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Topic: meepmeep callout: the linguistics thread (Read 93 times) previous topic - next topic

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  • el jefe
  • asleep till 2020 or 2024
meepmeep callout: the linguistics thread
first question:

is the theory of linkages taken seriously?

iiuc:
serious researchers mainly use tree and wave models, because the epistemology behind them is most solid, and you need that solidity because reconstructing prehistoric languages is so uncertain and difficult to test, it necessarily borders on pseudoscience.  however, both models have inherent limitations and are known to be too simple to capture some observed phenomena.  so people start with tree and/or wave, and then deal with remaining issues (borrowing, typological reasonability, etc.) on an ad hoc basis.

I get the sense people recognize the need for something that does what linkages try to do, but I am guessing are super cautious about any particular idea.  ....  so how are linkages seen?  serious business?  "lol pseudoscience"?  ok, but flawed?  promising, but people need more time to digest the idea?  never heard of them?

Re: meepmeep callout: the linguistics thread
Reply #1
Quote
so how are linkages seen?  serious business?  "lol pseudoscience"?  ok, but flawed?  promising, but people need more time to digest the idea?  never heard of them?
Yes. 

  • meepmeep
  • Administrator
  • zombiecat queen
Re: meepmeep callout: the linguistics thread
Reply #2
tbh I never heard people use that term when I was in grad school. It was always my impression that the tree model is still the best way to start but that we need to consider other things like contact and dialect continua spreading out and diverging. I'm sure some of this depends on what sub-field of linguistics you're in. I'm sure dialectology people are much more interested in finding alternatives to the tree model.

Also, yeah, reconstructed bits of language are always referred to as theoretical. It's not pseudoscience. It just means that without a written record, we can't ever be certain.

  • el jefe
  • asleep till 2020 or 2024
Re: meepmeep callout: the linguistics thread
Reply #3
to be clear, I don't think reconstructing unattested languages is pseudoscience, just close to it and in danger of crossing the line if you're not extremely careful.  and there are people who aren't careful (e.g., nostraticists (though I know some of them have done good work on other topics)).  ...  I don't doubt that the generally accepted reconstructions are probably at least a good approximation of the language they purport to be.

i think this linkage thing came to my attention because I was browsing wikipedia about the germanic languages.  apparently, they don't look like a simple branching off the IE tree, but the theory that they show non-IE contact has problems too.  so one theory people are considering is that there was an early "germanic parent language", which started branching into dialects like usual, but then re-merged into proto-germanic, or maintained a dialect continuum for a long time.  iiuc, linkages try to capture that.