Evolution: A Complexity View
6 hours ago
"Garrett draws up a set of features which could be assumed for Proto-Greek on the basis of the later Greek works....for Greek, there is the advantage that the features assumed for Proto-Greek can actually be compared with a language of the second millenium BC, Mycenaean Greek. We know that Mycenaean cannot be equated with Proto-Greek, since it has undergone some changes shared only with some later Greek dialects, and so it must be later. Yet all of the distinct morphological features and many of the distinct phonological features, which are assumed to be distinctive for Proto-Greek can be shown not to have take place at the time of Mycenaean. Wherever later Greek dialects have made innovations in morphology from PIE, Mycenaean Greek appears not to have participated in that innovation. In other words, the distinctive aspects of the later Greek dialects (which they all share) arose across a number of varieties which already were distinguished one from another. It is not possible, using the shared morphological innovation criterion, to construct a unified invariant entity such as "Proto-Greek" which is distinguishable from PIE......if we had more evidence for other IE languages other than Anatolian contemporary with Mycenaean, we might not be able to separate out what was 'Greek' about Mycenaean from its neighbours. The Greek sub-group was only truly formed in the period after the Mycenaean when convergence between the different dialects of Greek took place, in part related to social changes coupled with a strong sense of Greek ethnic identity."
In sum, especially if we allow that at least a few post‐Proto‐Greek changes must already have affected Mycenaean before its attestation (it is after all a Greek dialect), detailed analysis reduces the dossier of demonstrable and uniquely Proto‐Greek innovations in phonology and inflectional morphology to nearly zero. Proto‐Greek retained the basic NIE noun system, verb system, segment inventory, syllable structure, and arguably phonological word structure. In all these areas of linguistic structure, Greek was not yet Greek early in the second millennium. But if so, it hardly makes sense to reconstruct Proto-Greek as such: a coherent IE dialect, spoken by some IE speech community, ancestral to all the later Greek dialects. It is just as likely that Greek was formed by the coalescence of dialects that originally formed part of a continuum with other NIE dialects, including some that went on to participate in the formation of other IE branches.
If this framework is appropriate for IE branches generally, we cannot regard IE ‘subgroups’ as sub‐groups in a classical sense. Rather, the loss or ‘pruning’ of intermediate dialects, together with convergence in situ among the dialects that were to become Greek, Italic, Celtic, and so on, have in tandem created the appearance of a tree with discrete branches. But the true historical filiation of the IE family is unknown, and it may be unknowable.We cannot check whether Garrett is right about IE branches in general, because in Greek we have the unique situation of having sufficient texts from two eras. That is why "it may be unknowable".
As I have already pointed out, written languages imply, by the very fact that they are expressions of dominant groups, the existence of dialects of subordinate groups, which, though not attested, are nevertheless as real as the invisible face of the moon. Precisely because a written norm represents one of the geovariants or sociovariants promoted to the dominant norm, it reveals, ex silentio, other norms, which remain necessarily excluded from written evidence, with the possible exception of some traces surviving in the chosen koiné (common language).
From the structural point of view, then, the appearance of a written language is also direct testimony of the emergence into 'history' of the elite group which has seized power, and indirect testimony of the loss of power by other groups, in regard to whom the new 'literates' assert themselves as the owners of the surplus product, as ideological leaders and as rulers. Each written language represents, accordingly, a cluster of dialects, still without voice, but in fact rightly present within the framework of the new social relations consecrated by the written language.
We must, therefore, bear in mind that these dialects do exist, although we do not see them, and we must take them into account in our theoretical interpretation. Since, for example, some IE languages appear in the Mediterranean basin in their written form in the 2nd millennium, two conclusions can be inferred from that fact alone:
(a) in the areas where there is definite evidence of written languages we may be sure that the sociolinguistic stratification already reached Gordon Childe's 'urban' level;
(b) in other areas, where the Metal ages cultures appear, we may assume that social stratification was already at a considerably advanced stage.
There is, besides, another factor which should be taken into account. As I have already noted, written norm is usually not equivalent to a 'pure' geovariant, but it is a koiné, implying an admixture of elements from other geovariants (borrowings, morphological variants, and the like).
Mycenean Greek, for example, is regarded, as we have already seen, as a koiné. Even in the modern world we can notice this intermingling in the process of the formation of a new written language - in the case of Basque and Catalan, for example.
The formation of a written koiné implies, in short, three different innovative aspects:
(1) a koiné, precisely because it is a mixture of one dialect with elements of other dialects, represents a novum which did not exist previously; in other words, a written norm, being a 'mixture', is as a rule more recent and less genuine than the norms of the subordinated groups which have remained completely or partly in the dark;
(2) the elements of other dialects accepted by the koiné become levelled with the dominant system and lose some of their traits;
(3) other geovariants do not cease to exist at the moment a koiné is established, but they become, or revert to, 'dialects', with the only difference that from that time on they undergo the levelling influence of the new dominant language.
