THE ETYMOLOGY OF EROS.

A very interesting post at Memiyawanzi sketches an ingenious etymology for Greek ἔρως ‘love, desire’ proposed by Michael Weiss in his article “Erotica: On the Prehistory of Greek Desire” (Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 98 [1998]: 31-61; Weiss also etymologizes πόθος and ἵμερος). This basic word has never had a satisfactory etymology; Frisk says “ohne Etymologie” and Chantraine “inconnue,” and “[r]egrettably Weiss’s proposal is also overlooked in the newest (2010) Etymological Dictionary of Greek by Robert Beekes (s.v. ἔραμαι) as well.” Weiss proposes a hypothetical Indo-European root *h₁erh₂- meaning ‘divide,’ represented also by “Hittite arḫāš ‘border’ (Cuneiform Luwian irḫa-, Hieroglyphic Luwian irha-), Latin ōra ’border, brim, edge, margin’, Old Irish or ‘border’ all as nominal reflexes, and Lithuanian ìrti as a primary verb.” Go to Memiyawanzi for more on the semantics (and a long quote from Anne Carson), and of course to Weiss’s article for the details (you know you can get free access to JSTOR now, right?); in my rusty-ex-Indo-Europeanist opinion, the etymology makes sense and is a pleasing step forward in a field that sometimes seems dusty and almost stationary.
Addendum. I completely forgot that I had meant to link to the previous post as well: Cypro-Minoan Birthday Cake!

Comments

  1. You know, it completely slipped my mind that JSTOR is limited-open-access these days. This opens a world of opportunities for future academic blogging…

  2. Also, thanks again for sharing!

  3. The first post you linked to is simply lovely.

  4. Bill Walderman says:

    That’s a cool site! The banner at the top turns Thucydides on his head, proclaiming that it’s a cheap trick for the moment, not a possession for eternity!

  5. Trond Engen says:

    Germanic has a few words starting in ar- with similar senses and IE pedigree:
    No. ard “simple plow” &lt *h2erh-tro-.
    No. arg “angry”, ON argr “sexually perverse, available for sexual exploitation” &lt *h1er-g’h- “cover, breed”.
    No. arm “poor” &lt *h1orm- or h3erm- “be compassionate”.
    No. arr “scar” &lt *her-w- “tear apart” (theme II reflected in Eng. reafe).
    Eng. arse &lt h1ers-eh2- “arse”
    No. arv “inheritance” &lt *h1orbh-, h3erbh- vel. sim.

  6. ir is the sharp side of a blade in my language, irmeg is the edge, of anything, arhas means demons, erhes means stars, er means male, some words must be from sanskrit
    i wonder what SFR would have said, whether there are any connections, must be that is that, too like farfetched, from greeks to our language, his pasting long citations of comparative etymologies were informative at a glance, imo

  7. Trond, most of those words are unlikely to be related, at least at any accessible stage of PIE. Weiss very soundly reconstructs the root of ἔρως as *ʜ₁erʜ₂, which is quite distinct from most the roots you mention. The ‘plow’ root is properly *ʜ₂arʜ₃ (assume colouring to be properly a pre-PIE process), with quite different laryngeals. For a number of those other roots, the final consonants are not trivial: *ʜₓorǵʰ, *ʜₓors, *ʜₓorbʰ. The *ʜ in some or all of these cases might also be *ʜ₃.
    The only one of these words that might plausibly be connected is armr (Go. arms*, OE earm, etc.), if it’s connected to Sanskrit, Avestan arma- ‘isolated place’. This could be an o-grade *-mo- formation (like *gʷʰor-mo- ‘warm’ – the *-mo-less root is found in, e.g., Greek θἐρομαι ‘get warm’). The Germanic development would have to be an adjective *ʜ₁ᴏrʜ₂-mo- ‘isolated’, with a semantic shift to ‘poor, pitiable’ (I think a shift from ‘isolated’ to being cut off from society, possessions, and/or family would explain the semantics well enough). The phonology to *arma- is straightforward. But even this is only speculative semantically, and formally it would be nice to have a reflex of *ʜ₁ᴏrʜ₂-mo- in a third branch (especially since the equation, as far as we have one, is between a noun in Indo-Iranian and an adjective in Germanic).

