Random language thread 4

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby voron » 2017-03-01, 8:28

Luís wrote:"Do you have any idea what that cost?" (Can you conceive what the price of that must have been?)
"Do you have any ideas for the winter ball?" (Can give some suggestions for the winter ball?)

Russian behaves just like English in this respect. You can use our equivalent of any - какой-нибудь - in both singular and plural.

У тебя есть какое-нибудь представление, сколько это могло стоить?
У тебя есть какие-нибудь идеи насчёт зимнего бала?

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-03-01, 8:50

Literal English translations for the equivalents of those two sentences in Malayalam would (respectively) be something like:

Is there even one grasp to you that its price is how much?
Is there something/anything an idea to you for the "winter ball/dance"? (<- The part in quotes would have to be said in English. There isn't any way to say this in Malayalam that would make sense since we don't have balls, we don't traditionally have public dances, and we don't even have winter! :P).

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby Osias » 2017-03-01, 12:46

vijayjohn wrote: since we don't have balls


:whistle:
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-03-01, 12:56

Lol. Well, I think my dad once said there was that stereotype about Malayalees, too!

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby Vlürch » 2017-03-01, 18:50

Michael wrote:spoken Turkish reminds me very much of Japanese and Korean

Yeah, the way Turkish is spoken, it sounds cute in the same "uguu nyöööööng~ :3" way as Japanese and Korean. I don't know if it's because of a pitch accent or anything related to stress, but it probably has something to do with the palatalisation and the way "violations" of vowel harmony are handled by some kind of vowel reduction or something? I'm not sure if that's even close to what it actually is, though... but it sounds cute, especially when spoken by Erdoğan, which is hilarious because I don't think his intention is to sound cute at all... like, for some reason, the way his voice bounces reminds me of anime characters and/or Japanese comedy films... and my first instinctional mental image of him is how in some documentary that came on TV a while back he was like "HYÖÖÖÖÖÖÖH" while holding a mic with both hands and why am I rambling about this
vijayjohn wrote:since we don't have balls

Every time I hear/see the word "ball" with the meaning of a dance event thingy, I'm really confused for a moment because I just don't get how it can be used to mean that. I don't remember what movie it was, but I was completely thrown off when some drama set in like the 30's or whatever had a scene where two guys were talking about stuff and reminiscing over all the good times they'd had that would be gone forever for some reason (I guess because they had to go to war or something?), and one of the guys said he had always loved the other guy's balls. :rotfl:

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-03-02, 0:44

Sometimes my dad likes to tell this joke:

Why do policemen have the biggest balls?
Because they sell more tickets.
Vlürch wrote:Every time I hear/see the word "ball" with the meaning of a dance event thingy, I'm really confused for a moment because I just don't get how it can be used to mean that.

They're different words with completely different etymologies. "Ball" as in round thing is a native word whereas "ball" in the sense of 'dance' is a French loanword.

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby Vlürch » 2017-03-02, 7:48

I know the Indo-Semitic theory is considered pretty much debunked by a lot of people, especially in connection with Sumerian and/or other language isolates and/or the Caucasian languages, but that doesn't mean it's impossible for ancient shared vocabulary to exist, or something to have influenced something else in some way... or at least it doesn't stop me from posting this:

*h₃órbʰos - orphan; servant, slave, worker
Sumerian (sux) arad - slave, servant
Akkadian (akk) abdu - slave, servant
(Proto-Semitic) ʿabd- - slave; man
Georgian (ka) ობოლი (oboli) - orphan

So, a really fucking ancient common ancestor (regardless of genetic relationship) of the Proto-Indo-European, Sumerian, Proto-Semitic and Georgian would be something like *hʿrabʰdolos. Take this with a grain of salt, obviously, but then "Arab" and this Ancient Greek word could possibly with a leap of logic be derived from that:

Ancient Greek (grc) χαλεπός (khalepós) - diffcult, hard; hard to bear, painful, grievous; cruel, harsh, stern; savage, fierce

...although probably not. :P

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby linguoboy » 2017-03-02, 13:24

If you play fast and lose with correspondences, you can derive anything from anything. "Proto-World" proved that.

