Re: [tied] Re: About methodology...

From: Glen Gordon
Message: 3472
Date: 2000-08-29

Glen (me):
> I have trouble believing that any language is so mixed up that >there
>are _equal_ connections between two groups. That scenario is >very

Mark O:
>The historical and geographical situation where such a thing could >occur
>would require linguistically stable islands or mountains. New >Guinea is
>such a place. The Caucasus are sometimes mentioned in this >regard, and as
>I recall, perhaps the paleo-Siberian languages. We are >speaking of time
>scales in the thousands of years.

I'm not familiar with Papuan languages but I am familiar with Caucasian ones
and I don't consider Caucasian languages as completely unravelable or
"equally affected". It's still clear, despite millenia of interaction that
South Caucasian (Kartvelian) is distinct from the other two groups (NWC and
NEC). Further, even though there is some pronominal and grammatical
convergence between NWC and NEC languages, NWC appears to be better linked
to NaDene/SinoTibetan than to NEC based on the combined package of typology,
vocabulary and pronominal stems. Starostin thinks differently but he's too
busy reconstructing *N[u], proposing /m/=/g/=/NULL/ sound correspondances
and the like. :)

Mark O:
>When you have two distinct languages, each from a different language
> >family, living cheek-to-jowl with each other over thousands of years >and
>otherwise maintaining their integrity, with high levels of >bilingualism,
>you first form a sprachbund, then lexical items flow >across languages, and
>finally, even grammatical features.

Yes, and some pronominal/grammatical influence does seem to occur between
NWC and NEC although it isn't complete. As well, one might suspect some
typological influence between NWC and Kartvelian. Still, Kartvelian isn't
swallowed up by NWC's influence and not vice versa.

>We like to cite Lithuanian as the most spectacularly conservative of >IE
>languages; in point of fact, it historically is also one of the >most
>innovative of IE languages, having borrowed grammatical features >from
>Uralic (noun cases).

Case in point, we still can see that Lithuanian is largely an IE language.

>The necessary historical and geographic conditions for two language
>families to converge into one are very difficult to establish or maintain.
>Japan, New Guinea, and perhaps the Caucasus would seem to be the only
>possible, presently-known candidates.

Thanx Mark O. for reaffirming my point which is that this "equal" blend of
influences is very rare even if it does exist. I don't see this as a
particularly important challenge to long-range linguistics.

- gLeN

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