Friday, June 30, 2006

"History is an angel being blown backward into the future"

Via Evelyn B in email comes this report of an indigenous Andean language whose speakers point behind them to indicate the future and in front of them to indicate the past. Spoken idioms reflect this use, so the phrase for last year literally means "the year in front of us." Apparently, this use reflects the idea that the past is what you know, and what you know is before your eyes.

Speaking of reversals, I had always assumed that most cultures viewed the sun as male and the moon as female, like the Greeks and Egyptians. I started to Google around for an exception to this rule, only to find that it is not a rule at all. According to Wikipedia sun goddesses are at least as common as sun gods, Norse and Japanese mythology providing prominent examples of sun goddesses.

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