[Elsnet-list] Language Classification by Numbers
yutamb at mail.cis.ru
Mon Sep 25 12:42:04 CEST 2006
Dear all, I wonder if you are interested in the
subject : How natural and real are the language families
in the new book on world languages by April and Robert McMahon "Language Classification by Numbers"?
I hope all the books are available for you. It is not so in my case, unfortunately. I found some short information about the book by April and Robert McMahon "Language
Classification by Numbers". - Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2005. I failed to get this book to read. This is
why, I can't say if I disagree or if I totally agree
with the authors' analysis. Does this book use any new
numerical data, like the compactness?
I wish the authors would express some new ideas,
certainly regarding the most well-known taxa like
Uralic (Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic), Indo-European, and
Altaic (Turkic, Mongolic and Tungus-Manchurian),
especially. About other language families I do not know
that much however, having studied only of them. In
my personal opinion F-U and I-E are indeed some sort of
Sprachbund. I also wonder if you totally agree with
the following statement of mine: " though the
fundamentals of the definitions of these language families
are rather weak and obsolete, they have never been
reconsidered. In physics, mathematics, chemistry,
biology and other natural sciences the fundamentals of
classifications are analysed and reconsidered by every
generation of the scholars". I wrote my papers on
the classification of world languages from the point
of view of quantitative phonology and typology.
I wonder how the current theories of language taxa
tested in this book. I wonder if this book formulates
new ideas and demonstrate new language taxa? I wonder
if new convincing results are produced?
I wonder if there are many new publications
which prove on phonological or phonetical level that
classically defined language families and other language
taxons are natural and real? I mean Indo-European,
Finno-Ugric, Samoyedic, Tungus-Manchirian, Mongolic, Turkic,
Paleo-Asiatic, Sino-Tibetan, Austronesian, Afroasiatic and
other classically defined language families. It looks like
some of them are not very compact from the phono-typological
point of view. It seems to me that all the world linguists
are quite happy with the defined language families, though
the fundamentals of these definitions are rather weak and
obsolete. The linguists do not want to trouble the
"sleeping dogs". Why is it so that in physics,
mathemathics, chemistry, biology and other natural
sciences the fundamentals of classifications
are analysed and reconsidered by every generation of
the scholars. Why it is Not so in linguistics? Or may
be I am not aware of such critical works, since US and
European linguistic journals are not available for me.
I have calculated the compactness of several language
families from the typological point of view
and discovered that there is a great difference between
them. The most compact is the Mongolic language family Its
dispersion is only 10.78%, while the dispertion of the
Tungus-Manchurian (18.60%) or Turkic (18.77%) language
families is greater. The dispersion of Finno-Ugric (24.14%)
or Indo-European (28.00%) language families is much greater.
It may mean that Finno-Ugric or Indo-European families are
not natural and real families, but some sort of
conglomerations or Sprachbunds. Not to speak of the
dispersion of the Altaic (25.97%) or Uralic (28.31%)
language unities which should never be called language
families if we consider a language family some more compact
language taxon. In this case, only Mongolic language family
seems to be natural and real. Should we consider the other
language families language unities or Sprachbunds? Or what?
May be some sparce language unions or language communities?
Or what? Is it not the high time to define language taxons:
Any other taxons?
I wish you could send me your ideas about language families
and the other language taxons to my correct e-mail address
yutamb at mail.ru Is it possible to publish my article
about it in some journal? I wonder if you could tell me
more details expressed in this new book "Language
Classification by Numbers" (2005)? How is the defusion
of the world languages measured in the exact numbers?
Looking forward to hearing from
you soon to yutamb at mail.ru Your sincerely Yuri
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