Re: Re[2]: [tied] searching for common words for all today's langua

From: Patrick Ryan
Message: 43258
Date: 2006-02-05

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, February 05, 2006 10:56 AM
Subject: Re[2]: [tied] searching for common words for all today's languages

At 6:43:28 AM on Sunday, February 5, 2006, Patrick Ryan


>   Trask willingly conceded the _possibility_ that all
> language descended from one common ancestor.

>   At the same time, he fervently _believed_ that any
> information regarding that most ancient ancestor was not
> retrievable;

Yes, because he understood exactly why this is the case.  It
isn't, as you are trying to suggest, a matter of blind
belief or faith; it follows directly from what we know about
linguistic change and the age of human language.  If any
signal of common ancestry has actually persisted down to the
present, it cannot rise above the level of the background
noise and therefore cannot be shown to exist.  Looking for
traces of proto-world is a waste of time; believing that one
has found them is at best naive.
You are repeating the same thing Trask did.
Without looking at possible indications of such "traces".
It is your loss.

> and, I fault him for this, was unwilling to seriously look
> at anything which purported to prove otherwise.

He looked seriously enough to eviscerate the Basque evidence
offered by Bengtson and Ruhlen.  (Some of this evisceration
is, I think, unpublished save in a series of posts to
sci.lang made in late 2003 in a thread 'Ruhlen's way with
words'.  It is presented in his usual clear style.)

And here you reveal your almost religious fanaticism against the idea.
How many times do you have to be told that this is not what Greenberg (particularly) and Ruhlen (secondarily) were trying to do?
What prevents you from understanding they were surveying not attempting to prove anything?
Bengtson is a different matter; he was certainly not trying to reconstruct a proto-language. He had an entirely different objective.
Their work is different from mine entirely.