Egyptian Progress

The woman on the right is the Egyptian First Lady in 1930. The woman on the left is Mrs. Mursi, First Lady in 2012.

I do not know if there is any better illustration of the collapse in aesthetics, culture, etc. when Islamic radicals seize power thanks to their liberal, internationalist, and socialist enablers. Truly, it is a horror to behold.

PS. Sorry for the short nature of the posts of late. I’m very busy ATM.

  • dave

    Maybe she just woke up.

  • yalensis

    Hey, dude, why you rail against socialists? I’m a socialist, and I’ve been anti-Islamist, like, forever. I’m not a thug either. Only a very tiny minority of socialists are thugs. In any case, the REAL enablers here are the American government. They’re the ones who have been jonesing to put Islamists in power since the 1980’s. They’re the ones (starting with Ronald Reagan) who created Al Qaeda, etc etc. So, go blame them for this horror!
    And P.S.. the lady on the right is actually T.E. Lawrence in drag, with a wig and a lot of make-up. Check out the facial features and the aquiline nose. I don’t know what Lawrence was doing in Egypt at the time, but the evidence is irrefutable:

  • Albo

    “I do not know if there is any better illustration of the collapse in aesthetics, culture, etc. when Islamic radicals seize power”

    Yes there is an even better illustration:

  • Jennifer Hor

    I suppose progress has been made in a sense in Egypt, in that the First Lady does not have a British mother as Suzanne Mubarak and Jihan al Sadat did and doesn’t plan on dabbling in politics or shopping in expensive clothes and jewellery boutiques overseas. Naglaa Ali Mahmoud or Um Ahmed as she prefers to be known is an ordinary working-class Egyptian woman who married Mursi at the age of 17 years, had five children with him (two of them born in the United States) and intends to carry on with community work within the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Looks like Egyptians themselves are divided on whether Um Ahmed is a fit person for the role of First Lady: some are frankly embarrassed by the working-class housewife image and others argue that the country needs someone who represents most women and who can identify with them.

    All Um Ahmed needs is someone to advise her on what to wear at public functions and look after her wardrobe and she would look as dignified and presentable as the Turkish Prime Minister’s wife does in these pictures (and she wears a headscarf):

  • I have to echo Yalensis. What “socialists” have been backing the war/chaos/Islamization policy of the U.S. in the Middle East? (I can only think of ruling mainstream pseudo-socialists like Hollande who are going along with the Western consensus.)

    • AK

      Yeah, I was referring to the pseudo-socialist types like Hollande, Millipede, etc.

      • And I forgot Chávez, Castro and Mélenchon – of gen-u-ine “really existing Socialism” – who are very much against the Liberal-Islamist chaos project for the Mideast.

      • yalensis

        Are you referring to Britain’s Mr. Minibrain?

        • Jennifer Hor

          Is this Ed Millipede or Tail Millipede? Join enough of ’em together and you get the Human Centipede. Now that would have been a real horror movie!

  • yalensis

    My study of Arabic is finally starting to pay off, as I was able to read (with painful slowless) the caption next to the two ladies. Here is the Arabic (you have to read right to left):

    سيدة مصر الاَولىِ سنه

    followed by the year.
    The first word (starting on the right) is pronounced something like “seyida” and means “lady”.
    The second word is pronounced something like “musser” and means “Egypt” (who knew?)
    The third word is prounced something like “Al-awalisi” and means “The First”.
    The fourth word is pronounced something like “senahu” and mean “year” followed by the year in question (1930 or 2012).
    Arabic alphabet is harder to learn than I thought it would be, that’s because each letter has several different forms. There is no distinction between capital and small letter (thank goodness), nor between printed and script, however the catch is that each letter has several different forms depending on its position in the word (initial, middle, or final letter). No doubt a heritage of its invention as a scripted language, to be written by pen on paper in a flowing style, by left-handed people. And then, given human nature, the scribes could not resist showing off their penmanship by adding little loops and ornaments and so on.
    Well, thank goodness I found this Arabic keyboard on google, where you can practice typing words, however it does not help much if you don’t know all the forms a letter can take:

    • AK

      In my opinion, Arabic is the second hardest major world language (harder than Chinese), and easier only than Japanese. The alphabet contributes to this but the main factor is of course the hellish grammar.

