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Sarah3973
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Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

Good Morning All!

 

First let me say hello as I spend most of my time on the Paranormal & Urban Fantasy boards:smileyhappy:.  However, I have been lurking about other boards the past week trying to see if anyone had posted anything on the Huckleberry Finn issue.  Below is a rather interesting blog post by Ishamel Reed:

 

http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2011/01/05/should-mark-twain-be-allowed-to-use-the-n-word/

 

Just curious, am I overreacting when my inner voice shouts CENSORSHIP at the top of it's lungs?  Am I being paranoid when I immediately think back to the book burnings that were so popular in the last century?

 

I'm very interested to hear what you think.


If there are other posts out there on the issue, can someone point me in the right direction?  I must have overlooked them if they are out there! 

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book. ~Author Unknown
Wordsmith
Sarah3973
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

Oops- just found the blog on this topic:

 

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/forums/replypage/board-id/CurrentEvents/message-id/11736

 

Not sure why I couldn't find it before.  Sorry for posting here.  :smileyhappy:

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book. ~Author Unknown
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cork_dork_mom
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

I've been waiting to see if anyone else was as upset with this as I was.

 

I think it's beyond censorship - it's literally rewriting history. It has to be read in the context of the times in which it was written. Just because the "N" word is not acceptable now, doesn't mean it has always been that way.

 

I sure hope they don't start using this altered version in the schools. That would be way bad.

cork_dork_mom
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Sarah3973
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

I've seen posts on other sites from teachers stating they would NOT teach this new "sanitized"  version unless forced to.

 

BTW, the link to the B&N blog that I TRIED to post below is incorrect.  Apparently I should not attempt this sort of thing before my morning caffeine fix.  :smileysad:

 

You should check it out if you haven't already, there are some interesting posts.  Here is the correct link: 

 

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Unabashedly-Bookish-The-BN/The-Grammar-of-Inclusion-and-Huck-...

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book. ~Author Unknown
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chad
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

Censorship of the "N-word" and "Huck Finn" began when Mark Twain was alive. He responded to a ban of the book by restating the "classic phenomenon" often associated with censorship of anything: the censorship only creates more interest and will probably double sales. For every altered "Huck Finn", one more original will probably sell anyway....

 

Chad

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KathyS
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"


chad wrote:

Censorship of the "N-word" and "Huck Finn" began when Mark Twain was alive. He responded to a ban of the book by restating the "classic phenomenon" often associated with censorship of anything: the censorship only creates more interest and will probably double sales. For every altered "Huck Finn", one more original will probably sell anyway....

 

Chad


Yes, you found the blog, and it has been an interesting issue, well discussed on Ellen's blog.  There will always be the gray, from lines which are drawn with black pencil, on white paper.  Don't, anyone, be too hasty in making the word, 'censorship', sound like a dirty word. 

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chad
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

Huck Finn is a novel that is not well read. Did language, and not people, reveal a truth about itself with the creation of the N-word? And it seems like humanity is trying to "hush" language or sweep the word under the carpet with censorship.

 

Chad

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KathyS
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"


Chad wrote:

Huck Finn is a novel that is not well read. Did language, and not people, reveal a truth about itself with the creation of the N-word? And it seems like humanity is trying to "hush" language or sweep the word under the carpet with censorship.

 

Chad


Hi Chad,

 

As was discussed on Ellen's blog, I don't think anyone is trying to ' "hush" language or sweep the word under the carpet with censorship.'  Twain's books are still out there. The censorship, as I see it, is in the removal of these books from the library shelves, because of these words.

 

Let's look at this as a whole:  Words can change over time, and the N-word didn't change for the better.  It's a difficult word, at best, to define to a child, in this day and age.  It's not a word that shouldn't be defined, I'm only saying it's a word that causes a lot of backlash, from a lot of different perspectives, and points of view.  Which, to me, negates the reason for reading these books in the first place.

 

I don't think the readers of these books, when first published, had much thought put into the use of N-word, it was used more commonly, than in this present century, where more hurt is caused because of its derogatory connotations.  The meaning has changed, considerably, and the tolerance level for that word is at an all-time low. 

