Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rabbi Adam Jacobs, July 2012 in Algemeiner

As of Sunday the 22, Algemeiner has blocked the rest of my comments from appearing.

After about 16 hours, this post was finally seen. There was typically stupid reply which I appended below with my response.

I judge the quality of someone's thinking partly by how well they can handle the simple facts they use to build their argument. These minor features, rather than being trivial reflect the care and grounding of an argument. Adam Jacobs stumbles at the starting line.

With the title, Intelligent Design In Language," my BS detector was in high from the start. When Jacobs wrote, "Isaac Mozeson, a Ph.D. in linguistics from NYU," my first thought was, "If he was From NYY, Where did he go?" A simple Google check revealed that Dr. Mozeson A) never received a doctorate in linguistics, B) he never held an academic appointment in linguistics, C) he never published in a professional linguistics journal. He is a promoter of biblical literalism, and claims to have "discovered" that all human languages derive from what he has variously termed Hebrew, biblical Hebrew, proto-Hebrew, pre-Hebrew, and most recently "Edenic." For a direct example of his thinking see, "COULD PRE-HEBREW BE THE SAFA AHAT OF GENESIS 11:1 ?"

In that essay, the core failure of Mozeson's reasoning is exposed- he assumes from biblical arguments that all languages, and all humanity originated as presented in Genesis. Any counter evidence is to be disregarded as the result of magical intervention given in Gen. 11:6, 9.

But, lets return to Rabbi Jacobs. He wrote, "Ever wonder where the name gopher came from? No one seems to know, but we do know the quality of the creature – he’s a digger, and as it happens, the Edenic word for digging is “khofer.” This raised some serious issues about Jacobs' education. I should have thought a Rabbi should know that "khofer" does not mean "to dig." I had supposed that a Rabbi would know the Hebrew verb pronounced "ko fer" כפר in the Bible, eg the Leningrad Codex, meant "to cover" (see Gen. 6:14). But, let's leave Hebrew for the moment. The third gross error by Jacobs is that "No one seems to know (the origin of the name gopher given in North America to small burrowing rodents). This showed that Rabbi Jacobs was at best very lazy, too lazy to use the Oxford English Dictionary, or the Webster's Unabridged. (The origin of this particular use of the phoneme "go fer" comes from the French word for "honeycomb" first used in English for a fried bread now popularly called a "waffle." Early Francophone settlers called the intricate shallow burrows made by Geomys sp., and Thomomys sp. "gophers."

Three strikes. Yer out!

Added July 22, 2012

Aharon Ben David
July 22, 2012
12:09 am


I might suggest that you judge the quality of an argument, by the argument (and not by the relatively extraneous points you take issue with). Whatever Mozeson assumes and whatever his degree do not have any direct impact on the quality of the argument presented here.

You have, therefore, only offered one potentially valuable critique re: the word Gopher. “Khofer” does however mean dig (chet, pey, reish)as I just checked in the Reuben Alcalay dictionary. The French waffle connection seems like a stretch to me. Khofer/digger seems much more direct and accurate.


Reply, so far blocked by Algemeiner;

Aharon Ben David, Your comment is a perfect example of why those uneducated in linguistics should not attempt linguistic analysis. My point regarding the Isaac Mozeson's literature degree was that this Rabbi Adam Jacobs is incapable of correctly making even minor points of fact.

This was not your only error.

The Reuben Alcalay dictionary was intentionally limited to the modern Hebrew language decided upon by the Hebrew Language Academy, plus new words invented by the Hebrew language popular press principally from Israel in just the last 60 years. It is absurd to claim that this dictionary is of help understanding 3 to 4 thousand year old lexicons. It is this arrogant ignorance that is central to Isaac Mozeson's effort.

Read this out loud;

He was a janglere and a goliardeys,

And that was moost of synne and harlotries.

Wel koude he stelen corn, and tollen thries;

And yet he hadde a thombe of gold, pardee.

A whit cote and a blew hood wered he.

A baggepipe wel koude he blowe and sowne,

And therwithal he broghte us out of towne.

That is in English a mere 600 years ago. Mozeson claims to have reconstructed a proto-Hebrew he calls "Edenic" that is the mother tongue of all human language well over 10,000 years old. My specific example of this incompetence, "ko fer," was selected by Rabbi Jacobs. He made the error that an early biblical attested meaning of "כפר" was "digging" and that this was in anyway related to the modern English meaning of "Gopher" referring to members of the genus Thomomys. For the truthful derivation of this in English, I directed you to the Oxford English Dictionary, or Webster's Unabridged. You obviously ignored the obvious. As for the actual biblical meaning of "כפר" you should start with the older bits of the Torah. And if you do, you will find that "dig" isn't in the ancient biblical lexicon.

1 comment:

moshe cohen said...

hi, the word under discussion is chofer - חופר - which means 'dig', of course (not kofer)
all the best!
mc