In the light of these considerations, the earliest written attestations of European languages, either classical or mediaeval, cannot not seen as monolithic expressions of undifferentiated ethnic groups, from which all that comes 'after' must be mechanically derived. Inverting the traditional hierarchy, the first written norms must now be seen as the most fortunate representatives of a dialectal continuum which despite the successive levelling has survived to the present day, and which is the only source of our knowledge of the hidden face of the moon.
Just as in the Middle Ages the earliest attestations of the dialects destined to become national norms are combined with attestations of numerous other dialects, which prove that the modern dialectal continuum actually existed already at that time, and probably also in the preceding centuries (for which geolinguistic evidence is much scarcer), so Scandinavian runes, Irish oghams, Gothic, Norren, old Slavic, and so on, must be interpreted as the mixed and most fortunate geovariants of a dialectal continuum equally rich and articulated as the modern one. They must not be seen as its matrices, nor, obviously, as unique offshoots of reconstructed proto-Germanic, proto-Celtic and proto-Slavic.
In fact, whatever appears after the emergence of the written language did not come after, but was pre-existent to the written language. According to this new view, the current dialects are not derivatives of the ancient written languages, as traditionally thought, but developments, in the course of subsequent millennia, of those earlier geovariants which were parallel with and pre-existent to the written languages. And the new dialectology, according to this view, becomes an integrating part of the renewed historical linguistics, as the study, as it were, of the hidden face of the moon, that is of the speeches of those social groups which became subordinated to the new elites in the Metal ages, but which were obviously pre-existent to the Metal age itself.
Clackson's constellations, Alinei's hidden face of the moon - I love these metaphors, and the way they illuminate the meaning of the PIE reconstruction.In the case of a written language there is, then, only one birth to register in addition to the birth of the written language as such, and that is the birth of the dominant group. The ethnic group, or its part subjugated by the dominant elite, is millennia older than these events.
"Reconstructed PIE is a construct which does not have an existence at a particular time and place (other than in books such as this one), and is unlike a real language in that it contains data which may belong to different stages of its linguistic history. The most helpful metaphor to explain this is the ‘constellation’ analogy. Constellations of stars in the night sky, such as The Plough or Orion, make sense to the observer as points on a sphere of a ﬁxed radius around the earth. We see the constellations as two-dimensional, dot-to-dot pictures, on a curved plane. But in fact, the stars are not all equidistant from the earth: some lie much further away than others. Constellations are an illusion and have no existence in reality. In the same way, the asterisk-heavy ‘star-spangled grammar’ of reconstructed PIE may unite reconstructions which go back to different stages of the language. Some reconstructed forms may be much older than others, and the reconstruction of a datable lexical item for PIE does not mean that the spoken IE parent language must be as old (or as young) as the lexical form."You can verify the quote at books.google.com, the page on which this is written is visible.
"In the same way, the asterisk-heavy ‘star-spangled grammar’ of reconstructed PIE may unite reconstructions which go back to different stages of the language."
My reply: No, it does not mean devaluing the evidence.The reason that I devalue the horse-chariot dispersal theory of Indo-European languages is that it requires torturing the most ancient Indian texts to accomodate that theory. It requires torturing the archaeological evidence as well. It requires torturing the emerging genetic evidence as well. The two candidates that are left are the Renfrew demic dispersion theory (that IE spread with agriculture) and the Paleolithic continuity theory. The problem with the Renfrew theory is that PIE doesn't contain common words for farming, and it too violates the archaeological continuity of cultures observed in Europe and elsewhere. I'm not sure, but it may be consonant with the genetic evidence.
It means understanding that comparative linguistics has overreached a bit; it has no good absolute dating method - only a relative chronology; and the main constructions it arrives at can stand with relatively few adjustments (even if the absolute chronology is greatly changed.)
An excellent image for this is offered by James Clackson, my old supervisor, in his 'Indo-European Linguistics'Then one gets a book like "Comparative Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction" by Robert S.P. Beekes, and he has a whole chapter 3 "The Culture and Origin of the Indo-Europeans":
"Reconstructed PIE is a construct which does not have an existence at a particular time and place (other than in books such as this one), and is unlike a real language in that it contains data which may belong to different stages of its linguistic history. The most helpful metaphor to explain this is the ‘constellation’ analogy. Constellations of stars in the night sky, such as The Plough or Orion, make sense to the observer as points on a sphere of a ﬁxed radius around the earth. We see the constellations as two-dimensional, dot-to-dot pictures, on a curved plane. But in fact, the stars are not all equidistant from the earth: some lie much further away than others. Constellations are an illusion and have no existence in reality. In the same way, the asterisk-heavy ‘star-spangled grammar’ of reconstructed PIE may unite reconstructions which go back to different stages of the language. Some reconstructed forms may be much older than others, and the reconstruction of a datable lexical item for PIE does not mean that the spoken IE parent language must be as old (or as young) as the lexical form."
