Fierce debate over 5,000-year-old Chinese inscriptions

Updated 13 July 2013
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Fierce debate over 5,000-year-old Chinese inscriptions

BEIJING: Fierce debate has erupted among experts in China over the discovery of 5,000-year-old inscriptions that some believe represent the earliest record of Chinese characters.
Pottery pieces and stone vessels unearthed at the Zhuangqiaofen archaeological site in the eastern province of Zhejiang push “the origin of the written language back 1,000 years,” the state-run newspaper reported.
The inscriptions predate the oracles, writings on turtle shells dating back to the Shang Dynasty, which are commonly believed to be the origin of the written Chinese language system.
Some of the inscriptions were written together in what some experts believe resembles a short sentence.
Li Boqian, an archaeology professor from Peking University, said the symbols reveal the ancient Liangzhu civilization — which existed in Zhejiang and neighboring Jiangsu in the Neolithic Age — had already developed the basic structure of sentences from independent words, the newspaper said earlier this week.
Other specialists dismissed the significance of such a find. Xu Hong, an archaeology researcher from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, expressed skepticism on links between the inscriptions and the development of Chinese script.
“Even if those signs on the stones were characters, they were simply from a long dead east Asian country before the Middle Kingdom existed,” he said on Sina Weibo, China’s version of the social network Twitter.
“Many signs and character lookalikes earlier than the oracles have been found in east Asia.”
Xia Jingchun, a professor of Chinese language from Beijing Technology and Business University, also wrote on Weibo: “It’s long been believed by experts that there were more ancient characters than the oracles, because the oracles were too mature, and older languages are supposed to be less developed.”
The inscriptions were found among artifacts unearthed between 2003 and 2006, state media said.


US man charged after 3-year-old daughter shoots mother

Updated 29 min 4 sec ago
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US man charged after 3-year-old daughter shoots mother

  • Child's father left a loaded handgun between the center arm rest and the front passenger seat of his car
  • Shanique Thomas, who is seven weeks pregnant, underwent surgery and suffered nerve damage

MERRILLVILLE, US: A man in the US state of Indiana is facing charges after his 3-year-old daughter accidentally shot her pregnant mother with a gun he left in the woman’s car, police said Thursday.

Menzo Brazier, 21, of Michigan City was charged Thursday with two counts each of criminal recklessness and neglect of a dependent. He’s being held in the Lake County Jail in Crown Point.

Merrillville police said Shanique Thomas, who is seven weeks pregnant, told detectives that Brazier was inside a thrift store shopping Tuesday and she stayed outside in the car because she had a headache and was feeling ill.

“Thomas stated that while she was sitting in the driver’s seat she suddenly heard a loud pop like a balloon” and realized she was bleeding, police said in a news release.

A bullet passed through the driver’s seat, Thomas’ upper right chest, and the windshield, police said.

Brazier had left a loaded handgun between the center arm rest and the front passenger seat, according to police. Detective Sgt. James Bogner said the child “had no idea what she had done and she was very scared.”

The girl has been placed in protective custody along with a 1-year-old boy who also was in the car at the time.

Police said Thomas underwent surgery and suffered nerve damage. They didn’t comment on the condition of her unborn child.