31 October 2008

Why Oh's Home Run Record Stands

In the third of a three-part series in the Japan Times on the remarkable baseball career of Sadaharu Oh, Robert Whiting reveals another reason why nobody in Japan has been able to break Oh's record of 55 home runs in one season.
The one big black mark on Sadaharu Oh's reputation was, of course, the unsportsmanlike behavior of the pitchers on his team whenever foreign batsmen threatened his single season home run record of 55.

The phenomenon had first surfaced in 1985, when American Randy Bass playing for the Hanshin Tigers, who went into the last game of the season — against the Oh-managed Giants at Korakuen Stadium — with 54 home runs.

Bass was walked intentionally four times on four straight pitches and would have been walked a fifth, had he not reached out and poked a pitch far outside the plate into the outfield.

Oh denied ordering his pitchers to walk Bass, but Keith Comstock, an American pitcher for Yomiuri reported afterward that a certain Giants coach imposed a fine of $1,000 for every strike Giants pitchers threw to Bass....

A replay of the Bass episode came during the 2001 season. American Tuffy Rhodes, playing for the Kintetsu Buffaloes, threatened Oh's record.

With several games left in the season, Rhodes hit the 55 mark. But during a late season weekend series in Fukuoka, pitchers on the Hawks refused to throw strikes to Rhodes and catcher Kenji Johjima could be seen grinning during the walks.

Again Oh denied any involvement in their actions and Hawks battery coach Yoshiharu Wakana admitted the pitchers had acted on his orders.

"It would be distasteful to see a foreign player break Oh's record," he told reporters....

A second replay occurred in 2002, when Venezuelan Alex Cabrera also hit 55 home runs, tying Oh (and Rhodes) with five games left to play in the season. Oh commanded his pitchers not to repeat their behavior of the previous year, but, not surprisingly, most of them ignored him. There was more condemnation from the public, but, curiously, not from Oh, who simply shrugged and said, "If you're going to break the record, you should do it by more than one. Do it by a lot."

Such behavior led an ESPN critic to call Oh's record "one of the phoniest in baseball."

In Oh's defense, there was probably nothing he could have done to prevent his pitchers from acting as they did. Feelings about "gaijin" aside, it was (and still is) common practice for teams to take such action to protect a teammate's record or title....

Still, amid all the fuss about protectionism in baseball, it is noteworthy that no one in the Japanese game ever sees fit to mention the fact that Oh hit most of his home runs using rock hard, custom-made compressed bats.

A batter using a compressed bat, it was said, could propel a ball farther than he can with an ordinary bat. Compressed bats were illegal in the MLB when Oh was playing in Japan, and were outlawed by the NPB in 1982 after Oh retired, but well before Bass, Rhodes and Cabrera had Japan visas stamped into their passports.
One of the enduring ironies, of course, is that Oh was born a Japanese citizen in Taiwan in 1940, but became a citizen of the Republic of China after Japan lost the war in 1945. His name is variously rendered as 王貞治, Wang Chenchih, Wáng Zhēnzhì, or Ō Sadaharu.

Japanese Temple Moves to South Carolina

Thursday's International Herald Tribune has a story about a Japanese temple that migrated from Nagoya to South Carolina.
The former Buddhist temple sits opposite a waterfall on the campus of Furman University, with vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains when the trees are bare....

Believed to be the only temple moved from Japan to the U.S., the so-called Place of Peace was shipped in 2,400 pieces and reassembled by 13 specialized temple artisans from Japan.

After three years of fundraising and 2 1/2 months of construction, the building is serving as a classroom and a centerpiece of an Asian studies program that graduated 60 students last spring — three times the number it did five years ago.

Shaner's ties to a Japanese family that moved to Greenville in the 1960s helped bring the temple to campus. TNS Mills, which stood for Tsuzuki New Spinning, supplied spools of thread to the textile mills that were the heart of Greenville's economy. Sister and brother Yuri and Seiji Tsuzuki — chairman of what is now Wellstone Mills — grew up in Greenville, but the family maintained its home in Japan.

The temple was built on Tsuzuki land in Nagoya in 1984 as the family's private worship place.

When they sold to developers, the siblings in November 2004 proposed a way to save the temple from destruction: Offer it to Furman. The family has a long-standing friendship with Shaner, a world-renowned aikido instructor and sensei, or teacher, to Yuri and Seiji Tsuzuki's mother, Chigusa, who died in 1995.

But the school had to move quickly. The temple had to be off the family's property by January 2005.

"The reason why this is so rare, had this temple ever served a lay community and had an assigned priest, then you would never, ever, ever move it from Japan," Shaner said. "It would be like bad karma."

The temple was disassembled and shipped overseas in four 40-foot containers, with each piece labeled and its beams secured by wood braces to prevent warping. It sat in the Tsuzukis' storage in Gaffney, South Carolina, as the school raised $400,0000 for the temple's reconstruction and maintenance.
I would bet that a good bit of that money was raised from people who had already been donating to support Southern Baptist missionaries in Japan. This is a nice turnabout. A Japanese temple overlooking the Blue Ridge certainly appeals to me.

via Japundit

30 October 2008

Insider vs. Outlier Stereotypes in Pohnpei

From Michael D. Lieber's chapter "Lamarckian Definitions of Identity on Kapingamarangi and Pohnpei" in Cultural Identity and Ethnicity in the Pacific, edited by Jocelyn Linnekin and Lin Poyer (U. Hawai‘i Press, 1990), pp. 88-90:
Pohnpeians [main-islanders] describing other ethnic groups focus on observable patterns of activity or predilections for particular arenas of activity. They describe Kapinga [Polynesian outliers], for example, as good fishermen and craftsmen and as strong, hard workers. But they also think of Kapinga as lacking in ambition and foresight, as unable to plan ahead. From a Pohnpeian perspective, this is a reasonably accurate description. Other than a few men who are active in feasting, even titled Kapinga avoid participation in feasts on Pohnpei, a participation that presupposes careful planning and allocation of one's time and resources over a period of years. Pohnpeians also point out that very few Kapinga have prepared themselves for administrative or teaching jobs.

Pohnpeians see Pingelapese [Micronesian outliers] as messy, clannish, devout and active in church affairs, and both shrewd and very aggressive. Examples of their clannishness are their preference for en bloc voting whenever a Pingelapese runs for public office against a non-Pingelapese and their purported tendency to route administrative jobs to other Pingelapese whenever they are in a position to do so. What Pohnpeians appear to mean by aggressiveness is the often-mentioned Pingelapese preference for achieving middle-echelon administrative jobs, the vigor with which they pursue those positions, and their consequent prominence in those positions on Pohnpei.

Mokilese [Micronesian outliers] are described by most Pohnpeian informants as ambitious, skilled, and crafty. What is so intriguing about this description is the use of aggressive for Pingelapese and ambitious for Mokilese. When I asked for examples, informants pointed to the prominence of Mokilese in upper echelons of colonial administration—particularly in the former Congress of Micronesia and the present Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia—and in highly skilled technical jobs over which they have a virtual monopoly, such as machinists and mechanics. They are considered very subtle and charming while being very manipulative, particularly in political contexts.

If one takes all of these stereotypes together, they do in fact describe something about the larger Pohnpei social order. Kapinga, to the extent that they are visible at all, are people of the marketplace. They are the suppliers of fish and the purveyors of handicrafts and are otherwise not very visible. Pingelapese have been prominent in church affairs on Pohnpei and in middle-level administration in various agencies, including the hospital and the education department. Mokilese are in fact prominent in upper-echelon administration, especially in Congress. For example, during elections for the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia in 1979, Mokilese men were candidates for 60 percent of the seats allotted to Pohnpei State. Pohnpeians are prominent at all these levels. From their point of view, that is to be expected, for Pohnpeians consider Pohnpei to be very much their island. Their ethnic descriptions identify whom they believe to be their competitors for control over affairs on the island, and they allude to the contexts of competition. In each case, descriptions focus on the issue of control in the colonial arena. Pingelapese and Mokilese people have been and still are active in the feasting and title system, some having very high titles. Yet no Pohnpeian ever mentioned this in discussions about them. When asked why Kapinga, Pingelapese, and Mokilese are the way they are, Pohnpeian informants responded with answers such as, "They do what their parents did," or "They grow up with the tiahk 'customs' of their island."

