Talk:Language isolate

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Old talk[edit]

What about Hungarian? I seem to remember that Hungarian is thought to be related only (and this is controversial) to Japanese, and if Japanese is an isolate, then Hungarian would necessarily be also (at least until the two were proven to be related). Kadin2048 04:59, 13 Apr 2004 (UTC)

No, Hungarian is related to Finnish and Estonian. Adam Bishop 04:57, 13 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Uralic languages (Hungarian, Finnish etc.) have been popularily connected with Altaic languages (Japanese, Turkish etc.) forming a Ural-Altaic language group. This theory did propose a genetic connection between Japanese and Hungarian, but is now defunct. Please refer to the respective articles for more info. himasaram
And completely discredited today. HammerFilmFan (talk) 19:30, 15 February 2015 (UTC)


Strictly speaking japanese is not isolate, but belongs to Japonic language family together with Ryukyuan and Okinawan languages.--Kulkuri 23:02, 3 Jul 2004 (UTC)

But the Japonic languages page includes in its first paragraph the admission that it may be merely a sprachbund, and Japanese is generally considered to be an isolate in the general linguistic community. UnDeadGoat
No, the sprachbund cited is Altaic-Japonic, not Japonic itself. Japanese is considered an isolate because it's often considered a single language with "dialects", much as Chinese is, for social rather than linguistic reasons. Japanese proper has enough diversity to be considered more than one language based on mutual intelligibility tests; the Luchuan (Ryukyuan) languages are even more diverse, and even the most conservative linguistic analysis would classify these two as separate languages. And no one questions the relationship between Japanese and Luchuan, it's just too transparent. I would hazard a guess that Japonic has approximately the diversity of one of the younger branches of Indo-European. --kwami 06:26, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Good point Kwamikagami.... Japanese really can not be considered a language isolate, not with language such as Okinawan still alive and spoken by thousands on a daily basis. I suggest Japanese be removed from this article.

--User:harald 07:15, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Perhaps there could be a separate section for "Small families conventionally regarded as isolates", including languages such as Japanese. There are also some small families in which only one language is still spoken, such as Ket or Pirahã. These languages all deserve to be mentioned here, since they are widely referred to as isolates, but I think there is a clear difference between them and, say, Basque or Sumerian, which have no proven relatives, alive or dead. Chamdarae 12:15, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Is Okinawan really Japonic? Japanese/Ryukyuan are closely related and may have been identical not too far in the past. Japanese, with its regional dialects appears to be an isolate! This is a huge mystery the importance of which cannot be exaggerated. Japanese should not be omitted in this article due to a categorization technicality.Vendrov (talk) 11:32, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Okinawan is very obviously Japonic. That's a bit like asking if Serbian is really Slavic. (Well, maybe not that close!) — kwami (talk) 17:44, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Hadza and Sandawe[edit]

These are listed on their own pages as Khoisan languages, but the Khoisan page says they are other languages. Anyone know for sure? -phma 14:55, 30 Jul 2004 (UTC)

The Khoisan family is rather tentative. Most linguists expect that the three (or perhaps four) Southern African families will prove to be related to each other, but Sandawe and especially Hadza are iffier. There really isn't any good reason for including Hadza in Khoisan; it was put there primarily because it has clicks and isn't obviously related to anything else. Part of the problem is that these langages are very poorly described. --kwami 06:42, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)

first two paragraphs contradict[edit]

It seems like the definition in the 1st paragraph contradicts with the statement in the 2nd that some languages became isolates in recent times. I hope someone can sort this out. What is the critical criterium - 1) not related to any living language, or 2) no known genetic relationship to any other language (living or dead)? ike9898 15:33, Jan 30, 2005 (UTC)

"Language isolate" has no precise definition. Context will have to disambiguate. People classify Basque as an isolate despite the fact that it's most likely related to (extinct) Aquitanian; similarly Etruscan and Rhaetian, though both of those are extinct. However, if a language was classified as part of a family and only later its relatives died out, as is the case with Piraha in the Muran family, then it might not be considered an isolate. Consider also Japanese, which is frequently called an isolate despite being a small language family. The term "isolate" is as fuzzy as the term "language" itself. --kwami 06:36, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Another example of a case like Japanese, is the Chimakuan family which is often called an isolate, even though it consists of two languages, Chemakum and Quileute.
The term is also used refer to single members of a particular branch of a larger grouping (i.e. a stock or phylum) which has families at its other branches. So, for example, Bella Coola is an isolate within the Salish(an) family (which has also the Tsamsoan subfamily, Interior Salish family, etc.). For better or for worse, all of these usages exist. — ishwar  (SPEAK) 00:25, 2005 Jun 4 (UTC)

A remark: It seems to me that the article give a paradox though working definition. It says: A language isolate, in the absolute sense, is a natural language with no demonstrable genealogical (or "genetic") relationship with other living languages, and this can mean only the following: Given a small language family of three languages, A, B and C, then A becomes isolated after B and C have died. If, however, also A dies, then all three languages are both isolates and interrelated.

While this is not self-contradiction, it appears unlikely to me that this really is what linguists mean by that term. Note that the paradoxy has nothing to do with the fuzzyness of the term "language" itself. (talk) 16:06, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

I don't see how that follows. If A dies, B and C form a family of B and C. kwami (talk) 06:31, 30 March 2009 (UTC)
My szenario is that A goes extinct after B and C have already died. Now none of the three languages has a living relative, and thus (following the wording in the article) must be considered "isolate". I find it paradox that a language family of three is converted into three isolated languages after extinction of at least two. (talk) 15:08, 1 April 2009 (UTC)
You're right, of course. kwami (talk) 21:29, 1 April 2009 (UTC)
and I already fixed the problem.·Maunus·ƛ· 23:20, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

Native American languages[edit]

Am I the only one reacting to all native American languages listed as language isolates? Wouldn't they be classified as isolated languages (as being spoken only in reservations) rather than language isolates with no genetic connection to any other languages? I'm not sure because I'm no expert on these languages. It'd be nice if somebody could comment on this. ;-) himasaram

No, all of the languages on the list are, as of the most current research, isolates with no known relations to any other family or language. The North American ones are according to Goddard (1996) & Mithun (1999). Central & South are according to Campbell (1997).
Many of these languages became extinct a good while ago before accurate data was collected (due to the unfortunate political practices of the past). Often times having only a small list words is not enough to determine any kind of genetic relationship. In other cases, such as with many of the South American isolates, enough data has simply not been collected yet (at least to the knowledge of Campbell). You can probably expect the number of isolates in South America to decrease over time.
As the article says, language isolates may be related but the relationship is undemonstrated. This is true of any language or language family. So, English may be related to Arabic, but whatever connection there may be between these two (and this connection would have to be very, very remote) has not been convincingly "proven" to the linguistic community.
Regarding North America, there are three big language family proposals that you should be aware of:
Penutian and Hokan are due to Edward Sapir and his predecessors. Amerind is a proposal by Joseph H. Greenberg that considers all languages in America to a part of one stock excepting the Eskimo-Aleut and Na-Dene families. Greenberg's proposal would, then, consider there to only three families with probably no isolates at all. Penutian is currently undemonstrated although most linguists find this hypothesis to be very promising. Hokan is less certain—some languages may be related, but others are probably not. If Penutian and Hokan are valid, then the number of isolates may reduced slightly. Amerind is not accepted by most Native American specialists.
I would guess that if you wait 25 years or so the issue of Penutian & Hokan will be better known, as will the situation of South American languages. However, I should also mention that the Americas are extremely linguistically diverse areas (for instance, only in the Americas does there occur all 6 word order types). The diversity of the Americas is rivaled only by places like Southeast Asia and Indonesia. Peace. — ishwar  (SPEAK) 14:52, 2005 Apr 11 (UTC)
Superb explanation, Ish_ishwar. Keep up the good work! -Himasaram 21:38, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Wouldn't unclassified language be a more appropriate place for the ones for which inadequate data (or none) is the only reason? - Mustafaa 23:02, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Good point. But I personally don't feel confident enough to make the distinction between an unclassified language and a language isolate... -Himasaram 23:26, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Hi. Yes, I think you can make a distinction between these two categories. I am using a kind of loose definition (an as-yet genetically unaffiliated single-member language family ?). So, making the distinction would involve an evaluation of the documentation status of these languages, and I guess that we could have a kind of confidence rating of the status. For example, Zuni could an isolate with a 80% (?) certainity. Baenan (a.k.a. Baeña) could be an isolate with a 0% certainty which would be, in other words, an unclassified language (Kaufman 1994:70 says that "this language is too poorly known for even Gr[eenberg] to dare classifying it"; I cant find it in Ethnologue). As far as evaluating all of the languages, I find it easier to just say that they are not known to be related to other languages. Anyway, I was just trying to put (quickly) all of these language names somewhere on the internet since many are probably unrepresented here in cyberspace. That's all. I guess, you are requesting me to work harder :) peace. — ishwar  (SPEAK) 23:57, 2005 Jun 3 (UTC)
Your intentions are admirable, Ish_ishwar. My only concern was that the list on this page was totally dominated by Native American languages. Perhaps the easiest way for you, is to create a separate list on this page or on a separate page, for these isolated/unclassified American languages? -Himasaram 18:27, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Yukaghir family[edit]

