RE: [OT] Re: the Ethnologue

From: Nick Nicholas (
Date: Wed Sep 20 2000 - 20:00:33 EDT

>From: "Carl W. Brown" <>
>>From: []
>>Sent: Wednesday, September 20, 2000 11:06 AM

>I agree. For example when it was brought up that other Turkic languages
>might be using the dot less i. I noticed that the SIL confirmed that
>Azerbaijan uses the Latin alphabet. On the other hand it said that Urum was
>"Spoken by ethnic 'Greeks'". Unless this is some kind of inside joke I can
>not imagine any Greek having anything to do with anything Turkish.

Apart from cohabiting in Anatolia for a millenium. :-) In any case, the
Ethnologue is correct about Urum; Urum and Mariupolitan Greek are the two
languages spoken by an ethnically Greek population, which moved to the area
around Mariupol in the Ukraine from Crimea in the 18th century. During
their stay in Crimea, a large part of the population was linguistically
assimilated to Turkic; but the two language groups consider themselves the
same ethnic group (Urum < Rumei "Romans", the mediaeval Greek autonym), and
recently published anthologies of Mariupolitan Greek (in Cyrillic) include
Urum texts.

(Oh, and there's no glyphs in '80s Urum or Mariupolitan that would be out
of place in Ukrainian, in case anyone was interested...)

The Ethnologue does indeed contain inaccuracies and points of contention,
subject to improvement. And its linguistic classification scheme is not
always what meets with the broadest scholarly acceptance. (I worked as a
research assistant on a project on Papuan languages, for instance, where
the researcher had several misgivings.) As Peter Constable has pointed out,
such disagreements are unavoidable in a field in flux, like the linguistic
classification of non-literary languages. At any rate, that the Ethnologue
has the broadest coverage of any source out there, and that it is being
continually refined and improved, is not in dispute. And for the issue of
distinct language tagging, linguistic classification does not seem to me
very germane. In any case, given the nature of the SIL's work, and the
ISO's current coverage, the accuracy of its coverage of Papua New Guinea or
South America is surely more important an issue to evaluate than what it
has to say about Europe.

       Nick Nicholas, TLG, University of California, Irvine

"My most mighty, God-respected, God-glorified, God-promoted, God-governed,
God-magnified Holy Lord King. Health and merriment to your soul, vigour
and well-being to your divine and royal body, prosperity to the benefactions
issuing from your hand, and everything else good and salvific does my
humble self wish to your Holy Majesty on behalf of God Almighty."
    --- Miklosich & Mueller I. CLXXXIV; Patriarch to Emperor.

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