Posted by: Democratic Thinker | March 28, 2015

Of the High and Mighty

Considerations by the Way

 
 
An ancient philosopher illustrates a fundamental principle.


We shall not presume to anticipate the judgment of our fellow-citizens throughout the Union on these important letters, by interposing any comments of our own.—Four Letters on the Important Subject of Government, 1802.


 

 

The Pharisee and the Publican.

—————

AND he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | March 27, 2015

News: A bank run by beggars, for beggars in Bihar town

News

 
 
IBN Live reports on a beggars’ bank in Gaya, India.


“Most of the beggars who are members of the ‘bank’ have neither BPL (Below Poverty Line) card nor Aadhaar card,” she said.

IBN Live.

IBNLIVE » INDIA » BIHAR

Mar 27, 2015 at 08:48pm IST

A bank run by beggars, for beggars in Bihar town

Gaya: A group of beggars in this Bihar town has opened their own bank, which they run and manage to provide financial security in times of crisis.

Dozens of beggars, who have been depending for their survival on alms from hundreds of Hindu devotees at the gate of ‘Maa Manglagauri Mandir’ (temple) in Gaya town for years, have started the bank.

The beggars call it Mangala Bank.


The beggars call it Mangala Bank.

 

“It is true that we have established a bank for ourselves,” said Raj Kumar Manjhi, one of the 40 beggars who are members of this unique “bank”.

Read More…

Commentary

 
Chris Hernandez, over at his blog chrishernandezauthor, comments on a Racialised Students’ Collective event.

 

 

Maybe I’d be the only person on the typical University campus who’d know this, but in America we actually fought a really bad war to end slavery. Over 350,000 white Americans died fighting to end slavery. White Americans burned white American cities to the ground to end slavery.

Chris Hernandez Author.

 

When racism isn’t racism (and why all white people are heroes) 27mar15

Let’s imagine a hypothetical situation:

People of several different races are having a public event. Two people of one specific race show up to cover the event. Someone at the event says, “We don’t want that race here.” The two race-offenders are escorted out of the event, despite the fact that they had personally done nothing wrong. They were journalists, and were kicked out of the event simply because of their skin color.

Now let’s say there was a backlash. The event organizers took some heat for barring one race from the event. You might think the event organizers would apologize, promise sensitivity training, insist the two people were kicked out because of one person’s mistake instead of any discriminatory policy, and claim the entire thing was just a misunderstanding. Or maybe they’d immediately fire/exile/expel/charge whomever kicked people out because of their race. Isn’t that what always happens when an organization does something blatantly racist?


 
ryersonian.ca

 

In this case, no. This event was at Canada’s Ryerson University, hosted by the Racialised Students’ Collective (and the mentality displayed by the “Racialised Students” would be at home on any number of American universities). The people kicked out were white journalism students. So no harm, no foul, no widespread outrage.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | March 27, 2015

Weekly Story: The San Francisco Riots

Weekly Story

 
In 1877, at labor meeting in San Francisco, workers decide to join in the national rioting.


A Citizens’ Executive Committee was organized, under the presidency of W. T. Coleman, and this body called upon the people generally to volunteer for the defence of the city against the mob, promising arms to all who would join their organization. The call was largely responded to, and during the 25th a force of 3,000 determined citizens was organized. They were generally armed with clubs and pistols, but preparations were made to issue muskets to them in case of necessity.


 
 

Fire in the Chinese Quarter, San Francisco.

Fire in the Chinese Quarter, San Francisco.

 
 

The San Francisco Riots.

—————

Hatred of the Chinese by the Lower Class of San Francisco—Origin of the Riots—The Labor Meeting—Attack on the Chinese—The Riot Spreads—Action of the city Authorities—Arming the Citizens—Fire at the Pacific Mail Dock—The Rioters attack the Vigilantes and are Defeated—Exciting Scenes—A Night of Terror—The Mob Cowed—End of the Danger—Triumph of Law.

THE city of San Francisco contains a large Chinese population. Between these and certain portions of the white inhabitants there has always been a bitter enmity. The working classes are especially hostile to the Chinese, as they regard them as rivals in the labor market; but the bitterest enemies of the Mongolians are the “Hoodlums,” or the idle loafers, street loungers, and “bummers,” of the city. Many riots have occurred between the Chinese and their enemies in San Francisco, and not long since it was seriously proposed by the whites to organize a deliberate movement for the purpose of compelling the Chinese to leave the entire State of California. It was well understood in San Francisco that this feeling of hatred to the Chinese only lacked a favorable opportunity to break out into open hostility.

