Dyspeptic archaeologists [was RE: Xerox Alto on ebay (not mine!)]
RichA at vulcan.com
Mon Oct 18 19:10:57 CDT 2010
From: William Donzelli
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2010 4:38 PM
>> Doesn't matter that it's crap if it contains an interesting verb form
>> not seen before, or mentions an historical fact only known previously
>> from a single source.
> How often do you think that happens (happened?)?
Often enough to make it worthwhile.
> Almost never. Archaeology is mostly about sifting through the crap and
> pulling out the few rare things that you could use as evidence, using
> these artifacts and documents in their context.
And the archaeologists often don't know enough linguistics to make the
call for the linguistically interesting texts.
For example, take _The Horse, the Wheel, and Language_, which examines the
vexing question of the Indo-European homeland (yet again). The first third
of the book is directed at archaeologists, to try to teach them enough
linguistics to understand his arguments in the last third. (The second
third is aimed at the linguists, to teach them enough archaeology.
Fortunately for me, I took archaeology classes as an undergraduate.) He
has some interesting conclusions, although his final analysis is seriously
flawed from a linguistic perspective.
The difference is, the author is an archaeologist who went to the trouble
to read the *linguistic* work on the question in some detail (although his
grasp of the details is sometimes howlingly weak).
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