Thursday, January 22, 2009

Notes on Dravidian Words - iiic

He He He...A Malayali poking fun at Tamils
In Tamil Nadu, people tend to pronounce 'zha' as 'la'. So God help me if M.K. Stalin's brother M.K. Azhagiri is a cousin of Dante Alighieri.

The whole issue arises because of total misunderstanding about migration of people to Tamil region. The early development of Tamil literature has muddied the objectivity of the Dravidian linguistics.

In my opinion, if one traces the migration route then Tamils are a mix of Proto-Malayali and Proto-Kannada population. It appears Proto-Malayalam has become defacto lingo whereas Proto-Kannada influence could be found in the pronunciation.

I would say zh->l change can never happen. The change should be
r->zh->y (as it's observed in Scottish and American English and probably in Norwegian too).

Other change should be;

If you observe Kerala, people would use either 'zh' or 'y' but never 'l'. In these words Tulu shows 'r'.

If Dravidian linguists keep in mind Out of Africa theory then it would help them in their work. The shortest route to Tamil Nadu is thro' west-south coastal India. This route divides into Kerala and Karnataka branches. I can still see a certain pattern in r->zh->y changes and this is not as ambiguous as claiming that since 'zh' tongue position itself is ambiguous inside the mouth all kinds of other sounds 'd', 'l', 'r', 'y' can arise.

Since languages not only change with distance but also with time, I don't think this 'oldest' or 'youngest' languages have any meaning. One can only talk in terms of older region and younger region based on migration.

Of course, If Jayaschandran thinks Tamils wrongly pronounce 'zh' then his understanding is wrong. 'l' is the sound they inherited from their proto-Kannada ancestors whereas literary Tamil phonetics is influenced by Tamils of Proto-Malayali ancestry.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Usefulness of Genetic Horoscope - ii

It's official now. We are then Burushos after all. I have already speculated that the 'Purusha Sukta' could have been the 'Burusha Sukta'.

Heart disease is the number one killer in the world and India carries more than its share of this burden. Moreover, the problem is set to rise: it is predicted that by 2010 India's population will suffer approximately 60% of the world's heart disease. Today, an international team of 25 scientists from four countries provides a clue to why this is so: 1% of the world's population carries a mutation almost guaranteed to lead to heart problems and most of these come from the Indian subcontinent, where the mutation reaches a frequency of 4%.

Heart disease has many causes, some carried in our genes and others linked to our lifestyle, but all seemingly complex, hard to pin down and incompletely understood. So the new study published in Nature Genetics is striking for the size and simplicity of the effect it reports.
The mutation, a deletion of 25 letters of genetic code from the heart protein gene MYBPC3, is virtually restricted to people from the Indian subcontinent. But there, Caste and Tribe, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian and others are all united by this affliction.
The mutation was discovered five years ago in two Indian families with cardiomyopathy, but its significance only became apparent after almost 1500 people from many parts of India, some with heart disease and some without, were studied.
Scientists express this genetic risk as an odds ratio, where 1.2 would be a small effect and 2.0 a large one. For the MYBPC3 mutation, the odds ratio is almost off-scale, a staggering 7.0. Carriers usually show few symptoms until middle age, but after that age most are symptomatic and suffer from a range of effects, at worst sudden cardiac death.

Via Science Daily

Now the main point of this post on how this genetic horoscope could be used;
CCMB director Dr Lalji Singh said on Monday that the defect could be detected very early during pregnancy through a pre-natal diagnosis. If parents choose, a foetus having two copies of defective gene (homozygous) could be aborted after genetic counselling.

Via The Times of India

Read posts at Razib's Gene Expression. Especially check the distribution tables.

As a layman Geneticist, I find the consistent 4-7% distribution of this mutation among all the communities across the subcontinent rather intriguing. The difference in haplogroup profile (both mtDNA and Y-chromosome) from Punjab in Pakistan to Tamil Nadu in South India is not trivial. Maybe there is a phenomenon called "Genetic Equilibrium in a geographical area" that I'm not aware of. Since I'm not aware of any such concepts I would say we are all Burushos.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tolstoy is wrong ...

...when he said,
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

It ought to be,
Unhappy families are all alike; every happy family is happy in its own way.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rise of Patriarchal Society - V

In one of my previous posts I have argued that 'patriliny' is a conscious structure and matriliny is a non-conscious identity. Here I'm trying to understand the development of male creator gods in patriarchal society and female creator gods(?) in older societies and matrilineal societies.

I don't think patriarchal male gods have anything to do with the superiority of physical strength of males compared to females. Matrilineal males don't show any overly feminine attitudes or any attitudes that could be construed as feminine. Similarly, not all patriarchal religions were considered stereotypically masculine. I have come across views that Hinduism is a feminine religion. With this background I would think the development of male creator gods concept is a non-sexist philosophy. This has something to do with the way various societies understood sexual reproduction.

Fundamental idea behind male creator:

I have blogged about virgin birth of the Buddha. From the article I quoted:
Suddhodhana, means "pure-rice". But rice is also seed and symbolically means "semen". In many Indian languages the word for "seed" can also denote "rice", "egg"; or semen.

