Re: Check out What is Ogam -- Noh-oh-oh! Don't!!

From: tgpedersen
Message: 14357
Date: 2002-08-17

> > Dear Friends,
> >
> > Not much activity in the group lately. Here is an
intellectual exercize that may be of interest to those of you who are
versed in Celtic or Basque languages. Does the information on this
site make sense or is the author jumping to huge conclusions
unjustified by the evidence presented?
> > Best Regards, John Piscopo
> >
> >

> On Wed, 14 Aug 2002, Piotr Gasiorowski wrote:
> > Edo Nyland is a notorious pseudolinguistic personage (one of the
top names in my private kook-book) -- not the first or the last
person in quest of the ultimate morphemes of human language, but one
of the most eccentric. I once asked Cyril Babaev to remove a link to
his website from the TIED page (though I don't know if Cyril did so).
Anyone who rejects all known methods of reconstruction, says e.g.
that Basque and Dravidian are "closely related" (whatever that's
supposed to mean to somebody who does not "believe in" historical
linguistics), and insists that all the languages of Western Europe
were artificially created by Benedictine monks in the interest of the
RC Church is probably not quite all there -- and at any rate way
below criticism. Perhaps the website is a huge private joke, but if
so, it's already too old to be funny.
> >
> > Look at the full story if you have nothing better to do, but
remember not to take anything there seriously.
> >
> >
> >
> > Internet is one of the greatest inventions of all time, but like
all the other great inventions (fire, bow and arrows, printing,
whisky, nuclear energy, parliamentary democracy, etc.) it has its
murky aspects. One of them is the freedom of expression enjoyed by
kooks. Unfortunately, there seems to be a cyberspacial analogue of
Gresham's Law which guarantees that cheap rubbish will inevitably
drive out serious thought. Keep this in mind if you want to use the
Internet for autodidactic purposes.
> >
> > Piotr
> >
> >
> >
> >
--- In cybalist@..., Harald Hammarstrom <haha2581@...> wrote:
> I remember as far back as six years ago, when someone had emailed
> Edo Nyland about his page, and to it Edo replied that in the last
> he had been invited to give guest talks on no less than four
> universities... Don't know more than that so I can't confirm that
> uni:s in question we're trying to give their students something to
> their criticalness. Nevertheless, it shows those sites get a lot of
> attention.
> best wishes
> Harald
Let me be, for a moment, the devil's advocate here. There's no doubt
that the practice of scribes in various monasteries or of the
chancelleries of rulers has played a large role for the
general "look" of languages, cf. the "practical", functional look of
Czech and Dutch vs the more "impressive" look of Polish and German.
One might of course argue that this is mere surface, which has
nothing to do with the _spoken_ substance of the language; but
consider the concrete situation: you are the head of the clerks of a
monastery or chancellery and your scribes ask you: how should we
write this or that? As mr X from M or as mr Y from N pronounces it?
In the end you can't, in that situation, free yourself from
arbitrariness: it is to be written that way because I say so. In how
many cases, when we refer to a paricular document as holy writ and
proof that this is how they spoke then, are we just repeating the
whims of a dozen people?

Somewhere I forgot where I read that the written form of the Danish
and Swedish languages started in the Union time with the practice of
the scribes of the monastery in Vadstena, Sweden of St. Birgitta, a
personal friend of the Union Queen Margaretha. In the union there is
a tendency in Swedish documents for -a -> -ä (-e) as in Danish. After
the violent dissolution of the union, the forms were seen as Danisms
by the Swedes and -a was restored almost everywhere.

But for that period, Swedish and Danish could have been much more
different languages. Cf Da skjorte [skjoRd&], Sw skjorta [hWut.-
t.a] "shirt" (I've taken the liberty of writing hW for Sw. s^ and t.-
t. for Sw. retroflex t; the Swedish word is distintly divided into
two syllables); the Da and Sw word are more different from each other
than each is from eg. English [s^&:t]. There have been several
proposals in Sweden (mostly from around Stockholm) to replace the
spellings sk- (before front vowel), sj-, stj- and skj-, which have no
function in present Swedish with sj-. So far arguments of
paradigmatic homogeneity (skära, skar would become sjära, skar) and
inter-Scandinavian understanding (not very fashionable) have stopped
those attempts.