Jennifer Ball

Professor of English "Speaking and Listening", Soochow University, Suzhou, China
San Mateo, CA, United States

About Jennifer

Bio

Publications:
Catalyst (Faber & Faber, 1997) a novel about scientists in a rock band, a love triangle, and scientific fraud. This book was taught at Stanford by Carl Djerassi, the father of the birth control pill, in a class called "Science in Fiction, not Science Fiction"
Higher Math, the Book Moose Minnion Never Wrote (Faber & Faber, 1991) a novel
The Verbum Book of Digital Typography (M & T Books, 1991) non-fiction
Agouron 1993 Annual Report
Stories in the San Diego Reader, 1997-2007
Education:
Berkeley Elementary Mandarin Intensive enrolled: June 4 - Aug. 10, 2012 - Passed
Berkeley Extension Mandarin II received an "A" - Spring 2012
Berkeley Extension Mandarin I received an "A" - Fall 2011
San Diego State University (SDSU) MFA in Creative Writing, 1993
University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) BFA in Theater, 1981
Work Experience:
Music Editor San Diego Reader, 1997-2005
English 101 Instructor San Diego State University, 1992-1993
Computer Graphics Instructor Platt Technical College, 1991-1997
Lead singer/French horn/trumpet Fingerpuppets (rock band), 2006-current
Lead singer/French horn Free-Range Chickens (rock band), 1991-2005
Computer Graphic Artist Prepress Technologies, 1990
Computer Graphic Artist Hunter Industries, 1988-1990
Computer consultant Central National-Gottesman, Agouron, and Genprobe
Jennifer wrote and directed "Life is a Low-Budget Musical" at UCLA, was on six
game shows, was on a documentary about game shows, worked for the BBC on a
documentary about soap operas, and was a comedian at the Comic Strip in New York
City, 1985-1987. Jennifer can speak, read, and write elementary Mandarin. (For my CV in Chinese, please contact me because this field will not accept Hanzi.)

Languages

English

Areas of Expertise

ceramics, French Horn Performance, Language (English), Rock band, language (China)

An idea worth spreading

Female mammals are the underpinning of written language. We could learn languages faster if we recognized that the roots of language are about fertility, and this includes the domination and accounting of female mammals.

I'm passionate about

Comparing all written scripts

Talk to me about

Anything funny. If you want to transmit a new idea, being funny is key. Especially if it's an idea that requires one go into the gutter, which is where one must go in order to understand humans.

My TED story

Sexism exists in every literate culture. If sex is everywhere, why wouldn't it be encoded in the written form? It is. My website, www.OriginofAlphabet.com, has data from Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Sumerian cuneiform, Chinese Han characters (including precursors), Maya glyphs, and the alphabet. Female mammals are the underpinning of all scripts because females can produce offspring and milk. Writing started as accounting. Keeping track of females has been important to our ancestors. Modern linguists almost solely deal with sound and rarely consider the ancient written form. If the data is there, but linguists don't use it, this suggests a kind of denial.
I am currently in China studying Hanzi, learning Mandarin, and teaching 102 "English Listening and Speaking" students at Soochow University in Suzhou, China. Written language is both communication and code: communication to your tribe, code to one's adversaries. Women's body parts are a linguistic universal in these contexts.

