Kymbos Scholarship Essay

16.1. Abstract
16.2. Preliminaries
16.3. Introduction: The Aoide-Hypothesis: Information technologies of advanced oral tradition
16.4. The Theory: Onoma-Semaiophonic Principles - Nexus Sounds, Links, and Fields
16.5. The technical construction of semaiophonic networks with Molecular Simulation and Multimedia Tools
16.6. Supporting material
16.7. The AOIDE model and the Kabbala
16.8. Applying the Semaiophonic Hypothesis to archaic epic language
16.9. The Age of Aoidoi: Hypothesis of a high-level oral culture
16.10. Literature

Paper for:

"Sign Processes in Complex Systems"

7th International Congress of the IASS-AIS


Dr. Andreas Goppold, c/o FAW Ulm, Postf. 2060, D-89010 Ulm, Germany

Tel. ++49 +731 921 6931, Fax: (Goppold:) +731 501-999



neuronal resonance fields, neuronal infrastructure, signe arbitraire, sign processes, language


theoretical questions, problems of application to culture

The current progress in neurological research gives rise to the expectation that within the next generation, there will be an understanding of the neuronal loci and functions that form the infrastructure of sign processes and of language. Of the many works pointing into this direction, William Calvin's: "The Cerebral Code", and Spitzer's: "Geist im Netz" are quoted as examples. The present contribution aims at sketching a (so far hypothetical) working model based on Calvin's neuronal resonance fields for a heterodox interpretation of the ancient Greek Aoide language used in the Epics of Homer and other Aoidoi. While this is orthodoxically treated in the linguistic framework of the Saussurean "Signe Arbitraire" doctrine (e.g. Parry, Lord, and followers), it is proposed here that at least part of that material (perhaps of Pelasgian origin), was formed on another principle, to which Platon hints at in Kratylos: "That the sounds must be similar to the thing also". If this thing is interpreted not as the objective outer world (Popper-World 1) thing, but as neuronal subfunction of the "Weltbildapparat" (Riedl, Lorenz), then it is easy to see that the sign cannot be totally arbitrary, and that the sounds must correspond to an extremely fine-tuned neuronal and muscular resonance circuit that can produce and perceive them. As we can see in all spoken languages, only a very small subset of all the possible phonemic combinatorics is utilized in each language, and that combination is by no means arbitrary. The hypothesis presented will advance arguments that the ancient Aoide language can be interpreted, obviously not as prosa communication system (and no adaptation thereof), but as a (specially designed) fine-tuned neuronal-sound-imagination device designed for evoking neuronal resonance states of a kind that we presently associate with trance. Platon's description of Homer as "daemiourgon onomaton" (craftsman of words) is taken as hint in this direction. Selected examples will be presented of a morphemic combinatoric system underlying the Aoide language.

Cultural Memory CM: here equivalent with Cultural Transmission. In the generalized abstract (etic) sense: those processes and structures by which personal subjective memory material is exchanged between individuals and across generations and made available on an intersubjective basis. The diachronic aspect of cultural patterns. In subjective (emic) terminology, that faculty by which one individual can {reference to / learn from / participate in} the memory content of (an)other individual(s), even without direct personal contact, e.g. when they live in a distant place, or in the distant past.

Cultural Memory Bearer CMB: The carrier(s) of the Cultural Memory. Apart from the most generally true statement that every member of a human society is a Cultural Memory Bearer in at least some respect, in order to be a functioning human being, there are, and have been, specially trained classes and groups who functioned primarily as Cultural Memory Bearer, like the Aoidoi of ancient Greece, and the indian Rishis, the Griots of Africa, the norse Skalden, the welsh Bards, the Troubadours of the middle ages, and the Guslar of the Balkan. In non-writing cultures, these CMBs serve(d) a most prominent and most vital function to preserve the essence and higher spiritual values of their cultures across and against the degradations of time.

Cultural Memory System CMS: Systematic theoretical account of those processes and structures by which the CM arises and operates. In a different aspect this is also called the culture pattern replicator system (after Benedict 1934), as the ways and means by which cultural patterns are exchanged and transmitted in populations and across generations.

Cultural Memory Technology CMT: systematic use of static extrasomatic devices for CM. Writing is the prime cultural memory technology of civilizations.

Cultural Memory Art CMA: systematic use of dynamic somatic (and possibly extrasomatic) processes for CM. Dancing may be an example of CMA

Cultural pattern CP:(after Benedict 1934). The etic view by an anthropologist observer, of the life patterns, and life habits, the behaviors, creeds, and the forms of the artefacts of peoples of specific human cultures on the planet Earth which preserve a certain diachronic and synchronic degree of constancy even while the generations come and go.

Cultural Transmission CT: Transmission of Cultural Patterns, i.e. of ontogenic (learned) material in populations (synchronic) and across generations (diachronic).

G-1 The greek semantic cycle or gyros of chi-gamma-xi-kappa-rho-chi

G-2 Part of the semaiophonic network of "menin aide thea", Illias 1.1

G-5 Semaiophonic architectonics of the three main consonant cycles.

G-6 Chi-Aleph connections

GIM-1-4 Marija Gimbutas: cultural patterns of Old Europe

H1, H2, H3 Patterns from Catal Hüyük, Mellaart: "Goddess from Anatolia" Vol. 1-3

The data material for this section is derived mainly from Homer, Hesiod, Anaximandros, Heraklit, Parmenides, Platon, Parry, Lord, Havelock, McLuhan, deKerckhove, Latacz, Visser, A. & J. Assmann, B. Powell, S. Hummel, T. Strehlow, M. Schneider, H. v. Dechend, and Mary LeCron Foster. I have used their materials in a (hopefully) unprecedented novel way, giving new interpretations from the different viewpoint of a non-written Cultural Memory System. The following is a sketch for a larger project work.

Mary LeCron Foster's hypothesis is used as base of the present work. This assumes a decisive influence on cultivation and formation of language in a kind of phememe-design. Those who designed the language, were called Aoidoi in ancient Greece. [48] Daher heißt die folgende Hypothese auch die Aoide-Hypothese.

I will present here a sketched / outlined technical information model called the AOIDE. [49] This is the working name for a hypothetical information model of neuronal structures and mental functioning of the professional Cultural Memory Bearers of the ancient oral epic traditions world wide whose thinking modes were, according to the hypothesis, different from modern civilized western prosa thinking. The base of the hypothesis are data we have available on the greek Aoidoi, (like Homer), the african Griots, the norse Skalden, the welsh Bards, the Australian Aboriginal Songline tradition, and the indian Rishis and {what is known of / can be inferred from / can be hypothesized into} these data. In the following I will use the word aoide for the generic class of all Cultural Memory Bearers of all epic traditions world wide.

AOIDE[50] is called the model of {cultural memory / information / language / epic / sonic / mythic / lucid trance / divination / prophesy} mental technology (mentation) derived from data on various oral traditions around this planet.

The working hypothesis on which AOIDE is based, I call the

Onoma-Semaiophonic Principles: The Nexus Sounds, Links, and Fields of oral epic song technology.

