Monday, February 11, 2008

clouds clouds clouds

Linguist John McWhorter in his The Power of Babel: a natural history of language likens languages to clouds:

We look at a cloud formation with full awareness of its inherently transitory nature: we know that if we look up again in an hour, the formation will almost certainly be different and that if it isn’t, then this is due to an unusually windless interval that will surely not last long. Language does not change that fast, of course, but it changes just as inevitably and completely over time. Language is an inherently dynamic, rather than static, living entity.

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