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Of Interest:
linguistics

Turning to Japanese...

The New York Times reports today on recent academic investigations on the origins of Japanese and the Japanese people. The findings suggest a much later arrival of the language than commonly held, and thus that the indigenous Jomon hunter-gatherer culture, whose presence has been dated to 30,000 years ago, were not the immediate forebears of the Japanese of today. Instead, the study seems to indicate the Yayoi people brought the language that became Japanese with them when they brought their agricultural “wet rice” culture to the Japanese islands from the Korean peninsula about 2,200 years ago.

We have some reservations concerning the fact that the lead researcher is not an historical linguist, and that the methodology relies on something called
Bayesian phylogeny and computer-generated charts of language relation later sampled for statistical relevance. We can see a lot of potential problems here, but some professionals in the field - with far more knowledge of the actual work done than we have - are lauding the findings and suggesting it fits with previously known facts about the culture and settlement activity in the area.

The internal and sociopolitical repercussions amongst the famously insular Japanese will be something to watch.
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Metaphors Make This World

We’re delighted to see David Brooks’ column (currently the top most emailed article from nytimes.com) make prominent mention of a book we consider central to our way of seeing the world and a foundation of our approach to naming. Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By, a classic now in a second edition, broke new ground in linguistic analysis by categorizing, classifying and organizing the metaphors that pervade our everyday speech. We recommend the book to anyone who wants to better hear the poetry that surrounds us every day.
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