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A Ground-Breaking, Brilliant & Delightful Work

 

The Origin of Speeches: Intelligent Design in Language

by Isaac Mozeson

Lightcatcher Books, 2006, 300 pages, paperback, ISBN: 0971938881

 

Reviewed by Dr. Eugene Narrett

 

As exciting, historically significant and fascinating as it is, and essential for the study of language as it is, the Monogenesis (the shared origin) of all languages thesis is not often discussed even in the science or literary pages of our major media. It is far less newsworthy than hurricanes, perhaps because, if treated with the attention it deserves, it would generate storms throughout academia, publishing, history and geopolitics.

It is not surprising that this groundbreaking study is not on the evening news. Its subtitle, Intelligent Design in Language is not a la mode. Things being what they are, the chances that someone has heard of the Monogenesis of language, or even the primacy of Semitic as the source of all phonetic languages is little greater than their having heard of the obelisk of Shalmaneser II, the Mernepta stele, the Amarna tablets, the Moab stone, or the thousands of l'melekh ("for the king") seals unearthed in ancient Israel's fortress cities.

Thus "Edenics," the research project from which the book emerges remains largely unknown and readers will find The Origin of Speeches to be like uncovering buried treasure.

We know that fascinating and important archaeological, historic and linguistic discoveries are 'back-paged' or buried is that they all demonstrate the antiquity and historical centrality of Israel and the Jewish people, a grave political faux pas. Beginning in the 1920s, Modernism's materialist bias entered geopolitics when the great powers prompted Islam to agree that Israel should not exist at all. Edenics is pre-Israel but threatens the Darwinian and Eurocentric establishments in academia and diplomacy that hate the idea that a proto-Semitic language close to biblical Hebrew forms the thoughts and language of humankind from Navaho to Norse.

Making these etymological and linguistic roots and branches visible and comprehensible, Mozeson's The Origin of Speeches: Intelligent Design in Language is a stimulating and accessible study for a lay reader; its riches require knowledge of no language other than English. More than this, OOS is endlessly instructive in demonstrating, 1) the case for the common origin of language in the ancient Middle East; and 2) Hebrew's singularly close relation to the original pre-Babel tongue that Mozeson aptly calls "Edenic."

As Mozeson notes, "the data in language, as in astrophysics points to an initial Big Bang" (8), to dissemination of language from a single, proto-Semitic source; why is this not recognized? Actually, it was until the Romantic era. Academic phobias about the Biblical accounts of creation and of human origins, including language, are mostly 19th - 20th century phenomena that modern sciences themselves are dissolving. The notion that creation, or language are random, spontaneous or reactive events does not hold up to the scrutiny of astrophysics, earth sciences, linguistics or common sense; the highly emotional indeed, high strung self-styled 'rationalism' of the Romantic-Modern period (the neurotic scientist in Hawthorne's "The Birthmark" is an epitome) is increasingly recognized as a historical burp that comes from eating too much of the intoxicating food of permanent progress, from schemes for re-fashioning and ruling human beings and societies to re-casting regions of the world: a new Babel.

Mozeson takes us back to the linguistic situation before and after the tumults that produced a babble of tongues, a family with their lineage hidden within them.

He briefly reviews the many famous names and peoples who understood the Bible as a map to the beginnings of wisdom. John Milton's epics, among much great literature displayed an encyclopedic knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures, of Jewish oral law and Scripturally informed history; the Puritans learned Hebrew as the "pure language" originally spoken; their burial stones abound with Hebrew inscriptions; Governor William Bradford wrote his memoirs (c. 1650) in Hebrew, "that most ancient language and holy tongue…in which names were given to things"; the Presidents of New England Colleges, including Harvard, gave commencement speeches in Hebrew into the 1770s; and Noah Webster who compiled what long was considered the great American Dictionary listed, accurately, many Hebrew roots for English words as common as "lad."

Signs of how pervasive this understanding and respect were before the anti-Biblical prejudice clouded the modern mind appear in literature, too, even in Romantic skeptics like Nathaniel Hawthorne. His most famous novel, The Scarlet Letter is filled with references both overt and subtle to Hebrew (Hester Prynne's name and experience), Jewish history and its patterns (the return of the 'exiled' Hester's daughter to her ancestral inheritance) and to Judaism (Reverend Dimmesdale relies on "texts of rabbinic lore" to buttress his theology; the ornamental brick surface of the Governor's mansion "is covered in Kabalistic symbols."

