestor or relative ) may have been spoken sufficiently far down the SE Pyrenees, where it could have connected with Greek settlements or their sphere of cultural influence (e.g. Ampurias). The Iberians were heavily influenced by the Greek, anyway. On the other hand, the first syllable of Gr. KAPNÓS may be of a common non-IE origin. >> 2. If it is of IE origin, maybe via ancient Greek, the aspiration >> would be secondary, I think. >The Basque aspiration appears to be generally of suprasegmental origin >anyway, and not of segmental origin. [Ed] As you said, 'generally'. Ed. From edsel at glo.be Fri Sep 24 10:54:13 1999 From: edsel at glo.be (Eduard Selleslagh) Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 12:54:13 +0200 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: -----Original Message----- From: petegray Date: Friday, September 24, 1999 10:26 AM >> Katharevousa ... has always been a written language. (and other posts) >My point - to remind those of you kind enough to respond - was that we could >not realistically call it anything but Greek. So the "aunt" (the >artificial archaising construct) exists alongside the daughter (Demotike). >Peter [Ed Selleslagh] Dhimotikí is by no means the daughter of Katharevousa. As Nikos Sarandakos (and I, in a limited version) explained, K. played a serious role in (re-)shaping present-day D., but that's a totally different matter. D. is the daughter of Byzantine Greek (which already had most of the modern pronunciation, like e.g. beta > vita, -a feature transferred into the Cyrillic alphabet- and a futurum with an auxiliary 'thelo' ('will'), later 'tha'), and the grand-....-granddaughter of classic kiní (koinè). All you could say is that K. has been the rather influential tutor of D. [Ed] [ Moderator's comment: I believe that that is what Mr. Gray meant by referring to Katharevousa as the "aunt" of Dhemotiki. I think we should consider this sub-topic closed. --rma ] From sarant at village.uunet.lu Fri Sep 24 06:36:40 1999 From: sarant at village.uunet.lu (Nikos Sarantakos) Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 08:36:40 +0200 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? In-Reply-To: Message-ID: At 15:40 22/09/99 +0100, Larry Trask wrote: >But the example is a nice one. In what sense *is* there a German >language? Why are the local speech varieties of Bonn, Berlin, Hamburg, >Zurich, Vienna, Strasbourg, the South Tyrol and Luxembourg all the >German language' -- if they are? Why is the speech of the Netherlands >not German' when the nearly identical speech just across the German >border *is* German'? >The German language' is a sociopolitical fact, not a linguistic one. >German isn't just "out there". It is a reality created and maintained >by people who believe there is, or should be, a German language'. >No more. Nitpicking probably, but with the same token the "local speech variety" in Luxembourg (Letzebuergesch) is not 'German'. The Grand Duchy has three official languages, French, German and Letzebuergesch. ns From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Fri Sep 24 14:16:36 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 15:16:36 +0100 Subject: Excluding data In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Wed, 22 Sep 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: [on the current debate on selecting Basque words] > we know that early glossaries/dictionaries do not contain words that > did exist at their time of compilation. Yes; this is true of all dictionaries. > So I believe that a word in > the list compiled by Azkue at the turn of this century should be > used in any anlsysis unless it can be shown to be derivative from > some foreign source. The default is "basque" not "foreign". In "any analysis"? No. An analysis of the Basque existing around 1900, fine: Azkue is a pretty good source, with a few qualifications. But an analysis of Pre-Basque? No. The overwhelming majority of the words entered in Azkue's dictionary did not exist in Pre-Basque. So how can this dictionary, all by itself, be a source of information about Pre-Basque? Take any decent dictionary of English published around 1900. How many of the words entered in it existed in Old English, only about 1000 years ago? Not many. Why should Basque be different? (And the Pre-Basque I'm interested in dates back to about 2000 years ago.) > we know some words of limited distribution are in fact the earlier > forms of words. For example, certain words with aspirations are only > found in the north (the dialects with least speakers) but are > believed to be earlier. There may be some confusion here between regional variation and regional attestation. Many Basque words, of course, occur in variant forms in different parts of the country. This, in itself, is not an issue for selection, though it may be an issue for determining the most conservative form. Quite different is the case of the numerous words which are only attested *at all* in a limited part of the country. These, in my view, should be automatically excluded from any initial list seeking to identify the best candidates for ancient status. Some of them, undoubtedly, are ancient words which have survived only in a small area, but very many, probably the great majority, are words which are not ancient and which have been created and used only in a small area. Since we can't tell the difference in advance, all such words must be excluded from any initial list, for the purposes I have in mind. As I've pointed out before, the first goal is to identify those words with the strongest claims to being native and ancient -- not to make sure we include every word which might conceivably be native and ancient, since any attempt at this must inevitably sweep up an awful lot of words which are not ancient. First things first. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From X99Lynx at aol.com Fri Sep 24 16:16:31 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 12:16:31 EDT Subject: The UPenn IE Tree REVEALED! Message-ID: In a message dated 9/23/99 4:04:49 PM, Brian M. Scott wrote: <. Quite detailed information is available in the papers available there.>> Wow. Giving that URL is a great service to this list and I personally can't thank you enough. It sure takes the guesswork out of things. Anybody interested in this discussion will find the "UPenn tree" there right from the horse's mouth. (Rather through some other appendage.) And it is really worth a look as it is very relevant to the subject matter of this list. One of the first amazing facts you are greeted with is: <> I guess after 200 years (or so) there are some new things to learn about IE. <> Well, of course, I was going by what Sean Crist wrote. [ Moderator's interjection: On Thu, 2 Sep 1999, Mr. Crist wrote the following: >-Dates of attestation were not taken into consideration at all when >producing the unrooted phylogeny. It was produced strictly on the basis >of the characteristics of the languages without regard to dating. _After_ >this tree had been produced, the team did go on to produce a version of >the tree showing the earliest date of attestation for each language >against the branchings they had already worked out; it puts certain >constraints on when the posited branchings could have happened. So the tree which was presented *on this list* had no dates in it, as was stated on more than one occasion. --rma ] <> Yes on first look I see that. So in the basic data, the term "innovations" may be inappropriate. Don't know why that doesn't surprise me. Once again, thank you for coming down from the mountain with the tablets. Regards, Steve Long From JoatSimeon at aol.com Fri Sep 24 17:27:42 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 13:27:42 EDT Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: In a message dated 9/23/99 10:12:27 PM Mountain Daylight Time, elwhitaker at ftc-i.net writes: << I doubt that two English peasants who lived in geographically distant locations (and remember most people before 1600 in England would have had to walk -- *most* of the time -- to get anywhere in England) such as the northwest and the southeast would have been able to satisfactorily understand each other's speech. >> -- Caxton gives an example of a man from East Anglia shipwrecked in Kent trying to buy eggs, and a farmwife telling him that she spoke no French. However, that's scarcely a case of incomprehensibility; she understood everything but the word for "eggs" quite well. [ Moderator's note: Caxton's example was of a merchant, travelling with a group of merchants, who upon asking for "eggys" was rebuffed with the innkeep's wife's retort that she knew no French, whereupon the merchant became angry because he also knew no French. The argument was settled when another person in the group of merchants explained that the first wished for "eyren". (This story is well know to letterpress printers; it comes up from time to time on the LETPRESS mailing list.) --rma ] Pre-modern English people were surprisingly mobile. Very few people died in the same village (or parish) they were born in; most moved around a fair bit, and a substantial percentage of each year's crop of young people spent some time in London or other towns. Regional dialects were pronounced, but not so much so that they couldn't be understood -- albeit sometimes with a fair bit of trouble. There could be some exceptions -- a Lallans speaker in Sussex, for instance. From gordonbr at Microsoft.com Fri Sep 24 17:51:16 1999 From: gordonbr at Microsoft.com (Gordon Brown (Visual Studio) (Exchange)) Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 10:51:16 -0700 Subject: Respect Message-ID: Please rest assured that some of us non-specialists are behaving ourselves and learning as much as we can from this wonderful forum. And yes, we do very much appreciate your efforts, your willingness to pass on this information without getting paid, and your patience with the troublemakers. We all pray that their sniping won't drive you specialists off the list. > ---------- > From: Sean Crist[SMTP:kurisuto at unagi.cis.upenn.edu] > I'm glad you said this, because I had been resisting saying something of > this sort myself. It isn't just Steve Long. You'd think that some of the > non-specialists would appreciate the efforts that we're making here; > ordinarily, we get paid to do this (not paid much in my case because I'm > just an ABD [all but dissertation], but paid just the same). > [snip] From petegray at btinternet.com Sat Sep 25 09:46:32 1999 From: petegray at btinternet.com (petegray) Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 10:46:32 +0100 Subject: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Message-ID: Does the whole debate reduce to a matter of definition? Imagine a situation where a group of spakers of a language go and settle elsewhere, where substrate and other factors make their language change swiftly, while those who stayed at home enjoy a very much slower rate of change. After some years, and political upheaval, we can see a situation where the settlers are deemed to be speaking a different language from that which they brought with them years before. I suspect that Rich Alderson is saying that the stay-at-homes are also speaking a different language, by definition; while some others are saying that if the changes are few enough, it should be defined as the parent language. And of course, both sides are right - which is why there is so little understanding on both sides. The debate is ultimately based simply on our definition of what a single language is. Peter From mclssaa2 at fs2.mt.umist.ac.uk Sat Sep 25 12:05:36 1999 From: mclssaa2 at fs2.mt.umist.ac.uk (Anthony Appleyard) Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 12:05:36 GMT Subject: Pre-Greek languages Message-ID: Rick Mc Callister wrote (Subject: Was: Can Parent and Daughter co-exist? Now: Greek/Pelasgian):- > Briquel's Les pelasges en Italie [or some similar title] includes > claims that the "Pelasgians" in Italy which are sometimes equated > with the Etruscans had their origins principally in Thessaly, > Beotia, Lesbos, Arcadia which made me wonder if his sources had confused > Pelasgians with pre-Doric Greeks ... How much is now known of each of the various pre-Greek languages of Greece and Anatolia? How much headway has been made in identifying the Linear A language or Eteocypriot or Lesbian? I once heard mentioned an Ancietnt Egyptian papyrus headed "How to make names of Keftiu [= Crete, probably]". I asked about that and was told that it was a list of names for the land of Keftiu, not a glossary of words in the Keftiu-ese language. From maxdashu at LanMinds.Com Sat Sep 25 19:10:57 1999 From: maxdashu at LanMinds.Com (Max Dashu) Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 12:10:57 -0700 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology Message-ID: Along similar lines, what's your take on Mari: has this name been assimilated from Maria, or does it have older folk roots? The former has seemed likely to me, but then Andra Mari has a rather different character than the Virgin Mary. >The female given name is >the usual Basque equivalent of the Spanish name , >resulting from an accidental similarity in form between this name and >the Basque word , which I would gloss as beloved', not as >love'. Max Dashu From roz-frank at uiowa.edu Sat Sep 25 19:47:24 1999 From: roz-frank at uiowa.edu (Roslyn M. Frank) Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 14:47:24 -0500 Subject: Excluding data In-Reply-To: Message-ID: At 03:16 PM 9/24/99 +0100, Larry Trask wrote: [snip] [LT] >As I've pointed out before, the first goal is to identify those words >with the strongest claims to being native and ancient -- not to make >sure we include every word which might conceivably be native and >ancient, since any attempt at this must inevitably sweep up an awful lot >of words which are not ancient. First things first. Who is "we"? I thought that Jon was doing one version of this project(using a computer as an aid) and you were doing another (using paper)?! Or at least I think that something to that effect was stated in an earlier mailing. Roz ************************************************************************ Roslyn M. Frank Professor ************************************************************************ Department of Spanish & Portuguese University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 52242 email: fax: (319)-335-2990 From s455152 at aix1.uottawa.ca Sat Sep 25 20:36:35 1999 From: s455152 at aix1.uottawa.ca (Stephane Goyette) Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 16:36:35 -0400 Subject: Basque 'sei' In-Reply-To: Message-ID: While I have the highest respect for professor Trask, I must disagree with him on the impossibility of Basque SEI being a Romance loanword; see below. On Wed, 22 Sep 1999, Larry Trask wrote: > [on Basque six'] >> But I think in another venue you argued that was a loan word >> in Euskera. (LT) > No, I did not. Quite the contrary: I have several times argued > *against* the proposal, put forward by several other people, that > is borrowed from Romance. The problem is the phonology. The Latin for > six' was /seks/, and all the descendants of this in Romance varieties > in contact with Basque have a final sibilant, as far as I know, as in > Castilian /seis/ and French /sis/. Now, when Basque borrows a Latin or > Romance word containing a final sibilant, it *always* renders that > sibilant with some sibilant of its own, without exception. So, Latin > /seks/ should have produced a Basque * or something similar, while > Castilian /seis/ should have produced a Basque * if borrowed > early or * if borrowed late. But the only Basque form recorded > anywhere is , and hence I conclude that a borrowing from Latin or > Romance is impossible. According to Gerhard Rohlfs (LE GASCON: ETUDES DE PHILOLOGIE PYRENEENNE, Second Edition (1970), p.145) final -s shifts to -j when followed by a voiced plosive, a liquid or a nasal: this is especially frequent in Eastern Gascon, and Rolfs quotes such examples as ERAY DUOY RODOS "the two wheels" (instead of ERAS DUOS RODOS): this -s to -j shift is also found in Bearnese, which is close enough to the Basque country. Now, according to the ALF, map 1235, the word for "six" in the area is found under various forms, /ses/ and /seis/ being the most common. One would therefore expect forms such as /sej/, /seij/ in front of voiced plosives, liquids and nasals, and if Basque had borrowed such a form (perhaps from an expression such as "six times", which I would expect to be something like /sej betses/ in Gascon), the attested phonological form (SEI) would be *EXACTLY* what one would expect. There may be good reason not to believe SEI to be a Romance loanword, but on the basis of the above, it is plain that its phonological form is not one of them. Stephane Goyette, University of Ottawa. stephane at Goyette.com From jer at cphling.dk Sun Sep 26 00:21:26 1999 From: jer at cphling.dk (Jens Elmegaard Rasmussen) Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 02:21:26 +0200 Subject: Excluding data In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Fri, 24 Sep 1999, Larry Trask wrote: [...] > Take any decent dictionary of English published around 1900. How many > of the words entered in it existed in Old English, only about 1000 years > ago? Not many. Why should Basque be different? (And the Pre-Basque > I'm interested in dates back to about 2000 years ago.) [...] But take any dictionary of Icelandic and ask how many of its words existed in Old Norse. The answer is, practically all! And it is probably a fair statement that, adding proper sound changes, you may even push that back to Proto-Germanic. I guess English and Icelandic are both relatively extreme cases. Where Basque stands between the two poles must be looked into with an open mind, as I suppose you have already done. Jens From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Sun Sep 26 03:30:58 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 13:30:58 +1000 Subject: Excluding data In-Reply-To: Your message of "Fri, 24 Sep 1999 15:16:36 +0100." Message-ID: On Fri, 24 Sep 1999 15:16:36 +0100 (BST) Larry Trask said [JP] > So I believe that a word in > the list compiled by Azkue at the turn of this century should be > used in any anlsysis unless it can be shown to be derivative from > some foreign source. The default is "basque" not "foreign". In "any analysis"? No. An analysis of the Basque existing around 1900, fine: Azkue is a pretty good source, with a few qualifications. But an analysis of Pre-Basque? No. The overwhelming majority of the words entered in Azkue's dictionary did not exist in Pre-Basque. So how can this dictionary, all by itself, be a source of information about Pre-Basque? Larry, this is just getting silly. you're treating this issue like a dog with an old bone. I've never said "all by itself". I've said that the history of knowledge about words should be used. Now let's drop it. > we know some words of limited distribution are in fact the earlier > forms of words. For example, certain words with aspirations are only > found in the north (the dialects with least speakers) but are > believed to be earlier. Quite different is the case of the numerous words which are only attested *at all* in a limited part of the country. These, in my view, should be automatically excluded from any initial list seeking to identify the best candidates for ancient status. Some of them, undoubtedly, are ancient words which have survived only in a small area, but very many, probably the great majority, are words which are not ancient and which have been created and used only in a small area. Since we can't tell the difference in advance, all such words must be excluded from any initial list, for the purposes I have in mind. Let's agree to differ. My position is that if can't be shown to be non-basque then it is basque. If it can't be shown to be modern then it is old. How old is anybody's guess. Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From X99Lynx at aol.com Sun Sep 26 06:32:30 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 02:32:30 EDT Subject: The UPenn IE Tree REVEALED! Your Interjection Message-ID: You interjected in the following: Brian Scott wrote: You are mistaken: it was given no dates, even relative ones. I WROTE: Well, of course, I was going by what Sean Crist wrote. YOU WROTE: <<...So the tree which was presented *on this list* had no dates in it, as was stated on more than one occasion.>> But most assuredly Sean Crist - FROM THE VERY START - *presented* the tree as using RELATIVE DATING. < Subject: Re: The UPenn IE Tree Comments: To: Indo-European at xkl.com In-Reply-To: <7ba2e233.24e4e281 at aol.com> Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII Yes, that is correct. Note that this rooted phylogeny includes no intrinsic claim about the _absolute_ dating of the branchings; it is only a set of claims ABOUT THE RELATIVE DATING. ...Sean Crist>> (CAPS ARE MINE.) Of course in the quote you chose to "defend" Sean Crist, he does appear to contradict himself: <> And of course dates of attestation ARE absolute dates and that "version" of the tree was also most certainly *presented* on this list. In any case - my point was - the web site hopefully makes it unnecessary to restrict one self to Mr. Crist's reports on the tree. Regards, Steve Long [ Moderator's response: In his original posting presenting the Ringe-Warnow-Taylor phylogeny of Indo- European (the "UPenn tree"), on 8 August 1999, Mr. Crist said nothing about dating, absolute or otherwise. After a query from you, Mr. Crist posted the response which contained the statement which I interjected into your previous post. Here is what he had to say about the dating of the Ringe-Warnow-Taylor phylogeny, from his post of 13 August 1999: >On Thu, 12 Aug 1999 X99Lynx at aol.com wrote: >> I simply must ask some questions about what this means. >> 1. I assume the branching off in this 'Stammbaum' carries the inference of >> being chronological in the sense of earlier or later separations. (Rather >> than for example the degree of linguistic difference between languages.) >> This may go without saying, but I'm just checking. >Yes, that is correct. Note that this rooted phylogeny includes no >intrinsic claim about the _absolute_ dating of the branchings; it is only >a set of claims about the relative dating. Please note that paragraph, compared to what you yourself said above, >But most assuredly Sean Crist - FROM THE VERY START - *presented* the tree >as using RELATIVE DATING. and you will see the difference: The relative dating is the *result* of the algorithm used by Ringe, Warnow, and Taylor, on the data which they presented to the algorithm in a computer program. It was not, and never has been, part of the data. I am very tired of your argumentative tirades on topics in which you have no training. They are having the very effect of which Mr. Crist was afraid--I have received unsubscription notices from very long time participants, just prior to Mr. Crist's posting on the subject. This is, therefore, the last post of yours on this topic which I will accept. --rma ] From X99Lynx at aol.com Sun Sep 26 07:52:09 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 03:52:09 EDT Subject: The UPenn IE Tree (web site) Message-ID: In a message dated 9/23/99 4:04:49 PM, BMScott at stratos.net wrote: <> I'm having a little trouble following that and this might be helpful to anyone else on the list who takes a look. I've read the report "Mathematical Approaches to Comparative Linguistics" (mathcompling.ps) especially looking for what was done specifically to "root" the tree. I found this: "Because rooted trees are desirable, directionality constraints implied by some of the linguistic data were encoded as characters, using techniques already in use by systematic biologists, and these characters were included in the dataset." It's obvious those "directionality constraints" can't rest too much on dates of attestation alone, since some of important specific characters they mention would have to have been dated from before those dates. It also says here that <> So I presume that geography as well as pure "linguistic" considerations were also used in the rooting. The following seems to suggest some substantial geographic data was being used: <> Do you know if they address any specifics about the rooting procedure? Do you know if they address at all the fact that they are using *PIE to establish the 'cognates' and reconstructed forms they are using as 'characters'? It would seem because these aren't 'raw properties,' they might be seen as "rooting" the tree from the start. Part of my problem may be that I haven't been able to get Ringe's text - "95-16.ps.Z" open. Did you open it? Distiller keeps telling me it is not a ps file. Appreciate any help you might have. Regards, Steve Long From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Sun Sep 26 11:35:10 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 12:35:10 +0100 Subject: Change and What Remains In-Reply-To: <4e97b2f2.251c92b1@aol.com> Message-ID: On Fri, 24 Sep 1999 X99Lynx at aol.com wrote: > I wrote: > < "the central fact of ceaseless language change" to support any point > he was making about Basque? Ever? How could the central fact about > Basque escape mention?>> [LT] > < 500-page book on the history and prehistory of Basque. I have also made > frequent references, on this list, to changes in Basque, mainly (though > not wholly) in response to postings from Roz Frank and Jon Patrick. > Whatever are you talking about?>> > Larry, what you know about Basque blows me away every time. But > that's not the issue. The question I asked was < time Larry Trask mentioned in a post the phrase "the central fact of > ceaseless language change" to support any point he was making about > Basque?