Linguistic Creationism
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19-06-2017, 10:41 AM (This post was last modified: 19-06-2017 10:45 AM by RocketSurgeon76.)
Linguistic Creationism
Re-reading an older thread in which the Christian in the conversation referred to "philologists" (a term I had to look up) whom he claimed backed up his interpretation of a couple of words in the Torah (they don't), I got to thinking about the concept of studying language and how it changes through time. I noticed the practice has several comparisons to the field of evolutionary biology.

A language is an "inherited trait", like a set (or pool) of genes, that must be fairly consistent from generation to generation, with regional variations.

Despite being passed down with each generation, there are distinct regional differences in the pattern, as well as an observable "mutation rate" as the gene expression-- the way certain words are used or spelled-- changes over time, often within a generation or two.

They can use the known mutation rate of a language to date ancient documents, by knowing approximately when certain words or ways of speaking emerged in the language pool.

They can use commonalities between languages to trace the evolutionary "tree" of language, such as the Indo-European family of languages. (Spanish, English, Hindustani, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, Punjabi, German, French and Persian are all Indo-European, and many more... about 46% of all people on earth speak a language descended from Indo-European.) Or in shorter terms, we can see the "Romance" family of languages, descended from the (now extinct) Latin: French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Italian, and a couple of others.

Even within a single language, influences from other "gene pools" can have a staggering effect, such as the rapid evolution of English in the wake of the French-speaking Norman invasion. In only a thousand years, we've gone from this:

Hwæt! We Gar-Dena in gear-dagum
þeod-cyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon!
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum
monegum mægþum meodo-setla ofteah;
egsode eorl[as] syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden; he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum, weorð-myndum þah,
oðæt him æghwylc þara ymb-sittendra
ofer hron-rade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan. Þæt wæs god cyning!

That's English! That's the first few lines of Beowulf, in the language we're speaking now. Except it evolved... significantly.

So why do I mention "linguistic Creationism"?

Because according to Biblical literalism, God Himself came down to: "confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech".

In order to accept the Biblical account, literally, you are required to believe that there was only one language, at one point, and that God deliberately created myriad new languages in order to stop the construction of a tower that had its top "in the heavens"... somehow. Why, then, do we still see the slow evolution and diversification of languages, as a phenomenon, rather than a sudden emergence of numerous, unrelated (God-created) languages?

In order to accept the Biblical account, they also have to account for the fact that 46% of modern languages show descent from a common tongue, while 54% do not come from Indo-European. Why should there be any relation at all? A few, like the Latin->French/Spanish/Italian/Portuguese thing, yes, that could be easily explained by variation "among created Kinds" (as Creationists say), but not almost half the planet. That seems to be the exact opposite of the claim made by the Babel story.

Yet I've never heard it brought up by a single Biblical literalist, except to tell the story without question. Why?

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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19-06-2017, 10:44 AM
RE: Linguistic Creationism
At work.

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19-06-2017, 11:09 AM
RE: Linguistic Creationism
Hey, I am officially a philologist and I don't appreciate being put in quotation marks, thank you very muchly! Dodgy

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19-06-2017, 11:30 AM
RE: Linguistic Creationism
The simple answer to your question at the end is if they're gonna ignore the 8 million or so other pieces of evidence, why make an exception for linguistic evolution? It doesn't fit the puzzle they've already convinced themselves they've solved so they put it aside. Such is the case for almost every other contested issue and for almost every person on both sides of said issue. Human nature is to accept only those pieces of data that support our existing world view. And for the record, I do not claim to be the exception Big Grin

It is an interesting field, though. My interest in it is more for the purpose of learning languages, since finding commonalities with languages you already know and understanding how the differences became differences makes the learning process go faster.

