For Jennifer Ball’s theory on the origins of language which takes a Darwinian approach to written scripts. Proposed:

That all ancient written languages reflect the importance of fertility and procreation to early man in similar, graphic ways. For more info,

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Websites used in support of this work:

Akkadian cuneiform and dictionary (no longer working)

Cantonese Dictionary Project (

Chinese Characters: A Genealogy and Dictionary  (

Chinese Text Project ( (

Cojak 9 )

Google Translate (

Mandarin Online Tools (

Modern Chinese Character Frequency List现代汉语单字频率列表 (

Oxford English Dictionary online (

Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary (

Hebrew and Greek lexicons (via Strong’s Concordance online)

Transtar Translation (

UCLA Sumerian database (

Native Chinese Speakers consulted:

Lin, Eva. Researcher at Genentec

Shen, Zhenhai. Researcher at Genentech

Wang, Gina Xiaojing. Researcher at Genentech

Zhou, Angela. Researcher at Genentech

Zhu, Bing-Yan. Researcher at Genentech

Three-hundred-fifty-five Chinese college students who I have taught English (and so much more!)

Videos watched:

Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth (1988).

(There are two stories, roughly an hour apart, that involve women and snakes in this video. The first has illustrations accompanying, and it tells of a woman who decides to marry out of her community. Her new husband disappears at night and a snake shows up, slides onto her lap, and she is ordered by it to pick off the lice. (I’m not making this up, watch the video.) As my husband said, “What snake would have lice?” Only one with pubic hair. When the man comes back, he says, “Were you afraid of me in my snake form?” Hmm….Campbell has a little smile, but the obvious phallic imagery of this is never discussed. Nor is it discussed the second time. It’s the elephant in the room. Or the snake with lice. Campbell and Moyer never mention it. Why? Because we’re hesitant to acknowledge sexual situations for fear we will be accused of projecting our own prurient interests. But sex is what got all us 7.4 billion people here so far, and myth is full of it. The more we recognize our base behavior, the more able we are to rise above it.)

Fiction and previous readings which have informed my work:

Carroll, Lewis. (All his fiction; I’m a fan of Charles Dodgson’s.)

Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying

Faulker, William. Sound and the Fury

Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Hofstader, Douglas. Gödel, Escher, Bach: the Eternal Golden Braid

Jin, Ha. Waiting: A Novel

Kingsolver, Barbara. The Poisonwood Bible

Kwok, Jean. Girl in Translation

Lewycka, Marina. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

Martel, Yann. Life of Pi

Park, Suzan-Lori. Getting Mother’s Body

Phillips , John Aristotle. Mushroom: The story of the A-bomb kid

Platt, Kin. Sinbad and Me

See, Lisa. Snow Flower and The Secret Fan

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Jennifer Ball