By definition, no "family" qualifies as a "language isolate." Will be looking to delete that inclusion barring user input in the next week or so. 14:13, 11 July 2006 (UTC)


This article clearly suggests that Korean is a language isolate, but it is related to Japanese, and they are both part of the Japonic languages, which is part of the Uralic-Altaic language family.Thomasiscool 14:13, 27 August 2006 (UTC)Thomasiscool

I don't have great insight into it, but I do know that any such link is disputed rather than established fact. Basic grammar forms are different, and Korean is not considered a Japonic language on the Wikipedia page. What are the links between Korean and Japanese to which you refer? Dekimasu 07:48, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
Korean is clearly not Japonic, though it may be related at a deeper level. (The evidence for a connection is not strong enough for it to be widely accepted.) Ural-Altaic is no longer accepted even by long rangers (at least in Russia and the USA), as it appears to reflect a purely typological similarity. kwami 08:50, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Why is Korean listed as vibrant as opposed to living? A language with 78 million speakers that's the official language of 2 countries is definitely living. Basque is living and it has fewer speakers and no nation to call it's own. Unless "Vibrant" is more alive than "Living" on the scale of how alive a language is, than I don't get it. (Aspiring Linguist) 8:22 p.m. PDT 28 September 2006

I think vibrant is supposed to be more than living, although it isn't clear at all from the context of the article. But any way I have changed all instances of vibrant to living, The distinction between the two is not obvious and I don't know of a general linguistic classification of vibrant languages in contrast to living languages. Maunus 08:14, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Charles Berlitz classifies Korean as an Altaic language in his book Native Tongues, and Altaic includes Japanese.Thomasiscool 13:15, 27 October 2006 (UTC)Thomasiscool

He does but the Altaic family and particularly the inclusion of japanese and Korean in it is not generally accepted. Also Charles Berlitz is not known for his contributions to Historical linguistics and does not constitute a reliable source to the linguistic history of Korean or any other language. Maunus 13:47, 27 October 2006 (UTC)
We can't leave Korean as a language isolate without the inclusion of Japonic/Japanese as a language isolate. If you guys wanted we could break down the Korean language in to dialects and call it Koreonic classification. Anyways Korean is generally classified as Macro-Altaic[1] --Objectiveye (talk) 04:19, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
No, Korean is generally called an isolate. Japanese is a family of unintelligible languages. Korean is not. kwami (talk) 04:24, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
I can find references to Korean language being Altaic in general, and rarely a language isolate. Can you put in some citations for the Language Isolate theory. If you start classifying Old Korean, middle Korean and Korean you can break it down in to dialects as well and now you can almost start to differentiate North, South Korean and Jeju Korean and classify it Koreonic but in a broader sense it is generally in the Altaic family. Anyways in general I keep seeing Korean as Altaic in linguistics books so can you get a quote which state that most linguists classifies it as a language Isolate. --Objectiveye (talk) 04:33, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Cambridge Journal of linguistics also classifies Korean as Altaic, I think we need the language isolate reference that states Korean is a language isolate and this is the majority view of linguist before we can put Korean back in the Language isolate section. Thanks --Objectiveye (talk) 04:50, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Please see Talk:Korean language#Language isolate vs Altaic --Caspian blue 05:29, 17 January 2010 (UTC)


  1. ^ Stratification in the peopling of China: how far does the linguistic evidence match genetics and archaeology? In; Sanchez-Mazas, Blench, Ross, Lin & Pejros eds. Human migrations in continental East Asia and Taiwan: genetic, linguistic and archaeological evidence. 2008. Taylor & Francis

North Picene[edit]

What about North Picene? There seems to be very little information on it, but from what I understand it's not considered to be Italic and only possibly Indo-European. Fingon 18:17, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

Unclassified isn't the same as an isolate. — kwami (talk) 08:23, 21 March 2008 (UTC)


This article says that Pirahã is "endangered" but the main Pirahã article says it is not, arguing that "language use is vigorous and the Pirahã community is monolingual". Paul Koning 16:16, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

I think that any language with less than 200 speakers can be called endangered, even if not facing immediate extinction. ·Maunus· ·ƛ· 21:53, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

Sign language isolates[edit]

Shouldn't sign language isolates have a separate category? They're currently separated by continent, but maybe we ought to have a "sign language" category all to its own for ease of use. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Graymornings (talkcontribs) 00:54, August 27, 2007 (UTC)

There's no way to list SL isolates, though. Tanzania alone has seven; for many countries we simply have no idea. So yes, I think they should be split off into their own section. kwami 02:30, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

I'm not too familiar with Wikipedia tables, so if someone could volunteer to do this (given consensus), that'd be great. Graymornings 15:53, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Ainu in Honshu[edit]

For some reason, Ebizur has repeatedly deleted all references to the Ainu in Honshu, saying it's equivalent to Sasquatch. The Ainu population of Honshu is common knowledge, and we can come up with dozens of references. Race, Ethnicity and Migration in Modern Japan (Weiner 2004), for one, but plenty of others. — kwami (talk) 08:22, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Wouldn't it make sense for each entry in those tables to have one reference? I notice a "references needed" flag above it. That way edit wars could be avoided by pointing to a cited source. Paul Koning (talk) 15:57, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
I agree. In fact I think it is highly problematic that lists seem to be exempt to the high standards for references that apply to articles.·Maunus· ·ƛ· 16:12, 21 March 2008 (UTC)


Kwamikagami, you reverted my addition of Meroitic as an African isolate with the comment that this is "long classified." I am aware of Rilly's claim which is dated 2001 on a website, (and am a lumper, myself) but there are also other proposed classifications, and many sources still show the language as an isolate. I wonder if you could state your source, and even more helpfully, edit the Meroitic page to reflect and expand upon that source? Thanks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kjaer (talkcontribs) 08:11, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

OOPS, I see you said long unclassified, not long classified. But so is Etruscan or Korean, according to many. How does unclassified differ from isolate? And Meroitic has long been described as an isolate. Please explain your exact objection. Thanks. Kjaer 10:56, 13 October 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kjaer (talkcontribs)

I have restored the remark on Meroitic. From google:

NationMaster - Encyclopedia: Meroitic Meroitic is an adjective referring to things related to the kingdom of Meroe in ... that it may be Nilo-Saharan, while others see it as a language isolate. ... - 33k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Meroitic language (language) - Language and Linguistics Research Guide Meroitic language - The Meroitic language was spoken in Meroë and the Sudan during ... Language isolate · Nilo-Saharan languages · historical linguistics ... - 10k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Meroitic Dead language of antiquity, developed in the kingdom of Nubia. Meroitic is an Example of: Dead language · Individual · Language isolate ... - 8k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this Kjaer 00:45, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

A language may be unclassified because the necessary work has not been done, or because it is too poorly known to be classified. The latter was the case with Meroitic. See unclassified language. A language can only be classified as an isolate if enough information exists to classify it. Although Meroitic may have been called an "isolate" in non-linguistic sourecs, this shows poor understanding of the term.
NationMaster is a mirror of Wikipedia, and therefore not evidence of anything. cycfoundation is just a collection of links to Wikipedia, and is also not evidence for anything. 123Explore says nothing about it being an isolate. If you can find a reliable source documenting that Meroitic was long classified as an isolate, fine, but meanwhile that assertion is completely unfounded. kwami (talk) 01:09, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

these are both isolates and merely unclassified[edit]

The link to Yurimangui reminded me that many of these alleged isolates are nothing of the sort: like Y., many are simply too poorly attested to be classified, but that doesn't mean they constitute a full-fledged independent family of their own. Should we expand unclassified language to be more inclusive, and move many of these languages to there? kwami (talk) 21:59, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

I'd think from NA at least Adai, Beothuk, Esselen, Quinigua, and Xinca would be 'unclassified', and from SA betoi etc etc. kwami (talk) 06:55, 19 May 2009 (UTC)


Taivo removed Quileute because it's part of the Chimakuan family. That depends on how we conceive of an "isolate"; we could remove Ainu for the same reason. From the point of doing fieldwork, Quileute is effectively an isolate, because it's no longer possible to work on its (extinct) relative. Perhaps we could have a section on languages like these and Great Andamanese that have become isolates in historically attested times? kwami (talk) 22:03, 4 January 2010 (UTC)


The first paragraph of the article. Ainu language is by no means a member of Karasuk phylum, isn't it? — (talk) 09:34, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Ethnologue's list of isolates[edit]

The Ethnologue article says it lists 50 isolates, but this article has more than that. It would be helpful if somebody compared the lists. Maybe this article has some that are not true isolates, maybe the Ethnologue editor needs to be informed of some additional isolates. Pete unseth (talk) 19:39, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Ethnologue includes several families we don't accept, such as Khoisan and Australian, and some of our isolates they count as small families (the language/dialect debate). There are also disagreements as to the reliability of the date. We have Elseng as unclassified, whereas they have Aikana as unclassified. They also don't list many extinct languages, and in fact are offloading any that went extinct before 1950. They also put some isolates in families of one rather than in with the other isolates. — kwami (talk) 08:51, 28 May 2012 (UTC)
I added Leco, Trumai, Candosh, and Bangime from the E16 list. We should probably add Páez, Chimané, and Urarina as well. — kwami (talk) 10:26, 28 May 2012 (UTC)

Please don't revert entire edit when you disagree with one part of it[edit]

Hi, Kwamikagami. As far as I can see, your reversion just now was directed only at the mention of Greek, not at the rest of my edit, which rearranged sentences from a nonsensical order to an appropriate order. Is my assumption right?

