Friday, February 29, 2008

Principles of Historical Language Reconstruction (PHILANGRECON)

Principles of Historical Language Reconstruction
(P-Hi-Lang-Recon, to be cited as "PHILANGRECON in the meaning of phil-lang-recon")
by Andis Kaulins
(Copyright © 2008 by Andis Kaulins, fair use permissible, copyrighted materials of others are used here pursuant to the "fair use" copyright exception.)

Principle Number One:
Human Language is Genetic and Arose Suddenly with the Dawn of Modern Humans
This contradicts the theory of some modern linguists that human language arose gradually and not from one specific place.

Science Daily reports about a Letter in Nature (19 July 2007) about which Dr. Andrea Manica of the University of Cambridge has stated:

We have combined our genetic data with new measurements of a large sample of skulls to show definitively that modern humans originated from a single area in Sub-saharan Africa."

Juan Uriagereka writes at Seed Magazine in The Evolution of Language as follows:

"What we are beginning to see is that a set of disparate cognitive traits lends credence to the fact that language is genetic, and arose suddenly... we have specific linguistic behaviors that seem to have appeared only within the past 200,000 years—an eye-blink of evolution."

That point ca 200,000 years ago was in Africa, and from that point mankind ultimately spread.

(Download high resolution map at National Geographic)

Principle Number Two:
Human Language arose in Africa and - in the Case of Europe and Indo-European Languages - that Original "Out of Africa" Language Followed Human Migration Northward, via Central Europe and the Baltic Sea, from where it spread East and West

As can be seen from the above map from the National Geographic Genographic Project, the "genetic path" of migration into Europe (the yellow arrows) - a path otherwise blocked by mountains - proceeded on a path out of Africa across the Western Middle East, then between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea (the Black Sea may have been much smaller then) and via Central Asia to the what is now the Baltic Sea. This path of migration, in our opinion, explains why Latvian and Lithuanian are the most archaic still-spoken Indo-European tongues, as they are near the northernmost point of the migration at that time, stopped by the Baltic Sea, and thus reflect an early stage of human language spoken by mankind at this time of the migration out of Africa. One thus finds great lexical similarity between Latvian and Lithuanian languages and the ancient languages of the Middle East as well as the Bantu languages in Africa.

The genetic path of migration contradicts the practice of linguists in favoring, for example, Latin and Greek etymological roots for Indo-European and Proto-Indo-European terms. The genetically estimated "Out of Africa" date is about 55000-50000 BP. The oldest tool artifacts from that period (45,000 BP) in Europe have been found at Kostenki, in Russia, (see the Venus Figurine with braids) somewhat North of the passage between the Black and Caspian Seas, i.e. right where we would expect them. Kostenki (SW of Voronezh) is right at the center of the area from which the Indo-European language is proposed to have emanated by the Kurgan hypothesis. This is surely no coincidence but indicates that this is in fact the area from which the human migration may have spread.

The Kurgan hypothesis of Indo-European language migration errs in its dating because it mistakes technology transfer with language spread. The Urheimat (Original Homeland) is much older than later technology transfers, utilizing similar routes. A Wikipedia map of the Kurgan hypothesis of the spread of Indo-European language is shown below and it closely matches the "Out of Africa" routes of migration, which occurred much earlier.

Other archaeological and anthropological evidence suggest a somewhat later date of "Out of Africa" migration and the Kostenki date could be more like 40,000 BP- supported by the Hofmeyr Skull 36,000 BP in South Africa, by the Cioclovina 1 neurocranium from ca. 33,000 BP found in Romania, which might be a Neanderthal hybrid, by the Oase 2 skull from Romania (35,000 BP), and by the ochred skeleton of a child at Lagar Velho, Portugal (24,500 BP). Very few human skulls or skeletons have been found in Europe for the period prior to 28,000 BP.)

Principle Number Three:
Not Only Modern DNA Genetic Studies but also Blood-Group Studies as far back as 50 Years Ago Show a Similar Pattern of Human Migration and Language Spread
(This contradicts the idea of some linguists that modern DNA genetics is still a young science and still has no directly applicable relevance to historical linguistics. As the graphic shows, genetic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) evidence is supported by blood-group studies. Compare the 1957 world blood-group dendrite below with the 2007 mtDNA map above. It is a match.)

(Above is a mathematically produced dendrite of the world distribution of blood groups, adapted from A. Kelus and J. Lukaszewicz (authors of Taksonomia wroclawska w zastosowaniu do zagadnien seroantropologii, Archiwum Immunol. terap. Doswiadizalnej, 1, 245-254 , 1953), as presented in Ludwig Hirszfeld (also Hirschfeld or Hirsfeld), Probleme der Blutgruppenforschung (book review here)).

