Sunday, August 14, 2005

Origins of language and culture

The living language is like a cow-path: it is the creation of the cows themselves, who, having created it, follow it or depart from it according to their whims or their needs. From daily use, the path undergoes change. A cow is under no obligation to stay.
- E.B. White, writer (1899-1985)

Have you ever tried to persuade a cow to go somewhere it doesn't want to go? Yet it will follow other cows, at least in the same general direction, without prompting.

Culture comes into being in a similar fashion. We may identify with our language and our culture as integral parts of who we are. Yet who our ancestors were, where they went, what they did is buried inside of us just as surely as who we are comprises us today.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' shining a light on our past so we can see our way today.
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