LINGUIST List 5.1470

Sun 18 Dec 1994

FYI: Open letter to _Language_

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , Open Letter to *Language*

Message 1: Open Letter to *Language*

Date: Sun, 18 Dec 94 11:26:30 ESOpen Letter to *Language*
From: <>
Subject: Open Letter to *Language*

On my own behalf and that of

William C. Baxter,
Victoria A. Fromkin,
Jane H. Hill,
Larry Hutchinson,
Richard Hudson,
Michael B. Kac,
D. Terence Langendoen,
Winfred P. Lehmann,
Edgar C. Polome,
Karl V. Teeter, and
Thomas Wasow

I wish to post the following open letter to *Language*, the official
journal of the LSA. If anybody else would like to sign, please contact me.

Alexis Manaster Ramer

 On Open Letter to *Language*

We, the undersigned members of the Linguistic Society of America,
work in a wide variety of subfields and theoretical orientations in
linguistics. Nevertheless, we have come together to urge that
*Language* take notice of a work of scholarship which has to date
received very little discussion or review.

 The work in question is the late V. M. Illich-Svitych's *Opyt
sravnenija nostraticheskikh jazykov*. It seems to us that
considerable interest attaches to theories of "distant" linguistic
relationships (as evidenced, for example, by the ongoing
controversy, so well reflected in *Language*, about the Amerind
hypothesis) and about the methodological and theoretical issues
that arise in connection with the question of whether such
relationships can ever be demonstrated. Whether Illich-Svitych's
work ultimately turns out to be right, partly right, utterly wrong,
or simply incapable of verification or refutation, we believe it
should be reviewed since many of us do not read Russian and have
not been able to read the work in question.

 We are aware that a number of linguists in the field have
negative views of this work which makes it even more important that
*Language* publish a review, a review article, a debate between a
supporter and an opponent of the hypothesis, or some other suitable
opportunity for the membership of the LSA to have the existence of
this work acknowledged--and the issues which it raises vented--in
an open, public, and scholarly fashion.
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