 

I believe, with this new publication, readers will find the true value of Twain's writing, and not be slapped in the face by the misunderstanding of a word.  Let's look at the over-all picture of this issue.  When serious readers read the original version, that's when the intellect will be ready to see, and by all means, discuss the words that Twain used, and for what reason. 

 

This word is always discussed, it seems, in college classrooms.  If it has to be discussed there, then what happens when we have a reader not privy to that scholastic environment?  What misunderstandings occur, then?

 

I know of writers who use this word, at this moment, and these are adult subjects, put back into that period of time when the word was commonly used in its true context.  These writings certainly aren't, and will never be, classics, but simply uncensored discourse between characters in a novel.  The option is, to read or not to read these books. 

 

And here we have, now, with this new publication of Twain's novels, an option to have children, or adults, find these stories back on their library shelves, to enjoy.  If I had written that word, in my novels, and found it offensive to people of this day and age, then I certainly wouldn't have a problem with it being change, as long as it was done responsibly.  And I think it was done with an enormous amount of thought and consideration, on the part of this Prof.

 

Anyway, just my thoughts on this reading option.  And that's how I see it, an option, not censorship.

 

Kathy

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chad
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

[ Edited ]

It's an interesting, as well as a controversial topic. I'm not sure there needs to be an omission of the N-word, when, as you say, the N-word won't be abused by an "intellectual" or a more "mature" audience. We rate movies, games, books,magazines etc, according to content. In my opinion, there still remains one problem: Who was Mark Twain's intended audience for "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?" But I'm not sure it matters.....

 

Chad

 

 

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Reader1793
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

I believe that the book should NOT be censored. The author intended all of the words in it to be used. The N word was not considered profanity when the book was written. We really should think about the context it is used in, and when the book was written. When Twain wrote Huck Finn, the N word was regularly used and supported by whites. At the time it was considered to be an acceptable word. If the N word is removed from Finn, the book will not be an original, and we would be robbing ourselves of an otherwise good book.

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream. - EAP
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TiggerBear
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

 


chad wrote:

Huck Finn is a novel that is not well read. Did language, and not people, reveal a truth about itself with the creation of the N-word? And it seems like humanity is trying to "hush" language or sweep the word under the carpet with censorship.

 

Chad


(raised eyebrows) Perhaps it's a regional thing; but you can't get to high school in the south without having read Huck Finn. If you didn't get it at grade school level read to you, it's assigned in middle school. Not just english class, had it assigned once for history one year myself.

 

 

What I wonder is this censorship attempt (and yes word excitation is censorship no matter which word) going to be attempted with other literary works. Are they going to pull the N word from "To Kill a Mocking Bird", "I know why the Caged bird sings", IE every single piece of literature it resides within? Cause it smacks of something more if it's just one novel that's being targeted.

 

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chad
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

[ Edited ]

The question is always whether you would have liked it if it had not been assigned- in fact, it might be the whole issue. In my opinon, the book (i.e. theme) is about language as a living, breathing, thinking, acting, being or entity- sometimes I worry that they ban the novel because of this point, not the N-word....That language can be criminal is something we don't feel like knowing, let alone reading about.... That language is an "N"- certainly not, because language is with me every day, so much so, that I am also an "N" also...do you see maybe what Twain was saying?

 

Anyway, I knew we were having problems when I read Huck Finn and I could not use the N-word in the B&N forum....

Chad

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TiggerBear
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

 


chad wrote:

The question is always whether you would have liked it if it had not been assigned- in fact, it might be the whole issue. In my opinon, the book (i.e. theme) is about language as a living, breathing, thinking, acting, being or entity- sometimes I worry that they ban the novel because of this point, not the N-word....That language can be criminal is something we don't feel like knowing, let alone reading about.... That language is an "N"- certainly not, because language is with me every day, so much so, that I am also an "N" also...do you see maybe what Twain was saying?

 

Anyway, I knew we were having problems when I read Huck Finn and I could not use the N-word in the B&N forum....

Chad



 

Actually I've always found it a wonderful adventure tale. More honest than your standard faery tale. But then again I never got the sanitized versions of those either as a child.

