Re: Limitations of the compartive method

From: mkelkar2003
Message: 51897
Date: 2008-01-26

--- In, "Patrick Ryan" <proto-language@...>
> Mr. Kelkar,
> in my opinion you have thrown out the child with the bathwater.
> Certainly, there are exceptions and anomalies in the comparative
method but, finally, it is the best analytical tool we have for
logically investigating the relationships.
> Intra-language contacts are much more difficult to prove, and
usually impossible to causally relate.
> I understand your frustration based on the general lack of warmth
with which your ideas have been greeted but, if you are ever able to
advance your arguments, it will be through the help not hindrance of
the comparative method.
> Patrick

In defense of the comparative method, it has workd well in the "hunky
dory case of Austronesia" (Haggerty 2007) and also Greenberg's family
of Native American langauges, though he is not using the classical

IEL feel confident about CM because of the "sucess" of their work on
the Romance family. But that is now being called under question
(Haggerty 2007).

• East vs. West Romance
(Romanian vs. the rest; OR Romanian + Italian vs. the rest)
– But plural marking: Italian sides with Romanian.
• Iberian sub-branch
(Spanish and Portuguese).
– But what about Catalan, is it Iberian or not? Intermediate.
No agreement on a classification, not even on the primary branch.
Why? There just never was a primary `branch' in the first place."

So there was never a prot-Romance language to start with. Latin is
proto Romance. How could there be a proto-Indo-European language then?

M. Kelkar

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: mkelkar2003<mailto:swatimkelkar@...>
> To:<>
> Sent: Saturday, January 26, 2008 12:25 AM
> Subject: [tied] Limitations of the compartive method
> "Thomason wants us indeed to believe that the CM has been so
> that it "has been altered only in relatively minor ways since" the
> 1870s and "is envied by many other historical scientists" (2002, p.
> 102). To
> my knowledge, there are quite a few historical linguists, apparently
> "good"
> (Thomason's term) and respected ones, who have questioned the "famous"
> CM. Almost all the contributions to Aikhenwald & Dixon (2001)
question its
> reliability and "the regularity hypothesis of sound change" (Thomason,
> 2002,
> p. 102). They argue that synchronic structural similarities among
> languages,
> on which the CM relies, may be due to common inheritance, mere
> coincidence, or diffusion. Likewise, Campbell (2002, pp. 146-147)
> an informative caveat about the CM. Overall, one must
independently know
> the history of population movements and contacts among speakers of the
> relevant languages in order to sort things out. The position is
echoed by
> Laks (2002). As Thomason (2001) herself acknowledges, contact has
> an important part in the histories of all languages. Some of the
> chapters in
> Aikhenwald & Dixon (including those by Calvert Watkins, Randy Lapolla,
> James Matisoff, and Bernd Heine & Tania Kuteva) clearly show that the
> Stammbaums suggested by the traditional application of the CM do
not do
> justice to the complex ways in which languages are genetically
> related. (This
> is precisely the position developed by Laks, 2002.)"
> Thefore, "one must independently know
> the history of population movements and contacts among speakers of the
> relevant languages" before comparative method can be applied. The
> comparative method cannot be used as evidence for population
> M. Kelkar