Talk:Amerind languages

Active discussions
e·h·w·Stock post message.svg To-do:

  • Use INLINE CITATIONS to make clear who claims what.
Good. This has been achieved - partially. We could use the ref tags. I'll do that as soon as I've got some time.
I am going to refine the references as soon as I am less busy.
Also, links to other articles (on both various subjects and persons mentioned) should be made.
  • Add some information on the m/t (a correction: n/m) pronominal pattern and the boy/girl/child isogloss.
    • Are these two arguments valid? Why?
Here, we should add that some linguists attribute the patterns to non-genetic causes.
Done.
We should mention that some linguists claim the pattern is (a) not confined to the Americas, (b) that wide-spread in Americas
  • Describe what lead Greenberg and his followers to postulate and advocate this theory.
Oh, and we should not forget the predecessors, like Sapir etc.
  • Describe what leads the majority of linguists to reject the hypothesis.
That is mentioned. Fine.
  • Correct mistakes:
    • Amerind is not at the same level as Na-Dene or Eskimo-Aleut. It goes into a bigger time-depth.
    • Exemplify the transcriptional and other mistakes in Greenbergs hypothesis.


re: support of GreenbergEdit

Not many specialists support Greenberg. In fact, many linguists have spent considerable effort to reverse the "damage" that Greenberg has done to popular knowledge.

But, I believe that some of Greenberg's students, such as Merritt Ruhlen, are in favor with Greenberg's proposals.

Cheers! — ishwar  (SPEAK) 03:27, 2005 Apr 4 (UTC) I hardly think that a comment from Mithun is an NPOV way of describing the current consensus on mass comparison. Please see my comment in Talk:Indigenous languages of the Americas#lumpers vs. splitters. Benwing 23:30, 12 July 2005 (UTC)

I disagree with both sentiments. It is true that many linguists do not support Greenberg. However, he has more support than one may think. The fact that the profession has risen up in a bizarre display of fury against Amerind is shameful and disgusting, and implies psychological defenses at work. Further, some of the world's top linguists are continuing to work on mass comparison, although not necessarily on Amerind. The notion that the only person who supports Greenberg is "one of his students", the acclaimed linguist Ruhlen, is typical of the scurrilous attacks the anti-Greenbergians deploy.
In the 20 years since publication of LIA, a number of qualified Americanists have started to dip into the Amerind pool. Many of them feel that Greenberg's thesis is warranted, at least in part, and these scholars are expanding upon Greenberg's work, in some cases even finding regular sound correspondences. The snide notion that there is "consensus" against Greenberg is yet another (sigh) example of the viciousness of the anti-Greenbergians. There is no "consensus" agreement that Greenberg is wrong, and saying so violates Wikipedia's neutrality principle.
The best analysis of the Greenberg controversy is to say that JG's proposal is still hotly debated in the profession, is wildly controversial, and is not yet proven or disproven.
I am hereby serving notice to all of the anti-Greenbergian guerrilla fighters who have invaded every Greenberg or mass comparison article Wikipedia that I am going to help mount a campaign against their insurgent project. The battle is on. Robert Lindsay 05:28, 21 March 2006 (UTC) (talk)

Battle is not a good idea. Moreover, this article needs NPOV edits. Rather than wasting your energy "battling" people whom you do not know, by all means take a few minutes to rewrite this article in something resembling encyclopedic style.