 

(shrug) I can understand a small AA child having issues with the word use. But beyond grade school; well an understanding of the past has to be learned sometime. If for nothing else than an a appreciation of of how much better things are now. Besides there's a heart warming relation ship between Huck and Jim; that easily points out through Huck's growth what exactly was wrong with race relations at the time (and that's what I think was Twain's purpose). If the book does nothing else but point out the flaws in humanity than it's worth giving it to children to read.

 

As to whether language is criminal. I don't think it ever can be. Offensive most certainly, but never criminal.

 

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chad
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

[ Edited ]

TiggerBear wrote:

 


chad wrote:

The question is always whether you would have liked it if it had not been assigned- in fact, it might be the whole issue. In my opinon, the book (i.e. theme) is about language as a living, breathing, thinking, acting, being or entity- sometimes I worry that they ban the novel because of this point, not the N-word....That language can be criminal is something we don't feel like knowing, let alone reading about.... That language is an "N"- certainly not, because language is with me every day, so much so, that I am also an "N" also...do you see maybe what Twain was saying?

 

Anyway, I knew we were having problems when I read Huck Finn and I could not use the N-word in the B&N forum....

Chad



 

Actually I've always found it a wonderful adventure tale. More honest than your standard faery tale. But then again I never got the sanitized versions of those either as a child.

 

(shrug) I can understand a small AA child having issues with the word use. But beyond grade school; well an understanding of the past has to be learned sometime. If for nothing else than an a appreciation of of how much better things are now. Besides there's a heart warming relation ship between Huck and Jim; that easily points out through Huck's growth what exactly was wrong with race relations at the time (and that's what I think was Twain's purpose). If the book does nothing else but point out the flaws in humanity than it's worth giving it to children to read.

 

As to whether language is criminal. I don't think it ever can be. Offensive most certainly, but never criminal.

 


 

I would say that language was criminal when the N-word was created. Have we tried to find the criminal who made up the N-word? But I agreed with many of the things you said above. 

 

 

Huck and Jim's relationship was a unique friendship because it was isolated from the force of language, itself. Huck hated being "civilised" and Jim didn't know how to read. Moreover, the friendship developed along the length of the Mississippi river, which acted like a barrier to space, time and sound- akin to a timewarp or a rip in spacetime. 

 

Less abstract, sorry:smileyvery-happy:: the river seemed to be like a natural force which allowed new languages and cultures to develop along its length. It's as if the force of language(s) could not overcome the force of this mighty river- for just a moment in our history. But the rest, as you know, is history, which sometimes needs a different perspective....

 

Chad

 

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TiggerBear
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

[ Edited ]

 


chad wrote:

TiggerBear wrote:

 


chad wrote:

The question is always whether you would have liked it if it had not been assigned- in fact, it might be the whole issue. In my opinon, the book (i.e. theme) is about language as a living, breathing, thinking, acting, being or entity- sometimes I worry that they ban the novel because of this point, not the N-word....That language can be criminal is something we don't feel like knowing, let alone reading about.... That language is an "N"- certainly not, because language is with me every day, so much so, that I am also an "N" also...do you see maybe what Twain was saying?

 

Anyway, I knew we were having problems when I read Huck Finn and I could not use the N-word in the B&N forum....

Chad



 

Actually I've always found it a wonderful adventure tale. More honest than your standard faery tale. But then again I never got the sanitized versions of those either as a child.

 

(shrug) I can understand a small AA child having issues with the word use. But beyond grade school; well an understanding of the past has to be learned sometime. If for nothing else than an a appreciation of of how much better things are now. Besides there's a heart warming relation ship between Huck and Jim; that easily points out through Huck's growth what exactly was wrong with race relations at the time (and that's what I think was Twain's purpose). If the book does nothing else but point out the flaws in humanity than it's worth giving it to children to read.

 

As to whether language is criminal. I don't think it ever can be. Offensive most certainly, but never criminal.

 


 

I would say that language was criminal when the N-word was created. Have we tried to find the criminal who made up the N-word? But I agreed with many of the things you said above. 

 

 

Huck and Jim's relationship was a unique friendship because it was isolated from the force of language, itself. Huck hated being "civilised" and Jim didn't know how to read. Moreover, the friendship developed along the length of the Mississippi river, which acted like a barrier to space, time and sound- akin to a timewarp or a rip in spacetime. 