>> I checked some. Never saw it and you've written a great > deal about Basque on this list. Yes, but that's because, in posting to this list, I assume I can take it for granted that everybody on it is deeply familiar with the fact of ceaseless language change, so there's no reason to mention it explicitly. That is, I see no point in declaring at frequent intervals "Oh, by the way, folks -- the IE languages have changed an awful lot." But, in my discussions with you, this point appeared to become necessary. > It's a rather specific question. We're talking about buzz phrases. > And my point was that you wouldn't use THAT buzz phrase in > discussing substantive matters where you had material points to > make. Sure, because I wouldn't see any need. And I still object to that term "buzz phrase", which I consider entirely inappropriate. > I'll try to tell you why that might be. > The Antique Roadshow was on PBS the other day and I just happen to > overhear a fellow from Sotheby's telling the owner of some antigue > not to worry about what's disappeared in the piece, because "it's > what remains that counts." > To say that change is "the central fact" about IE languages is a > curious thing. Because if change were the central fact, then you > wouldn't really be concerned about what "remained." In studies > where change IS the central fact - like chaos and fractals and > random number theory - one never mentions ancestry or "antiquity" or > cognation. (On the other hand, "the central fact" when classic > physics or chemistry looks at change is continuity - i.e., the > conservation of energy and matter.) Well, if languages never changed at all, then historical linguistics could not exist, and we would have nothing to do. It is the fact that languages *do* change that is responsible for the existence of historical linguistics, and for the existence of the problems that make the field interesting. As far as my own field of historical linguistics is concerned, ceaseless change really is the central fact. > When you talk about the < aspiration in Basque is large and of various kinds>>, you are not > talking about change. You are talking about what stayed the same. Well, rather, if *something* doesn't "stay the same" in some rather vague sense, then the changes can't be identified. But take an example. We reconstruct the Pre-Basque word for wine' as *. Now, this word is nowhere recorded, because it did not "stay the same" anywhere. Even so, we can, by applying comparative and internal reconstruction, conclude very safely that * was the original form. > If you had written "there can be no evidence for the antiquity of > the aspiration in Basque because the central fact of ceaseless > change SWEEPS ALL SUCH EVIDENCE AWAY", it would be a different > story. But the central fact in your actual statement relates to the > evidence that remained despite change. It's not so simple. We find aspiration in some varieties but no aspiration in other varieties. It is not *a priori* obvious which one of these states of affairs is more conservative -- in fact, it's not even certain that either of them is more conservative, since it could be that both represent independent developments of an original system different from both. However, in this case our understanding of the principles of change, and of the principles of the study of change, leads us to conclude that the aspiration is conservative -- though not *maximally* conservative, since it is possible to show that certain instances of the aspiration arose in words which had, still earlier, lacked it. > It may be hard to see this because sound laws are so much about the > rules of "change" between languages (oops! or whatever they're > called). But if these were a complete change without something > remaining, you'd never recognize any kind of descent or cognation. > Change would obliderate the evidence. If change were as thorough as > it is in other areas, there'd be no evidence left of a PIE. Or a > proto-Basque. That's what pure change does. The sound rules (the > predictability of changes) are nothing more than bridges that allow > you to overcome changes and find continuity. Of course, but we can only do this in cases in which ceaseless change has not yet obliterated the evidence of common origin. When such evidence *has* been obliterated, there is nothing we can do. > If you find any connection between Basque and proto-Basque, it's > going to be because SOMETHING stayed the same. That is "the central > fact." Change is actually only an obstacle to your finding what the > connection is between the present and the past. Well, this is a very curious way of putting it: change is "only an obstacle"? Perhaps, but it's a bloody big obstacle. If there were no change, then the present would be indistinguishable from the past, and there would be no historical disciplines. > In one of my other lives, I'm intensely involved with the American > electronic media. I see change in language at roaring rates. > "Ceaseless change" is not the news here. What withstands "ceaseless > change" is really the hot question. Because in the end that's all > that allows us understand each other. The sounds and meanings we > recognize above the din. But that's a different issue altogether. In effect, it's an aspect of the Saussurean Paradox -- a fascinating issue, but one that I think has now been pretty well dealt with. > (As far as how this relates to your statement that an ancestor > cannot co-exist with a daughter language, the rate and degree of > change is really the question. Simply bringing up "ceaseless > change" tells us nothing about whether enough "remained" of ancestor > so that it could co-exist with the daughter.) Sure. But your position appeared to be that absence of change in a living language was a serious possibility, and that's what I was objecting to. > I never expected to have a particularly friendly reception on this > list to the approaches I've taken. I expected to be called far > worse than tiring or silly. I do hope - or did for a time - that a > bit of open-mindedness might at least give these ideas an accurate > hearing - if not necessarily a fair one. Well, I can't see that you've been treated unfairly at all, but, as it happens, the moderator has pulled the plug on this thread, so I can't respond further. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Sun Sep 26 11:46:01 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 12:46:01 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (fwd) In-Reply-To: <004201bf0676$f964bea0$9603703e@edsel> Message-ID: On Fri, 24 Sep 1999, Eduard Selleslagh wrote: [on Basque smoke' and Greek smoke'] > It always looked to me as if the specialists were at a loss to come > up with a good IE etymology of (and the verb , 'to > smoke'). The relatively well-known etymologies you cite are rather > difficult to defend in a straightforward way: among themselves, the > Lithuanian, Latin and Gothic words are consistent with a common > ascendance (root: kuep-, with long e) (even though Lat. vapor ought > to be 'quapor'?), but is hard to fit into the series: why > isn't the kv/hw/v (actually /w/) /p/ in Greek, as it should? Where > does the -n- of -pn- fit in (from a derivative affix?)? I am happy to leave this discussion to the specialists. But I can see no earthly way of deriving the Basque word from any of these IE sources. [ES] >>> I am not sure whether KAPNO'S is considered entirely IE, but if it >>> is, the Basque word isn't original Basque. [LT] >> This doesn't follow. Whatever the source of the Greek word, I can see >> no case for deriving the Basque word from the Greek, or from any other >> IE source. Basque has never been in contact with Greek, which in any >> event has no form that could serve as a source for , and no suitable >> cognate is attested in any IE language known to have been in contact >> with Basque. > Supposing KE is derived from KAPNÓS, that is. How could it be? The Basque word looks nothing like the Greek word. The central problem here is that initial /k/ in Basque, which simply should not exist, *regardless* of the origin of the word. It's rather as though we were to find a seemingly ancient English word beginning with -- the consonant of measure'. Such a word should not exist. > I wouldn't be so sure Basque has never been in contact with Greek: > at a certain moment, Basque (or a Pyrenean ancestor or relative ) > may have been spoken sufficiently far down the SE Pyrenees, where it > could have connected with Greek settlements or their sphere of > cultural influence (e.g. Ampurias). The Iberians were heavily > influenced by the Greek, anyway. But there is no *evidence* for any kind of Basque-Greek connection. We can invent hypothetical links to our heart's content, but the only thing that counts is hard evidence, and we don't have any here. Anyway, I repeat: if Greek had somehow been borrowed into early Basque, it could not possibly have entered Basque in the form *. The single segment shared by the two words is the one that could not have existed in early Basque: that initial /k/. > On the other hand, the first syllable of Gr. KAPNÓS may be of a > common non-IE origin. Perhaps, but why is this relevant to Basque? >>> 2. If it is of IE origin, maybe via ancient Greek, the aspiration >>> would be secondary, I think. [LT] >> The Basque aspiration appears to be generally of suprasegmental origin >> anyway, and not of segmental origin. > As you said, 'generally'. Yes, but I see no reason to suppose that northern is an exception. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From proto-language at email.msn.com Sun Sep 26 08:54:15 1999 From: proto-language at email.msn.com (Patrick C. Ryan) Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 08:54:15 -0000 Subject: Perfective-Imperfective - Habitual Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] ----- Original Message ----- From: Larry Trask Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 1999 10:49 AM Dear Larry and IEists: [LT complained] > Well. Let me defend my old friend Bernard against these disgraceful > slurs. > I've known Bernard for twenty years, and I can assure you all that he is > indeed a native speaker of English, born and raised in England. > But the much bigger slur is that Comrie is the sort of linguist who merely > reports his own intuitions, without looking at the data. Bernard is an > enormously knowledgeable linguist. He speaks Russian almost like a native, > and he is fluent in a number of other languages. He has made serious studies > of a large number of languages, and he's done fieldwork in places ranging > from Siberia to New Guinea. And he *never* makes a statement he can't back > up with plenty of hard data. [PR responds] Well, quite aside from what Comrie's modus operandi may or may not be, Larry is certainly "the sort of linguist who merely reports his own intuitions, without looking at the data" as his included "anecdotal proof" of the his interpretation of the significance of the English phrase "used to VP" confirms. Here is what he said: [LT] > Anyway, it is trivial to demonstrate that Comrie is right: English used > to' does *not* entail no longer'. An example. > Several years ago I was teaching bridge to some of my friends here in > Brighton. One was Ian, and Ian had unusual trouble in mastering the > bidding system, especially the no-trump bids. More than a year ago, he > left Brighton, and I haven't played bridge with him, or even seen him, > since then. Got it? > Now, it is perfectly normal for me to say, when discussing the past, > Ian used to have trouble with no-trump bids'. This emphatically does > *not* imply ...but he doesn't now.' Now does it? For all I know, Ian > is still struggling with no-trump bids, but I just don't have any > information. > This single example, I submit, is enough to prove that Comrie is right > and that Ryan is wrong. Nothing surprising here: we linguists learned > years ago that naive native-speaker intuitions are untrustworthy, and > that the facts can be determined only by careful examination of real > usage. And Comrie has carried out just such an examination of the used > to' construction. End of story. [PR] "This single example, I submit, is enought to prove that Comrie is right and that Ryan is wrong." This "verdict" is highly revealing of the state of mind of its deliverer. Evidently Larry feels that as a non-"naive native-speaker" his intuitions are not "untrustworthy" whereas mine are. I see no careful examination of real usage here. I see only an example of the way Larry uses and interprets this phrase. And, if Comrie has actually "carried out just such an examination", then his opinion has no more intrinsic worth than Larry's. And I suspect that Comrie did, like Larry, shoot from the hip because, after acknowledging that many would disagree, he cites no study of contemporary English usage that would support his assertion that "used to VP" does *not* imply discontinuity of the situation. Now whatever may be the usage in Appalachia, if I wanted to describe my experiences with Ian, based on 35+ years of *professional* experience with English and residency throughout many sections of the US, I would say: Ian always had trouble with no-trump bids' if I wanted to make no further implication as to Ian's current problems. If I wanted to emphasize the continuity of the Ian's problems into a past or present, I would respectively say: Ian had always had trouble with no-trump bids, . . .' Ian has always had trouble with no-trump bids'. If I wanted to imply that Ian's troubles were past, only then would I say: Ian used to have trouble with no-trump bids' because the implication is clearly, for *most* speakers of English, that 'Ian no longer has trouble with no-trump bids'. Now, Larry has also mentioned Spanish 'soler'. I would be very curious to know from a native speaker of Spanish whether Yo soli'a tomar el o'mnibus implies to a native speaker that 'I' still take the bus. It seems to me that, out of his own mouth, Larry has demonstrated that he is doing exactly that which, out of the other side of his mouth, he explicitly deplores. Pat PATRICK C. RYAN | PROTO-LANGUAGE at email.msn.com (501) 227-9947 * 9115 W. 34th St. Little Rock, AR 72204-4441 USA WEBPAGES: PROTO-LANGUAGE: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2803/index.html and PROTO-RELIGION: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2803/proto-religion/indexR.html "Veit ek, at ek hekk, vindga meipi, nftr allar nmu, geiri undapr . . . a ~eim meipi er mangi veit hvers hann af rstum renn." (Havamal 138) From proto-language at email.msn.com Sun Sep 26 13:30:10 1999 From: proto-language at email.msn.com (Patrick C. Ryan) Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 13:30:10 -0000 Subject: Perfective-Imperfective Message-ID: ----- Original Message ----- From: Larry Trask Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 1999 10:49 AM [PR previously] >> I wonder what proof we really have --- aside from the Larry's bare >> assertion --- that the definition of 'perfective' used in Larry's >> dictionary is "now most widely used". It is certainly true that a >> number of writers on the subject of aspect have, apparently, >> followed Comrie. [LT responded] > Well, read the literature on aspect. [PR] In a previous posting on this subject, Larry assured us: "So, in place of the wide variation in terminology of 50 years ago, we now have a near-consensus among those who have investigated aspect most carefully. The definition of perfective' in my dictionary is the one now most widely used, and I suggest that we should, for once, agree on this definition, as a small step toward the goal of unifying our terminology -- a goal which I trust is shared by Pat Ryan." However, this conclusion was preceded by the following overview: "Now, I know of five scholarly book-length studies of aspect published in the last 15 years: those by Dahl, by Comrie, by Binnick, by Smith and by Verkuyl. Verkuyl's book I exclude below, since the author, for his own reasons, deliberately refrains from offering plain-language definitions of the aspectual categories he recognizes." "Of the others, Comrie, of course, uses about the same definition of perfective' as that found in my dictionary." [PR interjects] Not really surprising since you apparently got it from Comrie. [Larry continued] "Smith does the same. Binnick offers no view of his own, but observes that Comrie's definition is now the one most widely used. He cites some examples, involving wording like "indivisible situation" and "integral action". Dahl does not deny this observation, but confesses to dissatisfaction with this definition, on the interesting ground that it is too restrictive: it excludes certain forms traditionally called perfective'. But even Dahl expressly denies the identification of perfective' with completive': he regards the two as quite distinct, and he emphatically does not equate the perfective with completion." [PR] Smith agrees with Comrie's definition; Binnick does not; Dahl does not nor does Verkuyl! I have looked in Larry's dictionary to see if he or Comrie have re-defined "consensus" but, thank God, they have not. 2 for; 3 against. This does not seem like a "near-consensus" to me! And furthermore, I have pointed out that other linguists evidently are not aware of the judgment of their peers either. [PR previously] > [on Dixon on Biblical Hebrew] >> Dixon is a current, well-known linguist who, I suppose on the basis >> of what he has written, cited above, does not subscribe to the >> Comrie definitions of imperfective/perfective. [LT responded] > Sorry; doesn't follow. Dixon is talking about a language with its own > aspectual contrasts and its own established terminology. Hebrew is no > more a basis for a universal definition than Russian is. [ PR asks] Then what, pray tell, can be the source for the "universal" definition if we eliminate the evidences of it in languages like Hebrew and Russian. Is it a Platonic idea, with no necessary connection to or with reality? [PR previously] >> I think it would be advisable for Larry to realize that when he >> purports to write a dictionary, he should be describing and >> acknowledging real current professional usage *not* writing a >> catechism of definitions he and Comrie would desire to see adopted. >> We are long past 1984, and, however much some might want it, 'war' >> is not 'peace'. [LT responded] > I have already made it clear that I *am* describing "real current > professional usage", while you are clinging to an outdated view. [PR] I know very well what you *think* you are doing but your overview does not support your contention. [LT] > [on my rejection of Pei and of general dictionaries of English as > reliable sources for linguistic terminology] [PR previously] >> What Larry obviously is unwilling to acknowledge is that these >> dictionaries, if they are doing *their* jobs properly (does he >> dispute it?), are recording *USAGE* no matter whatever Larry thinks >> might be the *proper* definition. I sincerely hope that he does not >> succeed in imposing his and Comrie's definition on the non-linguist >> and linguist readership of these dictionaries as he threatens. >> Frankly, I believe his demonstrated attitude makes him unqualified >> to be an adviser on usage in dictionaries like the OED. [LT] > Dear, dear. I'm afraid it's up to you, Pat, to compile the Ryan English > Dictionary. The editors of the OED seem pretty pleased with my work so > far, and they are showing no inclination to sack me, I'm afraid. > No doubt we can look forward to a ceremonial burning of the third > edition of the OED in Arkansas. ;-) [PR] Frankly, I doubt they will let you ignore the current usage of the word 'perfective'. But, I can assure you, if I were, like you, proposing to re-define 'perfective', and ignore its previous and current usage, I would find room to include the term I proposed to supplant it ('completive') in its previous and current usage in any dictionary I would write. The omission of a replacement term is simply unforgivable. [LT] > [on my rejection of the etymological fallacy] [PR previously] >> In its most extreme interpretation, there is some truth in this, >> provided one emends the statement to 'perfective' rather than >> 'perfect', which we have not been discussing. However, to neglect >> the etymological meaning of a word while making a *new* assignment >> of meaning, which is what Comrie did . . . [LT responded] > No, he didn't. [PR] And I say he did. Had he not given 'perfective' a new definition, which does not include the idea of completion, we would not be having this discussion! [PR previously] >> or to adopt it as Larry did, is irresponsible and totally >> unjustified. [LT responded] > Nonsense. Balderdash. I am reporting on contemporary use, and > etymology is neither here nor there. [PR] By your own overview, and the facts I have introduced, you are not reporting "contemporary use" but selectively only the use to which you and Comrie and Smith would like to see 'perfective' put. [PR previously] >> Let us provisionally assume that Comrie's definition of 'perfective' >> ("denotes a situation viewed in its entirety, without regard to >> internal temporal constituency") actually means something in English >> (what in God's name would an 'internal temporal constituent' be???). [LT responded] > Not constituent', but constituency'. It means structure'. [PR] Check a dictionary other than your own and you may find that a 'constituency' is constituted of constituents. Notice, however, that Larry makes no attempt to explain "internal temporal constituency"! [PR previously] >> If it were true that verbal notions could be "superordinate"ly >> divided into those for which this definition had some meaning, and >> those for which it did not, it would still be highly inappropriate >> to adopt the term "perfective" for it when "perfective" had and has >> an established older and current (dictionaries and Dixon) meaning >> established through usage which corresponds to what Trask would like >> to call, *unnecessarily* introducing a new term, 'completive' >> (which, of course, he did not bother to include in his dictionary). [LT responded] > I didn't introduce completive'. And it's absent from my dictionary > because I was forced to deliver a book within a specified length. > Not my preference. [PR] Better luck with the OED editors! [PR previously] >> Why not call it - if it exists at all - 'integral' (cf. Binnick) or >> something else which, at least, bears a *passing*, a nodding >> resemblance in meaning to its purported idea? [LT responded] > Hmmm. Having complained bitterly that I am (allegedly) ignoring > established terminology in favor of my own coinages, you are now > advising us to coin a new term for a concept which already has an > established name. Uh-huh. [PR] God forbid that 'perfective' should ever be truly established in the Comriean definition. Actually, I have not problem with retaining 'momentary' for what I think Comrie is getting at with 'perfective' and durative for his 'imperfective' but that does require a new term to designate the correspondent of punctual for Aktionart: why not non-punctual? [PR previously] >> Having asked the question, I will attempt to answer it. Bernard >> Comrie has done much valuable work over the years with which I am >> personally familiar. However, in the case of his book _Aspect_, I >> sincerely and honestly believe he is idiosyncratically deviant from >> start to finish. [LT responded] > "Idiosyncratically deviant from start to finish", eh? So: one of the > most erudite and respected linguists on the planet doesn't know what > he's talking about, while you do? Really? [PR] Yes, I believe he has a blind spot in this area. While I respect you enormously for your work on Basque, many people have showed on this list and others that *you* are not universally infallible. [PR previously] >> I could give many examples from his book that make assertions >> contrary to what specialists in the various fields assert (for >> example, "the Arabic Perfective, which is a perfective relative >> past"; the idea that kataba/yaktubu represents a past/present >> division is an idea held by *no* AAist of which I am aware; what >> entitles Comrie to contradict all previous Arabists? And how likely >> is it that he understands Arabic better than they do?). [LT responded] > I would be *veeeery* careful about challenging Comrie's knowledge of any > language he writes about. There exist few linguists with greater > knowledge of more languages than Comrie has. [PR] It would be so much more impressive if Comrie's book (1976) had actually persuaded any AAists of his greater insight in the last 23 years. Do you know one that agrees with him on this point? [LT responded] > But you are overlooking something crucial: the first-person subject. > That makes a *big* difference, as it does in a wide variety of cases: > Mike thinks that Susie is younger than she is.' > ##I think that Susie is younger than she is.' > Schubert died before he finished his last symphony.' > ##I died before I finished my last symphony.' > Mike will wash the dishes. > I'll wash the dishes.' (different interpretation) > First-person effects are pervasive in English, and must be factored out > of our analyses. [PR] Vintage Larry. Red herring. Without explaining the "first person effects" (outside of Appalachia, I think we would say "AFFECT"), Larry implies that this discounts my assertion of the normal understanding of the phrase "used to VP" (="no longer VP"). Any of the examples I used are applicable in any person! [PR previously] >> If it does not imply that to Comrie, I can only suggest that he may >> be a non-native speaker of English who has never mastered its >> nuances; and, as such, is unqualified to lecture those who are on >> the interpretation of phrases such as "NP used to V". This is what >> anyone who was reasonable might have suspected from the "it is often >> claimed ...". Why is it so "often" claimed if many do not understand >> it as I do? And what entitles Comrie to "correct" our native >> interpretations? His professorial authority? [LT responded] > Well. Let me defend my old friend Bernard against these disgraceful > slurs. > I've known Bernard for twenty years, and I can assure you all that he is > indeed a native speaker of English, born and raised in England. > But the much bigger slur is that Comrie is the sort of linguist who > merely reports his own intuitions, without looking at the data. > Bernard is an enormously knowledgeable linguist. He speaks Russian > almost like a native, and he is fluent in a number of other languages. > He has made serious studies of a large number of languages, and he's > done fieldwork in places ranging from Siberia to New Guinea. And he > *never* makes a statement he can't back up with plenty of hard data. [PR] I am claiming that you and he have no data on which to back your claim that your interpretation of the phrase is superior to mine. If you consider an observation that might incline Comrie to change his mind a "slur", so be it. I have already expressed my admiration for his previous work. I also contacted Comrie directly when this discussion began, sent him a copy of my observations, and invited him to join us, or respond to me, in which case I would have been glad to convey his counter-arguments to the group. He has not yet chosen to take me up on this offer but perhaps he will. If Comrie had "hard data", the time to introduce it would have been when he discussed the issue in his book, and noted,candidly, that the contrary interpretation is often claimed. He did not. He merely asserted it, presumably, on his own authority or understanding. Pat PATRICK C. RYAN | PROTO-LANGUAGE at email.msn.com (501) 227-9947 * 9115 W. 34th St. Little Rock, AR 72204-4441 USA WEBPAGES: PROTO-LANGUAGE: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2803/index.html and PROTO-RELIGION: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2803/proto-religion/indexR.html "Veit ek, at ek hekk, vindga meipi, nftr allar nmu, geiri undapr . . . a ~eim meipi er mangi veit hvers hann af rstum renn." (Havamal 138) From mcv at wxs.nl Sun Sep 26 19:21:12 1999 From: mcv at wxs.nl (Miguel Carrasquer Vidal) Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 19:21:12 GMT Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (part 2) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: Larry Trask wrote: >Anyway, a sequence * > * > is not something I've ever >seen before in any language. Turning this around, the -be ~ -pe alternation (and similar cases, maybe even "smoke") might stem from -behe > -bhe > -pe. ======================= Miguel Carrasquer Vidal mcv at wxs.nl From sarant at village.uunet.lu Sun Sep 26 21:17:19 1999 From: sarant at village.uunet.lu (Nikos Sarantakos) Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 22:17:19 +0100 Subject: Pre-Greek languages In-Reply-To: <6F4BB92702C@fs2.mt.umist.ac.uk> Message-ID: At 12:05 25/09/99 GMT, Anthony Appleyard wrote: > Rick Mc Callister wrote (Subject: Was: Can >Parent and Daughter co-exist? Now: Greek/Pelasgian):- >> Briquel's Les pelasges en Italie [or some similar title] includes >> claims that the "Pelasgians" in Italy which are sometimes equated >> with the Etruscans had their origins principally in Thessaly, >> Beotia, Lesbos, Arcadia which made me wonder if his sources had confused >> Pelasgians with pre-Doric Greeks ... >How much is now known of each of the various pre-Greek languages of Greece >and Anatolia? How much headway has been made in identifying the Linear A >language or Eteocypriot or Lesbian? Well, some two years ago there was an announcement in Greece by a fellow named Tsikritsis, who claimed he has deciphered Linear A as being Greek. The fellow keeps a remarkably low profile, perhaps because he is a mathematician with a PhD in theology. Mind you, said PhD has as subject the development of an algorithm that identifies a text as false (English word fails me, pseudepigraphon in Greek) or genuine. I heard that he had forwarded his findings in a well-known journal and he is awaiting the verdict of international scientific community. The gist of his method, if I remember well, is that some of the symbols of Linear B have the same value in Linear A, while some others have changed. Apparently, his algorithm helped him to distinguish between them. It is easy to dismiss all that as nationalistic or plain ravings, but I for one would want to hear more. In fact, my gut feeling (totally unscientific) is that Linear A is most probably Greek. With the (enormous) benefit of hindsight, it seems to me preposterously nearsighted that all the scientific community before Ventrys (and Ventrys himself, almost up to the end) refused to consider the hypothesis of Linear B being Greek. But if we assume Linear B is Greek (and I believe this is considered proven), it becomes rather self-evident that Linear A is also Greek. As I say, this is unscientific, and a mere gut feeling. I hasten to add that I don't share the views of some of my compatriots concerning the autochthony of Greeks or the position of Greek as the mother tongue of all IE (and beyond!) But my gut feeling (again unscientific) is that Greek has a much longer history than we currently believe. Nikos Sarantakos From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Sun Sep 26 23:41:03 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 09:41:03 +1000 Subject: Excluding data In-Reply-To: Your message of "Sat, 25 Sep 1999 14:47:24 EST." <4.1.19990925142728.009b8cb0@blue.weeg.uiowa.edu> Message-ID: On Sat, 25 Sep 1999 14:47:24 -050 "Roslyn M. Frank" said At 03:16 PM 9/24/99 +0100, Larry Trask wrote: [snip] [LT] >As I've pointed out before, the first goal is to identify those words >with the strongest claims to being native and ancient -- not to make >sure we include every word which might conceivably be native and >ancient, since any attempt at this must inevitably sweep up an awful lot >of words which are not ancient. First things first. Who is "we"? I thought that Jon was doing one version of this project(using a computer as an aid) and you were doing another (using paper)?! Or at least I think that something to that effect was stated in an earlier mailing. Yes, this is what I believe I'm doing, with a couple of variations from Larry. I view the WHOLE Azkue list as the starting point. It then gets culled according to a variety of criteria -most of which Larry and I agree on, but with crucial differences. I am also keen to make a stochastic analysis of the phonological patterns of the words (current decriptions are over generalised where of the wordforms they describe only 10% of that space is populated by "real" words). Secondly I will work methodically starting from the monosyllables upwards into bisyllables, trisyllables etc. For the sake of the list members who would be highly familiar with Larry's work but perhaps less familiar with most Basque scholars. I have presented my initial results to Basque histroical linguists in the Basque Coumntry and they have found my results informative and have encouraged me to extend and publish them. Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From ECOLING at aol.com Mon Sep 27 03:21:49 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 23:21:49 EDT Subject: Excluding Basque data Message-ID: In a message dated 9/23/99 6:12:54 PM, larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk writes: >Hence, while the compiling of the database may require no initial >methodology, manipulating it certainly does require some initial >decisions. So I don't see how working with a database, instead of with >paper, gets around the central issue we have been discussing: the choice >of criteria for proceeding. It is very different, because no "exclusion" of data need be a permanent exclusion, because different users can choose different criteria for proceeding, and because the same user can change his or her mind at different times and choose different criteria for proceeding. One does not have to be "right" on the first choice, there are no serious consequences for making an initial error. With a paper method in which one cannot go back and change one's mind, there is a truly excessive focus on being "right" the first time round. And disastrous consequences if one is not. Only the omniscient would prefer to be unable to change one's mind? >From a discussion between Jon Patrick and Larry Trask [LT] > But, once more: I *never* exclude a word from my > list because it doesn't match any generalizations about form which > I may have in mind. [JP] >> I've never asserted that you did. However I do think that your >> criteria are designed to create an analysis that is more strongly >> consistent with the generalisations you "think you have a pretty >> good idea" about. [LT] >I flatly deny this, and I challenge you to back up your assertion. Like Jon Patrick, I believe that Larry Trask's criteria MAY IN EFFECT bias the results to favor hypotheses which he himself espouses. This DOES NOT MEAN that he is consciously aware of this, (nor that he is deliberately manipulating the data, as he seems to have inferred he was being charged with). Quite the contrary, it probably results from his being so convinced of certain hypotheses that he can scarcely conceive of them not being correct. Others may find it easier to conceive of that (as is so often true in research, nothing unusual here). In normal science, we do not normally allow the proponent of a hypothesis to select the data which is to be included in evaluating the hypothesis (this statement just given subject to many clarifications, of course, but as a general statement it can stand this way). The ONE area in which I can from my own knowledge say that Trask's criteria, as I understand them from earlier messages, are indeed biasing, was in his aim at a consistent canonical form for all of the vocabulary he wanted to include in the data set of candidates for proto-Basque status, specifically that sound-symbolic vocabulary must have the same canonical forms as general vocabulary. It is simply a fact that there are languages which have different canonical forms for different strata of their own vocabulary, and especially this is known to be true for sound-symbolic vocabulary. Since proto-Basque is supposedly a real language, we should not make any assumptions IN ADVANCE which we know to be false when applied to languages in general. The assumption that proto-Basque vocabulary fit a single consistent set of canonical forms, regardless whether it was general vocabulary or sound-symbolic vocabulary, is precisely that kind of an assumption which we should not make. Whether Trask's criteria bias the selection of data in any other ways I would not venture to say. I have no knowledge of specifics which would be relevant. The question is however a legitimate one, and should remain open to empirical scientific investigation. Trask should not feel that his honesty is being questioned, it is merely whether his assumptions are correct that may be in question. Ruling out the question of bias in selection of data, by including in the data set only that data which fit the criteria, as opposed to grouping the data so that different analysis can be performed, does deny the ability to analyze any assumptions which may, wittingly or not, be embodied in the criteria. Since we NEED NOT exclude potential data in a permanent way, because of the possibility of tagging data in databases, we will be better served by doing so. Not all of us need do so, and Larry Trask himself may choose not to do so, but he should gracefully acknowledge that normal science does treat bias in data selection as a normal question to be analyzed. Also, no one should be criticized for including additional data, appropriately tagged (= grouped, in different dimensions). Sincerely, Lloyd Anderson Ecological Linguistics PS: Jens Rasmussen has just pointed out another example. Considering what proportion of words in a dictionary of one date existed in an earlier form of the same language, Rasmussen points out that this is very different from language to language, and he wrote: >I guess English and Icelandic are both relatively >extreme cases. Where Basque stands between the two poles must be looked >into ... So again, Larry Trask's criteria are not fully neutral, NOT EVEN self-evidence for the purpose of determining what are the likely candidates for proto-Basque. They include some assumptions which are not necessary. From proto-language at email.msn.com Mon Sep 27 00:03:48 1999 From: proto-language at email.msn.com (Patrick C. Ryan) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 00:03:48 -0000 Subject: Perfective-Imperfective (2) - Habitual Message-ID: ----- Original Message ----- From: Patrick C. Ryan Sent: Sunday, September 26, 1999 1:33 PM > ----- Original Message ----- > From: Larry Trask > Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 1999 11:26 AM >> On Sat, 18 Sep 1999, Patrick C. Ryan wrote: >>> Perhaps the situation is different in England since Larry has >>> adopted Comrie's mistaken (IMHO) interpretation of 'habitual' by >>> citing in his dictionary "Lisa used to smoke", which is all the more >>> surprising since he defines it traditionally ("The aspect category >>> which expresses an action which is regularly or consistently >>> performed by some entity"; NOTE: not "... which **was** regularly or >>> consistently performed"). [LT responded] >> The was' is not part of the definition of the habitual. It is merely a >> feature of English that it has a distinctive habitual form only in the >> past tense. Other languages differ. For example, Spanish has a >> habitual auxiliary , which can be used in any tense. This is a >> familiar headache for Spanish learners of English, who are constantly >> trying to render their overt present habitual into English by saying >> thinks like Lisa uses to smoke' (intended Lisa smokes'). Basque is >> like Spanish, by the way: it too has an overt habitual auxiliary usable >> in any tense. But English doesn't. [PR] I can accept your statement only if you mdofiy your definition of 'habitual'. As for soler, a Spanish expert would have to make a judgment here but I suspect strongly that soler in the present tense can be exactly rendered by *another* English idiom: 'to be used to V+ing', as in 'Lisa is used to smoking', which looks at habituality from its affect on the agent. [PR previously] >>> The habitual aspect in English is purely expressed by "Lisa always >>> smoked", "Lisa always smokes", and "Lisa will always smoke". [LT responded] >> No. [PR inerjects] After detailed and cross-referenced argumentation of this caliber, how can I foolishly continue to maintain my point? [LT continued] >> In the present, the ordinary form is Lisa smokes'. In the past, >> it can be either Lisa used to smoke' or Lisa smoked', depending upon >> context. Only the second of these three is overtly marked as a >> habitual, but the other two forms can receive a habitual interpretation >> -- though they need not. >> As for Lisa always smokes', this hardly sounds to me like native >> English without a complement: Lisa always smokes at parties' is fine, >> and so is Lisa always smokes after dinner', but ??Lisa always smokes' >> is not the sort of thing I often say or hear. What earthly content does >> it bear beyond that of Lisa smokes'? [PR] In my dialect, 'Lisa smokes' means simply 'Lisa currently smokes' and might be applied to Lisa if she smokes currently once in a very great while, barely qualifying as 'habitual'; 'Lisa always smokes' stresses the habituality; and I agree, it would be oftener found with a complement but would 'Lisa always smokes now' be equally strange to your conversational repertoire? [PR previously] >>> Larry and Comrie are both incorrect in asserting >>> that "English has a distinct habitual form in the past tense only". [LT responded] >> Nope. This