Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Research Book Post #13

May 9

Book: Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler

Section: Chapter 11 (Page 350 to 380)

Usurpers of Greatness

     The most widespread language at the time in Central America was Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs and the Toltecs before them, which had spread across much of what is now Southern Mexico. Linguists as well as Aztec beliefs describe how Nahuatl may have been a branch of an old family that stretched from southern Mexico all the way to the tribes of Oregon. Starting as vagrants and nomad gatherers, the early Mexicans would eventually build what is now Mexico City on an island in a lake and come to conquer all of the surrounding kingdoms. Nahuatl became the lingua franca of this new empire, and would spread as the Aztecs required all cities to have a corps of translators to allow for easy conversing over large areas. There were also migrations around the empire by native speakers, spreading the language more. The Incan language, Quechua, on the other hand, spread early not through conquest but as a trade language, long before the rise of the Incan Empire in Peru. It was not the first language of the Inca, who started as a village in Bolivia that migrated to Cuzco and spoke Aymara, whose ancestors are still spoken in Bolivia. They adopted Quechua after the union of the wealthy Chincha and Incan states. This caused a merger of several languages in Cuzco, making a dialect found solely in Cuzco. The Incan Emperors would make sure this spread by forcing all newly conquered lands to learn and spread the language of Cuzco, making it the clear lingua franca of the region. There were also some forced migrations of Quechua speakers to newly conquered lands to pacify natives. 
     Other languages of the Americas were Chibcha, which spread to be the lingua franca of Colombia, and which several conquistadors used interpreters to understand as some of the first languages encountered. Chibcha was likely established simply by the migration of speakers to Colombia. There was also the Tupi-Guarani of Brazil and the Mapuche of Chile. There is a clear correlation between the political unity of a language and its development of literacy after Spanish arrival, as Nahuatl and Quechua developed written language very quickly. The other languages never even developed their own literature. Spanish found that in areas with no lingua franca, Spanish had to be spread to teach Christianity, but in areas such as Mexico with one, they could use the lingua franca of the area to teach scripture rather than attempt to teach Spanish to huge populations and then convert them. In small communities, native languages slowly died out in South and Central America, while in larger communities they flourished. Nahuatl did very well, staying in common use in Mexico for centuries as indigenous populations ruled themselves for a long time using their own bureaucracy, even after Spanish conquest. Quechua, on the other hand, was seen as the language of the oppressors, and peasants stopped using it and rose up in rebellion several times. Guarani is the only one of the languages to receive permanent recognition as an official national language in Paraguay. After ten generations, in the 19th century, Spanish speakers were still outnumbered 3 to 1, which frustrated many Spaniards. There were several royal decrees to little effect forcing Spanish, but in the end when the government started only using Spanish to address natives, Spanish started to become more dominant. Funnily enough, the separatist movements of the 19th century, which often tied their separate identity to the natives, were key players in suppressing native languages, except in Paraguay, which is notedly bilingual. In the Philippines, after the loss to the Americans in the Spanish-American War, Spanish essentially died out in the region due to the rising economic power of America and by extension the English language.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Research Book Post #12

May 9

Book: Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler

Section: Chapter 8 - Chapter 10(Page 320 to 350)

Languages By Sea & The Second Death of Latin

     With the rise of colonialism, a pattern of European dominance over natives of other lands and the enforcement of their language on natives began to appear, resulting in the six colonial languages all being part of the ten most spoken languages in the world. With this came the dethronement of Latin as a language of Christianity, resulting as its death as a language used in any form of real communication and innovation. This came with the rise of a mass market in printed books due to the creation of the printing press. Almost at once comes the Protestant Revolution, which is no coincidence, as information and religion finally broke the language and education barrier. This second death was much harder than the first, as it did not just lose its common use as it had before, but it lost all of its purpose.
     One of the most important daughters of Latin, Spanish, is actually a merger of three different dialects that came with the union of Aragon and Castille. The country of Spain has Galician (similar to Portuguese) in the West, Castilian in the center, and Catalan in the east (more similar to Occitan than Castilian). In the end Castilian would be the most influential, and is what is considered "Spanish" today. Spanish would really shine with the discovery of the New World. Spanish colonists would bring disease that would kill massive amounts of native population, aiding in Spanish domination due to shortening the gap in numbers between the Americans and colonists. Three things aided in the Spanish conquest, first was disease that wiped out natives, second was the surprise of newcomers from across the sea, and third was that the conquest was performed by a ton of adventurers acting independently in the name of their king, meaning that areas of land were taken for little to no effort by the Spanish country. Spanish success in the Pacific, primarily the Philippines, in regards to language, were less successful, as there was no decimation of natives from disease and the Spanish were disinterested in really spreading their culture to the area due to its distance, which is why English overtook it quickly after the Spanish-American War.
     In the Americas, despite the Spanish Conquest of areas such as Peru, little effort was made to spread Spanish, as there was no need. There was no Roman military to spread the language, and monasteries were few and far between, meaning the only way Spanish really spread was when Spanish colonists (mostly male), came to the Americas and took native wives, meaning that the next generation would learn both languages from the parents and become bilingual. This was really the only way the language spread, at least early on, and this interracial marriage was so common that despite being born out of wedlock and with heathens, the Catholic Church recognized all children born this way as legitimate heirs. The first language learning books came out of this time, as Spanish friars needed a way to teach native tongues to new recruits due to the fact that there were too many natives to attempt to teach them all Spanish. The main obstacle to the Spanish was the sheer volume of language diversity in the New World, with 2000 in the Americas at the time and 350 in Central America. Some languages, however, such as Nahautl which was spread by the Aztecs, would act as good auxiliary languages for the spread of Spanish, as they would be used to intermediate due to their common use by many peoples of South America. In fact, the use of these intermediary languages would lead to the development of successful colonies by the Spanish at least a century before Portugal, France, or Britain.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Research Book Post #11

