Darwin-L Message Log 5:225 (January 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<5:225>From idavidso@metz.une.edu.au  Sun Jan 30 20:48:52 1994

Date: Mon, 31 Jan 1994 13:57:19 +0700
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: idavidso@metz.une.edu.au (Iain Davidson)
Subject: Re: Who, what, where, when, etc, Re: DARWIN-L digest 132

>Iain Davidson comments on my example of a Thai interrogative set
>somewhat parallel to the Indo-European one:
>> Thanks.  I think the hunt may be on.  Point is that the historical
>> linguistic stuff that was so roundly criticised before may be hugely
>> influence by the historical particularities of particular languages.  What
>> we have in these  interrogative pronominals is something that is a
>> fundamental feature of the behaviour of those creatures that first used
>> language.  Plotting their history and relationships might be a manageeable
>> and meaningful task.
>I'm not sure what you're getting at here, but conclusions may be being
>jumped to.  The process I referred to by which sets like these may
>develop is a pretty normal aspect of language use--we see it in English
>when we need a new interrogative that we don't have inherited from
>Indo-European (e.g. _which way_, _how much_), and new forms can in
>principle develop any time (currently _what time_ is beginning to
>encroach on the turf of _when_, e.g. _What time should I pick you
>up?_)  There's nothing particularly prehistoric about this process.
>The Thai forms that I gave as examples are pretty shining new, and
>probably developed within the last 1,000 years or so.  (I could check
>on this, but it would take a little while).  Even the Indo-European
>paradigm that we started with isn't that old--it reconstructs for
>Proto-Indo-European, but even guessing that it had already been
>around for a long time by then wouldn't make it more than maybe
>10,000 years old--nowhere near coeval with "those creatures that
>first used language".

I might back out of this right now, but I am sure there is something here
which is of importance.

Iain Davidson
Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology
University of New England
Armidale NSW 2351
Tel (067) 732 441
Fax      (International) +61 67 73 25 26
                (Domestic)       067 73 25 26

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