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Comparative method, being a great accomplishment of historical linguistics, obviously has its flaws. Reconstructions of proto-languages provided by this method can only be perceived as mere abstract resultant of the material used in comparison.

Have there been any efforts to authenticate these reconstructions in the cases where direct evidence of the mother-language is actually available?

For example, have there been any attempts to reconstruct Proto-Romance disregarding all the evidence from Latin, an then comparing the results to it ?

I am sure that there are more families where such a procedure could be applied.

  • This procedure highly depends on availability of written texts from historic period (before divergence). This is not my area at all, but I hear that recently people started to complain about the assumption of independent development of branches (i.e., not contact after splitting). Maybe this presentation will help (although it's not directly answering your question) -- it addresses recent developments in comparative linguistics. – Ivan Kapitonov Sep 28 '15 at 14:29
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Perhaps the greatest success story of linguistic analysis was Kurylowicz's discovery that Hittite inscriptions provided evidence for the laryngeal theory for IE reconstruction, proposed by Saussure. But everyone knows about that. (See Larygeal theory - History).

Another well known case is the comparison of reconstructed Romance with Classical Latin. As I understand it (not my area), there is considerable disparity, which is passed off as being due to differences between the spoken vernacular and what had become a scholarly language.

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