Kapinga descriptions of other island groups put no emphasis on political position and greater emphasis on skills and interpersonal proclivities than do Pohnpeian descriptions. Pingelapese are considered dirty and "careless" in their personal habits, easily angered, clannish, vengeful, very enterprising, and very religious. They are considered powerful curers and sorcerers, good organizers of businesses, and hard workers for their families and friends. Kapinga never pointed to Pingelapese administrative positions in their descriptions.

Mokilese, according to Kapinga, are good at fishing, working, learning mechanical skills (such as boat building), and organizing. Several Kapinga referred to Mokilese as being very personable, but said that one never knows if a Mokilese is really one's friend. In discussing Mokilese organizing abilities, Kapinga informants pointed to their work in reorganizing the Kolonia Protestant church in 1980. While Kapinga recognize the prominence of Mokilese in Congress, they appear not to think of that fact as particularly definitive of Mokilese.

What strikes Kapinga as being distinctive about Pohnpeians is their haughtiness (putting themselves before others), their capacity for being extremely generous, and their unpredictable displays of almost gratuitous hostility. The charge of haughtiness has to do with the condescension with which Pohnpeians often treat Kapinga and with the ways that Kapinga see higher and lower ranking people interact. Kapinga cite numerous examples of Pohnpeian generosity, both on the part of chiefs and of ordinary people, particularly during World War II, when Kapinga had to leave Porakied and seek shelter in U and Kiti. At the same time, Kapinga fear Pohnpeians as sorcerers. They cite several deaths over the past few years that they attribute to sorcery by Pohnpeians who were supposedly friends of the deceased.

I asked about one other group, the Nukuoro [Polynesian outliers], with whom the Kapinga have long had close relations of reciprocity and intermarriage. While Kapinga gave detailed descriptions, Pohnpeians ventured no opinions whatever, saying only that they did not know anything about them. One can predict that Nukuoro do not form a politically or socially visible group on Pohnpei, and this is in fact the case.

We see that three Pohnpeian ethnic stereotypes (and one category empty of content) concentrate attention on the place that each ethnic group holds in the larger colonial arena of commercial and administrative control over persons, resources, and policies. Each stereotype is referable to the particular sorts of contexts in which members of each out-island enclave exercise political and economic control in the colonial administrative domain. Kapinga concentrate their attention on those observable patterns of interaction that are relevant to face-to-face dyadic interaction, such as visiting, friendship, hospitality, and reciprocity. Generosity, fairness, and trustworthiness are attended to, while political position in the larger order is not.
A similar divergence of reference points seems to show up in urban elitist vs. small-town egalitarian patterns of stereotyping each Other in the U.S. and other larger societies.

27 October 2008

Near Unsan, Korea, October 1950

From: The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, by David Halberstam (Hyperion, 2007), p. 13:
For experienced officers making the trek as the temperature dropped alarmingly, and the terrain became more mountainous and forbidding, there was an eerie quality to the advance. Years later, General Paik Sun Yup, commander of the South Korean First Division (and considered by the Americans the best of the Korean commanders), remembered his own uneasiness as they moved forward without resistance. There was a sense of almost total isolation, as if they were too alone. At first, Paik, a veteran officer who had once fought with the Japanese Army, could not pinpoint what bothered him. Then it struck him: the absolute absence of people, the overwhelming silence that surrounded his troops. In the past, there had always been lots of refugees streaming south. Now the road was empty, as if something important were taking place, just beyond his view and his knowledge. Besides, it was getting colder all the time. Every day the temperature seemed to drop another few degrees.

Certain key intelligence officers were nervous as well. They kept getting small bits of information, from a variety of sources, that made them believe that the Chinese had already entered North Korean territory by late October—and in strength. Colonel Percy Thompson, G-2 (or intelligence officer) for First Corps, under which the [U.S. First] Cav operated, and considered one of the ablest intelligence officers in Korea, was very pessimistic. He was quite sure of the Chinese presence, and he tried to warn his superiors. Unfortunately he found himself fighting a sense of euphoria that had permeated some of the upper ranks of the Cav and originated in Tokyo. Thompson had directly warned Colonel Hal Edson, commander of the Eighth Regiment of the First Cavalry Division, that he believed there was a formidable Chinese presence in the area, but Edson and others treated his warnings, he later noted, "with disbelief and indifference." In the days that followed, his daughter Barbara Thompson Eisenhower (married to Dwight Eisenhower's son John) remembered a dramatic change in the tone of her father's letters from Korea. It was as if he were writing to say farewell. "He was absolutely sure they were going to be overrun, and he was going to be killed." she later remembered.

Thompson had good reason to be uneasy. His early intelligence reads were quite accurate: the Chinese were already in country, waiting patiently in the mountains of Northern Korea for the ROKs and perhaps other UN units to extend their already strained logistical lines ever farther north. They had not intended to hit an American unit that early in the campaign. They wanted the Americans to be even farther north when they struck; and they knew the difficulty of the march north made their own job easier.
I distinctly remember seeing the First Cavalry shoulder insignia during my second grade year in elementary school at Camp Botanical Garden army base in Kyoto, Japan, in 1956-57, the last year before the base closed, the site reverted to its prior function, and the foreign missionaries had to start their own school.

26 October 2008

Wordcatcher Tales: Hokahoka, Hougan, Hiiki

A seasonal Japanese matsutake (松茸 'pine ear' mushroom) tasting menu at a restaurant named Yoshitsune (義経) turned up a couple of new vocabulary items that caught my fancy.

ほかほか hokahoka 'warmth, heat' – The menu for the fall seasonal special announced 目の前で松茸釜飯がほかほかで炊き上がります me no mae de matsutake kamameshi ga hokahoka de takiagarimasu 'the matsutake (flavored) rice-pot cooks up warmly before your eyes'. And indeed it did. The fragrantly flavored rice finished cooking in each individual-sized cauldron perched above a can of sterno as we oohed and aahed our way through the courses leading up to the pièce de résistance.

The ideophone hokahoka does not behave grammatically like an adjective, despite its normal English translation into an adjective. It seems better to think of it as a noun, as in the postpositional phrase hokahoka de 'from the heat'. As a noun modifier, hokahoka needs a genitive (or nominalizing) no after it—not the na that follows "adjectival nominals" like the hen of hen na gaijin 'strange foreigner'. So a piping-hot sweet potato can be described as hokahoka no satsuma imo. And you can convey that you feel a hokahoka sense of warmth by adding the "light verb" to the 'heat': hokahoka suru 'do/be hokahoka'. Let the mnemonic be 'do the hokahoka'!

Another ideophone with a very similar form and a very similar meaning is pokapoka 'pleasant warmth, toasty warmth, warming (weather)'.

判官贔屓 hougan/hangan biiki 'favoring the underdog' – Our restaurant was named after Minamoto no Yoshitsune, a famous warrior of the Minamoto (= Genji) clan whose martial feats played a key role in defeating the Taira (= Heike) clan in the Genpei War. The Genpei War (1180–85) has often been compared to the equally treachery-ridden English War of the Roses (1455–85) between the noble houses of Lancaster and York, but the latter led to a gradual centralization of authority in England, while the former led to a dispersal of power in Japan that eventually culminated in a long period of civil war before Oda Nobunaga unified the country and paved the way for the centralizing Tokugawa Shogunate (1603–1868).

Despite his many heroic feats, Yoshitsune eventually sided with the Emperor Go-Shirakawa (After-Shirakawa, i.e., Shirakawa II) against his own elder brother Yoritomo, who went on to found the Kamakura Shogunate. When Yoshitsune's forces lost, he was forced to commit suicide—a pattern that went on to become all too familiar in Japanese history. But his fame lives on, as does his Imperial Court name 判官 hougan/hangan in the expression 判官贔屓 hougan/hangan biiki 'favoring Hougan (= Yoshitsune)', a phrase Hatena Keyword defines as 弱いものに、弱いからと言う理由で、えこひいきしてしまうこと yowai mono ni, yowai kara to yuu riyuu de, ekohiiki shiteshimau koto 'the act of favoring the weaker party just because it is weaker'.

The kanji for the compound ekohiiki, written in hiragana above, are 依怙贔屓, etymologically 'relying-strength'. An impartial or fair person is an ekohiiki no nai hito 'favoritism-lacking person'. The tendency to favor one who loses, like Yoshitsune/Hougan, with dignity and honor intact has long been deeply embedded in Japanese culture. Witness the undying popularity of stories about the 47 ronin and Saigo Takamori.