      EDIT: “Easier only than Japanese”. I initially wrote “easier only than Chinese” mistakenly LOL.

      • yalensis

        Thanks for warning, AK, I have barely even started on Arabic grammar, still struggling to learn alphabet! I had hoped that, being something of a lingua franca, Arabic would have easier grammar. Alas, nothing is ever easy!

    • I remember once reading that there is no shorthand for Arabic. Presumably it’s because it kind of looks like shorthand already. I doubt that ancient Middle Easterners were largely left-handed, I’d be surprised if any human group ever was.

      • yalensis

        According to my textbook, Arabic has no “print” version of the letters, it’s all just “cursive”. So I guess it goes without saying that there is no shorthand, although they do use some abbreviations.
        Arabic script also doesn’t have capital letters or small letters, just the same letters. That to me is a positive thing, WHO NEEDS CAPS ANYWAY? They just create endless confusion in Unix operating systems!
        The reason why I think Arabic scribes must have been left-handed is because if you hold an inky pen and write right-to-left with your RIGHT hand, then you would get ink on your wrist as it touched the paper. Or maybe they were trained to hold their wrists up off the paper, like a claw? But then you don’t have as much control over the tip of your pen… And BTW numerals (which they actually invented = Arabic numerals) are written LEFT to RIGHT. So, if you are reading Arabic words right to left, but then encounter a number, like in the above case, the year 2012, you have to switch brains and read it left to right. Confusing!

  • I have to say that here I agree with Yalensis. The only leader of Egypt who ever claimed to be a socialist was Nasser and he banned the Muslim Brotherhood and repressed it vigorously. Though I have never visited Egypt myself it is very close to Greece and many people I know go there regularly. It is very easy to hear Egyptian radio in Athens (the music is far and away the best in the Arab world). Without exception they all tell me the same thing, which is that the Muslim Brotherhood is a deeply conservative organisation and relations between it and the very small number of socialists still active in Egypt are poisonous at best.

    Until the mid nineteenth century Egypt was far and away the richest country around the Mediterranean and had been so for thousand years. In the early nineteenth century the Egyptian economy took off because of heavy British demand for Egyptian cotton. The country was at this time administered by an Ottoman governor who was an ethnic Albanian, Mohammed Ali. By all accounts he was an exceptionally able man who achieved for Egypt a position of virtual independence from the central Ottoman government and who was able to make the governorship of Egypt hereditary in his own family.

    Egypt’s problems began with the Suez Canal. The French attempted to interest Mohammed Ali in the project but he wisely refused. His son Ismail was however won over. The cost of building the Canal however proved far greater than expected and Ismail fell into heavy debt. This became even worse when the French Suez Canal Company threatened to go bankrupt and Ismail in order to complete the project had to bail it out. In the end Ismail’s debts became so bad that in 1876 he was forced to sell his (ie. Egypt’s) shares in the Canal to the British who thereafter owned the Canal jointly with the French and pocketed all the profits. Eventually when even the sale of the shares proved insufficient to pay the debts Ismail’s government went bankrupt triggering a coup by a section of the Egyptian army led by an army officer called Arabi Pasha. Rather than allow Egypt to default on its debts in 1881 the British and the French occupied the country. Thereafter whilst the country in theory remained an Ottoman province under the administration of the house of Mohammed Ali in reality the country was governed in the interests of its British and French creditors by a succession of British proconsuls of whom the first and the most notorious was a British banker Lord Cromer. In effect Egypt was bled dry to pay for the building of a Canal the profit of which went to Britain and France. I happen to have a copy of Lord Cromer’s multi volume memoirs in my house in Athens. They make repulsive reading being simultaneously racist and unbelievably coarse and verbose.

    It was during this period of British rule that the Egyptian economy started to deteriorate. During the First World War Egypt became formally independent of the Ottoman Empire with the hereditary governors of the family of Mohammed Ali declaring themselves Kings. The British however remained firmly in control, owning jointly with the French the Suez Canal and creaming off its profits, taxing the country to pay its debts and keeping large garrisons in Egypt in theory to protect the Canal. The economic and commercial life of the country was often in the hands of foreigners of whom a large proportion were Armenians and Greeks. There was also a large elite of brutally corrupt and rapacious landlords who were Muslims and who were often descended from Turkish and Albanian families. Nominally presiding over this system but actually controlled by British was the King of Egypt, who towards the end of this period was the clever but fantastically cynical and corrupt descendant of Mohammed Ali known as Farouk.

