Archives for posts with tag: you say potayto and i say potahto

i thought i’d start running through pinker’s “war deaths chart” to see if i can work out any/some of these populations’ mating patterns. already posted about the semai (low violence rates, outbreeders) and the yąnomamö (greater violence rates than the semai, inbreeders).

now i’m just going to begin at the top of the list and work my way down — so today it’s the cato kato indians of california (or the cahto depending on your spelling preferences):

pinker - war deaths per 100,000 people per year - the kato

as you can see, the kato are at the top of pinker’s list. (in the 1840s, the kato were fighting the yuki, so remind me to post about them, too.)

from The North American Indian. Volume 14 [pg. 11]:

Marriage was arranged between the two persons concerned without consulting anybody else. Having secured a girl’s consent her lover went clandestinely that night to sleep with her, and at dawn he stole away. The secret was preserved as long as possible, perhaps for several days, and the news of the match transpired without formal announcement, even the girl’s parents learning of their daughter’s marriage in this indirect fashion. His marriage no longer a secret, the young man might then erect a house of his own. The bond was no more easily tied than loosed, for either could leave the other for any reason whatever, the man retaining the male children and the woman the female. Children were not regarded as belonging any more to the paternal than to the maternal side. When adultery was discovered, the only result was a little bickering and perhaps an invitation to the offender to take up permanent relations with the new love.”

sounds like cousin marriage was not insisted upon in kato society. otoh, sounds like there were no proscriptions against it, either. so matings in kato society could’ve been close — at least some of the time.

from Native Americans: An Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Peoples [pgs. 156-57]:

Marriage was generally a matter between the couple involved, although girls were generally prepubescent when married. The Cahto practiced polygyny as well as the taboo that prevented a man from addressing his mother-in-law directly. Divorce was easily obtained for nearly any reason.”

again, no apparent insistence upon, or prohibitions against, cousin/other close marriage. however, from here [pg. 247] we learn that the pre-contact kato population was ca. 1,100 individuals. that’s not very many! with such a small population, it would be very difficult, indeed, to avoid inbreeding. (don’t forget, too, because native americans went through a bottleneck coming to the americas, they’re all relatively related to one another — genetically speaking. so any inbreeding would be even more inbred than in other populations — if that’s the right way to put it [i know it's not!].)

interestingly, from Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 8: California [pg. 244]:

“The Cahto lacked a true tribal organization. During precontact time there are estimated to have been 50 villages, with the permanent settlement situated in the three valleys where the town of Cahto once stood, and the towns of Branscomb and Laytonville now stand.”

another question is whether or not the kato married non-kato people. they were, apparently, on quite friendly terms with the pomo indians and many of them spoke pomo. did they marry out? dunno.

so, the kato? i’m gonna call it: probable inbreeding.

kato lady (she looks nice!):

Cahto_woman_curtis

previously: the semai and the fierce people

(note: comments do not require an email. cato.)

via dienekes (go there for all the juicy bits!):

Parallel Evolution of Genes and Languages in the Caucasus Region

“We analyzed 40 SNP and 19 STR Y-chromosomal markers in a large sample of 1,525 indigenous individuals from 14 populations in the Caucasus and 254 additional individuals representing potential source populations. We also employed a lexicostatistical approach to reconstruct the history of the languages of the North Caucasian family spoken by the Caucasus populations. We found a different major haplogroup to be prevalent in each of four sets of populations that occupy distinct geographic regions and belong to different linguistic branches. The haplogroup frequencies correlated with geography and, even more strongly, with language. Within haplogroups, a number of haplotype clusters were shown to be specific to individual populations and languages. The data suggested a direct origin of Caucasus male lineages from the Near East, followed by high levels of isolation, differentiation and genetic drift in situ. Comparison of genetic and linguistic reconstructions covering the last few millennia showed striking correspondences between the topology and dates of the respective gene and language trees, and with documented historical events. Overall, in the Caucasus region, unmatched levels of gene-language co-evolution occurred within geographically isolated populations, probably due to its mountainous terrain.”

i still can’t help thinking that different languages arise (arose) because different peoples think kinda differently. clearly speaking different languages can keep populations separated from one another (it’s easier to mate with someone with whom you can communicate) … but which came first? how we think or how we speak?

(note: comments do not require an email.)

how we think or how we speak?

from boingboing:

“In English, we use ‘I am’ statements to describe our current biological state, things that are happening to us, or events that we are experiencing. We say, ‘I am hungry.’ We say, ‘I am dying.’

“But that’s not how it works in Irish. Yesterday, during a panel called There’s Perception, and Then There’s Reality, Irish storyteller Clare Murphy talked briefly about how the language you speak alters the way that you perceive the world. The Irish equivalents of ‘I am hungry’ and ‘I am dying’, for example, would literally translate into English as, ‘Hunger is upon me’ and ‘Death is beside me.’”