May 7

Book: Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler

Section: The rest of Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 (Page 290 to 320)

Europe and the First Death of Latin

     The spread of Gallic has been recorded by both the Greeks and the Romans, with many stories of the Gallic tendency to move tribes en masse to new homelands, which occurred with the sacking of Rome in 390 BC and the sacking of Delphi in 279 BC. Both of these led to the settlement of the tribes in nearby areas, which then led to the diffusion of their language and culture, if only temporarily. This practice of migration would continue until the establishment of the Roman Empire, and even a little after that. The tribe of the Galatians would even settle in Asia Minor, and be a thorn in the side of its neighbors for centuries until stamped out by the Roman Empire. Latin began to replace languages in Gaul and Iberia as the Romans settled their veterans on newly conquered lands, and all of these veterans knew Latin. This led to the adoption of the language in Western Europe. This was not, however, a quick process, and Gaulish would remain for centuries, but the conquering of the Romans still signaled the decline of the languages. One issue is the Gauls never made any real attempt to save their culture and language, seeing the Roman civilization as progress, and simply adopting the Latin rather than redefining Roman culture in Celtic speech. Some languages, such as the resilient Basque, did survive Roman rule, as did the languages of Britain. While the British did start to learn Latin, and it did get used in formal day to day experiences, apparently for many areas it was not the day to day tongue. It is important to remember that even though British fell to Anglo-Saxon, and was never written down, it still outlived Latin by several centuries on the island. All of Western Rome would eventually fall to Germanic hordes, be they the Visigoths, Vandals or Suebi. Despite these conquests, early on there was little effects on the languages spoken. It was eerily similar to China, where conquerors came and went, but all eventually accepted the current language. Latin beyond this point was called Romance, to signal a difference from the old Vulgar Latin. This shift into the creation of regional dialects came from the breakdown in communications and education as the Romans fell, as well as the rising illiteracy which was caused by years of instability, which led to less of an effort to retain a single dialect. The Slavs, on the other hand, had much better luck. With the movement of Germans out of Eastern Europe and the Huns coming from the Black Sea, Slavic speakers began to move into Poland, Carpathia, and the Balkans, and there they solidified their language in the regions. The reason for Slavic success but Germanic failure is unknown, as their situations were rather similar.
     The one and only time Germanic conquerors were able to hold onto their language was in the most unlikely place, England. The reason the Germanic peoples were able to roll over the British inhabitant is unknown, as there are signs of a steady loss of territory to the invaders. One theory that has great evidence behind it is that the bubonic plague hit Britain before the arrival of the Germans, which is shown in the genetics of the British, and this led to a lack of resistance against the Germans that arrived. The Germanic language was even able to survive the arrival of the Vikings and their raiders, who won battles but lost the peace, taking Anglo-Saxon wives when they settled and teaching their children Anglo-Saxon. By the end of all Germanic and Slavic movements, Europe looked scarily similar to how it had before, with Romance languages in the West, Germanic the north, and Slavic the South and East. Gradually, the distance between Latin and spoken languages grew, until Latin was known and read only by the elite. With the rise of local dialects, so to came the need to write in them, so others could read what was written as it was to be pronounced, which would eventually lead to the fall of Latin.

Research Book Post #10

May 7

Book: Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler

Section: The rest of Chapter 6 and beginning of Chapter 7 (Page 260 to 290)

