Course Hero Logo

Review_of_Nostratic_Sifting_the_Evidence.pdf - Nostratic:...

Course Hero uses AI to attempt to automatically extract content from documents to surface to you and others so you can study better, e.g., in search results, to enrich docs, and more. This preview shows page 1 - 3 out of 9 pages.

Nostratic: Sifting the Evidence.Edited by JOSEPHC. SALMONSand BRIAND. JOSEPH.Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science, Series IV, CurrentIssues in Linguistic Theory 142. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1997.Pp. 292. $75.00 (hardback).Reviewed by Stefan Georg,University of LeidenIt seems to be spring-time for Nostratic. The question whether the well-established andwell-explored Indo-European family of languages might after all form part of a greaterlinguistic phylum, with relatives scattered all over Eurasia and parts of Africa, seems tobe attracting more attention than ever before. The famous observations, made at the endof the 18thcentury, which led to the establishment of first the Finno-Ugric and shortlyafterwards the Indo-European language families mark the end of the times wherehaphazard comparisons of superficial similarities between virtually all known languagesof the planet dominated the scene, and the beginning of an era characterized by thescientificstudy of language relationship. This was based on the observation that certainlanguages – but not others – are tied together by resemblances (and differences) whichcan be described in terms ofregularityandrecurrency. Language families, taken as setsof languages which are changed forms of a common ancestor, long lost but partlyreconstructable, could thus be set up and distinguished from other such alignments.Claims of genetic relatedness had thus becometestable,andtestingone such claim iswhat the volume under review is devoted to.There is certainly no dearth of books and articles today arguing for the existence of theNostratic (macro-)family of languages, nor of attempts to refute it. However, most of theliterature devoted to this highly controversial topic tends to be written by scholars whohave already made up their minds on the issue and defend their respective positionsfirmly, sometimes fiercely, against the members of the opposite camp. Polemicallanguage and often an outright refusal to consider the opposite position as having any
merits, or, for that matter, as being a scientifically justifyable position in the first place,have been typical for the debate for quite some time now, and this deplorable state ofaffairs has certainly led many linguists with a potential interest in questions of languageclassification to turn their backs on this particular debate. It thus seemed high time tobring prominent proponents of the theory together with some of their most prominentcritics, and to see whether some kind of consensus, if not on the Nostratic theory itself,then at least on criteria for a proper evaluation of its claims and methodological basecould be reached.In doing this, the collection of papers under review (and the conference from which it istaken, held at Eastern Michigan University in October 1993) is an innovative andwelcome endeavor, which could mark the beginning of a new phase of the Nostraticcontroversy. That it will not be able to actuallysettle

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

End of preview. Want to read all 9 pages?

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

Term
Winter
Professor
NoProfessor
Tags
Language family, Indo European languages, Altaic languages, Nostratic languages, Nostratic, contra Nostratic

Newly uploaded documents

Show More

Newly uploaded documents

Show More

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture