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Re: [TIED] Re: IE, AA, Nostratic etc.

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  • Glen Gordon
    ... Well, I guess we re all in agreement. I have this same explanation of human language origins on my site in more laymen English...
    Message 1 of 24 , Jul 7, 2000
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      Piotr:
      > By contrast, there is no evidence of abnormally low genetic >diversity
      >for humans. I think it's highly likely that the total >population of early
      >anatomically modern Homo sapiens was fully >sustainable (that is, rather
      >large) at any time; and if so, then given >the size of primitive social
      >units, it was simply too large to support >just one language community.

      Mark O:
      >The concept of 'proto-World' is not improbable, though it might >possibly
      >be better called 'neo-proto-World' in that language may have >been
      >invented before this genetic bottleneck, and only one branch >survived.

      Well, I guess we're all in agreement. I have this same explanation of human
      language origins on my site in more laymen English...

      http://glen-gordon.tripod.com/language.html

      ...You guys seem to sound so much more scholarly when yous explain it :)

      - gLeN
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      Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com
    • John Croft
      ... one single location, because all the peoples of Earth have a common origin, but I agree with you that a scenario where several tribes of people developed
      Message 2 of 24 , Jul 7, 2000
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        Hakan writes:
        >
        > To me, it seems likely that language arose just once, in
        one
        single location, because all the peoples of Earth have a common
        origin, but I agree with you that a scenario where several tribes of
        people developed language independently of each other is not
        impossible, and we will probably never know exactly how it happened.
        >
        To which Piotr wrote
        > The survival of a species consisting of only one small
        population would be a miracle from a strictly biological point of
        view. Cheetahs are a species that must have been nearly doomed at
        some
        unknown time in the past but managed to take a few steps back from
        the
        brink of extinction. As a result, all cheetahs (from tropical Africa
        to India) are highly inbred, with all the adverse consequences such
        as
        vulnerability to the same diseases and environmental threats. By
        contrast, there is no evidence of abnormally low genetic diversity
        for
        humans. I think it's highly likely that the total population of early
        anatomically modern Homo sapiens was fully sustainable (that is,
        rather large) at any time; and if so, then given the size of
        primitive
        social units, it was simply too large to support just one language
        community.

        John here

        In actual fact, the Human Genome Project is in fact suggesting that
        Homo sapiens went through a similar "genetic bottleneck" as did the
        Cheetah. There is less genetic diversity amongst modern humans than
        there is in Chimpanzees, which show a genetic diversity of about 1
        million years in depth. Humans show a genetic diversity of about
        120,000-130,000 years only. Human population at this time may
        have been a few thousands only. Strike 1 for a single origin of
        language.

        Piotr again
        > I don't think language was invented like the wheel. Since
        we seem to be biologically adapted to using spoken language, this
        ability must have developed somehow in the normal course of evolution
        (unless you are prepared to believe in another miracle) out of more
        primitive forms of communication in a more or less gradual way. In
        this scenario, a number of languages could evolve parallelly but not
        quite independently, because interbreeding between different
        linguistic communities would ensure the propagation of common
        biological adaptations related to language use. As a result, all
        early
        humans would have shared a restricted language typology, but not a
        common language.
        >

        John

        Even the wheel was not invented like the wheel. Wheels have been
        found on children's toys in Pre-Columban Meso-America, with no
        evidence of diffusion from the Old World. It was the presence of
        draft animals in Eurasia that made the wheel an important viable
        invention for transport, rather than a plaything for children.

        People who speak of a single invention of language have difficulty
        accounting for "proto-languages" which must have existed in close
        proximity, with only small differences from the original. Such
        proto-languages, like later languages, probably influenced their
        neighbours, like languages do today. The fact that we are in a
        situation today of between 12-17 Language Phyla, with a scattering of
        linguistic isolates, is in part a measure of the fact that some 5,000
        languages are extant today. The peak diversity, I have seen it
        suggested, was about 8,500 BCE at which time some 15,000 languages
        were existing. With three times the linguistic dversity than today
        makes it not impossible that whole Phyla may have existed which have
        since disappeared. Some of these phyla may have been descendents of
        "protolanguages" that had become modernised by contact with others.
        The fact that the linguistic diversity of Africa, and the anomalous
        position of Khoisanid languages suggests a little of what the world
        circa 8,500 BCE may have been like. Papua New Guinea, Latin America
        or Australia also give good models.

        <Snip>
        Piotr
        >suspect that throughout the early history of language the genetic
        lineages of human dialects formed a tangled bush with many roots
        rather than a neat tree. Some speech communities grew large enough to
        split and produce sister languages, but such "vertical" tendencies
        were in a dynamic equilibrium with "horizontal" factors causing areal
        convergence and creolisation. In any synchronic section a
        hypothetical
        observer would have observed a small-sized family here, another one
        there, and a handful of isolates in between.

        John again
        The situation seems to have been close to that of human genetics.
        The
        fact that the mitochondrial Eve is the ancestor of humanity does not
        mean that she had no sisters. In fact she was one of tens of
        thousands at least. The fact that her sisters may have not left any
        descendents over the very long term (over a hundred thousand years)
        does not mean she was the only one to leave progeny. What led her
        "root" to survive, while those of the others did not is pure luck -
        chance only, a being in the right place at the right time for her
        descendents.

        The tangled bush analogy is certainly what Papua New Guinea provides.
        It would seem that in addition to the fission of branches, there is
        significant evidence of linguistic fusion as well in some places,
        where two parent languages seem to have completely fused to make a
        third, which maintains elements of both in almost 50-50 share.