  8. Thanks very much for the JStor tip, Language. Very exciting.

  9. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks, Dragonkiller. It’s interesting that the possible connection of armr seems to be semantically contradictive to the “compassionate” etymology, unless the duality of separation and passion goes all the way back to PIE.
    I knew that most of the words on my list were phonologically wrong, but I actually thought they might serve to complicate the matter a little with issues like metathesis and contamination. I’d have thought that while the final consonants are not trivial, they’re also plausible root extensions, with room for a root-final laryngeal to be squeezed between the *r and the extension.

  10. Trond Engen says:

    But then, the whole concept of root extensions is shaky without plausible semantics or grammatical functions attached to a reasonable portion of the extensions. Does anyone know if there’s any progress on that?

  11. Root extensions are a bit uncomfortable at the best of times, even when the semantics are very good (like *gʰew and *gʰewd, both meaning ‘pour’). I think the suspicion is usually that such things are either left over from some pre-PIE derivational process, or maybe in some cases post-PIE extensions for one reason or another (LIV comments that *gʰewd, limited to Italic and Germanic, might be a local development ‘aus phonotaktischen Gründen’).
    In these cases, the semantics really aren’t so good, and each root seems to be an independent item with its own derivational family in PIE. It’s possible there’s a more distant pre-PIE connection, but that’s probably not going to be recoverable, and the senses of the words don’t (at least to me) seem like they really point that way at all. So, for instance, it’s easy to imagine a root for ‘divide’ giving ‘arse’ (compare ‘crack’), but that word is probably related to Greek οὐρά ‘tail’, which moves us semantically in the wrong direction from *ʜ₁erʜ₂ in original meaning.
    Maybe with *arbijaⁿ a semantic argument could be made, but the root there seems to be *ʜ₃orbʰ – its derivatives have a constant root *o, and the Hittite cognate ḫarpzi can’t begin with *ʜ₁. So like with *ʜ₂arʜ₃, there’s a formal mismatch beyond the variation in the final consonant.
    With *armaz, I think the semantics are more OK there (and more straightforward on the Germanic side than the Greek, really). The development to ‘love’ would be specifically Greek – Weiss offers a few parallels for at least the stage ‘separate (for oneself)’ (ἔρομαι is middle, providing a point of entry for self-involvement and so for positive valency) > ‘enjoy’, and to get to ‘desire’ or ‘love’ from there seems plausible. So for PIE we only need a value-neutral ‘divide, separate’. A formation *ʜ₁órʜ₂-mo- ‘separated’ could easily (though hardly necessarily) take on a more negative connotation. Still speculative, but at least if there is a connection, it would be of a regular sort in PIE.
    Most recent handbooks touch on root extensions, but I’m not familiar with any full treatments since Benveniste. I’d be very interested in someone else can provide any up-to-date references!

  12. Root extensions are messy things. There’s enough evidence to show that there’s something going on with root extensions, like extra *-dʰ- found on some roots like Gk. ἔχω ‘hold, possess’ < *seg̑ʰ- vs. σχέθω ‘id.’ < *sg̑ʰ-édʰ- without any clear differentiation in meaning. There are just not enough examples to systematically investigate.
    The closest thing I think we have is the case of the s-mobile, which does have a pair in English melt vs. smelt, but as to what its actual function was, I don’t think we have a clue.
    I actually think we have a better idea what the nasal-infixes were doing than the root extensions.
    (Sorry, I’m rambling by this point.)

  13. Sorry there was a bunch of extra stuff in that last post that was deleted because it was using angle brackets to show historical derivations. I was comparing ἔχω with its collateral form σχέθω, both from IE *seg̑ʰ-, but with no real discernible difference in meaning.

  14. (Fixed your < signs.)

  15. “ir is the sharp side of a blade in my language, irmeg is the edge, of anything, arhas means demons, erhes means stars, er means male, some words must be from sanskrit”
    Read, those look distant enough from each other semantically to be pretty old, and so they probably go back to contacts with Iranian speakers, maybe even as far back as when horse culture was spreading in your region.

