NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ874045
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Sep
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0388-0001
Human Diversity and the Genealogy of Languages: Noah as the Founding Ancestor of the Chinese
Hutton, Christopher
Language Sciences, v30 n5 p512-528 Sep 2008
The characteristics which were held to define the Chinese language within the Western intellectual tradition placed it for a time at the centre in discussions of the genealogy of mankind. The dominant premodern paradigm for the explanation of human linguistic diversity was Biblical exegesis, as discussed and elaborated within the framework of "universal history". A number of Western scholars argued that the Biblical patriarchs could be identified with legendary figures from Chinese history and that there was a direct link between the Chinese language and the pre-Babel linguistic order. The Chinese language, in particular its writing system, had universal characteristics, making it central in the quest for the restoration of the linguistic and conceptual unity of mankind. The rise of a modern linguistics marginalized universal projects of etymological speculation, and it was concluded that there was no cognate relationship between Chinese, Hebrew and the European languages. Both the language and the writing system were increasingly seen as anomalous and unnatural. Western understandings of the Chinese language and the Chinese writing system need to be contextualized within the evolution of conceptualizations of the natural and artificial.
Elsevier. 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL 32887-4800. Tel: 877-839-7126; Tel: 407-345-4020; Fax: 407-363-1354; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: China