        I think we essentially agree here Piotr.

        Regards

        John
      • Piotr Gasiorowski
        To: From: Mark Odegard Date sent: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 21:15:55 -0500 Send reply
        Message 3 of 24 , Jul 7, 2000
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          To: <cybalist@egroups.com>
          From: "Mark Odegard" <markodegard@...>
          Date sent: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 21:15:55 -0500
          Send reply to: cybalist@egroups.com
          Subject: Re: [TIED] Re: IE, AA, Nostratic etc.

          The methodology used in establishing the Mitochondrial Eve
          Hypothesis has been criticised by geneticists. Though beguiling
          and often cited in the popular media, it's just a hypothesis, and not
          a very solid one at that. A bottleneck about 75000 years ago?
          Modern humans had spread all over Africa and much of Eurasia by
          that time, and were just about to make their first inroads into
          Australia. It was, on the whole, a very successful species, and the
          people of 75 ky BP were pretty well like us, even if their
          technologies were less advanced. Their behaviour and subsistence
          methods were flexible; their survival strategies worked in the tropics
          as well as along the edge of the northern ice cap. They had a
          variety of flint implements, hunting weapons and clothes, knew how
          to make a shelter if a natural one wasn't available, or how to light a
          fire... Why should a volcano eruption on whatever imaginable scale
          have significantly reduced the population of such a widely
          distributed INTELLIGENT species without wiping most of the other
          life forms on Earth?

          Some people apparently cannot live without some "scientific"
          version of Noah's story.

          Piotr

          > Mark wrote:
          > From everything I've heard, humanity is not abnormally low in terms of
          > genetic diversity, and certainly not when compared to cheetahs. At the
          > same time, it's been suggested (on TV shows with not-quite impeccable
          > credentials) that (1) Homo sapiens sapiens went through a genetic
          > bottleneck ca. 75,000 years ago (perhaps correlated with the eruption
          > of the Toba volcano on Sumatra -- this is a 'super-volcano' like the
          > Yellowstone volcano) and (2) the probable population of the community
          > ancestral to all living humans was about 2,000. Through chance, only
          > one female stands at the head of this family tree as the ancestress of
          > every female human on the planet (mitochondrial DNA).
          >
          > The concept of 'proto-World' is not improbable, though it might
          > possibly be better called 'neo-proto-World' in that language may have
          > been invented before this genetic bottleneck, and only one branch
          > survived.
          >
          > When speaking of 'genetic diversity', everything I've read says we are
          > a young species, and compared to other older species, we have
          > considerably less diversity. We are at best 150,000 years old.
          >
          > I found a link for Toba Volcano. Unfortunately, it's from Discover
          > magazine, which makes the conclusions somewhat suspect (this is
          > tabloid science). The Britannica site, however, lists it:
          > http://www.britannica.com/bcom/magazine/article/0,5744,59492,00.html



          ><><><PIOTR><><><
          [pyotr gonshorofski]
          School of English
          Adam Mickiewicz University
          Poznan, Poland
          ><><><>BYE<><><><
        • Piotr Gasiorowski
          To: cybalist@egroups.com From: John Croft Date sent: Fri, 07 Jul 2000 09:25:09 -0000 Send reply to:
          Message 4 of 24 , Jul 7, 2000
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            To: cybalist@egroups.com
            From: "John Croft" <jdcroft@...>
            Date sent: Fri, 07 Jul 2000 09:25:09 -0000
            Send reply to: cybalist@egroups.com
            Subject: [TIED] Re: IE, AA, Nostratic etc.

            John,

            If one accepts the "Out of Some Place in Sub-Saharan Africa"
            scenario of human origins, it stands to reason that the initial
            genetic makeup of our ancestral lineage must have been rather
            uniform. We shall probably have to wait for the next phase of the
            HGP before concrete figures become more than educated guesses,
            but to my mind even a total population of a few thousand (divided
            into tribal groups with 50 or so members each) would have been
            large enough to support a good deal of linguistic differentiation.

            I can't help being sceptical about treating "phyla", "stocks" and
            "macrofamilies" as genetic rather than areal units. I think we agree
            on other points.

            Piotr

            John wrote:
            
            In actual fact, the Human Genome Project is in
            fact suggesting that 
            Homo sapiens went through a similar "genetic
            bottleneck" as did the 
            Cheetah. There is less genetic diversity
            amongst modern humans than 
            there is in Chimpanzees, which show a genetic
            diversity of about 1 
            million years in depth. Humans show a genetic
            diversity of about 
            120,000-130,000 years only. Human population at
            this time may 
            have been a few thousands only. Strike 1 for a
            single origin of 
            language.
            


            ><><><PIOTR><><><
            [pyotr gonshorofski]
            School of English
            Adam Mickiewicz University
            Poznan, Poland
            ><><><>BYE<><><><
          • John Croft
            Piotr to Mark wrote ... not ... tropics ... light a ... It would appear that until the Lake Toba explosion Homo sapiens sapiens had been confined to Africa by
            Message 5 of 24 , Jul 7, 2000
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              Piotr to Mark wrote
              > The methodology used in establishing the Mitochondrial Eve
              > Hypothesis has been criticised by geneticists. Though beguiling
              > and often cited in the popular media, it's just a hypothesis, and
              not
              > a very solid one at that. A bottleneck about 75000 years ago?
              > Modern humans had spread all over Africa and much of Eurasia by
              > that time, and were just about to make their first inroads into
              > Australia. It was, on the whole, a very successful species, and the
              > people of 75 ky BP were pretty well like us, even if their
              > technologies were less advanced. Their behaviour and subsistence
              > methods were flexible; their survival strategies worked in the
              tropics
              > as well as along the edge of the northern ice cap. They had a
              > variety of flint implements, hunting weapons and clothes, knew how
              > to make a shelter if a natural one wasn't available, or how to
              light
              a
              > fire... Why should a volcano eruption on whatever imaginable scale
              > have significantly reduced the population of such a widely
              > distributed INTELLIGENT species without wiping most of the other
              > life forms on Earth?