ETA: To elaborate on what I mean, I'll point out that *h³órbʰos and *ʿabd- have not one single segment in commmon and the other "matches" are almost as bad. Moreover, *ʿabd- is of limited distribution in Semitic, not being found in South Semitic at all. As for East Semitic, Akkadian abdu is considered a direct borrowing of the Central Semitic word.
Last edited by linguoboy on 2017-03-02, 15:53, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby dEhiN » 2017-03-02, 13:39

Speaking of "Proto-World", has the idea of super-families or macro-families gained any sort of acceptance or traction among linguists? I know there are linguists who claim and hold to various superfamily theories, but my understanding was that in general the majority of linguists don't believe it's realistically possible to compare past the major linguistic families we hold to today.
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby voron » 2017-03-02, 14:00

Michael wrote:Would you know of a site where I can watch subtitled episodes for free?

Sorry I just noticed this question.
I bet you already found the English subtitles, they are available on youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqQSl1I2lPc

As for the Turkish subtitles, unfortunately I don't know if you can find subtitled episodes directly online, but you can download subtitles at least for several episodes as text files from here:
http://www.turkcealtyazi.org/sub/347209 ... memnu.html

You may choose to read the subtitles from the file while you are watching the film, or download the video and feed the subtitles to the player so that it combines them.

If you want to avoid all this subtitle mess altogether, you may choose another show from this link, where all the videos are already subtitled:
http://engelsiz.kanald.com.tr/

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby Vlürch » 2017-03-03, 2:19

linguoboy wrote:If you play fast and lose with correspondences, you can derive anything from anything. "Proto-World" proved that.

ETA: To elaborate on what I mean, I'll point out that *h³órbʰos and *ʿabd- have not one single segment in commmon and the other "matches" are almost as bad. Moreover, *ʿabd- is of limited distribution in Semitic, not being found in South Semitic at all. As for East Semitic, Akkadian abdu is considered a direct borrowing of the Central Semitic word.

Yeah, but I'm generally not very serious about anything. :P Seriously, though, there could've been a bunch of language families separate from any known ones that are now extinct, influencing various languages at some point beforehand. Language isolates didn't just pop into existence out of thin air, and if trying to fit them into other families doesn't work in spite of some similarities (especially ones that are difficult to explain), maybe there were widespread language families that became extinct relatively recently.

I mean, it's kind of naive to think the average person in the middle ages for example would've known what language the people in some other town spoke beyond the fact that it was different and what they themselves called it, since even today people are pretty fucking ignorant (myself included, according to just about any actual linguists) when it comes to linguistics in general and especially the relationship of their own native language with other languages. You know, like how a lot of English-speakers assume that English grammar is somehow the universal standard and shit, and probably at least half of all westerners thinking that Iran is an Arabic-speaking country.

Also, nomadism was a much bigger thing in the past, so who's to say there weren't hyper-nomadic peoples that left behind random influences to the languages and cultures they came in contact with? For example, although descent from Sumerians is a controversial issue and no one wants to recognise anyone except themselves as having descended from them, someone obviously did because if there had ever been a Sumerian genocide, whoever would've been behind it would absolutely have bragged to hell about it considering how influential Sumer was in its time and how the concept of human rights and laws of war didn't even exist yet (at least in the way they do now). So even though a lot of Sumerians just assimilated to other peoples, there would likely still have been some that refused to assimilate and, well, didn't.

Let's say there was a Culture 1A and 1B that descended from Sumerians (because if no schism of any kind happened, there would likely still have been a Sumerian culture after the region became dominated by others; the Third Dynasty of Ur coming about after the centuries of Akkadian and Guti rule is proof of that, so after its collapse, Sumerian identity itself probably collapsed and I can't think of any reason for that other than internal disputes and/or radical changes in their traditional lifestyle that led to Sumerians beginning to identify with other cultures more than their own and/or splitting into at least two post-Sumerian peoples that continued speaking languages descended from Sumerian), which diverged around 2000 BCE and one of which became nomadic while the other one didn't (1A and 1B respectively).

