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Re: Celtic and Afro-Asiatic?

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Sunday, September 18, 2005, 13:23

R A Brown wrote:

> Aidan Grey wrote: > [snip] > > > > Personally, I think language change is not so clean-cut. Families are > > the best approximations / generalizations of linguistic "genetics" we > > can provide. Even modern dialectology is not so clear cut - I know of > > some studies that show a continuum of change from one area to another, > > with no clear boundaries. What can you do with such fuzzy lizes, > > milennia after the fact and faced with only spotty written records? > > Yes, indeed - I am very much of similar opinion.
Yes. It can be clearly observed in the dialect landscapes of many languages that languages do not "cleanly" bifurcate, but rather, sound changes peter out (see, for example, the High German consonant shift), isoglosses intersect, etc. These kinds of changes are more aptly described with the wave model rather than the family tree model. It must have been the same in Common Indo-European before it broke up into the attested branches.
> =================================================== > > Leo Caesius wrote: > > R A Brown wrote: > >> > >>> "12) Prepositional periphrastic: BE + Prep + VN, e.g., > >>> "He is at singing" [TEONAHT'S "she is with singing"] > >> > >> In any case, is this a _Semitic_ trait? I am not aware of this." > >> > > One could argue that the "infinitive construct" in Biblical Hebrew > belongs > > to this category, particularly in connection with b- or k- to express > time- > > determinations (which need to be translated into temporal clauses in > > English). This, however, is unique to Hebrew; as Steg mentioned, Hebrew > > innovated its infinitives. > > So, not typically Semitic. > > In fact the insular Celtic use of "to be" with some form like 'at > singing' or 'in singing' seems to me far more certain to be connected > with the use in Vulgar Latin of "stare" (to stand) and _ablative_ of the > gerund. This construction still survives in modern Italian and in > Iberian Romance, cf. > It. stavano dormendo = Cat. estaven dorment = Sp. estaban durmiendo = > Port. estavam dormindo = VL. (i)staban(t) dormiendo (they were a-sleeping)
Yes. A common western European phenomenon that has *nothing* to do with Afro-Asiatic.
> The rest of > > > > "Are periphrastic verbal construction common in Semitic languages?" > > > > Actually, there are some constructions in Akkadian and Mandaic which > might > [etc. snipped] > > Yes - once again the feature that is advanced as evidence of > Afro-Asiatic influence on Celtic is hardly typical of Afro-Asiatic.
Yes. More typical of western European languages, as above.
> [snip] > > centuries, but occupied only seasonally IIRC. It's not unlikely that > the > > Phoenicians were in Madeira and perhaps even the Canaries, but > > archaeological evidence has not yet been found. > > > > All of the evidence for Phoenician ventures to the British Isles is > > textual, not archaeological. > > I think it is not improbable that Phoenicians did sail round to the > Cornish peninsular for tin, but as Leo says the evidence is textual. > However, even if they did, such a trade contact is hardly likely to have > had a profound effect upon the vernacular of the rest of Britain and > upon Ireland.
Yes. The only kind of influence to be expected from that kind of contact is a handful of borrowed words. Definitely not deep-rooted changes of the language's typology, and much less into a type that isn't especially similar to Semitic at all. I am currently reading through a book containing grammar sketches of various Semitic languages - and about the only similarity to Celtic I could notice is VSO head-modifier word order. Otherwise, the language families are utterly different. We can consider the issue closed. Greetings, Jörg.