Eurasiatic languages

Eurasiatic Languages


Eurasiatic languages

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Eurasiatic is a language macrofamily proposed by Joseph Greenberg that includes many language families historically spoken in northern Eurasia. The eight branches of Eurasiatic are Etruscan, Indo-European, Uralic–Yukaghir, Altaic, Korean-Japanese-Ainu, Gilyak, Chukotian, and Eskimo–Aleut, spoken in northernmost North America and Greenland with a toehold in easternmost Siberia.

Some proposals would group Eurasiatic with even larger macrofamilies such as Nostratic or Borean, but neither they nor Eurasiatic itself have been widely accepted, since they are not seen by the linguistic profession as being based on valid methodologies. The mass comparison method used by Greenberg remains controversial. Merritt Ruhlen and other supporters of the Eurasiatic proposal have held that the language families it includes have a distinctive grammatical pattern involving the use of a -t suffix to form plurals and a -k suffix to form duals.


The Eurasiatic hypothesis is dismissed by many linguists, often on the ground that Greenberg relies in his research on mass comparison, a method he developed in the 1950s that remains extremely controversial and sometimes attracted considerable criticism (i.a. by Stefan Georg and Alexander Vovin). Others, citing the wide acceptance of his classification of African languages (cf. Nichols 1992:5), withhold judgment. Greenberg also has his supporters, among them the American linguists Merritt Ruhlen and Allan Bomhard and the Dutch linguist......
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