Contesting Europe

     Greek would revive itself after the Roman Empire split and it became the primary language of the most successful Eastern Roman Empire, remaining so up until its fall in the 15th century. Even under the Empire, Greek would have a touch and go status in its own homeland, as constant invasions by Turkic and Germanic people's would threaten its status in the region. Eventually this led to mass emigrations of Greeks, however the Emperors eventually began to move the invaders to other areas of the Empire and resettle Greeks in Greece. Greek would lose out in Anatolia in 1071, with the arrival of the Muslim Seljuk Turks. After the last of the Byzantine states were conquered in 1453, Greek became a minority under the new Ottoman Empire, with Greek's survival then being tied to the Orthodox Church, which had holy texts written primarily in Greek. With the Renaissance, Greek once more became a scholarly language, but never again took the title of lingua franca, which at that time was held by Latin. Greek would no longer be a world player, present only in small communities under its larger benefactors, and despite its resurgence in 1821 as Greece gained independence due to Western intervention, Greek would never again regain its prestige or pride it once had.
     When answering the question as to why Greek spread so much, and why the Romans became "hellenophiles", Ostler states that unlike other cultures, Greek was a literate language with a vast collection of cultural icons and writings, which he states developed due to the existence of many different city states in Greece that could all develop in culturally different directions, leading to a large array of works recorded in Greek, which would be impressive to any culture which did not have it. This meant that while Greek did spread, it was usually by outsiders, be it Romans or Macedonians. Despite this, after being conquered by the Turks, their power came to an end.
     The history of Europe is dominated by four closely related language families: Celtic, Italic, Germanic, and Slavonic. In every age, their advances across the continent have been warlike, but the languages themselves have fostered different peoples with different values. For the first 250 years, Celtic languages dominate Western Europe and provide relative regional stability, until the onset of the Romans, who introduce Latin. Then after four hundred years of peace, the Germanic tribes at first slowly, but then very quickly, overwhelm the Romans and introduce Germanic. Most of the knowledge of these peoples early on comes from the Greeks. The Greeks remarked that the Celts were tall and fair, and often spoke their harsh language in riddles, and were also considered full of themselves. The Germans were not considered different from the Gauls, as the Greeks only saw cultural, not linguistic differences, due to their lack of desire to learn other languages. They also made no effort to learn about the distinctions between the two peoples. In fact the primary distinction between the two under the Romans was that the Gauls lived on the Roman side of the Rhine, and the Germans on the other. The Germans also did not have agriculture, and were more focused on military prowess than the Gauls. The Romans at first were seen as just another tribe living in Italy, until they started experiencing great success. The Greeks liked to theorize as to why Romans did so well, but never got a distinct answer. Even after the Romans conquered all the Mediterranean coastlines, Greeks never saw Romans as quite on par with themselves. The Slavs were only talked about when they made themselves forcibly known to the Greeks due to raids, and needless to say they were seen as savages related to the Germans but also to the nomadic Sarmatians, remarking on their lifestyle being similar to Germans but many customs coming from the Sarmatians. The author notes that Gaulish spread due to the use of chariots and iron, which the old inhabitants of Europe did not have. The Gauls did not, however, attempt to erase the language or culture of those they conquered, or even to rule them, they simply thrust their neighbors out.

Research Book Post #9

May 7

Book: Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler

Section: More of Chapter 6 (Page 230 to 260)

Who is a Greek?

          Ostler starts by discussing how the Greeks, before 1821 AD, had only ever united politically in the aftermath of joint conquest by some outsider, beginning with Philip of Macedon (father of Alexander). Nevertheless, even before this other civilizations saw Greeks as a single ethnic group, even if some of the Greeks did not. Interestingly, this caused different groups which met the Greeks to name the entire ethnic group after the small tribe they met first, for example the Persians knew the Greeks as Yauna, as their first encounter was with Ionian Greeks. This is why the Greek name for themselves, Hellenes, never caught on outside of Greece. When Herodotus wrote about why Athenians said they would never betray the Greeks, they speak of Hellenikon, or "Greekness", referring to people who had the same blood, language, gods, and rituals. In this way, the Greek ethnic group begins defined, as in terms of blood they all looked related, their language was mutually intelligible, and they all at least acknowledged and respected the same gods and oracles. In reality, the Greeks tended to define themselves against the barbaroi, which was anyone who did not speak Greek, and this was how the Greek ethnic group was truly connected. The Greek language itself could be rather complicated, with a complex system of creating polysyllabic words using a complex system of prefixes and suffixes, resulting in almost every ancient text having at least one word with ten or more letters in it. In Ancient Greece, the language was also tonal, with each word having distinct high and low tones, in a way that is most closely paralleled today by accent in Japanese. This system gradually broke down in the first few centuries AD. Another factor in the language was the development of many dialects due to the separation of each early city state as a result of the mountainous terrain found in modern Greece and Anatolia. This led to small city states being cut off from each other to develop in different ways, and while still intelligible, meant that many different features were adopted into the language. This use of dialects meant that during the development of particular genres of literature, different dialects were used and assigned to each new genre, with most of the genre being written in the dialect of the city from which the genre originated. Lyric poetry is normally found in Doric, history in Ionic and tragedy in Attic, etc. Due to the high regard for politics and speeches in the Ancient Greek world, the Greeks developed different theories as to the use of language than Sanskrit. Unlike Sanskrit, who saw language and grammar as a way of preserving religion, Greeks saw language as being used to persuade others, making it more focused on practical application.
          The Greek language would spread through two different ways: the slow development of piecemeal Greek colonies in areas such as Sicily, and the rapid expansion through Alexander's conquest of the Persian Empire. Much like the Phoenicians, the Greeks spread colonies across the coastlines of the Mediterranean, but never really moved inland except for in Sicily and Southern Italy. Different areas of Greece would colonize to different coasts, and while not all of the colony were of the same city, the dialect of the colony would come from the mother city of the colony. The spread of these colonies tended to have a small effect on local populations (except for Sicily, where dense colonization of 13 colonies led to friction with locals) due to the lack of growth beyond the coasts. This meant locals tended to remain in control of their territory for the most part. These colonies did, however, spread writing to areas such as Rome and Gaul. There was a wave of literacy, as writing spread from one tribe near Greek colonies, who spread it to their neighbors and so on, but it is important to note the alphabet spread was not that of the standardized Greek which would be created in Athens, but rather from a time when competing dialects still had many different features to them.
          About a quarter of a way through the three thousand year recorded history of the Greeks comes a decade that would change everything. This would be when Alexander III of Macedon, Alexander the Great, would conquer all of the Persian Empire and submit it under Greek rule. After dominating the empire and putting it under Greek rule, Alexander would start the process of Hellenization that would continue after his death under the rule of his generals. This Hellenization would cause southwest Asia to become effectively Greek, or at least culturally dominated by Greek, for centuries to come. Greek was gradually introduced as a language of administration, although some areas such as Israel would resist. In most areas, such as Egypt, the popular language before remained, and Greek became a language of the elite and immigrants. With the rise of the Romans, however, Greek would start to be seen as the language of education, due in no small part to the spread of the Greek alphabet to the Romans centuries before. Especially after the conquest of Greece, Roman elite were expected to be bilingual in Greek and Latin, and to now poetry and other arts in Greek. Much of the desire for Romans to learn Greek came from the Romans respect for the Greek culture and language, one which had a long recorded history, and had a language designed to sway others, something important in the growing Roman Republic.
          After the rise of the Romans, however, the story of the Greek language became one of pressure being applied from all sides. It came from many groups, from the Parthians and Turks of Asia to the Germanic tribes of the West. Despite total conquest in some areas, the death of Greek in these areas was very slow, as many cultures would continue the legacy of knowing or at least respecting Greek in their lands despite not being native speakers themselves. In fact, Greek would only really be deposed in most areas entirely with the coming of Islam and the spread of Arabic.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

