Re: The Anthroplogy of th

Scott C DeLancey (
20 Dec 1994 12:02:29 -0800

In article <>,
Rab Wilkie <> wrote:
> -=> Quoting Scott C Delancey to All <=-

> RW> Are you familiar with Merritt Ruhlen's work as presented in "The Origin of
> RW> Language", Wiley, 1994?
> SCD> I haven't read the new book, but yes, I'm quite familiar with Ruhlen's
> SCD> and Greenberg's work, and I stand by my opinion that there's no
> SCD> convincing case for the genetic unity of the "Amerind" languages. (Let
> SCD> me hasten to add, before the Greenberg apologists start screaming, that
> SCD> I think this is a very plausible idea; all I'm saying is that Greenberg
> SCD> and Ruhlen have not proven it).
> Is their case that much weaker than the cases made for some Old World
> linguistic groupings that have more or less been accepted? Even some
> "Indo-European" connections.

Which suggestions did you have in mind? All kinds of proposals have
been made for far-flung relationships among various Old World language
groups, but certainly all the proposals that "have more or less been
accepted" have been accepted on the basis of considerably more and
better evidence than has been presented for Amerind. As for Indo-
European, as far as I know, for every language group that's considered
to be I-E, the crucial evidence is some pretty specific morphological
correspondences (cognate case endings on nouns, agreement endings on
verbs, specific forms of the copula, that sort of thing). Greenberg
suggests a little bit of evidence of this sort, but nothing as strong
as the I-E evidence, and more importantly, nothing that can be found
in *all* the families that he considers to be Amerind.

Scott DeLancey
Department of Linguistics
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403, USA