It seems clear that the article as currently written reads as a POV discussion of Greenberg and his critics, rather than talking about Amerind Languages. This is not really appropriate; if there is any place for detailed discussion of support for Joseph Greenberg's theories and critics in general terms, it would be the Joseph Greenberg article, specifically the #Languages of the Americas section, or a specialized article dealing with "lumpers" vs "splitters." I believe it is quite sufficient for this article to state that "Amerind Languages" refers to two things, namely "indigenous languages of the Americas" in generalized use and specifically to one of the three families Greenberg, who is controversial, divides the languages of the Americas into... as well as the details of the classification under question, and perhaps a mention of why it is considered controversial. As currently written, I found the Eskimo-Aleut languages and Na-Dené languages articles more informative as to precisely what Greenberg's theory actually says, with substantially less verbiage. Balancer 17:32, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
A major reason that the other two articles are different is that neither Eskimo-Aleut nor Na-Dene is due to Greenberg and neither is controversial, except for the inclusion of Haida in Na-Dene. Eskimo-Aleut and Na-Dene were proposed long before Greenberg - he had nothing to do with them other than accepting them.
User:Danny's removal of User:Robert Lindsay's rant takes care of the NPOV problem. I have added a short summary of the issues.Bill 09:16, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
Well, I was more thinking of the short paragraph about Greenberg's theory that's included in those two articles. Did I capture it accurately? Balancer 20:56, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
Yes, your summaries in those two articles are accurate. If I were to edit them, I think I would change "Native North America" to "the Americas", since Greenberg's classification includes all of the Americas, but that's quibble.Bill 21:25, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
In response to User:Benwing, I think he is confusing NPOV with "balance". The fact is that that only a tiny minority of professional historical linguists take Greenberg's work on Amerind seriously. Almost all of the people who support Amerind are either at the fringe of the field or entirely outside of it. The criticisms of LIA have mostly gone without substantive response. So, yes, Greenberg's theory should be mentioned and references given, but portraying the two sides as balanced would seriously misrepresent the state of the field, as would a balanced presentation of the idea that the earth is a sphere and the idea that it is flat. As someone in the field, who has formed a judgment on this question, Marianne Mithun is not a detached, neutral observer, but she is precisely the sort of expert whose views should be reflected in an encyclopedia: she is extremely knowledgable, she has carefully examined the arguments and the data, and she explains her judgment in a rational way. Indeed, there is very little possibility of finding a detached, neutral observer qualified to comment on the question because anybody who knows enough to have an opinion of any interest has already formed an opinion on the question.Bill 21:37, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
Irrespectively of if Greenberg's comparisons are correct or not, all Amerind groups have one common origin - which was proved by genetic research. The migration wave probably wasn't only one - judging from the different distribution of female lineages in America - , but the Siberian population was the same. Hence it is highly probable that all Amerind languages also come from one root. However, as for other Greenberg's hypothesis, they often make no sense from the genetic point of view. For example, based on genetic relationships, Na-Dene languages are almost certainly related to the Altaic family, Amerind languages are related to the languages of Kets, Yukaghirs, Nivkhs and probably even Eskimos and Aleuts, the Chino-Tibetan family stems from the same root like Austroasian and Austronesian families, Japanese and Korean. Similarly, based on similar genetic origin, the Uralic family must be related to the Chukotko-Kamtchatkan family. Dravidian belongs to a wide macrofamily together with Amerind languages and Burushaski. However, problems occur, when male genetic lineages mix with female genetic lineages of other distant groups - then it is not easy to decide, if the human group preserved their language. Hence Basque may be of Cro-Magnon origin and related to Amerind languages - but also of Middle Eastern origin. 82.100.61.114 08:05, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
That is pure original research and as such useless for Wikipedia. Moreover, your comments are confused: linguistic classifications can only be based on linguistic evidence, it is a category mistake to base them on genetic evidence. For example: speakers of Finnish are genetically more closely related to speakers of Swedish than they are to Saami people. However, Finnish and Saami are related whereas Finnish and Swedish are not. This already suffices to show that it is methodologically absolutely invalid to derive linguistic claims from genetic data. --AAikio 12:14, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
He makes many mistakes, however there is still one valid point. If most of the people of the Americas date to immigration from Siberia 12000 years ago then to reject any kind of higher level relationships is to say that 100 different language families arose independently in the last 12000 years which is clear rubbish (and yet is believed by many people), best to say there's insufficient evidence to conclusively prove a link and that the exact membership of higher level groups is disputed. Also depends on what country you're talking about as extreme conservatism tends to be common in English speaking countries and yet Russian linguists are far more likely to accept higher level groupings.86.152.221.121 (talk) 10:50, 3 January 2010 (UTC)
Huh? Nobody claims that "100 different language families arose independently in the last 12000 years", and I don't think many linguists believe that, but any higher-level connections are, as you say, too remote to reconstruct. (Of course, we don't really know how many different languages were brought to the Americas by various waves of immigration, whose mere number is completely unknown; and even the assumption that humans have spoken languages along modern lines, who developped along modern lines in ways reconstructible by the comparative method in principle, for tens of thousands of years back into the past – the unspoken assumption behind monogenesis – is dubious.)
The conservatism of American linguists is warranted: Unproved links between accepted language families are mere hypotheses, and not particularly useful by themselves except perhaps as a starting point for further research, including research on areal connections and language contact. Russian linguists are building castles in the clouds. What does one win by accepting a random proposal of many conflicting ones? Very little, if anything. At worst, in one's frantic search for long-range connections, one loses sight of more regionally limited processes and patterns. "Amerind languages" is an intellectually vacuous proposal, and the exclusion of Na-Dené and Eskimo–Aleut seems arbitrary, without actual basis in linguistic data.
Robert Lindsay's point that Amerind and similar groupings are "not disproved" is besides the point, as such groupings can never be strictly disproved. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 16:32, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

