Econstudentlog

Words

The words included in the post below were mostly words which I encountered while reading the books Personal Relationships, Circadian Rhythms, Quick Service, Principles of memory, Feet of Clay, The Reverse of the Medal, and The Letter of Marque.

Camouflet. Dissimulation. Nomological. Circumlocutory. EclosionPuissant. Esurient. Hisperic. Ambigram. Scotophilic. Millenarianism. Sonder. Pomology. Oogonium. Vole. Tippler. Autonoetic. Engraphy/engram. Armigerous. Gazunder/guzunder.

Frizzle. Matorral. SclerophyllXerophyte. Teratoma. Shallop. Quartan. Ablative. Prolative. Dispart. Ptarmigan. Starbolins. Idolatrous. Spoom. Cablet. Hostler. Chelonian. Omnium. Toper. Rectitude.

Marthambles. Combe. Holt. Stile. Plover. Andiron. Delf. Boreen. Thief-taker. Patten. Subvention. Hummum. Bustard. Lugger. Vainglory. Penetralia. Limicoline. Astragal. Fillebeg/filibeg. Voluptuous.

Civet. Moil. Impostume. Frowsty. Bob. Snuggery. Legation. Brindle. Epergne. Chough. Shoneen. Pilaff. Phaeton. Gentian. Poldavy. Grebe. Orotund. Panoply. Chiliad. Quiddity.

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September 27, 2018 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

The words below are mostly words which I encountered while reading the books Pocket oncology, Djinn Rummy, Open Sesame, and The Far Side of the World.

Hematochezia. Neuromyotonia. Anoproctitis. Travelator. Brassica. Physiatry. Clivus. Curettage. Colposcopy. Trachelectomy. Photopheresis. Myelophthisis. Apheresis. Vexilloid. Gonfalon. Eutectic. Clerisy. Frippery. Scrip. Bludge.

Illude. Empyrean. Bonzer. Vol-au-vent. Curule. Entrechat. Winceyette. Attar. Woodbine. Corolla. Rennet. Gusset. Jacquard. Antipodean. Chaplet. Thrush. Coloratura. Biryani. Caff. Scrummy.

Beatific. Forecourt. Hurtle. Freemartin. Coleoptera. Hemipode. Bespeak. Dickey. Bilbo. Hale. Grampus. Calenture. Reeve. Cribbing. Fleam. Totipalmate. Bonito. Blackstrake/Black strake. Shank. Caiman.

Chancery. Acullico. Thole. Aorist. Westing. Scorbutic. Voyol. Fribble. Terraqueous. Oviparous. Specktioneer. Aprication. Phalarope. Lough. Hoy. Reel. Trachyte. Woulding. Anthropophagy. Risorgimento.

 

August 2, 2018 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

The words included in this post are words which I encountered while reading the books: 100 cases in orthopaedics and rheumatology, Managing Gastrointestinal Complications of Diabetes, American Naval History: A very short introduction, Big Data: A very short introduction, Faust among Equals, Pocket Oncology, My Hero, and Odds and Gods.

Angulation. Soleus. Mucoid. Plantarflex. Pronation. Arthrosis. Syndesmosis. Ecchymosis. Diastasis. Epicondyle. Pucker. Enthesopathy. Paresis. Polyostotic. Riff. Livedo. Aphtha/aphthous. Pathergy. Annular. Synovium/synovial.

Scallop. Tastant. Incantatory. Radeau. Gundalow. Scrivener. Pebbledash. Chrominance. Tittle. Capitonym. Scot. Grayling. Terylene. Pied-à-terre. Solenoid. Fen. Anaglypta. Loud-hailer. Fauteuil. Dimpsy.

Seborrhea. Anasarca. Emetogenic. Trachelectomy. Brachytherapy. Nomogram. Trusty. Biff. Pantechnicon. Porpentine. Budgerigar. Nerk. Glade. Slinky. Gelignite. Boater. Seamless. Jabberwocky. Fardel. Kapok.

Aspidistra. Cowpat. Countershaft. Tinny. Ponce. Warp. Weft. Recension. Bandstand. Strimmer. Chasuble. Champer. Bourn. Khazi. Zimmer. Ossuary. Suppliant. Nock. Taramosalata. Quoit.

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

Most of the words included below are words which I encountered while reading the Tom Holt novels Ye Gods!Here Comes The SunGrailblazers, and Flying Dutch, as well as Lewis Wolpert’s Developmental Biology and Parminder & Swales’s text 100 Cases in Orthopaedics and Rheumatology.

Epigraphy. Plangent. Simony. Simpulum. Testoon. Sybarite/sybaritic. Culverin. Niff. Gavotte. Welch. Curtilage. Basilar. Dusack. Galliard. Foolscap. Spinet. Netsuke. Pinny. Shufti. Foumart.

Compere. Triune. Sistrum. Tenon. Buckshee. Jink. Chiropody. Slingback. NarthexNidus. Subluxation. Aponeurosis. Psoas. Articular. Varus. Valgus. Talus. Orthosis/orthotics. Acetabulum. Labrum.

Peculation. Purler. Macédoine. Denticle. Inflorescence. Invagination. Intercalate. Antalgic. Chondral. Banjax. Bodge/peck. Remora. Chicory. Gantry. Aerate. Erk. Recumbent. Pootle. Stylus. Vamplate.

Tappet. Frumenty. Woad. Breviary. Witter. Errantry. Pommy. Lychee. Priory. Bourse. Phylloxera. Dozy. Whitlow. Crampon. Brill. Fiddly. Acrostic. Scrotty. Ricasso. Tetchy.

June 10, 2018 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

Most of the words below are words which I encountered while reading the books 100 cases in emergency medicine and critical care, Frozen Assets, Money in the Bank, Ice in the bedroom, Treason’s Harbour, Earth, Air, Fire and Custard, and May Contain Traces of Magic.

Talus/talar. Mortise. Empyema. Tragus. Otorrhoea. Lordosis. Chemosis. Eversion. Coryza. Atopy. Ectropion. Fly-tipping. Favism. Quillet. Hyperthymesia. Barratry. Simoom. Corium. Inexpugnable. Sly.

Portentous. Distaff. Dipsomaniac. Peart. Nippy. Frenetic. Azeotrope. Tumbril. Ratty. Exordium. Zareba. Bezel. Gregale. Gaberlunzie. Chelengk. Deboshed. Coriaceous. Battel. Rufous. Skink.

Lascar. Milksop. Polenta. Compline. Zither. Stroppy. Calomel. Spangly. Postern. Unregenerate. Vertiginous. Judder. Perspex. Swizzle. Lambently. Sprog. Flollop. Dodgem. Prurient. Gazump.