"Human Geography: Chapter 14"

Conner Lewis
May 5
Period 6

Topics from Chapter 14

First Half Discussion Notes:

How does personalizing and localizing affect one's identity?

How does globalization aid in widening the gap between the rich and the poor?

How and why did globalization come about?

How does the Digital Divide represent class divides in the modern age?

What are networks, and how have they changed in the globalized world?

Second Half Discussion Notes:

What is participatory development and how does it aid a community grow how it wants?

How can networks still display power relationships in and between themselves?

How has media become vertically integrated and what does this mean for consumers?

What are gatekeepers and how are they dangerous?

What is Community Supported-Agriculture and how does it differ from normal farming?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

"Human Geography: Chapter Thirteen"

May 3

San Diego goes all in, legally commits to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 - Rick Stella
     The city of San Diego wanted to cut its carbon dioxide production and fossil fuel use down but they still require enough energy to satisfy the needs of their large population, so they are dedicating their energy to transforming the ways San Diego gets energy from fossil fuels to using wind and solar energy, then they came up with a plan which will aid in this by reducing energy consumption on public transportation, the reclamation of areas by trees and nature, as well as the reduction of wasteful water and energy use in the city.

Here is the rest of the world.

Home Paragraph:

     The documentary Home, is a film about our earth, but primarily the affects of mankind on the earth, the good but mostly the bad. It attempts to display how the affects we are having on the earth could harm it down the line, and are even harming the environment right now, and it attempts to explain why this is so important. First, the documentary talks about the first and possibly one of the most impactful acts of Homo Sapiens, agriculture. This was the first major act of the anthropocene. Agriculture was our first great revolution, starting 10,000 years ago. It resulted in the first surpluses and gave rise to the first cities. Even now, half of humankind tills the soil, with 3/4 of them doing it by hand. The documentary then goes to show scenes of deforestation being done to aid in agriculture in order to make new fields and part of slash and burn cultivation. The documentary also continues by discussing oil, and how it and other fuels such as coal are important as they "freed humanity from the shackles of time", referring to their ability to allow humans to travel long distances very quickly, allowing for even faster innovation. The documentary discusses how machines now replace men, and talks about how in the US only 3 million people produce the food used to feed 300 million, although much is not used for humans but rather for livestock feed. Agriculture even accounts for 70% of humanities water consumption, be it from rivers, oceans or aquifers, which are rapidly being used up in order to aid in agriculture. The documentary then discusses how the rising uses in pesticides harms our atmosphere as it creates chemicals which are harmful to all organisms, even the humans who use it to protect their food. The documentary then discusses how biodiversity has been rapidly decreasing, especially in crops, where three quarters of all varieties which farmers had designed over thousands of years have been wiped out in favor of the most productive forms. The documentary also discusses how much energy it takes to meet the every increasing demand for meat in developed societies, and how this causes large amounts of resources to be used to make crops that will not even be fed directly to humans. There is discussion of how our society has become entirely dependent on oil, which is a nonrenewable resource, and how we are on a clock as to how much oil we can make and for how long. It also relays how 80% of humanities mineral wealth is consumed by 20% of the world's population, a proof of the inequality in human society. It also discusses how before the end of this century, excessive mining will have extracted nearly all of the world's reserves. We are depleting what nature provides. We are destroying the fish populations of the ocean, overfishing and giving them no time to reproduce. The documentary talks about how fossil water, aquifers, are used in the desert to irrigate land that would have otherwise been completely dry, but this water is not a renewable resource. One major river in ten no longer reaches the ocean at certain times of year. Water shortages could affect nearly 2 billion people before 2025. We have also drained half of the world's marshes, which usually filter water and the air due to their microorganisms and habitat. We have deforested nearly 20% of the Amazon Rainforest in 40 years, and are destroying more forest every year for land for agriculture. On the island of Borneo, nearly all forest will be destroyed in 10 years in an effort to increase output and production on the island for palm oil. The documentary still talks about how many deforest in order to survive, as 2 billion people still rely on charcoal. The documentary states that one outcome of this deforestation is soil erosion, which is caused as there is nothing to hold soil in its place, and the soil begins to break apart and become more and more similar to sand. The narrator talks about how 1 person in 6 now lives in a precarious situation without access to basic needs such as food, water, shelter, or fuel/energy. Hunger affects 1 billion people according to the narrator. The documentary discusses how we release massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by our activities. This causes the greenhouse effect and global warming, leading to things like how the poles have lost 40% of their thickness in 40 years. It could disappear by the summer months of 2030. By 2050 a quarter of the Earth's species could be threatened by extinction. It has also led to an increase in ocean levels as more ice caps melt and more previously frozen water is added, with low level lands such as the Maldives starting to sink. 70% of the world's population lives on the coast, and this could be a huge problem if sea levels rise and a mass migration occurs. Humanity has ten years to prevent our environment from going to an area that is unpredictable and dangerous. Despite all this, the narrator discusses that all is not bad. There is still hope in the world. 13% of all continents are natural preserves. Forests are being allowed to grow back. Many places are working on recycling. Renewable resources are being used more and more in Europe, such as the wind farms of Denmark. The documentary ends with the attitude that we must protect what is left.