              It would appear that until the Lake Toba explosion Homo sapiens
              sapiens had been confined to Africa by the equally successful Homo
              sapiens neanderthalensis stretching from the Atlantic to the Chinese
              border. Similar archaic Homo s. have been found in Java and
              Northern China. It appears that Homo errectus was going the same
              way that other far flung populations of successful species and
              evolving into regional sub-species and eventually (if allowed to
              continue) possibly 4-5 different Homo. species altogether. Homo
              sapiens sapiens was the African variety. Homo sapiens sapiens finds
              have been found circa 90,000 BCE in Palestine, but everywhere they
              were replaced in these locations by the equally successful (and more
              cold adapted) Neanderthals.

              The Lake Toba explosion (73,000 BCE) was important because it
              produced
              a sudden, global cooling of the environment found world wide.
              Increasing aridity caused a retreat of Hominids out of the Sahara,
              back to refuges on the Atlantic coast and south and east into the
              higher rainfall areas. Homo sapiens sapiens numbers probably fell as
              a result. Sea levels also fell, and an alternative route out of
              Africa was opened up than through Palestine, namely across the Afar
              triangle into Yemen.

              It would appear that a littorial culture managed to make the escape
              across to the East, following the same route taken out of Africa by
              the first Homo errectus nearly 1.8-1.5 million years earlier. The
              archaeology of that part of the world is very poorly known at
              present,
              but there are finds of Homo sapiens sapiens in northern Australia and
              southern China that have been accurately dated to 63,000 years ago.
              Being a littorial culture too means that their route taken means
              their
              finds are currently below sea level.

              > Some people apparently cannot live without some "scientific"
              > version of Noah's story.

              So Piotr rather than a Noah story, it seems that it was an
              "anti-Noah", fall in sea levels and a fall in Human populations,
              followed thereafter by a sidden increase in Homo sapiens numbers as
              we
              collonised new environments in South East Asia, East Asia and
              Australia. The littoral (coastline) nature of the culture explains
              the interest in boat and raft building, necessary for the sea voyage
              to Australia. It also explains how Homo sapiens sapiens and Homo
              errectus in Java could co-exist until 29,000 BCE (as they exploited
              different food sources). It is strange how just as the flood story
              is
              so widespread, of equal provenance is the tales of other species of
              "humanoids" (Giants, fairies, trolls, in Europe, Masalai, Ginagabee
              in
              the Papua New Guineans and Aboriginals people. China also has its
              own
              crop). Only Africa and the Americas seem to have cultures deprived
              of
              other humanoids (which are the areas where other humanoids were
              absent!)

              As to whether Lake Toba produced the genetic bottleneck or not it is
              interesting that there appears to have been some kind of trade off.
              Either a very small number of humans (at 130,000 years BCE) or a
              larger number bottleneck more recently (eg. 73,000 years BCE).

              It would appear that only with a subsequent escape from Africa, via
              Palestine some 40,000 years ago by the specialist big game hunters of
              the Aurignacian culture (Glen's Dene Caucasians) that direct
              competition occurred between the more mobile Homo sapiens Big Game
              hunters and the more say at home Neanderthals. The Big game
              specialisation seems to have carried Homo Sapiens across the Eurasian
              steppes to Berengia (the Alaskan land bridge) by about 35,000 BCE.
              Only in the western half of this range was there direct contact with
              Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.

              Glen and I both feel that the next mjor break out of Africa was with
              the "broad spectrum hunter-gatherer revolution" using microliths,
              bows
              and arrows, and, once they got into the moddle east, accompanied by
              the domestication of the dog, some 12,000 BCE. This would appear to
              be associated with the spread of Nostratic languages.

              Linguistics, genetics and archaeology definitely do seem to be coming
              together into a single study of the science of human origins.

              Regards

              John
            • John Croft
              Piotr wrote ... agree ... I suspect that you missed my point. The human genome suggests that one lineage of Homo saps finished up by chance being those that
              Message 6 of 24 , Jul 7, 2000
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                Piotr wrote
                > If one accepts the "Out of Some Place in Sub-Saharan Africa"
                > scenario of human origins, it stands to reason that the initial
                > genetic makeup of our ancestral lineage must have been rather
                > uniform. We shall probably have to wait for the next phase of the
                > HGP before concrete figures become more than educated guesses,
                > but to my mind even a total population of a few thousand (divided
                > into tribal groups with 50 or so members each) would have been
                > large enough to support a good deal of linguistic differentiation.
                >
                > I can't help being sceptical about treating "phyla", "stocks" and
                > "macrofamilies" as genetic rather than areal units. I think we
                agree
                > on other points.

                I suspect that you missed my point.

                The human genome suggests that one lineage of Homo saps finished up
                by
                chance being those that contributed genetic material to modern
                humans,
                That does not mean that this was the only lineage alive at the time.
                In fact that is extremely unlikely. What happens with such things is
                that time and chance slowly whittles away at the number of
                independent
                lineages until only one survives (a similar thing happens with royal
                families - the Medieval lords were slowly whittled down untill the
                line that holds the Crown finishes up as the chief landholder (it
                happened in both Britain and France).