As for you saying that it's erroneous that Greek is an IE isolate, I'm puzzled. What do you base that on? I've always read that the three living isolate branches of IE are Albanian, Armenian, and Greek. And the article Greek language says in its lede,

"Greek (Ελληνικά IPA: [eliniˈka] or Ελληνική γλώσσα, IPA: [eliniˈci ˈɣlosa]) is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages."

And later that article says

"Historical unity and continuing identity between the various stages of the Greek language is often emphasised. Although Greek has undergone morphological and phonological changes comparable to those seen in other languages, there has been no time in its history since classical antiquity where its cultural, literary, and orthographic tradition was interrupted to such an extent that one can easily speak of a new language emerging."

Your comments? Duoduoduo (talk) 23:00, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

I'm sorry, I misread the edit. I thought you'd removed Greek! I'll put it back.
Your description of NSL is wrong, however. It did not develop from deaf parents raising hearing children, but from deaf children raised without language and then put together in school. Also your edit summary "deaf children's sign language is not an example of hearing children's oral language" had nothing to do with the text you changed, so I assumed that you misunderstood it. — kwami (talk) 00:03, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
Well, you're puzzling me again. The text you have restored says
"There are some situations in which a language with no ancestor might arise. For example, if deaf parents were to raise a group of hearing children who have no contact with others until adulthood, they might develop a verbal language among themselves and keep using it later, teaching it to their children, and so on. Eventually, it could develop into the full-fledged language of a population. This happened in the case of Nicaraguan Sign Language, where deaf children with no language were placed together and developed a new language." [bolding added]
This says that this happened -- i.e. deaf parents raise a group of hearing children -- in the case of NSL. As my edit summary said, that's not right. The version I changed it to is
"There are some situations in which a language with no ancestor might arise. For example, this happened in the case of Nicaraguan Sign Language, where deaf children with no language were placed together and developed a new language. Similarly, if deaf parents were to raise a group of hearing children who have no contact with others until adulthood, they might develop an oral language among themselves and keep using it later,...."
What's wrong with that? I think you may be using some rollback feature that is confusing you about the difference between my edits and what preceded them. Duoduoduo (talk) 00:31, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, you're right. I'm really tired, and just misread who'd done what. Sorry. I'll revert myself. — kwami (talk) 01:47, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

Greek, Albanian etc[edit]

These languages are mentioned in the introductory part of the article, but aren't listed in the European table. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:09, 10 December 2011 (UTC)

They don't belong there. Those languages are given as an example of relative isolation within a larger family, the tables list entirely isolated languages.StasMalyga (talk) 20:18, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
The usage "Indo-European language isolate" is entirely archaic and will not be found in contemporary works on historical linguistics. If this old usage is mentioned at all, it should be disparaged here as archaic and no longer acceptable. In Campbell and Mixco's (2007, University of Utah) dictionary of historical linguistics, for example, this old usage isn't even mentioned as an option for "isolate". --Taivo (talk) 11:23, 27 January 2013 (UTC)
Pereltsvaig (2012) Languages of the World (CUP) does just that: Greek, Armenian, and Albanian are listed as 'isolates' within a diagram of the IE family. He says, "As with the term 'language family', the term 'isolate' is not restricted to any given level of the family classification." — kwami (talk) 05:00, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
Peraltsvaig's usage is not standard and that needs to be indicated within this paragraph. --Taivo (talk) 05:46, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
How is it not standard? The term has been used this way for a century. I come across it reasonably often.
The Routledge dict says "The term ‘isolate’ is also often used for languages which are not closely related to other languages inside a specific genetic group, e.g. Albanian in Indo-European." — kwami (talk) 11:49, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

Korean again[edit]

I'm aware Korean is often considered an isolate, and that the connection with Japanese is not completely accepted. But that Korean is distantly related to Japanese is a common enough view that Korean is not a good example of an isolate. I agree with the editor who restored the Korean example to the lead that it could be listed there as an isolate; I simply don't think it should be. (talk) 22:24, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Sorry, you are wrong. HammerFilmFan (talk) 19:43, 15 February 2015 (UTC)
I am no linguist but it is only a minority of scholars that reject Korean as something other than language isolate. Also, you will notice in the very same lead there is a caveat which explains that there is disagreement on this issue. Most accept it as Language isolate--Inayity (talk) 22:56, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
I think it would make better sense to limit examples of isolates in the lead to those languages that are uncontroversially isolates, eg Basque. The Korean-Japanese connection is much closer to mainstream acceptance than any of the connections that have been proposed for languages such as Basque. (talk) 23:03, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
I will await other opinions on that one. But I think the entire field of linguistics is pretty controversial out-of-the-box. Uncontroversial is a strange fellow indeed. This article gives your argument some merit [1]--Inayity (talk) 23:10, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
I took a look at it. Campbell does give Korean as an isolate, but he also says that, "The best known and most cited linguistic isolates are Basque, Burushaski, and Ainu". That's effectively the same list given in the lead, less Korean. I think the article could do worse than to follow the list Campbell gives and leave out Korean. (talk) 00:27, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

The term is somewhat relative, and it is misguided to try and give an authoritative "list of language isolates". Language isolate is most typically used of comparatively small communities who are completely isolated, i.e. surrounded by speakers of unrelated languages. As soon as a language has millions, or dozens of millions, of speakers as is the case with Korean, it will unavoidably begin dividing into variants, and as we all know there is no objective difference between "a language" and "a dialect". A "language isolate" can thus at any time evolve into a "family" in its own right. And it is pointless to talk of "language family isolates". Is "Indo-European" a "family isolate"? The question is immediately reduced to "how far are you willing to buy into hyper-comparativism" ("Borean"?). The problem lies, once again, not with the topic (status of Korean) but with Wikipedia's naive obsession with compiling lists of everything. --dab (𒁳) 11:36, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

That is true for Wikipedians love of list. But most linguist, when they speak of isolate languages will give you a list of examples, per the ref--Inayity (talk) 11:50, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
"Korean is related to Japanese" is not a "common enough view". It is a minority view. The majority of linguists consider Korean to be an isolate. --Taivo (talk) 13:22, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
That does nothing to explain why you would feel the need to give Korean as an example of an isolate in the lead, when you could have given a hundred or more other examples instead. (talk) 23:12, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
Because for the simple fact that Korean is well-known to most readers and Warao is virtually unknown. --Taivo (talk) 23:34, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
Not good enough. Burushaski is also virtually unknown, but you seem to have no problem with its being given as an example of an isolate. (talk) 23:43, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
Read the sentence, anon IP. It says, "Commonly cited examples include Basque, Korean, Ainu, and Burushaski, though in each case a minority of linguists claim to have demonstrated a relationship with other languages." That is entirely a true statement. When linguistic works talk about language isolates, those are the most commonly cited languages. Get over it--most linguists consider Korean to be an isolate. --Taivo (talk) 02:44, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
I have to agree with Tavio, because even if the dispute stands, the sentence (as I have said earlier in the thread) has in a caveat which accommodates for the dispute of the isolate status of Korean. There is not much more to it.--Inayity (talk) 05:44, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
Taivo may be perfectly correct that most linguists consider Korean an isolate, but what is the judgment that Basque, Korean, Ainu, and Burushaski are the four key examples of isolates based on? Campbell, as already pointed out, writes that "The best known and most cited linguistic isolates are Basque, Burushaski, and Ainu." Note the absence of Korean from that list. (talk) 10:08, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
David Crystal. 1997. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (2nd ed, Cambridge). Pg 328, "Two of the best-known isolated languages, Korean and Japanese, are discussed on p. 308."
Lyle Campbell & Mauricio J. Mixco. 2007. A Glossary of Historical Linguistics (Utah). Pg 290, "Korean, a language isolate..." --Taivo (talk) 14:08, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Yes, Korean is a very common example, as was Japanese before Japonic became the common treatment. Give it up. — kwami (talk) 18:07, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

I have no intention of trying to force through a change that other editors oppose. But note that Taivo's second reference doesn't prove his point at all. It simply notes that Korean is considered an isolate, not that it's one of the key examples that could be given of an isolate. (talk) 21:55, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps I should have given more commentary to the second example. The Campbell/Mixco dictionary does not contain entries for all isolates, just the most common ones. So the fact that Korean is listed automatically places it in the realm of commonly-known isolate. --Taivo (talk) 06:44, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

Isolation by extinction[edit]

There seems to be a contradiction here; user:Taivo deleted a mention of A-Pucikwar, saying that it doesn't qualify since it had relatives that are now extinct, but left in Pirahã, which is in the same situation. Furthermore, the actual lead says that 'Some languages became isolates after all their demonstrable relatives went extinct', which would seem to support the addition of isolate-families with one surviving member.

