Edwin G. Pulleyblank

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Edwin George "Ted" Pulleyblank FRSC (August 7, 1922 – April 13, 2013) was a Canadian sinologist and professor at the University of British Columbia. He was known for his studies of the historical phonology of Chinese.

Quotes about Pulleyblank[edit]

  • Edwin Pulleyblank claims to have reconstructed a number of rather abstract similarities in the phonetics and morphology of PIE and Sino-Tibetan. Though he fails to back this structural similarity up with any (even a single) lexical similarity, he confidently dismisses as a “prejudice” the phenomenon that “for a variety of reasons, the possibility, of a genetic relationship between these two language families strikes most people as inherently most improbable.” He believes that “there is no compelling reason from the point of view of either linguistics or archaeology to rule out the possibility of a genetic connection between Sino-Tibetan and Indo-European. Such a connection is certainly inconsistent with a European or Anatolian homeland for the Indo-Europeans but it is much less so with the Kurgan theory”, esp. considering that the Kurgan culture “was not the result of local evolution in that region but had its source in an intrusion from an earlier culture farther east”. This is of course very interesting, (and it deserves being repeated that the Kurgan culture came from farther east), but: “It will be necessary to demonstrate the existence of a considerable number of cognates linked by regular sound correspondences. To do so in a way that will convince the doubters on both sides of the equation will be a formidable task.”
  • A handful of scholars try for the more ambitious option, viz. identifying a common origin of Chinese and IE, a kind of “Sino-European” stage in linguistic development from which Chinese and IE went their separate ways. Pulleyblank (1993:106-107) upholds “the possibility of a genetic connection between Sino-Tibetan and Indo-European” all while admitting that it is “inconsistent with a European or Anatolian homeland for the Indo-Europeans but it is much less so with the Kurgan theory”, esp. considering that the Kurgan (“grave-hill”) culture of the steppe “was not the result of local evolution in that region but had its source in an intrusion from an earlier culture farther east”. But his and other tentative hypotheses of a deep kinship of Chinese with Indo-European, as also with North-Caucasian and Austronesian, have been refuted in sufficient measure by Vovin (1997) and will not detain us here. Of course at a time depth of Nostratic or whichever prehistoric kinship, many connections can be thought up, but to the same extent, geographical movements of populations may have taken place over the same millennia. Therefore, even plausible or proven linguistic connections at such time-depth cannot decide the geographical land of origin that interests us here.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2018). Still no trace of an Aryan invasion: A collection on Indo-European origins.

External links[edit]

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