Article reference listEdit

Incidentally, is it just me, or does the reference list seem rather long in relation to the article content, compared to other articles here? Balancer 08:23, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

Yes, it is unusually long. I'm probably mainly responsible for that. The reasons are that I wanted to include a reasonable range of the critical literature (there's more) without seeming unfair and removing the pro-Amerind references, and that I wanted to include both work specifically on the Amerind question and some more general background on the methodological issues.
The reason for the latter is that the article on mass lexical comparison is not very good and has no references. What I think needs to be done (and have a mind to do) is to improve that article and add references to it. Ringe (1992) at least could then be eliminated from this article since it is a general methodological reference, not specifically about Amerind. Ditto Ringe (1993), I think, though I'd have to check to be sure it doesn't discuss Amerind. The Sturtevant reference is not necessary - that's a wonderful set of volumes, but not specifically related to this article.Bill 21:25, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

FootnotesEdit

Please, make footnotes (Inline citations) in order that the readers can verify the information. Otherwise this may well look as a presentation of the editor's/s' opinions rather than of facts.--Pet'usek [petrdothrubisatgmaildotcom] 14:49, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

More InformationEdit

More pieces of information should be included in the article, such as:

  • Other people's contributions to the subject (such Merritt Ruhlen's Amerind Etymological Dictionary), as well as reviews thereof.
  • Internal classification (according to Greenberg/Ruhlen)
  • The evidence (real or alleged, but certainly commented) in favour of the hypothesis (and why that evidence is/isn't valid).

It doesn't matter whether Greenberg/Ruhlen's classification is valid or not. It should be a part of the description of the hypothesis. It is not enough to say that Amerind is a controversial family proposed by Greenberg and consisting of all language families in Americas but Na-Dené/Haida and Eskimo-Aleut. Being a reader of Wikipedia, I'd like to know why Greenberg thought the family existed.--Pet'usek [petrdothrubisatgmaildotcom] 14:24, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

reverting to less POV versionEdit


look at the history and you'll see that the (formerly) current highly POV version was due to a single user, Billposer. the previous version is shorter and much more objective. none of the added stuff by Billposer is relevant -- it's a lot of unsourced, disputed criticisms, and all relevant criticisms are already contained in the mass lexical comparison page. Benwing (talk) 03:47, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Given that Bill Poser actually has expert knowledge of the languages in the Amerind family, I think it's very unfortunate that you felt justified in deleting his contributions as not 'objective'. Unless you have any citations to prove that the acceptance of Amerind is greater than Bill said it is, I would advocate putting Bill's edits back in. Anon., June 5, 2008.

That sounds as if Bill Poser were an expert in ALL of the languages grouped under Amerind. I doubt that. Certainly, the hypothesis is CONTROVERSIAL. It should be said why it is controversial, bbut we are here not to judge it. Only time and the linguistic community can do so. We need to cite both - those who agree with Amerind and those who don't. We need to say why there are still people who advocate it. And, which is important, we should reralize this is an article ABOUT Amerind, not AGAINST Amerind! Wikipedia is NOT an Encyclopaedia of critics and critiques, is it? If you say A, you should say B. Let me summarize that:

--Pet'usek [petrdothrubisatgmaildotcom] 10:33, 20 July 2008 (UTC)