24 October 2008

India's Diverse Diasporas

From India: The Rise of an Asian Giant, by Dietmar Rothermund (Yale U. Press, 2008), pp. 233-235:
The cultivation of sugar-cane in colonies such as Mauritius and the Natal province of South Africa, in Trinidad, Guyana and Surinam in the Caribbean and Fiji in the Pacific Ocean created settlements of Indian labourers as many stayed on as free labourers after their contracts had expired. In some of these places the Indians emerged as the majority of the population, but with few exceptions they did not rise above the position of labourers. Therefore the diaspora in the ex-sugar colonies is not much of an economic asset to India. Mauritius is an exception to this rule. It has shown encouraging signs of economic growth and its Indian majority dominates the politics of the island but has maintained equitable relations with the other ethnic groups. Mauritius has become a major offshore banking centre for investors who channel their investments in India through the island. This has led to the strange phenomenon whereby tiny Mauritius ranks high among the nations investing in India. Being well aware of the benefits of good relations with Mauritius, India is even prepared to protect the maritime economic zone of the island with the help of its navy....

The era of decolonization did not provide much scope for re-migration from the diaspora to India. Nor did the erstwhile colonial powers invite people of Indian origin to settle in their home countries. There were only two striking exceptions to this rule. The Netherlands became the target of a mass exodus of Indians from Surinam after that colony gained independence in 1975. This was due to the fact that the Dutch had granted citizenship to the people of Surinam and since the Indians did not get along with the Afro-American majority, they left for the Netherlands before their right of citizenship could be revoked. A similar exodus of Indians from Uganda to Great Britain had taken place after Idi Amin had established his tyrannical rule in 1971. The Indians of Uganda were not the offspring of indentured servants but had followed the Uganda railroad. The workers who built that railroad had also come from India, but almost all of them had returned to their homes in the Punjab. The subsequent immigrants from India were for the most part literate Gujaratis who manned the administrative posts of the railway or set up shops in the hinterland which had been opened up by the railway. When these people were persecuted by Idi Amin and shifted to Great Britain they did very well there as a result of their business acumen. This group of the Indian diaspora is of considerable importance for India. But, of course, the Indians who came from East Africa are only part of the Indian diaspora in Great Britain, which also consists of Indian professionals and businessmen who migrated from India to the ex-imperial country in search of greener pastures.

Another post-colonial migration which had some similarity to the export of Indian manpower in colonial times was the recruitment of Indian labour by the countries along the Persian Gulf when those countries earned millions of petro-dollars. This recruitment benefited all South Asian countries. Most of them sent unskilled labourers to the Gulf; India had the lion's share of skilled administrative jobs. For quite some time the ample remittances of these skilled personnel filled the gap in India's balance of payments which was usually affected by a negative balance of trade. When the first Gulf War of 1991 disrupted this profitable connection, India was hit very hard, the more so as the disaster was sudden and unexpected. When Indira Gandhi was asked in 1981 whether she could envision an Indian exodus from the Gulf similar to that from East Africa precipitated by Idi Amin, she jauntily replied: 'The Arabs need US.' Her successors also took this for granted and were rudely awakened by the Gulf War.

The Indian diaspora in the countries along the Persian Gulf was very different from that everywhere else. First of all it was of very recent origin. This diaspora had no second or third generation members born in the country of residence. Moreover, the Indians who came to the Gulf did not intend to settle there for any length of time. There were many educated people from Kerala among them who simply wanted to earn enough money to build a house back home. Busy construction work in the villages of Kerala provided striking evidence of this trend in the 1980s. Under such conditions there was hardly any incentive to establish Indian community centres in the Gulf countries. The Indian diaspora was not concentrated in anyone place and its members fluctuated. Nevertheless, this was the diaspora which was most important for India, due to the economic effect of its remittances. Other Indian diasporas would be less inclined to send money to India as they would rather invest it where they lived. The occasional support of poor relatives in India did not give rise to substantial remittances.
Today's Wall Street Journal weighs in on one of the barriers to the expansion of India's diaspora in the U.S., where "the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin which was founded in 1984 has 42,000 members" (Rothermund, p. 235):
The Chandrayaan-I blasted off about dawn from the Satish Dhawan Space Center. It is expected to reach lunar orbit by November 8. The probe, whose principal goal is to "conduct mineralogical and chemical mapping of the lunar service," carries five scientific payloads from India and others from NASA and the European Space Agency. With this achievement, India joins the U.S., Japan, Europe, Russia and China in the lunar club.

India deserves congratulations for the Chandrayaan-I, which attests further to that nation's remarkable strides as an economic and scientific power. That said, we cannot fail to draw attention to how this event bears on the continuing lunacy of Congress in limiting visa quotas for highly skilled immigrants.

American universities are filled with foreign students, not least from India, getting degrees in engineering and science. Many dearly wish to stay and work in the U.S. Instead, we basically kick them out after training them, owing to the Congressional limit of 65,000 H-1B visas, which are used up the day they are released in March.
Would calling this the "pre-emptive export of jobs overseas" make it any less attractive to economic protectionists?

23 October 2008

Siassi: A Culture of Maritime Trade in PNG

From Alice Pomponio's "Seagulls Don't Fly into the Bush: Cultural Identity and the Negotiations of Development on Mandok Island, Papua New Guinea" in Cultural Identity and Ethnicity in the Pacific, edited by Jocelyn Linnekin and Lin Poyer (U. Hawai‘i Press, 1990), pp. 51-52:
For the Siassi Islanders, trade implies sailing. Knowledge of the sea, winds, and stars is crucial to overseas sailing in the precarious Vitiaz and Dampier straits. In pre-European times men who were renowned sailors and good navigators were therefore highly regarded. Along with maritime knowledge, such a man would also possess the magical incantations to control the weather, wind, and seas, and in some cases, the sorcery by which to control or destroy his rivals. A traditional leader would combine as many elements as possible to expand his wisdom and enhance his renown. However, merely having the talent or the personality to lead is not enough: one must demonstrate that power continually. Before pacification and missionization, demonstrating prowess entailed aggressive overseas trade, navigation and sailing skills, competitive feasting, sorcery, multilingualism, and social networking to establish and maintain trade alliances. Definitions of manhood stressed creative abilities, mental shrewdness, knowledge concerning economic investment/return ratios, and manipulation of social relationships. Finally, all of these displays and trading exploits must be carried out with the aplomb of a "man of wisdom."

Out of this constant travel and trade emerged a big-man status system oriented not toward the accumulation of land and wealth in a sedentary environment, but toward manipulation and management of others' products through mobility and trade—that is, the control and redistribution of wealth. I call this kind of system "middleman culture." Though recognizably Melanesian, it is distinct from the more familiar patterns of entrepreneurship studied to date in Melanesia in three crucial respects: (1) the relative lack of land or utilization of land resources (horticulture and pig husbandry) as a basis for the local economy; (2) the emphasis on trade as a primary, rather than secondary, feature of the subsistence economy, and as a standard for evaluating entrepreneurial talents and achievements; and (3) a social and distributive system that militates against the accumulation of significant amounts of wealth and favors instead the control and manipulation of goods, food, and people.

Siassi big-men are not "men of anger" or warriors. They are craftsmen, clever investors, and men of knowledge. They succeed not by overpowering their adversaries physically, but by outsmarting them—not by production, but by clever manipulation. Through generations of trading they have transformed a landless society of maverick immigrants into a patterned system of seagoing salesmen, trading their own and others' products for a profit. This profit is then recycled into their own system of exchanges, politics, and prestige.
This sounds rather more benign than the cultures of maritime raiding that have also plagued the coasts and islands of so many parts of the globe, including PNG before the imposition of a pax Germanica in New Guinea and a pax Britannica in Papua.

Lamarckian Identities in PNG

From James B. Watson's chapter "Other people do other things: Lamarckian identities in Kainantu Subdistrict, Papua New Guinea" in Cultural Identity and Ethnicity in the Pacific, edited by Jocelyn Linnekin and Lin Poyer (U. Hawai‘i Press, 1990), pp. 17, 26:
The aboriginal peoples of Papua New Guinea’s Eastern Highlands are organized in autonomous polities, some with as few as one or two hundred members. Many if not most of these local peoples experience episodes of radical revision in their membership. Most groups are formed in a highly fluid sociopolitical field, intermittently marked by relocations, realignments, and the patriation of alien immigrants who have been expelled by hostile neighbors from their own lands elsewhere. Restless or disgruntled insiders split off to form new groups; refugee outsiders are recruited from time to time to reinforce the ranks of those remaining. To the literal-minded genealogist, the long-term kinship and continuity of each such group seem confused, even compromised.

