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Re: Nostratic (was Re: Etymology of English 'black')

From:Danny Wier <dawiertx@...>
Date:Tuesday, June 8, 2004, 23:14
From: "Jörg Rhiemeier" <joerg_rhiemeier@,,,>

> I am quite undecided about Nostratic. It's not implausible, I can > indeed imagine those six families to descend from a single ancestor, > but I think the evidence is too weak. There are two different sets > of alleged cognates proposed (one by Illich-Svitych and Dolgopolsky, > one by Bomhard and Kerns) that are based on different sound > correspondences (B & K take PIE glottalic theory in account, > while I-S & D don't) - at least one of them must be wrong. > The problem lies in the laxitude with which the authors apply > the comparative method, I think. Both groups allow for more > semantic leeway than in traditional historical linguistics, > and often use forms from individual languages rather than > forms reconstructed proto-languages. For example, if there > are a Greek word, a Hungarian word and a Tamil word that match, > they reconstruct a Nostratic form based on "evidence from IE, > Uralic and Dravidian".
I used to be on the Nostratic list, which is/was the sister list of Cybalist, I think. I'm not an expert in comparative linguistics as I never took a class on it in college; my interest in this area is subordinate to my conlang work. Tech is actually more of an experiment than anything; I just attached a conculture to it to give it a sense of 'reality'. My work on this project has led me to study of things like linguistic universals, the philosophy of language, and some idea of what language might've been like tens of thousands of years ago. I doubt the existence of any macrofamily (much less something like Sino- or Dene-Caucasian, Austric or Amerind) is even possible to prove, at least right now. Unless we magically discover languages older than Hittite, or decipher Linear A or Indus script. I have Bomhard's reconstruction of Nostratic roots in book form, and it seems that the standards of comparison are higher than Ilich-Svitych's and Dolgopolsky's, and his consideration of the Glottalic Theory makes a lot more sense. Another likely scenario is that IE, AA, Karvelian, Uralic, Dravidian, Altaic, Sumerian etc. had extensive contact with each other ten thousand years ago, back when Jericho wasn't so old, so much they shared a lot of vocabulary. (I still haven't figured out the whole mythology of the Techs and their interaction with the human community of the Near East back then. They apparently were a big problem, being half-demon and -human, maybe something like the Nephilim.)
> Some other authors (such as Miguel Carrasquer) use the method > of system comparison which I also consider the best approach > to long-range relationships, in which morphological paradigms > are compared, applying the comparative method to pronouns, > case suffixes and the like; however, it doesn't seem to me that > much more than an IE-Uralic-Eskimo relationship can be established > that way.
Has he published anything? And someone here on the list said that Inuktitut had a lot in common with Uralic. I do at least believe in Eurasiatic, which includes at minimum Indo-European, Uralic-Yukaghir, Altaic and probably Inuit-Aleut.
> At any rate, though, it is perfectly valid to assume that in > a particular conworld, Nostratic is real, and to construct > a Nostratic conlang. > > For Albic (my conlang family), I don't assume that Nostratic is real > (nor do I assume the opposite), but Albic is a sister group of > Indo-European, whatever else the latter is related to. > (This of course means that if Nostratic is real, Albic is also a part > of Nostratic.)
The story of Tech and how it's related to all these protolanguages: When this spiritual/extraterrestrial race decided to come to Earth sometime between 13,000 and 10,000 BCE, they had no physical forms, but they decided to take the form of these tall, thin, and cunning pointy-eared man-types (think Elves and Vulcans), and adopted the speech of the peoples of the Fertile Crescent, where they settled. They tweaked with the language and gave it its own character and identity, and also made it a lot more concise and complex. They ran afoul of humans and ended up flocking to the Caucasus or the Himalayas. The rest is a mythological blur. Is Albic taken from Latin _albus_ 'white' by chance, and is there any connection to 'elf' (its Germanic cognate)?