Cathexis. Scrounge. Quaerens. Tine. Tape measure. Strimmer. Bardiche. Martel. Demiurge. Copra. Grubby. Stonking. Campanology. Taramasalata. Muliebrity. Slumgullion. Flocculate. Mollycoddle. Bloviate. Kitsch.

 

May 20, 2018 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

Most of the words below are words which I encountered while reading the books 100 cases in Surgery, The portable door, Expecting Someone Taller, and The Ionian Mission.

Hypernym/hyponym. Comminution. Scute. Introgression. Polysemous/polysemy. Flashover. Homophily. Opprobrious. Venturous. Remissive. Scuzzy. Funicular. Atelectasis. Valvulae conniventes. Haustrum/haustra. Anticlastic. Manubrium. Serpiginous. Trismus. Villagisation.

Bradawl. Barberry. Coppice. Squelch. Scry. Wodge. Graunch. Vergence. Encashment. Epitome. Crosspatch. Houndstooth. Bumf. Philter/philtre. Commemorative. Rapacious. Bisque. Mordant. Cochineal. Convocation.

Grobian. Cappabar/capperbar. Looby. Levanter. Vane. Circumambient. Shearwater. Scrove. Purcit. Opisthotonus. Slop. Dimity. Pinchbeck. Dactyl. Tramontane. Afflatus. Tamarisk. Pernicious. Coaming. Beylik.

Chrestomathy. Irade. Mastic. Levin. Mangonel. Uncovenanted. Theogony. Cruet. Emboss. Trafficator. Gymkhana. Martingale. Buddleia. Surcingle. Droopy. Nobble. Emery. Stemma. Wadi. Prosopography.

 

April 22, 2018 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

Most of the words below are words which I encountered while reading the books The Fortune of War, The Surgeon’s Mate, In Your Dreams, and Who’s Afraid of Beowulf.

Pervenche. Intromit. Subfusc. Inspissated. Supple. Ukase. Commensal. Croft. Scantling. Compendious. Nympholept. Forfantery (an unsual – but very useful – link, for an unusual word). Trunnion. Hominy. Slubberdegullion. Lickerish. Brail. Grapnel. Swingle. Altumal.

Éclaircissement. Costiveness. Vang. Heady. Mort. Cingulum. Swingeing. Avifauna. Carminative. Accoucheur. Peccavi. Grommet. Woolding. Scow. Gibbous. Tierce. Burgoo. Tye. Inclement. Lobscouse.

Irrefragable. Gurnard. Bilaterian. Malmsey. Corbel. Jakes. Bonnet. Doddle. Rock dash. Purlin. Pillock. Graunch. Chirrup. Skive. Pelmet. Feckless. Pedalo. Howe. Tannin. Garnet.

Delate. Derisory. Saveloy. Flan. Quillon. Corvid. Hierophant. Thane. Laconic. Chthonic. Cowrie. Repique. Broch. Cheep. Carborundum. Shieling. Bothy. Meronomy. Petard. Mereology.

 

April 5, 2018 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

Almost all the words included in this post are words which I encountered while reading the books The Mauritius Command, Desolation Island and You Don’t Have to Be Evil to Work Here, But it Helps.

Aleatory. Tenesmus. Celerity. Pelisse. Collop. Clem. Aviso. Crapulous. Farinaceous. Parturient. Tormina. Scend. Fascine. Distich. Appetency/appetence. Calipash. Tergiversation. Polypody. Prodigious. Teredo.

Rapacity. Cappabar. Chronometer. Figgy-dowdy. Chamade. Hauteur. Futtock. Obnubilate. Offing. Cleat. Trephine. Promulgate. Hieratic. Cockle. Froward. Aponeurosis. lixiviate. Cupellation. Plaice. Sharper.

Morosity. MephiticGlaucous. Libidinous. Grist. Tilbury. Surplice. Megrim. Cumbrous. Pule. Pintle. Fifer. Roadstead. Quadrumane. Peacoat. Burgher. Cuneate. Tundish. Bung. Fother.

Dégagé. Esculent. Genuflect. Lictor. Drogue. Oakum. Spume. Gudgeon. Firk. Mezzanine. Faff. Manky. Titchy. Sprocket. Conveyancing. Apportionment. Plonker. Flammulated. Cataract. Demersal.

March 15, 2018 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

The words included in this post are words which I encountered while reading Patrick O’Brian’s books Post Captain and HMS Surprise. As was also the case the last time I posted one of these posts, I had to include ~100 words, instead of the ~80 I have come to consider ‘the standard’ for these posts, in order to include all the words of interest which I encountered in the books.

MésallianceMansuetude. Wen. Raffish. Stave. Gorse. Lurcher. Improvidence/improvident. Sough. Bowse. Mump. Jib. Tipstaff. Squalid. Strum. Hussif. Dowdy. Cognoscent. Footpad. Quire.

Vacillation. Wantonness. Escritoire/scrutoire. Mantua. Shindy. Vinous. Top-hamper. Holystone. Keelson. Bollard/bitts. Wicket. Paling. Brace (sailing). Coxcomb. Foin. Stern chaser. Galliot. Postillion. Coot. Fanfaronade.

Malversation. Arenaceous. Tope. Shebeen. Lithotomy. Quoin/coign. Mange. Curricle. Cockade. Spout. Bistoury. Embrasure. Acushla. Circumambulation. Glabrous. Impressment. Transpierce. Dilatoriness. Conglobate. Murrain.

Anfractuous/anfractuosity. Conversible. Tunny. Weevil. Posset. Sponging-house. Salmagundi. Hugger-mugger. Euphroe. Jobbery. Dun. Privity. Intension. Shaddock. Catharpin. Peccary. Tarpaulin. Frap. Bombinate. Spirketing.

Glacis. Gymnosophist. Fibula. Dreary. Barouche. Syce. Carmine. Lustration. Rood. Timoneer. Crosstrees. Luff. Mangosteeen. Methitic. Superfetation. Pledget. Innominate. Jibboom. Pilau. Ataraxy.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

The words below are mostly words I encountered while reading Wolfe’s The Claw of the Conciliator and O’Brian’s Master and Commander. I wanted to finish off my ‘coverage’ of those books here, so I decided to include a few more words than usual (the post includes ~100 words, instead of the usual ~80).

Threnody. Noctilucent. Dell. Cariole. Rick. Campanile. Obeisance. Cerbotana. Caloyer. Mitre. Orpiment. Tribade/tribadism (NSFW words?). Thiasus. Argosy. Partridge. Cenotaph. Seneschal. Ossifrage. Faille. Calotte.