A truncated local sense of history nevertheless contains the frequent events of fission and fusion. In spite of ongoing exchanges of personnel, a common and ostensibly continuous local identity immerses not only long-established elements of the community but, in time, the descendants of recent immigrants....

Over half a dozen languages are spoken in the immediate vicinity of Kainantu, and all the communities I resided in have close social ties to at least one community of alien speech. Often two or three other languages are represented in these linkages. Many communities of the vicinity have incorporated refugees who arrived speaking a language other than that of their hosts. With time, if the refugees remain, their original language may be lost, but probably not without a distinct residue of the sounds, words, attitudes, and cultural practices they brought with them. In some communities in the 1960s there were refugees or their descendants still speaking their original language, … resulting in their designation by the community (from Pidgin) as “hapkas” [half-caste].
What does this mean for language documentation and conservation efforts in the area? To whom does any particular language belong, and for how long?

21 October 2008

India's Vibrant Vernacular Press

From India: The Rise of an Asian Giant, by Dietmar Rothermund (Yale U. Press, 2008), pp. 223-224:
The rise of the vernacular press would have pleased Mahatma Gandhi. He disapproved of advertising and printed no ads in his papers. But perhaps he would have relented if he had realized that advertising revenue is the lifeblood of the vernacular press. When Gandhi reorganized the Provincial Congress Committees along linguistic lines in 1920, he did so because he was convinced that people must conduct their political debates in their mother tongue. The thriving vernacular press proves this point. Gandhi would also have been pleased by the national orientation of the vernacular press: none of the papers mentioned back any kind of secessionism. This is also due to the fact that the 'print capitalists' who control the papers are very much aware of the benefits of an integrated national market. Another encouraging feature is that none of these papers are 'party papers' to the extent of being owned and operated by a political party. The private owners of the papers may sometimes back a particular party, as Ramoji Rao backed the TDP, but such alliances are temporary with the party depending on the 'print capitalist', not the other way round. In earlier times parties controlling the government could exercise considerable influence on newspapers by placing advertisements or withholding them. Nowadays revenue from commercial ads is far more important than that derived from government advertising and this has greatly enhanced the freedom of the press.

India's lively and free press is of great importance to the country's democracy. It is significant that the first big spurt in growth of the vernacular press was witnessed after Indira Gandhi's 'Emergency' had been terminated in 1977; her attempt at gagging the press by means of her emergency powers led to a pent-up demand for information. Many people became avid readers when they had access to a free press once more. There is, of course, the more subtle method of influencing the press by co-opting journalists: giving them official importance or letting them know that their careers may depend on adopting certain political views fits in with this method. By now journalists earn good salaries and enjoy many perks, so the threat of forfeiting them might influence their views. But the large number of journalists would make it difficult to co-opt all of them: in 1950 there were only about 2,000 in India but by 1993 there were 13,000 officially registered journalists and there may have been many unregistered ones. At present there are probably more than 26,000. As there are no powerful unions for journalists in India Indian journalism has no collective voice; but the large number and the great variety of journalists are in themselves guarantees of the freedom of the press.

Most Indian journalists are urban people who only occasionally show up in the countryside. But they have rural counterparts who are really behind the newspaper revolution which has swept India in recent years. These rural stringers are often graduates engaged in various activities in their locality. They may own some land or a repair shop and also serve as distributors of newspapers, as advertising agents and as part-time correspondents. They usually are not paid by the editors but send in their news items free of charge. If their contributions are printed, this enhances their reputation in the village and helps to increase the circulation of the paper which they distribute. In their own way, these people support the freedom of the press and it is mainly down to them that huge numbers of newspapers are sold in India every day.

20 October 2008

India's Huge Informal Labor Sector

From India: The Rise of an Asian Giant, by Dietmar Rothermund (Yale U. Press, 2008), pp. 211-213:
The poor in India are a vast reserve army of cheap labour. Organized labour in the 'formal' sector of the economy is a comparatively small part of the total labour force. In 2003 the public and private sectors together employed 27 million workers. The private sector is the smaller one with 8.4 million but a greater share of the 'manufacturing' category with 4.7 million as against only 1.5 million in the public sector. According to the theory of W. Arthur Lewis, in a 'dual economy' (traditional and modern) there is a reserve army of labour in the traditional sector which supplies the modem one with a steady flow of new recruits. But the Indian economy is not a dual one: it consists of two parallel economies. Since the reform of 1991, employment in the formal sector has practically stagnated; there has been only a slight shift from the public to the private sector, the first losing and the latter gaining 1 million employees. These figures would confirm the frequent comments on the phenomenon of jobless growth. But, of course, this refers only to the formal sector; the actual growth takes place in the informal sector. In fact, from 1978 to 2000, the share of the informal sector in the total labour force increased slightly from 91.3 to 92.4 million, although one would have expected a decrease of informal labour in a period of steadily increasing economic growth. The wage differential between the two sectors is enormous. For employees in the public sector, official statistics show an average daily per capita rate of Rs 681. According to the National Sample Survey mentioned earlier, the daily wages for male casual labourers in urban areas are Rs 75 and in rural areas Rs 56; the rates for female labourers are Rs 44 and 36 respectively. The figure for the public sector would, of course, include the high salaries of the Class I officials, but they are a small minority when compared to the legions of humble Class IV officials who do manual work or errands for the higher-ups. Nevertheless, even these humble people are head and shoulders above the casual labourers in the informal sector. Moreover, their jobs are secure and permanent, unlike the 'informal' jobs, which are subject to the rule of 'hire and fire'.

Subjection to the rule of 'hire and fire' has increased with the growing casualization of informal labour. New forms of contracting labour have developed which permit the employer to shift the onus of hiring and firing casual labour to agents who are told how many workers are needed at any given time. Casualization has particularly affected women workers who were previously not very active in the labour market but have joined it in recent years in increasing numbers. Concerned social scientists have coined the term 'feminization of poverty' in order to characterize this phenomenon.

The 'informal' proletarians are not protected by any trade unions, which for good reasons concentrate on the organized sector of the economy. Very few of the recognized trade unions can depend on regular fees paid by their members. Accordingly, union leaders must look for other sources of income. They usually squeeze the employers by threatening to stir up trouble. There is no collective bargaining in India: wages are set by officially appointed tribunals and there are also tribunals which try the cases of individual workers who have been made redundant or have not been paid the wages due to them. Therefore most labour leaders are lawyers who spend their time pleading before those tribunals. The informal proletariat has no contact with such tribunals or lawyers.

The usual staff of a workshop in the informal sector consists of the boss and fewer than ten workers. In small firms which operate as subcontractors for manufacturers, the boss may even be an engineering graduate. Capital investment in such workshops is minimal so very often they band together and help each other out. One has a lathe, the other a drilling machine, etc.; if the piece of work requires both, it is carried from one shop to the other. The ignorant observer may think that this cluster of workshops is a slum, but on closer inspection he will be surprised to see the quality and variety of their products. Bigger firms rely on such subcontractors for two reasons: first of all, they can keep the number of workers and the investment in machines limited; and, secondly, if there is a slack in demand they can cut the orders farmed out to the subcontractors. This explains the phenomenon of jobless growth in the organized sector. The huge number of subcontractors who have the reserve army of labour on their doorstep shield the organized sector against risks but can also respond very quickly to increased demand. There is, however, a growing gap between labour productivity in the organized and in the informal sectors. In 1983 labour in the organized sector was about six times more productive than that in the informal one; by 1999 the differential had increased to nine times. This would also account for the wage differentials between the two sectors.

