LINGUIST List 5.1200

Sun 30 Oct 1994

Sum: Controversies in Historical Linguistics

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  1. Steven Schaufele, Sum: controversies in historical linguistics

Message 1: Sum: controversies in historical linguistics

Date: Sat, 29 Oct 1994 14:57:34 Sum: controversies in historical linguistics
From: Steven Schaufele <fcoswsfirefly.prairienet.org>
Subject: Sum: controversies in historical linguistics


A while back, in LINGUIST 5-1033, i posted the following request:

> The recent discussion of the Altaic Hypothesis got me thinking about the
> possibility of putting together a seminar on controversies in historical
> linguistics. Judging from the extent the discussion in LINGUIST clari-
> fied some of my own ideas and understandings of comparative and recon-
> structive methodology, it occured to me that one could learn a lot about
> how to 'do' historical linguistics by studying discussions of controver-
> sial hypotheses, both the arguments brought forward by their (responsible
> or reputable) proponents and the counterarguments presented by the
> critics. So I'm going to try to develop such a seminar, and am solici-
> ting suggestions. I'm looking for the following:
>
> (1) Suggestions of actual controversies that have been heavily discussed
> in historical-linguistic literature. I'm interested in controversies
> that are 'raging' now (e.g., the Nostratic Hypothesis) and ones that have
> been pretty much settled (e.g., the Laryngeal Hypothesis in IE), as well
> as anything in between, as long as there's a fair amount of good, solid
> scholarly discussion of it in print.
>
> (2) Bibliographical references on the above.

Several people mentioned issues related to the classification of
languages of North America. Elizabeth A. Cain-Perkins <Elizabeth.A.Cain-
PerkinsDartmouth.edu> offered me a bibliography on the subject. Pat
Crowe <V187EF4Yubvms.cc.buffalo.edu>, who is writing a dissertation in
anthropology on topics having to do with the Iroquois nations, mentioned

> Some Iroquoian-related topics of controversy (at one time or
> another) are the discussion around a century ago as to whether
> Cherokee was related to the Iroquois, Huron, and Tuscarora
> languages (J.N.B. Hewitt had a fair amount to say about this);
> the question of Macro-Siouan (see Sapir and Wallace Chafe for
> the pro side); and more recently the issue has come up about
> more distant relationships.

Suzanne Kemmer <kemmerruf.rice.edu> mentioned

> the classification of the languages of Africa. Geert Dimmendal's
> review of Denning and Kemmer "On Language: Selected Writings of
> Joseph H. Greenberg" (the review's in Language, 1993 or 1994)
> discussed some of the reactions to the Greenberg classification
> that came out at the time, which were pretty outraged. I think
> Paul Newman and others have documented the slowly evolving reac-
> tion to the African classification.

Kirk Belnap <belnapkyvax.byu.edu> mentioned

> the still hotly debated issue (in Arabic linguistics) of the
> origins of the modern Arabic dialects.
>
> Miller, Ann M. 1986. 'The Origin of the Modern Arabic Seden-
> tary Dialects: an Evaluation of Several Theories' Al-
> 'Arabiyya 19(1-2):47-74.
> Versteegh, Kees. 1984. Pidginization and Creolization: the
> Case of Arabic.

Jeff von Munkwitz-Smith <j-vonmailbox.mail.umn.edu>, who is working on a
dissertation on this subject, says

> How about the influence of Dravidian languages on Old Indo-
> Aryan? It's been going on a long time and sparked some inte-
> resting side debates about the nature of "proof" in historical
> reconstruction. On one side there are folks like Burrow, Eme-
> neau, and Kuiper and on the other, Thieme and Hans Hock.
>
> Burrow, T. 1955. The Sanskrit Language
> Emeneau, M. 1962. 'Bilingualism and Social Borrowing' Procee-
> dings of the American Philological Society 106.
> Hock, H. 1975. 'Substratum Influence on (Rig-Vedic) Sanskrit'
> Studies in the Linguistic Sciences 5.
> Kuiper, F. 1967. 'The Genesis of a Linguistic Area' Indo-Iranian
> Journal 10.
> Thieme, P. 1955. Review of Burrow 1955. Language 31.

And Bernard Comrie <comriemizar.usc.edu> directed me to

> [a] controversy concerning the relation between Kamchadal
> (Itelmen) and Chukotian (i.e. Chukchi, Koryak, and other
> closely related languages)
>
> Comrie, Bernard. 1980. 'The Genetic Affiliation of
> Kamchadal: some Morphological Evidence' International
> Review of Slavic Linguistics 5:109-120.
> Worth, Dean. 1962. 'La place du kamtchadal parmi les
> langues soi-disant paleosiberiennes' Orbis 11:579-599.

Thanks very much to all who responded. I'm open to further suggestions,
if anybody out there has any to offer.

Sincerely,
Steven

Dr. Steven Schaufele
712 West Washington
Urbana, IL 61801
217-344-8240
fcoswsprairienet.org

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