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Ruiy
23-11-12, 10:14
¿What is the opinion of all you about the Nostratic theory?.

I dont know why I distrust the theories that seek to derive the unit of the plurality. I mean, ¿And if is just a mental tendency, and not adapted to the reality of the facts?.
We must take into account that talk of Nostratic is go back far back in history and I do not know to what extent the data permit. ¿What do you think about it?

Kardu
23-11-12, 11:55
I personally don't believe in existence of 'proto-languages' or language families modeled similar to biological organisms.

Languages change and evolve not straightforwardly by descent as e.g. animal species. Their development is much more complex and lot of hybridization takes place in relatively short periods, which makes search for a proto-language futile mental exercise.

Only historically proved proto-language is Latin for Spanish, Italian etc.

Taranis
23-11-12, 16:23
I personally don't believe in existence of 'proto-languages' or language families modeled similar to biological organisms.

Languages change and evolve not straightforwardly by descent as e.g. animal species. Their development is much more complex and lot of hybridization takes place in relatively short periods, which makes search for a proto-language futile mental exercise.

Only historically proved proto-language is Latin for Spanish, Italian etc.

Sorry Kardu, but I think you're following a logical fallacy here: just because the proto-language is unattested doesn't automatically mean that it never existed. Besides, there's more examples where the Proto-language is attested, for example the Gaelic languages (descended from Old Irish) or the Indic languages (descended from Sanskrit). A good non-Indo-European example would be old Aramaic and the modern Neo-Aramaic languages.


What is debatable is how reliable and how accurate a language reconstruction is if we only work from later attested languages. This is also the main problem of the Nostratic concept: it reaches so far back and assumes deep relationships between major, very different language families that it's highly dubious that the reconstructions are reliable in any way. But I think to say that 'the concept of proto-language is completely false' does not lead to anywhere.

Ruiy
23-11-12, 20:06
Sorry Kardu, but I think you're following a logical fallacy here: just because the proto-language is unattested doesn't automatically mean that it never existed. Besides, there's more examples where the Proto-language is attested, for example the Gaelic languages (descended from Old Irish) or the Indic languages (descended from Sanskrit). A good non-Indo-European example would be old Aramaic and the modern Neo-Aramaic languages.


What is debatable is how reliable and how accurate a language reconstruction is if we only work from later attested languages. This is also the main problem of the Nostratic concept: it reaches so far back and assumes deep relationships between major, very different language families that it's highly dubious that the reconstructions are reliable in any way. But I think to say that 'the concept of proto-language is completely false' does not lead to anywhere.


All right. What is questionable is not the existence of families or proto-languages​​, but rather the linguistic reconstruction method used to reach them. Or more precisely to reach those not attested as late, that is, those that hypothetically existed for billions of years back in history.

¿But then it is possible that at some point in linguistics history (going back to back) the reality of protolanguages ​​disappear to give rise to a unknown linguistic configuration and verifiable only through other methods than not are the traditional reconstruction??.

Kardu
23-11-12, 23:01
Sorry Kardu, but I think you're following a logical fallacy here: just because the proto-language is unattested doesn't automatically mean that it never existed. Besides, there's more examples where the Proto-language is attested, for example the Gaelic languages (descended from Old Irish) or the Indic languages (descended from Sanskrit). A good non-Indo-European example would be old Aramaic and the modern Neo-Aramaic languages.


What is debatable is how reliable and how accurate a language reconstruction is if we only work from later attested languages. This is also the main problem of the Nostratic concept: it reaches so far back and assumes deep relationships between major, very different language families that it's highly dubious that the reconstructions are reliable in any way. But I think to say that 'the concept of proto-language is completely false' does not lead to anywhere.

But neither does it mean that any given proto-language did exist. :)

Imagine we wouldn't have any historical sources, would we be able to properly reconstruct 'proto-English' for example? and assign it a proper place among other languages?

Another totally vague and unreliable activity is to assign those proto-languages to certain ethnic groups...

Ruiy
24-11-12, 09:47
But neither does it mean that any given proto-language did exist. :)

Imagine we wouldn't have any historical sources, would we be able to properly reconstruct 'proto-English' for example? and assign it a proper place among other languages?