Meretrice. Bijou. Espalier. Gramary. Jennet. Algophilia/algophilist. Clerestory. Liquescent. Pawl. Lenitive. Bream. Bannister. Jacinth. Inimical. Grizzled. Trabacalo. Xebec. Suet. Stanchion. Beadle.

Philomath. Gaby. Purser. Tartan. Eparterial. Otiose. Cryptogam. Puncheon. Neume. Cully. Carronade. Becket. Belay. Capstan. Nacreous. Fug. Cosset. Roborative. Comminatory. Strake.

Douceur. Bowsprit. Orlop. Turbot. Luffing. Sempiternal. Tompion. Loblolly (boy). Felucca. Genet. Steeve. Gremial. Epicene. Quaere. Mumchance. Hance. Divertimento. Halliard. Gleet. Rapparee.

Prepotent. Tramontana. Hecatomb. Inveteracy. Davit. Vaticination/vaticinatory. Trundle. Antinomian. Scunner. Shay. Demulcent. Wherry. Cullion. Hemidemisemiquaver. Cathead. Cordage. Kedge. Clew. Semaphore. Tumblehome.

February 21, 2018 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

The great majority of the words included below are words which I encountered while reading Gene Wolfe’s The Shadow of the torturer. The rest of the words are words which I encountered while reading The Oxford Handbook of Endocrinology and Diabetes as well as various ‘A Short Introduction to…‘-books.

Coloboma. Paresis. Exstrophy. Transhumance. Platybasia. Introitus. Ichthyology. Atresia. Nival. Dormer. Tussock. Mullion. Tholus. Delectation. Carnelian. Camisa. Soubrette. Cacogenic. Anacrisis. Sedge.

Barbican. Gallipot. Stele. Badelaire. Chalcedony. Helve. Armiger. Caracara. Saros. Blazon. Presentment. Refectory. Citrine. Eidolon. Obverse. Glaive. Inutile. Hypostase. Leman. Pursuivant.

Cabochon. Palfrenier. Limpid. Burse. Thurible. Anacreontic. Pardine. Nigrescent. Chrism. Pageantry. Capybara. Tinsel. Rebec. Shewbread. Excruciation. Cataphract. Sateen. Dhow. Rheostat. Caique.

Baldric. Paterissa. Bartizan. Peltast. Dray. Lochage. Miter. Discommode. Lambrequin. Dross. Proscenium. Jelab. Cymar/simar. Vicuna. Monomachy. Champian. Dulcimer. Lamia. Nidorous. Mensal.

January 19, 2018 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

It’s been a while since I posted one of these posts.

I know for certain that quite a few of the words included below are words which I encountered while reading the Jim Butcher books Ghost Story, Cold Days, and Skin Game, and I also know that some of the ones I added to the post more recently were words I encountered while reading the Oxford Handbook of Endocrinology and Diabetes. Almost half of the words were however words which had just been added at some point in the past to a list I keep of words I’d like to eventually include in posts like these; that list had grown rather long and unwieldy so I decided to include a lot of words from that list in this post – I have almost no idea where I encountered most of those words (I try to add to that list whenever I encounter a word I particularly like or a word with which I’m not familiar, regardless of the source, and I usually do not add a source).

Chemosis. Asthenia. Arcuate. Onycholysis. Nubble. Colliery. Fomite. Riparian. Guglet/goglet. Limbus. Stupe. Osier. Synostosis. Amscray. Slosh. Dowel. Swill. Tocometer. Raster. Squab.

Antiquer. Ritzy. Boutonniere. Exfiltrate. Lurch. Placard. Futz. Bleary. Scapula. Bobble. Frigorific. Skerry. Trotter. Raffinate. Truss. Despoliation. Primogeniture. Whelp. Ethmoid. Rollick.

Fireplug. Taupe. Obviate. Koi. Doughboy. Guck. Flophouse. Vane. Gast. Chastisement. Rink. Wakizashi. Culvert. Lickety-split. Whipsaw. Spall. Tine. Nadir. Periwinkle. Pitter-patter.

Sidle. Iridescent. Feint. Flamberge. Batten. Gangplank. Meander. Flunky. Futz. Thwack. Prissy. Vambrace. Tasse. Smarmy. Abut. Jounce. Wright. Ebon. Skin game. Shimmer.

December 27, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

Most of these words are words which I encountered while reading the Jim Butcher books White Night, Small Favour, Turn Coat, and Changes.

Propitiate. Misericord. Skirling. Idiom. Cadge. Hapless. Roil. Kibble. Viridian. Kine. Shill. Steeple. Décolletage. Kukri. Rondure. Wee. Contrail. Servitor. Pastern. Fetlock.

Coterie. Crochet. Fibrillate. Knead. Divot. Avail. Tamale. Abalone. Cupola. Tuyere. Simulacrum. Bristle. Guff. Shimmy. Prow. Warble. Cannery. Twirl. Winch. Wheelhouse.

Teriyaki. Widdershins. Kibble. Slobber. Surcease. Amble. Invocation. Gasket. Chorale. Rivulet. Choker. Grimoire. Caduceus. Fussbudget. Pate. Scrunchie. Shamble. Ficus. Deposition. Grue.

Aliquot. Nape. Emanation. Atavistic. Menhir. Scrimshaw. Burble. Pauldron. Ornate. Stolid. Wry. Stamen. Ductwork. Speleothem. Philtrum. Hassock. Incipit. Planish. Rheology. Sinter.

 

November 29, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

Most of the words below are words which I encountered while reading the Jim Butcher novels: Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Death Masks, Blood Rites, Dead Beat, and Proven Guilty.

Gobbet. Corrugate. Whuff. Wino. Shinny. Ruff. Rubberneck. Pastel. Sidhe. Appellation. Tine. Clomp. Susurration. Bier. Pucker. Haft. Topiary. Tendril. Pommel. Swath.

Chitter. Wispy. Flinders. Ewer. Incongruous. Athame. Bole. Chitin. Prancy. Doily. Garland. Heft. Hod. Klaxon. Ravening. Juke. Schlep. Pew. Gaggle. Passel.

Scourge. Coven. Wetwork. Gofer. Hinky. Pratfall. Parti-color(ed). Clawhammer. Mesquite. Scion. Traction. Kirtle. Avaunt. Imbibe. Betimes. Dinky. Rebar. Maw. Strident. Mangel.

GeodePanacheLuminance. WickSusurrus. ChuffWhammy. Cuss. Ripsaw. Scrunch. Fain. Hygroscopicity. Anasarca. Bitumen. Lingula. Diaphoretic. Ketch. Callipygian. Defalcation. Serried.

November 7, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Child psychology

I was not impressed with this book, but as mentioned in the short review it was ‘not completely devoid of observations of interest’.