is true. The overt used to' construction exists only in >> the past. In the non-past, the form used to express the habitual also >> has other functions. [PR] Another devastating counter-argument! [PR previously] >>> But, Larry and Comrie will probably disagree since they apparently >>> both believe that any connection between the meaning of 'habitual' >>> and habitual, THE LINGUISTIC TERM, is purely coincidental. I find >>> this absolutely incredible! What possible benefit can be gained by >>> *re*-defining words contrary to their established meanings? [LT responded] >> Nobody is doing any such thing. Once again, you are confusing >> linguistic forms with real-world states of affairs -- a fatal error. >> Also, or perhaps or, you are confusing linguistic terms with ordinary >> English words -- another fatal error. [PR interjects] In whatever world you may care to operate, I prefer to operate in the real-world. And since I am still here writing to you, how "fatal" an error could this be? [LT continued] >> Take the case of work', which is both an everyday word and a technical >> term in physics. The everyday sense is not at all equivalent to the >> precisely defined physical sense, as any physics teacher knows (I used >> to be one), and as every physics student must learn if he wants to get >> anywhere. It's the same with linguistic terms: there is no requirement >> that our technical term habitual' must be equivalent to the everyday >> word habitual', and in fact it isn't. [PR interjects again] Your dictionary defines 'habitual' as "The aspect category which expresses an action which is regularly or consistently performed by some entity". AHD defines 'habitual' as "of the nature of a habit; done constanttly or repeatedly". Frankly, I do not see your "linguistic" definition breaking a new path through the forest. [LT continued] >> Example: >> Lisa smoked in those days.' >> This has a habitual interpretation, but it does not have the form of an >> overt habitual. [PR] Yes, it *may* have a habitual interpretation though 'Lisa always smoked in those days' would make the habituality explicit. Even 'Lisa was used to smoking in those days' would be clearer but with a slightly different nuance. You are conflating an ideational category with the form by which it is expressed in a given language. 'Habituality' is *always* the same idea; only its overt expression varies from language to language. Pat PATRICK C. RYAN | PROTO-LANGUAGE at email.msn.com (501) 227-9947 * 9115 W. 34th St. Little Rock, AR 72204-4441 USA WEBPAGES: PROTO-LANGUAGE: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2803/index.html and PROTO-RELIGION: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2803/proto-religion/indexR.html "Veit ek, at ek hekk, vindga meipi, nftr allar nmu, geiri undapr . . . a ~eim meipi er mangi veit hvers hann af rstum renn." (Havamal 138) From proto-language at email.msn.com Mon Sep 27 00:30:15 1999 From: proto-language at email.msn.com (Patrick C. Ryan) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 00:30:15 -0000 Subject: Perfective-Imperfective (3) - Possessives Message-ID: ----- Original Message ----- From: Larry Trask Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 1999 1:25 PM [ moderator snip ] [LT responded] > OK; some facts. First, Beekes does not use the term possessive > pronoun' at all in the passage cited by Ryan: he uses only the term > possessive', which no one can object to. Hence Ryan's rather snide > comments are pointless. [PR interjects] Well, fact: Beekes does not use "determiner"; fact: "possessive" is defined in AHD as: "of, pertaining to, or *designating* a noun or pronoun case that expresses belong or other similar relation". [LT continued] > Second, Beekes is talking about PIE, while I was talking about English. [PR interjects] So what? [LT continued] > Whatever may be the case in PIE, or in any other language, the facts of > English are clear: words like my' and your' are not pronouns, but > determiners. Possessive determiners, of course, but determiners. > This is easy to see, using a frame for noun phrases: > ___ was nice. (singular); ___ were nice. (plural) > Real pronouns can go into these blanks to make good sentences: She was > nice; It was nice; They were nice; Something was nice; Nothing was nice; > That was nice; and so on. This is also true for the *real* possessive > pronouns in English: Mine was nice; Ours was nice. > But it doesn't work with the determiners: *My was nice; *Your was nice; > *Our was nice. [PR] Possessive pronouns (BT = Before Trask) have two forms: an adjectival use: 'her', etc. and nominal use: 'hers'. In casual speech, one might hear: 'My one was nice'; and 'His was nice'. Of course, *mine* ears have heard a certain amount of overlap between forms used for each of these two major employments. Now, if we say 'His was nice', the 'his' stands for a possessive N like 'John's'. The 'his', or 'her(s)', must have a nominal referent; and it stands for ('pro') this nominal referent. Now I have no great objection to terming "her" a "possessive determiner" but using this terminology eliminates the interesting connection with pronouns, which I find superfluously disadvantageous. Pat PATRICK C. RYAN | PROTO-LANGUAGE at email.msn.com (501) 227-9947 * 9115 W. 34th St. Little Rock, AR 72204-4441 USA WEBPAGES: PROTO-LANGUAGE: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2803/index.html and PROTO-RELIGION: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2803/proto-religion/indexR.html "Veit ek, at ek hekk, vindga meipi, nftr allar nmu, geiri undapr . . . a ~eim meipi er mangi veit hvers hann af rstum renn." (Havamal 138) From JoatSimeon at aol.com Mon Sep 27 07:19:56 1999 From: JoatSimeon at aol.com (JoatSimeon at aol.com) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 03:19:56 EDT Subject: Pre-Greek languages Message-ID: >sarant at village.uunet.lu writes: >But if we assume Linear B is Greek (and I believe this is considered >proven), it becomes rather self-evident that Linear A is also Greek. As I >say, this is unscientific, and a mere gut feeling. >> -- I'm afraid not. Linear B is a terrible script in which to write Greek. Clumsy, ambiguous, and so limited that it would be practically impossible to use it for anything but short sentences and lists. The general consensus that the language written in Linear A script is not Greek is based, not least, on the fact that the related Linear B is so hopelessly inefficient as a medium for Greek, or any language much like Greek. What can one say about a script in which the closest you can get to "anthropos" is a-to-ro-po-se? Cuneiform would be better. From mcv at wxs.nl Mon Sep 27 07:34:16 1999 From: mcv at wxs.nl (Miguel Carrasquer Vidal) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 07:34:16 GMT Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (fwd) In-Reply-To: <004201bf0676$f964bea0$9603703e@edsel> Message-ID: "Eduard Selleslagh" wrote: >It always looked to me as if the specialists were at a loss to come up with a >good IE etymology of (and the verb , 'to smoke'). The >relatively well-known etymologies you cite are rather difficult to defend in a >straightforward way: among themselves, the Lithuanian, Latin and Gothic words >are consistent with a common ascendance (root: kuep-, with long e) (even >though Lat. vapor ought to be 'quapor'?), but is hard to fit into the >series: why isn't the kv/hw/v (actually /w/) /p/ in Greek, as it should? This root has initial ku-, which we can assume gives /k/ in Greek (unlike labiovelar *kw and palatal + glide *k^u, which merge into /p/, at least before /a/ and /o/). There are no counterexamples, as far as I know. ======================= Miguel Carrasquer Vidal mcv at wxs.nl From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 27 07:43:40 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 08:43:40 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Sat, 25 Sep 1999, Max Dashu wrote: > Along similar lines, what's your take on Mari: has this name been > assimilated from Maria, or does it have older folk roots? The former > has seemed likely to me, but then Andra Mari has a rather different > character than the Virgin Mary. The name Mari', the name of a semi-divine woman who enforces her own non-Christian moral code and who is associated with particular locations (notably the mountain of Anboto), is a great puzzle. The character gives every appearance of being non-Christian and even pre-Christian, and she may represent some kind of continuation of the ancient Basque pagan religion (the Basques did not accept Christianity before the tenth century). But the name is difficult, because its form is not consistent with ancient status in the language. In particular, initial /m/ normally only occurs in native Basque words when this derives from */b/ in the configuration */bVn/ -- which hardly seems possible here. Since we have no evidence at all, we can only speculate. I personally find it hard to avoid the suspicion that the name has some kind of connection with the name of the Virgin: after all, is the usual Basque form of . Perhaps a coincidentally similar name has been contaminated, or perhaps the Christian name was adopted as a pseudonym, out of taboo or out of fear of the Church's wrath, or perhaps the name derives from some other non-Basque language now lost. Nobody knows. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 27 07:46:24 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 08:46:24 +0100 Subject: Excluding data In-Reply-To: <4.1.19990925142728.009b8cb0@blue.weeg.uiowa.edu> Message-ID: On Sat, 25 Sep 1999, Roslyn M. Frank wrote: > [LT] >> As I've pointed out before, the first goal is to identify those words >> with the strongest claims to being native and ancient -- not to make >> sure we include every word which might conceivably be native and >> ancient, since any attempt at this must inevitably sweep up an awful lot >> of words which are not ancient. First things first. > Who is "we"? I thought that Jon was doing one version of this > project(using a computer as an aid) and you were doing another > (using paper)?! Or at least I think that something to that effect > was stated in an earlier mailing. Well, we' here is anybody who is interested in reaching any conclusions about the nature of the Pre-Basque lexicon. If you want to work on the modern lexicon, that's a different matter, of course. But I've only ever been talking about the ancient lexicon, and, as far as I know, that's been the only topic of discussion on this list. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 27 08:08:27 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 09:08:27 +0100 Subject: Basque 'sei' In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Sat, 25 Sep 1999 s455152 at aix1.uottawa.ca wrote: > While I have the highest respect for professor Trask, I must disagree with > him on the impossibility of Basque SEI being a Romance loanword; see > below. [snip my doubts about a Romance origin for Basque six'] > According to Gerhard Rohlfs (LE GASCON: ETUDES DE PHILOLOGIE > PYRENEENNE, Second Edition (1970), p.145) final -s shifts to -j when > followed by a voiced plosive, a liquid or a nasal: this is > especially frequent in Eastern Gascon, and Rolfs quotes such > examples as ERAY DUOY RODOS "the two wheels" (instead of ERAS DUOS > RODOS): this -s to -j shift is also found in Bearnese, which is > close enough to the Basque country. Now, according to the ALF, map > 1235, the word for "six" in the area is found under various forms, > /ses/ and /seis/ being the most common. One would therefore expect > forms such as /sej/, /seij/ in front of voiced plosives, liquids and > nasals, and if Basque had borrowed such a form (perhaps from an > expression such as "six times", which I would expect to be something > like /sej betses/ in Gascon), the attested phonological form (SEI) > would be *EXACTLY* what one would expect. This is very interesting, and I thank Stephane for the information. Oddly, I've read a good deal of Rohlfs' work on Basque, but I can't recall that he ever raises this possibility in his Vasconist work. > There may be good reason not to believe SEI to be a Romance > loanword, but on the basis of the above, it is plain that its > phonological form is not one of them. Well, no. I'm afraid this conclusion is too strong. First, the suggested scenario is rather convoluted, and it requires a very particular sequence of events: the borrowing, not of the counting numeral, as is most usual in borrowing numeral-names, but of a specific expression which is nowhere attested in Basque, followed by an extraction within Basque of a conditioned variant of the numeral-name not found in isolation in the source language. Not impossible, I guess, but not exactly a straightforward analysis, either. Second, there's the problem of the sibilant. Basque has two contrasting voiceless alveolar sibilants: a laminal, notated , and an apical, notated . Now, in early loans from Latin, Latin /s/ is almost always rendered as the laminal . The same is true at all periods of loans from Gallo-Romance: the laminal /s/ of Occitan and French is rather consistently rendered by the Basque laminal , not by the apical . In contrast, the apical /s/ of Ibero-Romance is equally consistently rendered by the Basque apical . We therefore have a problem: a Gascon */sej-X/ should have come into Basque as, at best, *, and not *. But no such form as the expected * is recorded anywhere: is the only form attested in Basque. Nor can we appeal to contamination from adjacent numeral-names: the number-names for 5, 6, 7, 8, 9' in Basque are , , , , -- all with laminals except . (The other number-names contain no sibilants.) Hence the scenario described above further requires that, in this case, instead of the normal treatment of Occitan /s/ as Basque , /s/ was exceptionally borrowed as . I don't suppose any of this is impossible, but, taken together, it appears to me to constitute a very dubious case -- especially since all the other Basque names of lower numerals are native. I still think the Basque-Romance resemblance here is best regarded as being on a par with cases like English much' and Spanish much', English bad' and Persian bad', and English him' and Laz (Kartvelian) him'. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 27 08:12:52 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 09:12:52 +0100 Subject: Excluding data In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Sun, 26 Sep 1999, Jens Elmegaard Rasmussen wrote: [LT] >> Take any decent dictionary of English published around 1900. How many >> of the words entered in it existed in Old English, only about 1000 years >> ago? Not many. Why should Basque be different? (And the Pre-Basque >> I'm interested in dates back to about 2000 years ago.) > But take any dictionary of Icelandic and ask how many of its words > existed in Old Norse. The answer is, practically all! And it is > probably a fair statement that, adding proper sound changes, you may > even push that back to Proto-Germanic. I guess English and Icelandic > are both relatively extreme cases. Where Basque stands between the > two poles must be looked into with an open mind, as I suppose you > have already done. Indeed, though not just me. Icelandic is beyond question a special case. English is arguably another, though not so clearly as Icelandic. But, in the Basque case, there is no doubt at all: the overwhelming majority of the words in any modern Basque dictionary did not exist 2000 years ago. In a modern Basque dictionary, we can find not just whole pages, but lengthy sequences of pages, containing not a single lexical item that can plausibly be projected back to Pre-Basque. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 27 09:33:59 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 10:33:59 +0100 Subject: Pre-Greek languages In-Reply-To: <3.0.1.32.19990926221719.0076a1f8@l.pop.uunet.lu> Message-ID: On Sun, 26 Sep 1999, Nikos Sarantakos wrote: [on a recent suggestion that Linear A conceals Greek] > It is easy to dismiss all that as nationalistic or plain ravings, > but I for one would want to hear more. In fact, my gut feeling > (totally unscientific) is that Linear A is most probably Greek. With > the (enormous) benefit of hindsight, it seems to me preposterously > nearsighted that all the scientific community before Ventrys (and > Ventrys himself, almost up to the end) refused to consider the > hypothesis of Linear B being Greek. True, but Ventris was eventually forced into this conclusion by his data. This is a striking case of the data forcing an investigator into a conclusion he was never interested in reaching. This fact alone sets Ventris's work apart from the numerous cases of eager decipherers "finding" what they always wanted to find. Anyway, it is an overstatement to say that "all the scientific community before Ventris" refused to consider the possibility that Linear B was Greek. There were always a number of archaeologists who favored the view that Linear B was Greek. Most prominent here was the Briton A. J. B. Wace, who actively defended the idea. And Carl Blegen's discovery of Linear B tablets on the Greek mainland encouraged this view in archaeological quarters. Much of the trouble seems to have stemmed from the views of Sir Arthur Evans, who, for his own reasons, didn't want to find Greeks in Bronze Age Crete. He was extremely hostile to the interpretation of Linear B as Greek, and he used all of his considerable influence to oppose it. I have read that Evans persecuted Wace to such a degree that Wace was forced out of Greek archaeology altogether. Evans also, I'm told, made every effort to restrict access to the Linear B tablets to the circle of those who agreed with him that Linear B could not be Greek. Those with a different view simply could not get access to the Cretan materials. Accordingly, it was only after Evans's death in 1941 that it finally became possible for other scholars to examine the tablets, leading to Kober's work in the 1940s and then Ventris's in the early 1950s. An aside. All this is highly reminiscent of the story Michael Coe tells about the decipherment of the Mayan inscriptions in his book Breaking the Maya Code. In Coe's account, Sir Eric Thompson, the dean of Mayan studies, was implacably opposed to the view that the Mayan glyphs represented a perfectly ordinary writing system designed for a Mayan language, and he too used all of his enormous influence to oppose this view, to persecute scholars who espoused it, and to deny such scholars access to the material. Accordingly, it was only after his death in 1975 that the linguists could gain real access to the texts, after which the decipherment proceeded rapidly. As for Linear A, my very scanty knowledge of it suggests that it lacks the kind of sets identified in Linear B by Alice Kober before Ventris's work, the sets which proved to represent different inflected forms of single words or names. Anybody know anything definite about this? If this is correct, then it militates against any identification of Linear A as Greek, or perhaps as any language inflected in the typical IE fashion. > But if we assume Linear B is Greek (and I believe this is considered > proven), That's certainly my impression! > it becomes rather self-evident that Linear A is also Greek. Why "self-evident"? I'm afraid I don't follow. Why should the Greeks use Linear A to write their language for a while, and then abruptly replace it with the rather different Linear B, a system of the same general kind? Writing systems are notoriously conservative, and users are typically reluctant to make even the most obvious and necessary changes. Surely the "self-evident" view is the one that seems to be most widely accepted. The Greeks reached the Aegean, found a people already there speaking an alien language and writing it in Linear A. They took over this writing system, but found it excessively awkward for writing their own language, so they modified it to make it more suitable, and the result was Linear B. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 27 10:48:25 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 11:48:25 +0100 Subject: Perfective-Imperfective In-Reply-To: <001d01bf0823$60902440\$519ffad0@oemcomputer> Message-ID: Well, I see little point in continuing this increasingly dreary discussion, but perhaps I might correct one or two misunderstandings. [LT] >> First-person effects are pervasive in English, and must be factored out >> of our analyses. > Vintage Larry. Red herring. Without explaining the "first person > effects" (outside of Appalachia, I think we would say "AFFECT"), > Larry implies that this discounts my assertion of the normal > understanding of the phrase "used to VP" (="no longer VP"). Any of > the examples I used are applicable in any person! Two things. First, here and elsewhere, Pat Ryan appears to be laboring under the view that I speak Appalachian English. Not so, I'm afraid. I come from western New York State, and my variety of English is classified in the standard dialect map as a western-NYS variety of the Northern dialect group. In fact, I am frequently taken by Brits, and occasionally by Americans, for a Canadian, because my accent has several features regarded as typically Canadian, even though I don't have the cot'/caught' merger -- a dead giveaway that I can't be Canadian. Interestingly, when I met Roger Lass, he listened to me for a bit, and then told me I must come from the far north of the USA but east of Michigan -- spot on, as it happens. Appalachian English is no more familiar to me than it is to the average Brooklynite. Second, I note that Mr. Ryan has attempted to correct my phrase first-person effects' to *first-person affects'. And this is the man who accused Bernard Comrie of having an inadequate command of English. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au Mon Sep 27 08:53:43 1999 From: jonpat at staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Jon Patrick) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 18:53:43 +1000 Subject: Excluding data In-Reply-To: Your message of "Wed, 22 Sep 1999 10:13:04 +0100." Message-ID: [ moderator re-formatted ] > Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 10:13:04 +0100 (BST) > From: Larry Trask > On Fri, 17 Sep 1999, Jon Patrick wrote: > [on my comments on Basque sound of a heartbeat'] >> This comment is a red herring. My commentaries were not about the >> inclusion or exclusion of this word in the analysis but that your >> criteria have high correlation with a model of the phonology that >> you object to being re-analysed from a different perspective. I apologise for this statement it should have read "may have high correlation" > Jon, I am baffled by your persistence on this point. > I have made it perfectly clear that my criteria for selecting words are > non-phonological in nature, as indeed they must be. I agree you have made this point. > I cannot possibly > select words according to predetermined phonological criteria in order > to make a study of the phonological properties of the result: that would > be pointless. I agree it would be entirely unilluminating as it would produce a circular result. I'm concerned that the current extent of the thesis on early Basque phonology is already based on the subset of data restricted by your non-phonological criteria. This thesis is the basis of many of your comments as immediately below and I muse over the question which should come first, the rules that declare a word's form to be "curious" or the systematic and rigourous analysis of all the words. > I exclude because of its very late first attestation and because > of its limited distribution in the language. That the word has such a > curious phonological form does not surprise me, but its form has nothing > to do with its exclusion. > But I'm not interested in "the whole picture". I'm only interested in > the forms of Pre-Basque words, and the vast majority of modern Basque > words did not exist in Pre-Basque. Well I'm interested in the "whole picture" of early basque. > Anyway, we have no words which are "only ancient Basque". If a word is > not recorded in the historical period, then it simply does not exist, as > far as we are concerned, and it is not available for examination. Too true, we onyl know somethign is "early' because we have something that we believe is modern equivalent. For the most part the story begins in the now and is developed backwards in time- you know that- I know that- and so the Azkue list is an important step along the way, in fact it is one of the major stopping off points. > [LT] >>> But the generalizations can come only after the list has been compiled >>> in the first place. We are talking about how the list should be >>> compiled, not about the generalizations that will emerge from it -- >>> though, as I have pointed out often, I *think* I have a pretty good idea >>> what those generalizations will look like -- though I'm prepared to be >>> surprised on occasion. But, once more: I *never* exclude a word from my >>> list because it doesn't match any generalizations about form which I may >>> have in mind. >> I've never asserted that you did. However I do think that your >> criteria are designed to create an analysis that is more strongly >> consistent with the generalisations you "think you have a pretty >> good idea" about. > I flatly deny this, and I challenge you to back up your assertion. Ok tell us what all your "pretty good ideas are" and we will see how much of it you revise in your future presentations. >> My comment is that the human mind is more frail >> than we give it credit and a computer based analaysis helps us be >> more rigorous in our undertakings. It is unwarranted that you imply >> I present it as a tool of magic. > What I'm objecting to is your apparent suggestion that taking the words > off the page and putting them into a database on a computer somehow > frees us from the necessity of choosing criteria for selecting words for > whatever purpose we have in mind. I've never said that Larry and In fact I believe I've indicated quite the opposite. > Databases are easier to work with > than paper, but they are useless until we choose to do something with > them, and that means selection according to criteria determined by the > human investigator. I agree entirely. In fact I know about that problem better than most -its part of my job - Information Systems. >> I think we have seen an example of >> the extensiveness if not rigour of method that the computer can >> assist us with from the small analysis of the consonant cluster >> <-ltz> I presented in the previous message. > I have already agreed that it is helpful to have a convenient and fast > way of answering questions like "what attested Basque words end in > <-ltz>?" But the result obtained is meaningless until it is > interpreted. In this case, it is trivial to show that, of the four > words turned up, only black' can plausibly be projected back to > an early stage in a form exhibiting this final cluster -- exactly the > conclusion I had already reached without using a database. And