From: Piotr Gasiorowski
> >Piotr: But if you compare,say, the numerals of PIE and Proto-Quechua, you'll
> > >find evenmore spectacularly similar words for '5' and '6'; and if you
> > >take Proto-Austronesian and PIE, you'll find the correspondence >betweendeceptive arguement. The geographical proximity between
> >the words for '2' and '3' in both families quite literally too >good to be
> Glen: This is such a
> Uralicand Mongolic can hardly be compared to the other pairs you mention -
>this only serves to make their relationship seem more likely. This combined
> with common grammatical particles, vocabulary and grammar sharedbetween
> Uralic and Mongolic that show regular sound correspondances,besides just
> "three" and "four", makes the link even more persuasive.Many sources even
> admit to the probability that Altaic and Uralic arerelated (unlike your IE
> and Quechua/Austronesian pseudohypothesis thatonly serves to confuse the
> issue here)have a pair of numerals that correlate perfectly between two
> Thus, when we
> languagegroups already suspected of being related, we have to sit up and
> >Piotr: By "reaching down",i.e. using forms not from proto-languages but from
> > >theirarbitrarily chosen daughters you depart from the normal
> >procedure ofthe comparative method and greatly increase the >probability
> >ofa chance match, as in Greenberg's mass comparison (especially when you
> >work with very short roots such as *ra or *na).has evolved. Only "six" can now be said to be a "short" root.
> The theory
> Secondly,I don't arbitrarily choose daughters and "reach down" - you're
> creatingmyths. The attestations that I select are ones that show up in more
>than one language family (hence its hardly arbitrary). They also show
>regular sound changes which I'm beginning to understand more and more.
> >Piotr: Your admission thatthere is NO ATTESTATION AT ALL for the >reconstructed
> >numeral'8' is staggering. [...] As a matter of fact, >you abandon the
> >comparative method entirely in this case and simply >project yourNostratic
> >form onto Proto-Steppe by "inverted >reconstruction".[...] as far as I can
> >see, the corresponding >Sumerian,Dravidian and Afroasiatic numerals (if
> >reconstructable atanswer >is
> >all) can hardly be cognates. From what evidence and by what esoteric
> > >method did you distil your Nostratic reconstruction then? The
> >the same as before: you project a still more ancient(Dene->Caucasian) form
> >onto Nostratic -- ALL THE TIME WITHOUT ASHADOW OF >EVIDENCE.
>this numeral would ire you. First the
> Glen: Du calme, monsieur. I knew that
> logical assumption is that theremust have been some word for "eight" in
> ProtoSteppe if so many of theothers appear to be reconstructable. Thus I
> provided the likeliestreconstruction that I could come up with at the time.
>that you haven't even asked for the "shadow of evidence" but rather
>simply went straight for an emotional conclusion makes it appear that you
> are more interested in biased sentiment rather than rational thought.:(
> Semitic, Egyptian andDravidian. And yes, you're right, Nivkh /minr/ is an
> attestation ofSteppe *munra. I lost track of the Nivkh numerals in my head.
> >Piotr: If you relax it ad hoc(as you do for the numerals '3' and '4' in your
> > >response), yousabotage your own project. In the case at hand you make
> > >thingsfar worse by relaxing semantic constraints at the same time, as
> > >when you allow the '5' word for to mean '4' or '6' (even with so muchand have >to
> > >latitude you can't get an unambiguos reconstruction for '5'
> >be content with two different forms in freevariation).
>now securely *kit:u which
> Glen: The theory has adapted. The term for five is
> regularly changes to Altaic *t throughvowel harmony rules and softening
> of the voiceless stop *k. The Uralicphonetic deviation is caused by an
> early association between the pairs"one"/"two" and "five"/"six".
> IndoTyrrhenian *kWetWe (expected **ketWe)would naturally have been affected
> by the surrounding labiovelarenriched numerals *kWel "three" (Etr. ci) and
> *penkWe "five", as wellas "four"'s own final labial *tW. Why, it would be a
> miracle if it evercame out **ketWe under these circumstances!
> >Piotr: Your protoword for '5') develops the meaning '4' in >one
> >branch (Indo-Tyrrhenian) and'6' in another (Uralic). Oritur
> >quaestio, dominus Glen: is there aSteppe branch in which it means >just
> >what it's supposed tomean? Your answer is "Altaic" -- but in >actual fact
> >you onlymention Old Japanese. Let's look at the words >for '5' elsewhere
> >in Altaic: Mongolic *tabun, Tunguzic *tuNga, Korean >tast, Old TurkicbeS.
> >No good.The words are indeed attested in Middle
> What are you talking about Piotr??