Before I start my proper coverage of the book, here are some related ‘observations’ from a different book I recently read, Bellwether:

““First we’re all going to play a game. Bethany, it’s Brittany’s birthday.” She attempted a game involving balloons with pink Barbies on them and then gave up and let Brittany open her presents. “Open Sandy’s first,” Gina said, handing her the book.
“No, Caitlin, these are Brittany’s presents.”
Brittany ripped the paper off Toads and Diamonds and looked at it blankly.
“That was my favorite fairy tale when I was little,” I said. “It’s about a girl who meets a good fairy, only she doesn’t, know it because the fairy’s in disguise—” but Brittany had already tossed it aside and was ripping open a Barbie doll in a glittery dress.
“Totally Hair Barbie!” she shrieked.
“Mine,” Peyton said, and made a grab that left Brittany holding nothing but Barbie’s arm.
“She broke Totally Hair Barbie!” Brittany wailed.
Peyton’s mother stood up and said calmly, “Peyton, I think you need a time-out.”
I thought Peyton needed a good swat, or at least to have Totally Hair Barbie taken away from her and given back to Brittany, but instead her mother led her to the door of Gina’s bedroom. “You can come out when you’re in control of your feelings,” she said to Peyton, who looked like she was in control to me.
“I can’t believe you’re still using time-outs,” Chelsea’s mother said. “Everybody’s using holding now.”
“Holding?” I asked.
“You hold the child immobile on your lap until the negative behavior stops. It produces a feeling of interceptive safety.”
“Really,” I said, looking toward the bedroom door. I would have hated trying to hold Peyton against her will.
“Holding’s been totally abandoned,” Lindsay’s mother said. “We use EE.”
“EE?” I said.
“Esteem Enhancement,” Lindsay’s mother said. “EE addresses the positive peripheral behavior no matter how negative the primary behavior is.”
“Positive peripheral behavior?” Gina said dubiously. “When Peyton took the Barbie away from Brittany just now,” Lindsay’s mother said, obviously delighted to explain, “you would have said, ‘My, Peyton, what an assertive grip you have.’”

[A little while later, during the same party:]

“My, Peyton,” Lindsay’s mother said, “what a creative thing to do with your frozen yogurt.””

Okay, on to the coverage of the book. I haven’t covered it in much detail, but I have included some observations of interest below.

“[O]ptimal development of grammar (knowledge about language structure) and phonology (knowledge about the sound elements in words) depends on the brain experiencing sufficient linguistic input. So quantity of language matters. The quality of the language used with young children is also important. The easiest way to extend the quality of language is with interactions around books. […] Natural conversations, focused on real events in the here and now, are those which are critical for optimal development. Despite this evidence, just talking to young children is still not valued strongly in many environments. Some studies find that over 60 per cent of utterances to young children are ‘empty language’ — phrases such as ‘stop that’, ‘don’t go there’, and ‘leave that alone’. […] studies of children who experience high levels of such ‘restricted language’ reveal a negative impact on later cognitive, social, and academic development.”

[Neural] plasticity is largely achieved by the brain growing connections between brain cells that are already there. Any environmental input will cause new connections to form. At the same time, connections that are not used much will be pruned. […] the consistency of what is experienced will be important in determining which connections are pruned and which are retained. […] Brains whose biology makes them less efficient in particular and measurable aspects of processing seem to be at risk in specific areas of development. For example, when auditory processing is less efficient, this can carry a risk of later language impairment.”

“Joint attention has […] been suggested to be the basis of ‘natural pedagogy’ — a social learning system for imparting cultural knowledge. Once attention is shared by adult and infant on an object, an interaction around that object can begin. That interaction usually passes knowledge from carer to child. This is an example of responsive contingency in action — the infant shows an interest in something, the carer responds, and there is an interaction which enables learning. Taking the child’s focus of attention as the starting point for the interaction is very important for effective learning. Of course, skilled carers can also engineer situations in which babies or children will become interested in certain objects. This is the basis of effective play-centred learning. Novel toys or objects are always interesting.”

“Some research suggests that the pitch and amplitude (loudness) of a baby’s cry has been developed by evolution to prompt immediate action by adults. Babies’ cries appear to be designed to be maximally stressful to hear.”

“[T]he important factors in becoming a ‘preferred attachment figure’ are proximity and consistency.”

“[A]dults modify their actions in important ways when they interact with infants. These modifications appear to facilitate learning. ‘Infant-directed action’ is characterized by greater enthusiasm, closer proximity to the infant, greater repetitiveness, and longer gaze to the face than interactions with another adult. Infant-directed action also uses simplified actions with more turn-taking. […] carers tend to use a special tone of voice to talk to babies. This is more sing-song and attention-grabbing than normal conversational speech, and is called ‘infant-directed speech’ [IDS] or ‘Parentese’. All adults and children naturally adopt this special tone when talking to a baby, and babies prefer to listen to Parentese. […] IDS […] heightens pitch, exaggerates the length of words, and uses extra stress, exaggerating the rhythmic or prosodic aspects of speech. […] the heightened prosody increases the salience of acoustic cues to where words begin and end. […] So as well as capturing attention, IDS is emphasizing key linguistic cues that help language acquisition. […] The infant brain seems to cope with the ‘learning problem’ of which sounds matter by initially being sensitive to all the sound elements used by the different world languages. Via acoustic learning during the first year of life, the brain then specializes in the sounds that matter for the particular languages that it is being exposed to.”

“While crawling makes it difficult to carry objects with you on your travels, learning to walk enables babies to carry things. Indeed, walking babies spend most of their time selecting objects and taking them to show their carer, spending on average 30–40 minutes per waking hour interacting with objects. […] Self-generated movement is seen as critical for child development. […] most falling is adaptive, as it helps infants to gain expertise. Indeed, studies show that newly walking infants fall on average 17 times per hour. From the perspective of child psychology, the importance of ‘motor milestones’ like crawling and walking is that they enable greater agency (self-initiated and self-chosen behaviour) on the part of the baby.”

“Statistical learning enables the brain to learn the statistical structure of any event or object. […] Statistical structure is learned in all sensory modalities simultaneously. For example, as the child learns about birds, the child will learn that light body weight, having feathers, having wings, having a beak, singing, and flying, all go together. Each bird that the child sees may be different, but each bird will share the features of flying, having feathers, having wings, and so on. […] The connections that form between the different brain cells that are activated by hearing, seeing, and feeling birds will be repeatedly strengthened for these shared features, thereby creating a multi-modal neural network for that particular concept. The development of this network will be dependent on everyday experiences, and the networks will be richer if the experiences are more varied. This principle of learning supports the use of multi-modal instruction and active experience in nursery and primary school. […] knowledge about concepts is distributed across the entire brain. It is not stored separately in a kind of conceptual ‘dictionary’ or distinct knowledge system. Multi-modal experiences strengthen learning across the whole brain. Accordingly, multisensory learning is the most effective kind of learning for young children.”