See, the whole thing is a 'mirage of structure'! That's what models in historical sciences are. In the absence of time machines, that's the best we can do.
3.1 The culture of the Indo-Europeans
Reconstruction provides us with a PIE vocabulary. It is fair to assume that the things which the reconstructed words represent also actually existed. If there should be a PIE word for 'snow' then the Indo-Europeans would have known what snow was. And if they had a word for 'plow' they must have had or know some kind of plow, too.The 'mirage of structure' is ignored. What happened to "stars are all not equidistant from the earth"? What is the evidence that "snow" and "plow" are "equidistant" stars?
The proto-language would have had, then, three phonemes, E,A,O. De Saussure called the three phonemes 'coefficients sonantiques' (sonantic elements), because he compared them with (the sonants) i,u,r etc. in ei/oi/i etc. Later on they were called laryngeals, because it was suspected that they had once been laryngeal (and/or pharyngeal) consonants. There are now mostly reconstructed as *h1, *h2 and *h3, h being a cover symbol for 'consonant of unknown phonetic nature but probably of velar, pharyngeal or glottal articulation place'.The * in *h1, *h2, *h3 is to remind one that these are reconstructed sounds, they are not actually attested anywhere. The key thing to notice is that no-one knows how *h1, *h2, *h3 sounded, except that they were sounds from the back of the throat.
The theory was launched in 1878 when de Saussure was only 21 years old! It took, however, until after the Second World War before the theory began to acquire general acceptance. Its consequences have been very far-reaching. It is certainly the most important single discovery in the whole history of Indo-European linguistics.
In the final part of the article, Manczak asks himself why it is that the Laryngeal Theory has been so successful among linguists. According to him, there is a general lack of validity criteria in historical linguistics. (p. 31): "le terme "critères de verité" n'est jamais employé par les linguistes, bien que les linguistes soient unanimes pour dire que la linguistique est une science". The important thing is the 'authority' behind the theory, not the validity of the theory itself. (p. 32): "Comme les linguistes croient en l'infaillibilité des autorités, ils détestent ceux qui osent critiquer les autorités et adorent ceux qui approuvent ou développent les idées des autorités". ***Why is this important? The reason that the genetic information I've cited in my "Origin of Indians" series of posts is looked at so skeptically is because the prevailing linguistic theory is that horse-and-chariot bearing people from Central Asia starting some 5000-4000 years ago, spread out over Asia and Europe carrying the Indo-European languages with them. These invasions or migrations were never substantiated by archaeology. But the archaeology only attests to cultural continuity and cannot say anything about languages except where written records exist, and most of the hypothetical Indo-European expansion happened without leaving written records.
“In Missouri when we go from winter to spring, that’s a good climate change. I don’t want to stop that climate change you know. Who in the world wants to put politicians in charge of the weather anyways?”PS: W. Todd Akin is more well-known for this:
Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.
“Is there some thought being given to subsidizing the clearing of rain forests in order for some countries to eliminate that production of greenhouse gases?”
All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.
Summarizing the debate: The only memorable sound bite of the evening was that Mitt Romney had promised to fire a television bird. On policy matters, we learned absolutely nothing, and due to constant (and, truly, egregious) misstatements any non-politically-inclined person who tuned in could probably count themselves as actually less informed on the discussed issues than if they had not tuned in at all. On style both participants were one small notch above dreadful—if the Romney face budged from his trademark, grimacing smirk during the entire evening, I must have missed it, and the president often appeared to be debating as if Mitt Romney was not in the room at all. As for policy differences—the presumptive reason for having these excruciating but necessary things in the first place, unless we have now abandoned that notion, too—those were not only not in the room, they may not have even made it into the same state.
The Gish Gallop, named after creationist Duane Gish, is the debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood in real time.
The Guitar Center story began in 1959 when Wayne Mitchell purchased a small appliance and home organ store in Hollywood, California. By 1961, he'd changed the name of the company to The Organ Center. In 1964, Joe Banaran, President of the Thomas Organ Company, approached Wayne in search of an outlet to sell a new line of guitars and amplifiers, called Vox.
The timing was right, and Wayne saw the chance to seize a new retail opportunity. He was in the midst of relocating his original Hollywood Organ Center location to a new site, and he agreed that rather than closing down the old store, he would stock it with Vox guitars and amplifiers. Wayne named the store The Vox Center. By the late sixties, it had become evident that the future of musical instrument retailing lay in guitars and amps, not organs, and The Vox Center was re-christened The Guitar Center.