Etruscan / Pelasgian

Douglas G Kilday acnasvers at
Sat Apr 21 20:23:30 UTC 2001

JoatSimeon at (17 Apr 2001) wrote:

>I think it might be productive if we were to avoid building mighty theories
>on a couple of place-names and ethnonyms.  The fact of the matter is that
>"Pelasgian" is a hypothesis, and that the pre-IE, pre-Greek linguistic
>history of the Aegean lands is unrecoverable.

>All we have are some common place-names in Greece and western Anatolia.
>They're subject to multiple interpretation, and none of the interpretations
>is falsifiable -- which is to say, they're all meaningless.

"Indo-European" is also a hypothesis. All we have are some common lexemes in
a few of the world's languages. If the square-wheel sophistry of
"unfalsifiability" applies to Pelasgian, then it applies equally well to IE,
and everything posted on this list is meaningless.

>It's irritating, but entropy does destroy information.  We can do a great
>deal with archaeology, and with comparative/historical linguistics, but
>ultimately one runs out of evidence.

>After that, it's all wheel-spinning.  We should avoid hubris and simply say
>"we don't know, and failing new evidence, we never will".

Not knowing is usually not the product of "failing new evidence", but of
failing to look critically at existing evidence. The IE hypothesis wasn't
motivated by the "discovery" of Sanskrit, but by the critical analysis of
"familiar" languages.

Who has the hubris in this picture? The comparativist who recognizes the
potential of working with substratal material, or the reductionist who fears
monkey-wrenches being thrown into his super-simple model of the Neolithic in
Anatolia and Europe?


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