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Re: [ANE-2] Oldest writing system

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  • Peter T. Daniels
    There is nothing meriting a response in this entirely ad hominem posting (why was it permitted?), except that misspelling someone s name every time it occurs
    Message 1 of 24 , Jan 6, 2012
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      There is nothing meriting a response in this entirely ad hominem posting (why was it permitted?), except that "misspelling" someone's name every time it occurs is not "a typo someplace." 
      --
      Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
      Jersey City


      >________________________________
      > From: Steve Farmer <saf@...>
      >To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      >Cc: Steve Farmer <saf@...>
      >Sent: Friday, January 6, 2012 4:07 PM
      >Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Oldest writing system
      >
      >
      >

      >
      >
      >On Jan 6, 2012, at 12:34 PM, Peter T. Daniels wrote:
      >
      >> Is this really an ANE topic?
      >
      >You apparently think it is one, since I was just responding to your misreporting of Richard Sproat's position. Richard will respond himself in a moment. I guess not seeing that there is a response you now want to make this a non-ANE topic?
      >
      >But it is in fact one, since good arguments can be made that literacy in the ancient world through at least the end of the third millennium BCE -- and indeed much further -- was an exclusively ANE phenomenon. No writing east of Elam once proto-Elamite disappeared at the beginning of the 3rd millennium in Central Asia, the SE Iranian plateau, in the Persian Gulf (Dan Potts agrees), and certainly not in the Indus Valley. Much evidence for all this, which clearly raises big questions about ANE.
      >
      >> Who is this "Daniel" you keep referring to?
      >
      >Did I leave an 's' out of your name someplace in a typo? Sorry about that, and thanks for pointing out something critical. I know your work -- evidently a lot better than you know that of me or my collaborators.
      >
      >> Of course I have read Farmer/Sproat/Witzel. I am not aware of any other publications on the question, so I am not aware that I can have read "papers" on the topic. Conference presentations are not papers that can be consulted.
      >
      >You've read it? I doubt you read it carefully, since you grossly misreport our views. The paper again is here:
      >
      >http://www.safarmer.com/fsw2.pdf
      >
      >> What does "proto-writing system" mean?
      >
      >Obviously a long discussion. To give a quick-and-dirty definition that works, and is in line with the late Peter Damerow's work: a system of symbols that eventually reached full speech-encoding capabilities. We argue specifically, pace the false claims made on ANE-2 earlier today, that there is strong evidence that the Indus system was not moving in that direction after over 600 years of use, despite the fact that the Harappans were in trade contact throughout that time with civilizations that clearly did have fully literate systems.
      >
      >> You were not at BLS, so you don't know _what_ Sproat said at that meeting.
      >
      >I received reports the next day about what both Sproat said AND you said -- see Richard's upcoming post on that. Odd that you don't mention the strong opinions you gave that day on the so-called Indus script, which few competent linguists today think could be a "script." (You claimed it encoded "Dravidian," per Parpola's OLDER views.) You've clearly never studied the materials in question.
      >
      >>
      >> Coverage in _Science_, or in _Nature_ or in _PNAS_, is hardly an accolade concerning any linguistic topic. On the rare occasions when a language-oriented paper is submitted to them -- and usually they're by non-linguists of many stripes (biologists, physicists, computer scientists) -- their peer-reviewing system apparently fails them utterly, and the most arrant nonsense is published purporting to shed light on (typically) language classification.
      >>
      >> What do you think the Indus symbol-sequences are, if not "texts"? According to whose law is a literate culture required to produce lengthy texts on non-perishable materials in order for their graphic semiotic system to count as "writing"? By that criterion, the [ObANE] Hebrew language had no writing system before the 1st or 2nd c. BCE.
      >
      >Strings of kudurru symbols and dozens of other types of non-linguistic symbols also "look like writing" superficially -- but of course aren't.
      >
      >Since we've discussed this issue many times in print, and you've never published anything at all on Indus materials, let me ask you YOUR reasons for claiming that these ludicrously short symbol strings are part of a "full writing system", as Parpola used to believe (he doesn't anymore) but you apparently do.
      >
      >Good scholarshop doesn't depend on repeating without argument something you found in someone else's secondary studies.
      >
      >Regards,
      >
      >Steve Farmer
      >Palo Alto, California
      >The Cultural Modeling Research Group
      >http://www.safarmer.com
      >
      >

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