Big Heads in Old Chinese

Michael Carr, Paper presented at the 18th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics, August 27-29 1985, Bangkok.

Abstract: The historical linguistics of the big head words fit in well with the bicameral hypothesis. During the Shang dynasty (ca. 1500 – 1050 B.C., when Jaynes says people were still bicameral), many oracle graphs were written with unusual heads. During the Zhou dynasty (ca. 1050-221 B.C., when he says consciousness became prevalent), the heads on these graphs were graphically altered, and other archaic words for ‘big head’ wre used to mean ‘great; grand’. By the beginning of the Han dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D., when people were undisputably conscious), all the big head words had become obsolete.