The following text will try to elaborate this model. Apart from my own original ideas, [51] I am basing this work on the oral memory technology researches of Hertha v. Dechend's "Hamlet's Mill" (1993), with her concept of the oral epic computation and data transmission technology, [52] of the comparative trans-global epic studies of Theodor Strehlow (1971), the detailed work on Aoide and the alphabet of Barry Powell, the global musical cosmogony of Marius Schneider, and the phememe hypothesis of Mary LeCron Foster (1996). I am picking up suggestions, hints, ideas, concepts and aims from their works. Many of the sources and connections came to me in some fortuitous, unpredicted, seemingly random way, which seems to be an essential part of the process. For example, the material about the Australian Aborigines (Strehlow 1971) came to me through a personal connection. [53] As will be made more explicit in the ensuing discussion, aoide mentation[54] has some connection with {entering / entertaining} {different / alternate} modes of mental functioning. One popular name for such states is the blanket term "trance". It must remain for a later and larger project work to define that more closely, and using the results from applying the tools. The process must follow a circular (self-referential) bootstrapping pattern. The theory assumes that it is almost impossible for the prosa framed mind of our current civilizations to unaidedly step out of its normal operation patterns and enter the AOIDE mode.

Let us design a construction principle for a structural edifice of sounds and meaning.

1) onoma-semaiophonic

The key term onoma-semaio-phonic[55] is the working principle of the method applied. It assumes a hypothetical [56] interrelation and connectivity of semantic/phonetic elements of an archaic language like the aoide language is assumed to have been . The German term for onoma-semaiophonic is Sinn-Klang[57], in English Sing-Lang, and Aboriginal Australian: Song-Line. It has to be stated that this is not an etymological concept.

2) nexus sounds as attractors

Let us now call the sound meaning of the stoichea as used by Platon in his linguistic discussions in Phaidros, Kratylos, and Timaios the nexus sounds[58] of the aoide language. [59] The greek version is given only as paradigmatic example, and the principle holds equally for any language in which the aoide sings [60]. The nexus is not a linguistic or etymological concept. The nexus was used in a slightly different {meaning / intention} by Whitehead in "Process and Reality" (1969: 22-25) [61] and the general principle is transferred to this context. If we want to use a physical metaphor, we can use the attractor principle of chaos theory, or maybe an electrostatic / electromagnetic / gravitational attraction force field. Behind this lies a neurological attractor model, but at present this cannot be worked out. (See the note on William Calvin, further down).

3) the onoma-semaiophonic nexus and the morphogram

This is conventionally called a word. [62] An onoma-semaiophonic nexus (or short: nexus) is the form (morphae) of several con-nextednexus sounds. We have to differentiate between the sound form as it can be put into grammata (written signs), the morphogram, and its sounding form, the phonae-morphae, or stoichaea, or in German, Klang-Form.

4) the onoma-semaiophonic link

Let us assume a sound connection between different but similar nexus, i.e. that nexus bearing a similar sound will have a connecting similar (and also antagonistic) meaning field, forming an onoma-semaiophonic link.

5) Semaiophonic fields

are called networks of nexus that are connected by semaiophonic links.

6) Semaiophonic structures, notation

It is almost impossible to describe semaiophonic structures in linear alphabetic textual manner. We can use the hypertext metaphor of links extending to the related sounds. We assume that a there is a kind of sonic hyper link between similarly sounding words. This gives many-dimensional structures, quite unlike the linear textual sequence.

See ILL: G-2 for a sample semaiophonic structure derived from the thea in menin aeide thea, Illias 1.1.

7) Semaiophonic core structure, the Klang-Sinn

The most important question is how sound and meaning (Klang and Sinn) are connected. [63] This is is a difficult theme that can only be sketched in one paragraph for the present context: The neural representation of the machinery to {produce / recognize} a nexus sound with the human voice apparatus needs some neurological structure that are tentatively (and hypothetically) identified by Calvin with certain hexagonal structures on the cortex. Although producing and recognizing structures need (and can) not be identical, there must be a correspondence between them. Then, the structures necessary for vowel formation must by needs be different from those for consonants, since they involve a totally different muscular activity. And since there is no homunculus somewhere in deeper recesses of the brain to attribute meaning to these sound structures, the meaning we (in our consciousness) attribute to the words, must also be embedded in these structures, or be at least morphologically connected, and be of the same morphae (form).

Several samples of semaiophonic core structures will be given in the further text, like in the example of technae, whose structure is: t, {e/a/y}, guttural:{ch, g, x, k} [64]

In the semitic languages, the con-nexion is more obvious because of the the semitic root principle of consonant trigram (autiot, otiot), like k-t-b for book. But in indo-european languages, this model cannot be applied directly, it is more complicated.

Here we need to apply some working knowledge of current software engineering. There are existing software tools that can be adapted for modeling of onoma-semaiophonic networks. The currently available molecular simulation programs have to maintain the same kind of data structure as we need for the present application. If we add some specialized spatial electron cloud (or quantum field) subroutines, like they are now available in the top of the line molecular engineering software, we can even get a model for the gradated spatial resonance patterns of the voice, which is the base for representing the spatial proximity functions of the AOIDE model. The visualization is given by the standard molecular output functions, and serves the current purpose nicely. The only element missing is a sound output, the "audiali"-zation, i.e. the mapping of the data structures to the human voice capacity. The raw multimedia capacity of producing the sounds is obviously available, but the fine tuning to the intricacies of the human voice apparatus is not trivial. The conversion, if a qualified software engineer would do it (with specialized working knowledge and the molecular engineering software source code available), should be possible to get through in about one man-year [65].

In this way, the system will be a rather unheroic (even if somewhat off-the-beaten-track) conversion of existing software technology can be made, readily, with available manpower and software tools. The matter of technical workability is not concerned with the question whether the model as such makes sense according to current philological or linguistic theories. We have to claim that "the proof of the pudding is the eating", i.e. that it is important to present a research tool first, and try it out and test it, get some experimental results, and not try to prove the consequences and results of the application of the tools, beforehand. This is the technical essentials for the thesis. Following Whitehead, we need "a new tool as a way for new insights". In the Popperian manner the tool gives ways to experiment with falsifiable hypotheses.

In the following I will present some auxiliary material, and some additional and supportive hypotheses.

This was presented as a conference paper at: "Semiotics of the Media", Kassel (1995)

The main semiotic thesis of Platon in Kratylos is formed by the connection: "onoma homoion to pragmati" (the word resembles the thing) and "stoicheia homoia tois pragmasin" (the sounds, ie the stoicheia, be similar to the things also). The paper presents arguments for the interpretation that it is of prime importance to differentiate between Platon's usage of sound (phonae, stoicheia) and letter (gramma), and that the "things" he means should not be taken as objective-out-there-things, but as phenomenal "things" to be interpreted in terms of the modern neuronal presentation of what is happening as brain processes while these things arise in our imagination (phainomenon). Even though Platon could not think in these terms, we may get a better understanding of what he was hinting at.

The molecular model of the semaiophonic structure is suggestive for the following reason: the sound connections in the model extend from the nexus in semaiophonic space like atomic binding forces. As we see with a glance to Platon's Timaios, the ancient cosmology is replete with allusions to a sound combination structure that we can easily match up to modern molecular chemistry models. The geometric connections of the basic geometrical forms, are quite recognizable in the onoma-semaiophonic mapping. Platon speaks explicitly of the geometric figures (like Tetraeder) as the basic "elements" of his musico-logical cosmos [66]. These geometries reappear faithfully in the modern molecular models as the space structures of the electron clouds which form the chemical bonds. The view of Platon's Timaios can be interpreted as the chemical bonds minus (or abstracted from) the atoms. More enigmatic passages in Platon's works indicate that there are "trap doors" which may lead us into an unknown dimension of epic language.

nomina sunt omina


In his famous chapter in Phaidros (274c-275), Platon talks explicitly about the problems of the alphabet. In another work, Kratylos, he deals with certain aspects of the connection of sound and meaning in ancient Greek language. This material will be taken as starting point for the enquiry. It is always good to start with Platon. Whitehead had stated: "The safest general characterization of western philosophical tradition is that it consists of a sequence of footnotes to Plato " (Whitehead 1969: 53). If Platon had found something important enough to be worth devoting a whole lengthy work, then we might well ask if there is some meaning to be found in what he tells us.

