I'm asking this very much much as a interested layman. As I understand things, the academic linguistics community, by and large, views macrofamily hypotheses - Nostratic, Altaic, etc - rather poorly.
Which of the following, then, best describes the current orthodoxy?
- Any genetic relationships between the current primary language families are unknown, and most likely unknowable.
- There are almost certainly no genetic relationships between the current primary language families, because groups of ancient humans probably developed languages independently from each other, and this is reflected in the massive gulf between, say, the Indo-European languages and the Sino-Tibetan languages.
- Some third position which I'm not yet aware of.
A couple of clarifications to my original question:
- I suppose I was really coming at this from an origin of language point of view. Do academic linguistics tend to think either (A) language itself was probably developed just once, so all languages must have a genetic relationship, even if it's not always possible to uncover that relationship today, or (B) language itself was probably developed more than once, so there will be languages which have no genetic relationship whatsoever, or (C) are they just as confused about all this as I am?
- Sadly, I've not been put in charge of any committees deciding what is and what isn't considered orthodox amongst linguists. However, people who've published something about how the larger units of primary language families fit together seems like a good place to start.