If some Sumerians became nomads and/or migrated permanently to another geographical region on a large scale, they probably went north and possibly continued either west or east (maybe both). Assuming they didn't have a huge fucking exodus as a united people (because if they did, someone would've noticed since they probably would've conquered the shit out of somewhere, and thus records of Sumerians would exist later (both/either written by Sumerians and/or their enemies)), they probably split up several times and moving further north while others stayed behind. Thus, it would be geographically and historically plausible for the Proto-Turkic *teŋri (Proto-Altaic *t`aŋgiri, depending on whether Altaic is a thing or not) to come from Sumerian dingir, and it would make sense for some language(s) descended directly from Sumerian to exist or have existed in the Caucasus mountains or somewhere around that general geographical area. Even though it's unlikely, Hunnic could have been a direct descendant of Sumerian, in which case it wouldn't be too outlandish to think that Basque could have Sumerian influences... but probably not...

Anyway... I'm getting a headache from all these ifs, probablys (probablies?), maybes, possiblys (possiblies?) and leaps of logic, so I'll just ask if anyone has any idea: does any language of the Caucasus have anything in common with Sumerian in ways that can't be explained easily in other ways like through Hittite or whatever?

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby linguoboy » 2017-03-03, 3:55

Vlürch wrote:Anyway... I'm getting a headache from all these ifs, probablys (probablies?), maybes, possiblys (possiblies?) and leaps of logic, so I'll just ask if anyone has any idea: does any language of the Caucasus have anything in common with Sumerian in ways that can't be explained easily in other ways like through Hittite or whatever?

Not that anyone's been able to demonstrate using sound methodology, no.
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-03-03, 5:03

dEhiN wrote:Speaking of "Proto-World", has the idea of super-families or macro-families gained any sort of acceptance or traction among linguists? I know there are linguists who claim and hold to various superfamily theories, but my understanding was that in general the majority of linguists don't believe it's realistically possible to compare past the major linguistic families we hold to today.

Yeah, historical linguistics just doesn't have techniques to allow us to reconstruct further back than 5,000 years or so (I think that's right. Maybe I'm remembering the number wrong), so generally, linguists don't take the idea of macrofamilies and such all that seriously. However, there is relatively good evidence in support of Dene-Yeniseian, so this particular proposal does have traction among linguists. Apart from that, IME historical linguists and language contact specialists often appear to be interested in the fact that people have proposed macrofamilies, but they seem to be inclined to believe that these proposals are more likely to be indicative of very early language contact rather than genetic relationship per se.

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby dEhiN » 2017-03-06, 5:32

vijayjohn wrote:Apart from that, IME historical linguists and language contact specialists often appear to be interested in the fact that people have proposed macrofamilies, but they seem to be inclined to believe that these proposals are more likely to be indicative of very early language contact rather than genetic relationship per se.

Why has historical linguistics been more inclined to believe in early language contact than genetic relationship? When I first read that, I just took it for granted that the logic made sense: we have no real way of knowing what is genetic relationship or not, so it's more likely that it's language contact. But why exactly it more likely? If we have no real way of knowing, then would it not be a 50/50 chance either way? What methodologies do historical and comparative linguists use to say what is language contact and what isn't when it comes to time frames in the BCE period?
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-03-06, 6:43

Well, if you want to prove that two languages are genetically related, the best technique for doing that that we have (i.e. the one that historical linguists are always supposed to use) is the comparative method, which is a pretty big task even when applied to modern languages, let alone languages we have no actual attestation of that died out thousands of years ago. There is no similarly vigorous method of proving language contact; rather, language contact is a factor that you want to rule out when establishing a genetic relationship. But also, in some of these cases at least, linguists have been able to formulate hypotheses of where the proto-languages/ancestor languages of each family were spoken. If two proto-languages were spoken relatively close to each other, and especially if there's evidence (e.g. archeological artifacts) that speakers of these proto-languages may have been in contact (via trade, war, enslavement, employment, or whatever), then language contact becomes that much harder to rule out as a factor.

Also, claims of long-range genetic relationships often use forms that resemble each other as evidence. However, what we already know about genetic relationships suggests that if forms do resemble each other, that's more likely due to language contact than to genetic relationship, because languages that are genetically related to each other would undergo sound changes. That means the more likely situation is that cognates do not particularly/obviously resemble each other.