“how the language you speak alters the way that you perceive the world.” ooooooooooooorrrr, maybe the way a people perceives the world (i.e. how their braiiiiiiinz work) affects the sort-of language they come up with?

i mean, after all, where does language come from? unless you adopt someone else’s language (like how almost everyone in central and south america now speaks a language they got from the spanish … who got their language from the romans), doesn’t language come from your brain? languages (to paraphrase jared taylor) don’t just drop down out of the sky … they come from different peoples. and maybe different languages are different because different peoples are different.

from newsweek:

“[W]hile English says ‘she broke the bowl’ even if it smashed accidentally (she dropped something on it, say), Spanish and Japanese describe the same event more like ‘the bowl broke itself.’ ‘When we show people video of the same event,’ says Boroditsky [language researcher @standford], ‘English speakers remember who was to blame even in an accident, but Spanish and Japanese speakers remember it less well than they do intentional actions. It raises questions about whether language affects even something as basic as how we construct our ideas of causality.’”

or maybe it raises the question: are the spanish and japanese more fatalistic than the english?

also from that newsweek article:

“Language even shapes what we see. People have a better memory for colors if different shades have distinct names—not English’s light blue and dark blue, for instance, but Russian’s goluboy and sinly. Skeptics of the language-shapes-thought claim have argued that that’s a trivial finding, showing only that people remember what they saw in both a visual form and a verbal one, but not proving that they actually see the hues differently. In an ingenious experiment, however, Boroditsky and colleagues showed volunteers three color swatches and asked them which of the bottom two was the same as the top one. Native Russian speakers were faster than English speakers when the colors had distinct names, suggesting that having a name for something allows you to perceive it more sharply.”

what i’d like to know is, were all the native russian speakers actually russian|slavic (as opposed to say some indigenous siberian groups or something)? ’cause perhaps slavs actually see blues differently|better than other peoples, and that is just reflected in their language. there is, after all, some evidence for physical differences in color perception in some humans. (not to mention color blindness.)

i’m sure language prolly affects how we think. it seems likely. but i also think it seems likely that how we think (differently) must affect our languages.

(note: comments do not require an email.)

an oxymoron?

apparently there’s a dearth of women in academic philosophy (via mefi). [insert usual whining noises here.]

a couple of male (the horror!) philosophers take a look at responses to philosophical problems from various studies and find … differing responses between men and women. well, whaddya know!

here’s one that i found interesting. a gettier problem. the setup:

“Peter is in his locked apartment, and is reading. He decides to have a shower. He puts his book down on the coffee table. Then he takes off his watch, and also puts it on the coffee table. Then he goes into the bathroom. As Peter’s shower begins, a burglar silently breaks into Peter’s apartment. The burglar takes Peter’s watch, puts a cheap plastic watch in its place, and then leaves. Peter has only been in the shower for two minutes, and he did not hear anything.

“Does Peter really know that there is a watch on the table, or does he only believe it?”

the researchers also asked about the book rather than the watch, and also did a second test like this only with a female character and a ring/fork rather than a guy and a book/watch.

and the results?:

“Only 41% of the male participants said that Peter really knows that there is a watch on the table, while 71% of the female participants said that Peter really knows (p < .05, Fisher’s exact test). Concerned that the gender of the protagonist might be playing a role in generating these results, Starmans and Friedman ran another study using a slightly different vignette in which the central protagonist was female. In this version, the objects involved were a wedding ring and a fork. Once again, the results were striking: 36% of male participants said the female protagonist really knows in the Gettier condition, while 75% of the female participants said that she really knows (n = 112, 54 men, 58 women, p < .01, Fisher’s exact test)."

it seems to me that waaay more women than men are unable to think logically about the differences between believing and knowing (as far as that goes).

apparently there are also differences in response to gettier problems according to ethnicity.

another difference between men and women and philisophical problems is in their response to one of my favorites – the trolley problem (update: invented by a female philosoper!):

“You are taking your daily walk near the train tracks and you notice that the train that is approaching is out of control. You see what has happened: the driver of the train saw five people working on the tracks and slammed on the brakes, but the brakes failed and the driver fainted. The train is now rushing toward the five people. It is moving so fast that they will not be able to get off the track in time. You happen to be standing next to a switch, and you realize that the only way to save the five people on the tracks is to throw the switch, which will turn the train onto a side track, thereby preventing it from killing the five people. However, there is a stranger [or, in the other vignette: a 12-year-old boy] standing on the side track with his back turned, and if you proceed to throw the switch, the five people will be saved, but the person [boy] on the sidetrack will be killed….

“It is morally acceptable for me to pull the switch.”

the researchers also asked what the participants thought about pulling the switch on their (the individual participant’s) own brother or sister:

my guess is that more women than men don’t like the idea of pulling the switch on a 12-year old ’cause of those ole maternal instincts. on the other hand, a man is prolly less likely to want to kill his brother because they share virtually the same y-chromosome and are, therefore, more related to each other than a brother and sister would be.

(note: comments do not require an email.)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 229 other followers