    This period in Egyptian history ended with a military coup in 1952 which brought a group of young officers to power. It is now known that most of these officers including their leader Colonel Nasser had links to the CIA, which was seeking to replace British influence in Egypt and the Middle East with US influence. In power Nasser however gradually became radicalised and eventually came to think of himself as a socialist though without much understanding of what socialism was. It is important to say that he remained to the very end of this life a strong anti Communist and that despite his occasional alliance with the USSR like other supposedly socialist Arab leaders (eg. Hafez Assad in Syria and Saddam Hussein in Iraq) he repressed the Egyptian Communist Party brutally.

    In 1956 Nasser nationalised the Canal, initiated a large scale land reform and sought to industrialise the country. In order to do this he was obliged to turn to the USSR for help, which responded by building the Aswan Dam and helping with the creation of an industrial base. Nasser however ran into opposition at every level of Egyptian society, which despite his own personal popularity remained deeply conservative. His plans for Egypt’s modernisation, which were anyway poorly thought out and badly implemented, were in any event completely derailed by a military confrontation with Israel which he had never wanted and which he had sought to avoid.

    After Nasser’s death in 1970 (which the Soviet doctor Yevgeny Chazov who was sent to treat him thought suspicious) his successor Sadat reversed policy realigning Egypt with the US and liberalising the Egyptian economy in a process known as “the Opening”. Sadat also began the process of giving institutional support to Islam and of identifying himself as “the Muslim President”. Consistent with this he reached a modus vivendi with the Muslim Brotherhood, which Nasser had previously sternly repressed. Sadat’s policies were continued by his successor Mubarak and in all essentials Mubarak’s regime was a continuation of Sadat’s.

    The pro Islamic policies of the Sadat/Mubarak regime and the consequent refusal to pursue sensible family planning policies caused a population explosion, which together with the poor performance of the liberalised economy stretched Egypt’s resources to beyond breaking point. Where Egypt had been for millenia the granary of the Mediterranean it became heavily dependent on US subsidised food imports and remains so to this day. My mother who has been visiting the country at regular intervals since the early 1950s and many of my other friends who have also visited the country have repeatedly told me after each visit of the steady deterioration in conditions of life for the great majority of the Egyptian people that they have witnessed. A friend of mine from Britain who visited Egypt with her family on holiday just before the protests also told me of the dramatic deterioration both in living standards and in the public mood as compared with an earlier visit she had made in the 1980s.

    As conditions of life have deteriorated there has been a steady radicalisation and Islamicisation to the point where the wearing by women of headscarves, which had become rare under the monarchy and which were disapproved of under Nasser (except in the rural areas) has now become almost universal and is widely enforced through social pressure. My mother’s Coptic (ie Christian) Egyptian friends say that they no longer dare to venture out in public without a headscarf.

    I am deeply pessimistic about the country. None of the people who have emerged over the last year seem to have any idea of how to deal with its enormous and growing problems if they even understand what those problems are. There is instead a descent into fanaticism and intolerance.

    • Jennifer Hor


      Thanks for a very interesting survey of Egyptian history since 1800. I had read something about Muhammad Ali Pasha before, how he broke the power of the Mameluks by inviting their leaders to a party and then killing them all Vlad-Tepes-style. My memory may be confused but I thought he tried to set up a textile manufacturing industry in Egypt and the British killed that off? But this article on Muhammad Ali Pasha that I found says nothing about how early industrialisation foundered in the country.

      It’s strange that for most of the last 2,000 years Egypt has been ruled by foreigners. Before the Ottomans, Egypt had been ruled by Mameluks who originally had been slave soldiers from the Caucasus and Anatolia.

      • yalensis

        True, and let’s not forget that whole unfortunate “Hyksos” episode in 1630 BC. The Hyksos were foreigners (noted for their great skill with horses and chariots) who invaded Egypt and (briefly) ruled the 15th dynasty. Hyksos were Asiatic Semites who had settled in Nile Delta and then used their horsey skills to seize Egyptian throne. Eventually they were driven out, but some biblical scholars believe this episode provided the folklore that eventually led to biblical story of Joseph (a Hyksos) becoming advisor to Pharaoah, and then bringing in all his relatives to settle in the Delta. Not to mention that whole Moses story, which might also be a reflection of the historical reality of Hyksos being violently driven out of Egypt. (In this case, pretending like it was THEIR decision to leave.)

