So I've decided that this negative letter would most positively serve as a learning example (for those truly open to new ideas) of what not to do in linguistics, a complex study whose centuries-old body of knowledge can't simply be tossed aside for idle kicks without coming across as an uneducated jester. The letter I'm responding to is shown in entirety in italics at the end of this blog entry so that you can judge it all for yourself.
I always find heated emotional or politically-motivated rhetoric in place of logical facts frustrating to deal with. However, it seems to be a particularly diseased trend going on these days; the trend to believe that one's own unqualified, five-second judgements are just as good as the long-term study and rational thinking of knowledgeable experts. Wikipedia is but one example of this larger trend. Mr. Quiles' viewpoints are easily exposed when we understand the toxic effects of dogmatic relativism on healthy learning minds (eg: Mr Quiles says: "[...]you should know that many people share different ideas about how it was like[...]"... but who does "many people" refer to exactly? Do Tom, Dick and Harry count as qualified linguists?) .
Here is the clearest example of this egocentric delusion in action from Mr. Quiles as he speaks on behalf of dnhu.org (or perhaps against its behalf):
1) "We know we are not experts, and that there are lots of people more prepared than us to work on PIE reconstruction"
2) "Whether that 'Piotr Gaworowski' is right or not in this or that theory is certainly not important for PIE revival in the EU, that's for sure."
[bolded text is my own]
How strange to at once feign respect for knowledge of experts and yet be disrespectful to Piotr Gasiorowski (note Mr. Quiles' careless misspelling) who is actually a university professor and has published in the field of Indo-European linguistics unlike Mr. Quiles who is merely a self-described amateur. Is this not boundless arrogance? What Mr. Quiles doesn't understand is that Piotr Gasiorowski's website says nothing any different from what one can easily find in the Encyclopedia Britannica at one's local public library, even if neophytes may find it too difficult to trek to a university and may misconstrue websites as a primary source of information.
The most glaring and basic fact, misunderstood by both dnghu.org and Mr. Quiles, is that the occasional omission of *h1- in the notation of Indo-European is not just "a matter of tradition" but unavoidably a distinct phoneme which is self-evident and absolutely necessary to write in *h1s-enti "they are" since the normal zerograde ablaut of *h1es- is not **s-, but *h1s-. It is clear then that while these sorts try to talk the talk, their defiant ignorance against new facts exposes their far deeper interest in fantasy above that in scientific self-criticism and subsequent evolution.
So, putting aside any supposed dislikes Mr. Quiles' assumes in me or in others who point out these inconvenient truths, how then can we take seriously the causes of such fundamentally unresearched organizations as these? How can we make sense of an organization that cloaks itself in the authority of a field that it clearly does not understand even in the most basic sense? How do we make sense of the professionality of an organization that does not address its misinformation and most critical errors? No, my pun has merit: "Proto-politics" is very descriptive of what is going on here.
Flaws are flaws and logic just isn't up to a wiki-vote. You can't wave the wand of relativism around, chant a few magical spells and wish ignorance away. Hopefully we can all learn here how one random idea just isn't the same as an established theory.
I am member of the Dnghu Association, and would like to share some comments:
1) Please don't mix your political scepticism about the world, Europe, the EU or conlangs like Esperanto to say that Modern Indo-European is 'protopolitics' or whatever new term you may coin. We obviously knew before beginning with this that it is very difficult to happen, but it could happen - as it did with Hebrew -, and you (as we) just don't know; we work on this because it is a possibility, because we are Europeanists and want a country united under a common language.
2) I think PIE roots are traditionally written with e-, whatever the attested words are like; it's only a matter of tradition. That's the case you mention, "ec-", which - as far as I know - has just a few attested words to help reconstruct a proper PIE word. It seems to me that you just opened the grammar on that page and didn't read further.
We are sorry that you dislike us, the project, the EU and/or our grammar's basics, but to criticize all that by mixing different reasons seems not the most rational way to make us change for better.
3) If you have dealt with Proto-Indo-European research - other than those amateur websites out there -, you should know that many people share different ideas about how it was like, and what we did is more or less to try and sum up them all in an easy Modern grammar, not to show every idea or "the best" or "the correct" one - we want people to speak IE, not to become experts in PIE discussions...
4) Whether that 'Piotr Gaworowski' is right or not in this or that theory is certainly not important for PIE revival in the EU, that's for sure.
5) The writing system is not definite, but the c is certainly the best value for ḱ, as you could know if you had dealt with UTF issues - which I infer you haven't.
The rest of writings and theories you refer to are considered 'normal' among European professors - as the Kurgan hypothesis, or the writing of "oinos" for "hoinos", "septm" for your "sabtan?", etc.
Anyway, if you want to make Constructive critics, remember we are open to new proposals and that we have made some collaborative forums and/or websites with that aim, unless you only want your friends to read your comments and laugh a little bit about others' work.
We know we are not experts, and that there are lots of people more prepared than us to work on PIE reconstruction (probably you are one of those), but we have been saying since we started in 2004 that our objective is IE revival, not to impose our ideas on PIE; we want experts to collaborate.
Also, one of our main objectives now is to change the European high school subjects on Latin or Greek (or 'Classic Languages' as in Spain) for an "Introduction to Indo-European languages" - we think it could be a good introductory approach to most European languages.
Also, if you feel uncomfortable collaborating with others to develop your personal theories and/or criticisms, that's why we made the grammar GFDL and CC-by-sa, for people like you to develop their personal theories, and keep working on the most correct PIE reconstruction while supporting the modern use of IE.
I think it is a good starting point to try to substitute the thousand inventions called 'conlangs' for a natural language as PIE - this way, PIE study would be certainly boosted.
cquiles at dnghu dot org
(2008 Jan 28) Carlos Quiles later retaliated with an open letter on his "organization's" website full of the most over-the-top spite that more than adequately advertises a grave "mental miscalculation", shall we say. Honestly I was really hoping that he was simply misguided, not disturbed. I guess anyone can start an organization of one member and put up a half-plausible website, showing how difficult it is to accurately assess people online.