OT: splitting (was RE: Principles of Operation

John Cowan cowan at ccil.org
Fri Jan 25 20:01:18 CET 2008

Peter Constable scripsit:

> John, it seems to me you've made this comment several times in recent
> weeks, enough so that I start to feel it is overstated. I think it's
> fair to say Ethnologue is acknowledge to tend toward splitting in
> many cases where some might otherwise lump. I don't know that I would
> use the term "notorious", though, particularly when there are clear
> cases in which Ethnologue has been conservative about splitting. 

I didn't mean the term to be derogatory, nor do I take a moral position on
lumping and splitting.  In any case, they are relative terms.  "Notorious"
is doubtless overstated.

Anecdote: when the New York Times switched from calling people "alleged
homosexuals" to "avowed homosexuals" (for people who actually said they
were gay), an acquaintance of mine declared that if he was ever mentioned in
the paper", he would make sure that he was referred to as "the notorious
homosexual So-and-so".

And I have, pace the Book of Common Prayer, referred to Brian Behlendorf
as "that open and notorious Open Sourcerer."

> I don't know this for a fact, but it's my impression that much of
> the analysis in Ethnologue regarding European languages has come from
> European linguists. I think the small Ethnologue staff functions mainly
> in an editorial rather than analytic role. I'm sure there is some degree
> to which information is assess and judgments made, though I imagine
> that mainly to be attempting to apply consistent decision criteria.

Probably true.  Nevertheless, the responsibility for the whole content
remains with Ethnologue, not its sources.

(I think this is the second time that the below .signature has showed
up in response to one of your posts.  All random, I assure you.)

Here lies the Christian,                        John Cowan
        judge, and poet Peter,                  http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
Who broke the laws of God                       cowan at ccil.org
        and man and metre.

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