  16. Oops, *gʰew and *gʰewd should of course be *ǵʰew and *ǵʰewd. (For some reason my usual combining diacritic ̑ seems to not be combining here: g̑. So ǵ it is for now.)

  17. Thx Hat :)

  18. hi, Jim, wiki says
    ‘Other proposals, further back in time (and proportionately less accepted), link Indo-European and Uralic with Altaic and the other language families of northern Eurasia, namely Yukaghir, Korean, Japanese, Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Nivkh, Ainu, and Eskimo–Aleut, but excluding Yeniseian (the most comprehensive such proposal is Joseph Greenberg’s Eurasiatic), or link Indo-European, Uralic, and Altaic to Afro-Asiatic and Dravidian (the traditional form of the Nostratic hypothesis), and ultimately to a single Proto-Human family.’ sounds nice, and these are also scientific proposals with the evidences provided etc. so i mean, i miss SFR’s nostratic etymologies
    if you would like , feel free to friend me on fb, you can easily find me from LH’s friends’ list, i guess

  19. marie-lucie says:

    Read, the linguists who have proposed these huge groupings of very dissimilar languages are definitely in the (very small) minority. Even within long-accepted language families such as Indo-European, words which are considered related often take VERY different forms in the various families. The reason these words may be grouped together is that in order to consider words to be related across languages they have to include series of words where the same sound in one language (such as “t”) corresponds to another sound in another language, for instance, if the words which have “t” in Latin have “d” in another language and “th” in yet another: ex. Lat patre, matre, Italian & Spanish padre, madre, English father, mother, which are not only similar but have the same meanings in those various languages. These are just a few examples, and to be convincing I would have to list a lot more similar ones (this has been done very successfully already). Here the words are quite recognizable between one language and another because the languages are closely related (English a little less than the others, since it has “f” where the others have “p”, in this word and in many others, and that is also characteristic of the Germanic family to which English belongs)). If languages have been separated for a long time and if more than one or two sounds have changed in each word, it gets more and more difficult to recognize whether they all descend from the same ancestral language, especially since many words are lost over time and the ones that remain often change their meaning. As an example of sound change in one language hiding its relationship with others of the same family, consider the descendants of the Latin word for ‘water’, aqua. This word is still quite recognizable in Italian acqua and Spanish agua, but if there were no documents about the history of French it would not be immediately obvious that the word now pronounced [o], formerly written eaue, belongs to the same group of Latin descendants of aqua, even if it has kept its meaning. Yet people who have studied the history of French have very good reasons to place the French word in the same group as the Italian and Spanish ones which are must closer to their Latin ancestor.
    When you are talking about hundreds or even thousands of languages, the possibility of guessing right in every case (and of recognizing borrowings rather than ancestral words) is very small. It is one thing to suggest that perhaps Indo-European and Uralic languages (both families having been extensively researched) might have a common ancestor (and this possibility is not rejected although it is not usually considered established at this time, which is why it appears in both of the proposals you mention), it is quite another thing to suggest that these two families could also be related to hundreds of others in other parts of the world. The two lists you present do include both IE and Uralic, but the rest of the groups are quite different from each other: one lists languages from Eurasia, especially in the North, the other one lists Southern languages, especially in Africa and India. Sure, since there is only one human race, it is likely that there was only one language at one time, when there were not many humans on the Earth, but from there to say that it is possible to reconstruct “Proto-Human” from picking and choosing words here and there among hundreds of existing languages and a handful of historical ancient ones, is a very big leap. One might as well pick a few hundred people from different continents, add a few fossil skeletons (many of them incomplete), measure them all in every possible way, and average those measurements to “reconstruct” a proto-human being!
    The relationship between languages is a fascinating topic (which I actually work in), but it is not one that is easily solved except when the languages are quite closely related (and even then, there are many possibilities of error). One doesn’t have to be an old narrow-minded fuddy-duddy to be very skeptical of the current wide-raging proposals and of the ways they are justified.