In Kratylos, Platon talks about the connection of words and namings, meaning, and sounds. This would today be considered a discussion of semiotics. He opposes two views:

1) The names of things and people are products of social convention only (the signe arbitraire doctrine), with Prodikos (384b) and Protagoras as proponents. The famous statement of Protagoras is cited (386a):

2) The view of Kratylos is summed up in "onoma homoion to pragmati" (434a), "the name is similar to the thing". This may be called the Kratylos Question, the core of the argument of the dialogue:


Kratylos is Platon's discussion of the subject of fittingness or adequacy of words or symbols to the things symbolized. The key questions are:

1) Are all words arbitrary? (the signe arbitraire doctrine).

2) Are there some words more fitting than others?

If we assume 2), then we might continue to ask what they may be more fitting to:

2a) the (objective) thing or

2b) the neuronal (re)presentation the thinker has of a thing.

If we assume 1), we might ask why they are arbitrary. Objective realism, or materialism states that there are totally objective things "out there". We now have to concede the fact that humanity has created literally all possible sound combinations to denote, for example, the "horseness" of the horse in tens of thousands of languages and dialects. Therefore one might be hard put to explain why one word would be more fitting than thousands of others. Now if all words are arbitrary, there is no great sense in searching for better fitting ones.

The structure of the semi-monologue in Kratylos is peculiar. As in most other works by Platon, we find Sokrates doing most of the argument. He talks about 90 % of the time and his partners Hermogenes and Kratylos can only interject a few statements like: "Yes indeed", "Sure", "I see", "Why?", "I believe that", "of course", and so on. Therefore, we cannot call this kind of conversation a true dialogue. Unfortunately, the people who are most knowledgeable about the subject, position 1) Prodikos (384b) and Protagoras (386a) are not there, Hermogenes professes being largely ignorant and acts only as dummy or sparring partner for Sokrates in 75 % of the text. And Kratylos, the proponent of position 2), has hardly the opportunity to say two coherent sentences about his view on the matter when he finally gets the word in the last 25 % of the text, starting at 428d, to 440.

Sokrates himself professes, as usual, to be completely ignorant, because he has only heard the "one-Drachme" talk of Prodikos, and not the one for 50 Drachmes (384c). After professing his ignorance, he anyhow goes on developing all sorts of interesting but not very convincing etymologies [68] to support position 2), but finally comes to a position that true understanding is better attained through the things themselves (439b). How this is to be done, he apparently doesn't have the time left to expound, since the text ends two pages later.

So the whole work could be interpreted as some kind of tongue-in-cheek practical semiotic joke that Platon makes to befuddle his students in the academy and us across the millennia. Or it can be assumed that Platon didn't have the right conceptual tools to make a semiotic analysis. This seems to be a modern interpretation which is also proposed by Eco (1993: 25). But there are two questions remaining: First: Platon is known to be one of the most outstanding geniuses of mankind. But humor was not one of his strong points. Second: Why did he go through such an effort to make it known to posterity, that he didn't know very much to say about the matter? If we assume that Platon saw enough relevance in the subject to write about it, or have someone else write down his talks about it, then there are again two possibilities: 1) He knew more about it than he wanted to write, the unwritten teachings being in the background. 2) He was guessing himself, but wanted to preserve something that even he, one of the most knowledgeable men of his time, had only a dim recollection of, so that it became not totally lost to posterity. In this treatment, we will lean towards version 2), and give our reasons why.

In Platon's time, Greek was not yet a standardized language. Every greek region had their own dialect. The Ionian was different from the Athenian, that again different from Spartan, and the Italian greek dialects were different still. Platon makes reference to these differences in Kratylos. Classical greek, as it is known today, is the koinae , the standardized language of the post-alexandrian oikumene, a product of the work of scholars whose main base was the Alexandria library (which served also as research, studying, and teaching center).

It is usually straightforward to find equivalents between classical greek and modern languages for words of common culture use like: house, ship, knife, loom, horse, sheep, river, tree, mountain, etc., because they denote easily identifiable tangible, physical objects that are common in western, indo-european cultures. Philosophical texts though, present a particular problem for translation because of the extreme variance of semantic fields of key terms used as compared with modern european languages. Kratylos is even more problematic because Platon uses his words in a technical sense, and uses them while he talks about them, without having a proper meta language at his avail. We should note that ususally our modern meta languages derive most of their words from greek roots. Here are some of the keywords used by Platon:

onoma - name, denomination, appellation, designation,word, expression.

chraema - this semantic field denotes things of practical relevance and objects of human environment: thing, action, usage, money, belongings, happenings.

There are many similar-sounding, similar-meaning words in the field: chreia, chreos, chreoo, chrae, chraezoo, chraestos, chraestes, chraeo.

chraema was the term used by Protagoras. If the very global meaning of "thing" is substituted for the more specific sense of "objects of human environment" then we get the most obvious and commonsense statement of "the human is the measure of all objects of the human environment". No one in his right mind would want to argue against this. Otherwise what would they be there for? Today, one would call that statement a core requirement of ergonomics. And as ergonomics consultant, Protagoras might still make good money today.

pragma - things done, business, negotiation.

This term is used by Kratylos. There is very slight variance to chraema, but it might be significant. The semantic field of pragma is a little more oriented towards process, dealings, and doings. The word praxis belongs to this field.

Platon uses this term in the majority of places that are translated as "thing".

onta, einai - being things.

With the "to ti aen einai" the thingness of things starts to appear in Aristoteles. Platon uses this term sparingly (385b) and he does not seem to differentiate very much between all the three terms.

In most translations of Platon's works, stoicheia and grammata are treated as synonyms: meaning letters of the alphabet. But for Platon, there is a quite marked distinction: when he talks about stoichea, he talks about spoken sounds, and when he says grammata, he means the written letter. The translation of Kratylos has to be treated with special care to yield any useful information of what Platon was talking about. The semantic field of stoichea is:

stoicheoma: element, fundamental building block, first principle

stoicheoo: to teach the basics

stoicheomata: the 12 signs of the zodiac

stoicheon: letter of the alphabet

stoichos: the rod or stylus of a sundial that casts the shadow by which the time is

indicated on the dial

It is easy to see that the term is heavy with connotations from ancient cosmology. This subject has been treated in another of Platon's dialogues: Timaios . The first meaning of stoicheoma denotes the idea of a first principle of the cosmos . This is also called the archae . The zodiacal signs can be clarified in connection with the sundial . The sundial was introduced in Greece by Anaximander . He is also connected with the original formulation of the ancient greek theory of the four elements and the apeiron (Hölscher 1989: 172 ). The following passage from Timaios gives us the connection between cosmological primitive elements and letters-of-alphabet:


The four elements as Timaios describes them in the quotation, are also called stoichea . Anaximander had brought the sundial from Babylon . The dial is partitioned in 12 sections, like any modern clock is, corresponding to the 12 hours of the day. The 12-scheme of the hours corresponds to the 12-scheme of the months of the year and the 12 zodiacal signs wich are all of babylonian (or chaldean ) origin. In the world of antiquity, if one wanted to learn about astronomy/astrology , one went to Babylon , because here were the first and foremost experts of all the oikumene on that subject. Timaios, who is the fictional narrator in that monologue, has been introduced to the group in 27a as the one who is the most expert of them on Astronomy/Astrology . Obviously Timaios must have been in Babylon to learn the basics (or stoicheoma ) of the story he is telling in Platon's "Timaios", just like Anaximander before him.

