FRDB Archives

Freethought & Rationalism Archive

The archives are read only.


Go Back   FRDB Archives > Archives > Biblical Criticism - 2001
Welcome, Peter Kirby.
You last visited: Today at 05:55 AM

Notices

 
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 12-08-2001, 02:38 PM   #1
Heleilu
Regular Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Takaliapa, KR
Posts: 188
Post Nostratic and Migration Rates

This has nothing to do with evolution, but it seems to belong here anyway. Does anyone here know anything concrete about the Nostratic hypothesis, migration rates in antiquity, or the supposed date of the Tower of Babel episode? If you know what I'm plotting, don't tell just yet.
Heleilu is offline  
Old 12-08-2001, 06:37 PM   #2
theyeti
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Denver, CO, USA
Posts: 9,747
Post

Since this hasn't gotten any replies, I'm going to send it to BC&A, which, if I understand what you're asking, is where it belongs.

theyeti
theyeti is offline  
Old 12-09-2001, 12:00 AM   #3
Toto
Contributor
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Los Angeles area
Posts: 40,549
Post

Actually, this probably does belong in Evolution-Creationism. It involves the evolution of language. Biblical fundamentalists reject human evolution. They also reject the idea that different human languages evolved from a common ancestor, because this is not in accord with the Biblical account of the Tower of Babel.

The Nostratic hyposthesis contends that there was a common language (called Nostratic) spoken about 12,000 years ago that was the common ancestor of Indo-European, Uralic, and Altaic languages.

The hypothesis is not unreasonable, because humans are all descended from a small group of early humans who lived in Africa. It is reasonable to hypothesize that these early humans spoke one language, and that all of the languages in the world are descended from that original language. But language does not leave chemical evidence behind like DNA, and most linguists doubt that there is any way of showing it at this point.

The Tower of Babel was a lengend invented to explain the fact that humans speak different languages. It has no supposed date, because it never happened.
Toto is offline  
Old 12-09-2001, 07:36 AM   #4
Heleilu
Regular Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Takaliapa, KR
Posts: 188
Post

I plan to attempt a rebuttal of Young-Earth creationism on linguistic grounds, and for that I need to know the supposed date of the Tower of Babel and some data on migration rates. The Tower of Babel so that I can show that most language families are older, and migration rates so that I can argue that there's not enough time for all the languages to have split after the Tower of Babel.
Heleilu is offline  
Old 12-09-2001, 08:03 AM   #5
theyeti
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Denver, CO, USA
Posts: 9,747
Post

Toto: I agree that this is an E/C related issue. But I sent it here because "migration rates" certainly sounds like archeology, and "date of Tower of Babble" sounds like a topic for biblical criticism. I was hoping that someone who frequents this forum would be able to answer these questions, since no one took it up in E/C. Heleilu, when you get the information you're looking for, please don't hesitate to post it in the E/C forum. I didn't mean to discourage that, I just wanted to bring your question to the attention of those who probably have the expertise to answer it.

theyeti
theyeti is offline  
Old 12-09-2001, 03:31 PM   #6
Marduk
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: the 10th planet
Posts: 5,065
Post

The Tower of Babel story has a similar and older version in Sumer, the God Enki opens the gates of one of the Sumerian citystates (I forget which) and alows foreigners/barbarians to come and 'confuse their tounges' Sumer fell to the Akkadians around 2250 BCE. The book is called 'The Chaldean Genesis' the author I think is Smith. Does this help? Most really old Genesis stories have there origins in ancient Sumerian lore.
Oddly Sumerian was a non Semetic language, the Akkadians translated the stories to their more Semetic tounge.

[ December 09, 2001: Message edited by: marduck ]</p>
Marduk is offline  
Old 12-09-2001, 03:57 PM   #7
lpetrich
Contributor
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Lebanon, OR, USA
Posts: 16,829
Post

Nostratic is a bit on the distant side, so it may not be that useful. However, one subfamily of it is not only much better understood, it is distant enough to falsify the Tower of Babel story.

The Indo-European family.

Which might be introduced with a subset with a very good historical paper trail: Latin and the Romance languages.

One good online introduction to IE is at <a href="http://www.bartleby.com/61/" target="_blank">http://www.bartleby.com/61/</a> along with Semitic, and a more-detailed site is <a href="http://www.indoeuropean.net" target="_blank">http://www.indoeuropean.net</a> And a good dead-tree introduction is J.P. Mallory's "In Search of the Indo-Europeans".

