Archive for April, 2011

This is today’s annual Easter sunrise service (using the Easter Vigil) of the Episcopal Church of the Servant  at Wrightsville Beach, NC. It began at 6 am with the lighting of fire. There were probably about 75 people in attendance.

Happy Easter, everyone.

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Greg Ross’s Futility Closet is full of interesting tidbits. Here’s part of “Medley of Poems“, from Westminster Monthly, April 1910. A sample:

The boy stood on the burning deck,
His fleece was white as snow,
He stuck a feather in his hat,
John Anderson, my Jo!

“Come back, come back,” he cried in grief,
“From India’s coral strands,
The frost is on the pumpkin, and
The village smithy stands.

Full post here.

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This is pretty cool:

New Zealand researcher Quentin Atkinson has published evidence that all human language may have originated in Africa, following the model of human population spread shown here. According to BusinessWeek, Atkinson’s study in Science

…analyzed the phonemes — distinct units of sound that differentiate words — used in modern speech and found that their pattern mirrors that of human genetic diversity.

As humans migrated out of Africa and began colonizing other regions, genetic diversity decreased. According to the study, phoneme diversity tended to decrease, too.

In other words, the farther languages developed from Africa, the fewer phonemes they possess. Think of the clicks and pops of the languages of southern Africa today versus the pretty much vowels-only speech of native Hawaiians.

We’ve known for well over a century about the origin and distribution of the Indo-European family of languages shown here, including English, a member of the Germanic branch. We know that Sanskrit pitar, Latin pater and English father all come from the same original. But efforts to connect other groups together by sound or word correspondences have been tenuous at best.

Atkinson’s research takes a completely different approach and so far many linguists — a pretty skeptical bunch on the whole — have praised the results as a breakthrough.

Images from Wikimedia Commons.

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