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

185122
Jennifer Ball
Posted 6 months ago
ShaoLan: Learn to read Chinese ... with ease!
According to this linguist, not all native speakers agree with you: From Wikipedia (link at bottom): The late American anthropologist and linguist Paul K. Benedict (1987: 188) described covert ethnic slurs as the "pejorativization of exonymized names." In a discussion of autonyms, Benedict said, …a leading Chinese linguist has remarked that the name 'Lolo' is offensive only when written with the 'dog' radical. There is undoubtedly here some reflection of the underlying Chinese equation of 'word' with 'written character,' providing a clue to the 'pejorativization' of 'exonymized' names of this kind: by writing my name with a 'dog' alongside it you are calling me a 'dog' (and in Chinese this is a unisex epithet). The modern Chinese practice is to write these tribal names with the 'human being' radical, thereby raising their level of acceptance. (1987: 188) Wikipedia has devoted a whole topic to this category: Graphic Pejoratives in Written Chinese http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphic_pejoratives_in_written_Chinese which is where I find the above quote. The fact that there is a page on this topic in Wikipedia makes it clear that I am not the only one to think about this. What's odd is that the word for "Jewish" is not mentioned. Perhaps an oversight because the focus is on ethnic Chinese. When we grow up with ideas as children, we don't think they are particularly insidious, but that's because we've habituated to them. This is how children learn to be prejudiced. It isn't okay to refer to someone as a "dog" because we, as society, elevate humans above all other species, therefore, to call someone a dog is to insult them. Mao took the dog radical out of characters defining ethnic Chinese, but he still referred to "the imperialists and their running dogs" (https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/works/red-book/ch05.htm), so Mao clearly recognized the significance of likening people to dogs. Denial is an easy state in which to remain. But should we?
185122
Jennifer Ball
Posted 10 months ago
ShaoLan: Learn to read Chinese ... with ease!
Dear Ting Wen: The traditional character still has the dog radical: 猶, so I believe you are incorrect. Please research this character. One place I recommend is Chinese Text Project (http://ctext.org/dictionary.pl?if=en&char=猶) 猶 yóu ㄧㄡˊ (1): 猶猢,猴子一類的動物。 A species of monkey Show full entry 《說文解字·犬部》: 猶:玃屬。 Show complete text yóu ㄧㄡˊ (2.1): 同,相同。 Same, similar. Show full entry 《詩經·小星》: 肅肅宵征、抱衾與裯、寔命不猶。 Show complete text yóu ㄧㄡˊ (2.2): 同樣地。 Similarly, in the same way. Show full entry 《春秋左傳·襄公十年》: 猶將退也,不如從楚,亦以退之。 Show complete text yóu ㄧㄡˊ (3): 如同,好像。 Like, similar to. Show full entry 《墨子·三辯》: 今夫子曰:『聖王不為樂』,此譬之猶馬駕而不稅,弓張而不弛,無乃非有血氣者之所3能至邪? Show complete text 《論語·述而》: 子曰:「文,莫吾猶人也。 Show complete text 《孟子·梁惠王上》: 以若所為求若所欲,猶緣木而求魚也。 Show complete text 《莊子·應帝王》: 其於治天下也,猶涉海鑿河,而使蚉負山也。 Show complete text 《淮南子·道應訓》: 對曰:「其為政也,以苛以察,以切為明,以刻下為忠,以計多為功,譬之猶廓革者也。廓之,大則大矣,裂之道也。」 Show complete text yóu ㄧㄡˊ (4): 可,可以。 Can, able to. Show full entry 《戰國策·蘇秦死其弟蘇代欲繼之》: 此其君之欲得也,其民力竭也,安猶取哉? Show complete text yóu ㄧㄡˊ (5): 宜,應。 Fitting, suitable. Show full entry 《詩經·陟岵》: 上慎旃哉、猶來無止。 Show complete text yóu ㄧㄡˊ (6): 尚,還,仍。 Still, nevertheless. Show full entry 《論語·微子》: 往者不可諫,來者猶可追。 Show complete text 《孟子·公孫丑上》: 紂之去武丁未久也,其故家遺俗,流風善政,猶有存者;又有微子、微仲、王子比干、箕子、膠鬲皆賢人也,相與輔相之,故久而後失之也。 Show complete text 《莊子·天下》: 惠施不辭而應,不慮而對,遍為萬物說;說而不休,多而無已,猶以為寡,益之以怪。 Show complete text 《史記·孔子世家》: 往者不可諫兮,來者猶可追也! Show complete text 《後漢書·南蠻西南夷列傳》: 土氣多寒,在盛夏冰猶不釋,故夷人冬則避寒,入蜀為傭,夏則違暑,反其眾邑。 Show complete text yóu ㄧㄡˊ (7): 尚且。 Additionally, furthermore. Show full entry 《孟子·萬章下》: 獵較猶可,而況受其賜乎? Show complete text 《春秋左傳·隱公元年》: 蔓草猶不可除,況君之寵弟乎! Show complete text yóu ㄧㄡˊ (8.1): 連詞:表示讓步,相當於「雖」、「雖然」。 Connective expression concession: although, despite. Show full entry 《孟子·公孫丑上》: 尺地莫非其有也,一民莫非其臣也,然而文王猶方百里起,是以難也。 Show complete text 《說苑·權謀》: 詐猶可以偷利,而後無報。 Show complete text yóu ㄧㄡˊ (8.2): 連詞:表示假設,相當於「如果」。 Connective expression supposition: if. Show full entry 《春秋左傳·襄公二十年》: 猶有鬼神,吾有餒而已,不來食矣。 Show complete text yóu ㄧㄡˊ (9.1): 通「猷」:謀略,計策。 Stratagem, plot.
185122
Jennifer Ball
Posted 11 months ago
ShaoLan: Learn to read Chinese ... with ease!
Tom: It might not occur to you because you haven't spent the last four years studying ancient scripts. Projection is when a person puts their feelings onto someone else. So you might want to reconsider your post. Men wrote language, not women (almost all experts agree on this). My question to linguists is why do they almost solely consider sound—the thing that mutates the most—rather than writing, the thing that changes the least. I think it's because they don't want to change their pet theories. Three women has meant "adultery, wicked, debauchery" for 4,000 years. There's something behind a track record like that. Someday (soon I hope!) we will want to understand that, and why we are still defending this when other offensive depictions have been changed: the dog radical was removed from the names of ethnicities in the 1950s; however, the dog radical is still in the word for "Jewish" (犹太) on mainland China, though it has been removed from the word in Taiwan. It takes someone saying, "Hey, this isn't okay." It is not okay for three women to mean something bad. I have a ten-year-old friend who loves triple radicals, and she asked