We now have one detail left to clarify: Why and how might the word stoichea have acquired the meaning of letter-of-alphabet which is usually denoted by the word grammata ? Let us create a mental image of a sundial : We see a rod, or stylus, the sun shines, and the stylus casts a shadow. Then we call into memory another memorable fable of Platon , the cave parable . There, Platon talks about a big cave where miserable humans are chained fast to their seats so they cannot move and only watch the shadows dancing on the cave walls, forever entertaining themselves guessing what these shadows mean and what they stand for. The connection to the stoichea becomes immediately clear. The symbols of the alphabet are viewed as the shaped holes through which the pure light of the divine logos shines. The shadows that are cast on the dial of the sundial or the cave walls are the meanings of those symbols as we perceive them from our lowly perspective. Platon talks in Phaidros , 276a of the grammata as the shadow pictures of the living, animated logos . He uses a very subtle word-play here, the opposition of eidotos (true knowledge) and eidolon (shadow image).

(Platon, Werke , Vol. V, 276a)

We also find a statement in the same vein in Platon's revealing (and ominous) seventh letter . With all these indications and examples from different works, it is sure worth trying to find an explanation for Platon's interesting speculation.

When we look at the examples Sokrates gives for the similiarity of name and thing, we quickly see that Platon was careful to choose mostly words that have no physical referent. He derives his terms mostly from mythology and other greek terms of the ethical domain. He starts out with Homer as one of those people who are daemiourgon onomaton, the master in the art of forming words (390e). This is is highly significant because we find a direct correspondence to the daemiourgos of the Timaios, who is creating the world. [70] Then he goes through an assorted list of greek gods and heroes. He follows the genealogy list as given by Hesiodos, and in 409, he comes to the planets and stars, the four elements, and the four seasons. In 411 he talks about abstract and ethical terms like virtue, righteousness, etc. This gives an indication that Platon did not have the intention to show us the relations of names for physical objects but rather, to the thought and association structure contained in the greek epics, cosmologies, and mythologies. And here, it makes much more sense to speculate about a connection between the thing and the name, and the sounds of the names: This archaic thought structure was preserved and transmitted by the ancient aoidoi, as the poets, singers, and bards of greek antiquity were called.

So there is no problem to relate them to the phenomena perceived. The greek gods and mysteries literally "lived" in the rhymes and metres of ancient greek epical poetry, and it would be impossible to extract them from there. Another indication for this is Platon's use of pragma to denote the "things". He doesn't talk about a thingness-in-itself as Kant may have postulated, but about a going-on. That is for example the reciting of an epic text. While the text was recited, the mental imagery unfolded in the inner vision of the aoide and his audience. So the examples Platon refers to, his pragmata, were for the ancient greek audience of epics a true process, of the nervous system, and not concepts. In this respect, we can perceive an auto-poieitic element, as the sounds themselves create their meaning by rhythm, meter, and association. The rhythm and meter component cannot be treated here, so another work will be referred to which does an extensive discussion on that subject: J. Latacz (1979-1991) .

An example can be given to substantiate some statements made in Kratylos. In 434c, the letter rho is presented as meaning dynamis or kinesis, for "movement". And in fact, we can find the following terms denoting different kinds of movement in the semantic field of rho:

Under rho we find rhema , the river, the stream. rheo : everything in dissolution by flowing away and apart. panta rhei , as Heraklit said. This citation in Kratylos is the occasion by which we have any knowldege at all that Heraklit had uttered the statement. rhoae , rhoos , rhytos is again everything flowing.

rhoth - is connected to the sound of moving water.

rhombos is connected to kymbo and kyklos, and the modern derivation rotation.

rhyax , rhyas is the upwelling and breaking forth of forceful currents and undercurrents.

rhythmos is again connected to rhombos, kymbo and kyklos. It is the element of rhythmic recurrence in all cyclical processes, also the (well-formed) proportion of Pythagoras fame, leading us into harmonia.

Another approach supporting the semaiophonic hypothesis is the research on epic trance. The question of self-stabilizing neuronal homeostatic patterns evoked by metered poetry has been treated by Turner and Pöppel (in Rentschler 1988 [71], p.71-90). In their paper, Turner and Pöppel make a strong case for the effects of metered poetry on the development of a wholesome, whole-brained usage of the mind. Metered poetry has the capability of inducing the brain to a mode of functioning that is actually of a higher quality than the free-form prosaic mode of thinking that has become the norm in script based civilization. We thus have an indication that the epic poetry induces mental states and modes of functioning that are today loosely called "trance". This is often associated with the more prophetic aspects of aoidoi. In the indian Vedic tradition , we find the rishis , whose task was predominantly that of seers and prophets. It also gives us an opportunity to reconsider the tradeoffs humanity has bought into by adopting writing, occasion for a reconsideration of the inherent drawbacks of this powerful civilatory instrument. Platon also issues a stern warning about the use of script in Phaidros (274c - 276e [72]).

Pöppel and Turner write:

To reinforce their hypothesis the authors turn to new and speculative fields of scientific inquiry, which are variously termed "neurobiology", "biocybernetics", and "psychobiology". Quoting an Essay by Barbara Lex (1979), "The Neurobiology of Ritual Trance", they state:

We also find the forces that will work to suppress poetry:

They quote from Sidney:

If we apply the scientific findings to our hypothesis of the societal role of the Epic Tradition, we get this surprising picture: The Aoidoi of the past Oral Age served a much more important function than the history writers had allotted to them. They were the guardians of the sacred chants and poems whose purpose was much more than entertaining, or keeping a mythological record of the past, a sort of proto-history. They were the masters of the forgotten arts of attuning the soul with the body, of projecting the past and the future, and healing the cracks and fissures of human society. When civilization arose and humans adopted writing, the use of poetry as cultural memory medium was quickly discarded and relegated to purely entertainment purposes. The important cathartic role played by theater, and especially tragedy, in ancient greek society is one of the last vestiges of this once vigorous tradition. Once the art of the Aoidoi was forgotten, humanity was on full course into the Iron Age, the Kali Yuga, the Age of "Blood, Sweat and Tears".

While the epic tradition rested on a fairly select group of people, all traditional cultures had many occasions for participatory events where the larger part of the population was involved: festivals, dancing and drumming. Tribal african culture has developed the art of dance and rhythm to a high level. A particular case are the polyrhythmic traditions of this globe. These are particularly effective in attuning the brain halves. In such communal rhythmic events, it was not only the single person or a small group who experienced the wholesome effect of rhythm but the total community. Even though contemporary civilizations still have preserved remainders of this cultural heritage, it has become confined to specialist performers, with a passive audience whose role is now to applaud, or to move their bodies after the beat of the metronomic machinery that generates the sound.

