Friday, May 06, 2005


Language Log vs. Kansas Board of Education

Mark Liberman and Co. over at Language Log have wisely bowed out of "hearings" in front of the Kansas Board of Education on the intelligent design of the English language and policies regarding teaching "linguistic creationism" generally. Note the statement by Immanuel Quierbaiter, who will be testifying:"Anyone who takes an unbiased look at the intricacies of the English language as detailed in Harvey's English Grammar will see that it shows evidence of having been carefully designed for its communicative purpose. It is beyond belief that such a system could have simply evolved through random processes of change."These linguistic creationists claim that the perfection of English occured just in time for the translation of the King James Edition of the Bible in 1611. Interesting to note, then, that this new "perfection" changed the word "usurers," who, according to earlier translations, Jesus cast from God's temple, to "money changers," as though bankers were simply giving out Drachmas for Pesos in an even exchange. This new translation, of course, made it much easier to make business and Christian teachings jibe. Handy indeed! By the way: who exactly has argued that language develops "randomly"? As far as I know, linguistics is all about mapping the development - and the rules that govern this development. Moreover, if English is so perfect, then why, as George Bernard Shaw noted, can we spell "fish" as "ghoti"?

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