The wages paid by subcontractors, particularly if they work for manufacturers producing cars or machine tools, have to be higher than the wages of casual labourers mentioned above, but they would still be much lower than those in the organized sector. The qualifications of the informal proletariat working for subcontractors range from those of skilled workers to that of untrained people. The skilled workers in workshops would be the 'creamy layer' of the informal proletariat and they would be above the poverty line. But the great majority of the reserve army of informal labour are quite poor, something that would be particularly true of the many landless labourers who are at the beck and call of the landowning peasantry. Earlier systems of permanent attachment of such labour to the households of their employers have long since disintegrated because the employer can always find casual labour and does not need to retain labourers in the off-season. Even at times when the harvest or other seasonal operations suddenly require additional labour, there are nowadays migrant labourers who make themselves available for seasonal employment. Workers from Tamil Nadu will show up in the Punjab or elsewhere at a distance of 1,500 kilometres from their home. Here, too, the informal proletariat shows its usefulness as a reserve army of labour. About 43 per cent of India's rural population are landless. If one deducts from this about 8 per cent for traders, carters, and so on there would still be 35 per cent of labourers who depend on their daily wages.
Of course, 'casualization' is hardly limited to India or to informal sectors of large economies. One report last year estimated that 70% of the faculty in American universities now depend on part-time or limited-term contracts. So, to twist the clause that begins this passage: An oversupply of postgraduate degrees provides a vast reserve army of cheap labour for universities.

19 October 2008

TGA on Criminalizing Memory

In last Thursday's Guardian, Timothy Garton warns, "The freedom of historical debate is under attack by the memory police: Well-intentioned laws that prescribe how we remember terrible events are foolish, unworkable and counter-productive":
Among the ways in which freedom is being chipped away in Europe, one of the less obvious is the legislation of memory. More and more countries have laws saying you must remember and describe this or that historical event in a certain way, sometimes on pain of criminal prosecution if you give the wrong answer. What the wrong answer is depends on where you are. In Switzerland, you get prosecuted for saying that the terrible thing that happened to the Armenians in the last years of the Ottoman empire was not a genocide. In Turkey, you get prosecuted for saying it was. What is state-ordained truth in the Alps is state-ordained falsehood in Anatolia.

This week a group of historians and writers, of whom I am one, has pushed back against this dangerous nonsense. In what is being called the "Appel de Blois", published in Le Monde last weekend, we maintain that in a free country "it is not the business of any political authority to define historical truth and to restrict the liberty of the historian by penal sanctions". And we argue against the accumulation of so-called "memory laws". First signatories include historians such as Eric Hobsbawm, Jacques Le Goff and Heinrich August Winkler. It's no accident that this appeal originated in France, which has the most intense and tortuous recent experience with memory laws and prosecutions. It began uncontroversially in 1990, when denial of the Nazi Holocaust of the European Jews, along with other crimes against humanity defined by the 1945 Nuremberg tribunal, was made punishable by law in France - as it is in several other European countries. In 1995, the historian Bernard Lewis was convicted by a French court for arguing that, on the available evidence, what happened to the Armenians might not correctly be described as genocide according to the definition in international law.
People who indulge in this kind of high-minded overreach by criminalizing particular memories, policies, and thoughts they consider beyond the pale seem to have forgotten the lessons of Stalinism, Maoism, and religious wars of all ages. (I don't mean to let off the Nazis, who criminalized irredeemable status offenses—being Jewish, Gypsy, Slav, homosexual, genetically disabled, etc.—for which there was no possibility of reeducation, only eventual extermination.)

18 October 2008

Ethnic Baseball in Hawai‘i, 1920s–40s

From: Wally Yonamine: The Man Who Changed Japanese Baseball, by Robert K. Fitts (U. Nebraska Press, 2008), pp. 48-49:
The Athletics, previously known as the Asahi, were the elite Japanese American team in the Hawaiian Islands. Founded in 1905 as a team for Japanese thirteen- and fourteen-year-olds, the Asahi soon dominated the AJA (Americans of Japanese Ancestry) Oahu Junior League. Finally, in 1920, league organizers decided that the team was too strong and moved the youths into the adult AJA Honolulu Baseball League. Three years later, the Asahi won the championship.

In 1924 the multiethnic Hawaii Baseball League was formed with six teams. Original members included the Portuguese Braves, the All-Chinese, the All-Hawaiians, the All-Filipinos, the Elks (made up of haoles) and the Asahi. With no age restrictions, Asahi recruited the best players from the AJA leagues throughout the islands. The Japanese team fared well, winning championships in 1925, ’26, ’29, ’30, and ’38. Japanese Hawaiians followed the Asahi's triumphs closely, and Hawaii's two Japanese-language newspapers, the Hawaii Times and Hawaii Hochi, covered the games and players in detail. The ballpark also became a meeting place for the community as thousands of ethnic Japanese came to Honolulu Stadium for each game.

With the outbreak of World War II, Japanese Hawaiians strove to show their loyalty to the United States. Many, including Asahi owner Dr. Katsumi Kometani, volunteered for the armed forces. With Kometani's permission, the team downplayed its Japanese affiliation. John A. Burns, the future governor of Hawaii, ran the team in Kometani's absence, while future Honolulu mayor Neal Blaisdell managed. The two haoles changed the team's name to the Athletics and added several non-Japanese to the roster. The club did well and captured the 1942 championship. Kometani returned in 1945, reestablished the team's all-Japanese American roster, and appointed Allen Nagata as manager. The team, however, remained the Athletics until it retook the Asahi name after the 1949 season.
Okinawans, like half-Okinawan Yonamine, were welcome to play on the AJA teams, but Wally and his wife-to-be got a lot of grief from both sides before they wed (in 1952) for not marrying within their respective Okinawan and Japanese communities.

According to this timeline, Wally went by his given name Kaname (要 'pivot, linchpin') until 1943.

17 October 2008

Yomiuri Giant Nagashima as Manager, 1970s

From: Wally Yonamine: The Man Who Changed Japanese Baseball, by Robert K. Fitts (U. Nebraska Press, 2008), pp. 302-303:
As a manager, Nagashima could inspire his players. John Sipin, a former San Diego Padre who played with the Giants from 1978 to 1980 after five years with the Taiyo Whales, recalls, "Nagashima was a great leader. He was a legend and had extremely high energy. Unlike most managers, he would not go into the dugout and sit down. He was always on the field, hitting fly balls or ground balls." Nagashima especially liked aggressive players who showed "fighting spirit" and rewarded them with compliments and playing time. His enthusiasm was infectious and most of his players trained and played hard for him.

Nagashima's ability as a strategist, however, did not match his enthusiasm. He rarely played percentage baseball. Instead, he relied on a bizarre combination of traditional conservative Japanese baseball tactics and irrational hunches. After a lead-off hitter reached base, Nagashima routinely used the second batter to bunt the runner over, even when the Giants trailed by large margins. He rarely employed pinch runners, even when a slow catcher representing the tying run stood on second in the late innings. He bunched his like-handed hitters together in the lineup, instead of interspersing lefties with righties. Most importantly, he did not stick to a steady pitching rotation. He often started pitchers who were throwing well on short rest and continually used starters in relief. Nagashima was also intolerant of pitching mistakes and routinely pulled pitchers at the first sign of trouble.
He seems to have done better the second time around, during the 1990s.

15 October 2008

Wordcatcher Tales: -右衛門

Wally Yonamine, whose interesting biography I've been reading, has an Okinawan surname that is neither in P. G. O'Neill's book Japanese Names nor in my Canon Wordtank electronic dictionary. But, of course, both the English and the Japanese Wikipedia entries about him give the kanji used to write Yonamine: 与那嶺.

While consulting O'Neill's Japanese Names, however, I came across a wonderfully archaic-sounding given name for men, 四万四五右衛門, which is pronounced Yomoshigo_emon, a name that has fewer syllables (or moras) than kanji. The kanji mean '4-10000-4-5-right-guard-gate', and 右 'right' is the one that doesn't rate its own syllable. The Sino-Japanese reading for 右 is U, so it's easy to see how the high rounded vowel -u- could get lost in the transitional glide (-w-) from a preceding round vowel (o-) to a following unrounded vowel (-e). The U does get pronounced when it starts the name, as in 右衛門 Uemon 'right-ward-gate'.

There are many such given names ending in 右衛門 -_emon 'right-ward-gate' and one imagines that being a gatekeeper was a rather important function in many a feudal household: 五郎右衛門 Goro_emon '5-son-right-ward-gate', 八郎右衛門 Hachiro_emon '8-son-right-ward-gate', 孫右衛門 Mago_emon 'grandchild-right-ward-gate', 万右衛門 Man_emon '10000-right-ward-gate'. Only the last of these fails to provide the environment expected to encourage the -U- to glide away.

Not all ward-gates (garde-portes?) guarded the right gate, or guarded the right side of the gate. Some guarded the left as well: 文左衛門 Bun-za-emon 'culture-left-ward-gate' (or 'literate'?), 権左衛門 Gon-za-emon 'assistant-left-ward-gate' (same gon- as in the old words gonsuke 'manservant', gonsai 'concubine'), 茂左衛門 Mon-za-emon 'lush-left-ward-gate' (or 'thick, luxuriant').

These Japanese names ending in -(za)emon 'wardgate' sound to me even more archaic than those ending in -suke 'servant', though perhaps not as archaic as Aethelbert or Ealdwulf sound in English. However, they are more equivalent etymologically to English names like Stewart (< steward < 'sty-warden') or Lord (< 'loaf-warden').

American Influence on Japanese Baseball, 1953

From: Wally Yonamine: The Man Who Changed Japanese Baseball, by Robert K. Fitts (U. Nebraska Press, 2008), pp. 126, 140-141:
[Before 1953], a typical Japanese catcher would receive the ball from the pitcher, take two steps forward, crank his arm back, and throw it back to the mound. In the midst of that routine, [American Nisei Wally] Yonamine would sometimes steal second base, sliding in safely just as the pitcher caught the ball. [Nisei catcher Jyun] Hirota brought American receiving to Japan. He had a strong arm and used to return the ball to the pitcher while still in his crouch. The fans loved it as much as opposing base runners feared it. Soon, Japanese catchers began mimicking Hirota and their mechanics changed. The average number of stolen base attempts in the Central League dropped from nearly 3.0 per game in 1952 and 1953 to 2.6 per game after Hirota's second season in Japan....

One of the most enduring questions of international baseball is how the quality of the Japanese leagues compares to the U.S. Major and Minor Leagues. Many baseball experts consider the Japanese leagues at the present time to be "4A"—that is, better than Triple A but not equal to the Majors. In 1953 the gap was even broader. The Giants were undoubtedly Japan's best team, but they were unable to match Pacific Coast League teams, even during spring training. The game results suggest that the club was probably equivalent to class A competition. Some of the Giants, however, could have played at a higher level. Takehiko Bessho particularly impressed PCL managers; San Diego reportedly tried to buy his contract from Yomiuri. Lefty O'Doul also noted that Yonamine could move into the PCL if he was interested in returning to the United States.

Despite their poor record, the trip to Santa Maria was a resounding success. "We certainly learned a lot during our spring training," proclaimed Harada, "and I can truthfully say that this is an entirely different ball club now. The Major League managers especially, briefed us thoroughly on how to play the national pastime properly. The many so-called inside hints that they offered us went a long way toward improving all of our players." The managers helped the Giants with all aspects of their game. Kawakami learned to hit with more power by cocking his wrists. Chiba worked on fielding fundamentals and getting his body in front of the ball. "He doesn't make those one-handed catches he used to make," Harada commented approvingly. Mizuhara adopted Leo Durocher's style of leaving the dugout and managing from the third base box. He also learned how to direct base runners and use signs like the American managers.

Perhaps most importantly, the Giants experienced the aggressiveness of American baseball firsthand. Early in the trip, Shigeru Chiba, attempting to turn a double play Japanese-style by standing on second base, was taken out with a hard slide and was spiked. He quickly learned how to move off the bag and avoid a slide while making a double play. The Japanese realized that Yonamine was not particularly rough or dirty, but just played hard-nosed American baseball. Some of the Giants began to adopt a more aggressive style and learned to slide hard with their spikes up.

13 October 2008

Japanese vs. American Baseball Practice

From: Wally Yonamine: The Man Who Changed Japanese Baseball, by Robert K. Fitts (U. Nebraska Press, 2008), p. 272:
Many Americans state that the Japanese practice too much. "I believe that the Japanese put more emphasis on practice than actually playing the game," said Gene Martin, who later played for Yonamine. Leron Lee, who played for the Orions during the 1980s, adds, "To show their fighting spirit, the Japanese would focus on how hard they could practice and how long they could practice.... So when they would get into the ball game, they couldn't really perform up to their abilities."

Yonamine agrees that many Japanese managers at that time conducted drills that accomplished little. He especially disliked the thousand ground ball drill, pointing out that as players tired they abandoned their fundamentals. At best, it led the players off track. At worst, it led to bad habits that affected their play.

Wally, however, argues that Japanese players then, and now, need to practice more than Major Leaguers. In the United States, most players learn baseball basics in high school, college, or at the latest in the instructional league—the first rung of the Minor League ladder. They then fine-tune their skills as they ascend through the extensive Minor League system. During this time, the young players practice hard so that when they become Major Leaguers, proper technique is automatic. Most Japanese, on the other hand, have not been taught proper fundamentals in high school and college. They enter the professional league as raw players with much to learn. There is no equivalent of the American instructional league in Japan, and each club has only one minor league squad. Young Japanese players therefore rarely get enough drill before they are promoted to the main team. As a result, Japanese managers need to constantly instruct their players and improve their skills even after they become starters on the parent club.
I bought an extra copy of this book for my father, who's the same age as Wally Yonamine, arrived in Japan about the same time, and became a big fan of Wally. During a decade in Hiroshima, he also became a fan of the hapless Hiroshima Carp, whose former pitcher Hiroki Kuroda just pitched a crucial win for the Dodgers in the current NLCS. Kuroda seems to have brought Japanese-style baseball with him to the U.S., according to a nice LA Times profile of him this past summer.

12 October 2008

Numbami Kinship Terminology, PNG

Speakers of the Numbami language in Papua New Guinea employ bifurcate merging, Iroquois-type kinship terminology. One of the major classificatory criteria of such a system is whether a chain of relationships crosses sex lines or stays within the same sex. For instance, siblings of the same sex (parallel siblings) are distinguished according to whether they are elder or younger than oneself (ego). Siblings of the opposite sex (cross-siblings) are not. Similarly, one’s father’s brothers and mother’s sisters are distinguished according to whether they are elder or younger than the respective parent, and their children (parallel cousins) are classified as either elder or younger parallel siblings in accordance with the relative age of their parents.

In contrast, relative age is not regularly distinguished for relatives linked across sex lines, such as one’s father’s sister’s children or mother’s brother’s children (cross-cousins). This lack of age-ranking among cross-cousins (and perhaps marriageability) may suggest why the gode-lu-gode (‘cousin-to-cousin’) relationship is considered the most open and easygoing kin relationship among the Numbami.

Nearly every major kin category is indicated by a pair of forms that distinguish female from male members of the same category. The term for females is usually derived from the base form by means of a suffix, usually -ewe, that is transparently related to ewa ‘woman, female’. (The nasal that often intervenes is discussed below.) Whenever there is a derived female-specific counterpart, the base form usually refers only to males, but it can also be used to refer to all members of the particular kinship status, whether male or female.

amba ‘great-grandfather’
ambanewe ‘great-grandmother’

tumbuna ‘grandson, grandfather’
tumbunewe ‘granddaughter, grandmother’

tama ‘father’ (somewhat archaic or technical in usage)
tina ‘mother’ (somewhat archaic or metaphorical in usage)

mama ‘father’ (both referential and vocative)
awa ‘mother’ (both referential and vocative)

mama bamo‘father’s elder brother, mother’s elder sister’s spouse’
awa bamo ‘mother’s elder sister, father’s elder brother’s spouse’

mama kae ‘father’s younger brother, mother’s younger sister’s spouse’
awa kae ‘mother’s younger sister, father’s younger brother’s spouse’

sika ‘elder (usually male) parallel sibling (father’s elder brother’s son or mother’s elder sister’s son)’
sikanewe ‘elder female parallel sibling (father’s elder brother’s daughter or mother’s younger sister’s daughter)’

kapa ‘younger (usu. male) parallel sibling (father’s younger brother’s son or mother’s younger sister’s son)’
kapowe ‘younger female parallel sibling (father’s younger brother’s daughter or mother’s younger sister’s daughter)’

lu ‘cross-sibling (woman’s brother or male parallel cousin)’
lunewe ‘female cross-sibling (man’s sister or female parallel cousin)’

gode ‘cross-cousin (mother’s brother’s or father’s sister’s child, usu. male)’
godenewe ‘female cross-cousin (mother’s brother’s or father’s sister’s daughter)’

asowa ‘spouse (husband or wife)’
asosika ‘spouse of one’s elder parallel sibling’

asokapa ‘spouse of one’s younger parallel sibling’
iwa ‘spouse’s (usu. wife’s) cross-sibling’ (Tok Pisin tambu)

iwanewe ‘husband’s cross-sibling’
kolamundu ‘cross-sibling’s spouse’ (Tok Pisin tambu)

wowa ‘uncle (mother’s brother or father’s sister’s husband)’
wawe ‘aunt (father’s sister or mother’s brother’s wife)’

natu ‘offspring, son (of self or parallel sibling)’
natunewe ‘daughter (of self or parallel sibling)’

tamota ‘nephew (son of cross-sibling or cross-cousin)’
tamotewe ‘niece (daughter of cross-sibling or cross-cousin)’

The female suffix is most likely responsible for preserving the last vestiges of an intervening set of possessive suffixes that have been lost everywhere except on a handful of these kin terms. Even where the suffixes survive, however, they do not constitute a full paradigm (only singulars) and are highly variable in usage. Moreover, they are always redundant. Except when they appear on vocatives, they are always accompanied by the preposed possessive pronouns. Whenever there is doubt about which form to use, the ending -n-ewe, which used to signal a 3rd person singular possessor, appears to be the safest choice.

naŋgi lu ‘my (usu. male) cross-sibling’
anami lu ‘thy (usu. male) cross-sibling’
ena lu ‘his/her (usu. male) cross-sibling’

naŋgi luŋgewe/lunewe ‘my female cross-sibling’
anami lumewe/lunewe ‘thy female cross-sibling’
ena lunewe ‘his/her female cross-sibling’

naŋgi gode ‘my (usu. male) cross-cousin’
anami gode ‘thy (usu. male) cross-cousin’
ena gode ‘his/her (usu. male) cross-cousin’

naŋgi godenewe/godeŋgewe ‘my female cross-cousin’
anami godenewe/godemewe ‘thy female cross-cousin’
ena godenewe ‘his/her female cross-cousin’

It may not be coincidental that the word bumewe ‘European[s], white[s]’ looks like a term for females. Compare Iwal pupkawe ‘European’, avie ‘woman’, but Jabêm bômbôm ‘European’, bômbômò ‘European female’.

Bifurcate-merging terminology also shows up in older varieties of Tok Pisin (and other Pacific pidgins/creoles/Englishes), where for some speakers brata (< ‘brother’) can mean ‘parallel sibling’, while susa (< Eng. ‘European’) can mean ‘cross-sibling’ (as defined above). So a female might be referring to her brother when she says susa bilong mi and might be referring to her sister when she says brata bilong mi.

11 October 2008

Wordcatcher Tales: Susokman

From Village on the Edge: Changing Times in Papua New Guinea, by Michael French Smith (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2002), pp. 164-165:
In the mid-1990s, Deborah Gewertz and Frederick Errington interviewed dozens of Wewak's more affluent Papua New Guinean residents, including "lawyers, doctors, nurses, bankers, clergy, teachers, managers, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, army personnel [and] civil servants," both male and female. They also mingled with them at Rotary Club events, the Yacht Club, and the Wewak Resort and Country Club where these business and professional people went to socialize and network....

[I]n order to take part in the life of the urban elite, Papua New Guineans generally have to weaken their ties to their village kin. In villagers' eyes, attending the university, working for the government, or habitually wearing shoes and socks should not dissolve the bonds of kinship. But the wearers of shoes and socks (the susokman, as they are called in Tok Pisin) find that it is difficult to live up to village definitions of their kinship obligations and simultaneously provide for the basics of urban life—housing, food, business clothing—and take part in urban elite social life, including the professional networking that goes on in restaurants, in clubs, and on the golf course. Gewertz and Errington argue that villagers tend to define success as meeting a wide variety of kinship obligations; but for the urban elite, success means providing an affluent life for one's immediate family, and that usually means putting strict limits on generosity to more distant kin.

Village kin may see this as lack of generosity, but they are judging by the moral ideals of village society. In terms of those ideals, material wealth is for creating and maintaining social bonds, and wealth gained at the expense of social ties is tainted. But what looks like antisocial greed to the village is necessity and prudence to the urban elite. If they fall on hard times because they have given unstintingly to their village kin, their urban peers will not praise their generosity; they will criticize their moral weakness. To join the elite, then, Papua New Guineans have had to work hard; but they have also needed good luck, and they have had to enter a different world of morality.
When I arrived in Papua New Guinea in 1976 to start linguistic fieldwork, the first thing I did was to throw away the worn-out tennis shoes I had traveled in. All during my student years in Hawai‘i during the 1970s, I rarely wore any footwear but Japanese zori (rubber slippers). When Hawai‘i Loa College required caps and gowns when I graduated in 1973, I went barefoot beneath my gown.

The second whimsical thing I did in PNG, on the taxi ride in from the airport to Port Moresby, was to stop by Koki Market to buy betel nut. (I got some for the taxi driver, too.) It was my first chance to use the Tok Pisin I had studied in grad school to prepare for fieldwork.

I arrived from Australia during Easter holidays and had trouble reaching my contact at UPNG, so I spent the first night at a downtown hotel, where I discovered that the dining room required shoes and socks. That was a new way to distinguish the elites from the hoi polloi in the newly independent nation, since discrimination on the basis of race was now prohibited. That evening I decided to order supper to my room.

Betel chewing was also prohibited inside the hotel, so before dinner I took the makings of several betel quids—areca nuts, betel pepper catkins, and slake-lime powder—outside onto the near-empty holiday streets. A young Papua New Guinea man soon came up to chat and I offered him a chew. It was my second chance to practice Tok Pisin in country, but it ended soon after I figured out what my new acquaintance meant when he asked me, "Masta, yu laik takim kok o nogat?" His native language must have been one in which [t] and [s] are allophones of a single phoneme, which sounds like [s] in front of /i/ (as in Kiribati) but sounds like [t] elsewhere. When I belatedly deciphered his accent and understood his intent, I laughed it off with "Ah, nogat ya!" and turned my unshod feet back toward the haven of the shod and socked.

07 October 2008

Pentecostal Feminism in PNG

From Village on the Edge: Changing Times in Papua New Guinea, by Michael French Smith (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2002), p. 133:
Age aside, women tended to find charismatic worship more appealing than men. They liked the "freedom" said Kauref, using the English word. Although the principal charismatic leaders in Kragur were men, there seemed to be no barriers to anyone plunging enthusiastically into the praying and singing or stepping forward to offer an individual prayer or testimony. Women as well as men, I was told, could speak in tongues, and some could interpret such speech.

Pentecostal worship has made new space in religious life for both women and the young in other parts of the world as well. Pentecostal theology, writes Joel Robbins, "tends to downplay the importance of all identities except that of believer." And the worship itself, as Harvey Cox points out, focuses on "breaking out of the constraints and limitations of everyday life," including the social constraints, and communion with the Holy Spirit is typically open to all. In many parts of the world, women in particular have seized the opportunities this affords, and they are often found in the forefront of the Pentecostal movement.

Kauref approved of this equality in worship, but it did not please everyone. The pacing, gesticulating woman I saw at the first prayer meeting had looked every inch a leader of the proceedings. She turned out to be someone I knew, but, many years older now, I did not immediately recognize her. When, the next day, I asked Paypai who the female "leader" was, he practically spat out the words "She's no leader!" Kragur people take offense at any pretensions to leadership they see as unjustified, but my guess is that Paypai found the idea of a woman as a prominent public leader especially galling.

According to Brother Pawil, some Kragur women's enthusiasm for charismatic worship had angered their husbands. In addition to weekly evening services, there were also occasional prayer gatherings that brought together worshippers from several villages. These were church-sanctioned events in which women participated equally with men. They also took women away from home and their endless chores for entire days at a time. Pawil's sympathies were clearly with the women. "Women have been controlled by men for a long time." he told me (in English). "This offers anew freedom from male-dominated society. The long hours of prayer [and the women's absences from home] are a way of indirectly telling men they can go wash clothes and so on."

