August 6, 2012

Dear Dr. Lakoff: I would like to get a Ph.D. under you studying metaphors in Chinese characters and their correspondent meanings in English. Written Chinese has been documented for 4,000 years, so it is the perfect language to use as a comparison with other languages. Three women have meant “adultery” for 4,000 years in Chinese, and still do. The women character is in many Chinese words. I believe that man’s love/hate relationship with women is a linguistic universal and is found in every literate culture, not just Chinese. Your title “Women, fire, and dangerous things,” is the perfect description of how men find women: disturbing yet at the same time mesmerizing. This bias is encoded into language even now. Why is “milking” an issue a bad thing? Why is a “seminal” idea so good? Why is to “deseminate” information positive? In Chinese, the word for “semen” is also the word for “essence.” It is a positive concept there as well as here. There are many such similarities between Chinese, English, and Latin-based languages, but most people focus on differences because they are in denial of our animalistic natures. I am finishing my third semester of Mandarin with an Intensive at Berkeley that is a 10-unit course. I have spent the last three years studying Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and Sumerian cuneiform as well as Chinese. The importance of breasts and eyes—both targets—is seen in those languages, as well as in Maya. I would love to talk with you about the possibility of doing this research under you. You can also check out my website at I’ve had over 25,000 readers. I am taking a Darwinian lens to language. The things which drive humans: sex, power, and food, are evident in all early scripts, including our alphabet. We just have to want to see it. I have had two published novels (Catalyst, 1997, and Higher Math, 1991, both with Faber and Faber) and a book on digital typography. I have a BA from UCLA and a MFA from San Diego State. I was the music editor for the San Diego Reader for seven years. I have been married for 26 years to a chemist who is head of Small Molecule Drug Discovery at Genentech. We’ve played in a rock band together for 27. I play the French horn, trumpet, and keyboard (a good ear helps with Mandarin). I have read 95 books since I’ve had this idea, and written 72 documents which I have “published” online. Please, can I meet with you? Sincerely,

Jennifer Ball

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