Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by Tropylium »

…Mmmhm, it's been a while since I checked this thread, but for future reference (in response to some posts upthread): I would prefer to not have private or semi-private email discussions I have been part of summarized in places like this. Publicly-defended quackery is one thing, interpersonal friction is another entirely and does not strike me as requiring being turned into joking matter.
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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by sangi39 »

I don't know to what extent this is linguistic quackery or not, but I follow a Mongolian Metal band called Tenger Cavalry, and I'm forever seeing references to Turks being Mongol descendants or Mongols and Turks being related back to 400AD. You get the same comments turning up a lot with the Tuvan group Alash, but running in the other direction. I get the feeling that this is predominantly based on apparent shared cultural traits, specifically throat singing, and a spread of the idea of Altaic. Either way, it seems to be pretty common, and very little seems to dissuade people of the idea.
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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by TSSL »

Sierra Madre Games has a game called Neanderthal... the rules can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VlX ... BCRxE/edit

On the 32nd page is an essay called "A WORD IS WORTH A THOUSAND PICTURES." I don't know enough about cognitive linguistics to comment on his overall argument (though it looks to me more based on personal introspection than anything universal or researched [I hope I'm wrong?]), but the biggest reason I'm skeptical is this one sentence, which utterly outraged me, to the point that I felt more actual anger than is probably entirely healthy when looking at things on the Internet: "The very concept of a pronoun can’t be expressed in images, perhaps the reason why primitive tongues, for instance in the pre-Columbian New World, do not have the pronoun concept."

...Where did you even get that idea? It's not even so much that I'm outraged as that I literally don't understand how he would have the idea to say that.

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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by Frislander »

To be fair, I will grant them that some languages of the Americas don't have anything that Europeans might call "pronouns"...

...but only because they have all the pronominal marking they need on their verbs. Other than that, the suggestion that pronouns are "lacking" in Native American languages because of a supposed lack of easy pictorial representation, thus making them incomprehensible to those "savage natives", is basically racism.

It also fundamentally misunderstands the purpose of pronominal elements. A pronoun is only used when it is referencing something else, whether that be a speech-act-participant or some other referent. Thus, there is no separate "mental picture" of a pronoun as there doesn't need to be: if there is going to be a "mental picture" of anything, it'll be of the thing referred to, not the pronoun itself.

EDIT: oh yes, I also forgot to mention THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A PRIMITIVE LANGUAGE!!!!!!!
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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by TSSL »

Well said!

I get that general verb-marking tendencies could be the germ of the idea... but if someone knows enough to be aware that a language might lack overt pronouns, even if they aren't familiar with polysynthesis and all, how do they miss the memo that this is because the verbs are super complicated and pretty well the exact opposite to what anyone would mean by "primitive language?" I mean... how can you learn the one thing without noticing the rest?

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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by hwhatting »

Fun list of fashion and dress terms in Indo-European languages that the author derives from Arabic. Of course, there are some true cases like burnoos or cotton, but most of the paper is simply hilarious.

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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by Frislander »

This one's a weird one. I have discovered that previously I had failed to convince my mother that Russian does not have initial consonant mutations à la Welsh. I tried to tell her of this and she then retorted by claiming that Russian had "backward dictionaries". When I said that Cyrillic is written in the same direction as the Latin alphabet, she said that this meant that they show the "root" of the word (which probably would be rather unhelpful given the noun-endings in Russian, which would certainly be removed in such a publication).

I don't know why she thinks this, but I will say that my mother does have some awareness of Welsh. She grew up on the Wirral, and remembers going on holiday to Llŷn (which, for those of you who don't know, is the most Welsh-speaking part of Wales) and that is also generally where we have gone on holiday when we have holidayed in Wales, so she is definitely aware of Welsh and its initial consonant mutations. How this got transferred over to Russian, however, I do not know.
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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by hwhatting »

Frislander wrote:This one's a weird one. I have discovered that previously I had failed to convince my mother that Russian does not have initial consonant mutations à la Welsh. I tried to tell her of this and she then retorted by claiming that Russian had "backward dictionaries". When I said that Cyrillic is written in the same direction as the Latin alphabet, she said that this meant that they show the "root" of the word (which probably would be rather unhelpful given the noun-endings in Russian, which would certainly be removed in such a publication).

