Monday, November 17, 2008

Milk and Gollum, and Nostratic M-L-Q

Series straddling three blogs: 
Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ...on linguistic evolution
...on Tower of Babel or language evolution
Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Milk and Gollum, and Nostratic M-L-Q
Is Boromir a mimsy borogove?
"If God spoke a language" - to correct Grimm
On the "Reformed Egyptian" of the "Nephites"
side issue on previous, Theology: A Gerald Smith on the theme of "Great Apostasy" and "Restored Gospel" - answered
Is Romanides accurate?
Was Romanides accurate? Bis! Not very much at all!
Linguistics for Romanides: Greek, Latin, Patois
Coniectura linguistica, pro casu unitatis vetustissimae indo-europaeae linguae.
Creation vs. Evolution : 32 language families for 72 nations ...
To this essay: 

Sorry, Tolkien! Gollum IS of course your literary property, but if you explicitly state that he got that nickname because of the swallowing sound he repeatedly made, a philologist simply cannot afford to overlook him in a discussion about the supposedly proven Nostratic root M-L-Q. You were simply begging to have him intrude into such a discussion: I believe nobody who has read your book and then seen the list of supposed reflexes of Nostratic M-L-Q, of which an Amerindian one was nearly Gollum (OK, there was a vowel before the g or other velar!) and where most meanings are either throat or swallow (other ones being drink, suckle, milk [a cow or goat] and Germanic also milk [in a bowl]), can overlook the fact that Gollum or other permutations of G-L-M, M-L-G are about as good evidence for a common origin of these words and languages as a list of languages in which the word for cat sounded like meeow!

In case you have no idea of what theory I am talking about, Mark Rosenfelder has given another refutation of it, along with a citation of its content here.

My argument is that the combinations of MMMMM and GLGLGL are onomatopoetic.

Update, Epiphany Octave of 2013:

Two more onomatopoetic words in Merritt Ruhlen's list:

Aqua for water sounds exactly like - smoothness - splash - resumed smoothness. The qu in itself sounds very much also like the gl of milk and gollum. Qu? Gl? Klooklooklooklook ... (and a few languages aqua means to drink).

Tik for "one" or "finger" sounds very much like the snapping of fingers.

So, again, sound and meaning similarity does not prove common origin here either. Confer how "maman" and "papa" have made it from French to so many other languages of Europe because they have all the air of being onomatopoeia./HGL


Hans-Georg Lundahl said...

Tolkien lingustics and language philosophical questions: 1 Milk and Gollum, and Nostratic M-L-Q 2 Is Boromir a mimsy borogove? 3 "If God spoke a language" - to correct Grimm

Hans-Georg Lundahl said...

On a second look at Mark Rosenfelder's refutation, I see a certain flaw.

In the "contrary example" he is supposing that Quechua and Chinese are unrelated. On Ruhlen's view Chinese belongs to Na-Dene family with Basque, certain Kaukasian languages and - Athapascan, one language family in the Americas before Columbus arrived.

Also Ruhlen would argue that Na-Dene and Amerindian (to which Quechua belongs) are ultimately both derived from Proto-World.

Rosenfelder also does take a few examples of real cognates that sound very differently - without noting how real cognate mus or pater sounds very similar.

Hans-Georg Lundahl said...

Of course, not sharing the evolutionist leanings of either Ruhlen or Rosenfelder, but believing there was a power of Babel not all that long ago, a little before or even after the time when Proto-Indo-European is supposed to have been spoken, I am less sure or not sure at all about evolutionary lines reaching backward and confident that there was no evolution but simple switch from pre-Babel to most or possibly all post-Babel tongues - but that does not disparage language "kinship" and still less kinship of single words.