                Thus there was prbably a good deal more linguistic differentiation
                than a lineage of a few thousand divided into hunter gatherer bands
                of
                50 each would suggest. And there was also probably a vast number of
                almost modern proto-languages around at the same time, from which
                linguistic concepts were robably flowing into and out of as well.
                Hence me finding your tangled bush metaphor very meaningful.

                Nevertheless, just as time and chance weeds out genetic lineages, it
                would seem to do the same for languages. I have seen figures that
                suggest that human linguistic diversity reached a maximum about 8,500
                BCE (just prior to the origins of grain farming, and the spread of
                standardised languages across large areas.) At that time human
                populations may have stood somewhere between 15-30 million people,
                and
                there may have been some 15,000 different languages. This would mean
                that the average language had about 1,000-2,000 speakers. (as hunter
                gatherer bands were about 30-50 each this would mean about 30-60
                bands
                per language. The fact that there are so few big language families
                today (eg. AA, NK, Kh, NS, in Africa, UrY, Al, IE, AA, Dr, Au, ST in
                Eurasia, In, De, Am in the Americas, IP and Aus in Australia-New
                Guinea) with the rest being isolates or small groups, to me suggests
                just the luck of the draw, historical accident and being at the right
                place and time. Our tangled bush has become weeded until all the
                leaves stem from only a few shoots further back. Most of their
                contemporaries have long gone.

                Hope this helps clarify the fact that I really do think we
                substancially agree

                Regards

                John
              • Piotr Gasiorowski
                ... From: John Croft To: cybalist@egroups.com Sent: Saturday, July 08, 2000 6:49 AM Subject: [TIED] Re: IE, AA, Nostratic etc. Thanks for the clarification.
                Message 7 of 24 , Jul 8, 2000
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                  ----- Original Message -----
                  Sent: Saturday, July 08, 2000 6:49 AM
                  Subject: [TIED] Re: IE, AA, Nostratic etc.

                  Thanks for the clarification. Indeed, we seem to be in general agreement. Note that even though nearly all of the genetic lineages of early humans inevitably expired, that doesn't necessarily mean that all the languages originally spoken by people belonging to those lineages died out.
                   
                  My definition of "language family" is more restrictive than yours, and in my view bona fide families are more numerous and smaller than in your list. Consequently, I think you seriously underestimate the degree of diversity that still exists. For example, I wouldn't accept Amerind as a genetic unit. You mention Australian, but I have doubts even about the status of Pama-Nyungan: Robert Dixon (_The Rise and Fall of Languages_, 1997) argues that it's not a family at all, but the result of tens of millennia of areal diffusion in Australia's "tangled bush". The African "phyla" are likewise highly controversial. Very well, you prefer to lump and I prefer to split. But the "weeding-out" process you describe is something I could certainly subscribe to. The way I see it, it was mainly the recent "great expansions" of the major modern families that obliterated the original diversity of some of the continents. In the Pre-Neolithic world natural equilibrium favoured the existence of tiny families (as in New Guinea, which has about sixty of them), with a lot of lateral diffusion and creolisation to make sure that the bush was really tangled. But even those small-sized units were the "lucky drawers" in the evolutionary lottery -- most of their cousins had been weeded out. The more recently acquired technological and cultural advantages had the effect of increasing the size of the winners -- they enabled some of the successful families to become middle-sized (by our standards) or even huge.
                   
                   
                  John writes:

                  I suspect that you missed my point.

                  The human genome suggests that one lineage of Homo saps finished up
                  by
                  chance being those that contributed genetic material to modern
                  humans,
                  That does not mean that this was the only lineage alive at the time. 
                  In fact that is extremely unlikely.  What happens with such things is
                  that time and chance slowly whittles away at the number of
                  independent
                  lineages until only one survives (a similar thing happens with royal
                  families - the Medieval lords were slowly whittled down untill the
                  line that holds the Crown finishes up as the chief landholder (it
                  happened in both Britain and France).

                  Thus there was prbably a good deal more linguistic differentiation
                  than a lineage of a few thousand divided into hunter gatherer bands
                  of
                  50 each would suggest.  And there was also probably a vast number of
                  almost modern proto-languages around at the same time, from which
                  linguistic concepts were robably flowing into and out of as well. 
                  Hence me finding your tangled bush metaphor very meaningful.

                  Nevertheless, just as time and chance weeds out genetic lineages, it
                  would seem to do the same for languages.  I have seen figures that
                  suggest that human linguistic diversity reached a maximum about 8,500
                  BCE (just prior to the origins of grain farming, and the spread of
                  standardised languages across large areas.)  At that time human
                  populations may have stood somewhere between 15-30 million people,
                  and
                  there may have been some 15,000 different languages.  This would mean
                  that the average language had about 1,000-2,000 speakers.  (as hunter
                  gatherer bands were about 30-50 each this would mean about 30-60
                  bands
                  per language.  The fact that there are so few big language families
                  today (eg. AA, NK, Kh, NS, in Africa, UrY, Al, IE, AA, Dr, Au, ST in
                  Eurasia, In, De, Am in the Americas, IP and Aus in Australia-New
                  Guinea) with the rest being isolates or small groups, to me suggests
                  just the luck of the draw, historical accident and being at the right
                  place and time.  Our tangled bush has become weeded until all the
                  leaves stem from only a few shoots further back.  Most of their
                  contemporaries have long gone.