“Babies learn words most quickly when an adult both points to and names a new item.”

“…direct teaching of scientific reasoning skills helps children to reason logically independently of their pre-existing beliefs. This is more difficult than it sounds, as pre-existing beliefs exert strong effects. […] in many social situations we are advantaged if we reason on the basis of our pre-existing beliefs. This is one reason that stereotypes form”. [Do remember on a related note that stereotype accuracy is one of the largest and most replicable effects in all of social psychology – US].

“Some gestures have almost universal meaning, like waving goodbye. Babies begin using gestures like this quite early on. Between 10 and 18 months of age, gestures become frequent and are used extensively for communication. […] After around 18 months, the use of gesture starts declining, as vocalization becomes more and more dominant in communication. […] By [that time], most children are entering the two-word stage, when they become able to combine words. […] At this age, children often use a word that they know to refer to many different entities whose names are not yet known. They might use the word ‘bee’ for insects that are not bees, or the word ‘dog’ to refer to horses and cows. Experiments have shown that this is not a semantic confusion. Toddlers do not think that horses and cows are a type of dog. Rather, they have limited language capacities, and so they stretch their limited vocabularies to communicate as flexibly as possible. […] there is a lot of similarity across cultures at the two-word stage regarding which words are combined. Young children combine words to draw attention to objects (‘See doggie!’), to indicate ownership (‘My shoe’), to point out properties of objects (‘Big doggie’), to indicate plurality (‘Two cookie’), and to indicate recurrence (‘Other cookie’). […] It is only as children learn grammar that some divergence is found across languages. This is probably because different languages have different grammatical formats for combining words. […] grammatical learning emerges naturally from extensive language experience (of the utterances of others) and from language use (the novel utterances of the child, which are re-formulated by conversational partners if they are grammatically incorrect).”

“The social and communicative functions of language, and children’s understanding of them, are captured by pragmatics. […] pragmatic aspects of conversation include taking turns, and making sure that the other person has sufficient knowledge of the events being discussed to follow what you are saying. […] To learn about pragmatics, children need to go beyond the literal meaning of the words and make inferences about communicative intent. A conversation is successful when a child has recognized the type of social situation and applied the appropriate formula. […] Children with autism, who have difficulties with social cognition and in reading the mental states of others, find learning the pragmatics of conversation particularly difficult. […] Children with autism often show profound delays in social understanding and do not ‘get’ many social norms. These children may behave quite inappropriately in social settings […] Children with autism may also show very delayed understanding of emotions and of intentions. However, this does not make them anti-social, rather it makes them relatively ineffective at being pro-social.”

“When children have siblings, there are usually developmental advantages for social cognition and psychological understanding. […] Discussing the causes of disputes appears to be particularly important for developing social understanding. Young children need opportunities to ask questions, argue with explanations, and reflect on why other people behave in the way that they do. […] Families that do not talk about the intentions and emotions of others and that do not explicitly discuss social norms will create children with reduced social understanding.”

“[C]hildren, like adults, are more likely to act in pro-social ways to ingroup members. […] Social learning of cultural ‘ingroups’ appears to develop early in children as part of general socio-moral development. […] being loyal to one’s ‘ingroup’ is likely to make the child more popular with the other members of that group. Being in a group thus requires the development of knowledge about how to be loyal, about conforming to pressure and about showing ingroup bias. For example, children may need to make fine judgements about who is more popular within the group, so that they can favour friends who are more likely to be popular with the rest of the group. […] even children as young as 6 years will show more positive responding to the transgression of social rules by ingroup members compared to outgroup members, particularly if they have relatively well-developed understanding of emotions and intentions.”

“Good language skills improve memory, because children with better language skills are able to construct narratively coherent and extended, temporally organized representations of experienced events.”

“Once children begin reading, […] letter-sound knowledge and ‘phonemic awareness’ (the ability to divide words into the single sound elements represented by letters) become the most important predictors of reading development. […] phonemic awareness largely develops as a consequence of being taught to read and write. Research shows that illiterate adults do not have phonemic awareness. […] brain imaging shows that learning to read ‘re-maps’ phonology in the brain. We begin to hear words as sequences of ‘phonemes’ only after we learn to read.”

October 29, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language, Neurology, Psychology | Leave a comment

Words

Almost all of the words below are words which I encountered while reading the novels Flashman and the Tiger, Flashman in the Great Game, Bellwether, and Storm Front.

Cavil. Thimblerig(/ger). Garboil. Gamine. Teetotum. Burgess. Clart. Wangle. Arrack. Surpassingly. Understrapper. Quince. Fiacre. Hackney. Furbelow. Fritillary. Dormer. Haddock. Chamois. Tizzy.

Claver. Aporia. Tyke. Clype. Gowk. Billycock. Mottle. Welkin. Hayrick. Ablution. Flanker. Baize. Assegai. Inspan. Knobkerrie. Cutty. Leek. Guttering. Costermonger. Kohl.

Genteel. Plenipotentiary. Trice. Tinker. Chapati. Clack. Rowan. Bracken. Tapster. Bosh. Durbar. Krait. Dacoit. Kepi. Ghat. Waler. Hackery. Bun-fight. Flapper. Wale.

Bellwether. Bouffant. Rumple. Snit. Dashiki. Puce. Shearling. Pinafore. Marcel. Cerulean. Wreaths. Planchette. Moxie. Gawky. Ichor. Thrum. Hibachi. Wain. Ecumene. Fricative.

 

October 26, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

Most of the words below are words which I encountered while reading Flashman and the Angel of the Lord and Flashman on the March.

Guerdon. Frowst. Dunnage. Veldt. Whelk. Tup. Gannet. Hawser. Doss-house. Brogue. Tucker. Voluptuary. Morion. Flawn. Ague. Fusee/Fuzee. Jimp. Anent. Skein. Fob.

Arbitrament. Whiffler. Abide. Beldam. Schiltron. Pickaninny/piccaninny. Gird/girt. Despond. Whittling. Glim. Peignoir. Gamp. Connubial. Ensconce. Confab. Trestle. Squawl. Paterfamilias. Dabble. Peal.

Buff. Duenna. Yawl. Palaver. Lateen. Felucca. Coracle. Gimlet. Tippet. Toggery. Dry-gulch. Nuncheon. Lovelock. Josser. Casque. Withy. Weir. Sonsy. Guzzle. Hearty.

Rattle. Pippin. Trencherman. Potation. Bilbo. Burly. Haulier. Roundelay. Lych-gate. Skilligalee/skilly. Labial. Dudgeon. Caravanserai. Mithridatism. Avast. Lagniappe. Thigmotaxis. Afforesting. Immiseration. Chamberlain.

