Re: [tied] Mother of all IE languages

From: S.Kalyanaraman
Message: 27932
Date: 2003-12-03

--- In, "Brian M. Scott" <BMScott@...>
wrote:> Do you know the expression 'teaching your grandmother to
> suck eggs'?
> Whatever its shortcomings, the Gray/Atkinson technique is
> not an example of statistical inference, so your comment is
> inapplicable to it. It isn't even applicable to
> glottochronology, which -- however useless -- didn't
> pretend that a Swadesh list was a random sample or try to
> derive characteristics of the lexicon from it.

That makes it two grandmothers. My majors were statistics and
economics in school. In my opinion, we are sucking an ill-conceived

Swadesh list is not the population representing languages. "This
list of words was devised by the linguist Morris Swadesh. He used it
as a means of determining the closeness of any pair of languages. It
is a useful list of the most common words, which are essential to
most languages and may be used in learning basic communication in
other languages and even multiple languages at once since, for basic
communication, vocabulary is generally more useful than a knowledge
of the target language syntax."

Thundering conclusions sought to be drawn from a sample (which
itself is a biased list) cannot be accepted as a good design for
statistical tests.

I do not accept everything in linguistics as sacrosanct. Every
discipline (including Physics) can undergo revisions about basic
idioms (or formulae) used. Fine, it is a great discipline that has
evolved. It ain't the universe of knowledge about languages.
Languages are far-deeper than linguistics and can be understood only
in the broader cultural context. This is my take on the IE, IA,
Prakrit idioms used as received wisdom.

Samskr.tam was a reconstruction based on a rule framed by the
predecessors of Pa_n.ini. The base was Prakrit (what linguists may
call proto-indic). I am trying to understand the Indo- in Indo-
European. Maybe, I am not straight-jacketed by the rules of the game
of this discipline called linguistics. I hope some people have seen
my 'swadesh' list of 8000+ semantic clusters in the Indian Lexicon.