"people of the book"

Mark A. Mandel Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
Fri Jun 15 18:16:23 UTC 2001

I was surprised by the following sentence in the George Will column on the
"official English" issue:

     Many Asians, like Jews, are "people of the book" (the Mandarin and
     Talmudic traditions) and are ascending America's surest ladder of
     social mobility, the system of higher education.

We discussed this phrase in early December of 1999; it's originally (a
translation of) an Arabic expression referring to those who share with
Muslims a reverence for the (variously defined) Bible (mainly to Jews and
, from Alan Maberry)

I have never known it to refer to books in general, or, by metaphoric
extension therefrom, to literacy or studiousness. Is G. Will originating a
(dare I? ... Yes!) perversion of meaning here, or is he perpetuating one?

-- Mark A. Mandel

More information about the Ads-l mailing list