Personally, I think we should leave A-Pucikwar in, as well as Pirahã, as languages that are spoken as isolates, but I think we should have some discussion on it. Kielbasa1 (talk) 14:50, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

I didn't notice Piraha, it should also be deleted. "Isolate" has a specific linguistic meaning--no known relatives, not no living relatives. --Taivo (talk) 17:38, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
I was inclined to disagree, but after seeing Ethnologue's list, I think you're right. I'll delete Pirahã and change the header to reflect this. Edit - never mind, you already have. Kielbasa1 (talk) 23:09, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Taivo, given what you've said about the meaning of "isolate", I'd like to note that Pirahã language will have to be modified; the article currently states that Pirahã is an isolate. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 07:46, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Violations of WP:FRINGE and WP:WEIGHT[edit]

There is simply no question about Sumerian being a language isolate among reputable historical linguists. The notion that it is Ural-Altaic is WP:FRINGE on multiple levels, not the least of which is that "Ural-Altaic" is completely discredited. Adding any mention of this Ural-Altaic nonsense is a violation of WP:UNDUE. --Taivo (talk) 09:41, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

An additional point, of course, is that this article exists for discussing the concept of language isolates in general, not for going over details of individual languages' classification. --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 13:47, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

"Despite its great age, Sumerian can be safely classified as an isolate, as the language is well enough known that, if modern relatives existed, they would be recognizably related."
Where did that come from? What about Anton Deimel, Rene Labat and Samuel Kramer's work? They identified Sumerian - properly Mah-Gar - belonging to the same languages as Turkish, Hungarian etc. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:22, 28 May 2012 (UTC)

You mean Nostratic? That's not generally accepted. — kwami (talk) 08:39, 28 May 2012 (UTC)
Comment: Nobody decided this yet, this opinions came from nowhere. However, there was a concencus among many linguistists about so-called nonsense of Ural-Altaic theory, the case about Sumerian language is connected to this. But, everyting changes. Now, there are some new researches about significiance of Ural-Altaic theory and meanwhile many scholars had resisted to study the theory and possible connection between Sumerian and Magyar or related languages. See at Bomhard (2008)Bomhard, Allan R. (2008). [Reconstructing Proto-Nostratic: Comparative Phonology, Morphology, and Vocabulary, 2 volumes. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-16853-4]

"Language Isolate" is not a definite or final situtation about any cases. Just means, 'there are no evidences or proof to show any connections hereto'. So, some scholars, could consider the area not worth studying, and insists that the language has no relatives, based on the former researches. But only based on the former ones. new ones make change. What if new researches come to sphere?

You could consider the area not worth studying.But how can you forbid others from studying and even forbid from thinking? In fact there are not such "final ends" in science. Thanks to this, we have a civilization and we can talk to each other here. We dont live in Medieval now. If we are locked by "final ends", everthing will be freezed. Then, welcome to the "planet of the apes".

I was the first one who tried to add references to the article Language Isolates. It was an orphan without any references -before. Yet, because of this, I exprerienced some trouble. Just because of I am Turkish,-yet I consider myself only a member of humanity-, I could smell the bitter smoke of biasedness. Anyway, here is not place to tell these bad experiences in wiki.

Our first principle. Nobody could exclude new members and new references and new approaches. Universities and other authorities of publication make it enough.

It is true that, Ural-Altaic theory was abused widely in past. But It was in 20th century. If there are new researches, why dont we consider again the theory? So, why cannot connections of Sumerian with Ural languages be studied again?

Please forget about the political conflicts in the past centuries. The exclusion of Ural-Altaic theory and even rage against consideration of the theory, is worse than Turanism or Uralic and Altaic racism. (Forgive me, I cannot write shortly)Okurogluselo 17:43, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

This has nothing to do with you being Turkish. This has everything to do with you pushing rejected theories from the last century that are WP:FRINGE and not worthy of mentioning. Your long diatribe is absolutely worthless here. There is ample evidence to determine through sound linguistic methodology that Sumerian is not related to any other known human language or language family. It's been decided. Ural-Altaic has been thoroughly rejected by historical linguists as well, but that's not an issue for here. Indeed, the whole issue of Sumerian as X, Y, or Z doesn't belong here since the issue is decided among virtually all historical linguists. The mention of these (now) fringe theories is of historical interest at Sumerian language, but definitely not here. --Taivo (talk) 17:43, 3 June 2015 (UTC)
No. Again I say. There are enough and qualified researches. See at Bomhard (2008) Bomhard, Allan R. (2008). [Reconstructing Proto-Nostratic: Comparative Phonology, Morphology, and Vocabulary, 2 volumes. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-16853-4]. Also I can give another one Gábor Zólyomi (1996). Genitive Constructions in Sumerian. Journal of Cuneiform Studies Vol. 48, pp. 31-47 Published by: The American Schools of Oriental Research Article DOI: 10.2307/1359768 Stable URL: Okurogluselo 17:54, 3 June 2015 (UTC)
You are still wrong. Bomhard is considered to be a fringe linguist and only a vanishingly small number of linguists pay his ideas any attention whatsoever. His methodology has been thoroughly refuted by mainstream historical linguists. This article is not the place to discuss WP:FRINGE ideas. They warrant a single sentence at Sumerian language, but just because you can find fringe comments doesn't make them worthy of extended discussion. The issue has been decided. You don't appear to be a linguist. You should listen to the counsel of actual linguists. --Taivo (talk) 17:59, 3 June 2015 (UTC)
Here are a couple of mainstream references from the 21st century that either don't even mention any connection for Sumerian or relegate any connection to the trashbin of history. I found these on my shelf, they are certainly not the result of an exhaustive search:
  • Lyle Campbell & Mauricio J. Mixco, A Glossary of Historical Linguistics (2007, University of Utah Press)
  • Piotr Michalowski, "Sumerian," The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages (2004, Cambridge University Press)
--Taivo (talk) 18:09, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

You can share you opinions about Bomhard at the Ural-Altaic Languages article, because they had a considerable portion in that wiki page. Help yourself please. However, I am afraid it will harm wikipedia, because of the same exclusion against Bomhard as me . And by the way, I see you didnt talk about the other reference I gave from Zolyomi, I think it could be even better.

And, others related to Bomhard such as in pages of Eurosiatic languages article, have got wider space. And the disputes are wider.

Are all these articles constructed for "fringe". I dont think you can be serious.

Still I declare. Your opinions are self-evident and it is all your subjective position against the issue. There are many old theories in wiki and they are not categorized as fringe. And moreover, the Ural-Altaic theory and Summerian studies has been revived. A renewed theory of fresh researchs could not be fringe.

By the way, every study is criticized, sometimes harsly and other may refuse it. But exactly that is why the dispute and the theory is fresh, and, it is worth to be considered. Okurogluselo 18:36, 3 June 2015 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Okurogluselo (talkcontribs)

Although, I shant smell your bitter taste of unfriendly and discourteous manner, yet it shows you are not an academic writer or scholar, I may still indulge in your correspondence. So I shall stay in my civilized character, even I can thank you for your all energy. Wish, it could be in a positive manner.

Any scholar doenst prefer to give a dictionary as reference. But you only give dictionaries or encyclopedias as references. We have Wiki, it is already the greatest encyclopedia of history.

By the way, mainstream is not always something good. It means generally ideology and discourse. Try to be critical.

I dont think any people here, can fancy for themselves as greater authorities, above us all. How can you declare so comfortibly to "decide"? Could all the books of research I gave above, be written to be depreciated in your two lines of prospectuses? Such approach cannot be science. Just could be dogmatism. As a result, nobody could exclude or deport the other members from Wiki, on himself, as a greater authority. Wiki has principles, our principles even you distort to manipulate the issue. You put something on "fringe" and propose something "as an end", to all scientific endeavour. Only dogmatism do such things. Excommunication practices are very similar to these acts.