her teacher (in China), "What does three women mean?" She was told it was a "bad word." Think about the effect of 4,000 years of women learning that three of them together is bad. It is a Rorschach of all civilized societies because they all used female mammals as a means of survival, and this became encoded into language. The ones that didn't aren't around anymore. Female mammals produce milk and offspring. That would have been hugely significant to early humans. For more info, check out www.OriginofAlphabet.com. I have more than 80 documents with written data from Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Sumerian cuneiform, Chinese Hanzi, Maya glyphs, Hebrew, Greek, and more. I am looking at written language with the eyes of a scientist—something that clearly has not been done by many, though there have been other linguists corroborating this.
185122
Jennifer Ball
Posted 11 months ago
ShaoLan: Learn to read Chinese ... with ease!
All of this analysis, and not one person is bothered by the fact that two women mean an "argument" and three women mean "adultery." They mean them now, and they have meant them for the last 4,000 years. We won't understand language until we realize that our acceptance of this demonstrates that sexism is the default of all societies—and this is a clue to the roots of language. The dog radical is still in the word for "Jewish" on the mainland: 犹太. In Taiwan, the dog radical has been removed because they figured out that to equate people with dogs does not represent modern thinking. Pointing this out upset a bunch of people on Quora. I'm sorry if fact upsets people. Taiwan removed the dog radical from "Jewish," but three women still mean "wicked." When I brought this up last time on here, people were incensed: how dare I point that out and make them think. Controlling women is a universal, and the female mammal is a linguistic universal. If we recognized this, we could learn language faster. For more info: www dot OriginofAlphabet dot com.
185122
Jennifer Ball
Posted about 1 year ago
Keith Chen: Could your language affect your ability to save money?
Kenneth: Thank you very much for your information. This is very useful to me in my pursuit of fluent Mandarin. However, it seems you are missing the bigger point that I am making about Keith Chen: he isn't comparing apples to apples. Instead of rain, let's talk about spending money. I believe it is more appropriate to say in both Mandarin and English: Yesterday I spent (花了)money, today I am spending (花)money, tomorrow I will spend (要华)money. Both languages use special characters/words to denote past and future. Plus, Keith Chen never actually shows us what the savings rate of China is, so even though he uses Mandarin as a major example, we don't ever see the connection between the Chinese language and the savings rate of China. This is a much bigger point than whether or not a sentence about yesterday's rain requires additional info. My point is that economists (and linguists!) like Chen are not very scientific. At least not as shown in this video. I think we all need to study scientific rationale in order to understand true cause and effect, and how to draw conclusions based upon data, because this video appears to me to be bogus science guised as legitimate research.
185122
Jennifer Ball
Posted over 1 year ago
ShaoLan: Learn to read Chinese ... with ease!
The Greeks were not the first to create an alphabet. Usually the Phoenicians are given that credit, but there was a Proto-Canaanite alphabet before that. The alphabet is considered to have originated in 1700 B.C. in Serabit al-Khadem and Wadi el Hole. According to David Diringer In 1948, it was only invented once, and all alphabets are versions of the original.
185122
Jennifer Ball
Posted over 1 year ago
ShaoLan: Learn to read Chinese ... with ease!
You are correct. I am preparing myself for much hostility because we don't want to think that someone can figure out something new using already existing data. My husband calls my theory a virus of the mind. (Conceptually not dissimilar to William S. Burroughs writing that "language is a virus from outer space." I don't think it came from outer space. It seems like a common developmental step that all human civilizations eventually go through if given enough time.) Fortunately I did stand-up comedy in NYC, which was equally aggressive, emanating from both the audience and from other comedians. I did learn that humor is important when imparting new ideas. Consider that the Noah's Ark story, with its "two by two" focus on animals, is the world's first sex education (originally found in the world's first story, Gilgamesh, written in Sumerian cuneiform and later "plagiarized" by Christian religion as its own). Also, when one looks at the pattern of words beginning with "br," one realizes that a "bride" is named for her ability to "breed" and bear "brothers," which form "branches" of the family, and "bridge" previously unrelated families together. A bride is attended by a groom, someone who normally takes care of horses. "Bridal" and "bridle" ("braces" for a horse) share identical sounds. Take the "B" off of "bride" and you have "ride": which can explain why "Gangnam Style" is such a popular video. That riding of the horse is a euphemism/metaphor for the riding of a "sexy lady." And in Chinese, /ma3/ is "horse" and /ma1/ is "mother." Writers of language have equated women with beasts for a very long time.