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Does every language family contain one with "ma-" "da-" "ta-" words for parents?

From:Eldin Raigmore <eldin_raigmore@...>
Date:Wednesday, May 10, 2006, 15:22
Hello, Paul, and thanks for writing.

--- Paul Bennett <paul-bennett@...> wrote:

>On Mon, 08 May 2006 20:26:50 -0400, Eldin Raigmore ><eldin_raigmore@...> wrote: >
>>But I _would_ be surprised if _every_ language >>family contained a language in which "mama" means >>"mother" and "dada" means "father".
BTW David Peterson just mailed me a Georgian language in which "mama" means "father" and "deda" means "mother".
>That is indeed the claim, or at least that there is >a ma- word, and a da- >(or ta-) word, that each refer to one or the other >parent.
The above Georgian language fits that statement, then. At least it does if "deda-" counts as a "da-" word. Is the following definition correct? A "ma-" word is or begins with "ma-" or with "ama-" or with "mVma-" where V stands for a vowel. A "da-" word is or begins with "da-" or "ada-" or "dVda-" where V is a vowel. A "ta-" word is or begins with "ta-" or "ata-" or "tVta-" where V is a vowel.
>The claim is made by more erstwhile linguists than I.
Any idea who some of them are? ... where some of the papers or books including that claim can be found? ... what data there is, or progress there is, on substantiating that claim?
>Unfortunately, there are still a >handfull of languages on the planet that I don't >have full fluency in,
:-) You slacker, you! :-) Actually, depending on how you define "fluency", I'm fluent in only my L1 -- English. I asked about all those other languages because they are well-known isolates (though it's not necessarily well-agreed that each one is in fact an isolate), and there are probably published vocabularies of them. I'd have to rely on such published wordlists; I'm not fluent in any isolate -- don't even know any.
>so I can't personally provide a vigorous defense. >Paul
It is easier to _attack_ this statement than to _defend_ it. Positive form of statement as I now understand it: 1) 'Every language family contains a language in which one of "mother" or "father" is glossed as a "ma-" word, and the other is glossed as a "da-" or "ta-" word.' (A "ma-" word is or begins with "ma-" or with "ama-" or with "mVma-" where V stands for a vowel. A "da-" word is or begins with "da-" or "ada-" or "dVda-" where V is a vowel. A "ta-" word is or begins with "ta-" or "ata-" or "tVta-" where V is a vowel.) This is easiest to attack through small language-families. You can't get smaller than an isolate. So, examine each isolate's vocabulary for all of the words synonymous to "mother" and "father"; alternately for all the words beginning "ma-" and all the words beginning "da-" or "ta-". If one isolate is found which fails to have the words "mother" and "father" glossable as a "ma-" word and a "da-" or "ta-" word, not necessarily respectively, then the statement (1) is false. Or the opposite: 2) There is a language family every language of which fails to contain, at the same time, a word for one parent beginning "ma-" and also a word for the other parent beginning "da-" or "ta-". To _support_ this opposite (2) it is easiest to begin with the smallest language-families and work our way up through the families from fewest-languages-in-family to most-numerous-languages-in-family. If the statement is true of each isolate, check it on each two-member family (which will require checking _both_ languages in the family); if it's true for them, check it on each three-member family (which will require checking _each_ of the three languages in the family); if its true of them, check it on the four-member families, etc. ----- In investigating a particular language, the first thing to check is that its phoneme inventory includes a phoneme such as /m/ and also includes either a phoneme like /d/ or one like /t/. Any language which doesn't include such phonemes, can't have both "ma-" words and "da-" or "ta-" words. Let's start out by ruling out evidence from sign-languages, from languages whose membership in a family is in serious doubt or dispute, from extinct languages, and from creoles, pidgins, mixed languages, and trade languages. Let's also not consider as "families", for