(racist?) BH, agendas and tenselessness?

Andrew C Smith a.c.smith at juno.com
Mon Feb 15 04:36:57 EST 1999

>i continue my studies on that fateful year of 1826 when ewald came up
>with his idea of the verbal system based on his study of sanskrit and
>comparative indoeuropean studies. in part i have argued that this view
>was motivated by 19th cent racism, a view not original with me.

We had this discussion before: I can't believe that the assertion that
the indo-european Ursprache was tenseless (or the assertion that the
proto-Semitic Ursprache was tenseless) is motivated by racism, because it
cuts equally against the Europeans. The assertion says that ALL languages
started that way (incl. Germanic and therefore English).

The theological agenda is perhaps a more likely motive; an un-creative
Christian linguist would have strong motive to say that the verb system
was tenseless. A more creative Christian apologist could avoid this
awkward move and retain his beliefs by a different account, e.g.,
prophets often spoke in a past tense/time because they were report a
message given to them in the past, i.e., "in my vision, the city was
desolate" or "the Lord said that the people were taken captive". However,
sometimes even a Jewish interpreter will need to use that same move,
because it is not only the Christians who need to read certain texts this

- A.C. Smith

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