01 March 2006

Laughing Sickness

I received the result of my Typology exam last Thursday. And my efforts paid off. I got a stunning A+!!!

I enjoy that class. I guess it is one of the most informative and best classes I have taken so far. I just get to know the structure of tons of languages around the world. And there is so much variation. Here in this class, we must analyze the properties and structures of different languages for our homeworks. And ideally, we must pick a different language for every homework. For my second homework, I picked an Australian non-Pama-Nyungan language, called Ngankikurungkurr. And I am having fun.

When the semester started, we had an overview of the different languages out there and where they are located. I guess one of the most mysterious locations would be Papua New Guinea. The world's second largest island has about 1,000 languages. That is about one-fifth of the world's languages, just in one island.

The most interesting thing about this course is the trivia that we sometimes get with these linguistic groups. In Papua New Guinea, there is this ethnic group called the "Korowai". They are one of the last remaining practitioners of institutionalized cannibalism. And that is evident because the disease called "kuru", also known as laughing sickness, is prevalent in them. And the only way in which kuru is transmitted is through eating human brains.

I got curious of this, and did some reading on my own. Apparently, when a person dies, the maternal chief would prepare the body to be eaten. The organs and all the other entrails are given especially to the children and to the elderly. It is through this route that kuru is transmitted.



  1. They do this to remain in spirit with thier kin, and to gain the 'insight' abilities of the previous wielder. It really is amazing, and very spiritual.
    Though i would never do it, there is a sense of higher understanding that I believe these people have from being able to be so guided.

  2. Very interesting and amazing informations - thanks for them!
    It's a foreign world of thought that's really difficult to understand.
    I like your photo too! It's great again.

  3. You just can't eat any kind of meat anymore these days. First it was Mad Cow, Foot and Mouth, Pig's Plague, Bird's Plague, Laughing disease...

    You'd almost consider a breatharian diet...

  4. SNE,

    That's why I turned vegetarian...