Nobody can propose as languages Isolate as a final end to science and nobody can categorized a recently studied theory "fringe", as tools to silence and opress others. Okurogluselo 19:09, 3 June 2015 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Okurogluselo (talkcontribs)

As far as I can tell the only of these "new" or "fresh" scholars you have brought up are Bomhard (who, as we have noted, is doing fringe work himself and does not even support your claim that Sumerian is "Ural-Altaic", merely that it might be "Nostratic") and Zólyomi (whose article does not, on a quick look, appear to claim anything about the relationships of Sumerian at all). This does not amount to a reasonable ground to upturn existing classifications. And, to reiterate, the place for that discussion would be at Sumerian language anyway, not here. Fringe theories may deserve to be mentioned, but not in unrelated articles.
(And if the theory were to develop towards greater acceptance, we ought to switch to using a different example language in this article.)
You moreover appear to be thinking that failing to include notes on some piece of research at Wikipedia is somehow equal to "silencing" or "forbidding others from thinking"? Wikipedia is not the whole of scholarly discourse. It is, even, not a part of scholarly discussion at all. If you're interested in seeing more discussion about the affinities of Sumerian, I suggest you turn to linguists, or to linguistic journals, and ask them to elaborate on this matter. If, and only if that process turns up results that some substantial number of specialists will agree on, then we will have something to report at Wikipedia.
Also, some remarks about editing practice:
  • At Wikipedia, we also very much do prefer the mainstream; see WP:Verifiability.
  • Critical analysis of claims is not our job as editors, as you can learn at WP:No original research.
  • General-purpose encyclopedias are acceptable sources for general statements such as "Sumerian is generally considered a language isolate".
--Trɔpʏliʊmblah 20:24, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

Okurogluselo: Thank you. In fact, I gave the required wiki links about the "discourse theory", "ideology", "ideologic reproduction", "critical theory of Frankfurt School" and "critical philosophy of Immanuel Kant". In fact, these are the other "mainstream" and obviously the hearth and the center of all social sciences, including linguistics.I think we dont need to argue about the terminology. Just I like to tell that, the user of conflict means something different with "mainstream". This term has not always positive in meaning. Only thing I try to explain that, there are always different paradigms and opinions and there must be. Otherwise we could be jailed in dark ages. Excuse me, I am not permitted to use dictionaries as reference in the university. Maybe I was wrong. But in this manner, I object the assetive language, so I changed the statement in the article with a sentence including modal "can". "can be considered as a language isolate". In fact this was most of the editing I have done in the article.

Just I like to say, a member who makes such a great dispute on an issue -which could be easily resolved with good will and esteem-, may use other references beside the dictionaries. If he is really eager for science. But he gave only dictionaries as references. Okurogluselo 22:23, 3 June 2015 (UTC)--Okurogluselo 22:23, 3 June 2015 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Okurogluselo (talkcontribs)

You don't seem to understand what we are doing here. Standard reference works written by reputable linguists (not the fringe linguists you seem to prefer) are absolutely essential sources in determining what the state of the field is. They demonstrate that Sumerian is virtually unanimously considered to be a language isolate among historical linguists. Only a few fringe linguists, that the standard references works don't even bother to cite, consider it otherwise. And Tropylium's point about your fringe sources is exactly right--Bomhard doesn't push "Ural-Altaic", but "Nostratic". They are different things entirely. You're the one pushing "Ural-Altaic" and you're not even a linguist. --Taivo (talk) 23:05, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

I am a linguist of pragmatics and media scholar. See at Habermas to learn what does it mean. That is why I search for the first language of humanity, ancestor of all. Anyway, I dont expect you understand who I am.

In fact no need to be linguist, just be a little bit scientific, or just love science and "sophia". But you are very young, in 20s? So, I still hope one day you will be a real scholar.

Still as the imaginative judge of wiki, you decide who are linguist or not. And who are capable of understanding. Anyway, still your manners and fashion shows your own level of understanding.

First, anyone have to to read the book entirely. You are not patient and you havent done this yet. Affirmed by the wiki page about the issue, Bomhard's reconstructive approach of Proto-nostratic and Eurasiatic offers a new way to consider to Ural-Altaic theory, but in a wider concept. Fanatics like you attacks him but his study is tough. And, one day we will find the relatives of Sumerian. Whether you like or not.

Your prejudices against some Asian nations, especially against Turks, make you blind, and irrelevant. However, we are just human beings, no more. No nations, just one big family, even I am not sure to enjoy living with such a brother as you in our common demesne. Okurogluselo 23:44, 3 June 2015 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Okurogluselo (talkcontribs) I am worried about wiki, it includes many ones like you. So, maybe I waste my time. I should return to writing my bookOkurogluselo 23:51, 3 June 2015 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Okurogluselo (talkcontribs)

So you aren't an historical linguist. That much I knew. And you clearly don't understand anything about how historical linguists have rejected Bomhard's methodology and results. I knew that as well. And you are of the delusion that anyone who disagrees with you must be racist. Please actually prove with diffs that I am prejudiced "against some Asian nations, especially against Turks". And you clearly don't know anything about Ural-Altaic or the difference between that and Nostratic. There's no need to pursue this issue further with you because you don't seem to understand the subject matter or the literature on the subject. A "linguist of pragmatics and media scholar"? Really? That's not how any actual linguist would ever describe himself or herself. And your comment about searching for the "first language of humanity" clearly belies the fact that you don't know anything whatsoever about the science of historical linguistics. This is going nowhere since you have convinced yourself that you will not listen to any actual specialists in the field. --Taivo (talk) 01:01, 4 June 2015 (UTC)

Okurogluselo: You dont need to prove anything from the very beginning, everyting just self-declared, but you invite me prove something? Nonsense. Racist is something different, just you dont like Turks or scared of living with Turks. One of the weird aspects of you. However, I like Slavs, this is our difference.

I could listen to you eagerly, but you are not a scientist with your character. And with your insolence, not academician. Departments of science dont need such ones. Some people fancy about a situation that all the knowledge be freezed in a state, but only they know everything as possession, as a kingdom. It seems very problematic.

Linguistic pragmatics researches cognition. But via language, in society or in social interactions, while these are changing the language itself, in a mutual way. So, for the roots of the perception, we seek for the common language of human kind. Once upon it existed somewhere. And nobody can monopolize the linguistics, Habermas is a Sociologist.

Polymaths make the progress, ones like you only watch and grumble. I know about historical linguistics, but you dont know anything about cognitive studies and common perception through neural operation in all languages. However, you like to exaggerate the field, because you chose it as target, and you fancy about it, one day be your kingdom.

It is not surprise you dont listen anyone, because you think that you dont need to listen anyone, in your virtual reality. Anyway, seems these are too much for your limited perception, or for the perception opressed by your superego. Again I say, I dont expect you to understand who I am. In your narrow sensibility, you cannot consider anything. So it is easier to be in conversation with a deaf one, perception makes its way.

Seems you will continue being drowned in your inflated alter-ego for years. You can make this to yourself, but you cannot make the same wickedness to wikipedia. Okurogluselo 02:34, 4 June 2015 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Okurogluselo (talkcontribs)

Allah protects anyone to be a "real linguist". If I said something like that about myself accidentally, I cannot forgive myself. Being socioligst-linguist and media theoretician, is really great, as you demonstrated many times. And it is proper for you to call yourself in mono-tones, as you have already preferred.

I will wait for the administrative decision. You should do so. Otherwise much ado about nothing. In fact I dont care the decision. If there are several ones like you around, here might be an asylum. In best meaning, just a space of power struggles, but virtual. Real aspects, if exists, will dissolve in the near future with your "delicious" efforts.

Continue to live in your dreams. And satify yourself more. I have real works to do here. So I can enlight the humanity, before ones like you darken. Okurogluselo 03:05, 4 June 2015 (UTC)

I agree with Taivo, the literature on Ural-Altaic doesn't seem enough to verify that it exists, let alone that Sumerian is a likely element. Kielbasa1 (talk) 18:45, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
For reference, allow me to quote the conclusion paragraph (p. 272) on Sumerian from Bomhard 2008, Reconstructing Proto-Nostratic:

The evidence surveyed in this chapter indicates that Sumerian does not bear a special relationship to Elamo-Dravidian. Moreover, Sumerian does not bear a special relationship to any other Nostratic daughter language either. Rather, the evidence seems to indicate that Sumerian is not a Nostratic daughter language at all but that it is distantly related to Nostratic. However, there are also many problems that must still be solved regarding the exact nature of that relationship — we have only scratched the surface in this brief summary.