 

Less abstract, sorry:smileyvery-happy:: the river seemed to be like a natural force which allowed new languages and cultures to develop along its length. It's as if the force of language(s) could not overcome the force of this mighty river- for just a moment in our history. But the rest, as you know, is history, which sometimes needs a different perspective....

 

Chad

 


 

A confusion of what to call people from the country Niger. Most people thought all the slaves came from Niger. That's where the N-word came from.

 

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chad
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

[ Edited ]

TiggerBear wrote:

 


chad wrote:

TiggerBear wrote:

 


chad wrote:

The question is always whether you would have liked it if it had not been assigned- in fact, it might be the whole issue. In my opinon, the book (i.e. theme) is about language as a living, breathing, thinking, acting, being or entity- sometimes I worry that they ban the novel because of this point, not the N-word....That language can be criminal is something we don't feel like knowing, let alone reading about.... That language is an "N"- certainly not, because language is with me every day, so much so, that I am also an "N" also...do you see maybe what Twain was saying?

 

Anyway, I knew we were having problems when I read Huck Finn and I could not use the N-word in the B&N forum....

Chad



 

Actually I've always found it a wonderful adventure tale. More honest than your standard faery tale. But then again I never got the sanitized versions of those either as a child.

 

(shrug) I can understand a small AA child having issues with the word use. But beyond grade school; well an understanding of the past has to be learned sometime. If for nothing else than an a appreciation of of how much better things are now. Besides there's a heart warming relation ship between Huck and Jim; that easily points out through Huck's growth what exactly was wrong with race relations at the time (and that's what I think was Twain's purpose). If the book does nothing else but point out the flaws in humanity than it's worth giving it to children to read.

 

As to whether language is criminal. I don't think it ever can be. Offensive most certainly, but never criminal.

 


 

I would say that language was criminal when the N-word was created. Have we tried to find the criminal who made up the N-word? But I agreed with many of the things you said above. 

 

 

Huck and Jim's relationship was a unique friendship because it was isolated from the force of language, itself. Huck hated being "civilised" and Jim didn't know how to read. Moreover, the friendship developed along the length of the Mississippi river, which acted like a barrier to space, time and sound- akin to a timewarp or a rip in spacetime. 

 

Less abstract, sorry:smileyvery-happy:: the river seemed to be like a natural force which allowed new languages and cultures to develop along its length. It's as if the force of language(s) could not overcome the force of this mighty river- for just a moment in our history. But the rest, as you know, is history, which sometimes needs a different perspective....

 

Chad

 


 

A confusion of what to call people from the country Niger. Most people thought all the slaves came from Niger. That's where the N-word came from.

 


Tiggerbear-

 

But how did Niger become the N-word? My understanding is, also, that slaves were not just from Niger, as you say. So, Niger became the N-word, which gradually included other races. And the use of the word changed. That is, the N-word became more than a designation of a people or a type of slave. Moreover, we're unable to pinpoint exactly when the word changed in scope and meaning. Are you sure this is people's misuse of language or the language overpowering people?

 

I'm not sure I can let people leave the novel without having them admit that language is alive, especially the people who will read the version without the N-word- they will have to come up with a definition of life before they do leave the novel, at least....end of story.

 

Thanks Tiggerbear!

Chad  

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TiggerBear
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

 


chad wrote:

TiggerBear wrote:

 


 

I would say that language was criminal when the N-word was created. Have we tried to find the criminal who made up the N-word? But I agreed with many of the things you said above. 

 

 

Huck and Jim's relationship was a unique friendship because it was isolated from the force of language, itself. Huck hated being "civilised" and Jim didn't know how to read. Moreover, the friendship developed along the length of the Mississippi river, which acted like a barrier to space, time and sound- akin to a timewarp or a rip in spacetime. 

 

Less abstract, sorry:smileyvery-happy:: the river seemed to be like a natural force which allowed new languages and cultures to develop along its length. It's as if the force of language(s) could not overcome the force of this mighty river- for just a moment in our history. But the rest, as you know, is history, which sometimes needs a different perspective....

 

Chad

 


 

A confusion of what to call people from the country Niger. Most people thought all the slaves came from Niger. That's where the N-word came from.

