Archive for Language and astronomy

Wheat and word: astronomy and the origins of the alphabet

Sino-Platonic Papers is pleased to announce the publication of its three-hundred-and-forty-first issue:

"On the Origins of the Alphabet: Orion/Osiris in Need of a Head/Seed, the Roots of Writing, the Neolithic Europe Word as Sun/Seed System (NEWS), and a Solution to the Tartaria and Gradeshnista Tablets," by Brian R. Pellar.

http://www.sino-platonic.org/complete/spp341_alphabet_orion_osiris.pdf

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Words for Water Being Sent to the Moon Europa

"Water", "water", everywhere — and it's pronounced differently wherever you go.

See the dozen or so US and UK phonetic and phonemic transcriptions and audio clips provided by Wiktionary here.  The last of the US audio clips even has the trace of an initial "h", as some people pronounce "wh-" interrogatives.

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From Marc Sarrel

I recently heard about an engraving that is attached to the Europa Clipper spacecraft, to be launched to the moon of Jupiter in October of this year.  Europa likely has a large liquid water ocean underneath its shell of water ice.  There is more liquid water on Europa than on Earth.

The vault plate features waveforms for the word “water” in 103 spoken languages, plus a symbol that represents the word in American Sign Language.  If you scroll down a bit on the page, you can choose one of the languages, see the waveform and hear the spoken word.

I think this is a really compelling way to represent the common link between Earth and Europa.

I agree with Marc.

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Some Old Chinese terms relating to religion, mythology, ritual

[This is a guest post by Axel Schuessler]

Some Old Chinese (OC) words that relate to religion, mythology and ritual, and words found in ritual literature (Yijing, Liji, Zhouli), have no Sino-Tibetan (ST) roots, but instead have connections with other language families.

    For comparison, the first section of this paper will list (§1) Sino-Tibetan words, i.e., ones with Tibeto-Burman (TB) cognates. Then: (§2) Mon-Khmer words from the state of Chu and mid-Yangtze region. (§3) Miao-Yao (Hmong-Mien) and area words, perhaps also from the mid-Yangtze. (§4) Tai/Kra-Dai items from the Huai River basin. (§5) The Gou-language(s), so called because among its prefixes stands out a conspicuous syllable gou (see Schuessler forthc.). These languages were in prehistoric times spoken from at least Yue in the South in the vicinity of the Coast all the way to Song and Qi. Their connection with known language families is unknown. (§6) The last section is dedicated to the mythological figures Xi and Hé 羲和.

    About the hypothetical early historic locations of these language families, see Schuessler forthc. (“Tigers, and the languages of ancient Chu, Wu, and Yue”). Outside of China, the items under consideration tend to be ordinary, mundane words, but in OC they often acquire a narrow meaning just for ritual use. This identifies them as loans.

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Once in a blue moon

From the MIT International Student Office:

Blue moons are best known from the phrase “once in a blue moon,” which means “extremely rarely.” The first recorded use of this idiomatic phrase is in an anti-clerical flyer in 1528, published by William Roy and Jeremy Barlowe. In reference to the clerical corruptions, one said in Old English, “O churche men are wyly foxes […] Yf they say the mone is blewe / We must beleve that it is true / Admittynge their interpretacion.” The context is not one hundred percent clear; but a number of websites interpret this as a reference to priests who required laymen to believe in their statements regardless of how false or ridiculous these were.

A current example would be: “Once in a blue moon I go to a concert, only when there is a singer I really like.”

(source)

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Five stars over China: Central Kingdom in Central Asia

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Old Chinese onsets and the calendrical signs

[This is a guest post by Chris Button]

Below are my reconstructed Old Chinese onsets lined up with the 22 "tiangan dizhi"* calendrical signs ("ganzhi"). To be absolutely clear, the reconstructions are based on evidence unrelated to the ganzhi. It's just a very interesting coincidence that they happen to line up so well. Pulleyblank was clearly onto something! I'm not including the Middle Chinese reflexes here, but I have worked them out in detail and can send that over if there is interest. Two things not noted in the list are that an s- prefix caused aspiration (e.g., st- > tʰ) and that the voiced stops alternated with prenasalized forms (e.g. b ~ b).

[*VHM:  "ten heavenly stems and twelve earthly branches"]

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The Alphabet and the Zodiac

Sino-Platonic Papers is pleased to announce the publication of its three-hundred-and-twenty-eighth issue:

"On the Origins of the Alphabet: The Cycle of Emmer Wheat and Seed/Word Selection within the Proto-Sinaitic/Phoenician/Hebrew Alphazodiac and the Chinese Lunar Zodiac," by Brian R. Pellar.  (free pdf)

ABSTRACT

This paper presents evidence that the Proto-Sinaitic script, the Phoenician twenty-two-letter alphabet (and, by extension, the Chinese twenty-two ganzhi and the Chinese twenty-eight-mansion lunar zodiac) are patterned on the solar zodiac and Mesopotamian/Egyptian celestial diagrams, and that these are based on the cultivation cycle of wheat. The evidence shows that the animal figures such as the ram, bull, and lion that are seen in the Mesopotamian cylinder seals, the zodiac, and the Egyptian celestial diagrams symbolize the various stages of the growth of Emmer wheat. A prominent part of the process, selecting seeds for future resowing, corresponds to Word selection (a concept rooted in the Egyptian conflict stories of Horus and Seth). It is also shown that the cycle of wheat was established in the Neolithic and Upper Paleolithic in the idea of the Solar Lion-Lunar Bull Conflict, itself ultimately based on the sun/moon cycle and the mythology of the Great Goddess.

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The Musical Origin of the Seven-Day Week

[This is a guest post by Sara de Rose.]

Calendars, old and new, are based on astronomical cycles: the yearly cycle of the sun; the monthly cycle of the moon. But there is one unit of time that doesn’t adhere to any celestial rhythm: the seven-day week.

Celsus, a second century Greek philosopher, wrote that the week-day order is based on “musical reasons…quoted by the Persian theology.” 

Persia (Iran) was the neighbor of Mesopotamia (Iraq). Archaeological artifacts suggest that the two cultures shared the same musical system, and cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia have allowed archaeologists to re-construct this system. The consensus is that, from at least 1800 BC, the Mesopotamians used a seven-note scale that is the ancestor of our modern major scale – and the structure of this scale was understood to be related to the sequence 4,1,5,2,6,3,7. 

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