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General Linguistics => Linguist's Lounge => Outside of the box => Topic started by: FlatAssembler on August 12, 2017, 08:26:47 AM

Title: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on August 12, 2017, 08:26:47 AM
I am trying to help the Croatian historians by interpreting the toponyms. Many toponyms appear to be easily explainable by PIE. Which is to be expected, IE languages have been spoken here ever since mid 3rd millennium BCE (Vucedol culture). There a few astounding examples. The ancient name for the river Kupa is Colapis, and that's obviously *kwol+*h2ep (water with meanders). The ancient name for Zagreb is Andautonia, and that can quite easily be h2en+dheh2+o(n)t+on(=om), so that it means "near that which flows". However, the mainstream Croatian toponymy quite often doesn't appear to have looked into PIE. Issa, the ancient name for the island Vis, is widely stated to have an unknown, perhaps Pre-Indo-European, etymology. However, it can easily be derived from *yos+*eh2, in the sense "where a lot of springs are". There were spas there in the Roman times. And it appears that all the ancient names for the places in Croatia where the Roman spas were share the same root. Daruvar was called Balissa (I believe Bal means bright, from *bhel) and Varazdin was called Iasa. There are multiple rivers and streams whose names appear to be derived from *h3rews. On Risnjak, the mountain, there is a stream with the same name. Many people say that the stream was named after the mountain, although it could easily be the other way around. Also, the ancient name for the river Rasa is Arsia, and, in Slavonia, there is a stream called Ervenica. Cibalae, the ancient name for Vinkovci, could easily be from *kjey+*bel (strong house), and it seems to me that nobody suggested it. The IE word for valley, *h1eyn, also appears in multiple toponyms. Incerum, the ancient name for Pozega, is often said to have an unknown etymology. However, it can easily be *h1eyn+*kjer, so that it means "the heart of the valley". The ancient name for Donji Miholjac is Mariniana. It could be from Marinus, a common roman name, but it's more likely a Latin folk-etymology of *mory+*h1eyn, "marshy valley", which is what Donji Miholjac actually is. The mountain Papuk is said to be named after the Papuk stream, but the stream is said to be of unknown etymology. I believe it is actually from *bhebhogj (repetitive participle of *bhogj, "that which flows and flows"). The mount Psunj is also said to be of unknown etymology, even though its ancient name, Pisunus, is very similar to the PIE word for resin, *pisnu, and Psunj has a lot of softwood. The river Sutla is also said to be of of unknown etymology, although it can very easily be *suh1nt, participle of *sewh1, so that it means "that which waters the ground". Pazin is also said to be of unknown etymology, even though it's sensical as *ph2senti (pasture). The same goes for Aenona, the ancient name for Nin, it's said to be of unknown etymology, although it can be from*h2ekj+*mon (where a lot of stones are). There are many toponyms which are more sensibly explainable using PIE than using Croatian. Mainstream etymology connects the river Vuka with the Croatian word "vuk", for "wolf". However, it's more likely from zero grade of *welk (a PIE onomatopoeia for "to flow", syllabic l often vocalizes to u in Croatian even in today's loanwords), isn't it? Baranja is usually derived from "baran", a spurious Croatian word for lamb, but isn't it more sensical to derive it from the PIE word for marshland, *beh3r? The ancient name for Baranja was Valeriana. It's usually derived from the name Valerius, but isn't it more likely that it comes from *wel+*h1er (wet valley)? The river Orljava is said to be derived from Croatian word for echo, "oriti", but isn't it more sensical to derive it from *h1or (to flow)? There are some villages whose names mainstream etymology derives from "daleko" (far away), like Dalj and Daljok. Isn't it more sensibly derived from *dhel, in the sense "milkmen"? The neme of the city Osijek is said to come from the Croatian word for tide, "oseka", but couldn't just as easily be *h1es+*seg (healthy, fertile field)? Some historical sources also spell "Osijek" as "Esseg". Tarda can be explained similarly as coming from *ters (dry land).
Though, there are some place names that would appear fanciful in PIE. The ancient name for Valpovo is Iovalum, which would mean "magical beer" (*yow+*h2elut). Or maybe "magical herb" (*yow+h2elom). Even if it comes from *wel (valley), the prefix Io- is still unexplained. There was quite a demonstrable word there, something like *ker, meaning "to flow", occurring in many streams and rivers (Krapina, Karasica, Krka, Korana, Krndija [the stream]…), without an obvious IE root. Or the suffix *-la in the river names like Orljava and Sutla. There are some toponyms which multiple languages could give a sensical explanation for, for instance, Pannonia (both Latin "pannis" and PIE *pen appear as sensical origins). I've tried to reconstruct some grammar of the ancient language of Slavonia based on the toponyms. Obviously, it was a centum language. I believe it had an ablaut, but not with the vowels e and o, but with a and u. For example, Mursa (the ancient name for Osijek) and Marsonia (the ancient name for Slavonski Brod) obviously share the same root (probably *mreys), and Papuk would then be a grammatical repetitive of *bhogj. Because of the epenthetic vowels (Ervenica), I'd suggest that the accent was on the first syllable (as in Ancient Greek "aster", "oros" or "ennea"). Do you think I am doing it right?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on August 17, 2017, 05:56:51 AM
I will continue writing, since there doesn't appear to be much opposition yet. So, I think I also know where does the name of the mountain Krndija come from. There are several mainstream theories. One is that it's related to the Greek word χορδή, string, in the sense "border between two territories". The other is that it comes from the Croatian word "krčiti", meaning "to cut wood". My theory is that it comes from PIE *(s)ker-nt, in the sense "steep". I also have a temptation to think that the nominative singular actually ended in -i in Illyrian. The suffix -i- is seen as well in, for instance, Serapia (unidentified stream in ancient Slavonia, its name, of course, comes from PIE *ser-h2ep, "flowing water"), Colapis, and possibly also in Andautonia.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on August 17, 2017, 07:13:29 PM
Your etymologies seem plausible, given that I'm not an expert on these languages in particular.
The only potentially helpful commentary I could give would be to point out that some of them look quite transparent, so perhaps they are too convenient/easy (and plausible), and therefore just coincidental? The problem with toponyms is that there is no correlating factor to check. Have you lined up systematic sound changes that would correlate with those developments? But even if so, it's hard to verify (with any independent third factor) that those etymologies are more than coincidence (or that all of them are). Again I can't comment specifically on these points, and you may very well be right. But this is a very narrow/specialized field and it's hard to say more.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on August 18, 2017, 12:40:28 AM
Thanks for responding!
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The only potentially helpful commentary I could give would be to point out that some of them look quite transparent, so perhaps they are too convenient/easy (and plausible), and therefore just coincidental?
Which ones? And why would being transparent indicate that it's just a coincidence? Sound changes are derived from the obvious etymologies.
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Have you lined up systematic sound changes that would correlate with those developments?
Well, a few of them. Of course, there is a loss of the laryngeals. Then there are a few more for consonants:
*kw>k (Colapis)
*kj>k (Cibalae, Incerum)
*bh>p (Papuk, written as "Papugh" in historical sources)
*gj>gh (in Papugh, whatever sound that represented)
*mr>b (in Bosut, if it comes from *mreys), but this is uncertain.
*kjm>ym (in Aenona), but this is also uncertain.
As for the vowels, I've written that the rules of ablaut probably changed from the primary vocalism being e/o to being a/u (as in the toponyms Mursa, Marsonia and Mariniana, all on marshy land). Also, it probably had an epenthetic vowel e, as in the hydronym Ervenica.
Shouldn't we first try to find obvious etymologies, and then try to derive the regular sound changes and explain the less obvious ones?
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But even if so, it's hard to verify (with any independent third factor) that those etymologies are more than coincidence (or that all of them are).
I don't know. Look, the only places in which there were Illyrian thermae in Croatia were called: Issa, Balissa and Iasa. What's the probability of the same element occuring in all three places with Illyrian thermae if it was a coincidence? And it being so simply explainable as derived from PIE *yos (spring)?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on August 19, 2017, 04:20:48 AM
I'll share a few more of my ideas until I get another response. I believe I know where the toponym Scardona (the ancient name for Skradin) comes from. It's explainable as Proto-Indo-European *(s)kwor-dhos (big cliff). The same root can perhaps be seen in Cersia (the ancient name for the island of Cres).
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on August 19, 2017, 06:26:56 AM
I know this is a bit of politicized issue, but does anyone here have an idea where the name "Croatia" comes from? I have a theory, which appears to me nobody before suggested. See, the Croatian word for "Croat" is "Hrvat". This could mean "one from the river *Hrva". Then the hydronym *Hrva can be analyzed as PIE *ser-h2ekw-eh2. What do you think?
To give some more context, the first mention of the name "Croat" is on the Tanais Tablets on the east cost of the Sea of Azov.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on August 19, 2017, 01:32:28 PM
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The only potentially helpful commentary I could give would be to point out that some of them look quite transparent, so perhaps they are too convenient/easy (and plausible), and therefore just coincidental?
Which ones? And why would being transparent indicate that it's just a coincidence? Sound changes are derived from the obvious etymologies.
It reminds me of the proposed cognate between Indo-European and Semitic/Afro-Asiatic for 'bull' (something along the lines of 'taurus'), which did indeed look similar. The best counterargument (aside from a lack of systematic correspondences) was simply that the time depth was too great for it to not have changed more substantially to be less transparent. (Of course your derivations are not quite that transparent, and they also have a shallower time depth, so my comment was not as strong an objection.)

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Shouldn't we first try to find obvious etymologies, and then try to derive the regular sound changes and explain the less obvious ones?
Sure! But the important distinction is whether you're trying to determine a large-scale statistical question (like "are these two languages related?") or trying to identify small-scale data points accurately (like "what is the etymology of 'Croatia'?"). Statistical methods (even informal, traditional approaches) work because you have enough data that even if one data point is off the whole analysis still works out (maybe one proposed cognate-- or a few-- just developed by coincidence, but overall most of the proposed cognates are still accurate). But the comparative method and reconstruction in general involve a lot of guessing, which is fine if you're going for the statistical approach, but it's much, much harder to provide direct evidence for individual etymologies. Even for various well-known words with some direct evidence about their original usage (one example is "OK"), we don't know exactly what their etymology is. Of course many of the examples you're looking at probably do have simple (even obvious) etymologies, but it's hard to verify that you're correct, because it's a sample of one (i.e., not really statistics at all), so there's no way to compare your results to know if you're right. I suppose we could look at all of your proposed etymologies and get a sense that they're reasonable (as I've said) and then use a statistical comparison of your personal skill but that's a sort of ad hominem argument rather than real statistics about any individual data point. Again, I'm not saying you're wrong, but I also don't know how to verify that you're right.

And for most of these there are already other proposed etymologies, right? How would you propose selecting one rather than the other? Let's say for the sake of argument that you're right about half of your proposed etymologies. In that case, which ones? I don't know how to answer that question. Plausibility is not evidence per se. One possibility would be to try to find a pattern (for example, you notice a lot of rivers being relevant to your proposed etymologies, so if you can find something systematic in that maybe it would help), but it would still end up being about individual data points overall.

Etymology is not a major focus of linguistics publishing these days, but there's still some work in philology on the subject, and actually toponyms in particular are still frequently researched. So I imagine you could publish some of these results in a journal if that interests you. But it would simply be one perspective with no clear way to decide whether your proposal is right. (On the other hand, looking at known sound changes you might be able to find some flaws in the proposals of others and try to falsify those, which is all we can really do in science. Show flaws in the others, and no known flaws in yours, thus leaving yours as the only known remaining possibility.)
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on August 20, 2017, 05:48:56 AM
I'm glad to hear another educated opinion!
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The best counterargument (aside from a lack of systematic correspondences) was simply that the time depth was too great for it to not have changed more substantially to be less transparent.
I am not sure I understand. Of course the proportion of words that look similar is higher among cognates than in those that aren't cognates (aside from borrowing). If there are a lot of cognates between languages, of course there are going to be cognates such as Croatian "svinja" and English "swine" or Croatian "sunce" and English "sun". It's not like all the phonemes are bound to change to dissimilar phonemes in a few thousand years.

