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View Diary: Let Them Eat Metaphors, Part 1: The Indo-European Hypothesis (69 comments)

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  •  Thanks for this great historical overview of PIE (11+ / 0-)

    Long, long ago, about 3 decades hence, I took a night school class at the Harvard Extension College from Calvert Watkins, who was a tenured linguistics faculty in the regular day program.  He specialized in tracing the exact phonetic transformations that evolved in many of the PIE languages.  

    Nostalgia from your article lead me to look him up on google and I discovered, sadly, that he just passed away last month.  May he rest in piece.

    The primary difference in his account and yours was he presented the idea that all of the descended language families would eventually be traceable exactly to one original PIE as near to absolute truth as possible in academic linguistics.

    Another idea that he mentioned is that the distinctly different Chinese language families meant that modern Chinese dialect such as Mandarin are more similar to the native American Indian language families as well as the languages spoken by the Eskomoes (sorry I don't have a spell checker handy) and Finnish than those in the PIE family.

    I've been  wondering how long it will be until the genetic research tracing the evolution and bifurcations in the DNA of the different major sub-variants in the human species might be matched up with computer programs tracing the presumably concomminent differentiation in the languages.

    If we add in additional evidence from the emerging new archeological digs discovered with the assistance of computer aided analysis of terrain analysis of ancient trade routes and roads being found with sattelite photos shouldn't we be able to "triangulate" more precise understandings of the dating of such developments?

    Wouldn't it be cool to be young enough to get scholarship fellowships to shake a stick at other researchers in this inter-disciplinary areas, and suggest they get on the ball and figure this out faster?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

    Perhaps you can suggest this idea to your students. Thanks for carrying the torch of scholarship forward into these upcoming new generations.

    Here's a link to the wiki article on him.

    Calvert Watkins (March 13, 1933 – March 20, 2013) was a professor Emeritus of linguistics and the classics at Harvard University and professor-in-residence at UCLA.
    His doctoral dissertation, Indo-European Origins of the Celtic Verb I. The Sigmatic Aorist (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1962), which deeply reflected the structuralist approach of Jerzy Kuryłowicz, opened a fresh era of creative work in Celtic comparative linguistics and the study of the verbal system of Indo-European languages.

    Watkins, in a sense, completed his contribution to this area with his Indogermanische Grammatik III/1: Geschichte der Indogermanischen Verbalflexion (1969). Meanwhile, his work on Indo-European vocabulary and poetics yielded a large number of articles on (among others) Celtic, Anatolian, Greek, Italic and Indo-Iranian material, presented most thoroughly in his book, How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics (Oxford University Press, 1995).

    He contributed his expertise on Indo-European languages to the first edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language and edited The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots (ISBN 0-618-08250-6).

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 05:51:04 PM PDT

    •  Oh, wow! (5+ / 0-)

      You studied with HIM?  Cool as cool can be.  I treasure my copy of How To Kill A Dragon as a fundamental bardic instruction manual ;-).

      •  Available at this link, print them new each time: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alevei, HoundDog
      •  Yes, I found so many extra ordinary professors (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PrahaPartizan, alevei

        teaching at the Harvard Extension night school I ended up get both and A.A and A.B. there while working at MIT first as a technical staff person, and then later as a Research Associate even though I never finished my Ph.D. at MIT (passed the general exams and completed all the course work but was lured away to corporate consulting by astonishing consulting opportunities.

        An additional plug for the Harvard College Extension programs (night school) is that I met the MIT professor who pulled me across to MIT in a course he was teaching in systems simulation of social systems.  

        And, I managed to get my undergraduate degrees and four years of graduate studies without incurring any college debt at all.  The Extension endowment requires them to offer courses for the same cost as a "bushel of wheat," something they've stretched a bit, but still is very affordable compared to what my son (and I) are now paying for Case Western.  

        Something I didn't sufficiently

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 11:24:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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