Saturday, October 14, 2017

Jaredites and their Language – Part III

Continuing from the previous post regarding the language of the Jaredites and its possible connection to the language of the Hebrews. 
   Opposed to Edenics and Mozeson’s work is Mark Liberman, of the University of Pennsylvania Linguistics Department, who has written of this: “I’m not aware of any respected academics who accept the Edenics theory.” Liberman dismissed Edenics as “crank etymology," and added that Mozeson’s theory “seems to be that God was a sort of weak cryptographer, who didn’t actually create any new languages after Babel but simply mixed up the old ones in ways that he has figured out how to decrypt.” Liberman went on to say, “Mozeson is not the first person with eccentric theories of etymology.
Then there is Goropius Becanus, who was a Dutch physician, linguist, and humanist in the 16th century born Jan Gerartsen van Gorp, “who theorized that Antwerpian Brabantic”—a Dutch-Flemish dialect—“spoken in the region between the Scheldt and Meuse Rivers, was the original language spoken in Paradise.”
    For Liberman, the word connections that Mozeson finds are “mostly coincidences. For example, according to the OED, modern English ‘eye’ is from Old English éage, corresponding to Old Frisian âge, Old Saxon ôga, Old High German ouga, Old Norse auga and Gothic augo. Meanwhile, ‘fruit’ is from Old French fruit, Latin frūctusfrugv root of fruī to enjoy. In those cases, the well-documented earlier forms are much less similar to the alleged Hebrew cognates."
    As for ‘wine,’ there may be a connection, but even if there is one, Liberman claims that the direction is not clear. “There’s strong evidence from archaeology and biology as well as from historical linguistics that Mozeson’s theory is not true.” Furthermore, Liberman added, “his methodology can be used to ‘prove’ that any randomly selected language is the parent of all other languages.”
    Mozeson is hardly chastened by the attacks against him. “The extremes to which the academic establishment goes to hiding the Hebrew origin of words are often absurd,” he said, lashing out at his critics. “There are some English words that even the etymologists can’t deny have Hebrew origins—most of these have a Jewish religious context. Anything beyond this they can’t bear to admit. Take for example the word ‘amen’ (agreement or assent). The Oxford dictionary grudgingly admits that it originates from the Hebrew amen. Yet when it comes to the related word ‘amenable’ (open and responsive to suggestion), Oxford claims the source is from the Latin minari, to threaten. Who here is feeling threatened by whom?”

Another linguist, F. Merritt Ruhlen, Anthropological Sciences and Human Biology at Stanford University and co-director of the Santa Fe Institute Program on the Evolution of Human Languages, is also working on a Mother Tongue effort, and believes that “good evidence for a proto language existed in the ancient past and that it is possible to identify some lexical characteristics of that language through comparative analysis of today’s language families” (The Origin of Language: Tracing the Evolution of the Mother Tongue, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken NJ, 1994/1996).
    It should be noted that Mozeson incorporates another, though subltle, departure from mainstream linguistics, and that is the reconstruction of Edenics by comparison of cognates (i.e., similar word forms found in different languages) in many languages at once. Nor is such a method unknown in linguistics and is the kind of method Ruhlen uses, as did his predecessor Joseph H. Greenberg, also of Stanford, the latter’s work in linguistic typology and the genetic classification of languages, and worked as a Codebreaker during World War II, and was a recipient of the highest award for a Linguistics, the Gold Medal of Philology.
    Mozeson points to the obvious cognation of some English words with Hebrew words and supported by other languages, such as Chinese and Eskimo. However, to mainstream scholars any relation between Hebrew and non-semitic languages "is anathema." In fact, Mozeson states of this: “They ought to be called cognates, but linguists would never concede that the English and Hebrew words share a common ancestry.”
    It is of interest that Mozeson notes Noah Webster, original publisher of Webster’s dictionary, included numerous Hebrew roots for English words, but most of these were later expunged in efforts to modernize the lexicon. According to Mozeson, “Etymologists would have us believe that language was created via a process of evolution over thousands of years, even though no primitive languages have ever been discovered. 
    It was none other than Naom Chomsky who famously proved that language had to come about spontaneously. Chomsky and other Generative linguists like him have shown that 5,000 to 6,000 languages in the world, despite their different grammars, do share a set of syntactic rules and principles. In a 1998 New York Times interview, Chomsky explained his theory saying, “Imagine that some divine super engineer, in a single efficient strike, endowed humans with the power of language where formerly they had none.”
    And Mozeson can cite a number of leading academics who support somewhat related theories. These include Michael Astour, author of Hellenosemitica; Martin Bernal, author of Black Athena; William Worrell; French scholar Albert Cuny; Danish scholar Hermann Moller, and others.
    Perhaps the strongest support for Mozeson’s own work came from ancient-language expert Cyrus Gordon of New York University, one of the true giants in the fields of Biblical studies and ancient Near Eastern Studies, as well as world famous semioticist (study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation), who sent Mozeson a personal note stating: “Your work is full of interesting comparisons—many of them new to me. The subject has a huge bibliography. … You must know that down to recent centuries, Hebrew as the original language and mother of all languages was a widely held view among intellectuals.”
    Incredibly, due the controversial nature of Mozeson’s theories, Gordon regretted that he could not publicly support Mozeson’s work, saying that such a move would jeopardize the careers of the students who received their doctorates from him. Mozeson says that for 25 years he agreed to keep Gordon’s esteem for his work secret so as not to harm the professor’s students. (A small portion of it appeared in The Origin of Speeches). "Only now that an entire generation of academics has passed," he said, "did he agree to show the full letter."
    In fact several academics who wrote approbations for Mozeson’s work in The Origin of Speeches and The Word refused to be interviewed for recent articles. According to Hezy Laing, “Not everyone, however, has been apprehensive about speaking out about a link between Hebrew and Western languages. While Mozeson is frustrated by the summary dismissal of his ideas, he takes comfort in the fact that other major “unifying” theories bitterly opposed by the academic establishment gradually became accepted due to the weight of evidence.”
As an example, it has only been in the last couple of decades that scientists have become more accepting of a super continent, now considering Pangaea as having existed. In addition, for more than a century scientist also disputed that humanity had common ancestry, but new DNA evidence reveals that Homo Sapiens do in fact share mutual ancestry and perhaps even a mutual ancestor. As Laing stated: “Since we know all humanity comes from the same people it makes sense to assume we shared a common language too.” As far as Mozeson is concerned, the only issue that remains to be determined, he said, is: What was the structure of that primordial language?
    Certainly, the case for it being Hebrew, or a form of it originally, does make a lot of sense.

1 comment:

  1. I descend from those old Dutchmen from the Meus river. That is the language of paradise lol.