Basically, there are just too many ways that we already know languages can influence each other when its speakers come into contact with each other. If we want to prove that two languages are genetically related - at any period in time - we have to be able to rule all of them out.

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby Vlürch » 2017-03-06, 8:08

dEhiN wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:Apart from that, IME historical linguists and language contact specialists often appear to be interested in the fact that people have proposed macrofamilies, but they seem to be inclined to believe that these proposals are more likely to be indicative of very early language contact rather than genetic relationship per se.

Why has historical linguistics been more inclined to believe in early language contact than genetic relationship? When I first read that, I just took it for granted that the logic made sense: we have no real way of knowing what is genetic relationship or not, so it's more likely that it's language contact. But why exactly it more likely? If we have no real way of knowing, then would it not be a 50/50 chance either way? What methodologies do historical and comparative linguists use to say what is language contact and what isn't when it comes to time frames in the BCE period?

I guess it's mostly a combination of modern geopolitics and mixing/coexistence between ethnolinguistic groups (eg. Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic and Uralic, and Indo-European and Uralic, etc.) that makes it important from a "sensible" point of view to distinguish between genetic relationship and language contact.

Hopefully this metaphor using presidential sex explains my view on how the influence of politics on linguistics has the potential to be confusing:

Nobody wants to tell Niinistö and Erdoğan to make a sex tape together, but if there was a petition, a lot of people would sign it. Personally, I'd vote for such a sex tape to be made just because it'd be funny to see how awkward it would be for two heads of state to film themselves having sex. Now, imagine if it was established that they're related. How many more would sign the petition? It'd make it a thousand times more awkward, so a lot more people would want to see it. Of course, Niinistö and Erdoğan are not related, but they are just individuals; if Finns and Turks are distantly related, or if the languages are distantly related, there'd be all kinds of implications regardless of whether Niinistö and Erdoğan would ever be petitioned to make a sex tape or not.

That said, I think the distinction between genetic relationship and language contact is emphasised too much in most contexts for two reasons. First and foremost, the two are not mutually exclusive. Secondly, because while it's taken for granted that the speakers of unrelated languages living next to each other influence each other's cultures and languages and that the mutual influence is even greater if there's extensive intermarriage and stuff, the idea that languages that were unrelated at one point can become related at another without creolisation is ignored too often. I mean, I get that the reason it's ignored is that it makes no sense in a lot of contexts, but it also makes more sense in other contexts than maintaining a distinction between genetic relationship and language contact, most obviously the Altaic languages. Whether the Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic languages originated from a single proto-language or not is irrelevant after so many centuries of contact, and by extension it also applies to the Uralic languages because even if a lot of the influences from the Altaic languages have been replaced by other influences, the long periods of shared history have left their own influence.

So, even though Ural-Altaic/Turanic/Hunnic/???? is discredited as a conventional language family, that doesn't mean a single proto-language couldn't be reconstructed as if they had originated from a single source; tons of inconsistencies simply make it harder and mean that they either A) split from a single language so long ago or in such an abrupt way that it's impossible to reliably reconstruct anything, or B) they have two or more distinct origins but shared at least two periods of contact before the point of reconstructability.

Someone is probably going to say that there's a third option, C) they never had any ancient contact and any and all similarities are just pure coincidences or the result of more recent contact, but I find that hard to believe because Huns were a thing (and all the "proto-Huns" or whatever like Xiongnu) and since nothing is really known about what their languages were like but it is known where they came from and what languages were spoken in their conquered lands, they probably were some Ural-Altaic/Turanic/Hunnic/????-speakers, but not belonging to any particular branch (similarly to Khitans being "para-Mongolic") and as such the logical assumption is that there were once more varied Ural-Altaic/Turanic/Hunnic/???? languages spoken all around Eurasia that have gone extinct and can only be implied to have existed through non-linguistic means.