What we can see here, the understanding was that man's semen is complete by itself to create a life. There was no idea of female ovum and male sperm fertilization. So what is female's role in this? She's just a pot or earth where the seed turns into plant. It's been obviously observed that man can create seed without female's help. Therefore, female is important as a helper in subsequent growth but her role in fundamental creation is non-existent.

Fundamental idea behind female creator:
The concept of female creator hasn't been argued clearly. In this case, it is tough to argue for female only creation considering that conception clearly needed a male. However, I would guess the idea probably go back to remote times when people weren't clear about the role of intercourse in reproduction. I would guess the importance could be understood only in monogamous relationship. However, even then they needed to develop a role for semen. In my opinion, it was generally conceived as mere lubricant.

Case studies:
Jesus's virgin birth clearly shows people didn't understand female's contribution. Had they understood it they wouldn't have allowed his birth to be contaminated by human part. I think more than the impurity of sexual act it's the seed of man that would trouble people.

Buddha's parents of course have been made illusions. In fact, he had an unborn birth. Or maybe that's the way the truth has been secretly revealed by the wily wise men of the past.

Coming to linga-yoni, it appears they understood the importance of intercourse. But had no idea about the gametes. I would think semen has been taken to be lubricant (linga-yoni idols are generally bathed in milk, honey etc...). However, the things are complicated in India. Here two schools of thought where one considered semen was 'seed' and the other thought semen was 'lubricant' assimilated and created a convoluted philosophy.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Dubious Term Called Westernization - V

I have never accepted that the foundation of Israel had any logic. But I have the same notion about Pakistan. I do recognize two key differences between the Jews and the Indian(negative identity but there was no alternative creations not withstanding) Muslims who respectively supported the Zionist movement and the Two-nation theory. The former experienced actual persecution the latter imaginary. Then of course the questions of the lands they claimed. However, the philosophy or the ideology behind both these creations were flawed. And here I don't recognize any other views.

But the unfortunate events in Gaza have raised many troubling questions in me. I'm a secondary citizen in any region that is controlled by movements based on purity and pollution of food and bed and identity discrimination. As an individual I'm only comfortable under atheist or secular or communist movements. It's tough for me to understand from my own default subhuman identity(in those societies) the human rights of people who support such despicable ideologies. How do I view the situation in Palestine.

Palestinians have too many alternatives. They have a secular party(I'm under no illusion that these are more secular than our right wing parties...but still), they also have a communist party. Why would they choose a fundamentalist party? However, Maju gave few reasons for the unpopularity of secular parties.

According to Maju, apart from the fundamentalist party all other parties are deep neck in corruption.

This fact is particularly pertinent here, I feel.

The Palestinian question is not a resolved issue. Corruption in such situations only plays in the hands of enemy. So why on earth secular parties controlled by generally highly educated members of the society do not see this but a fundamentalist party (with not so educated cadres) realizes it?

The obvious and probably the cliched observation would be, the corruption here is the indication of wavering identity which lowers one's ego. I would think there is a latent feeling among the seculars that since they are secular they are actually "low breed Westerners". In other words, the passion against an identity with which they feel they have certain kind of affinity may dilute the intensity. But because of identity discrimination the religious party does not have such troubling questions and hence comfortable with its identity.

This obviously raises the question what if there was no identity discrimination. Then the Islamists should show their true colours. In my opinion, they should not be consistently non-corrupt. I find a proof in Afghanistan. My reading of Afghan wars tells me wars between various Islamic groups were decided more with exchange of money than with exchange of fire.

But since "Westernization" is so recognizable word and "way of life" can Islamists be blind to it (as many of them appear to be educated)? The answer could be found in Indian Islamic preacher Dr. Zakir Naik's inane and incoherent defense of Islam. At one place he argues Europe and America are true when it comes to "Science and Technology" and Muslims are true when it comes to religion. No, it's not magnanimity on part of Dr. Naik to appreciate the Europe's achievement (I'm sure he isn't bothered about his identity as an Indian..far less understands it... or identities around the world). His blind belief in his true religion stems from his obvious understanding of the achievements of Europe and America in Science and Technology. He completely believes in stereotypical Westerners. Other identities just don't count. It is in the power of Islam's identity discrimination that he finds his solace.

The problem is already addressed in my previous posts.
- All types of knowledge can appear in every isolated human society. It's the dominant ideology that determines how a society shapes up.
- Sometimes it's just dumb luck that determines which ideology is chosen. I believe, West Asian literate culture mixed with tribal equality in European lands.
- But no ideology is an absolute identity of a particular society.
- In fact, these identities have forcefully suppressed other ideologies. And some of these lost ideologies could have become successful in other societies.
- In many regions a big chunk of the population even had a humiliating life because of the dominant ideology of the land. However, identity quest just overlooks this aspect.
- Many of the terms related to identity were coined by Europeans at certain points of time. That need not be carried forward as they aren't consistent or logical and more importantly aren't supported by genetic studies.
- I would think every one should identify himself/herself with multiple set of ideologies and probably with a regional identity that is devoid of any character. The latter is required because there is no single all accepting assimilating identity.

Where does that put me in the case of Palestine? Well, I'm still a subhuman in that society. I just don't have any questions to answer.