The Greek Alphabet can be considered a mapping of the nexus sounds of the Greek aoide language [73] onto a graphemic system (mapping the stoichea onto the grammata, as Platon would have said). This is, while its ingeniosity and innovative value cannot be debated, in terms of information encoding a more or less makeshift and procrustean procedure. When the Greeks adapted it from the phoenician Aleph-Bayt system, they had to transfer the coding system of a very different language model. As semitic notation system, the Aleph-Bayt didn't contain vowel notation. For the Phoenicians, this was feasable because in semitic languages, one can determine the meaning of words by their characteristic 3-consonant root structure. This is not so in indo-european languages where there are many words that are distinguished by different vowels only. The consequence of this shifting around of sound value of symbols was that related sounds were assigned to letters spread evenly about the alphabet. The Epsilon and the Aeta are in different places of the sort order, as well as Omicron and Omega. This makes the after-the-fact detection of the nexus groups difficult, because the alphabetic sort order of dictionaries obscures the sound connections. The vowels form a particularly difficult subject because there are many combinations of vowels which are synonymous or part of the grammatical verbal flexion pattern: ea, ae, ai, io, oi, and so on. Another problem is caused by the spiritus asper, which is derived from the semitic sound value of Aleph, and for which only a diacritical mark exists, so that it is hard to track in the dictionary. Only in the latin alphabet was the letter "h" assigned to this sound.

When we go through many such word fields, we come to a grouping that corresponds to how the sounds are formed by the human voice apparatus. When the first element is repeated as last, this indicates that the structure is closed, i.e. forms a ring (gyros or kyklos). See also: Illustrations ILL:G1 to G5 for some hypothetical mappings of greek nexus sound structures and their connection to Hesiod 's Theogony . Such mappings can of course only be attempted seriously with the necessary technological infrastructure, ie a computer software system that allows to map them consistently. The written description as given here can only be a very makeshift approximation. Then, a multimedia representation is needed for the generation of the appropriate sounds.


The first group are the guttural nexus sounds: chi - gamma - xi - kappa - rho - chi


Then there is a group of dental sounds: delta - tau - theta - sigma - zeta - delta

delta in turn connects to the trilled rho.

The combination sound psi connects this group with the labials, and

xi connects to the guttural group


The next group are the labial sounds: beta - phi (combination) - psi (combination) - pi - beta


Lastly, the voces liquidae: lambda - my - ny


The vowels form a different class: alpha - iota - epsilon - aeta - omikron - omega - ypsilon

Greek morphology allows for a wide variance of vowel combinations that are synonymous, or have slight, but significant differences in meaning, like for example idea and eidea, or eidotos (true knowledge) with omikron and eidolon (false image) with omega.

Of importance is also the vocalization of the semitic Aleph as a, e/i, and o/u below: "The role of Aleph"

Let us picture the semaiophonic field of the words connected with the aoidos. We noted that the Aoidos is not only a poet and a bard but also a seer and prophet. Hesiod (1978) uses the word in numerous locations in his theogony . We can consider his work as a path leading us back into the aoide thought structure. Just by outlining the semaiophonic connections contained in the word aoidosare we able to set a starting point for the uncovering of this archaic thought system. Since european thought has been shaped so intimately, using the words of the european mother language, greek will serve best to introduce us back into this territory that humanity has lost 2500 years ago.

aoidae is the hymn or poetry, the myth.

audae is the sound, the voice, the call, the message.

aeido , aeisomai , asomai , means: to sing, call, shout, or making any sound when struck (like metal objects).

aoidos and eidos are sound-connected, leading into the field of idea.

In modern european language, the German and English word ode gives us the connection to audae. A hypothetical connection can be made to the Germanic god Odin, and still a little further, the Edda, the ancient nordic lore of which he is the main protagonist.

In direct connection to the nexus sound of aoidos is the verb aio . A remarkable aspect of aio is its omnidimensional meaning: It simultaneously means: to hear, to perceive, to sense, to see, to understand, to know. Then it also has the meaning of the aspiration, the spirit.

I will now explain the sound slide technique of singing aio. Most interesting is the semaiophonic structure of aio - it consists of vowels only. When this is pronounced in a specific way, sliding the vowel sounds into one another, we get all the possible human vowel productions wrapped up in one word. It must be noted that the epos is not supposed to be recited in flat prose voice but in singing, and so the tonalization has to be considered also:

aio -> A, {aeta/ä}, e, I, {ü/y}, U, Omikron, Omega [74]

According to the Kabbala, Aleph is the origin of all creation. This finds its parallel in the sound creation mythologies described by Marius Schneider. Marius Schneider gives a vowel sequence similar to aio in his explanation of the sound structure of the Sanskrit mantra aoum. Apart from the ending "m", the aio has a direct sound connection with the aoum .

There is a strong connection to the mythical cabbalistic meaning of Aleph in hebrew and Alif in arabic mythology. The significance of this field cannot be grasped with our common categories of knowing. The aoidos was the knower of a different kind of knowledge. This is the archaic knowledge, the living, breathing, aspirating pneuma of logos , of which Platon talks in Phaidros (276a) .

Possible semaiophonic connections are:

aer: air, wind, mist, fog.

aeros or eros.

aiora aiera : suspension, hanging or floating freely in the air.

aion : eternity.

The semitic language pattern knows sounds that are unusual for untrained european speakers. The most important of these is the Aleph, (in Hebr. also called Alif in Arabic, and Alep in linguistic usage). This Aleph is usually called glottal stop, and in the vocalized versions of Semitic script like Ugaritic, it was connected with a, e/i, and o/u [75]. Thus, aio is the one greek word consisting of all three vocalized forms of Aleph, and only these. In Semitic mythology, the Aleph is connected with the origo / origin, whose sound transforms into orchin, and it is called in Greek: the archae, in German: Ur-Grund. The common semaiophonic pattern of these three words is:


Apart from mythology, the simple production of any language sound begins with a flow of breath, and exactly this beginning of breath is the Aleph. Therefore, Aleph is quite literally the beginning of all language.

To {validate / refute} the hypothesis, we can now go systematically through the hymns and epics of Homer, Hesiodos, and the other examples of the epic legacy and search out and map all possible semaiophonic interconnections. If one wanted to do this in the manual way, charting all these interrelations and interdependencies, it would take a very long time. It would involve following through all the semantic field interconnections with the conventional philological tools we have: dictionaries, or thesauri. The alphabetical ordering is a linear mapping of the semaiophonic fields cut up, mutilated and thoroughly mixed and distorted by the completely arbitrary alphabetical boundaries.

This is the Biblical creation account which one might call the male myth of {in-formation / in-saemination}, as it is related in the abrahamitic religions, and filtered into western philosophy. Using the term in-saemination is a slightly un-etymological superimposition of homoio-phonic words derived from two different, but related languages. In Greek, the word saema- means sign, and from it are derived the modern terms semantics and semiotics. In Latin, there exists the word semen- for seed / semen. The Greek word for semen- in turn is sperma. This again connects easily to spiritus. The theme opened by Vilem Flusser can be mirrored with this superimposition. See also: Derrida (1981).

Vilem Flusser has kneaded the Biblical account into a creation myth of in-formation. Flusser (1990: 14-17), (Transl. A.G., insertions in square brackets [...] are by A.G.). When (the right kind of) dust is mixed with water, it becomes clay. And God formed the clay adamah, into the first human, Adam. Apparently, the hebrew adamah serves a double semantic role of meaning both dust in dry form and clay in wet form.