This is not really related to the topic, but why are you guys so much against the attempts to reconstruct older proto-languages? If the first human languages were sign languages that gradually evolved into fully spoken languages, isn't it reasonable to assume that all spoken languages share a common ancestor? Though I personally wouldn't assume an especially close connection between Indo-European and Uralic, as most of the people who try to reconstruct and older proto-language do, but between Indo-European and Austronesian. Look at the pronouns. Most of the proto-languages have a nasal in the 1st person singular, while both Indo-European and Austronesian have a velar. In PIE, it's *egjoh2, in PAN, it's *aku. Then look at the PAN Swadesh list. Doesn't it seem to you that PIE *r corresponds to PAN *l, that PIE *s corresponds to PAN *q and that PIE *d corresponds to PAN *d?
*treys (three)-*telu (three)
*romk (hand)-*lima (hand/five)
*ser (to flow)-*qalur (to flow)
*skend (skin)-*qanic (skin)
*stembh (to walk)-*qaqay (foot)
*smew (smoke)-*qabu (ash)
*serw (to watch)-*qalayaw (day)
*bheh2s (to talk)-*baqbaq (mouth)
*dwoh1 (two)-*dusa (two)
*dyews (sky)-*daya (upwards/height/sky)
*danu (river)-*danaw (lake)
Yes, I should study PAN a lot more before making such extraordinary statements, but why wouldn't this method be legitimate? I may be missing something very important.
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Statistical methods (even informal, traditional approaches) work because you have enough data that even if one data point is off the whole analysis still works out (maybe one proposed cognate-- or a few-- just developed by coincidence, but overall most of the proposed cognates are still accurate).
Why do you think those statistical methods work any better than common sense does? If you count the English dictionary equivalents of the Croatian words that start with a 't', do you think that a significant portion of them will start with a 'th'? Wouldn't the early loanwords and coincidences average them out?
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Of course many of the examples you're looking at probably do have simple (even obvious) etymologies, but it's hard to verify that you're correct, because it's a sample of one (i.e., not really statistics at all), so there's no way to compare your results to know if you're right.
Well, finding a few hydronyms such as Colapis or Serapia, or a toponym near the river such as Andautonia, in a native American language would prove that my methodology is flawed. But I don't think there are such.
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And for most of these there are already other proposed etymologies, right? How would you propose selecting one rather than the other?
Well, for example, far away from the sea, there is a marshy valley called Mariniana. In language A, this means "of the marine". In language B, this means "marshy valley". Which etymology is more likely? Every child knows the answer. It's B.
My most serious opponent is probably the Croatian etymologist Petar Skok, who ascribed many toponyms to "Mediterranian substratum", that is, the supposed Pelasgian language, spoken all the way from Itally to Turkey. His evidence was allegedly the same or similar elements appearing in toponyms in that area. However, he didn't ascribe any meaning to those supposedly repeating elements. So, I am pretty sure that his hypothesis is invalid. I waged a Wikipedia war against his hypotheses there:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Vis_(town)
As for the interpretations using Croatian, listen, Croatian language in most of the cases doesn't give any explanation of a toponym. If "Krndija" really comes from "krčiti", where did the 'č' disappear? And what does the ending "-ndija" mean? If "Daljok" really comes from "dal", what does the ending "-jok" mean? I am a native speaker of Croatian and I know something about linguistics, so I think I can safely tell you that those etymologies are invalid. And when Croatian does give some explanation, it's almost always complete nonsense. If there was a town called "Far", would you assume that its name means "far away", or would you assume it's actually not an English name? That's why I assume the toponym "Dalj" doesn't come from Croatian. And why would anyone call a river "a female wolf" (Vuka)? And the same goes for the other supposed explanations using Croatian which I tried to contradict.
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Etymology is not a major focus of linguistics publishing these days.
Perhaps because it takes less knowledge of linguistics to discuss morphosyntax than to discuss etymology. I could probably write two full pages about what part of speech is "plus" in Croatian without doing any actual research. But that probably won't be interesting to anybody whom I know.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on August 20, 2017, 05:36:53 PM
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I am not sure I understand. Of course the proportion of words that look similar is higher among cognates than in those that aren't cognates (aside from borrowing). If there are a lot of cognates between languages, of course there are going to be cognates such as Croatian "svinja" and English "swine" or Croatian "sunce" and English "sun". It's not like all the phonemes are bound to change to dissimilar phonemes in a few thousand years.
Correct. I don't disagree with you about that, and the problem is less extreme than the example I gave. My point was that the most likely flaw in your argument (if there is one) would be that you are finding relatively obvious examples (that look convincing!), and that perhaps the true etymology is more obscure and less transparent than that. It's not about any of your particular derivations or anything, just a general comment of something to watch out for, example, if you might find some of your etymologies more intuitive than existing proposals (which might actually be correct because they are less intuitive, if you follow what I mean).

It is great though to see you incorporating the known sound changes into your work, so as I've said, your proposals seem plausible to me, and unfortunately I can't comment further than that.

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This is not really related to the topic, but why are you guys so much against the attempts to reconstruct older proto-languages? If the first human languages were sign languages that gradually evolved into fully spoken languages, isn't it reasonable to assume that all spoken languages share a common ancestor?
That's a topic for another thread! But I'd be happy to discuss it. In short, after about 10,000 years the changes have piled up too much to be sure of what's a borrowing or a chance resemblance. I personally am not opposed to trying to go back farther, but there's a point where it becomes almost impossible. Reconstructing proto-world is just not possible, since it's at least 5 or 10 times older than that 10,000 'limit'. Maybe we can push the limit to 20,000 years, but 50,000 or 100,000? The two methods we have are broad statistical comparison that breaks down around 10,000 years (the noise can no longer be distinguished from the real data), or reconstructing based on our reconstructions, which is a viable possibility but ends up stretching our hypotheses (and layering them) too much to be sure of much. I could go into more detail (start a new topic?) if you'd like.

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Why do you think those statistical methods work any better than common sense does? If you count the English dictionary equivalents of the Croatian words that start with a 't', do you think that a significant portion of them will start with a 'th'? Wouldn't the early loanwords and coincidences average them out?
I'm not arguing for blind statistics at all! What I'm saying is that if you have a large sample, you'll probably be right on average. If you have a single data point, there's no reason to assume you'll be right that one time. Imagine a game of darts where you win by guessing what the thrower is trying to hit. With a sample of one, you can only assume they were trying to hit wherever the dart landed (or near there). With a sample of 10 or 100 or more, you can much more likely guess where they were aiming overall. So figuring out whether two languages are related (do they share a lot of cognates) is a much easier question than figuring out the etymology of an individual word-- if you're wrong sometimes, you can still be right statistically, but not for an individual data point. Thus without any direct evidence, an individual etymology is harder to figure out and there's no clear way to verify that you're right.

But that doesn't mean we should just dump the dictionary into a statistical program and see what happens! (And far too often non-linguists do something along those lines and claim they've solved a major linguistics problem like where the homeland of Indo-European was-- they're almost always wrong, even though, unfortunately, papers like that can get a lot of attention in the world outside of linguistics.)

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Well, finding a few hydronyms such as Colapis or Serapia, or a toponym near the river such as Andautonia, in a native American language would prove that my methodology is flawed. But I don't think there are such.
Your methodology isn't flawed. It's just not clear how to verify that your individual results are correct. (They might be!!) And it's certain that in general many places are named after bodies of water.

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My most serious opponent is probably the Croatian etymologist Petar Skok, who ascribed many toponyms to "Mediterranian substratum", that is, the supposed Pelasgian language, spoken all the way from Itally to Turkey. His evidence was allegedly the same or similar elements appearing in toponyms in that area. However, he didn't ascribe any meaning to those supposedly repeating elements. So, I am pretty sure that his hypothesis is invalid.
Unclear. You might be right. The question is how to decide between the two.

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I waged a Wikipedia war against his hypotheses there:
Wikipedia is not the place for original research, and a 'war' there is utterly meaningless, even if you 'win'. If you have new ideas, publish them. Sometimes science is no better than just sharing ideas and hoping other people read them. After they are published (and especially if others start to accept them as useful/good/reliable/etc. ideas) then you can cite them on Wikipedia (and elsewhere). And in publishing them you'll get a peer review from someone who really knows the specific subject in detail and can determine whether your contribution is worth sharing. The result will be your hypothesis as a competing hypothesis with the others out there. And time will tell what happens. Maybe nothing. Maybe just two plausible hypotheses with no clear way (currently) to decide between the two (that's what I observe at the moment). But yours will be on par with the other then.

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I am a native speaker of Croatian and I know something about linguistics, so I think I can safely tell you that those etymologies are invalid.
Neither of those is a qualification for knowing etymologies. Native speakers have no intuition whatsoever about the historical state of their languages (I wasn't born knowing how Shakespeare wrote, for example, or with any intuition that my American English was somehow inherited from England, or before that older Germanic tribes). And knowing something about linguistics means you can attempt to figure it out (as you are doing!), not that your answers are necessarily correct.

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And the same goes for the other supposed explanations using Croatian which I tried to contradict.
The way to dispute them is to show that you have an alternative explanation that is equally coherent, and that there may be some flaws in that argumentation. If so, you probably have something publishable. Again this isn't my personal area so I can't tell you if that's the case.

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Etymology is not a major focus of linguistics publishing these days.
Perhaps because it takes less knowledge of linguistics to discuss morphosyntax than to discuss etymology. I could probably write two full pages about what part of speech is "plus" in Croatian without doing any actual research. But that probably won't be interesting to anybody whom I know.
Not that I'm personally offended, but that's a major oversimplification of things.
I don't disagree with you that there are some things in linguistics (including some published papers) that don't take much background to understand. But there are vastly more things that take a lot of background (e.g., a PhD, or lots and lots of self study). If you really know the subject well, the next step is to publish. If you're not ready for that, that's fine! But until you can publish about it, you're not at that level yet. (Admittedly there are some theory-internal political factors for some journals in terms of what will be likely to be published, but rarely will it matter who you are because for good journals the process is double-blind so they don't know your name or whether you're affiliated with a university or whatever; watch out for predatory pay-to-publish journals that will publish just about anything they receive, but that's another story).

As for the real reasons why etymology isn't a major topic in linguistics today, here are some bullet points:
--Historical linguistics in general is not a major topic anymore. I personally don't like that (and some others also want to promote it), but most research now is about how languages 'work' (in the brain, in the mind, in society, in their structure, etc.) rather than where they came from.
--Emphasis is on how languages work rather than the details of individual lexical items.
--Etymology is still alive and well (relatively speaking) in the field of philology, which is like linguistics, but more interested in describing details like etymology rather than an explanatory science (linguistics) about how language works.
--Plus, etymology requires high level knowledge of individual languages, and (unfortunately in my opinion) the personal language knowledge of individual linguists seems to be in decline, in favor of things like statistical, experimental, computational, corpus, etc., methods. To oversimplify, not all linguists today have studied Latin and Greek (as was once common), and few study Indo-European roots in detail-- Historical linguists do, but there are fewer of them, as I said.
--Overall, there is also the fact that much of Historical Linguistics and etymology, in the sense that it interested the first historical linguists a couple centuries ago (and which eventually lead to modern Linguistics as a science), has actually been solved. There are dictionaries of etymologies for Proto-Indo-European roots, and while they are far from flawless, a large amount of research has been done, and has been done well. So linguists have moved on to other projects, while of course some still work on issues related to those original topics.

(Personally I study syntax, as well as morphology and semantics, mostly from the perspective of 'how language works', but also from historical and comparative perspectives. So I can certainly comment on this topic, but you'll need to find someone who specializes in Indo-European etymology, and perhaps Croatian in particular, to give you specialized feedback on this topic. It's nice to see you working on it though!)
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on August 21, 2017, 07:15:11 AM
Sorry if I misinterpreted what you were trying to say. I have poor reading and listening comprehension in general, both in English and in Croatian (and people often lose their patience with me). As for my idea about PAN and PIE being genetically related, I posted it on a forum on which I know one expert for PAN, who also knows something about PIE, let's see what he will say (I know my arguments are more than likely not convincing):
https://www.theflatearthsociety.org/forum/index.php?topic=70713.msg1944261#msg1944261
Though I don't know any forum where I can discuss the Croatian toponyms. I tried to post some of my ideas on a Croatian forum about linguistics (which is actually mostly about the prescriptive grammar), but only one person there knew something about PIE. I just got bombarded with irrelevant and nonsensical critiques I wasn't prepared for.
https://‎www.forum.hr/showpost.php?p=64488535&postcount=143 (https://‎www.forum.hr/showpost.php?p=64488535&postcount=143)
Which forum would you recommend me?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on August 21, 2017, 06:51:08 PM
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As for my idea about PAN and PIE being genetically related...
At some extreme time depth, probably. But not more closely than other groupings (for example there is relatively more evidence for Indo-European and Uralic being related, and there are also the proposals for Nostratic and Eurasiatic).

flatearthsociety forums? Discuss where you want of course, but I'd be surprised if that's the best place for scientific perspectives!

