Oh, what a beautiful piece of writing


Categories: Personal

A Person Paper on the Purity of Language (I’m sure there must be other copies somewhere) is a fascinating read.

On the one hand, it’s obvious that the person who wrote (in the KJV’s translation of Genesis) “male and female created He him”, did not think that the word “him” was exclusively male. At the same time, the accumulated effect of seeing one category treated as the default, and the other called out specially, is certainly significant. (EDIT: Apparently that itself is a change, because the original KJV said “them”. But I see it quoted as “… created He him” often enough to assert that it’s still a good example.)

But whether or not you agree with the point Hofstadter is making, this much is clear: This is a brilliant use of reframing to make a point.

Comments [archived]

From: Z.Z.
Date: 2012-04-07 22:00:29 -0500

This was written in the 70’s, I think. It’s amazing how relevant it still is today.

From: g
Date: 2012-04-08 04:47:47 -0500

Nitpick: the KJV actually says “male and female created he them”, not “… him”.

From: seebs
Date: 2012-04-08 17:44:40 -0500

Huh, that’s interesting. I must have been reading a different translation; the “him” translation is certainly not unheard of, but it does appear that the nearest handy KJV says “them”. Poking around, Google has more hits for the “him” version than the “them” version.

From: g
Date: 2012-04-09 10:09:05 -0500

A similar poke-around suggests to me that (1) the KJV definitely has “them” and (2) it’s very common indeed for people to remember it as “him”.

I had a look at a bunch of different translations (KJV, RSV, NIV, NEB, …) and they all have “them”. The word-order “male and female created he ____” is specific to KJV, though. (Well, kinda. Not very surprisingly, Tyndale does the same. KJV probably got it from there.)