John Cowan wrote:

> Sally Caves scripsit:
> > Other
> > linguists have tried without success to explain
> > why these similarities should exist between two
> > languages that apparently had no contact that we know of.
> Why shouldn't they have been in contact in Iberia?

When, John?  How long ago in Iberia?  By "no contact" that we
know of,  I meant no contact within recorded history.  The thesis
suggests that the "contact" had to have occured prehistorically, given
the very basic core grammar that it affects, and
probably at a time when proto-Celtic  languages and
Semitic languages had some kind of  sustained encounter long before
written history.  I didn't write the thesis; you can go consult it
through Interlibrary Loan.  It's by Orin Gensler.  It's called
_A Typological Evaluation of Celtic/Hamito-Semitic Syntactic
Parallels_.  University of California, Berkeley, 1993.  He references
John Morris-Jones, Julius Pokorny, Heinrich Wagner,G.B.
Adams, Karl Horst Schmidt, and others who've addressed
the problem and offered tentative explanations.

Here are the seventeen features that Celtic and Hamito/Semitic
"share" in common--called the CHS puzzle, pp. 5-6:

1) Conjugated prepositions (prep. + pronominal object in a single word.
2) Word order: VSO, N-Modifier, Prepositions
3) Relative clause linker: invariant particle, not relative pronoun.
4) Relative clause technique (oblique): copying, not gapping,
    i.e., "the bed, I slept in it," meaning "the bed that I slept in."
5) Special form of the verb peculiar to relative clauses.
6) Polypersonal verb (subject and object both marked).
7) Infixing/suffixing alternation: Object marker is infixed to
   the verb if there is a preverb, suffixed otherwise.
8) Definite article in genitive embeddings may occur
  only on on the embedded noun: "house the-man" ="the man's
9) Nonconcord of verb with full-NP subject: verb can fail
    to agree with the subject, depending on word order.
10) Verbal Noun (Vn: object in genitive), not Infinitive
      (object in same case as with finite verb).
11) Predicative particle: in copular or nominal sentences,
      the predicate is marked with a particle homophonous
      to a "local" preposition: "He (is) in a farmer"="he is a farmer."
12) Prepositional periphrastic: BE + Prep + VN, e.g.,
      "He is at singing"  [TEONAHT'S  "she is with singing"]
13) DO periphrastic: DO + VN, e.g. "He does singing."
14) Notional adverbial clause expressed as "and" + finite
15) Nonfinite forms usable instead of finite main-clause verb
16) Word-initial change, expressing a variety of syntactic
17) Idiomatic use of kin terms in genitive constructions, e.g.
      "son of sending" = messenger; "son of land" = "wolf"

    ACTUALLY, this last is pretty neat.  I didn't know that
    about either Celtic or Semitic.

I'd have to reread major portions of the dissertation to tell
you what Orin and others have said about possible points
of contact.  I'll let you linguists wrangle with this, since, as
I said, I didn't write it.  I merely find it fascinating.

Sally Caves
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