The {sexual / phallic} connotations that Vilem Flusser presents in the above account, are clear. Flusser has taken the opportunity to show us the equivalence of the ancient mythology with modern scientific and technological terminology and thought patterns. The structural ur-pattern (Ur-Muster) is a mode of "inscription" presented from the viewpoint of the {in-formation / in-saemination} device, the stylus (or spirit [79]), that furrows (in-forms) the "materia", the inert and passive mother substance, which is called the hylae in the writings of Aristoteles (hylae and morphae) [80]. The Mesopotamian clay adamah is the protoypical mother substance from which the mythologies of {in-formation / in-saemination} of western thought systems are fashioned. In the Freudian interpretation, this is of course the archetypical image of the phallos or the penis, that is the {in-formation / in-saemination} device, which is plowing the fertile fields of the female mother substance in the male-orchestrated game of generation and procreation, as it is so clearly described without any equal-rights pretense in the account of the proverbially patrist manifesto of Islamic culture, the Koran. (Eisler 1995: 19-20, 94-95, 212-215, 312, 326, 333, 411-412), also DeMeo (1986), Daly (1978), Rotter (1996). More on the phallic psyche in Margulis (1991: 153-184).

These results can be now used for the uncovering of some nexus patterns in the archaic history of european culture, which became obscured after the invention of the alphabet. By the preservation of the archaic thought structures in the Aoide epics, namely the Homeric and Hesiodic works, it is possible to reconstruct and re-connect the semaiophonic morphology of the old thought systems.

Now we will come to decypher an archaic nexus sound pattern of fertility as preserved in the greek language. It has to be emphasized here again, that these nexus sound patterns are not etymological roots. The matter discussed here does not belong to conventional indo-european linguistics[81]. There is a nexus sound connection of the bath and the water with a great many ritual and fertility contexts: the greek balaneion and latin balneum, the warm bath. In the earlier european {popular / rustic / pastoral} pharmacopeia, when a marriage was childless, the woman was sent to a warm bath spa. She usually came back home pregnant (personal communication, Andreas Kopp). If a b-w semaiophonic shift is made, we reach a connection leading to water:

{ba} -> {wa} -> {uva}

Then bamma, baptae-, baphae-,expressions connecting with dyeing (like the priced antique purple dye, the sign of nobility and royalty) and submerging in aqueous solution like the bathing of red hot steel in water for hardening. Then baptizo, baptiso, to submerge in water, to pour water over, this is the nexus of baptism. (It can be debated if there is a connection between baptaes, the baptizing priest, and papa, Papst and pope. The other, more common linguistic derivation is from the pater nexus.) The german word bad for bath. The baign in french.

Further examination of the greek sound morphology yields: bathys, bythos, bythios, bathos, bysso-deep, also high, broad, wide. The english abyss derives from byssos. A related nexus for deep is brychios. The German Grund gives an almost exact match for the greek nexus as ground, depth, profoundity, origin, etc [82]. When the vowels are omitted from bathys in the semitic manner [83], this gives bths. By this, the english plural form baths is identical to bathys. Then we have depth which is also derived from the bth pattern.

Bath cultures are strongly connected to archaic water and maternal cultures, like water nymphs, nereids, caves, maternal (womb) elements. See the cult of Aphrodite in Cyprus which carried over an extremely old middle-eastern and mediterranean water and fertility culture to the Greeks [84]. Its center temple was a bath cavern. Because of this strong connection to ancient heathen cults, the founding fathers of christian religion probably thought that bathing should be restricted to baptism, and that it should better be left at that, the good christian never allowing water to touch his/her body until death.

The rite of baptism corresponds, in the elevated form, to the rite of chraematizo, ie the anointing, using the holy substance of narde oil [85]. Derived from this, is the christos in greek version and messias in semitic, both meaning the anointed one. In christian tradition, the anointing has extended to the last sacrament given to the dying, and also to the rites connected with elevation to higher pontifical status among the christian hierarchy.

Together with the holy wine (mentioned above) as euphemism for blood (preferably menstrual [86]), we now have the cultural pattern of the holy water as euphemism for tears (and/or urine), and the holy oil, as euphemism for the semen or mother's milk (See below). They together make the holy trinity of body fluids [87], as elevated into higher ritual abstractions by the civilized religions, but among the native cultures, used quite often in their original appearance, as they are the products of the human body.

The greek nexus for grape is botry-, and the word for the pre-wine culture mead and beer alcoholic drinks is: bryton, leading to the modern ine-briation. brytikos the word for a drunkard.

bryo- bryazo- and boubo- (further down) are the words for swelling, being full of sap, like the vegetation in spring. As Frei Otto has noted, the property of swelling, which appears in a very interesting bio-technical principle called pneu[88] (see the pn nexus connection to penis, or is it rather pneuma as the linguists may have it?), is used everywhere in nature, and has been brought to the rest of us by Dr. Dunlop, and the Michelin man, but is otherwise quite tabooed, culturally. The bulbus reappears, innocuously, as the humble but ubiquitous electrical lightning bulb in our homes. The garlic, or greek bolbos, has a long history of being renowned as a sexual potency enhancer. (Nomen est omen). The same potency myth applies to that particularly highly swelleable animal, the leach[89].

Conversely the nexus word brotos- is used for the running blood of a wounded human (by Homer ). This giving the immediate connection to the christian blood-wine equivalence (and all other like myths). Also strong connection to human sacrifices. The nexus broto- applies to being human, being mortal. This means that archaic greek preserves a connection to creation mythology of humans out of blood [90]. The other, more recent (or aryan, patriarchic) word for human, anthropos is connected to andro- meaning male, man, manly, upright, brave, bold, courageous.

brocho- is a nexus for swallowing (note the english connection between swallow and swell), drinking (blood, wine, water, etc.). brochetos is the rain and everything connection to the sprinkling of water. (In New Guinea, the natives say for rain: The gods are pissing on us). See also the Australian Aborigine blood/ rain rituals, Strehlow (1971). brochis/os- is connected to loops, nooses, and snares, to catch and to strangle, or to hang. The direct connection between strangling and swelling is obvious, since the blocked blood flow makes the head swell, and its connection to the sexual domain re-appears in the black tantric and sado-masochistic practices of strangling connected with orgasm. Strangling tends to increase the intensity of orgasm, which seems to be more pronounced, the closer to real death it comes. When men are strangled to death (or hanged at the gallows), they often (or always???) have an ejaculation. With women, there is obviously no observable direct connection, but it can be assumed to hold the same. brogcho- and brochthos- is the gulp, swallowing, and the throat. broma-, bromae-, brosis-, brotis- is connected to biting, eating, but also the eaten up, as in wasted, deteriorated, worn out decrepit, depraved, and corrupted.

Then, the greek nexus for cow, is bous, or lat. bos, connecting to baca, and vaca[91], both nexus contain a strong connection to boubo- bykto- and byzo-,all nexus denoting swelling, which is a marked occurence of fertility, like the ripe grape, connecting with Bacchus, (Dionysos, or the regional dialect variations: aionysos, oenoysios[92]) the bacchanalian rites, then to the ripe breast, english slang: boobs, or udder, and the swelling of the female vulva or bulba, (most markedly to be seen on chimpanzees in estrus), english slang: pussy, and the swelling of the penis in erection. The Greek Baubo myth [93] is just one single appearance of a seemingly world-wide mythical / archetypal pattern of a woman who displays her pussy, in order to cure infertility. [94][95]

The boubo- nexus is also, not by coincidence, the sound symbol of rotting, before the final wasting away and decomposing, like the swelling of a corpse, and the nexus for bubonic plague.

