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On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 3:32 PM, Roman Rausch <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> >Prof. Fomenko from Moscow State University is one of the saddest examples
> >of this kind. An absolutely brilliant mathematician, both as a researcher
> >and as a teacher. I admire his books and his lectures. And yet the one of
> >the most published author of historical and linguistic profanities, with
> >passages like: "Ancient Russians (sic! - N.I.) grounded a city on Tiber
> and
> >called it with the best word they've had: 'Mir' (peace). However, the
> >ignorant Latin speakers have read this word in the wrong direction, and so
> >the name Rim (Russian way of saying 'Rome' - N.I) appeared." The "theory"
> >is based on a "correct" interpretation of astronomical data, and claims,
> in
> >particular, that Peloponnesian War was actually The Fourth Crusade.
>
> Mhm, read some of his host of books and it's sad indeed... Fomenko took
> Voltaire's joke that 'vowels count for nothing and consonants for very
> little' at face value (I mean, it's *literally* what he says and how he
> works!), but it's really a common occurrence around the world, one way or
> the other. I think it has its roots in the school system: How come schools
> all over the world shy away from teaching basic linguistics? A course about
> the language families of the world akin to geography, with excursuses into
> the history of the field (Indo-European etc.), and a discussion of the
> employed methods would be enough to lift a lot of ignorance.
>

The lack of any basics of linguistics is indeed a real trouble imo. It
recalls me of my school years: I actually thought that all these linguistic
terms that our teacher used to pour on us out of nowhere on our Russian
classes looked as if they were invented for the purpose of torturing
students and self-satisfaction of linguists. It's not before I started
learning Japanese when the words like "infinitive", "interrogative pronoun"
and "adverb" have became my friends rather than enemies.

The other thing is that even people in the field often ignore linguistics
to an unexpectedly great degree. I know a teacher of English who said that
her subject was for her just a list of rules, and she didn't really care
where these rules come from. She could not be blamed for that, of course.
Though it's hard for me to image how could one study English as a high
school major and not be interested to learn why _men_ and _feet_ instead of
_*mans_ and _*foots_, and why /oo/=[u] at all, but maybe that's why I'm on
the ConLang list anyway. However that means, in particular, that even
really educated people may be unable to avert even the roughest profane
claims.


> So for me, it is equally sad to see people criticize Fomenko
> over-zealously without asking the question how it can happen that an
> established mathematician can produce such ridiculous linguistic blunders.
>

That's a long story, and the context in which the idea arose first could
have been different from the one in which it is taken now. If you're
interested, here is an article of Novikov, a Fields medalist and a
colleague of Fomenko http://scepsis.ru/library/id_629.html . Not at all
without prejudices, but at least sheds some light on how it came to that.

But as a sidenote: As a mathematician Fomenko should at least realize basic
> statistics - namely that if one slackens matching criteria far enough
> (removing vowels, allowing for word reversals), then one can match
> everything to anything just by coincidence! The same goes for his
> event-matching of chronicles.
>

True