Extra Credit:

A Quest For Fire
     A few weekends ago, we watched A Quest For Fire, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, which details a story about a group of prehistoric Cro-Magnon hunters in their quest to find a new source of fire, as this tribe still lives in the time before humans new how to make fire, when they still had to use fires that started naturally and constantly feed them to keep going. During the movie they come across multiple tribes, from the Neanderthals to the Homo Sapiens. They come across a Homo Sapien girl, who they save from a tribe of Neanderthals, and this Homo Sapien girl eventually brings them to her tribe, who are significantly more advanced than the hunters' own tribe. They show how one can make fire using a stick and their two hands, and the Cro-Magnons eventually bring this knowledge back to their tribe, helping show how ideas like fire use spread among humans, along with other pre-historic technologies thought up during the hunter-gatherer era.

There Will Be Blood
     The film There Will Be Blood, documents the rise of Daniel Planeview as an oil tycoon in the United States. The movie as a whole can be considered a metaphor for classical geopolitics, as throughout the course of the movie Daniel uses aggressive tactics to get others to do what he wants, from craftily convincing them to straight bullying. It is a metaphor as Daniel represents a classical state, a powerful one at that, with its territorial imperative (in this case in a desire for more oil underneath the land) and he even ends up committing murder over the desire for this territorial imperative.

Research Book Post #8

May 1

Book: Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler

Section: More of Chapter 5 and the Beginning of Chapter 6 (Page 200 to 230)

