For the last few years I have been introducing information about the sense of our words into our Torah Talk discussions. Then, about three weeks ago, one of our members inquired about my “authority” to speak. Since the inquiry was phrased in a variety of ways, I wasn’t certain how to respond. Upon further reflection I realized I didn’t grasp the sense of several of those related words and ideas. There is ‘author’ as a verb and a noun. Then, the idea of ‘authority’ can be formal, informal, accepted and even a moral authority. Unlike some other countries, we do not have a ‘college of accepted language usage’ which judges what is acceptable. Our insistence on a right to free speech would rule out any such authority, governmental or otherwise, which would hinder our freedom to speak, read, write, or even interpret our language. We didn’t even have a ‘dictionary’ of any sort until Chaucer had written all of his works and Shakespeare had written about half of his/her works.
Just who this “Shakespeare” was is still a matter of conjecture. The matter of what an English dictionary is, is also a matter of great conjecture. The ‘dictionary of common usage’ is based on the way we have used words, not on some idea of how we should use them. There are many different kinds of dictionaries, none of which are law books. There is a voluminous section of my personal library devoted to various origins of different “English” words: two picture dictionaries, several common usage versions including two editions of “Webster’s Unabridged Universal”, which is also quite broadly etymological (often referring to several differing language origins).
With that said and all those digressions made, so what is the sense of ‘authority’. What is it? How do we achieve it? Can authority be granted to anyone and if so, by whom??
AU represents Oak Energy. Since U is Ur we are again talking about the oak as a substantive representing the people. When we refer to someone as a ‘Man of Oak’ that is high praise, a reference to some particular achievement. The ‘auth’ in author and in authority is using ‘Oak Energy’ as a territory. Recall that in using Thorn ‘th’ as a prefix it is a determinative. When using ‘-th’ as a suffix it is describing a word territory.(earth, worth, dearth). When we apply that idea in the idea of ‘author’, we are acknowledging that a particular ‘territory’ has been defined and claimed as a subject to speak about. The -or suffix in ‘author’ states some person has transformed a particular territory through a ‘mouth’. That ‘mouth’ can represent a book, poem, story, play or any other production by Man. It is no small thing to commit ones ideas to writing. We have become complacent about language and often forget how powerful it is.
The word ‘authority’ should call us back to our senses. That -ity suffix refers to a charged particle which is regulated and then shot like an arrow off into the distance, into the future. Words can make a tremendous difference. A person who assunes authority about any subject -is assuming responsibility for the consequences of those words spoken about the subject. Yes, I do assume authority. Further, I will assert that I am an authority.
If I need to assert a right to that authority. It has been accorded by those written authorities on the English language who say our words “make no sense” and further maintain our words mean whatever common usage says they mean. That may be the ‘mean’ or ‘average’ of what they mean but, there is also an actual sense encoded into our words. That sense was instilled into our language deliberately during approximately a thousand years during the First Millenium A.D. or ACE, as you prefer. The peoples languages were written deliberately for the people. Countries aggregated around the languages which were written. I submit that ‘countries’ as we presently know them, grew around the places the languages were written.
I came across a statement in “The Dark Ages” by W.P. Ker, that within a hundred years of having received language, peoples were writing literature with their languages. .When I refer to “Peoples’ languages” I mean complete language with an alphabetic symbol set and with lots of vowels.09-12-2017JOH
- Judith has written (and re-written) the pages below, initially for a book and now for this website. These files are still under revision, and should not be treated as stable documents.