purposes of this investigation, any family or stock or phylum whose existence and/or status as a "family" is in serious doubt or dispute. We'd have to start with ruling out sign-languages, since the whole question of pronunciation isn't the same for them. A few "isolates or unclassifieds" are disputably part of some family, rather than isolates. We would have to also decide not to count them as counter-examples. *[1] Many of the isolates and unclassified languages are extinct; for them it might not be possible to decide whether or not we have every word that is synonymous with "mother" or "father", or alternatively that we have every word that begins either with "ma-" or with "da-" or "ta-". We would have to decide not to count such languages as counter-examples. *[2] We'd have to decide whether or not to include creoles, pidgins, trade languages, and mixed languages. *[3] My instinct would be to leave those languages until after the isolates and unclassifieds; or, maybe, even, til last. I would think, if one of them were a counter-example, that would indeed falsify the statement (1); but, because they are "mixed", they are unlikely to be counterexamples unless one of their substrates or superstrates is also a counterexample. Might as well investigate the substrates and superstrates first, then. We'd have to decide whether certain proposed language stocks count as "families", in case we find a counter-example contained within one of them but not within one of the families listed at *[4]. My instinct would be to omit Proto-World, of course. Other than that, if the claim (1) can be sustained only at the price of accepting one of these proposed stocks as a "language family", I would say the claim (1) can't be any better proven than the proof of the existence of such a "language family". ----- We'd start with the non-extinct and undisputed isolates and unclassifieds such as the following 72; Aikaná, Andoque, Betoi, Camsá, Canichana, Cayubaba language, Cofán, Huaorani, Huave, Irantxe, Itonama, Jotí, Koayá, Mapudungu, Movima, Munichi, Nambiquaran, Omurano, Pankararú, Puelche, Puinave, Seri, Tarascan, Taushiro, Tequiraca, Ticuna, Warao, Yámana, Yuracare, Yuri, Yurumanguí, Chimariko, Chitimacha, Coahuilteco, Esselen, Haida, Karankawa, Karok, Keres, Kootenai, Salinan, Siuslaw, Takelma, Timucua, Tonkawa, Tunica, Washo, Yana, Yuchi, Zuni, Enindhilyagwa, Laragiya, Tiwi, Abinomn language, Anêm, Ata, Busa language, Isirawa language, Kol language, Kuot language, Massep language, Pyu language, Sulka language, Taiap language, Yalë language, Yawa, Yélî Dnye, Yuri language, Ainu language or languages, Shabo, Tarairiú, and Alagüilac. After the isolates, there are five other familes that for various reasons are counted as one-language families, but not as isolates (I don't necessarily understand that either); Eastern Trans-Fly languages (one in Australia), Lule-Vilela languages (1), Mosetenan languages (1), Mura languages (1), and Paezan languages (1). That makes 77 languages. If every one of them has a word for "mother" and a word for "father" of which one is a "ma-" word and the other is a "da-" or "ta-" word, then we need to continue investigating. If even one of them doesn't, we know the hypothesis (1) is untrue and we don't need to continue; we're done. After the one-language families we would move on to the following families; Alacalufan languages (2), Alsean languages (2), Araucanian languages (2), Arutani-Sape languages (2), Cahuapanan languages (2), Chimakuan languages (2), Chon languages (2), Coosan languages (2), Harakmbet languages (2), Palaihnihan languages (2), Peba-Yaguan languages (2), Salivan languages (2), Totonacan languages (2), Tsimshian languages (2), Uru-Chipaya languages (2), Yukian languages (2), Zamucoan languages (2); Andamanese languages (perhaps two families); Aymaran languages (3), Chinookan languages (3), Comecrudan languages (3), Kalapuyan languages (3), Katukinan languages (3), Tequistlatecan languages (3), Yokutsan languages (3); Arnhem Land languages (3 families and 2 isolates); Jivaroan languages (4), Maiduan languages (4), Plateau Penutian languages (4), Shastan languages (4), Wintuan languages (4), Yanomam languages (4); Caddoan languages (5), Chapacura-Wanham languages (5), Mascoian languages (5), Nambiquaran