Re: _Language relations across Bering Strait_
|Date:||Thursday, November 30, 2006, 17:51|
On Nov 30, 2006, at 5:04 AM, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
> Yes. Fortescue's evidence looks quite nice, though it is far from
> rock solid. However, I am not an expert on any of the languages
> discussed, and thus cannot really evaluate whether his interpretation
> of the facts makes sense or not.
I'm no expert either, but when I read this book, I did notice that in
his comparisons of Chukotkan and Yukagir vs. Eskimo-Aleut languages,
he included a pretty large number of words in the former group that
look to me like loanwords from Tungusic languages (or possibly Yakut
in some cases). Which, if true, would at least complicate his scheme
and could, I suppose, reduce the number of 'true trans-Bering
cognates' below the threshold of statistical significance.
The problem I feel more and more in this area ("East Siberian
Exotica," if you like) is that everyone who gets into it is excited
about genetic classification and rarely, if ever, stops to look long
and hard at loanwords -- despite knowing of these languages'
speakers' complicated and shifting ethnohistories, and that these
languages have been recorded quite recently and mostly from
multilingual (and often multiethnic) speakers. With Fortescue, I got
the feeling he looked at the "Altaic" languages and dismissed them
from his project because he felt confident they weren't *genetically*
related to his focus of interest, but completely failed to
acknowledge that they were still significant *areal* influences in
Anyway, that's my amateur two cents' worth.