October 11, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

The words below are words which I encountered while reading the Rex Stout novels The Broken Vase, Double for Death, The Sound of Murder, Mountain Cat, and the Flashman/Fraser novels Flashman and the Dragon & Flashman at the Charge.

Asperity. Tantalus. Whizbang. Hammy. Regnant. Mordacity. Blotter. Quietus. Debouch. Acidulous. Aniline. Prolegomenon. Suasion. Spoor. Mangy. Clematis. Whittle. Palmistry. Carnality. Clangor.

Cerise. Coruscation. Fluster. Conviviality. Interstice. Chirography. Dub. Grubstake. Pilaster. Sagebrush. Pronghorn. Prognathous. Greensward. Palomino. Spelter. Puggle. Lorcha. Kampilan. Caulk. Cherub.

Thew. Effulgence. Poppet. Colander. Brolly. Bund. Pennon. Cove. Lamasery. Lamé. Patter. Gibber. Snickersnee. Blub. Beckon. Tog. Inveigle. Fuddle. Spoony. Roué.

Equerry. Gazette. Rig-out. Lashing. Clamber. Wainscot. Saunter. Tootle. Latterly. Serge. Redoubt. Charabanc. Indaba. Cess. Gotch. Bailiwick. Reveler. Exult. Hawse. Recreant.

September 27, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

Words

Most of the words below are words which I encountered while reading the Rex Stout books: Too Many Clients, The Final Deduction, Homicide Trinity, Gambit, The Mother Hunt, Trio for Blunt Instruments, A Right to Die, The Doorbell Rang, Death of a Doxy, The Father Hunt, Death of a Dude, Please Pass the Guilt, A Family Affair, Death Times Three, and Red Threads.

Commissure. Nonfeasance. Bodice. Binnacle. Episiotomy. Amplexus. Bayou. Jetty. Crisper. Conurbation. Splotch. Tarradiddle. Lamia. Prink/primp. Thaumaturgy/thaumaturge. Allspice. Panjandrum. Subdulous. Overweening. Perspicacity.

Jejune. Hamper. Cloche. Ulster. Bevel. Auto-da-fé. Buckram. Peccant. Fatuity. Dissension. Chipper. Analeptic. Cluck. Moll. Posy. Peeve. Wrangle. Chervil. Wile. Vim.

Huffy. Callow. Crabby. Locution. Scrapple. Jamb. Cockatrice. Wink. Spatter. Sororicide. Discomfiture. Diphthong. Twaddle. Rassle. Headcheese. Flimflam. Brioche. Doxy. Mooch. Incumbency.

Cogitable. Punctilio. Mantic. Frowzy. Burgoo. Boodle. Toplofty. Ell. Slue. Fulcrum. Piffle. Amphigoric. Subreption. Cynosure. ConcupiscenceCarceral. Descant. Pretermit. Hickory. Ingénue.

September 13, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

First Farmers (I?)

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(link)

This year I have so far read 113 books and I have added 5 of those books to my list of favourite books on goodreads. I have mentioned Herriot here on the blog despite the fact that this type of book is not really the type of book I usually blog, and I blogged Yashin et al.‘s biodemography text in a decent amount of detail. I have posted a couple of posts about Horowitz and Samsom’s book and I intend to blog that book in more detail later this week. However there are a few great non-fiction books which I’ve read this year which I have not yet blogged at all, including Boyd and Richerson and the excellent book by Bellwood to which the title of this post refers. These books have one thing in common: They are ‘paper books’, not books stored in an electronic format, which means that blogging them take more time than is ideal. The extra amount of time it takes to blog paper books makes it hard for me to justify blogging such books in general, even books I think are great.

Aside from the time expenditure there are at least two other major problems I have with justifying blogging such books. One problem is that this blog is not really the proper place for me to recommend books to others, a state of affairs of which I am well aware. I sometimes do it anyway, but I know perfectly well that very few people will ever know or care that I liked a particular book if I write about that book here. If I actually wanted others to know about books like these there would be lots of other channels of communication much better suited for such purposes; such as e.g. the comment sections of large blogs/reddit threads/etc. To a first approximation nobody reads this blog, which is the way I like it. The other major problem – in the context of me justifying to myself blogging such books – is that I actually usually spend quite a bit of effort while reading such (paper) books, e.g. in the form of note taking and highlighting. A major reason I have for blogging non-fiction books is that blogging books means that the content therein gets processed a few extra times, which helps aid recall and understanding. This incidentally goes both for the stuff that eventually finds its way into these posts, and to some extent also for the content that does not. When I’m reading paper books I tend to do a lot of this work while actively reading the books. Part of the reason why is actually precisely due to the fact that I know from experience that these kinds of books are bothersome to blog; if I know beforehand that I’m not particularly likely to blog a book I’ll usually spend a bit more time and effort while reading it. That extra amount of work of course makes me even less likely to end up blogging the book eventually; at some point diminishing marginal returns really kick in.

One take-away from all of the above is, I guess, that if you’re one of those three-four(?) people who semi-regularly read my blog and you also happen to actually care about which books I like and recommend, you should keep in mind that some of the really great books I read may end up not being covered here in ‘classical book posts’, simply because blogging great books may sometimes simply be too much work to justify the effort; and those books you may spot quite easily by having an occasional look at my book collection posts (see the sidebar) or my goodreads favourites.

What made me decide to finally write this post was that I had been considering whether or not to write a post about Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies, which I didn’t really like all that much. While thinking about this stuff I realized that it would frankly be madness for me to cover that book (also a paper book) here before I’d at least talked a bit about Boyd and Richerson and Bellwood’s books, as those books are just much better and more interesting. And then I concluded that I really ought to cover Bellwood …and here we are.

I’ve read about some of the topics Bellwood covers elsewhere, e.g. here, here, and here, but the other works I’ve read on these topics have not covered the topics Bellwood covers in the amount of detail he does (if at all); one of the reasons why I really enjoyed Bellwood’s book was that it covers in a great amount of detail precisely some of the questions I’ve been asking myself while reading other works on related topics. The book covers things I had been looking for elsewhere, but hadn’t been able to find. This admittedly mainly relates to the agriculture and archaeology parts, rather than the linguistics part, but the linguistics is interesting as well.

If you’re interested in the origins of agriculture, this book is a must-read.

Below I’ve added some quotes from the book, as well as a few comments.

