Re: [tied] Re: Grimm's Law is about to expire (Collinge 1985, p. 26

From: Piotr GÄ…siorowski
Message: 48001
Date: 2007-03-20

mkelkar2003 wrote:

> This is evident in the reconstructed PIE. This endeavor has no doubt
> been a great intellectual achaivement but from a practical standpoint
> it assumes that an airtight compartment called PIE was dropped
> somewhere at A point in time from outer space. The compartment opened
> and people with some unique physical characteristics that no one
> wants to talk about today, fanned out in a CENTRIFUGAL manner. The
> presumed centrifugality of expansion puts India at a disadvantage
> because of its geographical location.

What do physical characteristics have to do with the model? Leaving that
aside, we all realise that the family tree model and areal convergence
models complement, not exclude, each other. Language families are
recognisable entities not because the respective protolanguages, at the
time of their existence, were sealed off from their linguistic
environment, but because their close relatives have become extinct. In
the same way, the Germanic languages form a well-defined group reducible
to a common ancestor because the various "para-Germanic" dialects once
filling the gap between Germanic proper and the other IE branches have
died out. But if you want to divide e.g. the West Germanic subbranch
into smaller gementic units, you run into trouble because the languages
in question are still too closely connected; they continue to influence
each other areally, and in some cases form a dialectal continuum.

The systematic correspondences on which the reconstruction of PIE is
based guarantee that many (not all!) of the affinities between the IE
languages are due to common descent from a single proto-language, not to
convergence. This is the "family tree" component of the model. It
follows from it that the inherited linguistic traits that make those
languages members of the same family originated in an area of relative
linguistic homogeneity, which (in the Neolithic conditions) means a
geographically restricted protolanguage. The spread of IE from that
hypothetical centre of expansion need not have been centrifugal, but the
scenario of such a spread should at least be realistic, and of all the
imaginable scenarios the "Out of India" one scores badly in that respect.