If John has a core value, it is based in understanding our world, the needs of our world, protecting our world. Making sure those who need assistance, get assistance, and lead a full life. As a jounalist, he has conducted thousands of interviews and followed thousands of stories that publications did not always deem economically worthy of pursuit. Click Here to read more...
3 Responses to “Congnitive Linguistics & Esselen Language”
I am grateful for John’s clarification about Serra’s interaction with the Esalen Indians. The notion of severe beatings and such have gained a certain foothold in popular consciousness. The interlacing of Christian and Esalen concepts rings true.
Cognitive linguists have just confirmed what anthropologists had to learn years ago — we must consider our own deeply ingrained desires, beliefs and prejudices before we are in a position to understand or explain others.
Linguists, studying the indigenous Esselen (early inhabitants of coastal California) discovered that phonetic symbols such as vowels and consonants were not that important to them. Most of what “families expressed was not primarily through words.”
Empathy is another case in point. It has been a part of cultures for thousands of years.Since linguists recently were able to locate the neural site of such emotions in the brain (finding famously that medical students had “less empathy” in their third year than when they began), we now can understand more.
Many conquistadors described the Esselen as “dirty, deceptive and apathetic.” “They never smile,” said one.There is an explanation. After an oppressive generation (1750-1810) of holocaust-like treatment where 90% of the population died, the remaining survivors suffered from what we now can only call post traumatic stress disorder. They decided to protect themselves by not showing any emotion at all.
No religion? No “conception of eternity?” After being presented with a non-aggressive, non-violent Gospel by a kindly Franciscan monk or two, one wrote. “…it was in synch with the theology most Esselenes already enjoyed spiritually.”
Similarly with indigenous Africans as well.
May I just say I regard John Thompson as that rarest of all entities — an authentic genius (with a heart) — based on what I know of him personally, on his voluminous unpublished and published works which I’ve read, on his brilliant book, “Secret History of Carmel,” and the scope, depth and originality of this new blog.
Eleanor Links Hoover
Wonderful article. Nice read.