        • Dear Jennifer,

          I never heard that Mohammed Ali tried to set up a textile industry in Egypt but certainly it would not surprise me. Egyptian cotton is still very highly regarded and Egypt of course has a long tradition of textile production extending all the way back to antiquity so to try to create an industry is obvious. As for the British, Mohammed Ali’s key western ally was France, which was Britain’s rival, so the British would have had a strong strategic reason as well as an economic one for preventing Mohammed Ali’s more ambitious economic plans from coming to fruition.

          • Dear Yalensis,

            You are completely right about the Hyksos.

            The Hyksos would have spoken a semitic language of the same linguistic family as Arabic. Best possible wishes with your Arabic studies. I have been told that it is in fact much more difficult to learn than Chinese but learnt it certainly can be and for some reason Russians are known to be exceptional students of the language. It was a notorious truth of the Cold War that Russian diplomats and journalists stationed in the Middle East always spoke much better Arabic than their American rivals. One of them and a fluent Arabic speaker was Yevgeny Primakov, who became Prime Minister.

            There is a glorious literature in Arabic beginning with the great corpus of pre Islamic poetry and it is also the key to learning the other semitic languages including Hebrew (classical and modern), Aramaic, Babylonian and Akkadian. Also Arabic calligraphy is magnificent.

            So best wishes on this great and fruitful quest!

            • yalensis

              Thanks for your kind thoughts, Alexander. I like Arabic a lot, at least what I have learned so far (which is unfortunately not that much). I am surprised that Russian speakers do well with it, because it seems to me that pronunciation of the regular consonants is actually much closer to English accent than to Russian.accent. Also, Arabic has the glottal-stop consonant, which is found in most English dialects, but not in any Slavic dialects (that I know of). I like the way Arabic sounds, it has a nice flow to it, except for a couple of the consonants, which are harsh-sounding. It is a consonant-rich language, with just a handful of vowels.
              It was my ambition to learn at least one Semitic language, and I had the impression that Arabic was easier to learn than Hebrew; but I could have been mistaken about that!

        • Jennifer Hor


          If you look at ancient Egyptian history in a very broad way, isn’t it a fact that just about everybody worth their salt in ancient times had a go at ruling Egypt?

          The ancient Libyans had their turn (22nd Dynasty), the ancient Sudanese or Nubians had a shot at it (25th Dynasty) and they were followed by the Persians, Alexander the Great and his successors and the Romans. The only ancient people not interested or not powerful enough were Minoans.

          BTW I have a book at home, “The Unfolding of Language” by Guy Deutscher, which you probably know about. There are two chapters explaining how the verb in Semitic languages is constructed and how you can build vocabularies based on verbal roots using what Deutscher calls “templates” or vowel patterns. Although he explains how the architecture of Semitic grammar evolved, I still come away thinking that some infernal computer programmer with an evil sense of humour dreamt up these languages. One example he uses is the consonant cluster k-t-b which on its own means nothing but once you apply the vowel templates then the cluster generates a stack of vocabulary relating to reading, literacy, books, writing and other activities, objects and concepts tied in with reading and writing. Using his example and playing with one of the templates, I figured that if a word like “madrasah” (Arabic for “school” or a place where study is done) exists then the word “maktabah” might exist and refer to a place where reading is done; I Googled my guess and the word does exist in Arabic and means “library”. So I made up the words “maslamah”, “malbasa” and “mahmada” and Googled those to see if they might exist but nothing came up. (They would mean places of peace, a place where clothes are put on, as in a dressing room, and a place where praise is given respectively if they did.)