The Genesis creation mythology [96], as well as greek accounts: Platon, Timaios. These mythologies are always given from the vantage point of the active-principle-centric thought system, ie. an active agent doing some kind of in-formation with some essentially passive matrix substance [97]. This cultural complex is common to all Christian, Judaic, and Islamic, as well as many other widespread thought systems, but it is not the only one possible. The polarization between active and passive principles is best exemplified by its greek nexus [98]: poie- and pathe-.

The nexus poie- indicates anything relating to actively doing, creating, bringing forth, and extends into the latin nexus pote- with all its european-language descendants: potestas, potency, potential, despotic etc., as well as the nexus pater, father, Vater, patre, patria, papa, pope, pitar (Sanskr.). Maturana makes direct use of this concept with his principle of autopoiesis. Between the nexus poie- and pathe- extends an expanse of greek key terms that can be found in the ancient natural philosophy treatises. The nexus poinae for the doing of penance. Anaximander uses the words tisis- or tino- for the doing of penance in his cosmology [99], which is an exact correspondence. The nexus poinae is in the onoma-semaiophonic sound space near poie-, and so gives some explication what Anaximander may have meant in his treatise. Further related to poie- is the nexus pono- or pone-: doing great work, duress, fatigue [100]. Then we can list the nexus prag- (ma), also extending to all things being done or worked. The particle pos means: how, why, in which manner (is something done). The nexus poth- denotes wish, desire, craving. The greek morphology shows a corresponding nexus connection between poie- and technae- (also pertaining to creating things, see below) which also gives a connection for the use of tisis- and tino- by Anaximander. The nexus paid- extends to matters of childhood, education, and instruction. The word paidotribe-, literally "to rub the boys", [101] extends to all matters of greek physical education. (See also the transmission of araete in Greek society.) The connection to the German words Zeugen, Zucht, Erziehung, und Züchtigung is also notable.

Extending from poth- we reach the nexus of pathe- and the related pas-cho-, pas-chein-, the nexus denoting the receiving of impressions, suffering, being emotionally impressionable (pathetic, pathos, em-pathy, pathology, etc.). It is specifically connected to sensation due to embodiment. The nexus greek: meter (mother) lat: mater, matrix, materia, material, matter, indicate the impressionable substance as the terms developed into modern scientific usage. The latin word substance is in itself an expression of hylemorphism, since its original meaning is "that which stays the same when all the impressions are subtracted [102]".

Then, there is the semaiophonic field of technae, where we find many similar-sounding words that bear some connection with creation, and crafting, but also deception and fraud. The field of technae and its nexus relations has the core semaiophonic field structure:

t, {e/a/y}, guttural:{ch, g, x, k}

teucho, teuxo,

tetykein: to create, form, manufacture, smithing, carpentering

the nexus verb form of the field

Sample Scholarship Essays

If you’re applying for a scholarship, chances are you are going to need to write an essay. Very few scholarship programs are based solely on an application form or transcript. The essay is often the most important part of your application; it gives the scholarship committee a sense of who you are and your dedication to your goals. You’ll want to make sure that your scholarship essay is the best it can possibly be.

Unless specified otherwise, scholarship essays should always use the following formatting:

  • Double spaced
  • Times New Roman font
  • 12 point font
  • One-inch top, bottom, and side margins

Other useful tips to keep in mind include:

  1. Read the instructions thoroughly and make sure you completely understand them before you start writing.
  2. Think about what you are going to write and organize your thoughts into an outline.
  3. Write your essay by elaborating on each point you included in your outline.
  4. Use clear, concise, and simple language throughout your essay.
  5. When you are finished, read the question again and then read your essay to make sure that the essay addresses every point.

For more tips on writing a scholarship essay, check out our Eight Steps Towards a Better Scholarship Essay .

The Book that Made Me a Journalist

Prompt: Describe a book that made a lasting impression on you and your life and why.

It is 6 am on a hot day in July and I’ve already showered and eaten breakfast. I know that my classmates are all sleeping in and enjoying their summer break, but I don’t envy them; I’m excited to start my day interning with a local newspaper doing investigative journalism. I work a typical 8-5 day during my summer vacation and despite the early mornings, nothing has made me happier. Although it wasn't clear to me then, looking back on my high school experiences and everything that led to me to this internship, I believe this path began with a particularly savvy teacher and a little book she gave me to read outside of class.

I was taking a composition class, and we were learning how to write persuasive essays. Up until that point, I had had average grades, but I was always a good writer and my teacher immediately recognized this. The first paper I wrote for the class was about my experience going to an Indian reservation located near my uncle's ranch in southwest Colorado. I wrote of the severe poverty experienced by the people on the reservation, and the lack of access to voting booths during the most recent election. After reading this short story, my teacher approached me and asked about my future plans. No one had ever asked me this, and I wasn't sure how to answer. I said I liked writing and I liked thinking about people who are different from myself. She gave me a book and told me that if I had time to read it, she thought it would be something I would enjoy. I was actually quite surprised that a high school teacher was giving me a book titled Lies My Teacher Told Me. It had never occurred to me that teachers would lie to students. The title intrigued me so much that on Friday night I found myself staying up almost all night reading, instead of going out with friends.

In short, the book discusses several instances in which typical American history classes do not tell the whole story. For example, the author addresses the way that American history classes do not usually address about the Vietnam War, even though it happened only a short time ago. This made me realize that we hadn't discussed the Vietnam War in my own history class! The book taught me that, like my story of the Indian reservation, there are always more stories beyond what we see on the surface and what we’re taught in school. I was inspired to continue to tell these stories and to make that my career.

For my next article for the class, I wrote about the practice of my own high school suspending students, sometimes indefinitely, for seemingly minor offenses such as tardiness and smoking. I found that the number of suspensions had increased by 200% at my school in just three years, and also discovered that students who are suspended after only one offense often drop out and some later end up in prison. The article caused quite a stir. The administration of my school dismissed it, but it caught the attention of my local newspaper. A local journalist worked with me to publish an updated and more thoroughly researched version of my article in the local newspaper. The article forced the school board to revisit their “zero tolerance” policy as well as reinstate some indefinitely suspended students.I won no favors with the administration and it was a difficult time for me, but it was also thrilling to see how one article can have such a direct effect on people’s lives. It reaffirmed my commitment to a career in journalism.

This is why I’m applying for this scholarship. Your organization has been providing young aspiring journalists with funds to further their skills and work to uncover the untold stories in our communities that need to be reported. I share your organization’s vision of working towards a more just and equitable world by uncovering stories of abuse of power. I have already demonstrated this commitment through my writing in high school and I look forward to pursuing a BA in this field at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. With your help, I will hone my natural instincts and inherent writing skills. I will become a better and more persuasive writer and I will learn the ethics of professional journalism.