without analysisng the data, I may say. Next time you may not be so fortunate -which is exactly my point - the computer helps us do a much more rigorous and comprehensive analysis. Jon ______________________________________________________________ The meaning of your communication is the response you get From edsel at glo.be Mon Sep 27 13:32:04 1999 From: edsel at glo.be (Eduard Selleslagh) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 15:32:04 +0200 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (fwd) Message-ID: -----Original Message----- From: Larry Trask Date: Monday, September 27, 1999 10:24 AM >On Fri, 24 Sep 1999, Eduard Selleslagh wrote: [snip] >> Supposing KE is derived from KAPNÓS, that is. >How could it be? The Basque word looks nothing like the Greek word. >The central problem here is that initial /k/ in Basque, which simply >should not exist, *regardless* of the origin of the word. [Ed Selleslagh] I meant that Bq. ke was derived from the first syllable (the second, IMHO from -pneu-) KA- as I explained in my first post. Your second remark about the initial K-: maybe it should not exist, but it does. Maybe it's that what points to it being a loan. >Anyway, I repeat: if Greek had somehow been borrowed into >early Basque, it could not possibly have entered Basque in the form >*. The single segment shared by the two words is the one that could >not have existed in early Basque: that initial /k/. [Ed] That depends on when it entered Basque. >> On the other hand, the first syllable of Gr. KAPNÓS may be of a >> common non-IE origin. >Perhaps, but why is this relevant to Basque? [Ed] Because I meant 'common to Basque and Greek'. I was thinking of Vennemann's 'Vasconic' vel sim. >>>> 2. If it is of IE origin, maybe via ancient Greek, the aspiration >>>> would be secondary, I think. >[LT] >>> The Basque aspiration appears to be generally of suprasegmental origin >>> anyway, and not of segmental origin. >> As you said, 'generally'. >Yes, but I see no reason to suppose that northern is an exception. [Ed] In what way? Which are the other segments? Ed. From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 27 14:16:25 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 15:16:25 +0100 Subject: Pre-Basque phonology (part 2) In-Reply-To: <37ee7165.6642402@mail.wxs.nl> Message-ID: On Sun, 26 Sep 1999, Miguel Carrasquer Vidal wrote: [LT] >> Anyway, a sequence * > * > is not something I've ever >> seen before in any language. > Turning this around, the -be ~ -pe alternation (and similar > cases, maybe even "smoke") might stem from -behe > -bhe > -pe. Well, maybe, but there's no evidence for such a thing. Anyway, there is no great mystery about the appearance of as a suffix <-pe>. When occurs as the second element in a word, it must lose its aspiration, because the aspiration cannot occur later than the onset of the second syllable. The resulting *<-bee> is very naturally reduced to <-be>: this sort of thing is not only natural but quite usual in Basque. Note, for example, sieve', which is regularly reduced to <-bae> or <-be> when it forms the second element of a compound, as in fine sieve', from silk' plus . Now, when <-be> follows a voiceless sibilant, it undergoes regular devoicing to <-pe> -- a universal process in Basque. And then the variant <-pe> is extended analogically to other environments. Such extension of devoiced alternants is commonplace in Basque. So I don't really think there's any mystery here that requires exotic phonological speculations. Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 27 14:55:24 1999 From: larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Larry Trask) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 15:55:24 +0100 Subject: Excluding data (PS) In-Reply-To: Message-ID: On Sun, 26 Sep 1999, Jens Elmegaard Rasmussen wrote: > But take any dictionary of Icelandic and ask how many of its words > existed in Old Norse. The answer is, practically all! I've just realized I have a query about this. Is it literally true that "practically all" of the words in a dictionary of modern Icelandic existed in Old Norse? Or is it only true that the *elements* of most modern words existed in Old Norse? The language of a modern technological society requires a vast number of words which are unlikely to have existed in Old Norse -- at least, in the relevant sense. Presumably modern Icelandic has words for photon', cantilever bridge', carburetor', stealth bomber', radium', gene', molecule', miniskirt', strip-tease', ski pole', skateboard', morpheme', metalanguage', piezoelectricity', pyramid selling', stock market', and zillions of other things which were unknown to the Vikings. One way or another, then, a comprehensive dictionary of modern Icelandic must contain an awful lot of words which did not exist in Old Norse -- even if such words are typically *constructed* in Icelandic from native elements. On top of this, what of the very large number of names for plants, animals, foods and drinks that the Vikings didn't know about? What about the Icelandic words for banana', avocado', whiskey', cola', hamburger', aardvark', kangaroo', gorilla', `skunk', and so forth? Larry Trask COGS University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9QH UK larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk From X99Lynx at aol.com Mon Sep 27 15:41:08 1999 From: X99Lynx at aol.com (X99Lynx at aol.com) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 11:41:08 EDT Subject: NEWS re Black Sea Flood Message-ID: This subject has been mentioned before on the list and may be of interest to some list members. Aside from matters of chronology, the accuracy of ancient traditions and perhaps even language paths and contacts, the designation of the Black Sea as a "lake" by ancient writers has long raised questions among historians. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/news/pages/Times/timfgnusa02001.html?999 (watch the wrap.) <> Steve Long From maxw at cogs.susx.ac.uk Mon Sep 27 16:03:01 1999 From: maxw at cogs.susx.ac.uk (Max Wheeler) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 17:03:01 +0100 Subject: Basque 'sei' Message-ID: -- Begin original message -- [Stephane Goyette] > From: > Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 16:36:35 -0400 (EDT) > According to Gerhard Rohlfs (LE GASCON: ETUDES DE PHILOLOGIE PYRENEENNE, > Second Edition (1970), p.145) final -s shifts to -j when followed by a > voiced plosive, a liquid or a nasal: this is especially frequent in > Eastern Gascon, and Rolfs quotes such examples as ERAY DUOY RODOS "the two > wheels" (instead of ERAS DUOS RODOS): this -s to -j shift is also found in > Bearnese, which is close enough to the Basque country. Now, according to > the ALF, map 1235, the word for "six" in the area is found under various > forms, /ses/ and /seis/ being the most common. One would therefore expect > forms such as /sej/, /seij/ in front of voiced plosives, liquids and > nasals, and if Basque had borrowed such a form (perhaps from an expression > such as "six times", which I would expect to be something like /sej > betses/ in Gascon), the attested phonological form (SEI) would be > *EXACTLY* what one would expect. > There may be good reason not to believe SEI to be a Romance loanword, but > on the basis of the above, it is plain that its phonological form is not one > of them. -- End original message -- Hold on a bit, we need to look at relative dating here. For how long has [sej] or similar been one of the allomorphs of 'six' in Gascon? The vocalization of /-s/ in some environments is common to all of Occitan (though not everywhere exactly the same environments, nor similar proportions everywhere). But it is relatively recent, i.e. post-Medieval, as far as one can tell. At what date is 'six' first attested in Basque, I wonder? In Gascon [sej], as mentioned above, is a conditioned variant, before a small minority of the words before which 'six' can occur. If a low cardinal number is to be borrowed, isn't it far more likely to be the citation form, than a minor conditioned variant? Max Wheeler ______________________________________________________________ Max W. Wheeler School of Cognitive & Computing Sciences University of Sussex Falmer BRIGHTON BN1 9QH, G.B. Tel: +44 (0)1273 678975 Fax: +44 (0)1273 671320 Email: maxw at cogs.susx.ac.uk ______________________________________________________________ From ECOLING at aol.com Mon Sep 27 16:07:40 1999 From: ECOLING at aol.com (ECOLING at aol.com) Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 12:07:40 EDT Subject: Contributions by Steve Long Message-ID: This message is about positive contributions which Steve Long has made to our field, in discussions on this list. Most of those contributions have to do with the PRESENTATION of the results of comparative-historical linguistics to those who may or may not be actively involved in the field, so we should be grateful to Steve for bringing these to our attention. I do not like the fact that the title of the message is "ad hominem", to the extent that it mentions a particular member's name, but since this message is both about the content and about respectful treatment for a member of our list who has made positive contributions, I cannot think of a better title. *** I find the recent discussions on the IE list disturbing, because of the failure to come to grips with real issues raised by participant Steve Long, because of the treatment of him as if he were an ignorant child, by others assuming he could not possibly have a valid point when he questions the way things have been done for years. Quite on the contrary, judging purely from the logic of the reasoning presented and my specialist knowledge as a trained PhD linguist (*see below), I believe Steve Long has won the argument on several points. The rest of this message refers ONLY to those several points, not to other areas in which I might agree he lacks knowledge. It is our obligation to treat people with respect and to try to find the positive and valuable in what they contribute. What perhaps first frustrated people with Steve Long was his not assuming that some kinds of innovations could go only in one direction, or that there was actually sufficient data and analysis available to demonstrate where the root of the IE tree should be placed, or that there were innovations on the branches of the tree which were not labeled (the "stem"), or other matters similar to these. However, in several of these areas, his persistence has nevertheless been valuable, by pointing to weak links in our publicly presented reasoning, potentially also in the reasoning itself, however inconvenient this may be to professionals. It is important that professionals in any field should be able to explain their actual reasoning without inadvertently omitting or hiding important links. Communication with non-experts in whatever fields is very healthy for this reason, among others. Steve Long has also done rather well to persist despite the treatment he has received. That in no way means that I think he is right about everything, nor that he is equivalent to a trained professional in various fields. His persistence in questioning what he is being told does NOT display lack of respect for those he is conversing with (unless one means that he is supposed to display respect simply by accepting what he is told). The many red herrings that have been introduced also put him at a considerable disadvantage, asking him to produce examples which were not even needed, when he does not have the expert knowledge to get the best examples, and then focusing on what he gets wrong. These deflected the discussions from his original points. *** Here are the items on which I think Steve Long's contributions have been to the point, or his questions have implied a correct understanding, one different from what we usually take for granted. I have succeeded in learning from the discussions provoked by him, AND IN THAT RESPECT FROM HIM, as well as from the others on this list. Point 1. Family Tree representations can be much improved. Steve Long's contributions have shown that the types of family tree diagrams which we are accustomed to using in our tradition DO NOT adequately represent even the locations of innovations on which such trees are by all accounts theoretically based, not even whether innovations occur or do not occur on particular branches! I have noted details in a previous message, suggesting what we might do about this. I will certainly think twice before producing or reproducing further family trees which do not show such information! I have certainly learned some specific examples of how communication by all of us professional linguists (myself included, as I have used family trees) is at times ineffective or objectively misleading or even false. *** Point 2. Parent and daugher languages can indeed in theory co-exist, exactly as Steve Long said. I use here the definition of distinctness of "languages" preferred by most linguists, including the experts on this list, that is, fuzzily, "forms of speech which are mutually unintelligible". Using that definition, Steve was right. The fact that there is no sharp line is of no concern here, because we can work with clear cases not the fuzzy boundary. Since this definition has been advocated by participants on this list in other contexts, it is certainly not logical to change the definition away from this one in trying to defeat Steve Long's points. As noted explicitly also by one other member of this list, Peter Gray the discussion seems to have degener