          • yalensis

            @Jennifer: Yes, all those examples are really cool, here are more examples from my Arabic textbook. In addition to swapping vowels, you can also double consonants (Arabic alphabet uses a tiny symbol above the consonant to indicate that it is doubled), and when you double the consonant it also adds a semantic layer of transitivity (=getting someone else to do something). You can also double vowels, all this gives an exponential number of possible morphs all from the same root:
            Kataba = to write
            Kattaba = to make someone write
            Takaataba = to write to each other, i.e., correspond
            Istaktaba = to dictate
            Kitaab = book
            Maktab = office [i.e., a place where writing takes place]
            Maktaba = library
            Kaatib = clerk
            Miktaab = typewriter
            Mukaataba = correspondence
            Mukaatib = reporter
            Muktatib = subscriber
            Kutubii = bookseller
            Kutayyib = booklet
            Maktuub = written

            (etc etc)
            Note that this very Semitic feature of consonant templates also has parallels in Indo-European languages, for example, it shows some prominence in proto-Germanic and can be seen to this day in German and even modern English (sing-sang-sung-song, etc.)
            There are 2 theories about this: (1) ablaut was feature of proto-proto-proto language at a time when proto-Indo-Aryan and proto-Semitic languages shared a common ancestor ? (highly speculative), OR
            (2) proto-Germanic tongue went through a phase when heavily intermarrying with Semitic speakers who influenced the language. This second theory is expounded on by noted American linguist John McWhorter (“Our magnificent bastard tongue: The untold history of English”). McWhorter speculates that maybe, just maybe, a Semitic sea-faring people maybe related to Phoenicians settled/invaded the Frisian peninsula. Probably a fleet of lonely Phoenician sailors seeking wives. They found Germanic babes willing to take them in and give them the loving that they needed (we will just close our eyes and pretend there was no violent rape involved), and married into the community. A couple of years later their kids started speaking the lovely proto-Germanic tongue of their moms, but with a noticeable Semitic accent (from dear old rough pirate Dad), thus giving rise to Grimm’s Law, and also “ablaut” like “sing-sang-sung”, not to mention such oddities as German/English using a Semitic word (Maedchen, Maiden) instead of the usual Indo-European word for an important concept like “girl”.
            Interesting theory, no?

            • Jennifer Hor

              @ Yalensis: Very nice theory from McWhorter but I’d apply Occam’s Razor and say that the megalith builders who came up from the Iberian peninsula and spread into the lands bordering both sides of the English Channel and the Jutland peninsula (Denmark) to become ancestors of the people who took up the Celtic languages from later migrants were probably related to Berbers who themselves are linguistically related to indigenous Egyptians and Semites.

              Apparently Celtic languages spoken in the British Isles share some features with Berber languages and some Scottish people have a genetic marker that is common in Berbers in Morocco and in the Tuareg. It’s possible that some of those megalith builders bypassed Britain and ended up in those parts where Germanic got started.

              • Scowspi

                The non-IE origin of much core Germanic vocabulary is widely accepted. It’s known as the “Germanic substrate hypothesis”:


                However, where precisely these words come from remains a mystery. It’s likely they derive from pre-IE languages already spoken in Europe and now extinct. An obvious place to look for affinities would be Basque, as it is the last survivor of these pre-IE European languages. I believe a few linguists have pursued that path.

              • yalensis

                Fascinating! Here are some images of what modern Tuaregs look like. It would be extremely interesting if their ancestors turned out to be expert sarilors, because modern Tuaregs have specialized as desert dwellers. In the Libya-Chad border area they are known as “the masters of the desert”:


              • yalensis

                Thanks for interesting link, @scowspi. McWhorter gives some of these same examples of non-IE “core” vocabulary in Germanic, and notes that a lot of these words do have something to do with seafaring, the most prominent being that most Indo-Europeans said something like “mare” for “sea”, whereas Germanic speakers said “See”. The preponderance of non-IE martime vocabulary is possibly indicative that the substrate-speakers were very interested in all things relating to the sea (maybe Berber pirates?)
                However, the wiki article doesn’t give one of McWhorter’s main examples, which is the word for an unmarried girl, proto-Germanic “magath”, modern “Mädchen” (English “maiden”), which McWhorter thinks might possibly be related to proto-Semitic “makhat”.
                Another interesting example he gives is the German word “folk”, which originally meant a division in the army (borrowed from German into Old Slavic as “pulk”, like Russian “polk”). This is not a normal I-E word, and McWhorter thinks it might be related to proto-Semitic “p-l-kh” meaning “to divide”, as in a “division” of the army. There are several other examples (probably more than can be ascribed to simple coincidence) possibly indicating a proto-Semitic substrate in proto-Germanic!