“This book suggests that major episodes of human movement occurred from time to time, in various parts of the world, as different populations developed or adopted agriculture and then spread farming, languages, and genes, in some cases across vast distances. […] In order to approach what often appears to be a debate in which specialists all talk past each other, concerned only with data from their own discipline, this book is framed around a fairly simple multidisciplinary hypothesis. The early farming dispersal hypothesis postulates that the spreads of early farming lifestyles were often correlated with prehistoric episodes of human population and language dispersal from agricultural homelands. The present-day distribution of language families and racially varied populations across the globe, allowing for the known reassortments that have ensued in historical times, still reflect to a high degree those early dispersals. […] [However] the early farming dispersal hypothesis is not claiming that only farmers ever dispersed into new lands or established language families in prehistory. Hunter-gatherers feature widely in this book since their lifestyle, in terms of long-term stability and reliability, has been the most successful in human history. It fueled the initial human colonization of the whole world, apart from a number of oceanic islands.”

“We have clear signs of relatively independent agricultural origins in western Asia, central China, the New Guinea highlands, Mesoamerica, the central Andes, the Mississippi basin, and possibly western Africa and southern India. These developments occurred at many different times between about 12,000 and 4,000 years ago. The agricultural systems concerned spread at remarkably different rates – some quickly, some slowly, some hardly at all.”

“This book owes its origin to a consideration of two primary observations: 1. Prior to the era of European colonization there existed (and still exist) a number of very widespread families of languages, the term “family” in this sense meaning that the languages concerned share common ancestry, having diverged from a common forebear […]. These language families exist because they have spread in some way from homeland regions, not because they have converged in place out of hundreds of formerly unrelated languages. 2. Within the early agricultural past of mankind there have existed many widespread archaeological complexes of closely linked artifactual style, shared economic basis, and relatively short-lived temporal placement. […] Again, these spreads have occurred from homeland regions, and most such complexes tend to become younger as one moves away from regions of agricultural origin […]. Most importantly, many agricultural homelands overlap geographically with major language family homelands, in highly significant ways.”

“The expansions of early farming populations that form the subject matter of this book reflect two consecutive processes: 1. the periodic genesis of new cultural (archaeological) or linguistic configurations in homeland circumstances; 2. the dispersal of such configurations into surrounding regions […] The transformations within such configurations, both during and after dispersal, can occur via adaptive or chance modifications to the inherited pattern (thus giving relationships of descent, or phylogeny), or via interactions with other contemporary human populations, including culturally and linguistically related as well as unrelated groups (thus giving rise to a process termed reticulation). […] One of the suggestions that will dominate the chapters in this book is that short bursts, or “punctuations,” of dispersal by closely related populations over very large areas have occurred from time to time in human prehistory, especially following the regional beginnings of agriculture or the acquisitions of some other material, demographic, or ideological advantages. Punctuations also occurred when humans first entered regions previously uninhabited, such as Australia, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands. These bursts have actually occupied very little of the total time span of human history. Often their effects are confusingly hidden beneath the reticulate interactive networks that have linked varied populations through the long millenia of subsequent history. But their underlying impact on the course of human history and on the generation of subsequent patterns of human diversity have been immense.”

“Many hunters and gatherers of the etnographic record have resource management skills that can mimic agriculture, and some have even adopted minor forms of casual cultivation. […] Resource management […] can be defined as any technique that propagates, tends, or protects a species, reduces competition, prolongs or increases the harvest, insures the appearance of a species at a particular time in a particular place, extends the range of or otherwise modifies the nature, distribution, and density of a species […]. Resource management is not synonymous with agriculture or cultivation and it has obviously been practiced to some degree by all plant and animal exploiters since long before agriculture began. Cultivation, an essential component of any agricultural system, defines a sequence of human activity whereby crops are planted […], protected, harvested, then deliberately sown again […] Domesticated plants […] are those that show recognizable indications of morphological change away from the wild phenotype, attributable to human interference in the genotype through cultivation […] For animals, the concept of domestication is invoked when there are relatively undisputed signs of human control and breeding of a species. Such signs can normally be claimed in situations where animals were transported out of their homeland regions […] In putative homeland areas for such animals, especially where there was exploitation of wild ancestral species in pre-agricultural times, it can often be difficult to distinguish animal husbandry from hunting in early agricultural contexts. […] the term agriculture will be used to apply in a general sense to all activities involving cultivation and domestication of plants.”

“In general, whereas a family of hunters and gatherers might need several square kilometers of territory for subsistence, an average family of shifting cultivators will be able to get by with a few hectares of crop-producing land. A family of irrigation agriculturalists will normally be able to manage with less than one hectare. Thus, along the scale of increasing intensification of production, less land is needed to feed a standard unit such as a family or individual. […] The reason why agriculturalists can live at much higher densities than hunters and collectors is because food is produced, on average, more intensively per unit of exploited area. Food-collecting mothers also tend to space births more widely than sedentary cultivators for reasons believed to relate in part to factors of mobility and diet2, leading in combination to biologically reduced frequencies of conception. This form of birth control maximizes the number of hunter-gatherer children able to survive to adulthood, but keeps the overall populations small.”

“With the Holocene amelioration of climate to conditions like those of the present, a rapid change that occurred about 11,500 years ago, the world’s climates became warmer, wetter, and a good deal more reliable on a short term basis […] It was this reliability that gave the early edge to farming […] Holocene climate was clearly the ultimate enabler of early farming, but it was not the proximate cause behind individual transitions. [The importance of climate was also emphasized in Boyd and RichersonUS.] […] A combined explanation of affluence alternating with mild environmental stress, especially in “risky” but highly productive early Holocene environments with periodic fluctuations in food supplies, is becoming widely favored by many archaeologists today as one explanation for the shift to early agriculture. […] It is necessary […] to emphasize that the regional beginnings of agriculture must have involved such a complex range of variables that we would be blind to ignore any of the above factors – prior sedentism, affluence and choice, human-plant co-evolution, environmental change and periodic stress, population pressure, and certainly the availability of suitable candidates for domestication. […] most suggested “causes” overlap so greatly that it is often hard to separate them. […] there can be no one-line explanation for the origins of agriculture.”

“[M]any recent hunter-gatherers have been observed to modify their environments to some degree to encourage food yields, whether by burning, replanting, water diversion, or keeping of decoy animals or domesticated dogs […] Most agriculturalists also hunt if the opportunity is presented and always have done so throughout the archaeological record. […] there is good evidence in recent societies for some degree of overlap between food collection and food production. But the whole issue here revolves around just what level of “food production” is implied. […] any idea that mobile hunters and gatherers can just shift in and out of agricultural (or pastoral) dependent lifestyle at will seems unrealistic in terms of the major scheduling shifts required by the annual calendars of resource availability, movement, and activity associated with the two basic modes of production. There are very few hints of such circumstances ever occurring in the ethnographic record […] Mobile foragers must give an increasing commitment to sedentism if agriculture is to become a successful mainstay of their economy […] In general for the Old World, we see that hunters and gatherers may practice a small amount of agriculture, and agriculturalists may practice a small amount of hunting and gathering, but the two modes of production most decisively do not merge or reveal a gentle cline. […] both Old and New World populations evidently found it problematic to shift in and out of agricultural dependence on a regular basis.”

