Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Mon Jan 19 13:52:49 EST 1998

>There are many people who have doubts about comparitive reconstruction.
>The problem is not about the contribution of linguistics. The question is
>whethar it is dependable enough to base ALL historical reconstruction.
>It seems to me, because of the 150year baggage,Indologists seem to be
>spinning their wheels in the sand of linguistic evidence without using
>inputs from fields like archeology, astronomy and a scientific/mathematical
>evaluation of original sources.
>Now, I will get off my soapbox :)

Not quite yet, if you please!

No one ever claimed that historical reconstruction could solve ALL
historical historical reconstruction problems. If you check out Mallory's
book "In Search of the Indo-Europeans", you will find that linguists do not
necessarily agree upon where exactly to place the I-E. "Urvolk". There are a
number of problems that are just extremely difficult.

(And by the way, Mr. Subrahmania is not the only person to be sceptical of
historical linguistic reconstruction. I have met the same attitude in some
Norwegian scholars ("literary", not linguistic scholars, that is. People who
are well-read in historical linguistics normally believe in the method).

It is, however, wrong to claim that Indologists are spinning their wheels in
the sand of linguistic evidence. Certainly, linguistic evidence is extremely
important (at least to us), but archaeology has been discussed for a long
time. Asko Parpola's last book on the Indus script ("Deciphering the Indus
Script", 1994, CUP) discusses archaeology, and so does Mallory, not to
mention Marija Gimbutas. As for astronomy, the German philologist (ouch,
that NASTY word again!) Jacobi wrote extensively about astronomical evidence
in Indological issues. That was a 100 years ago.

I am a little bit uncertain about what you mean when you talk about
scientific/mathematical evaluation of the evidence. Could you be more
specific? (Back on the soap box, please :))

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo

Tel: +47 22 32 12 19
Fax: +47 22 32 12 19
Email: lmfosse at
Mobile phone: 90 91 91 45

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