Well, there are backward dictionaries of Russian - they are an instrument to document which suffixes are attested in actual words. Similar dictionaries exist of other languages as well, with the same purpose. But indeed, this has nothing to do with "showing the root" or with initial mutations.

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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by Nortaneous »


The Old English is relatively good. The only problem is vowel reduction where there shouldn't be, and that could've been there in the actual OE period.

AFAICT, everything else is garbage.
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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by Frislander »

OK. This website seems to be on a book on a "New Maya Language". Now, the site features the Maya script prominently, so I thought that it was one of two things: either an update of Classical Maya, or a new Mayan conlang. But then I read the "about" page and found these statements:

  • "The project parallels the principle of the Chinese-concept script where primary root or Lego®-like glyph can be combined to create compound or more complex ideas. For example, ‘Stone’ + ‘Fire’ combined equal the ‘Lavastone’ New Maya Language pictoglyph©"
  • "The system [the New Mayan script] is a universal language, which can also help surpass literacy challenges-specially in the developing world"

So this person thinks that you can take the pictographic glyphs from the Maya script (which she actually acknowledged as partially syllabic, but also refers to as a "logographic language") and disconnect them from their original language and make and ideographic script with them. Also she fails to acknowledge the phonetic component of Chinese as well.
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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by jmcd »

Why didn't we think of it before? Chinese script is just not universal enough which is why it is not useful for Africans learning to read like the Maya script~~

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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by Vijay »

There are a few claims that Romani is some kind of conlang the Roma made up from random bits of various languages. There are apparently also all sorts of weird claims about Hebrew being a descendant of some Indo-European language as formerly spoken by Jews in Europe.

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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by احمکي ارش-ھجن »

Here is some linguistic quackery by some guy named Jeremiah Leija.
I dunno if you can access the page/post:
https://m.facebook.com/groups/182815475 ... 5959927026
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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by Frislander »

احمکي ارش-ھجن wrote:Here is some linguistic quackery by some guy named Jeremiah Leija.
I dunno if you can access the page/post:
https://m.facebook.com/groups/182815475 ... 5959927026


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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by احمکي ارش-ھجن »

Frislander wrote:
احمکي ارش-ھجن wrote:Here is some linguistic quackery by some guy named Jeremiah Leija.
I dunno if you can access the page/post:
https://m.facebook.com/groups/182815475 ... 5959927026


I hate biblical-literalism: it really spoils Christianity for the intelligent among us.

Ah, I wanted to point out the earlier posts, where he starts saying that all languages come from Hebrew and this is because European languages have gender just like Semitic languages and a language can't gain gender only lose it. It's hilarious, but also annoying and facepalmy.
ʾAšol ḵavad pulqam ʾifbižen lav ʾifšimeḻ lit maseḡrad lav lit n͛ubad. ʾUpulasim ṗal sa-panžun lav sa-ḥadṇ lav ṗal šarmaḵeš lit ʾaẏṭ waẏyadanun wižqanam.
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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by Frislander »

احمکي ارش-ھجن wrote:
Frislander wrote:
احمکي ارش-ھجن wrote:Here is some linguistic quackery by some guy named Jeremiah Leija.
I dunno if you can access the page/post:
https://m.facebook.com/groups/182815475 ... 5959927026


I hate biblical-literalism: it really spoils Christianity for the intelligent among us.

Ah, I wanted to point out the earlier posts, where he starts saying that all languages come from Hebrew and this is because European languages have gender just like Semitic languages and a language can't gain gender only lose it. It's hilarious, but also annoying and facepalmy.