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Though I don't know any forum where I can discuss the Croatian toponyms. ...
Which forum would you recommend me?
It depends on what your goals are. If you are seeking feedback in order to revise your ideas, then this approach may work. However, very few people could be considered experts in Croatian toponyms (perhaps only a handful) so you actually might do better contacting them personally (find some academic profiles for professors who do research on the topic and send them an email). You might find someone at various forums online, but since there are so few there's no way of guessing where they might be. And internet forums are not going to provide you great opportunities for such a specialized topic!

If your goal instead is to share your ideas more broadly, then you should seriously consider publishing them. You'll get feedback. It's not uncommon for papers to be rejected (even from full time academic researchers) but the advantage then is having the feedback from the peer review. Another probably easier way to start off would be to present your work at a linguistics (toponomy?) conference. You could even just stop by to see what's going on at a conference you're not presenting at (there may be some fee for attendance). You can see dozens of upcoming conferences at linguistlist.org. Note that for most conferences you must submit your work at least 3 months ahead of time, often 6 months (or more). Are you in Croatia? There may be some conferences locally for you, but if not you'll find many in not so distant countries-- Germany, Italy, etc. They happen all the time. If you aren't interested in a full-time academic career (so you don't want to go grad school in linguistics, or end up as a professor) you can still keep up with things by reading current research and by attending conferences as an 'independent scholar'. The review process should also be blind so that you won't be rejected simply because you aren't affiliated with a university. If you write a decent abstract, it will probably be accepted somewhere. (Don't submit to multiple conferences at once, but you can revise and resubmit elsewhere if it's rejected.)

The type of feedback you'll get will vary based on specialization: as I said very few people will specialize in Croatian toponyms. But you can get some feedback from Croatian experts. And you can get some feedback from historical linguists who can check the sound changes in your derivations, etc. Overall the reviewers will most likely just be looking to see that your approach seems reasonable overall, rather than fact-checking any individual details, so it's up to you to present your best work, and then see what happens at the conference, or during the article's peer review. Hope that helps!

That said, there are some other places online you can try to talk to people. Nothing specific comes to mind for this topic, though. You might find some people with Croatian interests on Croatian forums, as you're already trying, and perhaps some of them have an interest/hobby in etymology. The forum here is a bit slow these days, but I'm always hoping more people will start using it, so it's nice to have active members like you around-- sorry we don't have any Croatian toponomy experts though!
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on August 22, 2017, 11:30:28 AM
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At some extreme time depth, probably. But not more closely than other groupings (for example there is relatively more evidence for Indo-European and Uralic being related, and there are also the proposals for Nostratic and Eurasiatic).
What kind of evidence counts there actually? I have found a simple sound law (that PIE *s corresponds to PAN *q), and there are six examples of that on the Swadesh list. What's the probability of that if they aren't closely related?
Check my math. We are mostly dealing with 2-consonantal roots. Let's be generous and say I allowed myself the semantic drift of 3 words. Both proto-languages have about 20 consonants. So, if the word in PIE has an *s, the probability that I find a word in PAN in which PIE *s corresponds to PAN *q is 1-(1-(1-(1/20))ˆ3)ˆ2=26%. Swadesh list has 100 words, so we can expect that 100/20=5 words where the first consonant in PAN is *q, and 5 words where the second consonant is *q, so that there are 10 words where PIE *s can potentially correspond to PAN *q. The probability that the rule coincidentally works in 6/10 words is 1-((1-0.26ˆ6)ˆ10)=0.31%. The probability of finding such a pattern in two truly unrelated languages is 1-(1-0.0031)ˆ20=6%. That's pretty low.
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flatearthsociety forums? Discuss where you want of course, but I'd be surprised if that's the best place for scientific perspectives!
Well, I wanted to have some fun with my knowledge of linguistics and discuss a conspiracy theory that the laryngeal theory was incorrect and that the linguists who study the Anatolian languages are hiding that. The Flat Earth Society forum appeared to be a good place to do that.
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Another probably easier way to start off would be to present your work at a linguistics (toponomy?) conference.
Look, I am a 17-year-old from a small town in Croatia, so I don't think such options are available to me. Thanks for your time, though.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on August 24, 2017, 02:50:00 AM
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What kind of evidence counts there actually?
Extensive, systematic evidence. Not chance similarities. I would recommend reading a textbook about historical linguistics. A good one would cover this. Hock & Joseph's "Language History, Language Change, and Language Relationship" (or Hock's longer and more detailed "Principles of Historical Linguistics") or Campbell's "Historical Linguistics" are good introductory texts.

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I have found a simple sound law (that PIE *s corresponds to PAN *q), and there are six examples of that on the Swadesh list. What's the probability of that if they aren't closely related?
.... The probability of finding such a pattern in two truly unrelated languages is 1-(1-0.0031)ˆ20=6%. That's pretty low.
You have calculated the probability of that particular correspondence, which indeed is very unlikely. But you weren't just looking for one particular correspondence. You were looking for any correspondence-- q/s, q/r, q/q, etc., etc. So for 20 words, there are 20*20 = 400 possible correspondences. So you must consider what the odds are that ANY of the 400 correspondences would appear.

Let's look at an analogous problem:
What are the odds that you share the same birthday with your friend? 1/365, right? (Or 1/366 or 365.25 to be precise.)
This means it would be surprising if any friends had the same birthday, right? No. Surprising things happen all the time. That's how statistics work.
Imagine a classroom: what are the odds that someone else in the room shares your birthday? If there are 30 other people, then that's 30/365-- low odds, but still possible. But what about any two people sharing that same birthday?

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthday_problem

By just 24 people in the room, the odds are that some pair shares a birthday! So finding any correspondence between languages is not unlikely at all.

So assuming .31% is right (it's more complicated than that*), that's roughly 1/322 (.31/100). 322 is close to 365, so we can use the birthday problem by analogy. Let's assume 20 sounds in each language: there's a 41.1% chance of a 'shared birthday' (see Wikipedia), or in our case a chance sound correspondence. Actually, it's a little higher than that (or substantially, because 365-322 is a big difference when multiplied out a lot as fractions), so let's say about 50%. That's very different from the 0.31% you calculated!

(*The main problem is starting with the Swadesh list because it's too small: you need systematic correspondences across a wide variety of words. Ideally, the correspondences would be exceptionless, setting aside borrowings, and of course any contextually conditioned words. The Swadesh list gives you a good starting point, but it's far from enough to fully determine linguistic relationship.)

--

Regardless, that math is irrelevant because it's a more complex problem. Finding a recurring correspondence in different words is actually less likely than the math given by either of us. But I'm certain that if you looked at more vocabulary you would start to find exceptions, so it's again irrelevant anyway. The issue is that you would need to find genuine cognates (not just the same number in the Swadesh list) to start to establish real patterns. It's an interesting coincidence, but coincidences happen all the time. Just think about how the odds are stacked against an American PhD student 'randomly' talking to a Croatian 17 year old online! (But the odds are very high that any two 'random' people would be talking online-- a very different question.)

Anyway, there is a great article here that can explain chance correspondences in much more detail (and much better than I did above):
http://www.zompist.com/chance.htm
Having no chance correspondences would actually be surprising. The burden of proof is more than that: it's finding multiple, systematic, widespread correspondences.

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Well, I wanted to have some fun with my knowledge of linguistics and discuss a conspiracy theory that the laryngeal theory was incorrect and that the linguists who study the Anatolian languages are hiding that. The Flat Earth Society forum appeared to be a good place to do that.
No judgment here. It's up to you to decide what you want to do: play linguistics, or do linguistics. The internet is not usually too serious/academic, but there are exceptions.

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Look, I am a 17-year-old from a small town in Croatia, so I don't think such options are available to me. Thanks for your time, though.
Good to get an early start! There are several different ways I can respond to this:

You're young. That's good. There's time to do a lot. Do you plan to go to a university to study linguistics? Many linguistics undergrads hadn't even heard of it until they started studying it. You're ahead, not behind. But if you don't want to go to a university to study linguistics (or take classes, if you're planning to study something else), you can still do some things on your own.

As a high school student, you might still be able to go to a conference. You're right that you may not be able to present, but you could stop by. Or at least you can in a year or two. I don't know of any laws (I'm not from Croatia though!) about age limits on attending conferences, as long as you are polite/respectful and you pay the registration fee (you can pay the lower 'student' price!). There are conferences multiple times per year in Croatia (I see them on Linguist List!), so you really could do that. Or you can wait a few years until you're at a university studying linguistics. Or until later when you're a grad student. Undergrads are not usually required to do research or attend conferences or publish. But they can, and it's a good experience, usually enjoyable too. And you get to find out if you like it-- is that a good career, or would you rather do something else?

Overall, whether you're 17 or 70, you do not need to be affiliated with a university to publish or present at a conference. That's why the process is "blind". That means they won't know your name, your age, your status, your university, or anything else. The term "Independent Scholar" is used in place of "Studies/Works at University of X" for anyone not affiliated with a university. Maybe a hobbyist, maybe a fieldworker who doesn't currently have a university job, maybe a professional working outside of academia, or maybe someone who couldn't find a job in academia this year. Or even a high school student. Really, I don't think there are rules against that. And they won't know it until you get accepted. It's possible the editors (who would know who you are) won't accepted the paper for review, but that's unlikely. And usually impossible for conferences where the abstracts are submitted anonymously online, so there's no one to "check" and stop you. Of course there is an expectation of responsibility that you will be presenting legitimate research (I'd ask for a professor at a local university to give you some comments on an abstract you plan to submit!), but if your intention is genuine, I don't see a problem with that. But again, you can wait a few years if you want, no hurry!

I will add, though, that academia is not a fast thing. So you have a lot of time. But you also should not expect fast results. Publishing can take a year or more. Presenting at a conference often requires planning 6 months in advance. And most importantly, just because you have some ideas (even good ideas) doesn't mean they'll get out there and be accepted right away. It might take a whole career (if they're "big" ideas).

Most importantly I would sincerely recommend that you visit a linguistics conference (not presenting yet, unless you want to try that also) just to get a sense of it. I didn't guess you were 17 (from your phrasing I could tell you were not in academia, or just starting), and it seems like you'd really like this stuff. So check it out if you can. And if you can't, hopefully you can in a few years. Regardless, there's nothing wrong with emailing a professor with similar interests and asking about the topic, if you plan to keep working on it, and maybe get some advice about your plans for going to a university!
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on August 24, 2017, 12:05:35 PM
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So you must consider what the odds are that ANY of the 400 correspondences would appear.
I have been thinking about this a little more. You are right, I didn't calculate exactly what I intended. 6% is the probability of such a rule appearing to exist for PIE *s. The probability of it existing for any phoneme is actually 1-((1-0.06)ˆ20)=71%.
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The main problem is starting with the Swadesh list because it's too small: you need systematic correspondences across a wide variety of words.
Really? I always thought limiting yourself to the basic vocabulary (like the Swadesh list) makes your argument more compelling.
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Anyway, there is a great article here that can explain chance correspondences in much more detail (and much better than I did above).
I've actually read that article before. It talks only about chance similarities that appear if you aren't attempting to find regular sound laws. It doesn't tell that the same problem appears even if you try to establish them, yet alone explain the correct mathematical formula for predicting them.
That's probably because very few people would notice something like that when looking at the Proto-Austronesian Swadesh list, and most of those who do will immediately dismiss it.
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It's up to you to decide what you want to do: play linguistics, or do linguistics.
You know, I like reading non-mainstream science. It's always interesting to ask yourself: "Suppose you are wrong about some well-known or usually assumed thing. How could you know it?". It's not good to read alternative science before looking into the mainstream science, because, well, they will bombard you with controversial claims you won't be able to evaluate. If you don't know much about astronomy, it's counter-productive to look into the arguments made by the Flat-Earthers. But if you know a lot about linguistics, perhaps it would be interesting to hear and discuss the arguments for the Laryngeal Theory being false.
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Do you plan to go to a university to study linguistics?
Lots of things interest me. I also know a lot about the programming languages, and people tell me I could make the most money by studying informatics.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on August 26, 2017, 02:19:56 AM
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I always thought limiting yourself to the basic vocabulary (like the Swadesh list) makes your argument more compelling.
That's also an important consideration. But it's a little complicated. Think of the Swadesh list as just a rough draft of what might be not-borrowed vocabulary. That's it. It's not in any sense complete, and it's not even accurate in some cases (some of those words don't actually have basic equivalents in some languages). It's just some good guesses about what "basic" vocabulary might be in different languages-- and it's a reasonable starting point, but even Swadesh had a few versions-- look on Wikipedia and you'll see a version with 100 words, another with 207, etc. Those words are unlikely to be borrowed, and also likely to exist in many languages, so they're good first words to consider. But if two languages are related, you should find much more substantial patterns (also) beyond the list!

