Joined: Nov. 2005
A very readable posting from A Roguish Chrestomanthy, via Languagehat.com, on the Wrathful Dispersion controversy.
It is entirely quotable, but to tempt you in:
"The opponents of Wrathful Dispersion maintain that it is really just Babelism, rechristened so that it might fly under the radar of those who insist that religion has no place in the state-funded classroom. Babelism was clearly rooted in the Judeo-Christian story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11: 1–9); it held that the whole array of modern languages was created by God at a single stroke, for the immediate purpose of disrupting humanity's hubristic attempt to build a tower that would reach to heaven: "Let us go down," God says to Himself, "and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." Wrathful Dispersion is couched in more cautiously neutral language; rather than tying linguistic diversity to a specific biblical event, it merely argues that the differences among modern languages are too perverse to have arisen spontaneously..."
"Perhaps paradoxically, proponents of WD have also been known, at times, to play up the religious aspect of their theory when it suits them. The suppression of their ideas about the origin of languages, they have been heard to complain, is tantamount to religious persecution, but at the same time they insist that the use of the public school systems to propagate those ideas would not in any way violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. One cynical observer has likened WD to Scientology, which "is a religion for purposes of tax assessment, a science for purposes of propaganda, and a work of fiction for purposes of copyright.""
You get the idea. It's very funny, and spot on in every respect.
Uncle Joe and Aunty Mabel
Fainted at the breakfast table
Children, let this be a warning
Never do it in the morning -- Ralph Vaughan Williams