Principle Number Four:
Along the Early Migration Route, A Lexical Comparison of Indo-European Languages - especially on the evidence of Latvian, which we speak as a native and thus use for accurate comparison - Shows Unmistakable Common Roots With Ancient Languages of the Middle East as well with Bantu Languages in Africa
The current division of languages into various allegedly separate groups in terms of language origins is false. All languages have a common origin. The expanded Nostratic theory is correct but does not go far enough, since it incorrectly excludes some groups of human languages from its ambit.). Here is a map of world languages after Joseph Greenberg, retired Stanford linguist:

(View this map in high resolution at The Tower of Babel (ToB), which "is an international, Web-based project on historical and comparative linguistics - so far, the biggest and most comprehensive of its kind to be found on the Internet", that began life in 1998 as the personal homepage of Sergei Anatolyevich Starostin (1953-2005), who, until his untimely demise on 09.30.2005, had been Russia's leading specialist in diachronical studies and unofficial head of the so-called "Moscow school of comparative linguistics".)

Principle Number Five:
The isolated comparison of single words picked out of various language dictionaries is undesirable for etymological study. To obtain valid etymologies, words must be examined in the broader context of the place of a word in the entire language as a whole and only then can valid conclusions be made.

We take here the example of the word "hand" in English, for which various false etymologies have been developed over the years, with the result that no known etymology is accepted, especially since "hand" only exists in Germanic languages - English, German, Swedish. How can that be?

The Online Etymological Dictionary repeats the mainstream linguistic etymology:
"O.E. hond, from P.Gmc. *khanduz (cf. O.S., O.Fris., Du., Ger. hand, O.N. hönd, Goth. handus)." Linguists have not been able to follow this etymology any further because "hand" as a word only exists in the German languages.

The page correctly not only lists "hand" in its etymology, but also wisely refers to the broader conceptual context including finger, thumb, nail, palm, hand, wrist and elbow.

But the "broader conceptual context" of etymology for "hand" should also include the concept of "arm", because, as every modern linguist should know - and almost none do - in the Latvian language, together with Lithuanian the most archaic still-spoken Indo-European tongues, the word for "hand" and "arm" is the SAME word, namely:

Latvian roka "arm, hand"
Lithuanian ranka "arm, hand"
but also Finnish ranka "long, straight branch"

Given that knowledge, a "scientifically"-oriented world of linguists should immediately have concluded that if Latvian had only one term for both "arm" and "hand", that this might in fact reflect the Urzustand (original state) of the Indo-European language. But none, except us, have done so, because mainstream linguistics and their etymologies are faulty to the core, thinking that Latvian roka applies only to the hand and showing that they have not done their homework.

Since the mainstream linguists have little clue as to how language developed CONCEPTUALLY, they have of course not sought to find the etymology of English, German and Scandinavian "hand" in ancient words for "arm", because had they done so, they would have found the correct etymology, an etymology reaching clear back to Africa. Here are the Bantu words for "arm" as taken from the Bantu Language Database at the University of Auckland in New Zealand:

01758. Asu G.22 kónò N 3

01354. Basaa A.43a hì-/dì- kéŋéé N 19, 13

00941. Bemba M.42 úkù ßókó N

00478. Bukusu E.31c kú- mù- xònò N 3, 4

00006. Kinyamwezi F22 m̀ / mà kɔ̀nɔ́ N 5, 6
arm = hand
02252. Koyo C.24 ɛ̀ bɔ́gɔ̀ N 7-6

03072. Lega D.25 kʊ̀- bókò N 15, 6

02638. Rumanyo (Gciriku) K.38 ßɔ̂kɔ̀ N 5, 6

03443. Tswana S.30 lɩ̀- bɔ́χɔ́ N 5

03863. Yao P.21 ŋ̀- kónó N 3

Those words correspond to the Latvian sāni "side (of the body)" in diminutive form as sānīte, found in German as kante "edge" and Dutch kant "side", and that constellation of three words sānīte (side) : kante, kant (edge, side) : hand show us the true etymology of hand quite clearly in a well-known s>k>h consonantal shift similar to Grimm's law. At some point the weak "n" in Indo-European sānīte was lost or otherwise n//t was dentalized, giving the following words for side (as the left or right half):

Latvian sānīte "side" (diminutive form)
German Seite "side"
English side
French côté
Norwegian side
Swedish sida
Finnish sanka ("side of an object")
Chinese shǒubi (shǒu-bì)

But the arm is also an element with the shoulder, which modern medicine recognizes when it talks about "shoulder arm syndrome". Hence, when we combine the concepts of arm and shoulder in our etymology, we get that "eureka" effect that only comes with good science, because the methodology we are using is the correct methodology, contrary to current methods:
Widely disparate terms in various languages suddenly then show similar origin:

Thai แขน (kăen) "arm"
Vietnamese cánh tay "arm"
Syriac: ܟܬܦܐ (kathpā, kathpo) "shoulder"
Hebrew: כתפא (kathpā, kathpo) "shoulder"

IN Chinese, Japanese and Korean the Han character "shoulder"
(radical 130 +4, 8 strokes, cangjie input 竹尸月 (HSB), 戈尸月 (ISB), four-corner 30227)
is read as follows

(Yale gin1) "shoulder"

(hiragana かた, romaji kata) "shoulder"

(common kanji) "shoulder"
Readings On: けん (ken) Kun: かた (kata)

(hangeul , revised gyeon, McCune-Reischauer kyŏn, Yale kyen) "shoulder"

(pinyin jiān (jian1), Wade-Giles chien1) "shoulder"

As can clearly be seen, the languages of the world relate back etymologically to a hand-arm-shoulder concept at inception, which then became dissimilated in the various human groupings as humanity migrated to different part of the globe.