  20. yeah, it’s just a wikipedia citation, so i dont dispute or argue with it, thanks, M-l, i understand your objections too
    i liked that “proto-human” language hypothesis, maybe nostracists could elaborate such an artificial language from their *evidences* accumulated, could be interesting and easier perhaps to learn it cz the words will be all something resembling each other across almost all the languages, faulty etymologies or not, something like esperanto, just based not only on the european languages alone

  21. marie-lucie says:

    “Proto-Human” (sometimes called “Proto-World”) is not presented as an artificial, auxiliary language meant to facilitate communication between the people of the world, but a reconstruction of the original language of humanity. That’s why I compared it with reconstructing a picture of early human beings by averaging the measurements of a bunch of actual humans, both ancient and modern. Would you find such an approach to our most ancient ancestors credible in scientific terms?

  22. marie-lucie says:

    “Proto-Human” (sometimes called “Proto-World”) is not presented as an artificial, auxiliary language meant to facilitate communication between the people of the world, but a reconstruction of the original language of humanity. That’s why I compared it with reconstructing a picture of early human beings by averaging the measurements of a bunch of actual humans, both ancient and modern. Would you find such an approach to our most ancient ancestors credible in scientific terms?

  23. no, sure, i dont deny that the ancient original language and the attempts of reconstructing it is all that complete and scientific or still disputed, i meant only if to reconstruct such an artificial language based on those nostratic groupings of the similarly functioning words across the languages, and if successful start using it globally, maybe that could be more like ‘democratic’ language than using only english or french or whatever other main language as like lingua franca for all, no? could be a great task for nostracists i mean

  24. Weiss’s discussion of ἵμερος is just as fascinating as that of ἔρως: he relates it to ἱμάς, the magical garment of Aphrodite, and to αἵμων “eager”. And the article ends with a rather Tolkienesque lagniappe about the etymology of Thessaly: “one may suppose that the first ἀποδασμός of the Boeotian diaspora coined the name Φετταλοί to refer to their longed-for brethren who remained in their original homeland”.

  25. David Marjanović says:

    Root extensions are a bit uncomfortable at the best of times, even when the semantics are very good (like *gʰew and *gʰewd, both meaning ‘pour’). I think the suspicion is usually that such things are either left over from some pre-PIE derivational process,

    And indeed, the same thing is known from Afro-Asiatic: most roots there (like most PIE roots) can only be reconstructed with two consonants, yet most Semitic ones somehow acquired a third one (under strong pressure to fit into the emerging morphology system that assumed 3 consonants per root).

    or maybe in some cases post-PIE extensions for one reason or another (LIV comments that *gʰewd, limited to Italic and Germanic, might be a local development ‘aus phonotaktischen Gründen’).

    Wouldn’t surprise me at all. That kind of thing happens all the time. Colloquial German hopsen “to hop” with its meaningless -s- comes to mind: we dislike /p/ so much that when we can’t get our /pf/, we try /ps/.

    The closest thing I think we have is the case of the s-mobile, which does have a pair in English melt vs. smelt, but as to what its actual function was, I don’t think we have a clue.

    The alternative hypothesis for this one is that it arose from confusion about where part or all of the -s at the ends of so many words really belonged (much as with English adder, apron and nickname). Of course, these two hypotheses aren’t mutually exclusive.

    For some reason my usual combining diacritic ̑ seems to not be combining here: g̑.

    It combines beautifully for me. Firefox 18 on Windows XP speaking here.

    the original language of humanity

    Oh no. Proto-Human/-World is supposed to be the last common ancestor of all known languages, not the first. Likewise, LUCA (the Last Universal Common Ancestor in biology) may well have lived hundreds of millions of years after the first organism (…however defined).
    And Nostratic has nothing to do with it, read, except for (inevitably) being one of its hypothesized descendants.

    could be a great task for nostracists i mean

    Most of those are academics in Russia, a country where the salaries of university professors aren’t enough to buy food. A few years ago I heard they had recently increased tenfold – from 40 to 400 US$ per month.

    Φετταλοί

    I know about the -ττ-/-σσ- thing, but how does φ turn into θ? Are we talking about underlying PIE *gʷʰ here?