Yes I know, but the literalism forms a part of it. I'll grant you general ignorance of linguistics is the main factor, though: people just don't have the know-how, so they'll swallow almost any explanation, no matter how wrong it is (as evidenced by the existence of this thread).
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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by Vijay »

A conversation full of inaccuracies from the comment section of this blog post (I think maybe the writer of the first post meant "ample" when they wrote "applent" and "centamil" when they wrote "chevul tamil." "Manipralaya" reminds me of Manipravalam, but I doubt very much that the person who wrote that had any idea what they were going on about):

"I am very proud of speaking my malayalam (kanya kumarian) language without any mixture of sanskrit words which is ancient malayalam and gate way to neo malayalam . Now, neo malayalam language can not live without sanskrit and applent chevul tamil words. Kerala Govt must protect the language of original malayalam which is still spoken in parts of Kanya Kumari and Thiruvanthapuram which are without any mixture of sanskrit."

"Sorry dear you are wrong.
Malayalam in Kanyakumari district and travancore is the one with more sanskrit words than malabar region of Kerala which has influence of urdu and arabic.
I was born in Kanyakumari district and I am a malayalee who now lives in Kochi.
Malayalam is Dravidian in grammer and script, but has 70%- 90% common words with sanskrit.
You cannot separate sanskrit and malayalam. Malayalam is a language with most words common to sanskrit, more than any other so called aryan languages.

Know your roots. of both culture and language,which is long term, not just religion and politics which is only temporary."

"Sorry dear, you are not neo malayalee, but belong to manipralaya malayalee, the one language routed in Kanya Kumari district which got transition from chevul/kodum tamil to present day neo malayalam. read and compare"

EDIT: Also, Sumerian is just old Tamil!

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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by WeepingElf »

Vijay wrote:EDIT: Also, Sumerian is just old Tamil!


Well, isn't Old Tamil the language of Lemuria, and the Sumerians of Lemurian ancestry?
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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by Vijay »

WeepingElf wrote:
Vijay wrote:EDIT: Also, Sumerian is just old Tamil!


Well, isn't Old Tamil the language of Lemuria, and the Sumerians of Lemurian ancestry?

No! My malayalam language without any mixture of sanskrit words is ancient malayalam! :P

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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by Xephyr »

"It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be said, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is.' Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."
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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by ---- »

Never seen anybody crowdsource spurious etymological connections but I guess there's a first time for everything.

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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by Soap »

This might fit here. Its not that it's wrong, its just that it's telling us basically nothing we dont already know, just adding a few data points that may or may not be sound.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016 ... cientists/

edit: this has its own thread now:
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=44435
Last edited by Soap on Tue Sep 13, 2016 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by Magb »


The Old Norse one at 9:31 is from an Icelandic sketch comedy show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lq0aIsiZ44o. The gag is that the bearded guy is speaking Old Norse and the other guy is speaking modern Icelandic, and the second guy doesn't understand the first guy very well. In reality it's a pretty mild attempt at old-timey sounding language. For instance in the first few seconds the Old Norse speaker clearly says a modern Icelandic hvað [kʰvaːð] which in Old Norse would've been something like [xwat]. Also he doesn't seem to distinguish <i> and <y>, and I think in general all his vowels are pretty much modern Icelandic. And he uses the modern -ur suffix instead of -r. I think mostly he just uses some archaic words and grammar. (Maybe it's actually intended to be Middle Icelandic or something, but then I suppose it wouldn't quite make sense for them to be vikings.)

I'm obviously not blaming the actor or writers for not doing a stellar Old Norse reconstruction since it's not really necessary for the joke to work, but if that's the level of effort the people who made the ancient languages video went to with the other languages as well then I guess I'm not too impressed.

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Re: Linguistic Quackery Thread, take 2

Post by Frislander »

Nortaneous wrote:


AFAICT, everything else is garbage.


The Quechua feels to me to be the only one being done by a native speaker. I've also only just noticed that they don't specify the Ryukyuan dialect: I'd presume Okinawan, but I can't tell from the recording alone. The Greek one seems to be being done in the Erasmian pronunciation (i.e. more like Koiné), but I don't hear as many fricatives as I'd expect.

EDIT: I found this video linked to the one above, and it suffers from the same problems: it even uses the same recording for the Latin, Old Norse and Mayan. The Assyrian one has such a strong British accent I wouldn't be surprised if he teaches the Akkadian course at Oxford Uni!
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