The news of the labor troubles in the Eastern and Western States was received with profound interest in San Francisco, especially by the working classes. On the evening of the 23d a workmen’s meeting was held, and was attended by about 10,000 persons. The meeting broke up at ten o’clock without making any violent demonstrations as a body. Shortly before adjournment a portion of the crowd wrecked a Chinese wash-house in the neighborhood. The majority of the throng dispersed towards their homes; but several hundred of the men banded together and proceeded to the corner of Geary and Leavenworth streets, which was occupied by a two-story frame building containing a Chinese laundry and fruit store on the ground floor and forms the residence of the family above. The crowd attacked the place, broke the street-lamps, and by smashing a kerosene lamp inside set the building on fire. A white. woman was saved alive with difficulty from an upper story. The mob impeded the firemen and cut the hose, and the building was destroyed. The mob then started down Geary street to Dupont street, with the evident intention of raiding the Chinese quarter. On their way they attacked and closed up a number of Chinese washhouses. By the time they reached Dupont street they were 500 or 600 strong. Here they were met by a force of police, who formed in line across the street. The rioters attempted to break through the line, but the police stood firm, and were promptly reinforced from the City Hall. By a free use of clubs they beat back the crowd.

Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | March 26, 2015

Commentary: Shop Class as Soulcraft

Commentary

 
 
Some years ago, Matthew B. Crawford published an essay in The New Atlantis—later expanded into a book—on the importance manual competence.


I began working as an electrician’s helper at age fourteen, and started a small electrical contracting business after college, in Santa Barbara. In those years I never ceased to take pleasure in the moment, at the end of a job, when I would flip the switch. “And there was light.”


 

The New Atlantis.

 

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work.—At Amazon.com

Editor’s Note: The original essay below, by New Atlantis contributing editor Matthew B. Crawford, was published in 2006. Mr. Crawford has expanded the essay into a bestselling book — Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work — published in 2009 by Penguin. To read excerpts from and reviews of the book, and to see interviews with Mr. Crawford, click here.

Shop Class as Soulcraft

Matthew B. Crawford

Anyone in the market for a good used machine tool should talk to Noel Dempsey, a dealer in Richmond, Virginia. Noel’s bustling warehouse is full of metal lathes, milling machines, and table saws, and it turns out that most of it is from schools. EBay is awash in such equipment, also from schools. It appears shop class is becoming a thing of the past, as educators prepare students to become “knowledge workers.”

At the same time, an engineering culture has developed in recent years in which the object is to “hide the works,” rendering the artifacts we use unintelligible to direct inspection. Lift the hood on some cars now (especially German ones), and the engine appears a bit like the shimmering, featureless obelisk that so enthralled the cavemen in the opening scene of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Essentially, there is another hood under the hood. This creeping concealedness takes various forms. The fasteners holding small appliances together now often require esoteric screwdrivers not commonly available, apparently to prevent the curious or the angry from interrogating the innards. By way of contrast, older readers will recall that until recent decades, Sears catalogues included blown-up parts diagrams and conceptual schematics for all appliances and many other mechanical goods. It was simply taken for granted that such information would be demanded by the consumer.

A decline in tool use would seem to betoken a shift in our mode of inhabiting the world: more passive and more dependent. And indeed, there are fewer occasions for the kind of spiritedness that is called forth when we take things in hand for ourselves, whether to fix them or to make them. What ordinary people once made, they buy; and what they once fixed for themselves, they replace entirely or hire an expert to repair, whose expert fix often involves installing a pre-made replacement part.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | March 26, 2015

Brave Love

 

He'd nothing but his violin, I'd nothing but my song.

 

Brave Love.

—————

HE’D nothing but his violin,
I’d nothing but my song,
But we were wed when skies were blue
And summer days were long;
And when we rested by the hedge,
The robins came and told
How they had dared to woo and win,
When early Spring was cold.

Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | March 25, 2015

Debate: Army Appropriations Bill (1878)—Index

Corning, N. Y.—Second Detatchment, 23d Regiment, N. G. S. N. Y., Stopped by Rioters.

