Re: [tied] Re: *dan-

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 5648
Date: 2001-01-19

Thank you, Torsten,
I take back It was the mention of von Däniken and of that alarmed me. It's true I haven't read Oppenheimer's book, though I know it from reviews. I gather it does have a "New Agey" flavour, with its romantic narratives, references to Noah, Atlantis and the wisdom of village elders -- the kind of stuff calculated to satisfy the emotional needs of the popular reader. The author's desire to arrive at a one-shot universal explanation for about everything is also more characteristic of a popular publication than of an objective scientific study. My impression is that there isn't much of a case in the book. Why should we need "civilising heroes" or other external impulses to explain the development of Middle Eastern cultures? Its coincidence in time with the flooding of Sundaland is hardly puzzling -- both events have to do with the global climatic changes at the end of the last glacial stage. There is no proof that Sundaland was inhabited by carriers of a superior culture older than those of the Middle East; besides, there are remains of cultivated plants and domesticated sheep from Northern Iraq dated to ca. 9000 BC, i.e. before the Sunda Shelf was submerged.
The chronology is all wrong. Very few linguists would agree that the dispersal of IE can be dated at 8000 BC (Renfrew's followers would, but they ignore linguistic evidence, by and large), and only a handful of eccentrics still insist on an out-of-India scenario with no matter what time-depth. The initial dispersal of the Austronesians was much more recent, too (about 3000 BC), and is supposed to have begun in and around Taiwan via the Philippines and the Moluccas. Malayo-Polynesian sailors began their long-distance exploits ca. 1500 BC -- a long time after Sundaland!
While it's certain that the complex network of cultural contacts that has always conected the various language families of SE Asia has caused numerous "wandering words" to diffuse across the area (also from Austronesian to Indic or back, even without direct contact), I can see no good evidence for anything like the one-way flow suggested by Oppenheimer. Isidore Dyen's list of 78 IE/AA "matches" was meant as an instructive estimate of the background noise level in distant comparison. R.L. Trask has more recently compiled an impressive list of matches between (Dolgopolsky's) Nostratic and Basque, with the following comment:
"Now, I certainly do not want to be known as the person who introduced Basque into the Nostratic hypothesis: I am doing no such thing. But this amusing little exercise does suggest to me that chance resemblances between arbitrary languages are by no means so difficult to find as is sometimes suggested."
Your own "phonetic comparison" is purely impressionistic. Rather than investigate the established etymology of individual items, you freely bracket together words from unrelated sets (e.g. Old Indic gna:- and janas-). If you had read the beginner's introduction to the historical phonology of Greek and checked up the derivation of ne:sos ans ne:sis, it would not have occurred to you to connect them with each other or fantasise about their possible connection with Austronesian *nusa. Sorry, but it's all hopelessly amateurish. You don't even compare PIE with PAA but selected words from a variety of daughter languages. It is only in this way that some "cognates" can be suggested (e.g. the numeral 4). I don't want to go into technical details now; you've given the link to your page and all interested Cybalist members make check it on their own.
----- Original Message -----
From: Torsten Pedersen
Sent: Friday, January 19, 2001 12:05 PM
Subject: [tied] Re: *dan-

What a commotion! "von Däniken-like" was meant as short-hand
for "trying to explain the cross-cultral phenomena von Däniken was
puzzled by but unfortunately tried to explain by positing intervention
by extraterrestrials, by ascribing these phenomena to exiles from
Sundaland". I didn't even say Atlantis! Or Noah's Ark! Besides
everyone knows extraterrestrials speak Klingon, which is not related
to Austronesian ( ;-) ;-) *joke* ;-) ;-) ). A better short-hand
expression would be "Discovery Channel-like" (wonder what outrage
this expression will cause).

Before discussing synchronicity, proper science, new age (vs. "old
age"?) etc try this:

This is basically Manansala's two lists: Sanskrit-Austric and
Sumerian-Austric plus what I could find of other correspondences
within IE.

Calling a 400-page book you haven't read which was favourably
reviewed in (I think it was) Nature "new age" is not deep science
(It has also been similarly mentioned in cybalist).

Here's another link. It's a theory I made up myself: