It is also clearly time to collect new samples from the Notso Yi in China. Our working hypothesis is that it is unlikely that the Winodanugai and Notso Yi are actually related in any way, but their speakers may share common genetic markers for enhanced memory that will prove useful to linguists and other researchers. After our arrival in China, we placed a call to Mr. Slater’s office, and one of his assistants gave us the necessary directions (in proto-
We arrived, unpacked our gear, and introduced ourselves to the Notso Yi speakers. They immediately asked for our international cell phone numbers so that they could begin to send us data-
Even a cursory examination of the phonology and morphology of Notso Yi (au naturel, as it were) makes it clear that it is not related to Winodanugai. Notso Yi is fundamentally a Sino-
Once these correspondences are taken into account, there is an unexpected 63.79% Swadesh overlap between Notso and Winodanugai. Consultation with our quintessentially computational colleague (Chit Fullah, personal communication) indicates that this is 64.88% likely due to chance similarities, so we put it out of our minds.
Similarly to the Winodanugai, the Notso Yi take their near perfect memory for granted, and do not look kindly on those of their own kind who demonstrate “weak” memories. No small amount of English has crept into their speech (blame Slater 2012, perhaps?), and they now often refer to the weak-
Though the question is a bit too anthropological for our taste, it is hard not to ask whether there is some universal principle at work here. Are those with perfect memories more likely to condescend? Or is it more generally that those with high skill levels look down on those without? Does it matter whether the skill is innate or achieved through practice? Are language-
To review, it is unsurprising, given their well-
What was surprising, though, is that the Notso Yi appear to be quite closely related to the Winodanugai, having not only many European genetic markers, but also several genetic markers particular to the Winodanugai, which may be related to memory. Unsurprisingly, the Notso Yi also have many genetic markers indicating they are related to several local populations, especially other Yi.
The compelling history of the Winodanugai is well-
The outlines of this vague history shows many parallels with the more detailed accounts of the Winodanugai, which faithful readers (as well as those with excellent memories) will recall includes the incorporation of eidetic Europeans into the local population, followed by the cultural devaluation of non-
After relaying via email, telegraph, and carrier pigeon to some of our erstwhile Winodanugai informants the highlights of what we had discovered, they enthusiastically responded with an interesting historical anecdote: on August 23, 1861 a group of first-
Unlike the European founders of the Winodanugai, these individuals felt the need to hide the story of their travels from their adopted tribe, the Notso Yi, so we may never know for sure, yet it seems to us the most likely explanation.
The Swadesh overlap, previously discounted by us as mere statistical noise, now hints at some common substrate to two separate language replacement events. We would have liked to have delved deeper into the lexical similarities and differences between Winodanugai and Notso, but time and funding did not permit us to do so.
Perhaps, having laid a proper foundation with with in situ field work, we may avail ourselves of the Slater Method, even hosting a multi-
One obvious conclusion we must draw is the clear superiority of anthropological linguistics to the Slater Method, and even more so to “deskwork” (take that, Onesimus!).
Beyond that, more research is necessary to unravel the intricacies of these languages and their relationships. Said research will require more and abundant funding.
Claude Searsplainpockets &
Somewhere in China