Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New links

I have stumbled upon a handful of anthropology-related blogs that look promising (to me), and the links are added over on the right.  Here's a rundown, with blurbs taken from the blogs themselves:
  • Anthropologizing.  Featuring a mixed-bag of articles on anthropology, culture, consumption, and applied research methods by practicing anthropologist and customer experience researcher Amy L. Santee.
  • Anthropology Report.  The best and most recent updates from anthropology blogs, anthropology journals, books, and fresh news from anthropologists.
  • Appalachian Anthropology. A discussion of public anthropology in Appalachia.
  • Hominid Hunting.  At Hominid Hunting, we’ll consider the age-old question “Where do we come from?” by digging into the human fossil record and interpreting the clues recorded in our DNA. We’ll explore the science behind the latest discoveries, imagine how our ancestors lived and ponder the people, places and controversies that have shaped our understanding of human evolution.
  • Review of the Indigenous Caribbean.  Our aim is to provide a wide variety of news, views, and announcements concerning indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, past and present, and the wider indigenous world. In some cases we touch on broader political, economic, and cultural issues of regional and international import as they may affect local indigenous communities in the Caribbean.
  • Teaching Anthropology.  A discussion forum run by a seasoned Community College Instructor for those who want to share the pluses, minuses, rants, and fist bumps that come from teaching Anthropology at the undergraduate level. Gather up your pigs, yams, and banana leaf bundles and join the fun

The gathering of the Republicans

Monday, August 27, 2012

Culture being learned

We like to say that culture is learned and shared within a social group. Here's an example in a video from Cultural Equity.  Young folks on Carriacou, Grenada, are practicing a Nation or Big Drum song.

Traditionally, these songs were performed to encourage the participation and blessing of the Ancestors on important occasions such as launching a boat, moving into a new house, setting up a permanent tombstone, and so on.  The drumming patterns are associated with specific Aftrican Nations, such as Kromanti, Igbo, Kongo, etc.  The songs are mostly in French Creole, but sometimes in English Creole and also sometimes containing phrases that may be African in origin.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Where do we come from?

This map from the US Census shows, by county, the majority ancestral group for the people of that county.

One likely surprise: Purple represents African-American ancestry. Note the broad swath of purple running through the South from Louisiana to Virginia.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Jeopardy," you disappoint me again!

"Jeopardy" is on a role tonight, with a category of "homophones" that contained two answers that do not work for some English speakers.  The alleged homophones:

  • don (as in Mafia leader) and dawn (as in sunrise)
  • weather and whether
Of course these are homophones for many American English speakers, with pronunciations of [dɑn] and [wɛðər].  But for some, they are not; for some, there are two minimal pairs involved. For these latter folks, the pronunciations are:

  • don [dɑn] - dawn [dɔn]
  • weather [wɛðər] - whether [ʰwɛðər].

I really wish the Jeopardy people would stop taking one regional variant as the only legitimate one.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Meet a "Neandertal"

An anthropologist friend sent this photo of a reconstruction of a Neandertal* (i.e. variety of archaic Homo) on exhibit at the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, Germany.

When I first saw the photo, I was haunted by the impression that I had met this person somewhere. Another (linguist) friend provided the answer (see below the fold):

Friday, August 10, 2012


Here I am at the door of one of my Fall 2012 classrooms.  I'll be teaching Introduction to Anthropology (ANT 2000) to about 200 students, with no help from a teaching assistant. Can you say "multiple choice?"  I was there this morning to see if my key opened the door (it did), and whether the lapel mic was working (it was).

I've taught here a number of times over the years, and each time I've thought that I should take a photo of this wall plaque outside the room, but I never got around to it.  Until today.

Oh, and the irony?  The classroom is located in the College of Health...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Jeopardy does it again

Tonight one of the categories on Jeopardy is "rhymes with bot."  Presumably, "bot" would be pronounced [bɑt].  In one of the questions, the desired response was "ought."  Problem is, for some of us, "bot" and "ought" do not rhyme.  For some of us, including me, "ought" is pronounced [ɔt], not [ɑt].  For those not familiar with phonetic symbols, [ɑ] is a low back unrounded vowel, and [ɔ] is a mid back lax rounded vowel.

So, once again, the Jeopardy answer is contingent on whether people have participated in the [ɑ] - [ɔ] merger.

PS:  I wrote about a similar incident on Jeopardy back in February, that time involving the so-called "homophones" Don and dawn.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Yet another August 6th

Every year, I post a little something about this anniversary. This is from last year's:
Once again, the anniversary that affects me more than almost any other has rolled around.  On August 6th, 1945, just shy of a month after I was born, the US dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.  This was, at the time, the most deadly use of a weapon of mass destruction ever inflicted by humans on other humans.  A few days later, on August 9, we repeated the experiment with a newer and "improved" bomb dropped on Nagasaki.  At least 150,000 and more likely over 200,000 people were either killed immediately or died from injuries caused by the explosions.  In later years, many people suffered from the aftereffects of radiation exposure; this includes birth defects.