Another totally vague and unreliable activity is to assign those proto-languages to certain ethnic groups...


Perhaps yes it would be possible to go back to a proto-language. It is impossible not to see similarities between language groups, and remember that linguistic science born of comparative analysis.
But this is no longer so simple in ancient times, and much of what was supposedly the language was in those times is pure and mere speculation. And that's where it is questionable the reconstruction method traditionally used.

Taranis
24-11-12, 18:21
But neither does it mean that any given proto-language did exist. :)


Yes, you're correct about this, especially in the Nostratic context, or any model that supposes that higher-order relationships between major language families do exist (there's other, comparable concepts such as "Eurasiatic", "Dene-Caucasian", or "Borean"). In my opinion, while it's certainly correct that these major families must be somehow related, I think that these macro-families are almost certainly false.



Imagine we wouldn't have any historical sources, would we be able to properly reconstruct 'proto-English' for example? and assign it a proper place among other languages?


Well, "Proto-English" is perhaps the false word, but I could tell you just from the knowledge of modern English and German that something like Proto-Germanic must have existed at one point. My reconstruction would very probably be inaccurate and incomplete, but the concept by itself (that some form of Proto-Germanic existed) wouldn't be false.



Another totally vague and unreliable activity is to assign those proto-languages to certain ethnic groups...


Well, a proto-language must have been spoken by somebody. If you're asking wether we can identify those speakers unambigously from the archaeological context if we have no written sources, then the answer obviously has to be "no".



Perhaps yes it would be possible to go back to a proto-language. It is impossible not to see similarities between language groups, and remember that linguistic science born of comparative analysis.
But this is no longer so simple in ancient times, and much of what was supposedly the language was in those times is pure and mere speculation. And that's where it is questionable the reconstruction method traditionally used.


It depends of the time frames we are talking about. Most of the more well-established language families (such as Indo-European, Semitic, Uralic) probably date back into the early Bronze Age to Neolithic, which gives us a timeframe of some 6000 to 8000 years (the only language family that might be substantially older than this is Afroasiatic). The Nostraticists usually assume that Nostratic was spoken around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum (around 20,000 years ago), which is several times older than any of the above.

On methodology, the comparative method works well for language families (or at least, when you have multiple languages that you can compare against each other), but it breaks down when you have isolate languages because you have nothing to compare them against.

Ruiy
24-11-12, 20:19
Yes, you're correct about this, especially in the Nostratic context, or any model that supposes that higher-order relationships between major language families do exist (there's other, comparable concepts such as "Eurasiatic", "Dene-Caucasian", or "Borean"). In my opinion, while it's certainly correct that these major families must be somehow related, I think that these macro-families are almost certainly false.





Well, "Proto-English" is perhaps the false word, but I could tell you just from the knowledge of modern English and German that something like Proto-Germanic must have existed at one point. My reconstruction would very probably be inaccurate and incomplete, but the concept by itself (that some form of Proto-Germanic existed) wouldn't be false.





Well, a proto-language must have been spoken by somebody. If you're asking wether we can identify those speakers unambigously from the archaeological context if we have no written sources, then the answer obviously has to be "no".





It depends of the time frames we are talking about. Most of the more well-established language families (such as Indo-European, Semitic, Uralic) probably date back into the early Bronze Age to Neolithic, which gives us a timeframe of some 6000 to 8000 years (the only language family that might be substantially older than this is Afroasiatic). The Nostraticists usually assume that Nostratic was spoken around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum (around 20,000 years ago), which is several times older than any of the above.

On methodology, the comparative method works well for language families (or at least, when you have multiple languages that you can compare against each other), but it breaks down when you have isolate languages because you have nothing to compare them against.



Precisely: "was spoken around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum (was spoken around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum (around 20.000 years ago)." ¿You think that is possible to know something about those dark days about language?. ¿What kind of archaeological documents exist?. Nostraticists I think that just assume that if the reconstructive method works well in Indo-European, Uralic, etc.., we could also find similarities (deeper) between these families and postulate a macro-family that existed further back time.

