[Indo-Eurasia] **The Farmer-Sproat-Witzel Model

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Thu Feb 8 15:53:08 UTC 2007

Dear All,

since Steve Farmer is not on this list (INDOLOGY), I answer briefly as 
I am co-moderator of the Indo-Eurasian Research list @ Yahoo, along 
with L.M. Fosse). Clearly, the IER list is not "Steve's list"!

See: <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/>

On Feb 8, 2007, at 9:22 AM, George Thompson wrote:

> I know that my post will seem to many to be little more than a 
> personal antagonism between me and Farmer, but it is more than that.

But that is precisely what it is. I know the all of the  background, 
which is not appropriate to be spread all over the net. We have enough 
of that already (as I can testify to personally, for a decade... :^).

In addition:

The IER list is moderated for good reasons. INDOLOGY members will 
remember that  Dominik had to reformat this list a few years ago when 
the level of Hindutva sniping got too bad. We have learned from that.

However, If there is *scholarly* disagreement, even heated exchanges, 
fine. For example, one scholar of Indian grammar has publicly done so, 
vociferously, several times, and has finally chosen to withdraw from 
further  discussion, -- but he has not attacked the list as such on 
other fora such as this.

It also is important to note that our List uses a publication model, 
unlike other lists.

Further,  that we have  attempted to take on very central issues (some 
discussed at great length, and over a year) such as our still ongoing 
"stratification" discussion.

In doing so, we have in fact broken new ground, and we have also 
debunked many scholarly myths standard (Indus bricks, weights, etc 
etc.)  ever since we started. This is possible as we have scholars from 
some 30 fields who correct each other. No inbreeding.

I leave apart the discussion about my friend Mahadevan's newspaper 
article and Steve's invitation to him to discuss it in public. I think 
Mahadevan is wrong in what he printed in the Hindu, and I have said so 
on IER.

Incidentally,  if some things were said about the F-S-W paper at 
Madison in October 2005(?), this has not reached my ears yet. The only  
thing in writing  so far is a rather polemic paper by my friend  A. 
Parpola, his talk at Tokyo in June 2005, where I was present. There was 
NO time for discussion! We did that a few weeks later, in his, M. 
Kenoyer's, Steve's and my  presence, at Kyoto.  A good defense for the 
"script" model did not emerge. Kenoyer conceded that the Indus signs do 
not represent written language (like sentences)  but he still called 
them a 'script' ...

And that is all I will say about this topic. I have better things to 
do... such as finalizing 2 book projects.

Michael Witzel

> Let me cite post #6030 of the IER list dated Monday, Feb. 5, 2007.  In 
> this post a notice is sent to the list of an article written by 
> Mahadevan that expresses disagreement with the Farmer-Sproat-Witzel 
> paper.  A paragraph from Mahadevan's article is quoted there.
> Notice that the post is preceded by a moderator's note from Farmer 
> that exceeds the length of the quoted passage, and notice too that it 
> concludes with a long essay by Farmer, rebutting Mahadevan, an essay 
> that is perhaps three times longer than the material quoted from the 
> Mahadevan article.
> In short, Mahadevan has been refuted even before he is invited to wade 
> into this "debate."  Notice finally also that in the moderator's note, 
> Farmer expresses doubt that Mahadevan will accept the challenge to 
> debate on the Farmer list since Mahadevan is obviously wrong, and then 
> a $10,000 "prize challenge" is offered -- once again! -- to anyone who 
> can refute the Farmer-Sproat-Witzel thesis.
> Needless to say, there are many good scholars on that list and there 
> have been many informed discussions on it.
> As one list member has written to me privately, this moderator handles 
> the list more like "an impressario than a scholar."   Also, this list 
> member reminds me of the South Asia conference in Madison in Oct. 
> 2005, where many objections to the Farmer-Sproat-Witzel thesis were 
> raised.  All of this is ignored on that list, however, as was my 
> objection to the way that the Mahadevan invitation to debate was 
> framed.  Why would anyone accept such an unfriendly invitation?
> Dear list members, if you do not accept my characterization of this 
> kind of list moderation, please offer me a better one.
> Thank you for your response and your patience.
> George Thompson
Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University
1 Bow Street , 3rd floor, Cambridge MA 02138
1-617-495 3295           Fax: 496 8571
direct line:       496 2990
< http://users.primushost.com/~india/ejvs/>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list