“Three Windows” in Action: Rice and Langugage

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William S.-Y. Wathree windowsng’s classic paper “Three Windows on the Past” discusses how anthropology (especially archaeology), genetics and historical linguistics can be used in an interdisciplinary study to establish the history of peoples and their languages. A conference to be held September 22-25, 2011 at Cornell University titled “Rice and Language Across Asia: Crops, Movement and Social Change” will present research from all these related fields on the origin of the cultivation of rice in Asia and the migration of peoples, and along with it the spread of rice cultivation and languages. In an earlier blog, I discussed various theories of the origin of the concept of the qi in Chinese philosophy. Some scholar pointed out that the cultivation of rice was not widespread in northern China at the time of the classical period. Thus if rice was not an important factor in people’s daily life, then the origin of the concept of qi is more likely not related to the food, but rather to the natural phenomenon of air and clouds. I wonder what this new conference and the research to be presented will contribute to our understanding of this matter.