Links 18 July 2014

I’m not intending to do “weekly links” or anything, but I wanted to highlight a blogpost by Victor Mair : what the Dungan language sounds like from snippets of the movie “Jesus” dubbed in Dungan. This is the language of Chinese Muslims who fled to Russian Central Asia and is considered a divergent dialect of Mandarin. You can hear what it sounds from Mair’s links. The comments section, as usual, is excellent. Plus, the movie “Jesus” dubbed in over 1000 languages !

While I’m at it… Is English in reality a North Germanic (Scandinavian) language, rather than West Germanic ? The orthodox position is defended with great energy in a three-part critique by Asya Pereltsvaig.

T. Greer has an interesting blogpost in which he recollects that after reading Crosby’s Ecological Imperialism he started finding many “big” histories without ecological or biological awareness rather deficient. I concur with his assessment of the book, except that in my case the same process had started for me after reading Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel back when it was first published in 1997, and it was in Diamond’s bibliography that I first found Crosby.

HBDchick has a blogpost called “Reverse Renaissance“, which very much takes the opposite view from my “The Creativity of Civilisations“, at least on the subject of the Islamic Golden Age. She had also had a two-parter on “asabiyyah”, a word which (I think) has been popularised by Peter Turchin and which I wish would just go away. Those posts are Asabiyyah 1 and Asabiyyah 2. ( I am plentifuly present in the comments section of both. )

Razib Khan shows that despite nominal exogamy northern Indians still show elevated homozygosity, because they marry locally and within-caste.

Also, Pincher Martin recommended The Empire Trap, which I also now recommend, if you were interested in the discussion of foreign investment from last week. It chronicles the messy, ad hoc evolution of the US government’s attempts to protect American property abroad.

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6 Responses to Links 18 July 2014

  1. papizha says:

    Dungan or Hui is Chinese speaking Muslim but not Muslim Han Chinese. Myth making Chinese nationalists may claim that Hui is nothing more than Han Chinses convert to Islam. But it’s simply not true.

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  2. Whyvert says:

    Yup, Alfred Crosby’s books on the exchange of plants and animals tell a fascinating tale.

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  3. papizha says:

    Chinese TV station had done a documentary about Dungan in Kazakhstan. What surprised me was that for this mostly endogamous group, yet it’s quite obvious from facial features that some degree of mixing with the locals have been going on. Esp at 4:00 of the clip,

    if it wasn’t For the fact that they are speaking a rustic Shaanxi Dialect,I would’ve thought one guy was a Uyghur and other one Eurasian. If not for the speaking language, most Han Chinese would’ve mistaken them for local Kazakh or Kyrgyz or Uyghur.

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  4. papizha says:

    Chinese movie “Pretty Big Feet” is shot partly in Shaanxi dialect (original Dungan language) and also shot in Northern Shaanxi’s Loess Plateau. This is the homeland of the Central Asian Dungan.

    Judging by Dungan’s present situation in Central Asia, I say they did pretty well for themselves and they lucked out that their ancestor migrated (driven out of China)

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  5. papizha says:

    Actually I spoke too soon, as in most cases. The grinding poverty of Northern Shaanxi depicted in the film is real that’s why Mao made his base there in Yen’an. But recently, discovery of coal and oil deposit has made this dirt poor region one of the richest part in China almost overnight. If Dungan had managed to stayed in their homeland, they could be noveau riche mining bosses (煤老板) now.

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  6. T. Greer says:
    1. I often describe Ecological Imperialism as the book GGS stole all of its best ideas from, but told with less wit.
    2. I rather like asabiyah. I have been pushing it for the better part of five years (though I’m not the reason its got an upswing in popularity. Turchin probably gets credit for that.) I see it as is a useful catch-all word for a set of concepts that are too clunky to describe otherwise. Moreover, the dynamic Khaldun sketches out in his works does a very good job of describing the rise and decline of the Ummayads, Abbasid, and so forth.

    But I strongly disagree with ‘chicks interpretation of the word. And in the case of the Abbasid such reinterpretation simply is not necessary, for the original theory does a fine job describing what happened all by itself.

    I thought about writing up a post to that effect, but I don’t think I have the time to write a sustained defense/exposition of Khaldun’s strong points at the moment and his ideas deserve a proper treatment.

    I usually recommend Lenn Evan Goodman’s essay “Ibn Khaldun and Thucydides” as the best primer.

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