Creepers and Solipsism
     Evidence of Indian travels to Southeast Asia is clear, however rather than being done in an effort to conquer or spread their culture, most of it was done out of a desire for precious resources and trade, which is evident in many of the names of regions being related to minerals, such as the old name for Sri Lanka translating to 'copper island', which while not grounded in actual geology, is evidence of why Indians travelled. These traders, however, would bring with them many important concepts. They brought with them literacy, a developed moral code in the form of Hindu Sutras, as well as a developed mythology and even a defined relationship between priests and rulers, which in many cultures had yet to develop, often leaving the rulers in a precarious position as to the power of religious figures in regards to them. All this led to an accepting of Indian traders, as well as
intermingling and the creation of a generation in Southeast Asia that was raised to read Sanskrit. Along with Sanskrit came the tradition to develop local dialects and alphabets of Sanskrit, and so along with the ten major scripts found in India, nine more scripts of Sanskrit can be found in Southeast Asia, each different from another. The first evidence of an Indianised kingdom comes in the form of Funan (or in Khmer Bnan, meaning 'the mountain'), a kingdom found in modern day southern Cambodia, which was first documented through contact with China in the first century AD. After this, evidence of many Indianised states appear, each attempting to tie itself to India either through its mythology, religion, name, or foundation myth. The names of these kingdoms and their rulers were typically in Sanskrit. One interesting factor is that the languages now classified as Burman and Austro-Asiatic of the region present before Sanskrit were almost the entire opposite of Sanskrit. Sanskrit has long polysyllable words, with a free word order, and a complicated consonant system, while these languages tended to have short defined words, distinguished by tone, and each in a rigid word order. This shift would have been difficult for the people at the time to grasp. Nevertheless, the quality of the written works in the region hardly differed from that written directly in India. There were also the formation of new Hindi cults, often used to strengthen the legitimacy of a new state by establishing a state-wide distinct religion, such as the God-King cult of Cambodia that lasted 250 years. Indianization only really slowed down in the thirteenth century as Mongols started to raid Southeast Asia, and as the majority of the population started to Indianize, the refined aristocracy found that it could no longer act as the guardian of Sanskrit culture in the region, lest it be compared to the peasantry in the region that was now effectively Indianised. This was furthered by the arrival of tribes from mountains starting to dominate the region, such as the Shan in Burma and the Thai in Siam, as well as the Vietnamese moving into southern Indo-China. 
     Originally, Sanskrit spread along with Hinduism, however overtime Hinduism was overtaken in the region of Southeast Asia by Buddhism, not through blood so much as through doctrinal disputes and dynastic shifts. While Hinduism's caste system was particularly attractive to the rulers and elites of the area, Buddhism was attractive to the lower classes, so while both faiths spread to the region at the same time, they influenced different groups, however over time the peasant's faith won out. This also led to Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit appearing in Southeast Asia as well. Despite the spread of Buddhism, Pali and Sanskrit remained as purely liturgical languages in many regions. This is especially true in East Asia, where often times Sanskrit was even represented using established
characters, due to the deep roots of Chinese characters in the culture. Sanskrit did have an affect on the grammar and structure of writing in the region however, helping establish the order of symbols used in languages such as Japanese. Tibet is a different story, with writing only appearing in the region alongside the arrival of Buddhism, and the Tibetan writing system is very similar to Sanskrit.
     With the arrival of the Turks in the region, under first the Delhi Sultanate and then the Mughal Empire, a group of people who spoke Turkish, prayed in Arabic, and wrote in Persian supplanted the ruling Indian class. They supplanted Sanskrit as the elite language of the region. Even the dominance of Sanskrit in Southeast Asia ended, as merchants and priests flooded from the Muslim world to convert the region. These regions converted to Islam for one reason or another, many believing the only way to maintain ties to India was to change their faith, and with this Sanskrit fell from grace in the region.
     Sanskrit was very attractive to foreigners not just for its ties to Buddhism and India, but also for its fleshed out grammar and systems, as well as it being a language which was used by the elite, an elite that felt justified religiously for their dominance of others. Sanskrit was also established as a quasi-universal language in India, meaning if outsiders learned it, they could tie themselves to all of India easily. It was also established as the language of intellectuals, leading to its constant analysis. It is also a language of oral tradition and prayers. The reason that Buddhism and Hinduism spread so easily was that they asked very little of converts, allowing for converts to easily incorporate their own religions and beliefs into the faith, as did the Mongolians and the Cambodians. The elite who first converted also believed they were opening themselves up to a wider world with more trade possibilities, then forcing their population to convert as well.
     The weaknesses of Sanskrit are that it tended to not have a strong defensible center, relying on natural boundaries to stop foreigners, which did not always work. It was a very conservative language not open for change, and it focused more on the abstract than the practical. One issue was that for a long time Sanskrit was not the language of government, with the local language in the capital being used instead. This ended around the time of Ashoka, with the rising popularity in Sanskrit. Another issue was that unlike Rome or China, there was never a lasting empire that lasted longer than half a dozen generations, and those that did form, like Ashoka'ss Maurya dynasty, fell quickly, leading to a time of melee between feudal lords before the next empire formed. Even foreign empires were not safe from this cycle. These conquerors would also, like the Mongolians of China, simply adopt the local culture rather than impose their own on the region. Buddhism also lost out in India itself, with the Hindi population overtaking them and seeing them as another cult, with the Buddha being a representation of Vishnu. While the Islamic invaders did have a much better time converting local culture, they by no means eradicated the importance of local languages or of Sanskrit, but rather put themselves beside it. In modern day, Sanskrit is still important among the traditional elite, but has been supplanted as an intellectual language by local languages but primarily English. Now Sanskrit is mostly seen as a trait of Indian religions or cultures, not as a dominate force in the region.
     Chapter 6 talks about Greek, and how it gave rise to almost all of Western tradition in some form or another through ancient Greek culture. The extent of Greek was spoke on a strip of land that covered a quarter of the Earth's circumference, covering land from Spain to Pakistan, built up over seven hundred years in what is called the Hellenized world. The main form of Greek spread was Attic Greek, found around Athens and spread through its ports and trade.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Research Book Post #7

April 29

Book: Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler

Section: End of Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 (Page 170 to 200)

Charming like a Creeper

     At the end of Chapter 4, Ostler talks about how China always managed to overcome foreign obstacles by either rebuilding its power in China to drive invaders out, or by simply absorbing the invaders with their massive population. They did this with the Mongols and the Manchurians respectively. The author warns that Chinese may go the way of Egyptian, as it slowly loses its cultural center. This is because despite its 1 billion speakers, like Egyptian it has lost its religion, ostensibly becoming an atheist state, it has lost its Confucian and Taoist ideas, and it is slowly becoming more and more Western, however unlike Egypt it has not lost its political independence, which may save the language.
     If some languages can be seen as Hunters, growing rapidly, then Sanskrit can be seen as a creeping vine, slowly spreading its tendrils across Asia over two thousand years. Outside of India, which still speaks languages descendant from Sanskrit in areas such as the Punjab, Sanskrit never taken up as a popular language, remaining purely as a medium of learned communication and sacred expression, strongest where the dominant religion had come from India. Sanskrit was never just a spiritual language, despite the West's notions on the matter, being found in literature and work ranging from economics to romantic comedy. It also holds the most elaborate development of the pun known anywhere in the world. The language itself began northwest of the Punjab, modern Pakistan, spreading south along with its people, as well as heading into Tibet. The Aryan people (derived from the word arya, later used to mean gentleman) spread offshoots of their language all over the Indian subcontinent, replacing the native Dravidians entirely in some regions. They also spread to northern regions such as Assam (in modern India) and Nepal, where while official languages today, they are not the common tongue. Native Dravidian tongues in southern India such as Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada persist, and some of their words were even borrowed into Sanskrit. Sanskrit spread across to Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, primarily and above all as a language of religion and the elite. Although the Buddha's works were mostly written in Pali (which is an offshoot of Prakrit, a relative of Sanskrit) at first, they slowly began to be written more and more in classical Sanskrit, facilitating the spread of the language. Through the Silk Road and Buddhism, Sanskrit spread itself to Tibet and the rest of East Asia, and while not replacing languages, it remained important wherever Buddhism persisted. The last place Buddhism and by extension Sanskrit spread was Mongolia, when it was spread on the backs of Chinese preachers and the desires of Mongolian Khans.
     Indian culture is unique in the world for its rigorous analysis of its own language, which it furthermore made the central discipline of its own culture. The Sanskrit word for grammar even comes from the word meaning analysis. Even historical Indian grammarians such as Patanjali stated that the study of grammar was important primarily for the advancement and better understanding of the Vedas, the religious texts of the Hindu faith, a book of hymns. Grammar in the formation of sutras is so complex that a meta language has been formed to be used during the creation of new sutras, making them entirely different from mainstream speech. Despite this love of grammar, writing (especially in relation to the Vedas) is not seen as good. It is often decried, even in other ancient cultures, as it promotes forgetfulness and can cause misinterpretations of text. This lack of text also leads to a vast vocabulary, with many near synonyms. One linguist states that there are fifty synonyms for 'lotus', a favorite concept in Sanskrit poetry. Words tend to have multiple senses. The most straightforward word for lotus, padma, has eleven extra senses in the neuter gender (lotus-like, form of a lotus, etc) and eight more in masculine. This, along with the special characteristic of Sanskrit to use word liaisons often to make sentences into one long stream of syllables, leads to an opportunity for punning on an almost inconceivable scale.