Corning, N. Y.—Second Detatchment, 23d Regiment, N. G. S. N. Y.,
Stopped by Rioters.

 

Debate: Army Appropriations Bill (1878)

 
Following the nation-wide riots in 1877, Congress debates appropriating money for the Army. Rep. William Kimmel (D., Maryland) argues for funding the militia, Rep. Herman L. Humphrey (R., Wisconson) for funding the Army.

  • Part I
  • The Dread of Standing Armies—Colonial Times.
    Dread of Standing Armies During the Revolution, 1776 to 1789.
    The Importance of the Militia.
    After the Adoption of the Constitution, 1789.
    Congress and the Militia-Neglect of the Militia Predicted-1790 To 1803.
    The Militia Organized and Called Out in View of Indian Hostilities.
  • Part II
  • Opposition in Congress to a Standing Army.
    The Standing Army—Its Origin, Growth, and Strength at Periods Stated—And the Substitution of the Army for the Militia.
    Militia Intended as a Substitute for a Standing Army—Now It Has Decayed From Neglect.
    Standing Army Not to be Employed for the Enforcement of the Law.
    Résumé as to the Intention of the Fathers in Regard to the Standing Army And the Militia.
  • Part III
  • Defense of the Militia.
  • Part IV
  • Conclusion.
  • Part IV
  • Mr. Humphrey’s Rebuttal
Posted by: Democratic Thinker | March 24, 2015

Debate: Army Appropriations Bill (1878)—Part V

American Debate

 
Following the nation-wide riots in 1877, Congress debates appropriating money for the Army. Rep. William Kimmel (D., Maryland) argues for funding the militia, Rep. Herman L. Humphrey (R., Wisconson) for funding the Army.


To determine the question whether a standing army such as any we are likely to have in this country is dangerous to our liberties, we have only to address the question to our own hearts. All of us have friends, many of us have relatives in the Army, and we have only to ask ourselves this question if we were called upon today to leave civil life and take part in repelling any foreign foe, would not our love of country be as strong, would not our hearts in that hour of national trial beat in unison with the demands of our country just as much as if We were in civil life?

Chicago—The Fight at Turner Hall, Arrival of U. S. Artillery.

Chicago—The Fight at Turner Hall, Arrival of U. S. Artillery.

 
 

PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES
OF THE
FORTY-FIFTH CONGRESS,
Second Session.


HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
MONDAY, May 20, 1878.


Pt. IPt. IIPt. IIIPt. IV — Pt. V —


 

(Continued from Pt. IV.)

Mr. HUMPHREY obtained the floor.

Mr. BANNING. I ask unanimous consent that the time of the gentleman from Maryland be extended.

Mr. FOSTER. I dislike very much to object, but the arrangements are such that if the gentleman’s time is extended other gentlemen will be precluded from an opportunity to address the committee

Mr. HUMPHREY. I must object.

Mr. SINGLETON. There is but half an hour remaining before the business of the District of Columbia will come up, and the gentleman from Maryland might as well be allowed to occupy that time.

Mr. WHITE, of Pennsylvania. I hope there will be no objection to the extension of the time of the gentleman from Maryland.

Mr. KIMMEL. I want only ten minutes

Mr. HUMPHREY. I cannot yield from the fact that the District of Columbia business comes up at two o’clock, and I have only this half hour in which I can speak.

The CHAIRMAN. The Chair would state that the gentleman from Wisconsin [Mr. HUMPHREY] has a right to speak in the time of the gentleman from Pennsylvania, [Mr. SMITH] and this is the only time under the rules that he will be entitled to speak, and if he yields the floor now there will be no time which the Chair can assign to him for debate upon this bill.

Mr. HUMPHREY. Mr. Chairman, I am sorry to have to take from the gentleman from Maryland any time that he desires upon this question. If I had been in a position to make my remarks without giving them in an extemporaneous manner I should have gladly yielded to him; but it is understood that there are very few of us who get an opportunity to speak upon these bills and upon questions that come before the House unless we do it at an opportune moment; and as I have had no opportunity to put in writing what I desired to say in the short time I have, I am obliged to occupy that time which is conceded to me.

It is not my desire, Mr. Chairman, to antagonize in any manner the bill that has been presented to the committee. It has many features that are exceeding in advance of the law as it stands at present. There are many excellent features connected with the bill; but I desire, before proceeding further, to meet an idea that has been so often advanced upon the floor of this House, that a standing army is a menace to the liberties of the people.

Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | March 24, 2015

Debate: Army Appropriations Bill (1878)—Part IV

American Debate

 
Following the nation-wide riots in 1877, Congress debates appropriating money for the Army. Rep. William Kimmel (D., Maryland) argues for funding the militia, Rep. Herman L. Humphrey (R., Wisconson) for funding the Army.


I offer the following amendment: Provided, That from and after the passage of this act it shall not be lawful to use any part of the land or naval forces of the United States to execute the laws either as posse comitatus or otherwise, except in such cases as may be expressly authorized by act of Congress.

Baltimore—Sixth Maryland Regiment Firing on the Rioters.

Baltimore—Sixth Maryland Regiment Firing on the Rioters.

 
 

PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES
OF THE
FORTY-FIFTH CONGRESS,
Second Session.


HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
MONDAY, May 20, 1878.


Pt. IPt. IIPt. III — Pt. IV — Pt. V


 

(Continued from Pt. III.—Mr. Kimmel Continues.)

CONCLUSION.

That the people of this country, who within one hundred years have increased its area from eight hundred thousand to thirty-six hundred thousand square miles, its population from four millions to forty-eight millions, its States from thirteen to thirty-eight; who have organized governments over all its territory, bridged its broadest rivers and ascended to their highest sources, leaped its valleys, crossed its deserts, pierced, cleft, and climbed its mountains, compelled the earth to yield from its surface food for distant millions and from its bowels precious stores for their use and in a frenzied revelry sent millions of brothers to meet in mortal strife—that they should permit two hundred and thirty thousand Indians, men, women, and children, without the means to conduct or prolong an earnest war, to compel them to maintain an army of twenty-five thousand soldiers, at a cost of nearly $32,000,000 per annum, seems to be an incomprehensible absurdity, and indicates such utter indifference to the affairs of the Government as to make it possible for its administrators to perpetuate any condition for purposes not too broadly seen. That practices existed in connection with the Indian Bureau and War Department by which immense sums were squandered was well understood; but these little extravagances were of too small consequence to rouse the facile servants of a too prosperous people. Besides, it was good for trade! But now that other practices and recent declarations indicate worse purposes of the greatest magnitude, public safety demands a change of system for the management of this stupendous business—that we return to the ways whereby our fathers set us free.

Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | March 24, 2015

Debate: Army Appropriations Bill (1878)—Part III

American Debate

 
Following the nation-wide riots in 1877, Congress debates appropriating money for the Army. Rep. William Kimmel (D., Maryland) argues for funding the militia, Rep. Herman L. Humphrey (R., Wisconson) for funding the Army.


In some of the States where these disorders occurred, as in West Virginia, where no police existed and the militia had decayed, the civil authorities were powerless. But it must be remembered that that State had not recovered from the disorganization consequent on the war.

Martinsburg, West Virginia—The Mob Assaulting a Member of the Militia.

Martinsburg, West Virginia—The Mob Assaulting a Member of the Militia.

 
 

PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES
OF THE
FORTY-FIFTH CONGRESS,
Second Session.


HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
MONDAY, May 20, 1878.


Pt. IPt. II — Pt. III — Pt. IVPt. V


 

(Continued from Pt. II.—Mr. Kimmel Continues.)

DEFENSE OF THE MILITIA.

The use of the standing army and the increase of it as practiced and advocated by the administration of Mr. Hayes and its friends lead to a review of the events which gave rise to that argument.

The reckless extravagance ever engendered by civil strife culminated in the crash of 1873. The contraction which ensued compelled reduction in the wages of many of the working people and the discharge of many others. The high rate of taxes caused by increased debt and the high price of bread and meat, caused by large exports of the necessaries, worded hardship. The masses became discontented and sought redress through strikes.

Associated capital, burdened by responsibilities incurred during inflation, attempted to maintain its dividends on extravagant investments by transferring those burdens from the corporations to their servants, and further reductions ensued. These servants inquiring as to the necessity for these hardships were surprised to learn that not only was it sought to maintain those dividends on the original stock and on the stock created out of the earning of these corporation, known as watered stock, but that the amount of those dividends in excess of the legal interest of the States in which these corporation were located would in some cases, if applied to the pay-roll, admit and increase of wages of more than 30 per cent. This knowledge intensified the discontent. These faithful servants could not consent that unmarried men should be induced to accept the wages which hungered their own families, and disorder ensued. Unfortunately for themselves, the corporations, and society, these men overstepped the limits of the law, which indiscretion resulted in what Mr. Secretary McCrary describes “as uprising of idle, suffering, desperate men for the redress of grievances, real of fancied, having the sympathies of the communities in which the occur,” and for the suppression of which he asks an increase of the standing army to police the States, meaning thereby to transfer the terror of his bayonets from the South to the North.

Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | March 24, 2015

Debate: Army Appropriations Bill (1878)—Part II

American Debate

 
Following the nation-wide riots in 1877, Congress debates appropriating money for the Army. Rep. William Kimmel (D., Maryland) argues for funding the militia, Rep. Herman L. Humphrey (R., Wisconson) for funding the Army.


The dread of a standing army so distinctly and constantly apparent throughout the history of the colonies and the confederation, from 1775 to 1789, was not allayed by the adoption of the Constitution. The establishment of an army, however small, met with constant and determined opposition.

Scranton, Pennsylvania—The Mayor's Posse Firing on the Rioters.

Scranton, Pennsylvania—The Mayor’s Posse Firing on the Rioters.

 
 

PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES
OF THE
FORTY-FIFTH CONGRESS,
Second Session.


HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
MONDAY, May 20, 1878.


Pt. I — Pt. II — Pt. IIIPt. IVPt. V


 

(Continued from Pt. 1.—Mr. Kimmel Continues.)

OPPOSITION IN CONGRESS TO A STANDING ARMY.

The dread of a standing army so distinctly and constantly apparent throughout the history of the colonies and the confederation, from 1775 to 1789, was not allayed by the adoption of the Constitution. The establishment of an army, however small, met with constant and determined opposition. The purpose for which the small army of the earlier period was raised is always most carefully set forth. (Annals of Congress and American State Papers.)

August 10, 1789, six months after his inauguration, President Washington, in his message to the Senate, said:

I have directed a statement of the troops in the service of the United States to be laid before you for your information. These troops were raised by virtue of the resolves of Congress of October 10, 1755, and October 3, 1787, in Order to protect the frontiers from the depredations of hostile Indiana—1 American State Papers, page 5.

This Army consisted of 840 men.

Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | March 23, 2015

Debate: Army Appropriations Bill (1878)—Part I

American Debate

 
Following the nation-wide riots in 1877, Congress debates appropriating money for the Army. Rep. William Kimmel (D., Maryland) argues for funding the militia, Rep. Herman L. Humphrey (R., Wisconson) for funding the Army.


Let us see by the broad light of history how fatal standing armies have been to liberty, and profiting by these examples learn how well these justify the distrust of the fathers.

Burning of the Union Depot at Pittsburgh, by the Rioters.

Burning of the Union Depot at Pittsburgh, by the Rioters.

 
 

PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES
OF THE
FORTY-FIFTH CONGRESS,
Second Session.


HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
MONDAY, May 20, 1878.


— Pt. I — Pt. IIPt. IIIPt. IVPt. V


 

The House met at eleven o’clock a. m. Prayer by Rev. S. DOMER, D. D., St. Paul’s English Lutheran church, Washington, District of Columbia.

The Journal of Saturday was read and approved.

 

ARMY APPROPRIATION BILL.

 

THE CHAIRMAN. The House is now in Committee of the Whole until two o’clock for the purpose of proceeding with the bill (H. R. No. 4867) making appropriations for the support of the Army for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1879, and for other purposes. The gentleman from Maryland, [Mr. KIMMEL.]

Mr. KIMMEL. Mr. Chairman, I trust I am properly impressed with the importance of the subject of which I am about to speak. I believe I approach it without partisan bias. I have the deepest conviction that upon a proper adjustment of it depends the peace and, I fear, the liberties of the people. I confess that the more deeply I inquire into the steady growth of the standing Army and the uses to which it has been applied, the stronger my conviction becomes that the highest patriotism demands the wisest precautionary measures.

Reviewing the past and attentively considering the present, I conclude that this is a time most auspicious for considering such measures.