Thanks to the existence of Chuvash as evidence of Oghur languages and Khitan as a para-Mongolic language, there's knowledge of the lack of knowledge regarding the past greater variety in the Altaic languages alone, and the disputes regarding the organisation of the Uralic family speaks for itself. Then, considering the existence of Ket and the other already extinct Yeniseian languages, there probably was more diversity in Eurasia before that was lost as a result of wars and assimilations. Even the Paleosiberian language isolates were probably part of larger families with intermediary languages/dialects. All of them could've either been a single language or an even more fragmented mess in like 20000 BCE or something, but either way they've had contact with each other and the genetic relationships have become impossible to determine. It's likely that more "isolates" and now-extinct unknown language families existed, but since they're extinct (or may have never existed, according to the "lack of evidence is not evidence" view) and time travel isn't exactly a thing (even if it's possible in theory), it'll remain a mystery and as long as it remains a mystery, people will continue throwing around accusations of being related to Huns as an insult and others taking pride in being related to Huns, all the while no one really knows who the fuck is related to Huns and who isn't... and even if it was known, it would still not be known what the Hunnic language was like.

Politics shouldn't be relevant in historical linguistics, but they are, since even opposition to politics is political and the desire of Ural-Altaicists to conclusively conclude that Ural-Altaic is a thing is motivated entirely by a desire to be able to say "I told you so!" and/or "fuck yeah Attila" or whatever, similarly to how the desire of anti-Ural-Altaicists to conclusively conclude that Ural-Altaic is not a thing is motivated by a desire to be able to say "I told you so!" and/or "fuck off Attila" or whatever. :P

PS: I know Attila is way too recent to actually be the logical historical figure to refer to, but I mean... Attila... c'mon, everybody loves Attila... although he was a dick and everything, but that's why we have different standards for pre-modern leaders, right?

And once again, I derail a thread with pseudolinguistic Ural-Altaic bullshit. Sorry, I guess...

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby dEhiN » 2017-03-06, 11:06

Vlürch, I ask this in all sincerity, but do you go into a rant/vent/pov argument with a particular point in mind? I've read a few of your whatever-you-call-its now, and it sounds like you're trying to play devil's advocate with your arguments, but that you end up doing so much back-and-forth that you confused yourself and anyone else reading it. I'm not sure if this is something you deal with, but I know I used to do this a lot: I'd think of an argument to respond to someone, and then try to think of all their possible responses or objections or counter-responses, and then try to counter all those myself. And I'd do all this before even uttering a word. It was like I was trying to play a game of chess all in my head in order to ensure I won the game I was about to play in real life. And it seems like you do some of that, except you write it out in your posts. If that's true, then might I suggest focusing on one point? It's clearer and others can respond to that one point if they so desire.

Vlürch wrote:That said, I think the distinction between genetic relationship and language contact is emphasised too much in most contexts for two reasons. First and foremost, the two are not mutually exclusive. Secondly, because while it's taken for granted that the speakers of unrelated languages living next to each other influence each other's cultures and languages and that the mutual influence is even greater if there's extensive intermarriage and stuff, the idea that languages that were unrelated at one point can become related at another without creolisation is ignored too often.

Genetic relationship when it comes to languages is modelled after biological genetic relationship. In that respect, English and Germanic being descendants of Proto-Germanic is like my sister and I being descendants of my paternal grandfather. Language contact between English and French would then be like a distant cousin of mine in Australia and I starting to connect on Skype, and we do so for several years regularly, to the point where I start listening to music this cousin shares with me, or start buying various fashion items they buy, and vice versa. Creolisation would be like this cousin and I end up getting married and having kids.

So to talk about languages that were unrelated at one point becoming related without creolisation makes no sense. It's NOT possible, at least in terms of how we currently define genetic relationship within linguistics.

I mean, I get that the reason it's ignored is that it makes no sense in a lot of contexts, but it also makes more sense in other contexts than maintaining a distinction between genetic relationship and language contact, most obviously the Altaic languages.

What do you mean by this sentence?