Asian languages have always fascinated me, in particular the relationships and somewhat debated differences between written and spoken Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

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19-06-2017, 01:32 PM
RE: Linguistic Creationism
(19-06-2017 10:41 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  Re-reading an older thread in which the Christian in the conversation referred to "philologists" (a term I had to look up) whom he claimed backed up his interpretation of a couple of words in the Torah (they don't), I got to thinking about the concept of studying language and how it changes through time. I noticed the practice has several comparisons to the field of evolutionary biology.

A language is an "inherited trait", like a set (or pool) of genes, that must be fairly consistent from generation to generation, with regional variations.

Despite being passed down with each generation, there are distinct regional differences in the pattern, as well as an observable "mutation rate" as the gene expression-- the way certain words are used or spelled-- changes over time, often within a generation or two.

They can use the known mutation rate of a language to date ancient documents, by knowing approximately when certain words or ways of speaking emerged in the language pool.

They can use commonalities between languages to trace the evolutionary "tree" of language, such as the Indo-European family of languages. (Spanish, English, Hindustani, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, Punjabi, German, French and Persian are all Indo-European, and many more... about 46% of all people on earth speak a language descended from Indo-European.) Or in shorter terms, we can see the "Romance" family of languages, descended from the (now extinct) Latin: French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Italian, and a couple of others.

Even within a single language, influences from other "gene pools" can have a staggering effect, such as the rapid evolution of English in the wake of the French-speaking Norman invasion. In only a thousand years, we've gone from this:

Hwæt! We Gar-Dena in gear-dagum
þeod-cyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon!
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum
monegum mægþum meodo-setla ofteah;
egsode eorl[as] syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden; he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum, weorð-myndum þah,
oðæt him æghwylc þara ymb-sittendra
ofer hron-rade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan. Þæt wæs god cyning!

That's English! That's the first few lines of Beowulf, in the language we're speaking now. Except it evolved... significantly.

So why do I mention "linguistic Creationism"?

Because according to Biblical literalism, God Himself came down to: "confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech".

In order to accept the Biblical account, literally, you are required to believe that there was only one language, at one point, and that God deliberately created myriad new languages in order to stop the construction of a tower that had its top "in the heavens"... somehow. Why, then, do we still see the slow evolution and diversification of languages, as a phenomenon, rather than a sudden emergence of numerous, unrelated (God-created) languages?

In order to accept the Biblical account, they also have to account for the fact that 46% of modern languages show descent from a common tongue, while 54% do not come from Indo-European. Why should there be any relation at all? A few, like the Latin->French/Spanish/Italian/Portuguese thing, yes, that could be easily explained by variation "among created Kinds" (as Creationists say), but not almost half the planet. That seems to be the exact opposite of the claim made by the Babel story.

Yet I've never heard it brought up by a single Biblical literalist, except to tell the story without question. Why?

It's only micro evolution you're seeing. Big Grin

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19-06-2017, 02:41 PM
RE: Linguistic Creationism
(19-06-2017 11:09 AM)Vera Wrote:  Hey, I am officially a philologist and I don't appreciate being put in quotation marks, thank you very muchly! Dodgy

A "Philologist" studies Phil(s). I don't think I actually know any Phils *to* study.

Seriously there are (for example) language experts that can date ancient written things to the decade, due to changes in vocabulary, usage and spelling. Me jelly of them. That's one hell of an expertise.

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19-06-2017, 03:03 PM (This post was last modified: 19-06-2017 03:19 PM by Vera.)
RE: Linguistic Creationism
For this quip, Bucky, my dear, thou shalt see me at Philippi Dodgy

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(Also, people here look at me real funny when I told them I did study philology at uni. That's what we called it, damn it! It's a real thing. For realz!)

(But yeah, languages are wonderful. I wanted to be an etymologist as a kid. The history of words and languages is fascinating.)

ETA: Rocket, I was kidding about the philology. Because people here have no idea what the word even means and I found it funny when you said pretty much the same, is all Rolleyes )

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19-06-2017, 03:17 PM
RE: Linguistic Creationism
It wasn't the philology. I didn't think it was a "fake degree" or something silly like that. It was the assertion by this guy in this thread that (obviously fundamentalist) philologists backed up his assertion about the correct translation of the Hebrew word nephesh, based on a concept of "animating breath", as the soul of a person into the dualist Christian concept in the English word "soul" in the modern Bible.