You are partly right Petusek - but you forget one point. Currently the scientific consensus is not only against the validity of Amerind, it is very much against it. Wikipedia needs to show unequivocally that this is not a proposal that is believed by the general scientific community - not doing this would be giving undue weight to a fringe viewpoint (and yes Amerind apologetics are a fringe minority of the linguistic community, this is undisputable).·Maunus·ƛ· 10:46, 20 July 2008 (UTC)
I would not dispute the theory is controversial. I only demand more precise information - who claims what and why. That's all. This looks as if the arguments were taken out of thin air - both for and against Amerind. The article mentions few arguments. I'd like to list a few requests in the to-do box. If we say it is a fringe theory, why could we not use the inline citations to sources that document this? That's all I want, in fact. And I repeat: there is nothing about why Amerind was postulated, what lead to it: the pronoun pattern (which is considered less wide-spread now), the assumed boy/girld/child isogloss (be it highly disputed). You know, the article gives very little information on the actual Amerind hypothesis.--Pet'usek [petrdothrubisatgmaildotcom] 11:22, 20 July 2008 (UTC)
One more thing. Amerind, as far as I know, is a higher-order grouping. It is not on the same level as Na-Dene or Eskimo-Aleut, thus the first sentence of the article is, at least, inaccurate. In fact, Amerind would not contradict the current division into many smaller families, as the hypothesis attempts at seeking bigger time-depth relationships. Whether successfully or not, that is another question. Simply, something has to be said about the theory. Why it has its followers and why the majority of linguists disagree with it, uhm? --Pet'usek [petrdothrubisatgmaildotcom] 11:28, 20 July 2008 (UTC)
I for one have no problem with this, as long as undue weight is not given to a favourable view of the hypothesis.·Maunus·ƛ· 12:15, 20 July 2008 (UTC)
Good. I think we might use something from here. It is quite brief and if we add the inline citations (e.g. with the linguits claiming that the m/t pattern can be attributed to other than genetic sources), it will be fine, I guess.--Pet'usek [petrdothrubisatgmaildotcom] 12:28, 20 July 2008 (UTC)
Good. Mr. Poser seems to have put the references where they belong. Still, some more information could be added, including a few references.--Pet'usek [petrdothrubisatgmaildotcom] 07:05, 22 July 2008 (UTC)


Please, see the to-do box. I have made some changes. Let's discuss them here. Any information to be added, corrected, explained in a more detail? I think there should be a discussion in the text as to whether the main arguments for Amerind are valid or not, and why, uhm? At least, a link to the relevant articles should be made.--Pet'usek [petrdothrubisatgmaildotcom] 08:39, 22 July 2008 (UTC)

There is a user who reverted my corrections and said that Greenberg did not use the precepts of the mass comparative method for his classification of native American languages--this is totally and absolutely false. The user is picking up on propaganda from ultraconservative and fanatical mainstreamers who are based on polemics instead of reason. Just because the section is on reception of the idea doesn't mean it should include the lies of ultraconservative and fanatical mainstreamers without rebuttal. --Trouveur de faits (talk) 21:19, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

Conspiracy theories are a sign of pseudoscience: When people can't win on the merits of their argument, they attack the community instead. I know Americanists, fans of Greenberg, who were very excited at the prospect of him solving their classification problems, only to be disappointed when his proposal turned out to be garbage. That's the consensus view, though we put it more politely, and it's not for us to defend a hyphothesis against its reception in the reception section. — kwami (talk) 23:50, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

Classification of the languagesEdit

It seems to me it would appropriate to put the hypothetical classification of this hypothetical phylum, with links to the pages for each family, where they are there. I will begin working on this.

The classification, per "A Guide to the World's Languages Vol. 1" (Merrit Ruhlen, 1987) is as follows:

1. Northern Amerind 1.1 Almosan-Kersiouan 1.2 Penutian 1.3 Hokan 2. Central Amerind 2.1 Tanoan 2.2 Uto-Aztecan 2.3 Oto-Manguean 3. Chibchan-Paezan 3.1 Chibchan 3.2 Paezan 4. Andean 5. Equatorial-Tucanoan 5.1 Macro-Tucanoan 5.2 Equatorial 6. Ge-Pano-Carib 6.1 Macro-Carib 6.2 Ge-Pano 6.21 Macro-Panoan 6.22 Macro-Ge.

