A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Tom Sult
Date: 2010 Jul 29, 21:17 -0500
Thomas A. Sult, MD
On Jul 29, 2010, at 20:14, Apache Runner <email@example.com> wrote:
Tom -Oh - I run masters track, and when I came up with the name, I was reading about how Apache scouts would run long distances - like 100 miles - as couriers. I was impressed with the feat - hence the name "apacherunner" My name is John Huth.I have the article on my other laptop - right now I'm flying out to a backpacking trip in Washington state. I'll be off the grid for about 10 days. If you remind me when I get back, I'll send you a PDF of the article.Best,John H.On Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 7:48 PM, Tom Sult <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I have 2 question. The first is explain Apache Runner. It is a very intersting name and next... Do you have a pdf of the citation below. I have found many ref to it but not the article.
On Jul 26, 2010, at 10:44 AM, Apache Runner wrote:A good source - at least comprehensive - is Cecil Brown, "Where Do Cardinal Directions Come From?" in Anthropological Linguistics Vol 25 #2, 121-161. Unfortunately it's not exactly the Scientific American versionA lot of what I know about this comes from varied sources and I'm not sure if there's a Scientific American version (yet). I'm writing this up for my students and could make it available when I've finished it.Brown lists 127 languages and analyzes the terms in those languages. He provides a nice break down of the "which ones have east meaning rising sun" "which ones list cold as north".None of these are Indo-European languages, by the way, if you include them, there's even more data.Chinese isn't in his study, but that likewise has "east is the rising sun" in pictographs - the older form of the word east is the symbol for the sun overlaid on the symbol for a tree.
On Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 11:35 AM, Tom Sult <email@example.com> wrote:This is really interesting stuff. Can you provide any references to the Anthropologists view. In particular I would love the Scientific american version or a good overview book.I teach Functional Medicine (www.functionalmedicine.org) to other doctors. Language and paradigm are significant blockades to understanding, especially when language (terminology) overlap.
On Jul 26, 2010, at 9:30 AM, Apache Runner wrote:Yes, that's Lera Boroditsky's work. She's a psychologist at Stanford.Actually this was originally published in an online magazine called Edge in fall 2009.In thinking about this, I'm actually not so sure I agree with her. I don't see that language dictates what you think, but probably the opposite, that what you think sort of forces the language to come along.What in particular concerns me about the article is that she doesn't talk much about the etymology of "north", "south", "east" and "west" in their language. Most of the names for the cardinal points in languages come from other terms. For example "east" = "direction of the rising sun" is extraordinarily common in languages in the world, and "west" = "direction of the setting sun" likewise. In some languages "north" is derived from left - in that if you are facing the east, where the sun is rising, north is on your left. In other cases, you have "south" coming from "mid-day" (e.g. meridiones in latin). And so forth. She doesn't speak of the etymology in this language and this gives me some doubts about how thorough this study was.A lot of anthropologists view the names of the cardinal points as a relatively recent invention. In many cases, they're derived from more local geographic features. For example in the language of some Puget Sound tribes, "east" comes from "the water flows from there". It may be that Lera is unaware of the work of anthropologists on the names of the cardinal points, but having read some of that material, I really started to question whether Lera was being terribly thorough in this one.On Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 10:12 AM, Patrick Goold <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:Saturday's on-line edition of the Wall Street Journal (Europe) contained an interesting short article on new empirical studies of the relationship between language and thought. It contained the following example of linguistic differences in ways of talking about direction that I think would be of interest to many on nav-list:The entire article can be found here.
For example, in Pormpuraaw, a remote Aboriginal community in Australia, the indigenous languages don't use terms like "left" and "right." Instead, everything is talked about in terms of absolute cardinal directions (north, south, east, west), which means you say things like, "There's an ant on your southwest leg." To say hello in Pormpuraaw, one asks, "Where are you going?", and an appropriate response might be, "A long way to the south-southwest. How about you?" If you don't know which way is which, you literally can't get past hello.
About a third of the world's languages (spoken in all kinds of physical environments) rely on absolute directions for space. As a result of this constant linguistic training, speakers of such languages are remarkably good at staying oriented and keeping track of where they are, even in unfamiliar landscapes. They perform navigational feats scientists once thought were beyond human capabilities. This is a big difference, a fundamentally different way of conceptualizing space, trained by language.
Differences in how people think about space don't end there. People rely on their spatial knowledge to build many other more complex or abstract representations including time, number, musical pitch, kinship relations, morality and emotions. So if Pormpuraawans think differently about space, do they also think differently about other things, like time?
To find out, my colleague Alice Gaby and I traveled to Australia and gave Pormpuraawans sets of pictures that showed temporal progressions (for example, pictures of a man at different ages, or a crocodile growing, or a banana being eaten). Their job was to arrange the shuffled photos on the ground to show the correct temporal order. We tested each person in two separate sittings, each time facing in a different cardinal direction. When asked to do this, English speakers arrange time from left to right. Hebrew speakers do it from right to left (because Hebrew is written from right to left).
Pormpuraawans, we found, arranged time from east to west. That is, seated facing south, time went left to right. When facing north, right to left. When facing east, toward the body, and so on. Of course, we never told any of our participants which direction they faced. The Pormpuraawans not only knew that already, but they also spontaneously used this spatial orientation to construct their representations of time. And many other ways to organize time exist in the world's languages. In Mandarin, the future can be below and the past above. In Aymara, spoken in South America, the future is behind and the past in front.
Dr. Patrick Goold
Department of Philosophy
Virginia Wesleyan College
Norfolk, VA 23502
757 455 3357