05 December 2005

The Wrathful Dispersion Theory of Linguistic Evolution

I've been distracted by some old-fashioned print-publication-related onuses. (Yeah, that seems to be the English plural, although the Latin is onera. In banking, an on-us check is one drawn on the clearing bank's own reserves and thus not passed on through to the Federal Reserve's check-clearing system.) Anyway, that's my excuse for neglecting to note an important new development in historical and comparative linguistics: Wrathful Dispersion Theory.
The opponents of Wrathful Dispersion maintain that it is really just Babelism, rechristened so that it might fly under the radar of those who insist that religion has no place in the state-funded classroom. Babelism was clearly rooted in the Judeo-Christian story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11: 1–9); it held that the whole array of modern languages was created by God at a single stroke, for the immediate purpose of disrupting humanity's hubristic attempt to build a tower that would reach to heaven: "Let us go down," God says to Himself, "and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." Wrathful Dispersion is couched in more cautiously neutral language; rather than tying linguistic diversity to a specific biblical event, it merely argues that the differences among modern languages are too perverse to have arisen spontaneously, and must therefore be the work of some wrathful (and powerful) disperser who deliberately set out to accomplish a confusion of tongues. When asked in court to speculate about the possible identity of the disperser, Michael Moringa, a prominent proponent of WD, demurred, saying that the theory makes no claims about the answer to that question, and that it certainly does not insist that the Disperser is the God of Genesis. Moringa has, however, elsewhere avowed a deep personal belief in the Christian God as the power responsible, as have other WD theorists. Indeed, there appear to be no atheists in the foxholes on the WD side of this war, and for that matter, no Jews or Muslims, either; the WD movement is composed almost exclusively of evangelical Protestants.
via Language Hat via Language Log

I'm sure the new Pope will clear this up for any doubting Thomists.

UPDATE: I hope it wasn't necessary to include <clever parody> tags on the blockquote.

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