As I said, I will start working on this, and try to make sure I include as many of the latest research as I can find, with appropriate footnotes, etc. But I wanted to post a heads-up on the discussion page. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Listmeister (talkcontribs) 20:04, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

DONE. March 29, 2010. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Listmeister (talkcontribs) 15:41, 29 March 2010 (UTC)


It looks like recent work on DNA/genetics has come to the same 3-wave conclusion.

http://www.nytimes.com/glogin?URI=http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/12/science/earliest-americans-arrived-in-3-waves-not-1-dna-study-finds.html --12.2.10.242 (talk) 01:05, 12 July 2012 (UTC)

JOSEPH GREENBERG WAS RIGHT!Edit

I have seen an article in the New York Times. DNA testing has confirmed that there were three migrations to the Americas. Fifteen thousand years ago, there was a large migration that would give rise to the majority of Native American tribes. This was followed by two smaller migrations. One would give rise to the Eskimo. The other would give rise to the Apache and the Navajo. This is evidence that Joseph Greenberg was right. Please check http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/12/science/earliest-americans-arrived-in-3-waves-not-1-dna-study-finds.html?partner=rss&emc=rss for more info.

173.57.39.131 (talk) 21:58, 12 July 2012 (UTC)Anonymous

  • Noone is disputing the probability of the three wave hypothesis, and it has been supported by genetic and archaeological evidence for decades. It does however, not follow that all of the people in the first wave spoke a single Amerind language - that is a completely different question to which genetics cannot contribute.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 11:08, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
Can you give a single example in recorded history of a wave of migration where they weren't all speaking the same language? There were several invasions of Europe in the middle ages, but even the largest one (the Mongols) had a common language among the invaders (Mongolian). The Amerind hypothesis does not rely on the genetic evidence, but I think the genetic evidence is a pretty solid support. Listmeister (talk) 13:04, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
The Amerindian "invasion" was most likely not a single historical event like the Mongol one. It was probably much more similar to the migration period in Europe stretching over many thousand years, with many hundreds of languages involved. There is no genetic evidence suggesting that all of the "Amerind" people necessarily arrived in one group just because they are fairly genetically homgeneous (relative to the later arriving Dene and Eskimo). ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 13:09, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, no. Scholarly consensus is clear here. There's a common ancestor languge family. I linked to the Wikipedia page on Genetic History of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas to make things clear for people who still believe the "splitters". This is a jargon dispute; nobody seriously believes that there were two totally independent families of languages brought across during a genetic bottleneck. It's frankly ridiculous and it's not OR to say that. 74.79.153.74 (talk) 02:58, 26 November 2019 (UTC)

Don't just go removing the classification schemeEdit

I undid a removal of the classification scheme. We need to discuss this first. The list of languages and the classification thereof is the Amerind hypothesis. The article has little real content without it. Maunus's edit note says "removing excessive list which breaks the article - this list should have its on article if it is to be included at all" (sic) well, the note itself suggested two alternatives before deleting content: rearrange the article, or put the list in its own article. But there was no indication of why it should not be included. Listmeister (talk) 19:50, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

Yes there was. The HUGE embedded list makes the article unreadable. Per WP:MOS embedded lists of that length should be avoided. And no, the hypothesis is not just a list of languages. At least one would hope there was more to it than that, although in this case perhaps there isn't. Please remove the list again since it is not helping the reader at all - if you think it is useful put it in a separate list article and link to it from the article.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 20:03, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
Can someone else weigh in here? I don't want to get into a reversion war (I did say "discuss this first.) The article is not unreadable. The list is its own section, and does not interfere with the sections around it at all. If you had just moved it to the bottom of the article, I would not have a problem with that. I read the MOS, it says, "material within an embedded list should relate to the article topic without going into unnecessary detail". It does relate to the topic, and does not go into unnecessary detail. As for the whole "helpful to the reader" comments, why would anyone want to read about Amerind languages if he didn't want to know what the Amerind languages are? Listmeister (talk) 20:27, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
The list was placed between sections, specifically before the extremely important criticism section, and it also cannot go between the body of text and the references. Yes it goes into unnecessary detail. The same infiormation can be given in a single sentence "the original Amerind proposal contained all Indigenous American languages except the Athabascan and Eskimo-Aleut languages and Tlingit and Haida"·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 20:32, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
So why didn't you just move the criticism section ahead of the classification section, instead of removing all the content? I have done so. You have a point, the article is more readable, and we didn't have to delete the classification.Listmeister (talk) 20:43, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
IF someone should have discussed, it was you when you inserted it the first time [1].·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 20:37, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
It was the discussed under the "Classification of the Languages" section of the talk page. Not only did no one object, but others have contributed to the list since it was first put in. Listmeister (talk) 20:43, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

