LINGUIST List 5.921

Fri 26 Aug 1994

Disc: Altaic

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  1. Alex Eulenberg, Etymology of Altaic
  2. , Altaic

Message 1: Etymology of Altaic

Date: Thu, 25 Aug 1994 16:06:56 Etymology of Altaic
From: Alex Eulenberg <>
Subject: Etymology of Altaic

I've been following the discussion of Altaic with great enthusiasm, but
I've got one burning question: where does the word "Altaic" come from?
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Message 2: Altaic

Date: Fri, 26 Aug 94 07:52:28 EDAltaic
From: <>
Subject: Altaic

In response to Lloyd Anderson's question, I don't know
if Vovin considered all the potentially possible connections
for Ainu, but he did once toy with a Nivkh (Gilyak)connection,
I know that much. He should be joining Linguist any day, btw.
In my earlier remarks I may have left an incorrect impression
about Altaic numerals and body part terms. I made the argument
that the absence of shared numerals and/or body part terms does
not mean that two languages are unrelated in order to show that
the arguments of Clauson et al. are not sound. However, it is
also the case that they rest on a view of Altaic correspondences
which was probably incorrect at the time and is certainly now
obsolete. Thus, in Starostin's book, for example we find
numerous body part terms (hair, female breast, hand, head, etc.)
and at least the numeral 2 (although this 2 is not found in
Turkic but only in Mongolic, Tungusic, and Korean). Thanks to
those who wrote to me directly about this issue.

By the way, about body part terms: Tonkawa is an example of
a language that had replaced essentially all body part terms
with transparent circumlocutions (see Goddard in Campbell/
Mithun, The Languages of Native America, and my forthcoming
paper 'Tonkawa and Zuni: Two test cases for the Greenberg
classification') in IJAL.
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