So, even though Ural-Altaic/Turanic/Hunnic/???? is discredited as a conventional language family, that doesn't mean a single proto-language couldn't be reconstructed as if they had originated from a single source

But what would be the point of this? Referring to my biological example from earlier: if this distant cousin and I wanted to trace our shared ancestor, we could try and if we really are cousins, then we would presumably eventually succeed. But let's say that we thought we were cousins, but then couldn't find an ancestor. Then there's no point in pretending we have an ancestor. We will have to resign ourselves to the fact that we might have one, but we don't know for sure.

"lack of evidence is not evidence"

What do you mean by this?

Politics shouldn't be relevant in historical linguistics

As Aristotle said "man is a political animal". And as you suggested in the rest of that paragraph, those both for and against a macrofamily containing Uralic and "Altaic" are partially or fully motivated by what is essentially a "I told you so!" Politics is going to be relevant, and I don't think it's realistic to say it shouldn't be; at least depending on how you define politics. No one ever has purely altruistic motives, at least not 100% of the time.
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby Vlürch » 2017-03-06, 13:00

dEhiN wrote:Vlürch, I ask this in all sincerity, but do you go into a rant/vent/pov argument with a particular point in mind? I've read a few of your whatever-you-call-its now, and it sounds like you're trying to play devil's advocate with your arguments, but that you end up doing so much back-and-forth that you confused yourself and anyone else reading it. I'm not sure if this is something you deal with, but I know I used to do this a lot: I'd think of an argument to respond to someone, and then try to think of all their possible responses or objections or counter-responses, and then try to counter all those myself. And I'd do all this before even uttering a word. It was like I was trying to play a game of chess all in my head in order to ensure I won the game I was about to play in real life. And it seems like you do some of that, except you write it out in your posts. If that's true, then might I suggest focusing on one point? It's clearer and others can respond to that one point if they so desire.

Yeah, that's pretty much it, except that I actually hold contradictory views on a lot of issues under the principle that nothing really matters. Social issues especially, which is why I tend to sometimes come off as a far-right anti-LGBT asshole, in spite of being bisexual or whatever and poor by Finland's standards myself. So, because I wish there was nothing political in anything, as a result I go through all the political shit before even getting to the point... which I understand is confusing and annoying, but you know, those two words will probably be written on my grave. :P
dEhiN wrote:Genetic relationship when it comes to languages is modelled after biological genetic relationship. In that respect, English and Germanic being descendants of Proto-Germanic is like my sister and I being descendants of my paternal grandfather. Language contact between English and French would then be like a distant cousin of mine in Australia and I starting to connect on Skype, and we do so for several years regularly, to the point where I start listening to music this cousin shares with me, or start buying various fashion items they buy, and vice versa. Creolisation would be like this cousin and I end up getting married and having kids.

So to talk about languages that were unrelated at one point becoming related without creolisation makes no sense. It's NOT possible, at least in terms of how we currently define genetic relationship within linguistics.

You have a point... I guess it is creolisation after all. :oops:
dEhiN wrote:
I mean, I get that the reason it's ignored is that it makes no sense in a lot of contexts, but it also makes more sense in other contexts than maintaining a distinction between genetic relationship and language contact, most obviously the Altaic languages.

What do you mean by this sentence?

That it has no effect on the present whether or not Proto-Turkic, Proto-Mongolic and Proto-Tungusic came from the the same language, Proto-Altaic, but that the present can affect the past through our view of it. We can reconstruct Proto-Altaic as if it existed even if it didn't exist, thus creating it; think of it as the difference between "reconstructing Proto-Altaic" and "preconstructing Post-Altaic". By reconstructing something that never existed, it's construction, and if it follows all the natural sound changes and cuts out all the innovations, it's like a self-fulfilling prophecy of the evolution of the languages in question, thus preconstruction. Kind of like the prediction of how species will evolve in the future based on how they've evolved in the past. It's like natural selection in an environment where nature itself is taken out of the equation: the more specimens you put in, the more different kinds of contacts are possible, and if you exclude something that somebody else includes, you can't have the exact same result as that other person even if the situation is otherwise the exact same and you would almost certainly not get the same result twice yourself.

