Lameen of Jabal al-Lughat has an intriguing post questioning whether the Omotic languages of eastern Africa are (as they are said to be) part of the Afro-Asiatic family, linking the skeptical paper “Is Omotic Afroasiatic? A Critical Discussion” by Rolf Theil (pdf, HTML cache). I haven’t got time or energy to actually read Theil’s paper at the moment, so I’ll just accept Lameen’s judgment that it’s a “pretty good… argument against the hypothesis” (the discussion in his comment thread supports that judgment as well). I like Theil’s final passage:
My conclusion is that Omotic should be treated as an independent language family. No convincing alternative has ever been presented.
Hayward (1995: 11) writes that «[i]t is, of course, a relief not to have Omotic as an isolate; we do not need a whole family of ‘Basques’ on our hands!» An alternative point of view is possible. Africa is the cradle of mankind. Why are there no language isolates on a continent where humans have lived since language was invented?
The Hayward quote is bizarre. What could it possibly mean to say “we do not need a whole family of ‘Basques’ on our hands”? Are isolates somehow a threat to our well-being? Should we shove them into closets where they don’t belong just so they won’t stare at us from the abyssal depths of their mysterious eyes?