Its estimated age is 6500-5500 years, which is the guesstimated amount of time needed to produce the amount of divergence in the oldest recorded IE languages, namely, Hittite, Vedic Sanskrit, and Mycenaean Greek.

One interesting clue to the ancestral Indo-Europeans has been what they had words for; one has to be careful with that, because the most easily-reconstructed features are the dullest sorts of features, like grammar and basic vocabulary.

They could count to 100, but apparently not to 1000, because words for 100 are recognizably related, while words for 1000 are not; this says something about how much they tried to keep track of.

They had familiar livestock animals like cows, sheep, pigs, dogs, and horses, but they did not have cats. Words for "cat" tend to look too much alike across IE families, which suggests some borrowings a few millennnia ago with the spread of domestic cats across Europe. Likewise, words for camels, lions, elephants, crocodiles, and other animals familiar from the Middle East are all borrowings.

As to technology, they had words for wheels, axles, yokes, yoke poles, and for conveying by vehicle; they had only a general sort of word for metal. For example, words for "iron" are varied enough to suggest later coinages; for example, Latin ferrum is possibly a cognate of English "brass".

As to cultural features, one can get a hint of their marriage customs by noting that there are lots of reconstructible words for a husband's relatives rather than a wife's relatives; this suggests that women moved to their husband's household rather than their forming a separate one or men moving to their wife's household.

Religion is a rather difficult subject. One difficulty is that, as the ancestral-IE speakers spread, they often took up the worship of deities worshipped by those they conquered; such non-exclusivism is very common outside of the Abrahamic religions. Also, the only major deity name that can be reconstructed is "Father Sky".

However, according to sociologist Dumezil, the ancestral IE speakers believed in a three-function division of society, each division having its own characteristic deities.

The top function is command, being associated with a deity of the shining sky. This deity may be split into two, with one presiding over law and agreements and so forth, and one being more cosmic and associated with sorcery.

The middle function is force, being associated with a deity of storms and war. This guy wields a hammer and fights a snake monster of drought.

The lowest function is nourishment, sometimes associated with a deity of the underworld and a set of twins.

Their idea of how the world was created was that it was created by dismembering some primordial giant.

My patience is running out here...
lpetrich is offline  
Old 12-09-2001, 04:23 PM   #8
Marduk
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: the 10th planet
Posts: 5,065
Post

"Their idea of how the world was created was that it was created by dismembering some primordial giant"

In the enuma elish The giant Tiamat is cut open by Marduk and the earth is born.
Marduk is offline  
Old 12-09-2001, 04:39 PM   #9
Toto
Contributor
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Los Angeles area
Posts: 40,549
Post

Roger Pennock, in <a href="http://www.secweb.org/bookstore/bookdetail.asp?BookID=208" target="_blank">Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism</a>, devotes chapter 3 of his book to linguistic evolution. Have you read that? If you haven't, you could start there.
Toto is offline  
Old 12-09-2001, 06:18 PM   #10
Heleilu
Regular Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Takaliapa, KR
Posts: 188
Post

Nostratic is heavily disputed, but a 10,000-year time depth is prima facie evidence against a 6000-year Earth.
Ipetrich, you're right, Indo-European is the strongest argument because it is unshakable and is commonly accepted to be 6000 years old. As a backup, there's the question of how American Indian and New Guinea languages could have had time to diversify so much. After all, don't languages in movement tend to be more conservative than sedentary relatives?
As a second backup, the Romance business is good; but the Semitic languages would probably be even better. The clay-tablet trail goes back to 2500 BCE for Akkadian (earlier for Sumerian; if the Tower of Babel is after the first Sumerian records then there should be no argument). Akkadian singular and feminine plural noun conjugation are nearly identical to Modern Standard Arabic, the pronoun suffixes are very similar, and the Akkadian preterite uses forms very similar to the Arabic imperfect. The similarity argues for a slower rate of linguistic evolution than could have produced 4000 languages in as many years.
I can't profess myself any kind of expert on linguistic evolution, but I understand the idea of sound change and have a hazy idea of grammatical change. I have created my own language and some of its relations, and I'm working on making it at least semi-realistic.

Thanks for all the input!

Edited to add: I just checked out Tower of Babel from the school library. I plan on reading the third chapter tonight or tomorrow.

[ December 09, 2001: Message edited by: Heleilu ]</p>
Heleilu is offline  
 

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:26 PM.

Top

This custom BB emulates vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.