     The author believes that the initial role of politics in the spread of Sanskrit was simply through military conquest and dynastic subordination in the Indian subcontinent. However many of these gains, especially in the south, seemed impermanent, because after every great Sanskrit empire fell, the region would relapse back into Dravidian speaking languages. However many of the gains that were made were actually made with Prakrit, which is related to Sanskrit but used much more in day to day life as well as in dedications and prose. However around 150 AD Sanskrit began to eclipse Prakrit even in these areas. In fact, in India there was a constant shift in which dialects and forms were on top, with the language of kings one century being that of peasants the next. Interestingly enough, the language of the Buddha was most likely Maghadhi, an offshoot of Prakrit, not Sanskrit as many would believe. In fact the earliest Buddhist councils were recorded in Maghadhi, and it was even the language of King Ashoka himself. Later the language of Buddhism would be Pali, which formed out of a massive mix of languages, some even western in origin, and was in part a Buddhist Aryan creole. Later on a form of Sanskrit, called Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, formed, which is essentially where the language is written using Prakrit grammar and words, and then styled later to be reminiscent of classical Sanskrit, put overall very different grammatically.
     Greeks had interactions with the Indians primarily after the conquests of Alexander the Great and the diplomacy with the Diadochi Seleucids. Most of the influence of Sanskrit on Greek was through the names of products coming from India, such as ginger, which derives its name from a town on the Ganges river. The Greeks detailed the castes and tribes of the Indians, as well as the similarities between Hindi and Greek deities. The Greeks, however, did not analyze Indian culture except for on the superficial scale. The Chinese, one the other hand, came as serious students of Indian culture, primarily Buddhism. Most information is from four Chinese pilgrims, each of whom wrote a memoir of their journeys as well as bringing back Buddhist texts to translate, and each were spread on journeys of about a century apart. They each brought back new information on India. India, for the Chinese, was the home of Buddhist enlightenment. 
One possible Aryan migration route

     Sanskrit first appears, as most Indo-European languages do, as the speech of conquering warriors on horseback who establish domination over their neighbors and turn them into serfs and subjects. Evidence can be seen in the importance of horses in ancient Aryan culture, as well as their introduction of chariots and metallic tools. The language, however, has adopted much of the Dravidian features as well, making it distinct from neighboring Indo-European groups. There are other language groups in India, such as the aboriginal languages of Orissa, related to those of Bengal. These languages were distinct at least up to the seventh century AD, and can still be seen in some villages and words in the region today.
     Sanskrit also spread first to Sri Lanka, and then to the rest of Southeast Asia, with civilization being associated with Indianization in the region, much like China with Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. It is not clear how the language spread, other than it definitely was not by military conquest. It could be through pirates, priests, merchants, refugees, ambassadors, or maybe even a combination of all of these factors.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Research Book Post #6

February 2

Book: Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler

Section: More of Chapter 4 (Page 140 to 170)