As we can clearly see, Bomhard does not think there exists any "Ural-Altaic - Sumerian" connection.
— We do not currently seem to have any detailed critiques of Bomhard's work in general even over at Nostratic languages. I actually do not think I have seen any; indeed, his book is after all over a thousand pages long, and I would not be surprized if no detailed reviews existed yet. On the other hand, this does not make his views the authoritative latest word, in the absense of clear support from other linguists either. ("Reading the book in full" is not the job of Wikipedia editors, when we are dealing with a primary source — it is, in theory, the job of specialists who may report agreement, or refrain from doing so.) --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 12:59, 5 June 2015 (UTC)

Thanks to Kielbasa Kielbasa1, seems still a concensus possible for language isolate article. Sumerian is still likely to have cognates, just more researches required on cueniforms, for comperative studies. Still my problem is with the strictness of the style and language in the article. With your permission I like to initiate a new headline about Sumerian and Language Isolates. Thank you.Okurogluselo : Blah 16:57, 5 June 2015 (UTC)

Sumerian, extinct languages and Language Isolate Category[edit]

Okurogluselo : Blah 16:33, 5 June 2015 (UTC) Dear User:Tropylium, I dont assert that Bomhard is authoritative, but he is impressive and worth to be mentioned in the article. In fact he thinks that the Sumerian connection can be with Altaic (or proto-Altaic), he does not really use the term Ural-Altaic anywhere. And, of course, Sumerian is not a daughter language because it doesnt exist. The general connection of Sumerian is with Proto-Nostratic, and through this, the Altaic and Uralic connections are likely. And as a real scientists, he says " further researches are needed". That is what I say too, about the article of "Langugae Isolate". And I know, some linguists on the other hand, even assert that a language family as Altaic doesn't exist. However, these all mean that, the researches are full of energy, there are studies about the connections of extinct languages, and possibly there will be more researches in the future.

From the very beginning, my objection is against "the language style" in the article, to categorize an extinct language as Isolate in so decisive manner.

1) Sumeran can be called as unclassified, because of the material and researches about it.

2) In case of keeping it in Language Isolate article, , the sentences should be rewritten with using of modal "can" as you may see in my reverted editions.That is all. And we might cite the studies of Bomhard and Zolyomi, as a possility to find a cognation of Sumerian. Using the references doesnt make anyone Altaist or neither mean support to Altaic or Uralic or Nostratic theories.

3) Accordingly, any "Language Isolate" position about extinct languages is always arguable and nobody cannot impose that this position is final, or can not impose that no one will not able to show that the position is unvalid. Otherwise, it could be a prophecy, not science.

Here, the source of the problem is, the hostility(rivalry) among parties in Linguistics. Anyway, Bomhard consider himself in comparative linguistics, I assume. Like as me, as in pragmatics. However, sometimes the case is not so simple. As you may see with the help of the last case between me and an other editor, some historical linguists doesnt acknowledge other linguists -and the multi-disciplinary scholars connected to linguistics- as actual linguists. Such ethical problems exist in many areas of social sciences. But this musnt be projected on wiki pages.

I am sure, there was at least a detailed page about Sumerian's connection in "Reconsidering Proto-Nostratic". But really I am busy nowadays and I couldnt find the page. However, anytime you like, I can send the full essay of Zólyomi. But I am not sure that you are willing to read it entirely. (And I dont know, would it be a violation against copyrights?)

I am respectful about your decision considering that reading entirely something can be a job for acedemicians or some specialists. Of course, it is very hard, sometimes impossible to read everyting. But it can be obligatory in a such a case that the discussions are so harsh. And, I am sure, you dont think that a study of thousands of pages cannot be categorized as "not wortht to be considered". Ural-Altaic is another issue and should not be discussed here. However, Bomhard's attempt to pose Indo-European, Altaic and Uralic together in a wider contcept is really impressive. He deserves to be expressed in any places and, this situation should make us reconsider the unsolved problem of relativeness between languages.

Your valuable opinions in fact, dont oppose to my opinion. Just you are looking from another point to the same issue. Sooner or later, someone will read/analyse all the books ( I think I can do this) meanwhile Bomhard and Greenberg continue their studies. Bomhard has a newer book "Introduction to Nostratic Comparative Linguistics", (or something like that) , still I couldnt buy it. Meanwhile, the basic of questionnaire is, "what we should do with wikipedia articles". Thank you Okurogluselo : Blah 16:07, 5 June 2015 (UTC)

You continue to operate under the illusion that Bomhard is a respected historical linguist. Why don't other, highly-respected, historical linguists (Campbell, Ringe, etc.) refer to Bomhard? Because his work is methodologically suspect and therefore not useful for the field. Virtually all reliable historical linguists treat Sumerian as a language isolate (not as an unclassified language) for two very important reasons: 1) despite your hopes and dreams, there is quite an adequate amount of Sumerian preserved and deciphered to make such a determination, and 2) using standard historical linguistic and comparative linguistic methodology there is no evidence for a genetic relation between Sumerian and any other language or language family. Even Greenberg and Ruhlen, whose historical methodology has also been rejected by virtually all historical linguists, and whose work inspired Bomhard, don't include Sumerian in any other language family and treat it as a language isolate. Bomhard works on the level of wishful thinking (and his comments, as cited by Tropylium above, show that he realizes that there is not sufficient evidence to place Sumerian in his "Nostratic" family with Uralic and Altaic). None of Bomhard's suggestions rise above the level of statistical probability required to make any assertion for relatedness. That's why he is ignored by virtually all historical linguists--his methodology is unreliable and suspect. And the fact that you are not an historical linguist (or any kind of mainstream linguist) doesn't mean that you can't edit here. Many non-linguists edit here. But when you insert something that contradicts the actual science of linguistics, then the linguists will revert you. --Taivo (talk) 16:57, 5 June 2015 (UTC)

Still I cannot see any change in your insolent manner. As I said, you are the one who lives in dreams, even you are not scholar, but your insistence to exclude any proposals of goodwill, shows that you consider wiki editorship and the area of linguistics, as power sphere, to serve your delusions. And, still you havent attempted to read Bomhards two studies, neither 2008 book nor 2014 book I listed above. Because, the citations you gave are not controversial with my proposal above. He says only, maybe not proved, but it is likely. That is what I say too.

I will not consider your attacks anymore, because your frame of "historical linguistics" in your cognition, make you apart from being a scientist and an academician, and from a wiki member of courtesy. These are all your ethical problems. You cannot read cueniforms, ( I dont read either, it is not the main issue here) but still you like to continue a crusade against any further research and opinions from other fields. Anyway, after 1956 Magyar Revolution, the ones who could read cueniforms have been dramatically decreased. I will talk about this sooner.

Still I invite all suggestions and reasonble considerations for my proposals above. But the user of conflict, seems cannot do this, I like to communicate with others. I declare kindly to the user, dont answer my opinions. He cannot be impartial and cannot be assess the issue reasonably. However, there enough editors who can capable of doing this

As the user of conflicts demonstrate with his subjective opinions, new results may only come from comparative linguistics, because of current academical environmet of historical Linguistics in post-Soviets and their extensions in USA. Appearently, historical linguistics have problems. I dont even emphasize about Soviet pressure (executions) on Magyar linguists after 1956 Hungary Revolution. The user of conflicts shows that a similar political hatred still endures in post-Soviet Countries. And his similar anger against my opinions has got roots from this. Appearently, if we had lived in Eastern-Block, he would have gladly denounced me to KGB, for sending me execution as done to Magyars. However, we live in 21th century. His behaviours are very like to the manners of religious authorities. But in case of science, it is sick.

Bomhard says further attemps are needed, That is all. Maybe some dictionaries consider Sumeran as Language Isolate, but I underline again that, other views exists and it is worth to be mentioned. I declare, always new results could arise. Nobody can be authority who would be study in the field. And especially the user of conflicts cannot talk about multi disciplines like as pragmatics and cognitive studies, which are all above "historical linguistics". Anyway, I dont think that he know what the terms mean, but I know the meaning of "historical linguistics"

There is a possility for finding relatives of Sumerian and enough material of researh, so these must be cited in article and, the language must be corrected ,to be saved it from being decisive. That is all about my proposal and it never means a support to Altaic or Nostratic theories. I am witing for someone who could be moderate and reasonable. These make us human, other than fighting creatures.Okurogluselo : Blah 18:02, 5 June 2015 (UTC)