languages (5); Chumashan languages (6), Maku languages (6), Muskogean languages (6), Tacanan languages (6), Wakashan languages (6), Witotoan languages (6); Barbacoan languages (7), Eskimo-Aleut languages (7), Kiowa-Tanoan languages (7), Pomoan languages (7), Zaparoan languages (7); Arauan languages (8), Guacurian languages (8); Choco languages (10); Iroquoian languages (11), Mataco-Guaicuru languages (11), Yuman-Cochimí languages (11); Utian languages (12); Siouan languages (16); Mixe-Zoquean languages (19); Chibchan languages (22); Salishan languages (23); Tucanoan languages (25); Algic languages (29), Carib languages (29); Panoan languages (30); Uto-Aztecan languages (31); Macro-Ge languages (32); Na-Dené languages (40); Quechuan languages (46). I don't know in what order we should investigate the following families; Altaic languages, Baining languages, Border languages, Bunaban languages, Central Solomons languages, Chukotko-Kamchatkan languages, Daly languages, Djeragan languages, East Bird's Head-Sentani languages, East Geelvink Bay languages, Gunwinyguan languages, Hmong-Mien languages, Japonic languages, Jicaquean languages, Kartvelian, Khoe languages, Lakes Plain languages, Left May-Kwomtari languages, Lencan languages, Limilngan languages, Mairasi languages, Mindi languages, Misumalpan languages, Nimboran languages, North Bougainville languages, Northeast Caucasian languages, Northwest Caucasian languages, Nyulnyulan languages, Papuan languages, Piawi languages, Senagi languages, Sepik languages, Skou languages, South Bougainville languages, South-Central Papuan languages, Tor-Kwerba languages, Torricelli languages, Tuu languages, Uralic languages, West Papuan languages, Wororan languages, Xincan languages, Yeniseian languages, Yuat languages, and Yukaghir languages. We'd save Mayan (69 languages), Arawakan languages (73), Dravidian (73 languages), Tupi (76 languages), Tai-Kadai (76 languages), Sepik-Ramu (100 languages), Austro-Asiatic (169 languages), Oto-Manguean (174 languages), Pama-Nyungan (178 languages), Nilo-Saharan (204 languages), Afro-Asiatic (375 languages), Sino-Tibetan (403 languages), Indo-European (449 languages), Trans-New Guinea (564 languages), Austronesian (1268 languages), and Niger-Congo (1514 languages) for last. ---------- *[1] These include Natchez, Minkin, Ngurmbur, Burushaski, Japanese, Kalto or Nahali, Korean, Nivkh or Gilyak, Elamite, Hattic, ‡Qhôã and possibly also Hadza and Sandawe and Juu, Basque, and Etruscan. *[2] These extinct languages include Cuitlatec, Otí, Puquina, Minkin, Sumerian, Elamite, Hattic, Etruscan, Iberian, Tartessian, Meroitic, Quti, Kaskian, Cimmerian, Baenan, Culle, Cunza, Gamela, Gorgotoqui, Huamoé, Kukurá, Natú, Tuxá, Xokó, Xukurú, Adai, Aranama-Tamique, Atakapa, Beothuk, Calusa, Cayuse, Cotoname, Maratino, Naolan, Quinigua, and Solano. *[3] such as American Indian Pidgin English, Basque-Algonquian Pidgin, Bislamic languages, Australian Creole, Bislama, Pijin, Tok Pisin, Torres Strait Creole, Broken Oghibbeway, Broken Slavey, Callahuaya, Carib Pidgin, Carib Pidgin-Arawak Mixed Language, Catalangu, Chabacano, Chinook Jargon, Delaware Jargon, Eskimo Trade Jargon, Greenlandic Eskimo Pidgin, Guajiro-Spanish, Güegüence-Nicarao, Haida Jargon, Haitian creole, Hawaiian Creole English, Hiri Motu, Hudson Strait Pidgin, Inuktitut-English Pidgin, Jargonized Powhatan, Kutenai Jargon, Labrador Eskimo Pidgin, Lingua Franca Apalachee, Lingua Franca Creek, Lingua franca, Lingua Geral do Sul, Loucheux Jargon, Media Lengua, Mednyj Aleut, Michif, Mobilian Jargon, Montagnais Pidgin Basque, Nheengatú, Norfuk, Nootka Jargon, Ocaneechi, Pitkern, Pidgin Massachusett, Portuguese-based creole languages, Rusnorsk, or Sango. *[4] Alarodian, Almosan, Almosan-Keresiouan, Algonkian-Gulf, Amerind, Central Amerind, Andean languages, Aztec-Tanoan, Austric, Chibchan-Paezan, Coahuiltecan, Dene-Caucasian, Equatorial languages, Eurasiatic, Gulf languages, Hokan languages, Hokan-Siouan, Ibero-Caucasian, Indo-Pacific, Keresiouan, Kongo-Saharan, Macro-Carib, Macro-Ge, Macro-Mayan, Macro-Panoan, Macro-Siouan, Macro-Tucanoan, Mosan, Na-Dene, Nostratic, Nostratic-Amerind, Penutian, Pontic, Proto-World, Quechumaran, Ural-Altaic, or Wappo-Yukian. ---------- eldin


Chris Bates <chris.maths_student@...>