The cause which selfish politicians so sedulously used as a means for cultivating sectional hate has ceased to exist. The statesmen whose skill was inadequate to the demands of the situation which those politicians had created have passed or are passing away. The people demand repose. Party pride finds but little inspiration from the qualities of its respective leaders, so that the good men of both the great parties may and do mingle in friendly counsel. Soldiers who crossed their swords in deadly conflict now interchange friendly greetings, and widows and orphans bedeck with flowers and bedew with tears the graves of those by whose hands their husbands and fathers fell. It seems as though the past is to be remembered only for its glories and the lessons to be learned from its teachings. This condition seems to assure that calm consideration by which statesmanship triumphs over the arts of the demagogue and the violence of the partisan.

Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | March 21, 2015

John Adams—To Thomas Jefferson (July 9, 1813)

American Correspondence

 
 
John Adams replies to Thomas Jefferson regarding partisan politics.


I say, parties and factions will not suffer improvements to be made. As soon as one man hints at an improvement, his rival opposes it. No sooner has one party discovered or invented any amelioration of the condition of man, or the order of society than the opposite party belies it, misconstrues it, misrepresents it, ridicules it, insults it, and persecutes it. Records are destroyed. Histories are annihilated or interpolated or prohibited; sometimes by Popes, sometimes by Emperors, sometimes by aristocratical, and sometimes by democratical assemblies, and sometimes by mobs.

To Thomas Jefferson.

—————

Quincy, 9 July, 1813.

L ORD! LORD! what can I do with so much Greek? When I was of your age, young man, that is, seven or eight years ago, I felt a kind of pang of affection for one of the flames of my youth, and again paid my addresses to Isocrates and Dionysius Halicarnassensis, &c., &c., &c. I collected all my lexicons and grammars, and sat down to Περὶ συνϑέσεως ὀνοματων. In this way I amused myself for some time, but I found that if I looked a word to-day, in less than a week I had to look it again. It was to little better purpose than writing letters on a pail of water.

Whenever I sit down to write to you, I am precisely in the situation of the wood-cutter on Mount Ida. I cannot see wood for trees. So many subjects crowd upon me, that I know not which to begin. But I will begin at random with Belsham, who is, I have no doubt, a man of merit. He had no malice against you, nor any thought of doing mischief; nor has he done any, though he has been imprudent. The truth is, the dissenters of all denominations in England, and, especially, the Unitarians, are cowed, as we used to say at college. They are ridiculed, insulted, persecuted. They can scarcely hold their heads above water. They catch at straws and shadows to avoid drowning. Priestley sent your letter to Lindsey, and Belsham printed it from the same motive, i. e. to derive some countenance from the name of Jefferson. Nor has it done harm here. Priestley says to Lindsey, “You see he is almost one of us, and he hopes will soon be altogether such as we are.” Even in our New England I have heard a high federal divine say, your letters had increased his respect for you.

Read More…

Study

 
 
The Linguistic Society of America provides a pre-print of an article appearing in this month’s Language journal.


The relationships of Indo-European (IE) languages have been studied for over two centuries, but it is still disputed when and where their common ancestor Proto-Indo-European (PIE) was spoken, and how they spread before they first appeared in historical records about 3,700 years ago.


 

Linguistic Society of America (LSA).

 

Forthcoming Articles

Language  (Vol. 91, No. 1) March 2015

Ancestry-constrained phylogenetic analysis supports the Indo-European steppe hypothesis

Will Chang, Chundra Cathcart, David Hall and Andrew Garrett, University of California, Berkeley

LSA Language Cover, Vol 91 No 1.

Discussion of Indo-European origins and dispersal focuses on two hypotheses. Qualitative evidence from reconstructed vocabulary and correlations with archaeological data suggest that Indo-European languages originated in the Pontic-Caspian steppe and spread together with cultural innovations associated with pastoralism, beginning c. 6500–5500 BP. An alternative hypothesis, according to which Indo-European languages spread with the diffusion of farming from Anatolia, beginning c. 9500–8000 BP, is supported by statistical phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyses of lexical traits. The time and place of the Indo-European ancestor language therefore remain disputed. Here we present a phylogenetic analysis in which ancestry constraints permit more accurate inference of rates of change, based on observed changes between ancient or medieval languages and their modern descendants, and we show that the result strongly supports the steppe hypothesis. Positing ancestry constraints also reveals that homoplasy is common in lexical traits, contrary to the assumptions of previous work. We show that lexical traits undergo recurrent evolution due to recurring patterns of semantic and morphological change.

Read More…

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