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Afroasiatic, Eurasiatic, etc. (was Re: Japanese from Tungus)

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Sunday, January 30, 2005, 17:27

On Fri, 28 Jan 2005 14:44:57 -0600,
"Thomas R. Wier" <trwier@...> wrote:

> Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...> > > Ray wrote: > > > As far as I know, that Japanese and Korean are related is not proven. > > > > I agree to that. I am also skeptical about their inclusion into Altaic, > > which I think has been done mainly for typological reasons. (Greenberg > > does not include Japanese and Korean into Altaic, but he nevertheless > > includes them into his Eurasiatic macrofamily.) [...] > > Indeed. In the case of Celtic and Semitic, we of course know that > > the Celtic languages are Indo-European and acquired their "Semitic" > > features secondarily, possibly from an unknown substratum. (And the > > Semitic languages are known to be Afro-Asiatic, which probably did > > not display all of the "typically Semitic" features, either.) > > Might I point out, however, that finding lautgesetze is not the end-all- > be-all for hypothesizing genetic relationships. A case in point is > Afro-Asiatic. Although it is widely recognized as a genetic unit,
Though there are still people around who doubt it. Lyle Campbell, for instance, considers it not fully proven.
> it is not because of an abundance of cognates or shared lautgesetze, but > rather primarily the bizarre morphological typology that all (or most all) > the AA languages share.
You mean the triconsonantal roots thing, I guess. But there also seem to be similarities in morphology (pronouns, verb affixes, etc.), though these are not much greater than those between IE, Uralic and Altaic.
> The time-depth of AA is usually held to > be considerably older than Indo-European, more something on the order > of 7-10k YBP. AA is thus more comprable to Eurasiatic than to traditional > language families like IE.
Yes. I'd say 8,000 to 10,000 years before now, thus indeed comparable to Eurasiatic.
> Anyways, this does not, of course prove that Japanese and Korean must > thus be related to Altaic, which is a separate question. But I have to > disagree with Ray, in that such a relationship cannot be discounted on > the grounds that most of the similarities are typological. In this > particular case though, although I am by no means an expert in the > languages in question, the kind of typology being invoked as evidence > is so widespread that I would think it constitutes a much weaker parallel > than in the case of AA.
Yes. Agglutinating SOV languages with converbs aren't that unusual.
> ----------------------------------------- > Joerg also wrote: > > Personally, I think that there is some evidence for a distant > > relationship of Indo-European, [etc ...] > > > > A. Europic > > 1. Indo-European > > 2. Etruscan? [...] > > > > The inclusion of Etruscan is uncertain as there is so frustratingly > > little known of the language, though it looks in many ways similar > > to IE without actually being IE. > > I agree that this is rather odd. In looking through my grammar of > Etruscan, that by Bonfante and Bonfante, there were no particularly > obvious similarities other than, say, a nominative-accusative alignment, > which of course many many unrelated languages have.
Yes. Nominative-accusative alignment means nothing, of course! And what regards Etruscan morphology, there seem to be different opinions. Miguel Carrasquer posted some Etruscan morphemes to the Nostratic mailing list once, and I posted them here on Nov. 17, 2003: The source is, apparently, the book _De Etrusken Spreken_ by R.S.P. Beekes and L.B. van der Meer. These morphemes look a lot like an "Eurasiatic" language most closely related to IE. I am no expert on this and cannot tell whether it makes sense or is just hogwash.
> > The Nostraticists consider Eurasiatic to be a subbranch of Nostratic; > > the additional members of Nostratic would be Kartvelian, Sumerian, > > Elamo-Dravidian (if those two are related at all) and Afro-Asiatic. > > The inclusion of the latter two seems especially doubtful to me. > > Actually, John Colarusso (certainly no Nostraticist) thinks that > Indo-European and Northwest Caucasian, though not Northeast > Caucasian, might be related to Indo-European, and he has come up > with a number of cognates and sound change, including the word > for "horse". He calls this grouping "Pontic", for its putative > homeland near the Black Sea.
I have heard of that. However, to me the NWC languages look very dissimilar to IE. There are perhaps some phonological similarities, but that reeks of areal or substratum influence.
> Also, someone as conservative as Eric > Hamp has said that it is possible that Kartvelian is related to IE, > based on their similar systems of verbal ablaut, and a number of > shared typological properties like syllable structure.
I have a somewhat easier time relating IE to Kartvelian than to NWC, and consider Kartvelian to be a strong candidate for the next-closest kin of Eurasiatic. But again, the phonological similarities might be due to areal or substratal influence. Greetings, Jörg.