I sincerely appreciate the committee’s time in evaluating my application and giving me the opportunity to tell my story. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Scholarship Essay Do's and Don'ts

Do:Follow the prompt and other instructions exactly. You might write a great essay but it may get your application rejected if you don’t follow the word count guidelines or other formatting requirements.
DON'T:Open your essay with a quote. This is a well-worn strategy that is mostly used ineffectively. Instead of using someone else’s words, use your own.
DON'T:Use perfunctory sentences such as, “In this essay, I will…”
DO:Be clear and concise. Make sure each paragraph discusses only one central thought or argument.
DON'T:Use words from a thesaurus that are new to you. You may end up using the word incorrectly and that will make your writing awkward. Keep it simple and straightforward. The point of the essay is to tell your story, not to demonstrate how many words you know.

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Planners and Searchers

Prompt: In 600 words or less, please tell us about yourself and why you are applying for this scholarship. Please be clear about how this scholarship will help you achieve your personal and professional goals.

Being African, I recognize Africa’s need for home- grown talent in the form of “planners” (assistants with possible solutions) and “searchers” (those with desperate need) working towards international development. I represent both. Coming from Zimbabwe my greatest challenge is in helping to improve the livelihoods of developing nations through sustainable development and good governance principles. The need for policy-makers capable of employing cross-jurisdictional, and cross- disciplinary strategies to solve complex challenges cannot be under-emphasized; hence my application to this scholarship program.

After graduating from Africa University with an Honors degree in Sociology and Psychology, I am now seeking scholarship support to study in the United States at the Master’s level. My interest in democracy, elections, constitutionalism and development stems from my lasting interest in public policy issues. Accordingly, my current research interests in democracy and ethnic diversity require a deeper understanding of legal processes of constitutionalism and governance. As a Master’s student in the US, I intend to write articles on these subjects from the perspective of someone born, raised, and educated in Africa. I will bring a unique and much-needed perspective to my graduate program in the United States, and I will take the technical and theoretical knowledge from my graduate program back with me to Africa to further my career goals as a practitioner of good governance and community development.

To augment my theoretical understanding of governance and democratic practices, I worked with the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) as a Programs Assistant in the Monitoring and Observation department. This not only enhanced my project management skills, but also developed my skills in research and producing communication materials. ZESN is Zimbabwe’s biggest election observation organization, and I had the responsibility of monitoring the political environment and producing monthly publications on human rights issues and electoral processes. These publications were disseminated to various civil society organizations, donors and other stakeholders. Now I intend to develop my career in order to enhance Africa’s capacity to advocate, write and vote for representative constitutions.

I also participated in a fellowship program at Africa University, where I gained greater insight into social development by teaching courses on entrepreneurship, free market economics, and development in needy communities. I worked with women in rural areas of Zimbabwe to setup income-generating projects such as the jatropha soap-making project. Managing such a project gave me great insight into how many simple initiatives can transform lives.

Your organization has a history of awarding scholarships to promising young students from the developing world in order to bring knowledge, skills and leadership abilities to their home communities. I have already done some of this work but I want to continue, and with your assistance, I can. The multidisciplinary focus of the development programs I am applying to in the US will provide me with the necessary skills to creatively address the economic and social development challenges and develop sound public policies for Third World countries. I thank you for your time and consideration for this prestigious award.

Scholarship Essay Do's and Don'ts

DO:Research the organization and make sure you understand their mission and values and incorporate them into your essay.
DO:Focus on your strengths and turn in any problems or weaknesses into a success story.
DO:Use actual, detailed examples from your own life to backup your claims and arguments as to why you should receive the scholarship.
DO:Proofread several times before finally submitting your essay.
DON'T:Rehash what is already stated on your resume. Choose additional, unique stories to tell sell yourself to the scholarship committee.
DON'T:Simply state that you need the money. Even if you have severe financial need, it won’t help to simply ask for the money and it may come off as tacky.

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Saving the Manatees

Prompt: Please give the committee an idea of who you are and why you are the perfect candidate for the scholarship.

It is a cliché to say that I’ve always known what I want to do with my life, but in my case it happens to be true. When I first visited Sea World as a young child, I fell in love with marine animals in general. Specifically, I felt drawn to manatees. I was compelled by their placid and friendly nature. I knew then and there that I wanted to dedicate my life to protecting these beautiful creatures.

Since that day in Orlando, I have spent much of my spare time learning everything there is to know about manatees. As a junior high and high school student, I attempted to read scholarly articles on manatees from scientific journals. I annoyed my friends and family with scientific facts about manatees-- such as that they are close relatives of elephants--at the dinner table. I watched documentaries, and even mapped their migration pattern on a wall map my sister gave me for my birthday.

When I was chosen from hundreds of applicants to take part in a summer internship with Sea World, I fell even more in love with these gentle giants. I also learned a very important and valuable lesson: prior to this internship, I had imagined becoming a marine biologist, working directly with the animals in their care both in captivity and in the wild. However, during the internship, I discovered that this is not where my strengths lie. Unfortunately, I am not a strong student in science or math, which are required skills to become a marine biologist. Although this was a disheartening realization, I found that I possess other strengths can still be of great value to manatees and other endangered marine mammals: my skills as a public relations manager and communicator. During the internship, I helped write new lessons and presentations for elementary school groups visiting the park and developed a series of fun activities for children to help them learn more about manatees as well as conservation of endangered species in general. I also worked directly with the park’s conservation and communication director, and helped develop a new local outreach program designed to educate Floridians on how to avoid hitting a manatee when boating. My supervisor recommended me to the Save the Manatee Foundation so in addition to my full-time internship at Sea World, I interned with the Save the Manatee Foundation part-time. It was there that I witnessed the manatee rescue and conservation effort first hand, and worked directly with the marine biologists in developing fund-raising and awareness-raising campaigns. I found that the foundation’s social media presence was lacking, and, using skills I learned from Sea World, I helped them raise over $5,000 through a Twitter challenge, which we linked to the various social media outlets of the World Wildlife Federation.

While I know that your organization typically awards scholarships to students planning to major in disciplines directly related to conservation such as environmental studies or zoology, I feel that the public relations side of conservation is just as important as the actual work done on the ground. Whether it is reducing one’s carbon footprint, or saving the manatees, these are efforts that, in order to be successful, must involve the larger public. In fact, the relative success of the environmental movement today is largely due to a massive global public relations campaign that turned environmentalism from something scientific and obscure into something that is both fashionable and accessible to just about anyone. However, that success is being challenged more than ever before--especially here in the US, where an equally strong anti-environmental public relations campaign has taken hold. Therefore, conservationists need to start getting more creative.

I want to be a part of this renewed effort and use my natural abilities as a communicator to push back against the rather formidable forces behind the anti-environmentalist movement. I sincerely hope you will consider supporting this non-traditional avenue towards global sustainability and conservation. I have already been accepted to one of the most prestigious communications undergraduate programs in the country and I plan to minor in environmental studies. In addition, I maintain a relationship with my former supervisors at Save the Manatee and Sea World, who will be invaluable resources for finding employment upon graduation. I thank the committee for thinking outside the box in considering my application.

Scholarship Essay Do's and Don'ts

DO:Tell a story. Discuss your personal history and why those experiences have led you to apply for these scholarships.
DO:Write an outline. If you’ve already started writing or have a first draft, make an outline based on what you’ve written so far. This will help you see whether your paragraphs flow and connect with one another.
DON'T:Write a generic essay for every application. Adapt your personal statement for each individual scholarship application.
DO:Run spellcheck and grammar check on your computer but also do your own personal check. Spellcheck isn’t perfect and you shouldn't rely on technology to make your essay perfect.

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