NPOVEdit

I strongly suggest we review WP:NPOV. Terms like "roundly" and "universal" are very opinionated. The article quite properly presents the fact that the most prestigious current Americanists regard the theory as unproven because they criticize the methodology. Outside Americanist linguists the lumping theories are actually more popular. In any case, the evidence can speak for itself and we do not need to present this even more hostilely than the Sun Theory. μηδείς (talk) 21:54, 22 September 2012 (UTC)

I do not know of a single specialist in Native American languages who support the classification. By specialist I mean someone who is an authority in the grammatical and historical description of any American Indian language or language family. It is not just the "prestigious current Americanists" - it is everyone who is an actual specialist. I agreee that almost universal is too strong since there are exceptions among non-specialists. Your claim about lumping being more popular outside is irrel;evant firstly because "outsiders" are not specialists in these languages and secondly because it is an unsubstantiated claim. Thirdly evidence cannot speak- it can only be interpreted, and the aim of wikipedia is to convey the interpretations of the foremost authorities to the reader. Not to present them with a jungle of primaryb evidence they have no chance of making sense of.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 22:00, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
It is for that reason that I specified Americanists in the text. But plenty of specialists have supported the notion of a wider Amerind, even if they don't exactly agree with Greenberg's classification. The bottom line is we can say Campbell and those who agree with his "shouted down" comment and his demand on H-List that the topic not even be discussed are in the majority and offer criticisms without implying Greenberg is a crank or is not listened to at all. Even Greenberg admitted over and over his proferred classification was a fisrt step, and not the equivalent of reconstruction. Speaking of which, why do you want the vague "rigours methods" instead of "reconstruction"--which is that rigorous method?
"Consensus"-I am surprised you don't want to say consensus rather than just reject universal (which is fine with me). I would think my consesnus wording was even stronger against the theory.
"Rejected"-this is still problematic. Scientific theories aren't viewed as "rejected" unless some other view is taken as proven. And there is no way to prove that further evidence will not support the Amerind theory. No linguist I know of claims it is disproven which is what rejected implies. We need to find another word that means not accepted as proven, or we can use rejected if that term is attributable to some specific critic. μηδείς (talk) 22:11, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
I can agree to using "consensus" and also prefer "reconstruction" instead of the vague "rigour". Hypotheses can be rejected if they turn out not to be supported by evidence. In historical linguistics the null hypothesis is no (demonstrated/demonstrable) relation. Furthermore the rejection of Amerind is based on both the lack of support and the lack of scientific validity of the method. Astrology is also not disproven, but it certainly is rejected.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 22:57, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
I've spoken to Americanists who eagerly awaited G's 1983 book, hoping it would clarify some of the questions they had about the history of their families. Some of them have privately suggested links even wider ranging than what G suggested, so they're hardly 'splitters'. They were quite disappointed when they found that the evidence he used for their family was partially spurious and partially misinterpreted, so that it demonstrated nothing, which was confirmed when they asked their like-minded colleagues working on other families, and they said the same thing. This isn't a 'conspiracy' as some of G's students like to say, but a conclusion that his evidence isn't worth the paper it's printed on – from people who very much wanted him to be right. G's substantial contributions are in typology, where he was revolutionary, in laying to rest racialist classifications of Africa in popular accounts, and in a single deep family, Nilo-Saharan, which enjoys cautious but growing support. His work in New Guinea and America is essentially worthless according to just about everyone who knows those areas. — kwami (talk) 02:52, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Greenberg's book was published in 1987. I am surprised I am the only one here who seems to have read it. Yes, it is extremely shallow, and only purports to give the bare outlines of a classification, no reconstructions or even new theories, as Amerind itself doesn't originate with him. I am not aware of there being any conspiracy against Greenberg, and have not read Greenberg, Ruhlen, or anyone else sympathetic with him say so. (But I have read Campbell's call for Greenberg to be "shoued down": The Settlement of the Americas: A Comparison of the Linguistic, Dental, and Genetic Evidence (and Comments and Reply) Joseph H. Greenberg, Christy G. Turner II, Stephen L. Zegura, Lyle Campbell, James A. Fox, W. S. Laughlin, Emöke J. E. Szathmary, Kenneth M. Weiss and Ellen Woolford Current Anthropology , Vol. 27, No. 5 (Dec., 1986), pp. 477-497 http://www.jstor.org/stable/2742857--before Greenberg published--and have read Campbell on Histling-L disparage and forbid any discussion of Greenberg's or any other deep relation ideas on that list.) The bottom line issue is that hysterically worded denunciations of Greenberg's ideas are not necessary. It's a very simple matter to give neutral descriptions of his critics' responses--descriptions even his supporters would deem fair given even Greenberg did not argue the consensus of Americanists wasn't against him. μηδείς (talk) 03:59, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
I read it for a course on the classification of American Indian languages back in 1999 and I have not had a reason to revisit it.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 12:35, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
I agree that arguing s.o. should be shouted down is stupid. That's Chomsky's modus. I can understand forbidding X on a blog if the blog has gotten bogged down with it, but not without a demonstrable problem. I have heard that those opposing him are part of a conspiracy to discredit him – even Ruhlen reads that way a lot of the time, with opposition coming from 'splitters' who are ideologically opposed – but perhaps they're responding to people like Campbell. — kwami (talk) 05:02, 23 September 2012 (UTC)

