Recently Brian Stubbs, a leading and widely respected expert on the Uto-Aztecan language family, provided a guest post with his detailed response to a harshly critical review of his work from a BYU professor, Chris Rogers, that was published by the Maxwell Institute. Stubbs has thoroughly documented the existence of strong influences in Uto-Aztecan from apparent infusions (borrowing) of Old World languages, including Hebrew and Egyptian, in ways that meet and exceed typical requirements in linguistics to establish a legitimate connection between languages. It’s fascinating work, but work that clashes with the reigning academic paradigm of isolation of the New World prior to Columbus. Rogers’ critique sadly seems to completely misunderstand what Stubbs has done and almost seems to let the paradigm pass premature judgment without engaging with Stubbs actual work.
Now a respected linguist, John S. Robertson (retired from BYU), has also written a formal response to the misguided negative review by Rogers. See John S. Robertson, “An American Indian Language Family with Middle Eastern Loanwords: Responding to A Recent Critique,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 34 (2019): 1-16. Robertson clearly explains why Stubbs’ case is vastly stronger than Rogers imagines, and radically different from Rogers’ caricature of Stubbs’ work. In his detailed review, not only does he expose the many painful mistakes in Rogers’ publication, but shows us just how much there is to Stubbs’ work.
Abstract: In 2015 Brian Stubbs published a landmark book, demonstrating that Uto-Aztecan, an American Indian language family, contains a vast number of Northwest Semitic and Egyptian loanwords spoken in the first millennium bc. Unlike other similar claims — absurd, eccentric, and without substance — Stubbs’s book is a serious, linguistically based study that deserves serious consideration. In the scholarly world, any claim of Old World influence in the New World languages is met with critical, often hostile skepticism. This essay is written in response to one such criticism.
Robertson’s article provides significant praise of what Stubbs has achieved and demolishes Rogers’ case against.
It’s time that we pay more attention to what Stubbs has delivered. Meaty, almost overwhelming evidence of some kind of ancient contact. Fascinating.