“In order to approach the ethnographic record systematically and to extract useful comparative information, it is essential not to treat all recorded ethnographic hunter-gatherer societies as being one simple category, or as having had the same basic historical trajectories stretching back far into the Pleistocene past […] Hunter-gatherers have had histories just as tumultuous in many cases as have agriculturalists”.

Bellwood favours in his coverage of this topic a model with three different groups of hunter-gatherers. I’m not sure ‘favours’ is the right word; perhaps it’d be more accurate to state that he uses such a model to illustrate one of the ways in which different groups of hunters and gatherers are dissimilar, and why overlooking such dissimilarities may be problematic. In the model he presents in the book one group of hunter-gatherers consists of hunter-gatherers who live/d in close proximity to agricultural societies. These people tend to live in marginal areas where it’s hard to make agriculture work and they tend to be surrounded by agriculturalists (‘encapsulation’). Many places where you’d encounter such people, what you’d see/saw is/would be some sort of established exchange system, where farmers trade/d e.g. cereals in exchange for e.g. meat procured by the hunter-gatherers. One thing to always keep in mind here is that although long-term the hunter-gatherers were displaced and circumscribed by agricultural societies far from all interactions between these groups were hostile; mutually beneficial arrangements could be arrived at, even if they might not have been stable long-term. A related point is that hunter-gathering was probably a much more attractive option in the past than it is today, as the encapsulation process was not nearly so far advanced as it is today; they had better land, and despite not being farmers they might still benefit from the activities of some of those farmers who lived nearby. Bellwood is of course very interested in why agriculture spread originally, and he mentions in this context that although some such circumscribed hunter-gatherer societies may adopt agriculture eventually, such hunter-gatherer societies are not the place to look if you’re interested in the question of how agriculture originally spread throughout the world – which seems very reasonable to me. As he puts it in the notes, “while low-level food production can exist in theory, my feeling is that it has always been a child of marginal environments, where farmers necessarily retracted into food collection or where foragers were able to invest in minor cultivation without too much competition from other farmers. Such societies represent the ends, rather than the sources, of historical trajectories of agricultural expansion.”

The second group in Bellwood’s hunter-gatherer ‘model’ are ‘unenclosed’ hunter-gatherers. A few quotes:

“This group comprises those hunter-gatherers who inhabited agricultural latitudes in Australia, the Andaman Islands, and many regions of North America, especially in West Coast and Florida, but who (unlike the members of group 1) lived lives generally apart from farmers prior to European colonization. Many of these societies in North America lived in coastal regions with prolific maritime resources […] Some were also in periodic but non-threatening contact with farmers in adjacent regions in prehistory and thus had opportunities, never taken, to adopt agriculture […] Socially, […] such groups overlapped greatly with agriculturalists, indicating that social complexity of the chiefdom type can relate in terms of origin more to the intensity and reliability of resources and population density than to any simple presence of food production as opposed to hunting and gathering. […] The ranked and populous hunter-gatherer societies of norther California were no more interested in adopting agriculture than were Cape York Aborigines or the Semang, and perhaps even the majority of hunter-gatherers in prehistory. It does not follow that hunter-gatherers who have “complex” social institutions will necessarily become farmers whenever they are introduced to the farming concept.”

The third group in Bellwood’s model was really interesting to me, as it’s a group I’d previously wanted to read about and find quite fascinating. This is hunter-gatherers who used to be agriculturalists, i.e. former agriculturalists who later ‘reverted’ to hunter-gathering for one reason or another. A few quotes:

“Some hunter-gatherers appear to have descended from original farming or pastoralist societies, via specializations into environments where agriculture was not possible or decidedly marginal. Some also exist in direct contact with agriculturalist groups closely related in terms of cultural and biological ancestry. […] Some of the rain-forest hunters and gatherers of Island Southeast Asia […] descend from original agricultural populations, if the linguistic and biological data are any guide.16 In this view, the ancestral Punan and Kubu became hunter-gatherers, especially wild sago collectors in the case of the Punan, via conscious decisions to move into interfluvial rain-forest hunting and gathering in regions that riverine agriculturalists found hard to penetrate. Other hunter-gatherers descended from cultivators include some Bantu speakers in southern Africa, possibly the honey-collecting Dorobo or Okiek of the Kenyan Highlands of East Africa, probably [as he notes elsewhere, “this is a difficult group to deal with in terms of authentication”] some marginal sago-collecting groups […] in the Sepik basin of New Guinea, and some Indian groups such as the Chenchu and Birhor. […] the Numic-speaking Uto-Aztecan peoples of the Great Basin and adjacent areas […] appear to have abandoned a former agricultural lifestyle around 1,000 years ago. These people, linguistic descendants of original maize-cultivators in Mexico and the Southwest, eventually found themselves in a dry region where maize agriculture had become marginal or no longer possible [Joseph Tainter covers the collapse of the ‘Chacoans’ in some detail in his book – US] […] Group 3 hunter-gatherer societies are of especial interest because it is far easier for a relatively marginal food-producing community to turn to hunting and gathering than it is for hunters and gatherers to move in the opposite direction. Thus, it is a fair expectation that members of this third group of hunter-gatherers will always have been quite numerous, particularly around the ecological margins of expanding agricultural societies. […] the group 3 societies offer one trajectory of cultural evolution that can terminate for ever the idea that evolution from foraging to farming is a one-way street.”

“[I]t is certainly not being suggested here that ancient hunter-gatherers could never have adopted agriculture from outside sources. But they would only have been likely to do so in situations where they had some demographic or environmental advantage over any farmers in the vicinity, and where there would have been significant reasons why the normal hunter-gatherer disinterest in agricultural adoptions should be overturned. We cannot assume that hunter-gatherers would automatically adopt agriculture just because it was sitting under their noses. We also need to remember that many populations of hunters and gatherers survived alongside agriculturalists in many parts of the world for millenia, without adopting agriculture […] The following chapters will demonstrate that the spread of agriculture in the past could not simply have occurred only because hunter-gatherers everywhere adopted it. Agriculture spread in Neolithic/Formative circumstances mainly because the cultural and linguistic descendants of the early cultivators increased their demographic profiles and pushed their cultural and linguistic boundaries outwards.”

September 7, 2017 Posted by | Anthropology, Archaeology, Books, Language, Personal | Leave a comment