Reflections on Biblical and
Christian Philosophy

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Comments on the Concept of Language

Rousas J. Rushdoony.  "History is in part not only a long struggle for the minds, bodies, and properties of men… but it is also a battle with respect to language.  An instrument of power at Babel, language was, according to Scripture, confused by God in order to create diversity and the possibility of separate and integral developments.  Men fail to understand one another not only when they speak alien tongues, but when they use the same words with very diverse meanings.  Communists and conservative U. S. Republicans alike use the word “republic,” but with radically different interpretations.  Christians and relativists both speak of “law” with no identity of meaning.  Again, the definition of liberty is not limited to its nine dictionary definitions but has, in its civil and religious connotations, as many meanings almost as there are political parties and religions in existence.  As a result, the very fact of a common tongue and an identical word can sometimes, on the presupposition of a necessary cultural unity, further the confusion of speech.  As a result, many cults and movements have sought at times a private and esoteric speech only to find staleness and flatness of definition from lack of public conflict.  Moreover, in general usage words and communication-forms change, and they sometimes change so slowly that the erosion is imperceptible even when complete."  (This Independent Republic, page 1, 1978)

Webster's 1828 Dictionary.  "1. Human speech; the expression of ideas by words or significant articulate sounds, for the communication of thoughts. Language consists in the oral utterance of sounds, which usage has made the representatives of ideas. When two or more persons customarily annex the same sounds to the same ideas, the expression of these sounds by one person communicates his ideas to another. This is the primary sense of language, the use of which is to communicate the thoughts of one person to another through the organs of hearing. Articulate sounds are represented by letters, marks or characters which form words. Hence language consists also in...

 

2. Words duly arranged in sentences, written, printed or engraved, and exhibited to the eye.

 

3. The speech or expression of ideas peculiar to a particular nation. Men had originally one and the same language, but the tribes or families of men, since their dispersion, have distinct languages.

 

4. Style; manner of expression.  Others for language all their care express.

5. The inarticulate sounds by which irrational animals express their feelings and wants. Each species of animals has peculiar sounds, which are uttered instinctively, and are understood by its own species, and its own species only.

 

6. Any manner of expressing thoughts. Thus we speak of the language of the eye, a language very expressive and intelligible.

 

7. A nation, as distinguished by their speech. Daniel 3."


 

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