Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Exodus Lost

I would like to recommend this book written by my friend Stephen Compton. Here is my review of it:

Exodus Lost is a page-turner for anyone interested in anthropology and history. I highly recommend this fascinating, educational read by a scholar refreshingly willing to think "out of the box."

This book can be ordered through Amazon and is also available for Kindle.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Biloxi 'moon' and Chinese 'star'

It sometimes happens when you study different languages of the world that what seems to be a strange coincidence pops up, which then leads me to wonder if it REALLY is coincidence or due to some ancient connection. The Biloxi word for 'moon' and the Chinese written character for 'star' is a case in point.

I have analyzed the Biloxi word for 'moon,' nahinte, into its component parts as (i)na 'sun' + (h)iNte 'egg,' thus 'sun-egg.' (The Biloxi word for 'star' is iNtka, which I analyze as iNte 'egg' + ka 'like' (attributive), or 'egg-like.') The association of moon or star with egg seemed odd at first until I began learning Chinese writing and found that the (Simplified) Chinese character for 'star' 星 (xing1) incorporates the character for 'sun' (top) and 'seed/seedling' (bottom) (Lee 2003: 133). There is not much difference semantically between egg and seed, since they both convey the idea of a container for offspring or dissemination (and thus creation).

What does this mean? I'm not sure, except that I can't help but think that this may be more than mere coincidence. Creation narratives (often called 'mythologies' in our Western world, minimizing the validity of anything not originally written down) often show similar themes across Eurasia and the Americas. Could this link between moon, star, and egg/seed represent some ancient cultural belief that may have originated in Central Asia? Were stars considered the 'eggs' or 'seeds' of creation of the Universe?

Lee, Philip Yungkin. 2003. 250 essential Chinese characters for everyday use, Vol. 1. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing.
I'm back!

After a long hiatus of being quite busy with Ph.D. program research and projects, I am back. It has been an exciting year of language study. I got up to the second level of intermediate Uyghur. Unfortunately, I cannot go any further, since KU does not offer advanced-level Uyghur courses. (Perhaps a trip to Xinjiang or Kazakhstan is in order?) I have also started taking Mandarin Chinese lessons through a private tutor--my first foray into studying a tone language!

As for my student status, I am now Ph.C. (Ph.D. Candidate), more popularly known as ABD (All But Dissertation). This after completing three Field Statements, three parts of a Comprehensive written exam plus an oral exam/Dissertation Proposal Defense. Now I begin writing the dissertation, which is titled, "The Lower Mississippi Valley (LMV) As A Language Area." Essentially I am comparing the LMV language contact area ca. 500-1700 CE, researching evidence of contact among the several languages of the area, including Biloxi, Tunica, Atakapa, Chitimacha, Natchez, and Choctaw/Chickasaw. (The LMV can be compared to better known language contact areas, or Sprachbunds, such as the Balkans area of Europe, South Asia, Norteast Africa, and the Amazon.) I will also incorporate some archaeological and narrative evidence into the language contact research.

More on this as things evolve!