Re: [bcn_2003] Digest Number 210 (Mark Newbrook)
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Polat Kaya
My comments to Mark Newbrook's letter are inline below his
> Re Mark Hubey
> "There is really no controversy. The methods are all based on
probability theory, explicitly or implicitly, and orthogonally,
bilaterally or multilaterally. There can be no other basis for it.
It just so happens that I write explicitly whereas the traditional
explanations are based on heuristics whose justification cannot be
other than probabilistic."
There certainly IS controversy about probabilistics in linguistic
reconstruction, since some other historical linguists (who also work
with probabilistics) vwould argue that some of Hubey's specific ideas
involve confusion. Hubey may conceivably be right across the board,
and I certainly agree with him that the probabilistic element in
traditional comparative methodology has been underplayed in
discussion; but it is tendentious to talk as if there was no serious
debate among historical linguists on this set of issues. (I am not
concerned here with who IS right, especially since all of us would
agree against Polat Kaya. There is plenty of discussion of these
Polat Kaya: This looks suspiciously like a campaign against Polat
Kaya. When you say, "especially since all of us would agree against
Polat Kaya", are you sure about that or are you just hoping and
praying that it will happen? Even if you manage to get some
concensus against Polat Kaya, it still will not change the validity
of what Polat Kaya is saying. It is said that when Galileo was set
free, as he was leaving the courtroom, he said something along the
line "I still believe the earth is turning around the sun".
> "That idea in itself [Polat Kaya's] is subject to the laws of
probability e.g. what is the probability that Turkish was subjected
to anagrammatisation when there is no evidence that any other
language was subjected to the same."
Polat Kaya: No loaded dice please! First of all, this is not a
conditional probability case as you have stated. Once a group decides
to manufacture a language for themselves, it is a decision followed by
intentional actions. There is no probability involved. You yourself
said in a previous email that: "Polat Kaya is right to say that, if
there really had been deliberate interference (anagrammatisation etc),
probabilistic considerations would not apply in the same way as in the
case of normal linguistic change." Now you are turning around.
Secondly this question is loaded and wrongly formulated. The second
part of the question is invalid because there is ample evidence that
Indo-European languages were manufactured by anagrammatizing
words and phrases of the much older Turkish language. I have given
many examples that Mark Newbrook cannot dispel readily. Hence his
assumption for the second part is wrong.
Thirdly, the statement is intentionally designed to confuse and
mislead. The formulator of this question is either confused, or wants
to confuse others.
For instance, it would have been much more accurate, to ask that:
"Considering that Sumerian was anagrammatized into Akkadian, what
is the probability that Turkish, a Sumerian-like language, was also
anagrammatized into other languages?"
I propose the following scenario as a much more fair and
Two groups of people are trying to come up with a word to name a
concept in their own languages. One group is at ALTAY mountains in
Asia; and the other group is, say, at ALP Mountains in Europe.
Neither one knows that the others even exist. Somehow each has a
modern "bingo" machine in which there are, say, 30 balls and each
ball is marked with one letter of a, say, 30-letter alphabet. Balls
are dropped randomly and the machine automatically replenishes the
dropped ball so that in all drawings there are always 30 balls in the
machine (this represents an alphabet which is an unlimited resource).
Now we say: a) What is the probability that those in Altay mountains
will get, in ten consequtive drawings, letters "K, U, L, D, U, R, I,
C, I, O" and similarly those in ALP mountains will get, in ten
consecutive drawings, the letters "R, I, D, I, K, U, L, O, U, S"?
Since these ten letters will make a new word for the participating
groups, then: b) what is the probability that both the Altay group
and the Alp group will assign the meaning of "it is funny" or "it
makes you laugh" to their respective new word? In a truly random
process, the probability of this would be zero.
> Yes, indeed - if such posibilities can be reliably calculated.
> Mark Newbrook
Having so much correspondence between my example IE words
and their Turkish sources cannot be explained by probability or
coincidence. The real explanation is what I have been saying, i.e.,
Best wishes to all,
July 28, 2003