First of all, you completely ignore the simple fact that every single other editor here (some of whom are linguists and some of whom are not) has disagreed with you and reverted your edit. You're not getting the message. Second, half of your posting above is utter nonsense about Hungary and Magyars and therefore completely and totally irrelevant to this article. Third, you continue to ignore the simple and easily demonstrable fact that virtually all historical linguists consider Bomhard and his ideas to be WP:FRINGE, so mentioning them at all in this article constitutes undue weight. Finally, you continue to demonstrate that you don't understand the science of historical linguistics. Perhaps that last point is the most critical. Many non-linguists here edit quite productively because they have learned the science of the field and then defer to the specialists when the discussion becomes too technical. That is not what you are doing here. When the specialists have pointed out the scientific errors in your argument, you have simply ignored them in your pursuit to push your non-linguistic POV. --Taivo (talk) 18:15, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
Let me make this very clear for you: Bomhard does not link Sumerian with Uralic, Altaic, or his broader Nostratic. (There is no such thing as "Ural-Altaic" and "Nostratic" is considered to be a Fringe idea backed by poor science.) Bomhard says only that there might be a link with Nostratic of some sort. He offers no solid proof, only the hope that it might be true. That is not "evidence". That is not a scientific assertion of any validity or note. That is not a scientific fact. That is just a hope. We don't consider "hope" to be scientific fact in Wikipedia. It's not worthy of mention at all. And when two linguists that almost all historical linguists consider to be fringe reject Bomhard's assertions, that is simply beyond the level of acceptability for even mentioning, especially in an overview article such as this. --Taivo (talk) 18:27, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
Okurogluselo: Talking to a deaf man can be easier. Even so, So why should not wiki readers learn about this in the article?. It is not a support to the Altaic or Nostratic views. You carried the issue to a personal frame and it is apparently connected to the political history. Just you are not aware of this. Because you are not a scholar. In fact, this is not needed, but worse, you are not a user of wiki who must have got courtesy and goodwill. Seems that you think that only editors you permit, might write on wiki. Above, another editor says, feel uncomfortable with the language of the article. You rebuffed him/her too. But I dont know, who dare argue with you other than me, because of your manners.
Still I speak to, yell to the others. At the basic level,just I want substitute the modal "is" with "can be". What is the problem so much great with this?. Only an irrational or fanatic could be so angry about this proposal. Like a KGB agent in Hungaria 1956.Okurogluselo : Blah 18:31, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
Yes, talking to you is, indeed, like talking to a deaf man. Your political aspersions are stupid, to say the least; they are utterly irrelevant here even though ridiculously false and misguided. At no point have I claimed any political reasoning here, only using the actual science of historical linguistics (which you don't seem to understand and don't seem willing to learn). The fact that other editors here have consistently stated that "I agree with Taivo", and that every other editor has reverted your edit seems to be completely lost on you. Here's the difference between a language isolate like Sumerian and an unclassified language like Sentinelese or Tambora. Not a single word of Sentinelese has ever been collected or published. We cannot classify it because there is no data. Tambora was destroyed with the volcanic eruption of Tambora in 1815. Before then only a couple dozen words had been recorded. That's not enough to classifying it definitively. With Sumerian, however, we have several thousand words. That is more than enough to see definitively that it is not demonstrably related to any other known language. That's the difference--the amount of available data that can be scientifically compared to other languages. None or not enough for Sentinelese and Tambora. More than enough for Sumerian. --Taivo (talk) 19:01, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
You (Okurogluselo) keep talking about Sumerian specifically, but by now it sounds like you have not understood the concept of "language isolate" in general. To call a language an isolate is not at all a "final" judgement. It is a negative result that only refers to the current state of research. The strongest argument we can make is that the current methods of historical linguistics, the kind that have allowed us to relate e.g. Albanian to the rest of Indo-European, have failed to show anything clear on Sumerian. It definitely remains possible in theory that some day, with improved techniques, we will be able to demonstrate that Sumerian is related to this or that. But this is true for every other isolate just as well. Sumerian is not an exception at all, it is a fairly average case of an isolate. Most other generally-agreed isolates like Ainu or Korean or Seri have been included in various language family proposals just as well. But, given that nothing has been settled yet, and that we do not deal in predictions here at Wikipedia, it would be premature to go into details.
I suppose we should perhaps stress these points a bit more in the article itself, though?
Over at Sumerian language, we do mention minority theories such as Bomhard's. But this is the Language isolate article we are on, which is for discussing the concept of a language isolate in general. --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 20:22, 5 June 2015 (UTC)
Comment: At least, It is nice to find someone to whom I can talk. That is better. Even you are not completely in the style I would prefer, I feel I can talk to you, independent from I agree or not agree.

And, I like to ask for a favor, please dont make predictions about what we understand or not, for each other. I can know, if I really understand something. I dont enjoy to give personal details about myself, because it could be interpreted as disrespect to other editors (yet I feel respect to everybody here), but deciding about who uderstand or not understand something, is part of my job.

But one point I can completely agree with you. Some points must be stressed a little more. ( I offered, I could send the full essay of Zolyomi, if you like to look at it for reference) As I said, my primary objection is about discourse in the article. I think some other editors could agree with this. But I cannot be sure about the opinions of others, and I dont want to attempt manipulate any one, in any way. Just I would like to invite them.

Disagree, partially:

1. In general, modal "is" could be changed with modal "can be". (Could it be a reason for an edit warring? Bu it was. Stil it is hard to believe).

2. Still, concepts of language isolate and unclassified language and difference between them are arguable. I am not only one who thinks in this way. There are different things, but connected or.. Maybe I can say, there is a thin red line between them. A line easily being crossed over.

3. I appreciate you for giving the examples of langauge isolate. It shows your goodwill. However, these are all living languages. On the contrary, Sumerian is extinct. In a common terms, dead language.

3. You may make a research about this yourself: People who may read cuneiforms is really few in number. Just a handful of scholars. I assume, five or seven in USA. Three in Turkey, one of them at 96 and suffering of Alzheimer's syndrome. Also three or four in Israel. About ten in Hungary, (but I am not sure about their real capability). I dont know anyone in Russian Fedaration nowadays. And, two were murdered in Iraq, nobody knows who killed them.

I didnt give the example of Hungary for nothing. There were many specialist of cuneiforms there, and really I dont want to think about, why KGB liked to kill them. Such tragedies make me feel desperate. Maybe some of them Altaist, but could it be a reason to kill a scientist, a human being?. It must not be! As a result, there is a dramatic requirement who dare study on Sumerian cuneiforms. Should we encourage young wiki readers, or should we discourage them by saying, no need for people to study there? Ask to your heart and choose one.

4. There is a school in Netherlands which teaches to read cuneiforms and Sumerian. But they dont have enough tablets to read, in fact it is the greatest problems about Sumerian studies. So they expressively confess that the studies is inadequate.

5. And, finally, Iraq has been the land of chaos after Ba'ath revolution in 1958. After this time, it has been a great problem to go there and to make research on Sumerian tablets. Scholars only have been permitted to read the tablets, accredited as "suitable" by the government. And now, in worst phase, nobody can go to the territories ruled by ISIS.

Anyway, there has been no one, who comes to read tablets in Istanbul Museum for a long time. Really no one at all.

Glossary and basic grammer couldnt supply eneough evidences to decide something so decisively. Mostly we know denotations however, it was a complex society and had been lived thousand years, there must be connotations, also diversity in syntax and meaning, in diachronous and even in asynchronous dimensions. In fact there two languages in Sumerian, female and male (basicly I expressed for readers who dont know linguistics too much). These are all important for deciding about cognates.

So, excuse me but, I cannot believe how people so confidently say that researches are enough; saying the discussion is over. I only like somebody make editions about the language style of the article, without changing the meaning dramatically. Please consider this in a calm way.Okurogluselo : Blah 00:01, 6 June 2015 (UTC)

Even everybody doesnt believe this, I always read everyting, somebody writes .Just I read fast and write fast, maybe it is not good. But I have read again, the article of principle you linked:It is appropriate to report discussion and arguments about the prospects for success of future proposals and projects or whether some development will occur, if discussion is properly referenced. Of course, I dont say that, possible cognates and likely change of language isolate position of Sumerian, is majority view. But we should supply the minoriy view and "need for further research". what is wrong about this? But of course you should give some more references from majority view. Still a caution stays above the article. Same could be done for Sumerian Language article.

