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The Awful German Language - Wikipedia
The new nomenclature developed by Lavoisier was immediately recognized as “a striking illustration of the effect of appropriated and well-defined expressions, in aiding the intellectual powers” by the Scottish philosopher Dugald Stewart (1753-1828), who in his treatise on cognitive psychology (, 1792) emphasized the power of language “as an instrument of thought.”
In a bulky volume of Poetry entitled , which must be known to most of my Readers, as it is circulated everywhere and in fact constitutes at this day the poetical library of our Schools, I find a number of epitaphs in verse, of the last century; and there is scarcely one which is not thoroughly tainted by the artifices which have over-run our writings in metre since the days of Dryden and Pope. Energy, stillness, grandeur, tenderness, those feelings which are the pure emanations of Nature, those thoughts which have the infinitude of truth, and those expressions which are not what the garb is to the body but what the body is to the soul, themselves a constituent part and power or function in the thought—all these are abandoned for their opposites,—as if our countrymen, through successive generations, had lost the sense of solemnity and pensiveness (not to speak of deeper emotions) and resorted to the tombs of their forefathers and contemporaries, only to be tickled and surprised. Would we not recoil from such gratification, in such a place, if the general literature of the country had not co-operated with other causes insidiously to weaken our sensibilities and deprave our judgments? Doubtless, there are shocks of event and circumstance, public and private, by which for all minds the truths of Nature will be elicited; but sorrow for that individual or people to whom these special interferences are necessary, to bring them into communion with the inner spirit of things! for such intercourse must be profitless in proportion as it is unfrequently irregular and transient. Words are too awful an instrument for good and evil, to be trifled with; they hold above all other external powers a dominion over thoughts. If words be not (recurring to a metaphor before used) an incarnation of the thought, but only a clothing for it, then surely will they prove an ill gift; such a one as those possessed vestments, read of in the stories of superstitious times, which had power to consume and to alienate from his right mind the victim who put them on. Language, if it do not uphold, and feed, and leave in quiet, like the power of gravitation or the air we breathe, is a counter-spirit, unremittingly and noiselessly at work to derange, to subvert, to lay waste, to vitiate, and to dissolve.
Mark Twain: "The Awful German Language" - …
When a language dies, a way of thinking dies with it. Some Native American languages have completely different concepts of past and present embedded in their language. Russian verbs offer a variety of ways to express actions, that Hebrew doesn't have, but Hebrew has a way of expressing actions that a person does for others that doesn't exist in Russian. Romance languages have well-defined ways to express things that should happen, but not necessarily do - a trait not found in every language. This list could go on forever.
Amir E. Aharoni, Jerusalem, Israel
I have studied languages reconstructed completely from written records, and know first-hand the enormous scholarly value in preserving languages. But languages are not here for our intellectual amusement. The economic and social benefits of fewer languages to the living world are clear - that's why it's happening. People should not be made to feel guilty about releasing past traditions, linguistic or otherwise. They do not live in a museum. Rather than diminishing a person's sense of self-worth by telling them that they are bad for giving up old traditions, maybe they should be lauded for not being trapped in the past, and shown their intrinsic value as human beings regardless of the culture in which they partake!
Scott, San Francisco, USA
‘The Awful German Language’ According ..
This essay has already exceeded its appropriate length. In I intend to show some practical implications of linguistic relativity for Bible translation and exegesis, which is my main interest in this subject. What I wish to be seen and acknowledged right now, however, is the complete legitimacy of the idea that various features of language influence our thinking. In this essay I have pointed to leading scholars from England, Scotland, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and America. They include philosophers, theologians, literary critics, poets, and scientists. Among the scientists are major figures from the fields of chemistry, physics, anthropology, psychology, and linguistics. Some of them are respected scholars of the present day. On the other side of the question are the Chomskyan linguists who have lately flourished in America, who tend to minimize the effects of language upon thought.
I have now named what I regard as the most necessary and importantchanges. These are perhaps all I could be expected to name for nothing; butthere are other suggestions which I can and will make in case my proposedapplication shall result in my being formally employed by the government inthe work of reforming the language.
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The awful german language essay
When a language disappears, the knowledge and thought that has been stored in the language through generations of use, disappears with it. With the growth of powerful and widespread world languages, such as English, Chinese and Spanish, it will be necessary to take steps to protect linguistic diversity, in order to ensure the survival of smaller languages.
Shouvik Datta, Orpington, Kent, United Kingdom
This essay on the german language is definitely worth reading
Man lives with objects [around him] mainly, or rather — as feeling and action depend on the ideas which he entertains about the objects — exclusively in the way in which language presents them to him. The very activity by which he spins language out from within himself eventually gets himself entwined in it, and every language draws a circle around the nation to which it belongs, and which one can only leave to the extent that at the same time one enters the circle of another.
The Awful German Language by Mark Twain - Free at …
At about the same time, another German philologist named Wilhelm Von Humboldt was writing a treatise on this subject. For years he had devoted himself to the study of various non-European languages, including those of the American Indians, having obtained grammars and dictionaries of them written by Christian missionaries. He studied tribal languages of the Pacific islands and East Indies as well. In 1836 he published a book titled (1836) with a general introduction on . This introduction was in itself a lengthy treatise, and it has been called “the first great book on general linguistics.” As the title suggests, the diversity () of human languages and cultures, and the connections between language and thought, were major themes of Humboldt’s research. His primary interest was not in the discourse of philosophers (Locke), nor in the artistic language of poets (Herder), but in the ordinary languages of various peoples around the world. Although Humboldt was well aware of the similarities among the languages he studied, he was much impressed with the differences he found, and he believed that these linguistic differences played a part in the maintenance of corresponding differences in culture and mentality between peoples. The following sentence from his treatise summarizes his view of the connection of language to thought.
The awful german language analysis essays
Not only is the death of languages a natural thing, it's also a good thing. 'Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent' wrote Wittgenstein. By that he meant if you can't describe an object or a concept in a language, then you can't think about it or engage with it. Concepts of parliamentary democracy, the liberal economy or multicultural societies cannot be expressed in Mayan or Navajo or even Latin. It's one of the reasons they're dead while English-speaking societies thrive and prosper around from the world.
Alex Clarke, Brora, Highlands
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