                  Hope this helps clarify the fact that I really do think we
                  substancially agree
                • Piotr Gasiorowski
                  ... From: John Croft To: cybalist@egroups.com Sent: Saturday, July 08, 2000 6:31 AM Subject: [TIED] Re: IE, AA, Nostratic etc. John wrote: It is strange how
                  Message 8 of 24 , Jul 8, 2000
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                    ----- Original Message -----
                    Sent: Saturday, July 08, 2000 6:31 AM
                    Subject: [TIED] Re: IE, AA, Nostratic etc.

                    John wrote:
                    It is strange how just as the flood story is so widespread, of equal provenance is the tales of other species of "humanoids" (Giants, fairies, trolls, in Europe, Masalai, Ginagabee in the Papua New Guineans and Aboriginals people. China also has its own
                    crop).  Only Africa and the Americas seem to have cultures deprived of other humanoids (which are the areas where other humanoids were absent!)
                     

                     
                     
                    John,
                     
                    Other hominids were also absent from Australia.
                     
                    As for North America, have you never heard of Sasquatches, Bigfeet and Florida Swamp Apes?? Many of them belong to the Palefaces' urban folklore, but at least the Sasquatch seems to be an authentic if legendary giant of the Halkomelem. Glen will be better informed about Sasquatches, I suppose.
                     
                    Piotr
                  • chriscrawford@wave.net
                    The word that I m not seeing in this discussion is cladistics . This is a study developed mostly by the biologists in formalizing the taxonomy of life.
                    Message 9 of 24 , Jul 9, 2000
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                      The word that I'm not seeing in this discussion is "cladistics".
                      This is a study developed mostly by the biologists in formalizing
                      the taxonomy of life. They've accomplished a great deal here; I
                      wonder if linguistics could profit by snatching some of its ideas.
                      The main obstacle would be linguistic crossover (you have a term
                      for it) -- words from one language being adopted in a completely
                      unrelated language. This would be analogous to a horse mating with
                      plankton in biological cladistics. I wonder, do you have any
                      estimates of the degree to which linguistic borrowing takes place?
                      I would think that English would show lots of borrowing -- but
                      how much of the modern English vocabularly is French?

                      Which reminds me, after all the borrowing we've done from French,
                      you'd think they'd appreciate our efforts at partial repayment,
                      but they remain incomprehensibly unappreciative.
                    • Piotr Gasiorowski
                      ... From: chriscrawford@wave.net To: cybalist@egroups.com Sent: Sunday, July 09, 2000 5:37 PM Subject: [TIED] Re: IE, AA, Nostratic etc. Some linguist are
                      Message 10 of 24 , Jul 9, 2000
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                        ----- Original Message -----
                        Sent: Sunday, July 09, 2000 5:37 PM
                        Subject: [TIED] Re: IE, AA, Nostratic etc.

                        Some linguist are receptive to cladistic ideas; cf. P. Gasiorowski. 1999. ‘The Tree of Language: a Cladistic Look at the Genetic Classification of Languages’. Dialectologia et Geolinguistica 7.

                        Lexical borrowing can take the shape of massive influx if there is a prestigious culture to borrow from. The proportion of Romance words in the modern English vocabulary will vary depending on how many learned and technical terms you choose to take into account. I'd put it at ca. 80%, including Graeco-Latin vocabulary. Middle English survived the invasion of French words and remained a vigorous language (Chaucer was active shortly after the influx had reached its peak).

                        On the other hand, lots of Old French words borrowed into Middle English (blue, bacon, harness, marshal, war, etc.) were of Germanic origin. The French had no mediaeval Academie Française to fend off foreign influence. Lending and borrowing is a perfectly natural process.

                        Piotr


                        Chris wrote:
                        The word that I'm not seeing in this discussion is "cladistics".
                        This is a study developed mostly by the biologists in formalizing
                        the taxonomy of life. They've accomplished a great deal here; I
                        wonder if linguistics could profit by snatching some of its ideas.
                        The main obstacle would be linguistic crossover (you have a term
                        for it) -- words from one language being adopted in a completely
                        unrelated language. This would be analogous to a horse mating with
                        plankton in biological cladistics. I wonder, do you have any
                        estimates of the degree to which linguistic borrowing takes place?
                        I would think that English would show lots of borrowing -- but
                        how much of the modern English vocabularly is French?

                        Which reminds me, after all the borrowing we've done from French,
                        you'd think they'd appreciate our efforts at partial repayment,
                        but they remain incomprehensibly unappreciative.
                      • John Croft
                        Piotr wrote ... Amerind as a genetic unit. You mention Australian, but I have doubts even about the status of Pama-Nyungan: Robert Dixon (_The Rise and Fall of
                        Message 11 of 24 , Jul 9, 2000
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                          Piotr wrote

                          >For example, I wouldn't accept
                          Amerind as a genetic unit. You mention Australian, but I have doubts
                          even about the status of Pama-Nyungan: Robert Dixon (_The Rise and
                          Fall of Languages_, 1997) argues that it's not a family at all, but
                          the result of tens of millennia of areal diffusion in Australia's
                          "tangled bush".