I mentioned Chuvash and Khitan in particular, since they're definitely Oghur Turkic and "para-Mongolic" respectively but their exact relationship to other Oghur and (para-)Mongolic languages is unknown and difficult if not impossible to determine. Think of a reconstruction of Proto-Turkic without Chuvash; it'd be different from the reconstruction of Proto-Turkic as it is now. If Khitan wasn't Mongolic but close enough that it couldn't have been anything else than "para-Mongolic", that implies that there was a wider family of "para-Mongolic" languages descended from "Proto-Proto-Mongolic".

If Khitan inscriptions were completely translated and thoroughly analysed, more could be known about its exact relationship to Mongolic languages, and if Hunnic inscriptions or whatever were discovered, that would determine what it was actually like at least to some extent and make it possible to compare it to other languages and figure out if it was Oghur like a lot of people say, or Uralic like others say, or something completely different. In any case, they would be influential to the reconstruction of a proto-language. With Hunnic, the lack of knowledge is particularly frustrating because it could very well be the missing link between Uralic and Altaic that would definitely establish the reality of Ural-Altaic languages, whether they're part of a bigger Eurasian family or not.
dEhiN wrote:
So, even though Ural-Altaic/Turanic/Hunnic/???? is discredited as a conventional language family, that doesn't mean a single proto-language couldn't be reconstructed as if they had originated from a single source

But what would be the point of this? Referring to my biological example from earlier: if this distant cousin and I wanted to trace our shared ancestor, we could try and if we really are cousins, then we would presumably eventually succeed. But let's say that we thought we were cousins, but then couldn't find an ancestor. Then there's no point in pretending we have an ancestor. We will have to resign ourselves to the fact that we might have one, but we don't know for sure.

True, but reconstructing a proto-language between unrelated languages may lead to discoveries of historical relationships to languages that are related but haven't been considered as such so far. I don't think this has ever happened, but it could theoretically happen. Imagine if it was noticed in the process of reconstructing Proto-Eurasian that Burushaski and Basque fit like gloves in some gaps that had so far been thought lost for all eternity. This could potentially enable the reconstruction of language families that have been extinct since before recorded history, even if it wouldn't be reliable and only serve as clues to what may have existed. Sure, it would be pointless since we still wouldn't know what actually existed, but whatever, it's the second best thing to time travel.
dEhiN wrote:
"lack of evidence is not evidence"

What do you mean by this?

The argument that if there's no evidence to support the existence of language families to conveniently fill in the blanks between unrelated languages, they never existed or at least shouldn't be assumed to have existed. For example, that because no languages are known to be related to Sumerian, no languages were ever related to Sumerian. Of course, Sumerian could have been a conlang invented by aliens, but... like... is that more or less likely than it having been simply one language among many, that happened to be attested thanks to its speakers starting to write and establishing one of the cradles of civilisation and the related peoples becoming assimilated to them and their languages going extinct? :P I know there are other possibilities, but those are the extremes, and I like the alien theory even if it's pretty ridiculous... although I believe the latter is the most likely scenario, but still... aliens... seriously, aliens...
dEhiN wrote:
Politics shouldn't be relevant in historical linguistics

As Aristotle said "man is a political animal". And as you suggested in the rest of that paragraph, those both for and against a macrofamily containing Uralic and "Altaic" are partially or fully motivated by what is essentially a "I told you so!" Politics is going to be relevant, and I don't think it's realistic to say it shouldn't be; at least depending on how you define politics. No one ever has purely altruistic motives, at least not 100% of the time.

Yeah, unfortunately... but well, maybe in the future with AI...

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-03-06, 13:29

I used to think politics played a far greater role in the categorization of languages than it really does. For example, I used to think that Tibetan was only considered to be related to Chinese because the PRC government wanted it to be considered that way. But no, it doesn't, and there's lots of careful work that's required for determining genetic relationship. This is part of the reason why computational attempts to determine genetic relationships through alternative methods work so poorly; they simply don't compare to the effectiveness of the comparative method. You can't beat years of careful research with a quick hack enhanced with nothing but parameter-tweaking.

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby razlem » 2017-03-10, 6:42

Can someone explain to me how. the. HELL. you make this sound?

[ð̩ʲ˕ː]

Apparently it's a in dialect of Norwegian ??? And spelled <i> ?????
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