 


Tiggerbear-

 

But how did Niger become the N-word? My understanding is, also, that slaves were not just from Niger, as you say. So, Niger became the N-word, which gradually included other races. And the use of the word changed. That is, the N-word became more than a designation of a people or a type of slave. Moreover, we're unable to pinpoint exactly when the word changed in scope and meaning. Are you sure this is people's misuse of language or the language overpowering people?

 

I'm not sure I can let people leave the novel without having them admit that language is alive, especially the people who will read the version without the N-word- they will have to come up with a definition of life before they do leave the novel, at least....end of story.

 

Thanks Tiggerbear!

Chad  


Yeah most people had little knowledge of Africa or where slaves were actually from. And we are talking about when lots of people could not even read in the area. Around 50% could to 3rd grade level and least than 10% had HS reading level or above. Remember schools were for the rich only then. So...  getting a word slightly wrong, easy for most. When it changed to a bad thing to call some one? Hmm I'm thinking probably around the time of the Jim killing, there was tons of slaves are unhuman conversations after that.

 

 

Exactly why it's important for the word to still be in the book when given to children in school. There's needs to be talking in school about how words change meaning and why it's wrong to refer to others in certain ways. If we don't teach children anything else.

 

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chad
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

[ Edited ]

Yeah most people had little knowledge of Africa or where slaves were actually from. And we are talking about when lots of people could not even read in the area. Around 50% could to 3rd grade level and least than 10% had HS reading level or above. Remember schools were for the rich only then. So...  getting a word slightly wrong, easy for most. When it changed to a bad thing to call some one? Hmm I'm thinking probably around the time of the Jim killing, there was tons of slaves are unhuman conversations after that.

 

 

Exactly why it's important for the word to still be in the book when given to children in school. There's needs to be talking in school about how words change meaning and why it's wrong to refer to others in certain ways. If we don't teach children anything else.

 


 

Probably, but we don't really know for sure.

 

Chad

 PS- I'm not sure there was ever a proper form of the N-word, teach a "proper" form of the N-word or if we can remove the N-word  from our language now. Again, the problem could be just "language"....

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TiggerBear
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

 


chad wrote:

TB

 

Exactly why it's important for the word to still be in the book when given to children in school. There's needs to be talking in school about how words change meaning and why it's wrong to refer to others in certain ways. If we don't teach children anything else.

 


 

Probably, but we don't really know for sure.

 

Chad

 PS- I'm not sure there was ever a proper form of the N-word, teach a "proper" form of the N-word or if we can remove the N-word  from our language now. Again, the problem could be just "language"....


 

to your PS

 

Well I think the time the n-word doesn't bother anyone, when it means nothing really just a history lessen. That's the point that word will be dropped from our live language. So long as it's still a nasty thing to say, you can't remove it really.

 

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chad
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Re: Huckleberry Finn: Removal of the "N-Word"

[ Edited ]

"Well I think the time the n-word doesn't bother anyone, when it means nothing really just a history lessen. That's the point that word will be dropped from our live language. So long as it's still a nasty thing to say, you can't remove it really."

 

It obviously meant more than a history lesson to some people. Meanings of words change through time, and I can look a word up in the dictionary and get several meanings of the word as the word changed through time (i;e; conventional and non-conventional uses).

 

I think Mark Twain wanted us to see language as sometimes not only incriminating (i.e. miranda rights- anything you say can and will be used against you), but also a "criminal" or not only carthartic (i.e. I just have to get this off my chest) but also a "saint." If language is alive, then maybe it has a personality. German and other romance languages still designate words as masculine, feminine or neuter. English uses the same article for everything. But if I counted up all the words in a particular language that might be masculine, feminine or neuter, could I make an assesment about how the culture views the language? So is language a woman or a man or neither? It really is an interesting novel and subject...

 

 

Chad

 

PS- Another great example is the Latin language- the language of the Romans. Well, I guess the question is if the Latin language is still alive. I think it's considered to be a "dead" language- that is, not spoken. Another interesting question is whether the language itself was responsible for the fall of Rome. I'm reading a book now "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte, who writes about how the same forces of Nature that build  "heights" are the same forces which can weather and destroy. The latin language could have been responsible for both the construction and destruction of Rome