Re: 'Dog' revisited

From: ehlsmith
Message: 27949
Date: 2003-12-04

--- In, "tgpedersen" <tgpedersen@...> wrote:
> That is not the way I use "mass comparison". I tend to scavenge
> already published attempts at proving new super-groups using mass
> comparison for words I then claim to be loans.

> The reason I do that is this: Whenever you try to do mass
> you find that most words are thoroughly incompatible with the
> exception of a few which are suspiciously lucidly similar.

Hi Torsten,

But how do we get from suspicion to proof? Since you acknowledge that
this similarity occurs in only a few cases how do you eliminate the
possibility of chance resemblances?

> reminded of the experience I get listening to a Greenlandic
> on the radio, sounding in my ears like this "groqpoq

Not exactly a fair comparion I think. This example is a very recent
multisyllabic borrowing- the words you allege represent borrowings of
the Austronesian word for dog are much shorter, and have long
histories in separate languages and their origins are obscured by the
passage of time. Thus the odds of their perceived resemblance being
due to chance are much greater.

> voqgioq syvogtredive millionit kronit toq"; in other words I
> they are loans. Why else is Ruhlen's list so short? Obviously, if
> try other words, you fail to come up with correspondences.

I'm not trying to defend Ruhlen's use of mass comparison to find
cognates- I'm questioning your use of it to claim that there is a
common term for dog in many language families which isn't due to

> > is the inclusion of proto-Bantu another instance of (forgive the
> > word) cherry-picking?
> Actually I've used several other correspondences with Proto-Bantu.
> The reason I included it was this: If there is an Austronesian
> influence on IE it must have gone either overland in the Middle
> or around Africa. Logistically it would be the reverse of the
> European finding a trade route to the East. In order to create a
> trade route overland you need control over a route to the extent
> you are not disturbed by tax-happy local sovereigns. The Europeans
> tried for centuries to break through the Muslim states to create a
> safe passage to the Indian Ocean but it wasn't logistically
> Only with da Gama's journey did they find a way. And this
> route financially weakened the Middle East to a degree that it then
> became possible to create an overland route.
> In order to have a circum-Africa route you need way-stations. ...
The obvious choice in West
> Africa is the Niger delta:

Given the mortality rate of outsiders who tried trading in the Niger
Delta from the 16th to 19th centuries I would have rated it as among
the least obvious choices.

they grow the third agricultural species
> of rice (the two others are Chinese and Indian), the Bantu
> started there, they have iron (Proto-Bantu *-beda (Meeusen), PIE
> *bherso-m > Latin ferrum, Semitic b-r-z, Proto-
> *bari[], Proto-Hesperonesian *besi), and in general, for whatever
> seems many of the words on Manansala's and my list seem to have
> cognates in Proto-Bantu (at least one rule: l/r > d).

Your reasons sound convincing to someone who already accepts your
proposal I suppose, but except for the last they do not appear at all
convincing to me. If there really is a sound rule as you claim it
would be potentially significant, but given your stated position on
cherry-picking I will maintain my doubts about its reality for the
time being. Since this an IE list, and not Bantu or Austronesian we
had better leave it at that.

> > > > > 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
> > conjectural etymologies do not become generally accepted ones.
> >
> Aha, and you don't accept them, so they are not genrally accepted ;-

Ah, if only my self-confidence were that great. Actually, I had
wondered who else besides their author and you accept them. Instead
of telling me that, you tell me of one individual who does not accept
them, one of whose position I was already quite aware (and who is in
fact completely agnostic on the subject, not actively opposed btw)

> > > > ....... I asked if
> > > there
> > > > was evidence of voyages to Taiwan before the Neolithic?
> > >
> > > At the time of low water, Taiwan was highland, relatively. Why
> > should
> > > 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?
> Yes. On the other hand we don't have evidence of canoe voyages to
> Mt Blanc either.

I don't recall you citing canoe trips to Mt Blanc as supporting
evidence for one of your hypothesis (did you, and I just missed it?),
thus I did not ask you to defend that particular claim.

> I am sorry if I might have upset some British sensibilities

Yes, it would be unfortunate if we have upset anybody's
sensibilities, but if you imagine I have a particular connection to
British sensibilities I'm afraid you are 227 years behind the times