Sunday, 01 January 2012 02:30

The Origin of Speeches: Intelligent Design in Language by Isaac Mozeson

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The Origin of Speeches begins by recapping the history of our views about the source of language. It then debunks the errors that infuse your dictionary, like those about how words in "unrelated" languages could only have identical sound and sense by "coincidence." It does so with both quality and quantity of data. The next chapters give anyone the skills to sleuth out the Edenic origin of any human word. One learns about letters that shift in sound and location, and letters that drop in and drop out. We discover how Edenics works much like other natural sciences, such as chemistry and physics. Like-sounding opposite words were certainly programmed, not pragmatically evolved.
 
  • Paperback:300 pages
  • Publisher:Lightcatcher Books (March 30, 2006)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:0971938881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0971938885

Review

This review is from: The Origin of Speeches: Intelligent Design in Language (Paperback)

Mozeson's "Edenics" hypothesis is truly intriguing, even if controversial. The idea of a single mother tongue for all of human languages has become a largely standard belief among linguists (see the NOVA video, "In Search of the First Language", for an overview of the issue of language origins) and the theoretical basis of Edenics is, in my opinion, as legitimate of a highly-contested theory of language origins as other controversial theories such as Nostraticism. Such endeavors are inherently hampered by the lack of solid (i.e. "accepted") empirical data and often severely criticized by the academic establishment (note how the linguists in the NOVA video mentioned above get a bit reactionary when giving their view of the Nostratic theory). However, a significant difference between theories like the Nostratic theory and Mozeson's is that (in keeping with his hypothesis that classical Hebrew is the nearest extant equivalent to "Edenic") Mozeson puts more weight on the recursion of root-word _consonant_ patterns in seemingly unrelated languages, following the analogy of Hebrew, which was originally written only in consonants. This changes how data is looked at, because it minimizes the interpretive "clutter" resulting from the terribly fluid nature of vowel qualities in language change, which allows for more clarity in comparing data from seemingly disparate languages. Why only three stars? While Mozeson explains in the introduction that he is targeting a popular rather than an academic readership, that is poor justification for the jargon-ridden, propagandist tone of the book. This obsession with punning, jargonism, and expressing his ideas through the lens of an us-vs.-them mindset severely detracts from the appeal and readability of the book. As a college English instructor (with a background in biblical languages and descriptive linguistics), I typically grade down for that kind of language use because it hinders effective and convincing writing. Reworking the material in a more appropriate style (e.g. that of an academic monograph) would really help, as Mozeson presents some rather intriguing data to support his hypothesis.

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