              • Jennifer Hor

                @ Scowspi, Yalensis,

                From what I’ve seen on Wikipedia and some other websites, the main contenders for substrate languages for Germanic are Basque and Finnic (this one pursued by Finnish researchers for nationalistic reasons I suspect). It’s also possible that another language belonging to an unknown extinct family was the substrate.

                @ Yalensis: I saw those pictures of the Tuareg, thanks for the link! Funny, some of those Tuareg look a little like someone I know – she happens to be South African and she would have passed as Coloured in pre-1990 South Africa. I’ve heard that when the Sahara was grassland about 10,000 years ago, it was inhabited by people who were very like modern Khoikhoi and San people. When the Sahara dried up, most of these people migrated south but some might have taken a northern path and become the megalith builders I mentioned earlier.

              • yalensis

                @Jennifer: I learned a little bit about the Touareg while reading everything I could on the Libya war last year. They are a fascinating people. A few Touareg/Amazigh leaders did join opposition to Gaddafy, and Al Jazeera made a big deal of this. (Like this was some big democratic multi-ethnic uprising against a tyrant.) But on the whole Touareg were neutral or even pro-Gaddafy. Not surprising given that the anti-G forces were Arab nationalists and seem to hate all non-Arab ethnic minorities, especially sub-Saharan Africans, but also including Touaregs. Also, Touregs and Amazighs (Berbers) practice a slightly different form of Islam than the Benghazi Salafists, who are pretty much identical to Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Since coming to power in Libya, the Salafists have busied themselves destroying Amazigh/Touareg cemeteries and other monuments, on the grounds they are “un-Islamic”.
                Under Gaddafy, the Touregs got along okay with the regime: Gaddafy left them alone, and they left him alone. As “masters of the desert”, they control all the travel/smuggling routes to the South (Chad) and West (Algeria). When Gaddafy’s son Saif al-Islam was on the run and trying to escape, a Touareg convoy led him through the desert south of Sabha. Unfortunately for Saif, he had a serious bullet wound on his hand, which was getting gangrenous, so they had to take him to a doctor in a local town. It was the doctor who betrayed Saif (for money) and turned him over to the Zintan militia in whose custody he languishes to this day. Touareg denied that they betrayed him, and I believe them, because a part of their “brand” as smugglers and masters of the desert, is that they should never betray a guest or paying client.

            • Yalensis, I’ve never studied Arabic or Hebrew, but I’ve always been curious about the following:

              If much of the grammar of the Semitic languages is in the vowels, then how can they get away with dropping them in writing? Russian grammar is mostly in word endings. Russian would probably become unintelligible if we left out all the word endings. Same with English and word order.

              If library and typewriter have the same consonants in the same sequence, and no vowels are shown in writing, then how do they keep them apart?

              • Jennifer Hor

                @ Yalensis, Glossy: I asked someone at work about this and he wasn’t too sure as he doesn’t read much Arabic (it’s his mother tongue) but he said you have to read the whole sentence or paragraph to understand its meaning. Individual words or phrases in themselves acquire meaning from the context of the whole passage. This suggests writing in Semitic is like writing in code and reading Semitic languages is akin to deciphering that code. (Might that imply a passage written in Semitic could have several or even multiple meanings but the actual meaning is not clear unless you read the whole book?!)

                I looked up the Wikipeda article on Arabic and followed some of the external links listed to which mentions abjads (consonant-based alphabets). There is a page on writing in Arabic and you can click on the PDF to get a full alphabet chart including all letters in first, middle and last positions in words:

                It mentions diacritics can be used to indicate vowels and assist in vocalisation so that the meaning of a passage is made clear especially in readings of the Qu’ran.

                The article mentions that Arabic script was used to write Bosnian and a Bosnian sample text written in Arabic script appears in the Serbo-Croatian article:

                Also found this chart on Afro-Asiatic languages which is not very clear but the PDF link doesn’t work:

  • Mr. X

    Twitterati tweepthugs and the Michael Weiss’s of this world should be hammered on this again and again. I’m sure someone could produce a similar portrait for Kosovar Albanians cerca the 1950s versus now.

