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.
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.
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.
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.
"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? 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...
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...