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It talks only about chance similarities that appear if you aren't attempting to find regular sound laws. It doesn't tell that the same problem appears even if you try to establish them, yet alone explain the correct mathematical formula for predicting them.
That's true. And the fact that you find what appears to be (in a small set) a regular correspondence is interesting. But it's not entirely surprising because you're looking at a small set of data, and allowing any correspondence. The sections there about semantic flexibility are also important-- you'll notice many Indo-European correspondences are not to words that mean exactly the same thing, but to words that can be attributed similar origins with sometimes complex etymologies. At a time depth of (proposed) PIE and PAN unity, those changes would be substantial, so I again refer to the 'bull' example for Semitic/Indo-European, which was just too good (transparent) to be true.

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You know, I like reading non-mainstream science.
Nothing wrong with that-- assuming it's science rather than unfounded theories. But where to draw the line? An unanswerable question...

And yes, you can get some good ideas by looking at bad ideas, but don't take them too seriously.

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But if you know a lot about linguistics, perhaps it would be interesting to hear and discuss the arguments for the Laryngeal Theory being false.
Correct! But that's not 'non-mainstream science'. That's fact-checking, hypothesizing, and (attempted) falsification, all important parts of normal mainstream science.

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Lots of things interest me. I also know a lot about the programming languages, and people tell me I could make the most money by studying informatics.
What you study should interest you, and it should also prepare you for life after your studies (whatever that is, and however you want). So if you want to make lots of money, linguistics is almost certainly not the answer. And linguistics is almost purely academic, so a BA in linguistics is in itself not going to get you very far (unless you plan to also become a language teacher, or something like that), and even an MA (in theoretical linguistics) won't do much-- it's a PhD that you need, if you want to do research, as in these questions you're discussing here. But there are many other ways to approach this also: get a double major, so you can do some linguistics while also studying something else ('for the real world'), or take a few classes at least. At my university they recently created a joined major (single program) that is linguistics and computer science. Regardless, linguistics is usually a relatively small program (few classes) so it's often easy to combine it with something else (as a minor or second major). And if you end up not wanting to stay in academia (getting a PhD and becoming a professor), then there are some other paths as well: a master's in teaching ESL, a master's in speech & hearing science / speech pathology, and so on. Getting a degree in Applied Linguistics (broadly defined) is better for the real world, while theoretical linguistics will more directly address your questions here. As for informatics and computer science, if you learn statistics and/or programming, there are also some ways to combine that with your linguistics knowledge, whether that's working on something like Google Translate, or doing cutting edge statistical research on historical linguistics (but hopefully with a strong background in linguistics to avoid blindly running algorithms on 'big data' and having bad results, as in even some published research).

Regardless, you don't need to decide anything now. But if it interests you, try taking a class (and if you're really motivated, go to a conference!) when you have some time.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on August 26, 2017, 10:41:51 PM
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The sections there about semantic flexibility are also important-- you'll notice many Indo-European correspondences are not to words that mean exactly the same thing.
In my calculations, I assumed I allowed myself a semantic drift of 3 words. I think that's reasonable here. It's not like I know thousands of PAN and PIE words to allow myself the semantic drift of 20.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on August 27, 2017, 12:13:05 AM
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semantic drift of 3 words.
I'm not sure what you mean. Semantic drift refers to change in the meaning of words and would be measured by the amount that they have changed. For example, "arm" might become "hand" or maybe eventually "foot". The problem with mass comparison at large time depths is that you no longer know which words to compare because you don't know if you should compare "arm" to "arm" or "hand" or "foot". (See the linked article about chance correspondences for more.)
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on August 27, 2017, 02:00:55 AM
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semantic drift of 3 words.
I'm not sure what you mean. Semantic drift refers to change in the meaning of words and would be measured by the amount that they have changed. For example, "arm" might become "hand" or maybe eventually "foot". The problem with mass comparison at large time depths is that you no longer know which words to compare because you don't know if you should compare "arm" to "arm" or "hand" or "foot". (See the linked article about chance correspondences for more.)
I meant, I couldn't, for example, compare the PAN word for hand to the PIE word for arm, because I don't know the PIE word for arm (if it existed). I could compare it to the PIE words for "to grab" or "five", and those are the only PIE words I know that could plausibly shift its meaning to "hand". So, I can compare a PAN word with only three (hand, grab, five) PIE words. The article you linked me to complains that those who do pseudoscientific language comparisons often compare one word with as many as 20 words in another language, and of course they would then find an apparent cognate for most of the words.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on August 27, 2017, 02:55:08 AM
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The article you linked me to complains that those who do pseudoscientific language comparisons often compare one word with as many as 20 words in another language, and of course they would then find an apparent cognate for most of the words.
But the problem is that you actually do need to consider 20 or more possible words as potential cognates. "Arm" might become "hand" or "foot" or so many other things. Just consider how "foot" became a measurement of distance! Or how "nice" used to mean stupid/foolish, and now means (more or less) "good". And how sometimes "bad" can mean "good" (as in "that's so bad [ass]!").

What makes cognates convincing is when they share multiple corresponding sounds consistently derived from identifiable sound changes. (And that rarely relies on meaning at all, except as a way to guess which words might be cognates-- after a while, though, you can start identifying them based on sounds alone, and then infer how the meanings changed.) Short of that, any 'patterns' you find are probably just coincidental.

It's the regularity of sound change that makes it so helpful in determining linguistic relationships. Find patterns, then figure out how they developed. Not just correspondences.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on August 29, 2017, 07:03:41 AM
I've always thought the patterns of changes in meaning were derived from modern languages. We know that "foot" sometimes comes from the word "to walk", because of the Croatian word "stopalo" (foot) obviously coming from the word "stopati" (to walk). Or the word for "spring" sometimes coming from the word for "to boil", because of the Croatian word "vrelo" (spring) obviously coming from "vreti" (to boil). Or the word "book" coming from the word for a tree because of the Latin word "liber" meaning both. You get the idea. The problem with the toponyms is that folk-etymologies are so common, that, if a toponym doesn't appear to be descriptive, it's most likely a folk-etymology.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on September 05, 2017, 07:12:47 PM
So, you think that "Bellum a nulla re bella." is usually not a good principle?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on September 05, 2017, 07:47:02 PM
What do you mean?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on September 06, 2017, 04:12:16 AM
I mean, words in the same language that sound similar, but mean something completely different (like Latin "bellum" and "bella"), usually don't share the same root.
Do you think that this would be a valid reasoning: "German has the word 'Bach' meaning 'stream'. Its Indo-European root could be *bheh2kj. Its Croatian reflex would be 'bos'. There is a word 'bos' in Croatian. It actually means 'barefoot'. Therefore, a semantic shift occurred from 'stream' to 'barefoot'"?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on September 06, 2017, 08:17:39 AM
Sometimes coincidences are just coincidences. Other times it's more than that.

An interesting question (I'm not sure about) is what is considered reasonable evidence in the field of toponymy. In general for etymologies I think what I've seen is that the most explanatory/plausible/consistent theory is generally accepted among existing theories. That is, the best current guess is tentatively accepted as correct, until additional information suggests otherwise. But it's really hard to be confident in something like this.

The problem is, as I said before, that there is no way to get a larger statistical sample than one: maybe it's etymology A, maybe it's etymology B, and there is (in general) no direct evidence for either, and if both are consistent with the data then no clear reason to reject one over the other, and most importantly, no way to check in the end if you're right or not-- because every etymology is independent. Unless you find patterns (like most cities in an area being named after rivers, which still isn't a "rule" just a trend), you can't support it.

A folk etymology is a good theory that has been shown to be wrong. Your plausible theories may be folk etymologies (yes, more technical, but still, appealing, plausible stories!) that have not yet been shown to be wrong. Or they might be right. I'm not sure how to tell.

So, no, resemblance is not evidence for (or against) a particular etymology. Your "therefore" (in the last post) is not logical-- more like "maybe". (Again, I'm not saying you're wrong, but I also don't know how to confidently show that you're right either.)
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on September 06, 2017, 07:57:24 PM
I've always thought folk etymologies were easily recognised by not making sense logically. One typical example is the village name "Crna Vlast" (black power). It takes a very far-fetched story to explain why a village would be called "black power". And, from historical documents, we know its original name was "Crna Vas" (black village). The word "vas" later became an archaism, so it was replaced by a similar-sounding more familiar word. Or the river name "Vuka" (she-wolf). It takes a very far-fetched story to explain why a river would be called "she-wolf", and, if you assume its name comes from some earlier Indo-European language, the explanation is obvious. Its from *welk (to flow), and Croats replaced it with a similar-sounding Croatian word. But if a place with ancient thermae was called "springs", that's probably not a folk etymology.

Etymology sometimes makes (at least theoretically) falsifiable predictions. An example I could think of is the village name "Sopje". If I claim that it comes from the Illyrian word "Salapia", meaning "salt lake", which I think would actually give "Sopje" by the sound changes from Old Church Slavonic to modern Croatian, you could prove it wrong by showing there was never a salt lake near that.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on September 06, 2017, 08:51:29 PM
Folk etymologies can be plausible or implausible but actually often seem right intuitively so that's why they catch on. Generally they're made by non-experts guessing (and yes sometimes can be easily shown to be false) but often they are clever or apparently correct.

Yes, falsifiability is important and can sometimes be applied usefully but there are still many possibilities that cannot be definitively decided in that way (when evidence is lacking as with ancient toponyms).
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on September 08, 2017, 12:09:41 PM
Well, true, there are folk etymologies that make sense logically, but those are rare. If you replace an unknown element with a similar-sounding one, chances are, that new element wouldn't make sense logically. The only counter-example I can think of is the folk-etymology of Poreč being derived from "porječje" (river bank), but it takes only a basic knowledge of Croatian dialectology to understand why it can't be correct ("porječje" would be pronounced "poriče" in the Istrian dialect). Also, we know its ancient name, it was called "Parentium" in antiquity. Though, for all we know, "Parentium" could have meant "river bank" in Illyrian. You know, from PIE *por-h1ey-nt-y-om. Though this etymology is quite shaky. Given the other toponyms, it would probably give, by regular sound changes, something like *porintium or *parintium, and not "Parentium".
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on September 14, 2017, 11:10:13 AM
So, what's your strategy for recognizing folk etymologies? I don't see any alternative except asking if it's too semantically far-fetched. You usually don't have enough knowledge to even tell if it makes sense grammatically.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on September 15, 2017, 09:46:23 PM
As I've said, many folk etymologies seem completely plausible. Sometimes having enough specialized knowledge (or even just looking at basic facts) can show them to be false (e.g., earlier usage of the word in recorded texts, or inconsistency with known sound changes). But the only general way to know something is a false/folk etymology is to identify a better one that is more consistent with known information.

Some folk etymologies are laughably silly and easy to rule out. Many others are much more plausible. Some I'm sure are generally accepted today because we don't have better explanations for them. I suppose a "very good folk etymology" could be called something else (e.g., "linguist's theory"), but that difference is not substantive.

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I don't see any alternative except asking if it's too semantically far-fetched.
Newtonian physics is wrong. It certainly was convincing for a while.
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You usually don't have enough knowledge to even tell if it makes sense grammatically.
Well, you should, if you're trying to evaluate these as an expert. Physics is hard, but people still study it. We use whatever information we have to do as well as we can.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on September 16, 2017, 01:08:11 AM
A question here is what counts as an explanation. Someone who claims to be able to systematically "explain" all the Croatian toponyms (and there are such people, most of them knowing almost nothing about linguistics) is more than likely a pseudoscientist. I think that valid explanations include demonstrating that the same or similar element reappears in some (descriptive) meaning or tracing the elements back to a proto-language, ideally both.
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Well, you should, if you're trying to evaluate these as an expert. Physics is hard, but people still study it. We use whatever information we have to do as well as we can.
But the problem is that "experts" on Illyrian languages agree on almost nothing about the Illyrian grammar or phonology. They don't agree even on whether it was a centum or a satem language. And the things they agree on appear completely baseless to me. For instance, most of the "experts" agree that PIE *bh turned to *b in Illyrian. And, if so, how exactly would you explain away the element *puk in the Croatian hydronyms (if not from *bhogj)?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on September 16, 2017, 02:53:01 PM
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Someone who claims to be able to systematically "explain" all the Croatian toponyms (and there are such people, most of them knowing almost nothing about linguistics) is more than likely a pseudoscientist.
There's no direct relationship between those two positions. Someone might have the right answer, and they might claim they do. Many others do not. Just like many other domains.