We do not see or discuss the implications of even so obvious references to Jewish material because our culture and its teachers have directed our attention elsewhere. The Origin of Speeches is part of a cultural re-balancing of the scales of justice and minds…

Mozeson proceeds largely by applying "Grimm's laws" of phonetic shifting to explicate his thesis, noting first that the linguistic methods that bear Grimm's name actually were developed by the famous Jewish sage Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki (Rashi, 1040-1105). Mozeson's definition and demonstration of phonetic changes via bilabial, nasal, guttural, fricative, liquid and aspirant shifts are compelling and delightful. The charts of the earth's most common words, their resemblance and manner of transformation between tongues dispersed widely across the earth make his case vividly and wondrously.

Like a superbly trained wrestler, the author grasps the metamorphic magic of human speech and brings its apparent chaos into a learned order. His familiarity with the transformative logic of language illuminates his discussions of individual common words as they migrate from Edenic in chapters that form the body of this wonderful text. He tracks for us Edenic ZaNaBH ("tail," Genesis 4:4, the consonants are capitalized for they are the bedrock by which language travels) "a fine etymon (source word) for the voodoo snake deity named the 'zombie' via the nasal shift of 'N' to 'M.'" His definition and discussions of metathesis are wonderful: we follow Biblical words like ShaVeT ("staff," "branch") and its cognate, SHDT ("switch," "whip," Proverbs 26:3) to "switch, staff, swat, and stave." The derivation of Greek "hedon" and hedonism ("pleasure") from AYDN, "earth" from AReTZ (Eretz), or Peru from PRU ("be fruitful") and AYeF for "sleepy" ("Iowa") in Sioux are a handful of the hundreds of linguistic and historical treasures he unfolds. He memorably tracks the trek of the Hebrew DeReKH ("way" or "road") through dozens of languages from Dutch to Czech to Japanese to Hopi.

Then there's Zygote, the Greek word we heard in Biology class; it's from the Aramaic and Hebrew AeeVaiG ("to yoke"), in this case, chromosomes. One after another the logic of the most common words tumbles forth: "cycle, hill, goat, honey, tooth, collar, girl, helix, Hermes" (the last, an earth-penetrating phallic Greek garden god from GHaRaM, "subtle," Genesis 3:1 referring to the serpent that fiddled with Eve). Mozeson conducts us on a tour of cultures that draws readers deeply and pleasantly into the logic of linguistics.

Along this inspiriting "daroga" we learn enormous amounts of Hebrew and other languages and are constantly amazed at the transportability and common roots of culture.

An artist of his science, Mozeson argues persuasively that there is a musical structure, harmonic and melodic a well as phonetic logic to language and that the original Edenic is "a keyboard for all human music and meaning."

Delightful and erudite, this work belongs on your nearest shelf along with Dr. Gerald Schroeder's studies (e.g. The Science of God) on the amazing correlations between modern science and Biblical wisdom, and James D. Long's The Riddle of the Exodus an invaluable and lucidly explicated introduction to and overview of the archaeological evidence for the historicity of the ancient Middle East. Together these texts provide readers with a wonderful sense of origins and structure of human existence, societies and intelligence and begin to amend the political and spiritual horrors born of the dogmas made from the theories of Rousseau, Darwin and Marx and their followers.

The Origin of Speeches (Lightcatcher, April 2006, 268 pages) comes with an E-Word CD Dictionary. Dr. Mozeson's earlier work in this field was The Word: the Dictionary that Reveals the Hebrew Source of English (1989); it has an animated Power-Point side show and a CD with 800 pages of material.

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About the reviewer...

The reviewer has published extensively on American culture and politics and on the history and geopolitics of the Middle East. Dr. Narrett earned his BA, MA and PhD degrees from Columbia University in New York City. An art critic, artist, book reviewer, columnist, in recent years he created, directed and taught in the Liberal Studies Program at Cambridge College. He is the author of Gathered against Jerusalem (2000), Israel Awakened (2001), and Israel and the Endtimes (2006).

Visit Dr. Narrett's Essay Archive in The Radical Academy

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