Lumpers vs. SplittersEdit

The reason Lumpers tend to like the Amerind theory and Splitters tend to reject it is a fundamental assumption by the Lumpers that "Any Theory is Better than No Theory" while the fundamental assumption by the Splitters seems to be "A Wrong Theory is Worse Than No Theory."

Applied to the American Languages, a Lumper will ask, "Are these languages related to each other, or did they arise independently? Best we can figure, there are four independent sources of languages in the Americas (the Na-Dene, the Eskimo, the recently introduced European, and the Amerind). Great, we have a theory. Let's see if we can refine the theory. Maybe we'll find a fourth grouping or be able to connect two of the three together, maybe someone will come up with a better theory, but we have to start somewhere." From a Lumper perspective, the Splitters have not even tried to come up with a better theory. They just seem to be saying say "we have 150 independent language families, and we can never ever know the relationship between them. Ever. Oh sure, maybe we'll get lucky, and discover a link here and there, but on a continental scale, forget it." This attitude is as frustrating to Lumpers as I'm sure the "start somewhere even if it's wrong" approach is to splitters.

My point is, Amerind is a Lumper Theory, made by Lumpers (Greenberg and Ruhlen, mainly) for other Lumpers. Let's acknowledge this fundamental division in approach to historical linguistics, and move on from that starting point.

Listmeister (talk) 14:47, 28 September 2012 (UTC) (lumper)

It is not the case that lumpers live in another world than splitters. Science is one. Amerind is not scientifically supported. Those lumpers who do science instead of speculation know this. ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 17:36, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
The classification of the vast majority of Native American languages in one group is heavily scientifically supported, because we have external evidence -- genetic, biological, archaeological. I just went ahead and linked it, since it's already elsewhere on Wikipedia. Amerind is not *linguistically* supported, but that's not the same thing. Let's acknowledge this fundamental difference in approach between people who recognize that there are sciences other than historical reconstruction linguistics, and those who can't look outside their department. 74.79.153.74 (talk) 03:02, 26 November 2019 (UTC)

Assessment commentEdit

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Amerind languages/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Articles with only one section of content are stubs.--Rmky87 16:30, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

Last edited at 16:30, 24 February 2007 (UTC). Substituted at 07:35, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

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