1) Chinese Village Struggles to Save Dying Language by David Lague (NY Times, March 18, 2007) discusses the imminent demise of the Manchu language, a situation of which I was not aware. A century ago the Manchu ruled China, and all Imperial documents were drafted in both Manchu and Chinese; now only a few aging villagers remain. A sad story. (Don’t miss the video clip, which has a couple of minutes of conversation and a lullaby, all subtitled.)
2) Philistines, but Less and Less Philistine by John Noble Wilford (NY Times, March 13, 2007) describes archeological discoveries about the Philistines and says that “not only were Philistines cultured, they were also literate when they arrived, presumably from the region of the Aegean Sea, and settled the coast of ancient Palestine around 1200 B. C.”
The discovery is reported in the current issue of The Israel Exploration Journal by two Harvard professors, Frank Moore Cross Jr. and Lawrence E. Stager. Dr. Cross is an authority on ancient Middle Eastern languages and scripts. Dr. Stager, an archaeologist, is director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, a Harvard project.
In the report, the two researchers said the inscriptions “reveal, for the first time, convincing evidence that the early Philistines of Ashkelon were able to read and write in a non-Semitic language, as yet undeciphered.”
I’d be curious to know what the evidence is for this non-Semitic language, if anybody’s familiar with their work.