> Mongolian ta-bun (cf. qur-ban,do"r-ban, etc!!). It is also present in
> Tungusic! Korean has /ta-sot/for *i"ti" just as it has /yo-sot/ for *ru,
> both with the -sottermination! Of course, Turkic has nothing to do with
> >Piotr:face="Courier New" size=2> I understand your private methodology well enough to see that it's
> > >self-defeating. By saying that it's better toreconstruct ANYTHING
> > >rather than nothing at all you ignore thedistinction between a >serious
> >proposal and unfoundedspeculation.
>the mainstream status quo of
> Piotr, aside from being highly bias in favor of
> complete ignorance and agnostism regardingprehistoric stages of
> reconstruction which only works against advancingknowledge, you also
> misunderstand that this theory isn't the end ofthings but a tentative
> proposal, as I keep saying. It will adapt as italready has and because of
> this, your statements are only founded forthe current stage of this theory
> which has already changed somewhat...so keep arguing :)
> >This is amisunderstanding of scientific methodology. The null >hypothesis
> >must always be as conservative as possible in order tounwarranted inferences. Thus, you can't start by ASSUMING that >the
> >Steppe families are related and what remains to discovered is just >HOWmuch of an assumption. I validly judge
> >they are related.
> The Steppe hypothesis is not
> relatedness based on thecommonalities of grammatical systems. The Steppe
> languages all exhibitcertain specific characteristics that distinguish them
> from otherlanguages of the Old/New World.
<quote>Glen: ... The evidence so far IS weak. This is because the ones that are competent enough to provide solid evidence have thrown the Nostratic Hypothesis out the window because it is too taboo and "weak" for their liking, rather than actually honestly examining the connections and putting aside irrelevant failures in the past by lunatic amateurs. We all know how political linguistics can be. <snip> ... </snip> Still, I maintain that the lack of success regarding the Nostratic Hypothesis stems mainly from apathy and politics more than anything. I hate to see this go on.Piotr: Attributing unspecified political motives to your opponents is a very political thing to do -- a mere rhetorical trick, and a very unfair one at that, just like insinuating that anyone who disagrees with you must be dumb, lazy or apathetic. Many serious linguists do consider it worth their time and effort to take a look at the Nostratic hypothesis. The connections you mention have been examined time and time again by competent specialists. Several serious international meetings have been organised solely in order to discuss the evidence for and against Nostratic -- such as the 1998 "Symposium on the Nostratic Macrofamily" at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge University, where the finely balanced list of participants included *both* Nostratic veterans (A.R. Bomhard, V. Shevoroshkin, A. Dolgopolsky) plus other long-range comparatists (S.A. Starostin, C. Ehret), *and* dyed-in-the-wool splitters (L. Campbell, A. Kaye). R.L. Trask's conclusion more or less sums up my own feelings about the discussion:"Consequently, I am not persuaded. In my view, the linguistic evidence in front of us does not add up to a substantial case for the reality of a Proto-Nostratic parent language which gave rise to a vast family of languages. Naturally, I am not flatly rejecting the Nostratic proposal. When further evidence becomes available for Professor Dolgopolsky's proposal, I will try to evaluate it as fairly as i can. For now, though, I must remain a sceptic."Glen:... Nonetheless, the grammatical relationship IS there if we care to look and put two and two together. I've already made some connections such as the common use of interrogative stems *mi- and *kWi- (cf Uralic *mi- "who?", *ku- "what?"), which in themselves, along with demonstrative stems, show an early animate/inanimate gender contrast as we find in IE, the subjective/objective conjugation, etc. I've already outlined a common Steppe grammar to begin understanding where I'm coming from.Piotr: Unfortunately, in Uralic the K-set refers to humans (Hungarian ki, Finnish kuka 'who?') and the M-set to "things" (Hungarian mi, Finnish mikä 'what?'). I wonder how you explain this mismatch between Uralic and Proto-Steppe.</quote>> Piotr:
> >Such a proposition could never be falsified, for it cannot be proved >that
> >two languages are unrelated: the evidence of their genetic >relationship
> >may have been obliterated by historical change. The >initial null
> >hypothesis must assume their NON-relatedness --only then >can we hope to
> >make some progress by trying to falsify it.
> Glen:...but how do we falsify NON-relatedness, Piotr? That seems frankly like a
> fruitless game in itself.How? By showing beyond reasonable doubt that observable systematic resemblances are genetic rather than areal or accidental. It can be done. If the game were fruitless, there would be no IE reconstruction; and if you yourself believed it to be fruitless, why the heck should you be wasting your time playing it?A null hypothesis is always the boring down-to-earth alternative to exciting speculation. If a scientist assumes that the current null hypothesis is true, he does so -- or at least should do so -- not as a dogmatic conservative who'd gladly lay his life for the status quo, but for the sake of the argument, as the devil's advocate. Even you should be exercising scepticism with one half of your mind while the other half is doing stratospheric flights of fancy. The question "How can I be sure I'm not imagining things?" can't be asked too often.
Go on, Glen, by all means. Whatever you make of my views, I like challengers and hate stagnation.Piotr