Is it proper for you? Okurogluselo : Blah 00:20, 6 June 2015 (UTC)

You still don't understand the historical linguistic field. 1) There is a very clear and very well understood distinction between language isolates and unclassified languages, and it doesn't matter one bit whether the languages are extant or extinct. Your refusal to recognize that difference is idiosyncratic, not part of the field as a whole. 2) We have over three thousand lexical items preserved in Sumerian. The texts are extensive enough that we have a very good understanding of Sumerian grammar. That is more than adequate, lexically and grammatically, to determine its relationship with some other known language if there were one. 3) Your comment that there is something more that will override the overwhelming lexical and grammatical evidence is simply your own fantasy and not sound historical linguistic methodology. 4) Cuneiform is absolutely immaterial to this discussion. It is simply the medium by which the Sumerian language was conveyed, just as the Roman alphabet is the medium by which the English language is conveyed. It has absolutely nothing to do with determining language relationships. 4) You really do need to read some introductory text on historical linguistic methodology if you want to actually sound like you know something about the subject. Campbell's and Crowley's texts on the subject are excellent introductions for the novice like yourself. --Taivo (talk) 01:15, 6 June 2015 (UTC)


The question which Florian poses in this edit summary is a valid one. How is it being portrayed in the most recent handbooks? I don't know, but that's the place to look. --Taivo (talk) 13:43, 4 June 2015 (UTC)

As far as I am aware, the following schools of thought exist, in roughly increasing order of acceptance:
  1. Etruscan is a member of a speculative "macrofamily" such as Nostratic or Sino-Caucasian/Dené-Caucasian
  2. Etruscan is a member of an established family such as Indo-European, Uralic, Northeast Caucasian or Semitic
  3. Etruscan is a member of a speculative small family such as "Aegean" (which includes Minoan)
  4. Etruscan is a member of Tyrsenian (whose further relationship is undetermined or may not decisively been settled)
  5. Etruscan is unclassified, due to the small amount of completely certain material (in Etruscan as well as languages such as Lemnian, Raetic or Minoan, with which it is frequently compared to; this is the agnostic position).
4 is compatible with 3, 2 and 1, of course.
Note that 5 is absolutely not the same as the position "Etruscan is an isolate". A well-known and relatively thoroughly researched language such as Basque can be said to be an isolate per consensus, but Etruscan is not such a language. It is important to understand that the positions "unclassified language" and "language isolate" are distinct, and we treat them as distinct, see Unclassified language. There may be a lot of linguists who have some familiarity with Etruscan and feel not confident enough to assign it any relationship, and there may be some who feel in fact confident enough to pronounce Etruscan as an isolate (I'm not trying to deny that possibility, although I don't really know; I could have listed it as a sixth school of thought, but I think it's so small it's hard to place), but I do not think it is warranted to say that there is anything like a consensus that Etruscan is an isolate (even if in practice it may be frequently treated like one). --Florian Blaschke (talk) 14:20, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
See also Etruscan language, which actually claims that Tyrsenian is consensus now! --Florian Blaschke (talk) 14:24, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
Etruscan language has been changed since then (not by me) to no longer claim the Tyrrhenian family hypothesis as having consensus. The Tyrsenian languages article also characterizes the family as hypothetical. Nevertheless, Etruscan was removed from the "Europe" section of Language isolate on 2015-06-05 by Kwamikagami with the nonsensical comment "Etruscan never found to be an isolate". I have just restored it to the table.
Also, since the Etruscan row was deleted without fixing the references to it in the rest of the article, such as "The Japonic and Kartvelian families are widely accepted by linguists, but since the ancient family that includes Etruscan has not yet received a similar level of acceptance,[citation needed] Etruscan is still included in the list of language isolates", I've added an HTML comment saying "NOTE: Do not delete Etruscan without fixing the references to it in the rest of the article!". --Dan Harkless (talk) 13:50, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

"oral" languages or "spoken" languages?[edit]

The article presently speaks of "oral" languages to distinguish them from "sign" languages. I believe that ""spoken" languages" is the more standard term. How to others see this? Pete unseth (talk) 19:25, 5 June 2015 (UTC)

Yes, "spoken" language is the usual term. --Taivo (talk) 23:14, 5 June 2015 (UTC)


Is Kutenai really a good example of an isolate? I'm not familiar with the field, but Kutenai language makes it sound like a connection with Salish is now a seriously investigated possibility. Neither this page nor List of language families, however, mention this or any other suggested connection. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 21:38, 6 June 2015 (UTC)

Yes, it's an isolate. While back in the '50s and '60s, when Americanists were lumping every Tom, Dick, and Harry language together into macro-families, it was included in Macro-Algonkian or Macro-Salish. But today, it's almost universally considered to be an isolate. (I say "almost" not because I actually know one of my colleagues who espouses a connection, but because I don't know everyone in the field.) There have been no publications attempting to link Kutenai to anything since the 1960s. --Taivo (talk) 23:48, 6 June 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing this out. The "Classification" section at Kutenai language was rather confused. I cleaned it up and split the genetic information from the typological information. --Taivo (talk) 00:02, 7 June 2015 (UTC)
Ah, yes! Thank you. The wording was so unclear that I was unsure whether it was supposed to link Kutenai to Salish merely typologically or genetically. So the relationship is areal at best. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 02:25, 7 June 2015 (UTC)

Should sign languages be included here?[edit]

A user has been adding large amounts of content to this page regarding sign language isolates. I am somewhat skeptical of this move as there are many times more sign language isolates than spoken language isolates (see Village sign language) and including them all here would be a huge amount of added content. I also find it a bit comical that the editor added in the summary that sign isolate X is spoken in country Y (sign languages aren't spoken! lol). My proposal would be to have a separate list on Village sign languages or create a separate article titled, say, sign language isolates. I don't want to appear to be negatively reacting towards the user who made these edits as I'm sure it was all in good faith just here I don't think it's necessary. Inter&anthro (talk) 21:46, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

No one has commented here in four days so I will go ahead an tag some editors who have a history of editing this topic @TaivoLinguist:, @Maunus:, @Kwamikagami:. Inter&anthro (talk) 01:15, 14 March 2017 (UTC)
I am also pining the user who made these edits, @Danachos: as it is only fair that that user is able to defend and explain his/her edits. Inter&anthro (talk) 01:17, 14 March 2017 (UTC)
Signed languages should not be included here since they have a distinct origin and are not tied to genetic descent as defined here by shared sound changes. No source on languages of the world ever includes signed languages as "isolates". Ever. Oral languages only trace their descent through shared sound correspondences. If the editor wishes to create a separate article covering signed languages and their descent, then have at it. But this article is not the place for it since genetic descent among languages is defined by regular sound correspondences and shared innovations in those sound correspondences. --Taivo (talk) 01:23, 14 March 2017 (UTC)
I agree with Taivo here. Signed languages do not seem to be generally considered when describing genealogical relations between languages.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 05:38, 14 March 2017 (UTC)
There are a few sign languages that can demonstrably be shown to be descended from others, such as American Sign Language from French Sign Language, Icelandic Sign Language from Danish Sign Language. It is not appropriate to say that showing descent from a common ancestor is dependent on "sound correspondences." Sign languages have a wide variety of features that can be studied to show shared innovations and shared retentions. I expect very many sign languages are isolates, so it is not so helpful to list all sign language isolates. But common descent can be demonstrated.
I agree with the comment above that sign languages are indeed languages, that change, evolve, and adapt similar to spoken languages. The problem though is while there are a couple hundred spoken language isolates, the number of sign language is many times more because they develop far more quickly. For example the Rennellese Sign Language is a sign language isolate that developed and disappeared in a lifetime. There are so many sign isolates (see Category:Sign language isolates & Category:Village sign languages) that to me it would make more sense having a separate article or a separate section in this article to describe and detail them. Anyway that is my opinion. Inter&anthro (talk) 17:56, 14 March 2017 (UTC)
Of course they are, but nevertheless they are not typically included in discussions of linguistic families or historical linguistics. They probably should be, and it would certainly be interesting to know more about the way different sing languages are related genealogically - but I don't know of any sources that would permit us to make the inclusion. If they are there nonetheless, I would be happy to include them.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 18:28, 14 March 2017 (UTC)

It's rather common in the lit to speak of SLs being "spoken". Similarly, few would contest the verb "speak" where I just used it, despite the fact that the lit is written rather than spoken.

There are a few sources of SL genealogy, but the state of research is quite primitive. ASL isn't really descended from FSL, for example: it appears to be a local village SL (Martha's Vinyard, or perhaps a creole or mixed language from several village SLs) overlain with a strong FSL superstratum, not unlike English itself. This is quite a common situation in the development of sign languages in schools for the deaf.

A serious impediment to classifying SLs by traditional means is that much basic vocab is highly iconic, so similarities are not necessarily significant. I am also not aware of any success in working out what regular phonemic correspondence would be in the case of SLs. Both of these problems make classification difficult. It's really only in cases with good historical data, such as the famous case of Nicaraguan SL, that we can really be sure that a language is an isolate. Just not being able to identify relatives doesn't mean much: "unclassified" would be a better category in many cases.

BTW, while the traditional bias toward oral languages results in people speaking of regular "sound" correspondences, it's really phonemic (and s.t. allophonic) correspondences that are investigated. That holds for both oral and sign languages. The methodology is just better developed in the case of oral languages. (There's a similar problem with the comparison of click consonants, another neglected field, though that's finally being figured out a little.)

I do, however, oppose listing putative SL isolates in this article if only because the difficulties of determining which they are are so great. It is appropriate IMO to mention that they exist and to link to the appropriate discussions in other articles, and to give a clear case such as Nicaraguan SL as an example, but trying to list them all would be nearly hopeless. We just don't have the data. — kwami (talk) 22:58, 14 March 2017 (UTC)