                          Do you have further bibliographic details for Dixon? I don't know
                          much about the further reaches of Pama Nyungan, (i.e. Pama) but do
                          know a fair bit about Nyungar, having shared a house with the first
                          fluent "white" speaker of the language in about a century, currently
                          attempting to do what people have suggested we do with Neo PIE and
                          rejuvenate a language with modern non-Nyungar speaking Nyungars. It
                          would appear there was a cultural uniformity in the Nyungar area
                          going
                          back 39.5 thousand years, with no genetic shifts in the population
                          showing that there was no migration of people into the area from
                          outside. There was probably a movement into the SW of Western
                          Australia 18,000 years ago with the Ice Age maximum and the spreading
                          of dune fields across most of the continent. Nyungar is
                          clearly cognate with Yamatji and Wangkai and the languages of
                          the Western and Great Sandy Desert as a result. Nyungar people in
                          Perth have clear and accurate memories of the late Pliestocene and
                          early Holocene sea level rises, which argues for great continuity.
                          There is also evidence of continued long-distance trade across the
                          Pama Nyungan area, which would have had some effect on maintaining
                          cultural (and hence linguistic) uniformity. The "trading" of Dream
                          Time stories has been shown to suggest that most of these are less
                          than 5,000 BCE old, which corresponds nicely with the arrival of the
                          dingo from SE Asia, and the spread of Circumcission as an initiation
                          ritual (it never penetrated either SW WA (which is known to the
                          Western Desert people as "The Land of the Boys" as a result) or SE
                          Australia.

                          Against the vast depth of Aboriginal languages is the fact that most
                          Western Australian languages had the "death taboo" abaginst using the
                          name of those who have died, similar to that found in the Papua New
                          Guinean Highlands. If this had a common origin in Australoid
                          cultures
                          it is very old. This "death taboo" has been used by New Guinean
                          linguists to help explain the linguistic diversity of the Highlands
                          (eg. if you have someone called "Pandanus Nut", when that person dies
                          you have to invent a new way of referring to the real pandanus nut).
                          This is one reason why so many Aboriginal languages finish in the
                          word
                          "Jara" (eg Pitjanjatjara), as this means "The people who say
                          Pitjanjat
                          - usually for a word in another language with a sound system
                          something
                          quite different.

                          Piotr continues
                          > The African "phyla" are likewise highly controversial.
                          Very well, you prefer to lump and I prefer to split. But the
                          "weeding-out" process you describe is something I could certainly
                          subscribe to. The way I see it, it was mainly the recent "great
                          expansions" of the major modern families that obliterated the
                          original
                          diversity of some of the continents. In the Pre-Neolithic world
                          natural equilibrium favoured the existence of tiny families (as in
                          New
                          Guinea, which has about sixty of them), with a lot of lateral
                          diffusion and creolisation to make sure that the bush was really
                          tangled.

                          It was Stephen Wurm who originally showed that most could be fitted
                          into a Trans Papuan Phylum. More recent work suggests a single
                          Indo-Pacific Phylum unifying all of the smaller families - (eg
                          Torricelli, Sepik Ramu, Trans Papuan etc) - that as with others seems
                          to be due to the spread of a very deep "agricultural breakthrough"
                          some 28,000 years ago. Sriggs 1993 "Pliestocene Agriculture in the
                          Pacific" in Sahul in Review: Pliestocene Archaeology in Australia,
                          New Guinea and Island Melanesia" has shown that taro Caolcasia
                          esculenta was probably cultivated at Kilu cave 28,740 BP and
                          Fredricksen "Pamwacke Rockshelter on Manus Island" 1993, Research
                          School of Pacific Studies, ANU shows that the Canarium almond was
                          being cultivated from Manus, through the Bismarcks to the Solomons at
                          an equally early date. As farming was occurring at Kuk, 12,000 BP,
                          this makes Papua New Guinea the site of the world's oldest
                          agricultural dispursion, making the Indo Pacific Language Family a
                          real possibility.

                          Piotr continues
                          >But even those small-sized units were the "lucky drawers" in
                          the evolutionary lottery -- most of their cousins had been weeded
                          out.
                          The more recently acquired technological and cultural advantages had
                          the effect of increasing the size of the winners -- they enabled some
                          of the successful families to become middle-sized (by our standards)
                          or even huge.

                          I would strongly agree with this statement.

                          Thanks for your comments.

                          Regards

                          John
                        • John Croft
                          In reply to my ... equal provenance is the tales of other species of humanoids (Giants, fairies, trolls, in Europe, Masalai, Ginagabee in the Papua New
                          Message 12 of 24 , Jul 9, 2000
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                            In reply to my
                            > It is strange how just as the flood story is so widespread, of
                            equal provenance is the tales of other species of "humanoids"
                            (Giants,
                            fairies, trolls, in Europe, Masalai, Ginagabee in the Papua New
                            Guineans and Aboriginals people. China also has its own
                            > crop). Only Africa and the Americas seem to have cultures
                            deprived of other humanoids (which are the areas where other
                            humanoids
                            were absent!)

                            Piotr wrote
                            > Other hominids were also absent from Australia.

                            True, but the coexisted with Homo sapiens in South East Asia from
                            approx 70,000 BCE to 27,000 BCE. Possibly this may have coloured
                            Austronesian cultural memory.

                            > As for North America, have you never heard of Sasquatches,
                            Bigfeet
                            and Florida Swamp Apes?? Many of them belong to the Palefaces' urban
                            folklore, but at least the Sasquatch seems to be an authentic if
                            legendary giant of the Halkomelem. Glen will be better informed about
                            Sasquatches, I suppose.

                            Hmm... I never thought of that one. Interesting. I know the Yeti
                            has
                            been linked to the survival into early historic times of
                            Gigantopithecus - a relative of the Orang Utan.