Ruiy
24-11-12, 21:04
But neither does it mean that any given proto-language did exist. :)

Imagine we wouldn't have any historical sources, would we be able to properly reconstruct 'proto-English' for example? and assign it a proper place among other languages?

Another totally vague and unreliable activity is to assign those proto-languages t

To certain ethnic groups...


Hey Kardu, ¿ and the Etnolinguistic what then???

Kardu
24-11-12, 21:41
Hey Kardu, ¿ and the Etnolinguistic what then???
What about ethnolinguistics? :)
What can we say about modern Turks, modern Hungarians, modern Jamaicans etc.? Based solely on linguistic data, without historical and genetic sources we would be totally wrong about their ethnic origins...

Kardu
24-11-12, 21:50
Taranis, yes proto or any language must have been spoken by somebody, but again the point is IF it existed in the form they reconstruct it.

Even if those paleolinguists are right about reconstructions, there is no proof that a 'proto language' existed with all those reconstructed forms at some point of time...

Kardu
24-11-12, 23:40
And to make my point clearer: let's say certain 'proto-language' existed at some point of time, it in no way implies that its speakers were genetically homogenous...

Take Latin for example, proto-language for Italian, Spanish, French etc., can anyone claim that Romans were a genetically homogenous group?

Ruiy
25-11-12, 06:43
And to make my point clearer: let's say certain 'proto-language' existed at some point of time, it in no way implies that its speakers were genetically homogenous...

Take Latin for example, proto-language for Italian, Spanish, French etc., can anyone claim that Romans were a genetically homogenous group?



Ok Kardu, I understand you; but take this same example: the Latin. Of this tongue born the Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian, etc., that is, Romance languages ​​calls. The Linguists have reconstructed the proto-romance, and that tongue is -now we know- the vulgar latin, that is, the latin spoke by the common people in those days; the street latin, the same that was spoken in ordinary conversations by towns people; not the latin of writers. You can not ignore that fact, ¿do you?.

Kardu
25-11-12, 12:34
Ok Kardu, I understand you; but take this same example: the Latin. Of this tongue born the Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian, etc., that is, Romance languages ​​calls. The Linguists have reconstructed the proto-romance, and that tongue is -now we know- the vulgar latin, that is, the latin spoke by the common people in those days; the street latin, the same that was spoken in ordinary conversations by towns people; not the latin of writers. You can not ignore that fact, ¿do you?.
That's exactly what I meant :) "Take Latin for example, proto-language for Italian, Spanish, French etc., can anyone claim that Romans were a genetically homogenous group?"
If not even Romans were themselves genetically homogenous group what can we say about myriads of plebeians around the vast empire...

Taranis
25-11-12, 14:11
Taranis, yes proto or any language must have been spoken by somebody, but again the point is IF it existed in the form they reconstruct it.


Well, regardless of the scenario they assume on the origin of a language family, for example Indo-Europeanists will agree that there were speakers of Proto-Indo-European at one point. of course, if you have a different scenario you get very different assumptions about the time and place such a language was spoken.


Even if those paleolinguists are right about reconstructions, there is no proof that a 'proto language' existed with all those reconstructed forms at some point of time...

I think in the case of most language families, the evidence is self-apparent with the attestation of the daughter languages (modern and historic). We also very often have additional data from other languages and language families that the speakers of this language family were in contact with. Also, what would be the alternative to for example Proto-Indo-European, or to Proto-Semitic? Saying "they just didn't exist" is no alternative. In that case we're one step away from saying "it was the confusion of tongues at the tower of Babel", and that's obviously not science, that is religion...


And to make my point clearer: let's say certain 'proto-language' existed at some point of time, it in no way implies that its speakers were genetically homogenous...

Well, I'd say this isn't about genetics. After all, there's a reason that there's different sub-forums for genetics and linguistics... :good_job:

Besides that, I generally agree that while these speakers certainly weren't genetically homogenous, but nontheless there's a number of Y-Haplogroups that appear to coincide with historic (or prehistoric) demic movements - and it's unavoidable this also coincided with a movement of language.