Re: 'Dog' revisited

From: ehlsmith
Message: 27904
Date: 2003-12-02

--- In, "tgpedersen" <tgpedersen@...> wrote:
> --- In, "ehlsmith" <ehlsmith@...> wrote:
> > --- In, "tgpedersen" <tgpedersen@...>
> wrote:
> > > Why not the other way around? Why the tendency to dismiss
> > > outside the sphere of order that we constructed for ourselves
> > > noise?
> >
> > If we didn't demand to see impeccable credentials before
> an
> > outsider into our sphere it would soon be crammed full of
> plausible,
> > but unreal, beliefs.
> I don't think this is a question of method, but of attitude. While
> might agree with you politically (and have disagreed with you in
> better times), I don't linguistically.

I am inclined to agree with you- our differences are due above all to
a difference in attitude. Labelling them healthy skepticism vs.
credulity would reveal my own bias here, and I'm sure you would label
them differently. In any case further discussion would probably be
more suitable for a philosophy of science list then a linguistics
> > >
> > > What exactly _is_ cherry-picking, and why is it inadmissible?
> The way I was using it was to mean picking out similar sounding
> terms
> > and not accounting for there overall frequency.
> No one uses statistics that way within a recognised language group.

Since the mass comparison method is used for the purpose of
discerning supposed groups it is not relevant for already recognized
groups. Hence no need for such statistical counter-arguments.

> Ten years ago your argument might have been used against Nostratic,
> now it isn't, which is another way of calling it ephemeral.

Perhaps it is only another way of saying the critics of the Nostratic
hypothesis have seen nothing in the last ten years which they
consider new arguments worthy of a fresh look. They have moved on to
other things, and see no point in continually reiterating past

> Personally, I've mostly left out New World cognates, since I know
> next to nothing about their development. Other than that I've used
> Møller's IE-Semitic and Bomhard's Nostratic etymologies (on the
> assumption that some of them are loans) plus Austronesian (not all
> proto-, true) and Proto-Bantu. You don't get back much further than
> that.

So that if one accepts the Nostratic hypothesis, then we are dealing
only with a case of three language groups happening to have a similar
sounding term for dog (assuming your Austronesian examples
representing the original form)? How do we rule out coincidence? And
is the inclusion of proto-Bantu another instance of (forgive the
word) cherry-picking? What is the criteria for including them rather
than another group in the comparison? Is it just because they do
happen to have a similar sounding term?

> > > >
> > > > I see now- a conjectural etymology
> > >
> > > As opposed to what kind of etymology?
> >
> > As opposed to a generally accepted etymology
> Which all began as conjectural etymologies.

Which is besides the point- the point being that many, if not most
conjectural etymologies do not become generally accepted ones.

> > ....... I asked if
> there
> > was evidence of voyages to Taiwan before the Neolithic?
> At the time of low water, Taiwan was highland, relatively. Why
> the inhabitants of the river plain go there? The way I see it, the
> Austronesian speakers of Taiwan are refugees from the floods.

Is this a way of conceding that you do not have evidence of
paleolithic canoe voyages to Taiwan? I had asked because you were
implying the proto-Austronesians gained seafaring experience by
making trips across the widening Taiwan Straits. Are you now saying
that maybe they didn't make those trips?

> > .... But if for the sake of discussion I were to
> > concede your point, then my question would be what would your
> > hypothesis explain which could not be explained by Proto-World?
> Proto-World would have been much older than the domestication of
> dogs. The first emigration out of Africa followed the coast of
> Southern Asia. Dogs being domesticated in East Asia would have to
> have gone the opposite way. In other words, for a *k-n-, *k-l-
> etc "dog" word to be Proto-World, dogs would have had to be
> domesticated for the first time in Africa.

Yes, I was aware of that point when I asked the question- but there
could have been a term for wild dogs, which could have been used for
domesticated ones too when they appeared on the scene.

> >I'm
> > certainly no devotee of Proto-World, but if confronted with a
> choice
> > of just that or the "transcontinental canine trading paleolithic
> > proto-austronesian canoe paddler" hypothesis I am not sure which
> one
> > Brother Oakham would start shaving.
> >
> I haven't proposed these people bartered dogs.

Well, actually you did. As you may recall, my initial entry into this
thread was prompted by your description of dogs as trade items
carried by the Austronesians.

> I think they brought
> them with them. Maybe they gave away a puppy or two to the natives?

OK, I don't want to beat the dead horse re trade here- we both
concede that dogs could have been traded at times, and could have
spread by other means at other times. But we remain divided over
whether there is evidence to support a supposition that Austronesians
played the major role in their spread, and in the spread of their name