                            It is interesting, I came across a reference that claimed PIE had a
                            word for monkey. I don't follow it myself. But the word for elf
                            seems to have a long PIE etymology.

                            Thanks

                            John
                          • Piotr Gasiorowski
                            ... From: John Croft To: cybalist@egroups.com Sent: Monday, July 10, 2000 6:50 AM Subject: [TIED] Re: IE, AA, Nostratic etc. ... tangled bush . John asked:
                            Message 13 of 24 , Jul 10, 2000
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                              ----- Original Message -----
                              Sent: Monday, July 10, 2000 6:50 AM
                              Subject: [TIED] Re: IE, AA, Nostratic etc.

                              >>Robert Dixon (_The Rise and Fall of Languages_, 1997) argues that it's not a family at all, but the result of tens of millennia of areal diffusion in Australia's
                              "tangled bush".

                              John asked: >Do you have further bibliographic details for Dixon
                               
                              Robert Dixon. 1997. The Rise and Fall of Languages. Cambridge: CUP. Dixon, as you surely know, is one of the very best Australianists, with lots of field experience, and his opinions are certainly worth reading. Note that the experts who divide Papuan, African, Native American, etc., languages into "phyla", don't call those taxa "families". This is because they themselves realise that the decisive judgement about their affinities cannot be pronounced yet and the genetic units they propose are not generally agreed to exist. "Phylum" is not a taxon higher than a family but a conventional shorthand for "proposed but not demonstrated distant linguistic relationship". In many cases the vague affinity which makes people construct phyla may be due to lateral influence rather than common descent.
                               
                              Piotr
                            • Aida Benitez
                              ... From: John Croft To: Sent: Monday, July 10, 2000 12:50 AM Subject: [TIED] Re: IE, AA, Nostratic etc. Dear Sirs:
                              Message 14 of 24 , Jul 10, 2000
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                                ----- Original Message -----
                                From: John Croft <jdcroft@...>
                                To: <cybalist@egroups.com>
                                Sent: Monday, July 10, 2000 12:50 AM
                                Subject: [TIED] Re: IE, AA, Nostratic etc.

                                Dear Sirs:

                                Could you please help me so as to give instructions on how to subscribe to
                                this list? This is for a philologist who did not know about this discussion
                                list and is eager to join. If this inquiry has become public, I do
                                sincerely apologize and thank you in advanced for the help.

                                Sincerely,

                                Aida M. Benitez-Rexach
                              • Danny Wier
                                ... Well I got your message, so obviously you re already subscribed! Welcome to the list; and we can always use an expert (as opposed to an amateur/dilettante
                                Message 15 of 24 , Jul 10, 2000
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                                  --- Aida Benitez <alfy@...> wrote:

                                  > Could you please help me so as to give instructions on how to subscribe to
                                  > this list? This is for a philologist who did not know about this discussion
                                  > list and is eager to join. If this inquiry has become public, I do
                                  > sincerely apologize and thank you in advanced for the help.

                                  Well I got your message, so obviously you're already subscribed! Welcome to
                                  the list; and we can always use an expert (as opposed to an amateur/dilettante
                                  like me).

                                  DaW.

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                                • Glen Gordon
                                  ... Um, actually, no. Actually they are called Bigfoot in both singular and plural. :) There s an Ogopogo in British Columbia but that s not a humanoid but
                                  Message 16 of 24 , Jul 10, 2000
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                                    Piotr:
                                    > As for North America, have you never heard of Sasquatches, Bigfeet >and
                                    >Florida Swamp Apes?? Many of them belong to the Palefaces' urban >folklore,
                                    >but at least the Sasquatch seems to be an authentic if >legendary giant of
                                    >the Halkomelem. Glen will be better informed about >Sasquatches, I suppose.

                                    Um, actually, no. Actually they are called "Bigfoot" in both singular and
                                    plural. :) There's an "Ogopogo" in British Columbia but that's not a
                                    humanoid but rather a kind of Loch Ness monster. In Manitoba, the only
                                    "humanoid" legends I can think of our those little elves of Icelandic myth.
                                    There is a sizable Icelandic community in Gimli.

                                    There are some humanoids that walk down Main Street here in Winnipeg, but
                                    they're just the local townsfolk, drunk on everything from Pinesol to
                                    battery acid. My roommate mentioned a native "Windigo" legend, supposedly an
                                    evil spirit or something. Sounds like something I ate.

                                    At any rate, I doubt that these myths are in any way connectable with a time
                                    way back when, when humans were living next to Neanderthal populations.
                                    These are just myths common to many human populations, the
                                    anthropomorphisation of animal spirits and things of that kind.

                                    - gLeN


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                                  • Piotr Gasiorowski
                                    ... From: Glen Gordon To: cybalist@egroups.com Sent: Monday, July 10, 2000 7:25 PM Subject: Re: [TIED] Re: IE, AA, Nostratic etc. Glenn wrote: Actually they
                                    Message 17 of 24 , Jul 10, 2000
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                                      ----- Original Message -----
                                      Sent: Monday, July 10, 2000 7:25 PM
                                      Subject: Re: [TIED] Re: IE, AA, Nostratic etc.