The Chinese Retreat South and the Triumph of Fertility

     While the Chinese were successful at repelling the Xiongnu through the use of their own cavalry, the Great Wall, as well as control of key trade cities along with the constant garrison of their borders, all this was costly, meaning that once the strong central government of the Han fell, the Xiongnu were able to penetrate China once more. This led to a bloody period during which Turks and Mongols fought over the northern regions of China, leading to the center of Chinese power and culture to move south, to the city of Nanjing, where the Wei rulers, who were Turkish speaking, adopted Chinese and outlawed Turkish in favor of the more common Chinese. All this also led the Chinese language to extend even farther south through refugees and immigrants moving and having their Chinese language adopted. When China was reunited in 589, Chinese still continued to spread south. Through traders the religions of Zoroatrianism, Manicheanism, Islam, Buddhism, and Nestorian Christianity, along with the languages of Aramaic and Arabic, spread to the Chinese but had little effect on the overall language of the area, and by the end of the Tang dynasty, all but Buddhism and Islam had been completely eliminated. The Chinese would eventually take back the north, however they would continue a back and forth between the control of the north as it would switch between Chinese and Turkic speakers. This cycle would end with the Manchurian Qing dynasty in the 17th century, who would conquer China and although their language would officially be Turkic in origin until the 1900's, in reality it was overtaken even in Manchuria during the late 18th century by Chinese. Their language would survive, called Xibo, through a detachment of troops dispatched to the Xinjiang province of China. Many theories behind why northern Chinese is still so similar to its southern brethren despite being ruled by Altaic speakers include that Altaic and Chinese languages are simply to different for any hybrid to be established, leading to each dynasty picking one or the other. Chinese did not fair so well in other parts of Asia, and despite controlling Vietnam for centuries, the Chinese were never able to truly spread their language to the region. The only area remotely affected is the island of Java, whose eastern dialects were created as exiles from southern China fled to the region and merged their language with the natives. One reason for the Chinese lack of success was the fact that the Chinese governments often did not back its overseas populations and traders, placing bans on them and even declaring many outlaws. With the rise of the Qing dynasty, overseas populations of Chinese were literally massacred due to some supporting the old Ming, leading to all being declared enemies of China. Overtime, and in no small part due to the rise of European trade in the region, the Chinese opened up to trade and spread their population across South East Asia, to the islands of Malaysia and the lands such as Vietnam. Languages such as Egyptian and Chinese survived for several reasons over such a long period of time. They both were united as a culture under a single ruler and empire very early on, be it Egyptian Menes or Chinese Shi Huang Di. They both used their culture and religion to reinforce loyalty in the concept of a single ruler, meaning that there would be a reason to unite under one ruler, be it the concept of the god king pharaoh or the Chinese Mandate of Heaven. Finally both simply had many speakers, so that they were immune from being swamped by foreigners as they could simply out populate their enemies, even if they could not keep them out.

     One interesting note is that nobody knows how Egyptian hieroglyphs were developed, and while the common theory is that they developed from cuneiform, it has not been proven. The reason this is so fascinating is that when Egyptian hieroglyphs first appear, they do not undergo the usual evolution of other writing systems. Rather, it remains pretty much the same for 3500 years, adding minor changes and some new words over time, but remaining pretty consistent until Christianity brought with it Greek alphabets and changed Egyptian writing and administration. This proves that Egyptian hieroglyphs were very effective and sufficient for Egypt, as they saw no need or desire to change their system until forced to as new administrations introduced their own government and language, from the Romans and Persians to the Greeks. Part of the reason they could be forced in the first place was the belief among Egyptians that scribes were a higher caste, with whom all knowledge of writing should rest, meaning that it was easy to introduce other forms of writing to the lower strata who never knew their own way in the first place. Chinese writing, however, survived foreign invasions and dialect creation, mainly due to the fact that while dialects may string them together differently, Chinese symbols are still the same across all dialects, tying them all together through writing even when not mutually intelligible when spoken. Chinese also spread literacy to much of its population, especially when Confucian values and bureaucracy was introduced.
     China and Egypt were both similar in the way they interacted with foreigners, in that they did not actively do so often. Egypt mostly interacted through trade, but this was done through intermediaries, be it the Phoenicians or the Greeks later on. They conquered areas such as Syria and Palestine, but they never attempted to spread their culture here to create permanent ties. They may have been more active pushing south into areas such as Kush, due to the similarity in some ancient languages to Egyptian in the region as well as some records, but the extent of this is unknown and probably not large. This was largely the same with China, which spent most of its history on the defensive in regards to culture, with interactions mostly occurring due to foreign initiative, which is how things such as Buddhism and Islam spread to China. This continued up to the 16th century. The Chinese strategy was to allow foreigners to come to them, for the most part. In modern day, there are major Chinese communities in almost every large city in Southeast Asia, which are a principal source of investment capital in the regions. In the Philippines they make about 1% of the total population, but own about half of the stock market, and in Indonesia it is 4% and 75%, respectively. According to one estimate, 51 million overseas Chinese control an economy worth $700 billion, the same size as the 1.2 billion mainlanders. China, unlike Egypt, does have three 'disciples'. They are Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, each of which speak a different language than Chinese, had to resist Chinese invasions, but adopted Chinese writing instead of forming their own.
     The book goes on to talk about how the reasons the Egyptians survived the recorded incursions and immigrations of foreigners such as the Libyans and Kushites is mainly due to their massive population centered on the Nile. There were simply to many to convert the culture, so interlopers were doomed to merge. Egypt finally fell after it was bombarded so many times that it slowly became diluted and bilingual as so many outsiders moved in, and finally it could not resist the invasion of Arabic, brought on the backs of Islamic conquerors. By being forced to accept Islam as their religion, they were also forced to adopt Arabic, which slowly spread as Islam spread. With the loss of both their religion and then their language, the independent Egyptian identity faded, as they became more and more as simply Arab Muslims. Chinese on the other hand, was held together by two main things for so long. The first was the sense of unity the Chinese people maintained as they believed themselves the center of the world, surrounded by barbarians. The constant threat of these barbarians tied the Chinese together against a common enemy. The second was the introduction of the meritocratic examination bureaucracy that allowed for Chinese speaking institutions to always remain, as well as it leading to the standardization of the Chinese language under the Qing Dynasty.