  • “[…] a succession of British proconsuls of whom the first and the most notorious was a British banker Lord Cromer. In effect Egypt was bled dry to pay for the building of a Canal the profit of which went to Britain and France. […] They make repulsive reading being simultaneously racist and unbelievably coarse and verbose.” Scum of the Earth.

  • Dan

    On the bright side, maybe the steepest part of decivilization has already occurred.

  • Scowspi

    Re: Germanic substrate (no reply button, so I’m forced to put this at the end)

    In fact, a number of linguists have pointed out Semitic borrowings going as far back as Proto-Indo-European. Merritt Ruhlen (who is a Nostraticist or Proto-Worldist, just so you know where he’s coming from) mentions this in his book on the origins of language: some very basic vocab, such as the numbers 3 and 7, as well as words like “star,” appear to come from Semitic. This would make it difficult to distinguish from Semitic loans in Proto-Germanic specifically.

    The Basque (i.e. Vasconic, that is, Basque-related extinct languages) affinity has been pursued by Theo Venemann, among other linguists. I think this is a potentially fruitful relation to investigate, as it’s generally believed that Basque is the last survivor of Europe’s pre-IE languages.

    That said, we can’t assume that all these dead languages were relatives of Basque. I don’t think Etruscan, which was quite a major pre-IE language, was related to Basque.

    The seafaring angle is indeed interesting (in addition to these nautical terms, we also get the four compass directions from that source). But that doesn’t necessarily imply Semitic peoples, since there would be plenty of indigenous sea-going around the North and Baltic Seas, where the proto-Germans presumably encountered these people.

    • yalensis

      McWhorter is also slightly Nostraticist in his views, in fact in his popular books such as “The Power of Babel” he goes even further and speculates the possibility of a single human proto-language (which he calls Proto-World). He is not dogmatic about it, of course, McWhorter is a serious academic linguist not a quack, he knows there is no way to prove or disprove, but he does write popular books for laymen, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun to speculate. Also, the theory was formulated at a time when anthropologists believed all humans alive today are descended from a group of just a couple of hundred homo sapiens dwelling in the Kalahari area. [Now we know that things were maybe more complicated, with lots of Neanderthals running around eveywhere, and they also had their own language(s). ]
      According to the “Kalahari” theory, that first human group invented a basic language with some vocabulary and grammar (which subsequently became extremely complex and evolved into the 6000 languages around today). The list of phonemes this first group decided on included “click” sounds, which may have evolved from hunting calls. These clicks later became lost in most subsequent dialects, but persisted in a couple of dialects more directly descended from the original proto-language:

      B. In this light, it is important that humans emerged in Africa, that early
      Homo sapiens fossils are smaller than today’s humans (Bushmen are
      rather small people), and that it is very hard to conceive of how clicks
      could emerge in a language. It may be that the clicks were present in
      the first language(s) and have disappeared almost everywhere but
      where they originally existed.
      C. Thus, the click languages may be the descendants of the first one.
      (page 57)

      McWhorter also quotes Greenberg and Ruhlen on possible cognates from Proto-language, most spectacularly the word for “water” which they reconstruct as proto *aq’wa (Latin “aqua”, Amerind “akwā”, Indo-Pacific “okho”, etc etc. This table shows this and a few other posited core “proto” words like “finger”, “vagina”, “two”, and so on, if you scroll down you see a list of language groups starting with “Khoisan”:

  • Fascinating discussion on linguistics here.

    Just to add in view of the subject of Anatoly’s post that modern Coptic is the direct descendant of the language of the ancient Egyptians. Though only a small minority of Egyptians speak it, it remains the language of the Egyptian Coptic Church.

    • yalensis

      Very interesting. Coptic is a member of the broader “Afro-Asiatic” family of languages, which includes (in alphabetical order) the following groups:


  • jsck

    That might be Russia in the future after the civil war.

    Better to make preparation to voluntary collapse avoiding war by agreeing to establish largely independent ethnic homogenous Republics with energy and trade agreements favourable to Moscow while it has a strong footing unlike the Serbs where the western powers carved out Yugoslavia in an anti-Serb patch work of nation states as an indirect means to weaken any Russian energy and economic influence in Europe and strengthen Turkey as Europe’s primary energy supplier.

  • Oqueque

    Gosh, she should do a favor to the rest of the world and wear a burqa! No one should have to be exposed to such a face!!!!!