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Re: THEORY: A possible Proto-World phonology

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Thursday, June 29, 2000, 20:15
At 6:29 pm -0700 28/6/00, Marcus Smith wrote:
>As someone who is not a fan of Nostratic at all,
Nor, indeed, am I. [I've snipped most of Marcus's comments - but basically agree with them]
> >>6) vowel harmony in Uralic and Altaic, and ablaut in IE > >Also not uncommon in the world.
Indeed, it's not and appears in different forms in unrelated languages as far as I'm aware.
>You're also making quite a leap to connect >vowel harmony and ablaut, IMHO.
I think Marcus is probably politely understating the case here. IE ablaut surely has nothing to do with vowel harmony - or have I missed something glaringly onvious? [...]
>>8) cognates (or possible cognates) I've found in Germanic and Semitic > >You've found words that follow all the phonological rules leading back to >Proto-Germanic, proto-IE, Proto-Semitic, and then have regular correspondances >between the latter two? Maybe it's just me, but I've always be skeptical of >those types of connections, unless they are overwhelming.
Yes, indeed. Comparative linguistics is littered with these supposed correspondences, like modern Greek 'mati' ~ Malay 'mata' = "eye". Fortunately we know the history of the former and can say with certainty they're not connected. Unless, as Marcus says, the connexions are overwhelming, IMHO they are nothing more than idle curiosities. [....]
> >>10) VSO word order found in Celtic and Semitic
This is a hoary chestnut. If I could have a pound - or even a dollar - for every theory I've come across citing this as evidence, I'd be pretty weel off by now. [snip]
> >Most the things you've mentioned are typological, and can occur completely >independently in any number of languages. This is hardly good grounds, IMHO, >for serious scholarly proposals.
>Now conlanging, that's another story.
>I was >really amused when I first read about Dolgopolskij's Nostratic "hunting" story >-- can't imagine a better use of artificially creating a proto-language.
Well, yes - I'm afraid that I also think that, along with 'Pelasgic' which I mentioned recently, Nostratic is an interesting conlang.
>Just my two skeptical cents worth.
And mine.
>Marcus > >[*] I quote "Na-Dene" because I don't believe it is really a family. I've >done some investigation into the question, and I think the entire idea is >misguided. Mainly because there are virtually no possible cognates in the >"core vocabulary".
Aw, you're not going to let a little thing like that spoil a good theory, are you ? ;) Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================