For some time now, I've been converting a Nostratic etymological dictionary to be put on-line on www.ieed.nl, it's the Nostratic dictionary written by Allan R. Bomhard, and while I'm extremely sceptical towards the Nostratic hypothesis even I must now admit that there is definitely 'something' going on at least in some of the branches. I personally though see no problem in saying that this is due to loans, or just common onomatopoetic words, or words using other types of soundsymbolism.
A problem that I see in his dictionary is that he keeps on making diconsonantal roots for a proto-language whose descendants tend to have triconsonantal roots (or even more). It's great that you can match up the first two consonants of words with vaguely similar meaning in both Semitic and Indo-European, but this begs the question, why does every single Nostratic language use a different suffix? Why is an apparent schwebeablaut perfectly okay? Vowels? Who needs vowels!
Simply put, there's absolutely some really interesting stuff, but I'd say at least 700 of the 900 something entries are a very big stretch.
But now I came to an entry which absolutely baffled me. Namely:
"346. Proto-Nostratic *kʰa- 1st person pronoun stem (stative):"
First he brings up Afro-Asiatic, Arabic anaħnu, where /ħ/ is a reflex of *kʰ, and Coptic anok where the /k/ is a reflex of the *kʰ (Where did the *a run of to?). Well sure these words are incredibly similar, I'm not gonna argue with this.
But then he brings up Indo-European, and actually tries to argue that the κ in Greek perfects is a reflex of the Indo-European 'suffixed first person pronoun *kʰa-'. Are you guys still with me?
Greek has a unique formation, the so-called “first perfect”, which would be better named the “κ-perfect”. As noted by Sihler (1995:576): “Its inception must belong to prehistoric G[reek], for it is already established, within limits, in Hom[er] and in the earliest records of other dialects.” Moreover, Sihler notes (1995:576): “In Hom[er] the formation is found in some 20 roots, all ending in long vowel (from the G[reek] standpoint), and in all of them the κ-stem is virtually limited to the SINGULAR stems which actually contain a long vowel… Later the formation, by now more accurately a κα-perfect, spreads to other stems ending in a long vowel, then to stems ending in any vowel (including denominatives), and finally to stems ending in consonants, and to all persons and numbers.”
[...] The -k- forms are also found in Tocharian, as in 1st singular preterit active tākā ‘I was’, and, as in Greek and Latin, the -kis found in all persons and has given rise to secondary formations. [...]
And by this he concludes that the *-k- must be from Ind-European. Sihler points out that it's typical for Greek, and must be a prehistoric Greek development. Why then Bomhard felt the need to somehow claim that it's a Nostratic development is absolutely beyond me. The example that he brings up for Tocharian is absolutely ridiculous.
First tākā doesn't mean 'I was', but takāwa means 'I was', at least in Tocharian B. tāka is 'He was'. Why Bomhard isn't distinhuishing between Tocharian A and B is beyond me, it could be that he's referring to Tocharian A (of which I don't know much); What I do know though is that the stem tak- is a suppletive preterite to the present stem nes-. It seems like a stretch to say that there's a *k suffix put behind a stem **ta- to give it a preteritive meaning in the first person singular if that stem **ta- is completely unattested! And I don't know which language is able to have an intial mutation from **ne > **ta by replacing suffix **-s with suffix **-k, but Tocharian definitely is not one of them.
All together this etymology makes no sense whatsoever, we solely have a -κ suffix in Greek, and where Greek got that one from is indeed quite mysterious, but it's without doubt not a feature of Tocharian, or Indo-European for that matter.
Wow I hope that made any sense at all, but debunking a theory that makes so little sense is actually quite difficult, since it's not proving anything at all.
Just because it's nice to give references, it seems to me, though the page numbering seems different, that this is the Etymological dictionary I'm talking about:
The Nostratic Macrofamily
Maybe I'm working with a newer version, I'm not sure, never got the title page with it.