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I think that valid explanations include demonstrating that the same or similar element reappears in some (descriptive) meaning or tracing the elements back to a proto-language, ideally both.
Sure. But those are hypotheses rather than "evidence" per se. It's very hard to prove etymologies, as I've said a lot here. (In general, like most of science, all you can really do is falsify the wrong etymologies.)

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But the problem is that "experts" on Illyrian languages agree on almost nothing about the Illyrian grammar or phonology. They don't agree even on whether it was a centum or a satem language. And the things they agree on appear completely baseless to me. For instance, most of the "experts" agree that PIE *bh turned to *b in Illyrian. And, if so, how exactly would you explain away the element *puk in the Croatian hydronyms (if not from *bhogj)?
Sounds like a hard problem (for empirical reasons) to me, not like the wrong methodology. There are some things we will never know. That doesn't mean alternative methods are better.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on September 17, 2017, 06:43:20 AM
Quote
There's no direct relationship between those two positions. Someone might have the right answer, and they might claim they do. Many others do not. Just like many other domains.
I think you didn't understand what I was trying to say. Once you appear to be able to assign etymologies to randomly generated nonsense words, that means your methodology is wrong. And I think that's exactly what's going on in the minds of those who claim to be able to explain all of the Croatian toponyms.
Quote
In general, like most of science, all you can really do is falsify the wrong etymologies.
How exactly? Does the fact that the element *puk reappears in many Croatian hydronyms prove that the hydronym Bosut doesn't actually come from *bhogj (which is the mainstream etymology)? I think that Bosut might have actually meant "strong waterer" (PIE *bel-sewh1-nt), and that it's in fact related to hydronyms such as Sava, Sutla and Sunja. Mainstream etymology connects it to the hydronym Bosna.
Quote
That doesn't mean alternative methods are better.
And do you think that I am doing pseudoscience instead of the actual science?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on September 17, 2017, 08:54:21 AM
Quote
I think you didn't understand what I was trying to say. Once you appear to be able to assign etymologies to randomly generated nonsense words, that means your methodology is wrong. And I think that's exactly what's going on in the minds of those who claim to be able to explain all of the Croatian toponyms.
That's different from what you said. But, sure, fair enough, if someone thinks they can identify the meaning of any random word...

Quote
How exactly? Does the fact that the element *puk reappears in many Croatian hydronyms prove that the hydronym Bosut doesn't actually come from *bhogj (which is the mainstream etymology)? I think that Bosut might have actually meant "strong waterer" (PIE *bel-sewh1-nt), and that it's in fact related to hydronyms such as Sava, Sutla and Sunja. Mainstream etymology connects it to the hydronym Bosna.
Theories must be falsifiable. That is, there should be some imaginable evidence that could show it to be false. Otherwise they aren't predicting anything. And often we do falsify theories but finding such evidence. However, there are cases where we cannot easily find that evidence (say, by sending a probe into a black hole) and therefore are not yet (or potentially ever) able to actually falsify the theory. In that case we must look for another way to falsify it, or just accept that we cannot actually, in practice, falsify it, at least at this time.

With etymologies, we can only do so much. There are certainly some problems (it's easy to find them: find the hard ones, then go a few thousand years earlier, and keep going until you can't) that we probably won't ever be able to solve, at least without finding new data.

Quote
And do you think that I am doing pseudoscience instead of the actual science?
No, I didn't say that. I was just commenting that, basically, you can't negotiate with the facts. If they don't support an answer (at this time, perhaps ever) then there's not much you can do. It's great to explore new methods, but at some point you will indeed hit a wall you just can't get past. I don't know if the Croatian toponyms (well, probably some of them!) fit into that category. But you can't bend the rules either way. You can look for new evidence and new arguments, of course.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on September 19, 2017, 07:12:38 AM
Daniel, I really don't understand you. FlatAssembler pretends to know some ancient hypothetical unattested language, and uses it to explain away the Croatian toponyms. And you are assuring him he is doing the right thing. What's wrong with you guys?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on September 21, 2017, 11:52:59 AM
It is hypothetical, which is to say, by hypothesis. And a widely accepted one in linguistics.

LinguistSkeptic, your reply here isn't really contributing anything and as far as I can tell is only intended to be argumentative. If you have a sincere question about this (like why Proto-Indo-European is considered a reasonable hypothesis-- a topic I've taught classes on), that would be appropriate to ask, although probably best to start your own topic on it rather than sidetracking this one.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on September 21, 2017, 07:59:17 PM
Why? In the OP, FlatAssembler asserts, without arguments, that, in a language called PIE (whatever that meant), there was a word "yos" meaning "spring". He then supposes that Illyrians borrowed that word from "PIE" and named cities after it. A question that naturally comes to mind is how he knows about the word "yos" in "PIE".
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on September 21, 2017, 08:45:33 PM
Just because you have no idea how it works doesn't mean it doesn't work at all. Get educated, and then return to this forum. Otherwise, THIS is how you sound now:
http://linguistforum.com/linguist's-lounge/airplanes-don't-exist-(a-parody-of-the-conspiracy-theorists)/
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on September 21, 2017, 11:09:57 PM
Proto-Indo-European is a widely accepted linguistic hypothesis (by the vast majority of linguists, who know something about the subject). You can read about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Indo-European_language

There's nothing more to discuss on the topic, unless you have questions about it.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on September 22, 2017, 07:44:22 AM
So, why does FlatAssembler suppose that the PIE word "yos" existed and meant "spring"? And why do you accept that?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on September 22, 2017, 08:10:53 AM
Quote
So, why does FlatAssembler suppose that the PIE word "yos" existed and meant "spring"?
It's a hypothesis. There are dictionaries of proposed Indo-European etymologies. Wiktionary has a number of entries and that's quick to access. There are other more comprehensive published sources.
FlatAssembler, that is a reasonable question: what is your source for 'yos'?
I'm not seeing it on a quick search. But my area of expertise/interest in this is not about lexical items in PIE. I'm not too familiar with all of the proposed roots. I assume you have a source for it, and you might be able to explain this to LinguistSkeptic.

Quote
And why do you accept that?
I haven't "accepted" anything. I've just given advice about methodology.

--

The alternative you seem to be proposing (by implication) is that we assume everything is wrong. If we do that, then there's very little to try to understand. Science is full of hypotheses, many of which are built on other hypotheses.

You wrote elsewhere that you don't like assuming things (e.g., hypotheses) as facts. That's fine. But there's also a big difference between that and actively rejecting everything. A reasonable approach in science is making contingent predictions (layered hypotheses). It's possible that the foundations of an argument are false, in which case the secondary argument is also false. That's how science works. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't do science. That means that, yes, if "yos" isn't a relevant root for whatever reason, the hypothesis proposed here is also incorrect. But by exploring these possibilities we may learn something.

What is your goal in this conversation? Do you want to learn more about hypotheses? Or do you want to just keep suggesting that any given hypothesis might be wrong? If so, you're correct. And your point has been made. And you should probably avoid the whole field of Historical Linguistics, because it's full of this stuff. That doesn't mean we can't learn anything, but apparently you don't like uncertainty, and that's most of what there is. On the other hand, there are different levels of uncertainty, and if you have trouble believing Latin was ever a spoken language, then basically all hope is lost for you finding less documented areas of Historical Linguistics (e.g., most of it) to be insightful. In that case, I am having trouble figuring out why you're here. I'm attempting to treat your questions as genuine questions, but if your position is simply that you're skeptical, then why should I try to convince you otherwise? Am I making any progress? If not, I don't mind if you don't agree with me, but why are we still discussing it? Should we continue?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on September 24, 2017, 11:04:07 PM
So, one thing should be clear by now: FlatAssembler is a liar. And what do you mean you didn't accept anything? You said his etymologies were reasonable.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on September 25, 2017, 12:29:59 PM
Personal attacks will not be tolerated here.

--

He's not "lying". He might be wrong. But at least he's argued for his case. You've just said you don't believe anything.

https://indo-european.info/pokorny-etymological-dictionary/i%CC%AFes.htm
That is an entry for the root *yes (spelled differently) in a very well respected dictionary of Indo-European etymology (by Pokorny). There's nothing to argue with there. His proposal was that with a small (and reasonable) change, that could be the etymological root relevant to Croatian toponyms.

--

By "reasonable" I did not mean "correct". I meant that the methodology was reasonable. I have said repeatedly that I am not an expert in this particular domain of etymologies (e.g, Croatian toponyms) and there may be some specific reasons why this proposal is incorrect. But as a general approach, the right elements seem to be there. I don't know whether it's right, but I don't have any reason to dismiss it.

--

Now, why are we still discussing this? You, LinguistsSkeptic, haven't contributed anything positive to the forum except to disagree with just about everything you come across, including basic facts (like Latin being spoken in Rome). What is your goal here? If you don't have one, I can ban you, and save everyone the trouble. If you do have one, what is it, and how do you hope to accomplish it? Since you do not seem to believe or trust anything we have to say, I don't see how these discussions can accomplish anything. Do you agree or disagree?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on September 25, 2017, 11:35:29 PM
Quote
His proposal was that with a small (and reasonable) change, that could be the etymological root relevant to Croatian toponyms.
I just don't get the rules of the game here. What are those reasonable changes you allow? This guy obviously cited a non-existent Indo-European root. And, instead of dismissing it, you are making up excuses for him. What would it take to change your mind?
Quote
What is your goal here?
My goal here is to have fun, and to perhaps learn something new that might help me learn foreign languages more easily.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on September 25, 2017, 11:49:49 PM
No, the root he was referring to was *yes, not *yos. *yos is a derivation that could have occurred later.
Quote
What would it take to change your mind?
Specific evidence against that. Show that the PIE root *yes became *yis in Proto-Slavic, or something along those lines. Until then, it's a valid hypothesis (which may indeed be proven false later).

Quote
My goal here is to have fun, and to perhaps learn something new that might help me learn foreign languages more easily.
Fun sounds good, and is welcome. But that's not what's happened so far. As for learning languages, Linguistics isn't about learning languages. It's about studying how they work. Although some people enjoy both (including me), learning linguistics is not a direct route to learning languages, so for that you might find more help elsewhere.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on September 26, 2017, 12:22:37 AM
Quote from: Daniel
No, the root he was referring to was *yes, not *yos.
How do you know?
Quote from: Daniel
*yos is a derivation that could have occurred later.
Here is what FlatAssembler wrote about it:
Quote from: FlatAssembler
Issa, the ancient name for the island Vis, is widely stated to have an unknown, perhaps Pre-Indo-European, etymology. However, it can easily be derived from *yos+*eh2, in the sense "where a lot of springs are". There were spas there in the Roman times. And it appears that all the ancient names for the places in Croatia where the Roman spas were share the same root. Daruvar was called Balissa (I believe Bal means bright, from *bhel) and Varazdin was called Iasa.
FlatAssembler clearly asserted that "yos-eh2" would mean "where a lot of springs are" in Proto-Indo-European. Can you explain me how? And how exactly can "issa" and "iasa" be derived from "yoseh"?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on September 26, 2017, 01:30:40 AM
Quote
How do you know?
He sent me a private message to clarify that.
Quote
FlatAssembler clearly asserted that "yos-eh2" would mean "where a lot of springs are" in Proto-Indo-European.
Vowels are not very stable. It's either a variant within PIE, or a change on the way to Proto-Slavic. I'm not actually sure which he's claiming. Maybe he will clarify. Regardless, the methodology is sound, assuming the lexical data backs it up. I've been commenting on the methodology, not the lexical data, because I'm not an expert on PIE roots (and I'm not spending a lot of time looking things up for this discussion).