"Just waiting for you show all those lexicons, linguistic experts and Hebrew philologists wrong cupcake. Where is the claim made in any scholarly literature that every time the word rendered as 'soul' in the Old Testament it's a mistranslation? What modern scholarly source confidently claims such a thing?"

It's a favorite tactic of fundamentalist apologists. They throw out a bunch of impressive-sounding words/titles, and hope that intimidates their audience into overlooking the fact that their arguments are without real substance.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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19-06-2017, 05:15 PM (This post was last modified: 19-06-2017 05:27 PM by Reltzik.)
RE: Linguistic Creationism
(19-06-2017 10:41 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  Re-reading an older thread in which the Christian in the conversation referred to "philologists" (a term I had to look up) whom he claimed backed up his interpretation of a couple of words in the Torah (they don't), I got to thinking about the concept of studying language and how it changes through time. I noticed the practice has several comparisons to the field of evolutionary biology.

A language is an "inherited trait", like a set (or pool) of genes, that must be fairly consistent from generation to generation, with regional variations.

Despite being passed down with each generation, there are distinct regional differences in the pattern, as well as an observable "mutation rate" as the gene expression-- the way certain words are used or spelled-- changes over time, often within a generation or two.

They can use the known mutation rate of a language to date ancient documents, by knowing approximately when certain words or ways of speaking emerged in the language pool.

They can use commonalities between languages to trace the evolutionary "tree" of language, such as the Indo-European family of languages. (Spanish, English, Hindustani, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, Punjabi, German, French and Persian are all Indo-European, and many more... about 46% of all people on earth speak a language descended from Indo-European.) Or in shorter terms, we can see the "Romance" family of languages, descended from the (now extinct) Latin: French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Italian, and a couple of others.

Even within a single language, influences from other "gene pools" can have a staggering effect, such as the rapid evolution of English in the wake of the French-speaking Norman invasion. In only a thousand years, we've gone from this:

Hwæt! We Gar-Dena in gear-dagum
þeod-cyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon!
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum
monegum mægþum meodo-setla ofteah;
egsode eorl[as] syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden; he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum, weorð-myndum þah,
oðæt him æghwylc þara ymb-sittendra
ofer hron-rade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan. Þæt wæs god cyning!

That's English! That's the first few lines of Beowulf, in the language we're speaking now. Except it evolved... significantly.

So why do I mention "linguistic Creationism"?

Because according to Biblical literalism, God Himself came down to: "confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech".

In order to accept the Biblical account, literally, you are required to believe that there was only one language, at one point, and that God deliberately created myriad new languages in order to stop the construction of a tower that had its top "in the heavens"... somehow. Why, then, do we still see the slow evolution and diversification of languages, as a phenomenon, rather than a sudden emergence of numerous, unrelated (God-created) languages?

In order to accept the Biblical account, they also have to account for the fact that 46% of modern languages show descent from a common tongue, while 54% do not come from Indo-European. Why should there be any relation at all? A few, like the Latin->French/Spanish/Italian/Portuguese thing, yes, that could be easily explained by variation "among created Kinds" (as Creationists say), but not almost half the planet. That seems to be the exact opposite of the claim made by the Babel story.

Yet I've never heard it brought up by a single Biblical literalist, except to tell the story without question. Why?

HEY!

That's not REAL evolution!

That's mutations of the phenotype, not the genotype!

*absconds before the debate-grenade he just tossed into the thread blows*

EDIT-ADDITION: And there's no speciation at ALL.

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19-06-2017, 05:17 PM
RE: Linguistic Creationism
(19-06-2017 01:32 PM)Chas Wrote:  It's only micro evolution you're seeing. Big Grin

Yep, they're all the same kind.

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