The language of a people is mostly a representation of how the respective people view their world and interpret their experiences. The structure of a people’s language can therefore be used to make inferences about their unique ways of life therefore providing a means by which we can reconstruct the life of a civilization. In this paper, I shall attempt to reconstruct the life of a lost tribe, the Amiable people.
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The Amiable people civilization has just recently been discovered by archaeologists. The reconstruction efforts shall be achieved by analyzing some words that linguistic anthropologists have highlighted as characterizing the society’s language. I shall use these linguistic characteristics as a basis for making plausible claims about the tribe.
Although it is impossible to pinpoint the exact geographical location that the Amiables lived, their language sheds some light as to the nature of the land that the tribe may have occupied. It is probable that the tribe lived in a plain or prairie region. Their words for describing the terrain of their land are limited to “absolutely flat,” “rolling,” and “slightly hilly.” It is therefore quite unlikely that the tribe lived in a mountainous region as their language does not accommodate words for such terrains.
The fact that the tribe also has a dozen terms for grains including eight for wheat alone also suggests that the tribe was extensively involved in wheat farming. This further reinforces the possibility that the tribe was from the plains and prairies since these are the areas in which wheat farming thrives. It is possible that the Amiable’s lived deep inland as their language lacks a term for “ocean.”
Their lack of a word for “fish” also hints that they did not live near any large water bodies as it is inconceivable that any costal tribe would fail to engage in fishing as an economic activity. From the Amiable’s language, we find that they had several words for precipitation with most translating as “rain” and only one meaning “snow.” One might suggest from these that their climate was characterized by regular rains and snow falls were only periodically phenomena.
The Amiables language offers us some valuable insight into the type of foods that the tribe may have consumed. The prevalence of words for grain in their language might be a possible indication that grains, and particularly wheat, was the staple food of the people.
In as much as their language gives a positive indication that these people reared animals such as cows, pigs and sheep, there is no indication that the tribe utilized these animals for meat or hide. For example, their language lacks words that translate to “beef,” “pork,” “veal,” or “leather,” despite having words such as “cow,” “pig,” and “sheep.”
This could be an indication that the Amiables did not kill the animals for food or hide. It is therefore a plausible assumption that the Amiables were a vegetarian people. However, there it is possible that the Amiables might have used the animals for other means that did not involve killing them e.g. cows for their milk or sheep for their wool since it would be preposterous to concede that they kept these animals as pets. All this is however speculative as we do not have a full inventory of their language.
From the language of the Amiables, it can be proposed that great value was placed on the family. The word woman is synonymous with “wife and mother” to the Amiable’s and the term man is synonymous with “husband and father”.
It is therefore evident that to the tribe, the woman was primarily viewed as a wife and mother to the children and the man as a husband and father of the children. These fusions of the terms (man and woman) with terms related to a family life suggest that the Amiables placed great value on the family which was made up of a man and a woman.
The language of the Amiables contains many terms for children some of which translate as “wise small one” “innocent leader” and “little stargazer”. One can conclude from this that children were highly regarded by the Amiables. This supposition is further advanced by the fact that the Amiables had seven terms to describe the stages of life up to puberty (which marks the end of childhood) and only one term to describe life henceforth to death.
It can therefore be speculated that the family of these tribe was centered on the children. Sex was primarily used for procreation and their term for sex translates as “to plant a wise one,” therefore underscoring the procreative role that sex played to the Amiables as well as the reverence with which children were held.
The Amiable tribe was a literate and educated people. This can be deduced from the many words that the tribe had for books which implies a great exposure by the tribe to books. It is therefore possible that great emphasis was placed on a formal education that resulted in the ability to read by the population.
One might also concede that this people were well cultured and had an inclination to the artistic works. For example, the Amiables had nine words for artist which suggests that there were a number of people engaged in arts. The presence of four words for theatre also suggests that there were numerous artistic presentations such as plays and songs that the general population went to watch in the theatres.
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The social construct of the Amiables was based on communal leadership. This is evident from the fact that the tribe had several words for leaders but all in the plural form. This suggest that in as much as the tribe relied on strong and effective leadership to steer the tribe to success, the leadership role was not placed in the hands of one person but rather collective responsibility was encouraged.
The Amiables were also non-violent as can be illustrated from the lack of a word for violent conflict or war in their language. They preferred to resolve their conflicts diplomatically instead of engaging in war. For this reason, the people who could act as reconcilers were held in high esteem as is suggested from the Amiable’s term of praise translating to “peacemaker” and “conciliator”.
This paper set out to reconstruct the life of the Amiable civilization by analyzing their language. It has been discovered that the Amiables were a peaceful and learned people who placed high value on family and their children. What is admirable about this people to me is that they realized that leadership in the hands of one person can corrupt and therefore took to collective leadership. Their cultural standards were also impressive as is suggested by their artistry.
However, the data provided is not sufficient to conclusively reconstruct interesting facets of their lives such as their economic activities and exactly how the tribe resolved its disputes diplomatically thus averting the use of violence. Such information would be precious to our civilization which can no doubt borrow a lot from the Amiables.