Quote
Can you explain me how? And how exactly can "issa" and "iasa" be derived from "yoseh"?
FlatAssembler, do you care to comment? What sound changes do you propose? Or are you hypothesizing that it might be plausible?
(Initial glide and final glottal fricative are lost, and there are some minor vowel changes. Those are common types of changes. I'm not sure about whether there's a difference between "s" and "ss" in those cases, whether it's supposed to be a geminate in "issa" or just written orthographically that way. The most suspicious part of the derivation is the geminate, actually, if that's the case. Usually those are generated from multiple consonants, when one fully assimilates to the other, rather than spontaneously from a single consonant. But maybe this is just orthographic.)

yeseh > issa is certainly possible, and not very extreme, given enough time. After all, "father" and "padre" are cognates in English and Spanish, from Proto-Indo-European. My instincts say that's a plausible derivation, but I do not off the top of my head have any information about whether those sound changes are independently proposed by others. If so, the hypothesis is reasonable. I'm assuming FlatAssembler isn't just making things up.

As I have said repeatedly, my comments are about methodology in general, and I have not commented on the specific derivations, sound changes, or lexical claims, because I don't have all of the facts (and don't have enough time to look them up and sort through them myself).

FlatAssembler, if you can post a clear etymology along with all of the relevant sound changes and sources, I'd be happy to check that over. However, since this is just a forum online and not a term paper, I'm willing to discuss generalities about methodology without checking those details. But both to answer LinguistSkeptic's question, and for me to give you better feedback on your proposal (and for you to double-check and clearly organize your ideas), posting a specific hypothesis with all of the relevant details outlined would be reasonable.

If on the other hand, you do not have a specific proposal for exactly how all of the sound changes occurred, then:
(1) That's something to work on.
(2) I will stand by what I have said: your idea seems like a reasonable hypothesis, assuming various details hold up and are consistent with other information. Pursue it, and see what happens. I can't say whether it's right.
(3) And because it's an etymology with no way to independently confirm that your hypothesis is right, it may never be possible to say whether it's right. But we can check if some basic things eliminate it as a possibility, and so far I don't see that.

So, LinguistSkeptic, you see, I'm not saying he's right. I'm saying I can't falsify his claims based on what he has presented. If nothing else, this is a reasonable exercise for something learning about historical linguistics. Even better if it involves specific sound changes (assuming enough data is available to figure that out).
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on September 26, 2017, 11:17:04 AM
Why bother? This is obviously some guy who likes to write some linguistics technobabble just to sound smart and won't respond to the arguments as they are made. If he had anything smart to say, he would have already responded.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on September 26, 2017, 02:32:50 PM
At least he's contributing something, and trying out some ideas. You have yet to contribute anything here, aside from questioning the existence of Latin. Rather than criticizing other users, why not contribute something yourself? And do you really think your replies here come across as welcoming and genuine?

"Why bother?" is how I feel about replying to you, LinguistSkeptic. At some point, I'll stop; maybe I should have already.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on September 28, 2017, 12:07:13 AM
Here is the personal message I've sent to Daniel. I'll repost it here, just in case an expert in Croatian toponymy comes to this forum (which I consider extremely unlikely):
Quote from: FlatAssembler
Thanks for your effort to explain linguistics to LinguistSkeptic.

I believe I have explained why I think *yos-eh2 would mean "where a lot of boilings (=springs) are" in PIE in the same personal message I mentioned *yes in. It's an ablaut of "to boil" plus the collective noun suffix. The same morphosemantic construction is seen in a rare Croatian word "virje".

As for the geminates in Illyrian, I've actually been thinking a little about that. You weren't the only person who noticed that, several explanations have been proposed for the geminate in the toponym Pannonia (from PIE *pen). It probably has something to do with long and short vowels. Namely, that some consonants were geminated after a short vowel (as in the Middle English, more or less). Since *i couldn't be long in PIE (only *o and *e could be long), that would explain away the geminate in "Issa".

Though I doubt you can explain those things so that LinguistSkeptic could understand.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on October 01, 2017, 04:14:18 AM
All I can really comment here is that the etymology seems plausible, among many possibilities. As I've said I don't know this data well.

The biggest potential problem with the argument was why there's a geminate form, an your answer for that is actually very nice, makes sense. It is of course hard to know when you're finding a theory that supports the evidence, and when you're just finding any evidence that supports a predetermined hypothesis. But as far as I can tell here, the evidence so far lines up.

The remaining problem at  this point is that I'm not sure what is considered the standard for 'burden of proof' in etymology/toponomy studies. Looking at some recent publications could give you an idea of whether your ideas measure up, and indeed they might.

So, scientifically speaking, I cannot at this time falsify your hypothesis, so it stands as a possibility.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on October 01, 2017, 12:48:50 PM
FlatAssembler, why don't you try your method of guessing the meaning of unknown words on some living language, like German, and tell us how it works?
Daniel, I just don't get how you can call what he is doing "scientific". He is making wild guesses based on questionable (if not just obviously wrong) premisses.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on October 01, 2017, 02:46:28 PM
Quote
FlatAssembler, why don't you try your method of guessing the meaning of unknown words on some living language, like German, and tell us how it works?
It works well. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grimm%27s_law
Unfortunately most easily available data sets like that have already been 'solved' (although fieldworkers still apply the comparative method to new data as it becomes available to them to construct proto-languages for less studied families around the world). But that's the sort of thing you get as a homework problem in a textbook.
As I have said, ancient etymologies like these are unverifiable, which is the biggest problem. FlatAssembler may be right (and no matter how many times you question it, that doesn't change). The best that can be done at this point is to show that FlatAssembler's ideas are as plausible as any others.

Quote
He is making wild guesses based on questionable (if not just obviously wrong) premisses.
Well, yes. That's a good way of describing science, especially historical linguistics. Though you left out the systematic aspects (such as applying common patterns in sound change, or genuine efforts to self-falsify your theories, and considering alternative hypotheses).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science --
Quote
Science (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.
In this case we're talking about languages/etymologies (not the whole universe), and the biggest problem in applying that definition is the question of falsifiability, in that from a practical perspective it will be hard to find any evidence to potentially falsify these hypotheses (given how little data is available). But we could potentially find evidence. In fact, that's not so unusual for science: there has never been, and probably will never be, a direct observation of a black hole, because by definition light cannot escape them, so we cannot observe them. But they can be studied indirectly, based on theoretical predictions (sometimes "wild guesses based on questionable premises"!), and by observing related things like a 'missing' large object with enormous gravity. Croatian toponyms are not quite that bad (given the right data we actually could figure out the truth of the matter, rather than literally never being able to observe it), but they have some of the same problems. And that's science. If you prefer only working on the easy problems where the data is clear, that's fine. But you'll find that only applies to introductory textbook problems, rarely real life, and certainly not to things that haven't already been solved. Croatian toponyms is an obscure, understudied, and difficult topic. And you are correct that there are many potential problems in proposing etymologies. But so what? Unless you have a better method, why are you complaining? FlatAssembler wants to study that. I'm offering the best advice I can. You're just repeating that the topic is difficult?

It's easy to criticize in science (most theories are wrong). It's harder to contribute. Try contributing something. Otherwise, as I have said, I don't know why you're here.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on October 01, 2017, 08:32:50 PM
But he's not just proposing where the words come from. He is claiming to be able to reliably guess what the words meant in some extinct language. So, for German, do you think he would be able to guess that, for instance, "Gift" means "poison" or that "dick" means "fat"?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on October 01, 2017, 10:21:51 PM
Quote
But he's not just proposing where the words come from. He is claiming to be able to reliably guess what the words meant in some extinct language.
Semantic reconstruction is extremely difficult. So, yeah, it's a lot of guesses. That's what it is. If you don't like it, do something more precise, like sound change (which actually can be very precise), or better yet something like racecar engineering where things matter down to the millimeters. That's simply not how this works, and it doesn't matter how many times you criticize it, you won't change it. So if you don't like it, move on.

Quote
So, for German, do you think he would be able to guess that, for instance, "Gift" means "poison" or that "dick" means "fat"?
Given what information? If in 1,000 years data from 5 languages descended from German was available with a root reconstructed as *gift, and in one it meant poison, in another 'toxin', in another 'death', in another 'weapon', and in the last 'delivery', then probably yes. Without good data? No.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on October 05, 2017, 05:35:32 AM
Quote
He is making wild guesses based on questionable (if not just obviously wrong) premisses.
Stulti semper sic statuuntur, quod non intellegunt, aspernantur et abutuntur!
Quote
So, for German, do you think he would be able to guess that, for instance, "Gift" means "poison" or that "dick" means "fat"?
If you know a bit of German, you've probably noticed that German 'd' corresponds to English 'th'. So, you would indeed expect that German "dick" means "thick". As for "Gift", you can almost certainly guess from the context that the meaning of the cognate has changed.
False friends are rare. You just remember them a lot because they are rare. And, when they do occur, you can almost always recognize them by context. Toponyms usually offer a lot of context.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on October 06, 2017, 08:36:39 AM
Quote
Stulti semper sic statuuntur, quod non intellegunt, aspernantur et abutuntur!
The truth is, you can prove anything by that.
Person A: The Earth is flat. Here is evidence: X, Y, Z…
Person B: That makes no sense!
Person A: You fools always think that way: what you don't understand, you despise and abuse!
Quote
False friends are rare. You just remember them a lot because they are rare. And, when they do occur, you can almost always recognize them by context.
I guess it helps a bit to lie to yourself.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on October 06, 2017, 09:37:07 AM
You are not contributing anything useful in this thread, LinguistSkeptic. Please stop replying unless you have something nice and/or constructive to say.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on October 07, 2017, 12:00:38 AM
If you think that warning FlatAssembler that his methods of guessing the meaning of unknown words don't work even on modern languages (when we know the "regular sound changes") is "not useful", then yes.
Also, if *yes meant "boiling" in PIE, how come it means "yes" today?
And let's say that his etymology of "Issa" is plausible. He's made countless etymologies he didn't explain.
Why does he think that Colapis comes from PIE *kwol-h2ep and that it means "the river with many meanders"? Why does he think that Andautonia comes from PIE *h2en-dheh2-ont-om and that it means "near that which flows"? Isn't such etymology, from so many words, extremely far-fetched? Why does he think that Krndija comes from *(s)ker-nt and that it meant "steep"?
Excuse me, to me it seems like he is just bombarding us with controversial statements we can't evaluate.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on October 07, 2017, 06:58:11 AM
Quote
Also, if *yes meant "boiling" in PIE, how come it means "yes" today?
Because "dog" in English, "perro" in Spanish, "Hund" in German, "cane" in Italian, "skylos" in Greek, "kalb" in Arabic, "Gǒu" in Chinese-- those all mean the same thing. Sounds don't have meanings except by convention, and they change over time.
If you don't know this, then you have no business at all contributing to this technical discussion. If you'd like to know more about sound change, feel free to ask (elsewhere). Or take an intro class, read a book (or Wikipedia), etc.

A PIE root has had 6,000+ years to change, and it would be surprising if it did have any direct resemblance to the original form. Just look up the etymology of any word you'd like:
http://etymonline.com/index.php?term=interrupt
Interrupt comes from Latin 'inter' (between) + 'rumpere' (break)
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/rumpo#Latin
The verb rumpere in turn comes from the PIE root *Hrewp- 'break', possibly from *Hrew- 'to tear out, dig out'.
How do we know that? Comparative reconstruction. In fact, the reconstruction might be wrong but it's a reasonable approximation, and these proposed etymologies are constantly being refined by experts to get closer and closer to the facts.
Since you are not an expert, I would ask that you do not interrupt any more about you not understanding or you objecting to the idea of reconstruction.

It won't help if you keep insisting that evolution doesn't exist to a room of biologists, nor will it help if you keep insisting that god doesn't exist to a room of creationists. That's basically what you're doing here, and it needs to stop.

Quote
Excuse me, to me it seems like he is just bombarding us with controversial statements we can't evaluate.
You cannot evaluate them because you don't have any expertise in this field. It would not make sense for you to tell physicists they are wrong because you don't understand, or biologists, or computer scientists, or whatever. Your understanding is irrelevant to others being correct.

And I am certainly qualified to evaluate the merits of FlatAssembler's methodology, although I have said repeatedly I don't know the lexical (vocabulary) details in question here. And in fact, they do not interest me very much: I consider that to be a 'homework' problem for FlatAssembler, to make sure all of the etymologies/sound changes/lexical meanings line up. Obviously FlatAssembler is wrong if those facts do not line up, so I am answering under the assumption that they do. Even if later it turns out that they do not, then my comments about methodology may be helpful for FlatAssembler in general and for continued research.

