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Re: [tied] Linguists identify 15,000-year-old ‘ultraconserved words’ -- David Brown

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  • Brian M. Scott
    ... I think that you miss the real point of those complaints, which I take to be that Pagel does not appear to know enough about the linguistics to be
    Message 1 of 4 , May 8, 2013
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      At 8:28:00 PM on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, Richard Wordingham wrote:

      > --- In cybalist@yahoogroups.com, "Brian M. Scott" <bm.brian@...> wrote:

      >> Sally Thomason has a nice skeptical piece on this in
      >> Language Log:

      >> <http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4612#more-4612>

      > It's a lousy riposte. The counter-arguments are so holey
      > that it almost reduces one to ad hominem arguments.

      > She complains that using Eskimo instead of Eskimo-Aleut
      > makes the study unlikely to be useful. In fact, so doing
      > should merely make the study less likely to come up with a
      > positive result. (I say 'should' because adding weakly
      > informative data has the curious effect of weakening the
      > conclusions of statistical exercises in linguistic
      > phylogeny.)

      > The validity of her complaint about using Altaic remains
      > to be determined. If, as is quite possible from what I've
      > seen in discussions of core Altaic, the relevant words
      > turn out to be Turkic, then there is no problem.

      I think that you miss the real point of those complaints,
      which I take to be that Pagel does not appear to know enough
      about the linguistics to be competent to carry out that
      exercise. And that's nowhere near being an ad hominem
      argument.

      Brian
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