To the Berkeley Professor of Linguistics:

August 6, 2012
Dear Dr. Lakoff: I would like to get a Ph.D. under you studying metaphors in Chinese characters and their correspondent meanings in English. Written Chinese has been documented for 4,000 years, so it is the perfect language to use as a comparison with other languages. Three women have meant “adul-tery” for 4,000 years in Chinese, and still do. The women character is in many Chinese words. I believe that man’s love/hate relationship with women is a linguistic universal and is found in every literate culture, not just Chinese. Your title “Women, are, and dangerous things,” is the perfect description of how men and women: disturbing yet at the same time mesmerizing. This bias is encoded into language even now. Why is “milking” an issue a bad thing? Why is a “seminal” idea so good? Why is to “disseminate” information positive? In Chinese, the word for “semen” is also the word for “essence.” It is a positive concept there as well as here. There are many such similarities between Chinese, English, and Latin-based languages, but most people focus on dif-ferences because they are in denial of our animalistic natures.
I am finishing my third semester of Mandarin with an Intensive at Berkeley that is a 10-unit course. I have spent the last three years studying Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and Sumerian cu-neiform as well as Chinese. The importance of breasts and eyes—both targets—is seen in those languages, as well as in Maya. I would love to talk with you about the possibility of doing this research under you. You can also check out my website at I’ve had over 25,000 readers. I am taking a Darwinian lens to language. The things which drive humans: sex, power, and food, are evident in all early scripts, including our alphabet. We just have to want to see it.
I have had two published novels (Catalyst, 1997, and Higher Math, 1991, both with Faber and Faber) and a book on digital typography. I have a BA from UCLA and a MFA from San Diego State. I was the music editor for the San Diego Reader for seven years. I have been married for 26 years to a chemist who is head of Small Molecule Drug Discovery at Genentech. We’ve played in a rock band together for 27. I play the French horn, trumpet, and keyboard (a good ear helps with Mandarin). I have read 95 books since I’ve had this idea, and written 72 documents which I have “published” online.
Please, can I meet with you?
Jennifer Ball