Quote
Why does he think that Colapis comes from PIE *kwol-h2ep and that it means "the river with many meanders"? Why does he think that Andautonia comes from PIE *h2en-dheh2-ont-om and that it means "near that which flows"? ... Why does he think that Krndija comes from *(s)ker-nt and that it meant "steep"?
Those are reasonable questions. However:

1. I consider answering them to be FlatAssembler's job, in order to support the proposed hypotheses. That's background research and fact checking. I'm not especially interested in reading it either because it's easy to self fact-check on that. (If there is a specific question I will of course be happy to comment.)
2. This is an online forum, not an academic journal. I'm happy to assume the background assumptions are reasonable in order to answer the more general question. Just like there is no requirement here to support every post with a bibliography, I would not require FlatAssembler to post citations for all of the proposed etymologies and sound changes. Being capable of doing so, however, is something I have suggested.
3. LinguistSkeptic, there is no reason to believe that even if these details were documented you would accept any of this argument. You're attempting to waste our time by suggesting we do so. If you are sincere, then say so, and accept that if FlatAssembler can defend the data you'll accept the argument. Maybe in that case FlatAssembler will take the time to explain the details to you for one of the roots, let's say *kwol-h2ep: if FlatAssembler can do that, will you accept that the argument is plausible? If not, you have nothing more to contribute here, so stop interrupting (posting). If so, let's see if FlatAssembler decides to take the time to address your question after you have been interrupting so much.

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Isn't such etymology, from so many words, extremely far-fetched?
What does "far-fetched" mean? Many etymologies are complicated, even ones we have direct evidence for. Therefore your objection is irrelevant. It's either this "far-fetched" etymology, or some other one. Etymologies are not always transparent and easy; why would you expect them to be?
You are making a common incorrect statistical assumption that unlikely events never occur. In fact, unlikely events occur every day. (I believe I wrote about this in earlier posts to FlatAssembler by the way.) What is unlikely is that a specific unlikely event occurs, but your objection would apply to any etymology because indeed any etymology is unlikely (and many are complex).

--

LinguistSkeptic, in the end, your replies read like this:
"I don't believe in black holes. Name all of the stars in the sky with documentation."
"I don't believe in evolution. Name all of the species with documentation."
It doesn't matter what you believe, and your interrupting along those lines is getting in the way. Background assumptions are necessary for science, and unless you intend to discuss the core proposal and are willing to make some basic assumptions to do so, then there is truly no point in you participating in this discussion (or others). And that's fine: there are other productive things you can do elsewhere.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on October 08, 2017, 12:36:55 AM
If you can explain me why FlatAssembler wouldn't think that "yes" meant something like "boiling" in English, then I would accept that some of his etymologies are true.
Though I can't really see how you can call an etymology you don't even understand (like Colapis coming from *kwol-h2ep and meaning "a river with many meanders") plausible, especially since FlatAssembler admits to have no expertise in the field.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on October 08, 2017, 02:09:40 AM
Quote
If you can explain me why FlatAssembler wouldn't think that "yes" meant something like "boiling" in English, then I would accept that some of his etymologies are true.
Because there is absolutely no evidence to support that. (FlatAssembler has therefore also not suggested "yes" in English means "no" or "potatoes" or "spaceship".) Your objection is irrelevant.
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Though I can't really see how you can call an etymology you don't even understand (like Colapis coming from *kwol-h2ep and meaning "a river with many meanders") plausible, ...
Browse through some etymologies in the Oxford English Dictionary, etymonline.com or Wiktionary. You will find this proposal is in line with various other accepted or proposed etymologies. It is indeed difficult to prove this is the correct possibility, but it is not anomalous. Again, your objection is irrelevant.

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...especially since FlatAssembler admits to have no expertise in the field.
That's called an ad hominem argument and it is also irrelevant to the proposal. An expert can be wrong, and a novice can be correct. Ideas are correct or not independently of their creators. Regardless, FlatAssembler does clearly understand (and accept) the basics of historical reconstruction, sound change, etymology, etc. You clearly do not. Again, your objection is entirely irrelevant.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on October 08, 2017, 04:21:46 AM
And what do you think is the difference between saying "'Yes' means 'boiling' in English, and it comes from PIE *yes." and saying "'Colapis' meant 'river with many meanders' in old Croatian and it comes from PIE *kwol-h2ep."?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on October 08, 2017, 06:31:14 AM
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And what do you think is the difference between saying "'Yes' means 'boiling' in English, and it comes from PIE *yes." and saying "'Colapis' meant 'river with many meanders' in old Croatian and it comes from PIE *kwol-h2ep."?
About the same as the difference between claiming that a rhinoceros is a type of plant and actually study biology.

You're just posting nonsense now. Move along. (I suggest reading something about Historical Linguistics, maybe an intro textbook, if you have any sincere interest at all.)
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on October 08, 2017, 10:11:31 PM
You've said you taught classes on PIE. So, if there is a difference between those two statements (apart from one being obviously silly because of there being many people who would recognize that the conclusion is wrong), you should be able to explain it. If you aren't, you should admit that FlatAssembler's methodology is fundamentally flawed and that you were wrong to affirm what he had said.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on October 09, 2017, 08:49:38 AM
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You've said you taught classes on PIE.
To be clear, I have taught classes about Historical Linguistics. Not about PIE specifically (but of course it was discussed).

Quote
So, if there is a difference between those two statements (apart from one being obviously silly because of there being many people who would recognize that the conclusion is wrong), you should be able to explain it.
Saying something entirely absurd and asking me to argue against it is a waste of my time (and your time). There is no evidence for the silly position you gave. There is comparative evidence (sound change patterns and the meaning of related words in modern languages).

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If you aren't, you should admit that FlatAssembler's methodology is fundamentally flawed and that you were wrong to affirm what he had said.
The methodology is fine. The details may be wrong (or right). If you'd like to learn about the methodology of historical linguistics, start here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_change
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_method_(linguistics)

It is also unreasonable to expect me to explain all of this to you in this topic here rather than just letting FlatAssembler discuss the specific ideas. Usually when I teach these topics, it takes a whole semester. And I'm not going to try to summarize that for you here when your interest does not seem sincere (you will probably just remain "skeptical" anyway, which is fine, but means I'm wasting my time), and when you can just look it up online yourself for the basics or read a textbook for the details.

As a very basic explanation, compare German 'ich', Dutch 'ik', and English 'I'. These words all mean the same thing ("I", the first-person singular pronoun) in these related languages. We can assume then that an earlier word also meant that. But how was it pronounced? Probably more like the German or Dutch form, because it would be strange to randomly add a consonant at the end of a word rather than (the much more frequent process of) losing one at the end. So the original form was probably *ik (k rather than ch because k>ch is a more natural shift than ch>k). That is how it has been reconstructed for Proto-Germanic: http://www.etymonline.com/word/I
We can do the same thing, on a much larger scale, and with more complicated examples, and make some good guesses about PIE. Sound changes are regular (systematic-- look this up!) and allow us to have a good idea about the pronunciation of words in proto-languages. Meanings are harder to reconstruct, but based on the meaning of words in modern languages we can have at least some idea of the broad meaning of words.

I have reached the end of going back and forth about you not accepting the methodology of historical linguistics. You can believe whatever you want. But it's not going to be helpful to keep telling us you don't believe in the methodology of linguistics-- in that case, go do something else. Unless you have a better methodology, you have nothing to contribute. Move along.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on October 12, 2017, 12:32:23 PM
Daniel, thanks for your patience with LinguistSkeptic.

To LinguistSkeptic, the obvious difference between the two statements is that we have a very good reason to think "Colapis" meant something related to a river, because it was the ancient name for a river, called Kupa. And we have no reason to think that "yes" ever meant something like "boiling" in English. The English descendant of PIE *yes is "yeast".
As for *kwol-h2ep, these are two quite well-known Indo-European roots. *kwol means "to turn" or "wonder", while *h2ep means "water". So, *kwol-h2ep would mean "wondering water", that is "a river with many meanders". That's that simple.
https://indo-european.info/pokorny-etymological-dictionary/kʷel-1_kʷelə.htm (https://indo-european.info/pokorny-etymological-dictionary/kʷel-1_kʷelə.htm)
https://indo-european.info/pokorny-etymological-dictionary/ā̆p-2.htm (https://indo-european.info/pokorny-etymological-dictionary/ā̆p-2.htm)

I'll share a few more of my ideas, I hope Daniel doesn't mind. In Croatian toponyms, there are a few names such as Almissia. Almissia was the ancient name for the city of Omis. It's probably related to Aljmas (a town in Slavonia) and Almis (the ancient name for Pozeska Gora). I think it comes from PIE *h2elm-yess, so that it means "on a fertile ground". It could be contrasted with Certissia (the ancient name for the town Dakovo). Namely that Certissia can be morphologically analyzed as Cert-issi-a, and that it means "on an infertile ground". The element "Cert" (therefore meaning "infertile") could be derived from PIE *(s)ker (sharp).
It's a well-known thing that many Croatian hydronyms have a transparent etymology in PIE. For example, Danube is obviously derived from *danu (river), Sava from *sewh1 (to water) and Drava from *drew (to pour). Actually, even some smaller rivers have a well-know PIE etymology. For instance, Neretva from *ner (canyon). Korana is also generally accepted to come from PIE *kjarr (rock). As I've said earlier, the same is true for some rivers commonly held to have a Croatian etymology, for instance, Vuka. Folk etymology has connected Cetina with the Croatian word "cetan" (cold). That appears like a very sensical etymology. However, it's demonstrably wrong. Historical sources mention the Sinjsko Polje valley (through which Cetina flows) as "Kentina", and "cetan" never had a nasal 'e'. I'd suggest that Kentina comes from PIE *kjemt-h1eyn, so that it means "the valley of horses".
The mountain Ucka was called Ulcaria in antiquity. I'd suggest that Ulcaria means "the mountain of wolves", and comes from PIE *wlkwos.
Perhaps it's time for me to begin suggesting some rarer sound changes from PIE to Illyrian, involving consonant and vowel clusters. So, I believe that the PIE diphthong *ew gave 'i' in Illyrian. That could sensibly explain away the name of the Lika river as coming from *lewk and meaning "clear water", and also the element *pli(t) in Croatian hydronyms as coming from PIE *plew (to flow). The PIE diphthong *ey, of course, also gave 'i' in Illyrian, as can be seen in Kent-in-a, In-cer-um and Mar-in-i-an-a, containing the element *in, coming from PIE *h1eyn (valley). There appears to be some inconsistency in the development of the syllabic consonants. Namely, the PIE syllabic *l appears to give *l sometimes (as in Ulca and Ulcaria), but sometimes *il (the Dilj mountain has a relatively accepted etymology as coming from *dlh1, and meaning "wide"). Daniel, perhaps you know this, is it very unusual for a syllabic 'l' and 'il' to be freely interchangeable in a language?

The argument that the proponents of Illyrian being a satem language often use is the ancient name for Vrbas being Osseratis, persumably coming from PIE *h2egjer and meaning "lake". But isn't it coming from *h1en-ser-at and meaning "where (one river) flows into (the other)" just as a valid etymology?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on October 12, 2017, 01:38:52 PM
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Daniel, perhaps you know this, is it very unusual for a syllabic 'l' and 'il' to be freely interchangeable in a language?
I'm not sure, but that doesn't seem implausible to me given other evidence supporting it. Liquids (R, L) and vowels seem to mix or go through metathesis (switching places) fairly often, such as in the spellings theatre and table, which vary between syllabic final liquids and consonant+vowel (or vowel+consonant) clusters, depending on the particular language/dialect/time you look at.

/il/ in particular has a relatively distinctive vowel, and I might expect /a/ or schwa by default, but vowel shifts happen so often and in such extreme ways that could be explained secondarily. Or the location in the word could condition it such as being near a palatalized consonant (I'm not sure on the details for the languages you're describing at that point in time!).

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The argument that the proponents of Illyrian being a satem language often use is the ancient name for Vrbas being Osseratis, persumably coming from PIE *h2egjer and meaning "lake". But isn't it coming from *h1en-ser-at and meaning "where (one river) flows into (the other)" just as a valid etymology?
It's a valid hypothesis until falsified. It's not a valid etymology until demonstrated to be more than just a hypothesis. (Careful on the wording there, that's all.)

It seems to me that those origins are distinct enough you should be able to differentiate between the hypotheses (falsify one) by looking at the details of known sound changes. It would be unexpected if both forms could really generate the same result. But I don't know enough about those details to tell you which one is right.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: ForumExplorer on October 13, 2017, 12:14:58 PM
To me, actually, LinguistSkeptic makes the most sense. Daniel, and especially FlatAssembler, are just too bookish and nerdy for me to even understand. Just in case you wanted another opinion...
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on October 13, 2017, 01:09:04 PM
The science is too bookish and nerdy to understand, oh no!
...really?