                                      Glenn wrote:
                                       
                                      Actually they are called "Bigfoot" in both singular and
                                      plural. :)
                                       
                                      Well, I've recently participated in an egroup discussion where these monsters loomed large, and people apparently living in the very heart of Bigfoot country called them Bigfeet in the plural. As they are about as real as Big Bird (I mean Bigf..t, not my egroup pals), it hardly matters. There is no memory of mammoth hunting in Siberia, though real mammoth carcasses are regularly found there, fossil ivory has always been an important object of trade, and mammoths survived Neanderthals by twenty millennia at least. The local stories about mammoths have nothing to do with reality. It's extremely unlikely that any cultural memory of the Neanderthals should have survived till historical times.
                                       
                                      Piotr
                                    • Mark Odegard
                                      From: Piotr Gasiorowski The way I see it, it was mainly the recent great expansions of the major modern families that obliterated the original diversity of
                                      Message 18 of 24 , Jul 10, 2000
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                                        The way I see it, it was mainly the recent "great expansions" of the major modern families that obliterated the original diversity of some of the continents. In the Pre-Neolithic world natural equilibrium favoured the existence of tiny families (as in New Guinea, which has about sixty of them), with a lot of lateral diffusion and creolisation to make sure that the bush was really tangled. But even those small-sized units were the "lucky drawers" in the evolutionary lottery -- most of their cousins had been weeded out. The more recently acquired technological and cultural advantages had the effect of increasing the size of the winners -- they enabled some of the successful families to become middle-sized (by our standards) or even huge

                                         
                                        Indeed. Technological advantages generally mean you eat better than those without them. The better your diet, the more babies you women have, the more children you have who survive into adulthood. However it was, the IEs seem to have had better technology, a better method of keeping themselves fed, than did the other peoples in northern Europe and on the Steppe. This part of the world was either thinly populated, or virtually unpopulated (as with the case of the grasslands between river valleys on the Steppe). Natural increase alone would have inevitably swamped earlier autochthons.
                                         
                                        Mark.
                                      • Glen Gordon
                                        ... Agreed. - gLeN ________________________________________________________________________ Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at
                                        Message 19 of 24 , Jul 10, 2000
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                                          Piotr:
                                          >It's extremely unlikely that any cultural memory of the Neanderthals
                                          > >should have survived till historical times.

                                          Agreed.

                                          - gLeN
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                                        • John Croft
                                          Piotr wrote ... though real mammoth carcasses are regularly found there, fossil ivory has always been an important object of trade, and mammoths survived
                                          Message 20 of 24 , Jul 10, 2000
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                                            Piotr wrote

                                            >There is no memory of mammoth hunting in Siberia,
                                            though real mammoth carcasses are regularly found there, fossil ivory
                                            has always been an important object of trade, and mammoths survived
                                            Neanderthals by twenty millennia at least. The local stories about
                                            mammoths have nothing to do with reality. It's extremely unlikely
                                            that
                                            any cultural memory of the Neanderthals should have survived till
                                            historical times.

                                            That is strange since Mammoth finds have been recorded since at least
                                            the 16th century, and presumably were found before that too. I know
                                            of some Scythian ornamentation that has been shown to have been
                                            mammoth ivory! Presumably people had stories of the strange hairy
                                            animal found frozen in the snow.

                                            As for long lived cultural memmories, it has recently been
                                            demonstrated convincingly that Aboriginal people living in Arnhemland
                                            (NE Northern Territory), knew of the megafauna that became extinct it
                                            is believed 15-20,000 years ago. Cave paintings in the area are
                                            known
                                            to show species that have local names, and myths about these animals
                                            show a thorough understanding of particular types.

                                            Our local "Rainbow Serpent" here in Perth was known as the Waugal.
                                            Known scientifically as Wanabi naracourtensis, it was an ambush
                                            predator, living in natural sun-traps, besides waterholes. It would
                                            wait for kangaroos to come to drink, and then pounce from within the
                                            water. It is interesting that even today, all Waugal sacred sites
                                            are
                                            in areas that are natural sun-traps, besides waterholes, over 18,000
                                            years since they became extinct.

                                            But then as our last post showed, Aboriginal people here show an
                                            amazing cultural continuity not found elsewhere.

                                            Regards

                                            John
                                          • John Croft
                                            Mark wrote to Piotr s post ... those without them. The better your diet, the more babies you women have, the more children you have who survive into adulthood.
                                            Message 21 of 24 , Jul 10, 2000
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                                              Mark wrote to Piotr's post

                                              >Indeed. Technological advantages generally mean you eat better than
                                              those without them. The better your diet, the more babies you women
                                              have, the more children you have who survive into adulthood. However
                                              it was, the IEs seem to have had better technology, a better method
                                              of
                                              keeping themselves fed, than did the other peoples in northern Europe
                                              and on the Steppe. This part of the world was either thinly
                                              populated,
                                              or virtually unpopulated (as with the case of the grasslands between
                                              river valleys on the Steppe). Natural increase alone would have
                                              inevitably swamped earlier autochthons.

                                              It seems that Indo-European technology was fairly limited. Research
                                              on the human genome shows that the people of northern Europe came
                                              from
                                              the Middle East, via Anatolia and the Balkans, rather than out of the
                                              steppe. Renfrew rather than Gambutas.

                                              However, it is also fairly clear that the consensus IE origin is from
                                              the steppes (a la Mallory, Gimbutas and others), indicating that it
                                              arrived as a superstrata language that was consistently reinforced
                                              until it prevailed, with substrata peoples probably contributing most
                                              of their genes. This would certainly be true of Sanscrit in India
                                              and
                                              Iranian, as well.

                                              Another example of the lesson Glen keeps trying to teach me, (despite
                                              my protestations that I know it already) that genes and languages
                                              don't necessarily go together :-)

                                              Regards

                                              John
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