(Fwd) Re: disinformation on Uralic

Johanna Laakso johanna.laakso at univie.ac.at
Thu Sep 6 13:52:55 UTC 2001


Trond Trosterud <trond.trosterud at hum.uit.no> wrote:

> Fejes László showed, in an interesting follow-up to Johanna's call, that
> Lytkin, of all persons, figures as a candidate for the "disinformation on
> Uralic" series, by some Komi disinformation.
> This was not what Johanna had in mind, of course. Rather than being a
> theoretician with too little insight in the facts, Lytkin turned out to be
> the opposite:  a lg specialist paying too little attention to the
> theoretical fundament of his own statements, in this case, ignoring to
> think thoroughly through what a compound is and is not, before turning to
> such an irrelevant factor (especially irrelevant for a lg with a new and
> marginalised written lg!) as the orthographical shape of the words. Such an
> argument is irrelevant at best, of course (what would have been the status
> of the Komi word with I.A. Kuratov's theories dominating, 'Komi as an
> isolating lg', for example, thanks to my first Komi teacher, Johanna
> herself :-) by the way, we really had an interesting course in Hki back
> then.
> Lytkin's "comon vocabulary statement" was perhaps a subjective impression
> of a historically oriented linguist, perhaps wishful thinking.
> Still, I think Fejes László has a point, far more serious than johanna's
> original one. It is of course embarassing that general linguists present
> incorrect statements on uralic (or any other) lgs, but in cases where the
> primary literature is the root to confusion (as here) general linguists are
> really lost. Whom are they to trust, if not Lytkin? We know the answer of
> course: Lytkin's later collegues. It is on us to push the front line of
> research forward. A general advice to the general linguists would of course
> be to check what Lytkin meant by the word "compound", that would quickly
> have reduced the reliability of his statements to where it belongs. (I
> choose to hope that in most case we all go behind the terms before we quote
> our collegues blindly.)
> As for compounds, the task is not easy. A first advice would be to
> recognize the areal phenomenon: I find the same gray area of compounding in
> Mari and Turkish as well. Experience has taught at least me to look for
> relevant literature for the more thoroughly studied lgs. Whereas semantics
> of course tells us whether we have a lexicalised unit A&B, it does not tell
> whether this unit is one word (AB, rautatie) or two (A B, zheleznaja
> doroga). "word" is a bad word here, of course, i am talking about, well
> both lexeme and word form, but the criteria should not be morphological
> ("Uudellamaalla" as one word), but rather phonological (prosody), and
> perhaps syntactical (no adverbs inbetween, etc.), hence geared towards the
> word form. A further path should be the search for hapax logomena as done
> by Harald Bayaan and his collegues, we are slowly getting more electronic
> corpora for the uralic lgs, making such work possible also for us.
> Still, Lytkin's statement does not fit johanna's (dis)information project,
> rather, it exemplifies the opposite (and equally serious) problem of lg
> experts failing to think twice.
> Trond Trosterud
> -------------------------------------------------------------------
> Trond Trosterud                                     t +47 7764 4763
> Samisk institutt, det humanistiske fakultet         h +47 7767 3639
> N-9037 Universitetet i Tromsø, Noreg                f +47 7764 4239
> Trond.Trosterud at hum.uit.no           http://www.hum.uit.no/a/trond/
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