You've stated elsewhere that you don't have a background in linguistics (not even enough to browse through threads here and understand them-- that's what you said), and you're now implying that because you can't follow a conversation that gets into technical details that someone who is objecting to the topic because they also don't understand is right? You realize how absurd that is, right?

Now, if you are sincere: this is not an "introductory" discussion to the topic and requires some substantial background knowledge. While everyone is welcome on the forum, that doesn't mean every question needs to be at the introductory level. If you'd like to know more about the basics, please start a new topic and I'll be happy to discuss that with you. Or read on Wikipedia, etc., if you prefer.

Going to a physics forum and saying "I don't understand quantum mechanics" is off-topic and irrelevant. Obviously they'll be talking about things you don't understand, and the same applies here. But, sincerely, if you also want to discuss introductory topics that's great, and you're welcome to do that here.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: ForumExplorer on October 14, 2017, 02:39:53 AM
I wasn't saying that LinguistSkeptic is right. I just made an observation that his arguments make the most sense to a layman.

Here is a summary of this thread, as I, someone who doesn't know too much about linguistics, see it:

FlatAssembler argues that:
A) The mainstream etymology of the Croatian toponyms is very flawed. His arguments make some sense.
B) Many Croatian toponyms are explicable using an ancient language called PIE. Most of his arguments are not even comprehensible (to me, nor to LinguistSkeptic and apparently also not to Daniel).
C) PIE is, contrary to the mainstream linguistics, related to another ancient language, called PAN. Most of his arguments make no sense (for example, he supposes the the words like "ser" and "qalur" are related), but some do (like that "danu" and "danaw" are related).

Daniel argues that:
A) FlatAssembler's etymologies are possibly true, but not much more likely than the mainstream Croatian etymology is. Daniel defends mainstream Croatian etymology with arguments that don't really make sense to a layman, nor to FlatAssembler. Nevertheless, he encourages FlatAssembler to continue his work.
B) FlatAssembler's idea that PIE and PAN are related is implausible, and his arguments are fallacious. Daniel's counter-arguments don't really make sense to a layman either.

LinguistSkeptic argues that:
A) FlatAssembler's methodology is extremely flawed, and would lead to outright absurdities if applied to modern languages. His arguments are fairly convincing to a layman. FlatAssembler and Daniel claim that LinguistSkeptic has misunderstood what FlatAssembler was doing, but apparently don't bother too much to explain how.

People who read this thread probably want to inform themselves about Croatian toponyms, and other things discussed here, and make some conclusions by themselves. So, why do you think people shouldn't choose the LinguistSkeptic's position?
If there were two astrologers arguing about something about astrology, and there comes a skeptic who argues that the methods they use are highly flawed, shouldn't people take the skeptic's position?
I'd be interested to hear a bit more about your practical epistemological philosophy.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on October 14, 2017, 11:19:58 AM
Quote
I just made an observation that his arguments make the most sense to a layman.
Why should that be important for a technical question? It would be like me walking into an advanced graduate course in biochemistry and giving my uninformed opinion after the lecture.
I didn't mean to respond too harshly, but without something more substantive in a response (as you have now written), how else should I reply?

Quote
FlatAssembler argues that:
A) The mainstream etymology of the Croatian toponyms is very flawed. His arguments make some sense.
The current proposals are somewhat weak in supporting evidence. (My early comments here to FlatAssembler warned that it will be hard to provide more compelling evidence for competing theories as well though!)

Quote
B) Many Croatian toponyms are explicable using an ancient language called PIE. Most of his arguments are not even comprehensible (to me, nor to LinguistSkeptic and apparently also not to Daniel).
Proto-Indo-European is not a fringe theory in any sense. It's been an accepted hypothesis that every linguist knows about, since the late 1700s. The details (like exactly where or when it was spoken) are up for debate, but its existence and some of its general properties are not. In fact, only fringe theories would deny that PIE existed!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Indo-European_language
Without knowing that, I can understand how this thread would read oddly. But that's the fault of history classes not teaching about PIE, not the fault of us talking about shared technical knowledge.
Read the quote below from William Jones in 1786-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Jones_(philologist)
Quote
    The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanscrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family.
All of that turned out to be correct, and is accepted in modern Linguistics.
---
Quote
C) PIE is, contrary to the mainstream linguistics, related to another ancient language, called PAN. Most of his arguments make no sense (for example, he supposes the the words like "ser" and "qalur" are related), but some do (like that "danu" and "danaw" are related).
1. Proto-Austronesian is another widely accepted hypothesis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Austronesian_language
2. However, there is NO widely accepted theory that PIE and PAN are directly related in any sense. That's implausible (how would people move between central Eurasia to/from Taiwan many thousands of years ago, before the invention of the wheel, etc.), and just not supported by any substantial evidence. The proposed related words are just coincidence. I told FlatAssembler this at the time (in contrast to LinguistSkeptic constantly repeating that I unquestioningly support everything FlatAssembler has said).
3. Regardless, a potential relationship between PIE and PAN is irrelevant to the rest of this discussion. That was a tangent.

Quote
A) FlatAssembler's etymologies are possibly true, but not much more likely than the mainstream Croatian etymology is. Daniel defends mainstream Croatian etymology with arguments that don't really make sense to a layman, nor to FlatAssembler. Nevertheless, he encourages FlatAssembler to continue his work.
I'm simply saying we don't have enough clear evidence to be able to make an informed decision about which proposal is correct. I don't know enough to decide between the two hypotheses. This is a data question, not a methodology question. The main warnings I gave FlatAssembler were about reading too much into little data and that there may be some coincidences. Yes, I did encourage the continued pursuit of these hypotheses (if that interests FlatAssembler, and it seems to), because maybe some clearer evidence will pop up. The best way to pursue them would be to find evidence against the other proposals, that can falsify those. I have no idea if such data exists, but if so, that is a strong argument that some other proposal (such as FlatAssembler's) should be taken seriously. I have also suggested FlatAssembler look into the norms of publication on topology because that isn't my area so I'm not sure what counts as 'sufficient evidence' to take a new proposal seriously. That allow some concrete goals to be set (or to know when continuing to pursue the question is no longer productive).

Quote
B) FlatAssembler's idea that PIE and PAN are related is implausible, and his arguments are fallacious. Daniel's counter-arguments don't really make sense to a layman either.
Correct, but as I said above, that was a tangent and not related to the main question here. I did point out that if data is being misinterpreted in that case, it's worth double-checking it in other cases though!
Simplified explanation of that: sometimes words in unrelated languages sound similar. For example, Japanese "namae" means "name", and it seems like those words could be related, but there is no historical/linguistic reason at all to believe they actually are. When languages actually are related, there are many more (and more systematic) similarities.

Quote
LinguistSkeptic argues that:
A) FlatAssembler's methodology is extremely flawed, and would lead to outright absurdities if applied to modern languages. His arguments are fairly convincing to a layman. FlatAssembler and Daniel claim that LinguistSkeptic has misunderstood what FlatAssembler was doing, but apparently don't bother too much to explain how.
To put it bluntly, LinguistSkeptic's apparent counter-argument are as uninformed and transparently irrelevant as a creationist's arguments against evolution. He might as well be saying "dinosaurs are still alive in Africa!".
I wouldn't be able to explain the entire theory of evolution here, nor everything about historical linguistics. Even if I tried, you would probably find it to be "technical for the layman", which is fair, and which is why I'm not trying to write a book here explaining the established methodologies of the field. But none of it is a secret. See these Wikipedia articles for example, which do a reasonable job of explaining it "to a layman":
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_linguistics
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_reconstruction
I have taught classes on exactly this, and would invite you to take one of them if that was practical. Other than that, I could recommend a textbook.

Quote
People who read this thread probably want to inform themselves about Croatian toponyms, and other things discussed here, and make some conclusions by themselves. So, why do you think people shouldn't choose the LinguistSkeptic's position?
Because from the beginning, this was not a teaching thread. This was a technical question about a proposed theory. That's like saying every scientific advance should be made with the needs of an introductory class in mind, in case any first year undergrads happen to be listening. Those are just two completely unrelated things, and this thread has never been meant to be accessible to someone without a background. There are dozens or hundreds of threads here that are. There's no reason we can't have both on a forum.

Quote
If there were two astrologers arguing about something about astrology, and there comes a skeptic who argues that the methods they use are highly flawed, shouldn't people take the skeptic's position?
Really? Let's say gravity, black holes, evolution, and nuclear weapons all seem weird to some skeptic. So, should we all be skeptical of that? To be clear, the skeptic has no informed reasons, and in fact the main reasons for the confusion are due to ignorance (and I guess skepticism).
Quote
I'd be interested to hear a bit more about your practical epistemological philosophy.
Evidence, and citations. And having a general grasp of at least the basic data (as well as any theories you want to argue against).
Sorry, but "I don't get it" isn't a valid counter-argument.

The only thing I agree with is that you are correct in pointing out that a layman's brain probably shuts off somewhere a few paragraphs into the technical details of this argument, and they might walk away thinking it was just too technical, so they weren't convinced. And that's fine. Remember, this thread isn't about convincing anyone. It's about discussing technical details. If you'd like to be convinced, we can start a new thread about that and talk about something with much less sketchy data than ancient Croatian toponyms.

---

Sincerely, I really wish we could move on from discussing how confusing and technical the proposed explanation for Croatian toponyms is. I agree with you! (That doesn't mean FlatAssembler is wrong: the proposal here is about as confusing and technical as I would expect for explaining ancient toponyms with limited data!)

So, anyone want to start a thread about a new or more general topic, say in the Historical Linguistics forum? This thread is meant for FlatAssembler to express ideas about a particular theory, and that is the entire purpose of this subform, "outside of the box"-- that's why it was added to the forum! (Read the rules in the sticky thread here if you'd like to know more. It was completely appropriate for FlatAssembler to post this type of thread here because this is for new and controversial ideas to be expressed/discussed.)

And to be clear, FlatAssembler should be welcome to continue discussing this theory here (again, that's the point of this sub-forum). But this thread has been dragged so far on a tangent at this point I don't know if FlatAssembler will continue to do so. (It makes me think I should revise the rules for the sub-forum so that any replies going too far off topic will simply be removed in order to let the original poster actually have a conversation about their proposal, regardless of how implausible it may seem to some. Again, that's the point of this sub-forum!)
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: FlatAssembler on November 09, 2017, 12:04:16 PM
I don't know if it's useful to try and discuss the Croatian toponyms here. It just seems to me I am unlikely to get some sane opposition. I have decided to make some web-pages summarizing my ideas, just in case some expert in Croatian toponyms (or at least in Proto-Indo-European) comes here.
http://flatassembler.000webhostapp.com/toponyms.html
http://flatassembler.000webhostapp.com/Indo-Austronesian.html
There are a few more toponyms there than I've discussed here. I suggested that Jozinci comes from *yes, that Albona comes from *h2elbh and that Una comes from *unt. I also suggested a few more regular sound correspondences between Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Austronesian, though they are probably not statistically significant either.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on November 14, 2017, 07:52:16 AM
Quote
The science is too bookish and nerdy to understand, oh no!
How can you call what FlatAssembler is doing science? He obviously won't change his mind no matter what others tell him.

And what do you mean by "technical discussion"? To me this is more like trying to hide the fact that the ideas are nonsensical by using a seemingly scientific language. We shouldn't accept something because we don't understand the arguments for it, which is what you guys seem to expect us to do. People shouldn't have accepted the pseudoscientific arguments made by the Nazis just because they hadn't understood them.
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on November 14, 2017, 11:03:59 AM
1. OK, what is your scientific contribution?

2. "Technical discussion" means that it assumes some background knowledge of the relevant topics.

3. Why are you still here? Don't you have better things to do?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: LinguistSkeptic on November 14, 2017, 01:56:25 PM
What do you mean by "scientific contribution"? What does my "scientific contribution" have to do with whether his ideas are sensical? And isn't making a blog about your pseudoscientific ideas worse than doing nothing?
Title: Re: Croatian toponyms
Post by: Daniel on November 14, 2017, 02:15:03 PM
Let's put it this way:

At least FlatAssembler is enrolled in the class, while you're some random stranger throwing rocks in the window.

As for contribution, what I meant was that you could do something other than complain about the ideas others suggest.