OT: language origin and creationism

Michael Covarrubias mcovarru at PURDUE.EDU
Thu Apr 1 01:52:00 UTC 2010

On Mar31, 2010, at 3:54 PM, Amy West wrote:
> As a preliminary step to their research papers, I have students
> presenting their "best" source in class. One student -- and I didn't
> catch this problem soon enough because she didn't submit a proposal
> -- wants to write about the origin of language in her 5-7 page paper,
> and wants to present this as her "best source":
> The True.Origin Archive
> Exposing the Myth of Evolution
> http://www.trueorigin.org/language01.asp
> ...
> She wrote about this source in her annotated bibliography and all she
> said was that it quotes from the Bible a lot. Nothing, nothing about
> the obvious bias and agenda. She said "it has valid biological
> information." (The annotated bib. was just turned in Monday; she just
> sent me this link yesterday.)
> I'd like to hear from more experienced teachers either off-list (or
> on if it's deemed relevant) how you'd handle this. Tell her "no"
> because it's not scholarly/not appropriate for the topic? Let her
> present it and discuss the problems in front of the class?

i try to keep it simple in a situation like this. she has to consider what her source is "best" at doing. it's true, that her source probably is best at convincing people who are going for a young-earth/wrathful-dispersion theory that ignores *linguistic* scholarship on the subject. the question for her in your class: is this what her paper should be doing?

there's no doubt that if her goal is to support and bolster arguments that help a specific faith in a literal reading of genesis (or other biblical texts), this is one of the best sources on this topic. and without telling her that she shouldn't strive for that in *any* area, it's pretty clear that a linguistics course is guided towards other forms of evidence and other methods of inquiry.

it's based on this that the arguments that the paper overlooks or oversimplifies are its greatest liabilities. and so it doesn't fail as an argument of Knowledge, it just fails as an argument of linguistic methodology.

michael covarrubias

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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