Surprising Correlates of Birth Rates in South India

From India: The Rise of an Asian Giant, by Dietmar Rothermund (Yale U. Press, 2008), p. 181:
The National Population Policy for the year 2000 had once more set a target for the achievement of the replacement level of the Indian population. The replacement level is defined in terms of the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 2.1 births per woman in the course of her life and should be reached by 2010. Demographic projections would prefer to assume 2016 as a more realistic date. The average Indian TFR had come down from 6 in 1951 to 3 in 2001. To the great surprise of planners and demographers, several south Indian states have proved to be way ahead of the National Population Policy. Kerala registered a TFR of 1.71 in 2001, and Tamil Nadu was at almost the same level with 1.76, closely followed by Andhra Pradesh at 1.94. Karnataka was still above the replacement level, at 2.24; it was estimated that it would reach that level within a few years. Andhra Pradesh was the greatest surprise of them all: its TFR had dropped from 2.39 in 1997 to 1.94 in 2001. It has a high rate of female illiteracy and there has been no significant economic progress in this state. The major assumption of demographers that female education and economic progress would lead to a lower TFR was therefore contradicted by the experience of Andhra Pradesh. Moreover, the decline in the TFR usually takes time and does not happen in such a dramatic fashion as it did in Andhra Pradesh. Perhaps it was an awareness of future deprivation rather than of economic progress which prompted even illiterate women to resort to birth control. This goes against all normal demographic assumptions, but there was a striking parallel to this development in Andhra Pradesh in East Germany at the time of German reunification. The number of East German births dropped by 40 per cent at that time, which must have been due to apprehension of an uncertain future on the part of young East German women. This shows that perceptions of the future rather than long-term social and economic trends may influence the decisions of women. This is, of course, only one aspect of the rapid spread of birth control. Knowledge of the methods of contraception and the will to adopt them are also of great importance. Demographers who have studied the spread of adoption of contraceptives have noticed a snowball effect. After an initial phase when only a few women practise birth control, the demonstration effect catches on and others follow their example. In a strange reversal of the assumption that female education leads to birth control, it has been found that birth control may foster female education. Among illiterate women who adopted contraception there were many who would send their girls to school. The correlation seems to be significant, but of course it does not necessarily indicate a causal relation.

04 October 2008

Mistrust All the Way Up in PNG

From Village on the Edge: Changing Times in Papua New Guinea, by Michael French Smith (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2002), pp. 65-66:
Many Papua New Guineans probably were easily convinced that the World Bank was up to no good because they had no faith in their own government, which had sought help from the bank. In fact, many private citizens I spoke with in 1995 distrusted the Papua New Guinea government even more than the World Bank. They mistrusted not just the current government but the government as an institution. The staff of local-level government organizations expressed deep distrust of every level of government above their own, and some village representatives to these local bodies did not trust the staff. People in provincial towns spoke with disdain of the "people in Moresby" the capital, who were "living in a different world" as one activist put it. Activists in rural areas sometimes made the same complaint about those in the provincial towns. As a representative of a rural women's organization in the East Sepik Province told me, "the bigshots in Wewak" [pop. 25,000!] did not understand what life was like still farther afield.

Such criticisms might sound familiar almost anywhere, but mistrust of government has a special flavor in Papua New Guinea, and this distinctive and pungent mistrust provided fertile ground for the reaction to the bank's ERP [= Economic Recovery Program] policy prescriptions. In light of conditions in 1995, many Papua New Guineans felt that the government—not just the sitting government, but every government since independence—simply had not proven itself. Many also felt that the elite Papua New Guineans who ran the government treated the citizens of the country unfairly and unequally. Europeans working in Papua New Guinea or reporting on events there often complained of corruption in the higher circles, but they were no more vocal on this issue than rank-and-file Papua New Guineans themselves.

Many Papua New Guineans probably also distrusted the government because they still saw it as a foreign entity. Papua New Guineans had taken the tiller at independence, but the boat itself was built on the European model. The electoral and parliamentary political system was nothing like precolonial political systems, and these differing systems were only awkwardly coordinated.

Above all, the idea that the people of Papua New Guinea were all members of a single nation and that this identity transcended narrower affiliations—with family, kinship group, village, and speakers of the same language—had not taken hold. There had been no prolonged, popular struggle for independence in which disparate groups throughout the country might have forged a sense of unity or acquired a stake in new national institutions. The nation, too, was an unfamiliar concept to many. Indeed, some Papua New Guinea peoples did not regard themselves as having ceded their autonomy and accepted subordination to the greater power of the state. In fact, to some the state appeared positively menacing. In the 1990s, Papua New Guineans caught up in Christian revival movements in parts of the country associated the state with the Antichrist.
Doesn't sound that different from everywhere else on earth these days.

Affirmative Action Dilemmas in India

From India: The Rise of an Asian Giant, by Dietmar Rothermund (Yale U. Press, 2008), pp. 168-170:
Before [V. P.] Singh was toppled, his government had introduced the 27 per cent reservations for the backward castes in August 1990. The Congress government under Prime Minister Narasimha Rao had to live with this new rule and made no attempt to reverse it. It was soon faced with a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court in November 1992, which forced the government to establish a National Backward Classes Commission with quasi-judicial powers to determine the claims of castes for the recognition of their 'backwardness'. The judgment of the Supreme Court was due to a lawsuit initiated by some members of backward castes. The judges feared that they would be inundated with such suits and realized that they had no criteria by which to determine such cases. Moreover, they felt that litigants who were not at all backward as far as their economic situation was concerned would nevertheless try to obtain the benefits of affirmative action. The judgment of 1992 therefore included an injunction which obliged the government to define the criteria by which the 'creamy layer' of the backward castes would be excluded from such benefits.

The debate concerning the 'creamy layer' highlighted the problem created by the synonymous use of the terms 'caste' and 'class'. All official statements referred to 'backward classes' when they really meant backward castes, the term 'caste' being deliberately avoided as it referred to an undesirable aspect of Indian social life. However, caste and class are not at all identical. Many members of the high castes are poor labourers, whereas there are many rich people of low caste origin. Since speaking of a rich class among the members of the backward classes seemed to be incongruous, the term 'creamy layer' had to be used.

The National Backward Classes Commission was established by an act of Parliament (Lok Sabha) in 1993. Even before it was constituted, a special commission had reported on the problem of the 'creamy layer'. It was decided that the children of high government officials or of persons with an annual income above Rs 100,000 would not be entitled to the benefits of affirmative action. In 2004 this limit was raised to Rs 250,000 (approximately US$ 5,000). But whereas the 'creamy layer' could be defined in this way, it was much more difficult to fix the basic criteria for defining 'backwardness'. Of altogether 1,133 applications received from various communities during the period from 1993 to 2003, the commission accepted 682 for inclusion in the list of backward classes and rejected 451. In its report submitted in 2004, the commission admitted that it had to base its decisions on inadequate data and often had to fall back on the census of 1931 as it was the last one which contained information on castes. The commission therefore recommended that future census operations should once more provide data on caste affiliations as it would otherwise be impossible to base affirmative action on reliable social data. It is doubtful whether the Indian government will follow this recommendation concerning census operations in view of the political trouble it might cause. Moreover, once it is known why such questions about caste are asked, interested parties would see to it that the respondents answered them in a suitable manner.

The problem of defining the criteria of 'backwardness' came up once more in 2006 when the Congress-led coalition government decided to extend the reservation for OBCs to educational institutions. The reservation of government jobs was controversial enough, but educational reservations cut even deeper as far as the career prospects of students from higher castes were concerned. Due to India's rapid economic growth, many students look for jobs in the private sector rather than for government posts. But whatever job one wants to get, access to higher education is the necessary precondition. Once more the Supreme Court played a decisive role. It asked the government to specify the criteria for OBC reservations. In addition, doctors launched a nationwide strike against this new policy since they are the only group of educated people whose strike really matters. The government stuck to its policy. The political equation is obvious: there are probably about 400 million OBCs in India and their vote will decide the outcome of the national elections which are due in 2009.

In the absence of census data, the National Sample Survey Organization finally supplied some relevant data in 2006 which were based on a sample survey of 125,000 households. According to this, the proportion of OBCs in the Indian population amounts to 41 per cent whereas the Scheduled Castes account for 20 per cent and the Scheduled Tribes for 8 per cent. As far as household expenditure was concerned, the survey showed that in the rural areas the OBCs attained about the same level as the 'forward communities' in this respect, whereas in the urban areas these communities were far ahead of the OBCs. Of the members of urban 'forward communities' 52 per cent spent Rs 1,100 per month whereas among the OBCs only 28 per cent reached that level.

The politics of affirmative action has certainly strengthened the solidarity of the Other Backward Castes.... The 'social federalism' of a caste-based society is also reflected in the pattern of regional parties whose rise was discussed in an earlier chapter. The notions of hierarchy associated with a caste system have vanished from political life where the manifold patchwork of regionally dominant peasant castes is much more important than notions of hierarchy and hegemony. But one particular element of stratification has survived in spite of all affirmative action: the stigma of 'untouchability'.