Indeed, this knowledge provides us with a new tool to determine the date as to when languages separated from each other.

An average mainstream linguist trying to understand the relationships which exist between all the languages of the world is hopelessly lost - as mainstream linguistics is - if words are not understood conceptually to include broader original concepts in the early stages of language which later become more differentiated among various language groups.

This posting is the first in a series of postings establishing new principles for the comparative reconstruction of languages in historical linguistics. These principles are important because modern views of ancient history and language, often erroneous, greatly influence current events.

In the light of modern genetic findings concerning the direction of human migration out of Africa - and we refer here to the National Geographic Genographic Project and the map above from that website dating to ca. 55000-50000 BC - it becomes crystal clear that the methodology currently used by mainstream linguists to reconstruct ancient languages, especially the proto-Indo-European language of interest to Western civilization, is in need of a total overhaul.

In fact, based on modern genetic evidence of human migration out of Africa, many of the past "peer-reviewed" writings of Western linguists (the blind leading the blind) can probably be thrown straight into the wastebasket as reflecting a bygone age of a totally false focus by gullible classical scholars on what are essentially colonialist remnants of Latin and Greek sources. Then as now - the classical scholars foolishly thought and generally still think that European language was based on those two ancient tongues, an assumption taken simply because those languages were the most ancient written languages known in Europe at that time.

Of course, whether a language is put into writing or not has absolutely nothing do with how archaic that language is nor what stage of language development such a language represents.

Indeed, Latin and Greek have been used to reconstruct the proto-Indo-European language, even for areas of Europe where no Greek or Roman ever set foot, and European languages are treated historically as if there had been no language at all in those regions, prior to the advent of the Greeks and Romans. It is an amazingly absurd and closed-minded approach to science and one reason that we hold little of modern linguistics, a pedantic language study which has resulted in the establishment of far-fetched etymologies (origins) for European words and which has greatly skewed the accurate reconstruction of true proto-Indo-European.

Modern comparative historical linguistics started late in the 18th century when Sir William Jones, an Englishman who studied law and who was at that time living India, observed as follows the year 1782:

"The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists. There is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothick and the Celtick, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanskrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family.” (Jones 1786, quoted in Lehman 1967 and Szemerényi 1996:4)."

As written at the Wikipedia:

"Although as early as the mid-17th century Dutchman Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn (1612–1653) and others had been aware that Ancient Persian belonged to the same language group as the European languages, and, publishing in 1787, American colonist Jonathan Edwards Jr. demonstrated, with supporting data (which Jones lacked), that Algonquian and Iroquoian language families (families, not merely languages) were related, it was Jones' discovery that caught the imagination of later scholars and became the semi-mythical origin of modern historical comparative linguistics."

Since then, modern linguistics has become a playground for scholars who abide by the principle voiced by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his first series of essays on Self-Reliance, where he stated that: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.". Linguistics has in fact developed into a pseudo-science where the scholars spend their time trying to devise artificial and highly subjective abstruse rules for the development of language, rather than looking at the available evidence to actually discover how language developed. Most scholarly publications on language no longer have anything to do with language at all but revolve around the application of obscure symbols which are their own self-serving end, and which are the focal point of discussion, with erroneous conclusions derived from erroneous etymologies, so that the allegedly discovered rules are next to worthless in language reconstruction.

Modern linguistics suffers from a peer group pressure syndrome discussed at Conformity, Compliance and Obedience, which is marked by the following characteristics:

* conformity occurs in response to social norms
* social norms are pervasive and powerful
* compliance occurs in response to a direct request
* obedience occurs in response to an authority figure

Major weapons of peer group pressure are:

1. Reciprocity
2. The demand for commitment and consistency, which "taps our strong desire to be consistent over time"

That describes perfectly how modern linguistics works. The fact of scholarly publication is a matter of reciprocity to theories published by other peers - not a matter of the truth or falsity of what is being published. That is combined in scholary writings by the demand for foolish consistency under the motto that some rule, however erroneous, is better than no rule at all.

This "linguistic method", and it is the major linguistic method in vogue in that science today, has led to a house of cards which is being swept away by modern genetics, and rightly so.

In light of modern knowledge and the above maps, any linguist seriously preferring linguistic explanations giving preference to Western etymological explanations rather than to Eastern ones, is simply deluding himself and others. We have long claimed that Latvian language is much more archaic than Western tongues and we are right, without question, based on genetic evidence. Any linguist who defends old outdated Western-centric Indo-European etymologies and theories with a straight face does not belong in the true scientific field, by which we mean that group of persons, whose theories will withstand the march of time. That demand excludes much of mainstream linguistics.

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