Telling general linguists about Altaic

Stefan Georg*, Peter A. Michalove, Alexis Manaster Ramer, Paul J. Sidwell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


The hypothesis of an Altaic language family, comprising the Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, Korean and, in most recent versions, Japanese languages continues to be a viable linguistic proposal, despite various published claims that it is no longer accepted. A strong body of research continues to appear, developing and refining the hypothesis, along with publications that argue against a demonstrated relationship among these languages. This paper shows that many of the arguments against a genetic relationship fail to address the criteria demanded in modern historical linguistics, while many of the responses from proponents of the Altaic theory have failed to address the criticisms raised. We hope that arguments focusing on the real issues of phonological correspondences and morphological systems will shed greater light on the relationship among these languages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-98
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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