  26. “where the salaries of university professors aren’t enough to buy food”
    i think that actually would make one think about them as less biased and more trustworthy since they do their science out of the love for the subject of their research not for keeping their tenures or getting grants and being pressed into one mainstream “accepted” hypotheses and way of thinking

  27. marie-lucie says:

    Read, I am not familiar with the current situation in Russia, but I think that most university professors in North America love the subject of their research and wish they could spend more time on it. Also, those who get grants get them not to enrich themselves but, among other things, to support graduate students who would otherwise have no means of continuing their studies. And they are not necessarily pressed into “following” one hypothesis (that is more likely to happen while they are still students), the best researchers also try to think up and to test better hypotheses. I doubt that Russian academics are (or perhaps were) never pressed into accepting “mainstream” hypotheses.

  28. Trond Engen says:

    Are we talking about underlying PIE *gʷʰ here
    Yes. (Greek aspirated stops are really, really messy, and the more I read about them the messier they get.)

  29. all i talked about was about an artificial future language which is perhaps possible to “reconstruct” or just construct following the shared similar words in many languages, not only the european ones, doesnt matter whether it sounds scientific or not, perhaps it sounds more like science fiction, and it brings just some condescension talk and being defensive, i think these reactions are something strange
    and if wikipedia says these ‘controversial’ hypotheses are nevertheless the scientific hypotheses too, having their followers and their evidences collected through their research, i guess there is maybe no need to cite the salaries of the academics in whichever countries, sorry of course to doubt professionalism of the NA academics

  30. marie-lucie says:

    DM: Φετταλοί : … how does φ turn into θ? Are we talking about underlying PIE *gʷʰ here?
    I don’t know much Greek, let alone dialects, but I was surprised by the initial consonant too. It makes more sense for φ than θ to be derived from *gʷʰ, but while there are many instances of [θ] becoming [f] (as in English nothing > “nuffink”, or Gk Theodoros > Russian Fyodor), the opposite seems very unusual. Unless it is a back-formation, but why? Hypercorrection?

  31. Trond Engen says:

    *gʷʰ &gt *kʷʰ &gt *tʰ before e, except in “Aeolic” where it became *pʰ, if I understand it correctly (the first paragraph of page 34 in the Weiss article). There’s no way I’ll ever remember that.

  32. David Marjanović says:

    i think that actually would make one think about them as less biased and more trustworthy since they do their science out of the love for the subject of their research not for keeping their tenures or getting grants

    I was trying to say they all have a second job and are way too busy making a living for taking up conlanging as a hobby.

    I doubt that Russian academics are (or perhaps were) never pressed into accepting “mainstream” hypotheses.

    During Stalinism, they were (Lysenkoism in biology, Marrism in linguistics); nowadays, this (and communism in general) has fallen away, Putin’s nationalism doesn’t extend that far yet (…but just wait till his youth organizations get in… *facepalm*), and the old isolation from the West still exists to some degree (lack of money = lack of access to publications), so Western fashions in academy don’t easily spread to Russia.

    except in “Aeolic” where it became *pʰ

    Oh. That makes sense.

  33. “they all have a second job and are way too busy making a living for taking up conlanging as a hobby.”
    how do you know that, and say that they all, it’s just so easy to dismiss someone else’s work just bc one disagrees with their hypothesis
    i thought the nostratists did some pretty extensive ground work actually learning all the languages they were trying to compare, no? i remember i read an obituary here on LH of a prominent scientist in israel who was originally from the USSR, he didnt sound as if like someone who was doing his research working as dvornik, and even if he worked that would just elevate the person in my eyes, cz what would be the motivation then if not love and curiosity about languages, not something light to be considered as a “hobby”

  34. marie-lucie says:

    read, wikipedia says these ‘controversial’ hypotheses are nevertheless the scientific hypotheses too, having their followers and their evidences collected through their research
    Sometimes we hear of scientists presenting new hypotheses on the basis of their experiments, etc, but most other scientists don’t believe them. For instance, a few years ago some physicists announced they had discovered “cold fusion”, which sounded like a wonderful discovery. How was a member of the general public, untrained in science (like me for instance), to know whether this was wonderful or not? But many other physicists tried to reproduce the experiments and failed completely, so the new hypothesis was discredited. Similarly, some years ago a very famous and respected French physicist announced that he had discovered that water had a memory. The same thing happened: other scientists could not replicate the experiment and discovered that the equipment had been contaminated, so this famous scientist was totally discredited.
    Now in these cases, a bunch of other labs with the proper equipment try to do the same experiments, and in a few days or weeks the “new discoveries” and their discoverers are discredited. In linguistics though, there are no “labs” where experiments could quickly be reproduced, only a few people searching through dictionaries of dozens or hundreds of languages (not all of which are complete and/or reliable), and not all of these people are as careful as they should be with the data and the methods of comparison, which are well-known to trained historical linguists. Also, as I mentioned a while ago (and others here who know linguistics agree), the history and classification of languages are not fashionable subjects at the present time, even among linguists, so there are not many people working on those topics, and their research, unlike research in physics or biology, is never going to revolutionize people’s lives, so it does not attract much attention unless someone makes a spectacular announcements (such as “we have reconstructed some of the first words of the human race!”) – but thus far, occasional spectacular announcements of this kind have not been accepted by the majority of historical linguists, and some of them have explained their reasons in great and convincing detail. (See for instance articles by Asya Pereltsvaig in the blog Geocurrents).
    Personally, as a historical linguist myself, I am glad that some linguists are working on some version of the “Nostratic hypothesis” (trying to find linguistic relatives of the Indo-European family), but I don’t agree with some of their methods and I find most of their results unconvincing. The more language families they try to add to the original so-called “Nostratic” languages, the less convincing the results are.

  35. sure, about the natural sciences if one’s results cant be reproduced that disproves the hypothesis and that’s it, though if to think everything is relative and there are million factors that cant be reproduced exactly the same to repeat the experiment, if it didn’t involve any actual and active fabrication all the hypotheses seem like they can be plausible, or if wrong then at least genuinely mistaken, can’t step into the same river twice etc etc reasonings could be applied there, i guess
    about the linguistics the same methods are used by the both i guess, the conventional and the ‘controversial’ theorists, so what makes one to prefer this one theory to the other one, i am sure there are very accurate scientific rules about which you explain, thanks, M-l! but still it seems as if it is not as straightforward as with the natural sciences, to decide disproved or still debatable, just i believe surely it can not be enough to discredit the other hypothesis based on all that, salaries, second jobs and hobbies comparisons
    “some linguists are working on some version of the “Nostratic hypothesis” (trying to find linguistic relatives of the Indo-European family)”
    this also seems as if like showing the same bias, everything should be related to PIE, otherwise a theory is not a legitimate language family grouping theory like attitude, no? i exaggerate here of course, but reads as if like that to me
    well, it seems SFR really wont participate in the discussion, so i have nothing more to say about this

  36. how do you know that, and say that they all, it’s just so easy to dismiss someone else’s work just bc one disagrees with their hypothesis
    Please try not to get so defensive, read. She was not dismissing anyone’s work, she was saying they probably didn’t have time to play around inventing artificial languages.

  37. i was arguing with DM there, not M-l, if you scroll a bit upthread and I am not defensive, i am trying to defend the nostratic theorists dismissed as basically the beggars who cant do any proper science, arrogance seems is not a very attractive thing about people

  38. marie-lucie says:

    read: a prominent scientist in israel who was originally from the USSR
    This was probably Aharon Dolgopolsky, who is mentioned in the Wikipedia article. He was one of the most prominent and credible Nostraticists.

  39. marie-lucie says:

    read: everything should be related to PIE, otherwise a theory is not a legitimate language family grouping theory like attitude, no?
    This is a total misunderstanding.
    A lot of time and effort was expanded by European historical linguists over the past 200 years or so, to discover and demonstrate the links between most of the languages of Europe, Northern India and places in between such as Iran and Afghanistan, and to try to reconstruct what the ancestor language of all these languages, both ancient and modern, was like. The job is far from being finished, and it probably never will be, but after over two centuries of work the major features of this “proto-language” (referred to as Proto-Indo-European, PIE for short) as well as many words, are agreed upon.
    But obviously this ancestor language was not spoken in a vacuum, the people speaking it must have had neighbours, and some of those neighbours’ languages might have been related to PIE, others not. Some of the people speaking PIE or languages related to it might have migrated in the distant past, and the various groups, now separated, would have evolved separately, notably if they had new neighbours speaking yet other languages with whom they interacted frequently. It is known that there were other IE languages spoken in the past, especially in Anatolia and Central Asia, which have long been replaced by other, non-IE languages. The point of Nostratic, etc research is to build upon what is known about PIE to look for possible relatives of this language, but the farther you go in time, and the longer any groups have been separated, the more difficult the task is: if words in even closely related languages can change so drastically that they become unrecognizable after a few centuries (like French [o] compared to Spanish agua, both from Latin aqua ‘water’), then in languages which must have been separated for several millennia the changes would be even more drastic, and affect a greater percentage of words. This is one why the work is very delicate and difficult.
    There is no reason why the careful methods developed in the study of the Indo-European language group cannot be applied to other language families. In fact the Uralic family was studied and recognized (mostly by Finnish and Hungarian linguists) earlier than the Indo-European family (which is larger), using the same methods. These methods have also been used successfully with some languages of the Caucasus, with the Afro-Asiatic group (which includes Arabic and many languages of the Northern half of Africa) and with some groups of native languages of the Americas, among others, although the work is not as advanced as for PIE.

  40. I never thought I’d write this (pinches self, makes sure he is awake OUCH state of being awake confirmed): Marie-Lucie, I agree with Read.
    That is to say, while I grant I may have been unlucky (but having taught at four geographically far-flung and in most respects very dissimilar Universities in North America, I doubt it), I think Read’s diagnosis is correct: there’s too much money in the system. Money which is handed down by an excessively rigid bureaucratic system. It creates an atmosphere whereby trends and fashions are blindly followed. This atmosphere also encourages fraud, obfuscation and misrepresentation of data and of other scholars’ work.
    To quote an example you ought to be familiar with, Marie-Lucie, it strikes me as self-evident that the hysteria (no other word will do) surrounding Greenberg’s 1987 book had less to do with the flaws of the book itself than with the fear on the part of established scholars that Greenberg and whatever followers he might have attracted would obtain a share of the research money which by rights belongs to said Americanist establishment (did I mention an entitlement mentality as another consequence of there being so much grant money available?).
    It was telling that European and Russian scholars, or somewhat marginalized North American scholars, were much more sober in evaluating the book (indeed, much of their criticism was considerably more convincing as a result).
    Happily (so to speak…) the problem is correcting itself, inasmuch as younger scholars are well aware that there is far less money for research today, that a disproportionate share will go to older scholars, that cutbacks are always looming. As a result the research they undertake (assuming they aren’t too busy teaching full-time to reimburse their student loans or too economically insecure to know where their next meal of Raman noodles will come from, that is) tends to be undertaken out of genuine interest for the field.
    The fact that so many books and articles are now available on-line also means that one needn’t be at a large research University to do in-depth research. And on-line posting/publishing also weakens the gatekeeper role played by so many older established scholars.
    Read: what you seemingly do not realize is that historical linguistics is so thoroughly marginalized in North America as well as Western Europe, and has been for so long, that any historical linguist today is by definition dedicated to their field. So based on your own logic (which I agree with, see above), you should see Marie-Lucie and myself as trustworthy.

  41. no, no, you guys are totally trustworthy of course i just said the word in my immediate impulse to defend the nostratic scholars, even if i disagree i know that i could be wrong in my turn and the other point of view with which i happen to argue is just one of many povs and is held my someone real out there
    and i guess i like to read blogs more than any news outlets cz everything gets like filtered out by the ‘trustworthy’ people whom i choose myself to read and follow and generally trust their opinions and intuitions
    i think people switch to fb bc then it’s not just a one-sided process, on the blogs with many followers that’s maybe not a problem, but fb provides some other, miltiple ways, feedback too, so it’s kinda like consolidates everything in one place instead of having to check out every blog one likes to visit

  42. If I pinched myself in a dream, presumably I’d dream I was in pain; what’s wrong with that? The only thing is that I’ve never had enough control over my dreams to actually think of pinching myself.

  43. Hi, I am ignorant and uneducated in language.
    is there a HUGE reason why eros can’t be viewed as rooted, somehow, in eris?
    I get all poetic at the thought, but I can’t really justify the leap.

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