About the estimates of divergence times of Uralic languages
inessivus at gmail.com
Tue Sep 28 13:40:24 UTC 2010
In 1991, the archaeologist Prof. Dr. János Makkay published an interesting article: "Az uráli–finnugor őstörténet néhány kérdése az indoeurópai őstörténet szemszögéből", Századok 125, 1991, pp. 3-32, " (i.e. Questions of the prehistory of the Uralic–Finno-Ugric peoples as seen from the viewpoints of prehistoric archaeology), where he wrote this very ironic sentence:
"... míg e század elején általában elfogadott volt, hogy egy IE alapnyelvi állapot valamikor az i.e. 3. évezredben állhatott fenn, manapság már legalább az 5., de általában még korábbi évezredre szokás keltezni. Hasonló a helyzet az U-FU nyelvi folyamatok keltezésével is. Rontja a helyzetet, hogy főleg a filológusok nem határozzák meg, hogy becsült időadataik milyen keltezési rendszeren (hagyományos, egyszerű radiokarbon, helyesbített = kalibrált radiokarbon) alapszanak."
In a very rough English translation it would sound more or less as follows:
... while at the beginning of this century it was generally accepted that the status of the Indo-European proto-language might have been in existence in the 3rd millennium BCE, nowadays the dateline is shifted to the 5th millennium or even earlier. The situation of the dating of the Uralic/Finno-Ugric course of events is similar. The situation is worsened by the fact that the philologists in particular do not mention on which dating system (i.e. traditional, simple radiocarbon, calibrated radiocarbon dating) they base their esteemed data...
IMVHO, dating is pushed back and forth on the timelines according to the spur of the moment,. Every "calibration" is highly hypothetic being based, as it is, on the (very personal and disputable) opinion of single researchers and not on substantial data.
On Sep 28, 2010, at 1:01 PM, Terhi Honkola wrote:
> Hello everyone,
> I´m a PhD student in a research group called BEDLAN (Biological Evolution and the Diversification of Languages) where we analyse linguistic data with biological methods. For further information see http://kielievoluutio.uta.fi.
> The reason why I approach to you, the members of URA-LIST, now is that I have done lately timing analyses to the Uralic languages. An essential part in those analyses is the correct estimation of the calibration points. I have already gone through different sources (i.e. Sinor 1988, Abondolo 1998, Kallio 2006) where divergence times of languages have earlier been estimated and by now I have used the following calibration points:
> *Early Proto-Finnic: 2500 YBP (years before present) ± 500 years
> *Obugric 1700 YBP ± 200 years
> *Permic 1300 YBP ± 100 years
> Do you think that these calibration points with these error scales are appropriate or would you suggest us to use some other calibration points?
> I ask this as I believe research is done around this topic all the time and now I would like to hear your newest results about the divergence times of Uralic languages to see if, for example, the error scales of the timings could be narrowed. I was also hoping you could give me names of articles which I could read around this topic.
> I would appreciate your answers very much.
> With kind regards,
> Terhi Honkola
> Terhi Honkola
> PhD student
> Section of Ecology, Department of Biology
> University of Turku
> FIN-20014 TURKU
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