Le mythe de la langue mère / The myth of the mother tongue

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Our linguistic history is full of myths. There is the myth of the national language, the one of a particular genius of each language. Insofar as national languages are artifacts built by centuries of language policy and by the careful equipping of the major culture’s languages through language instruments that are (among others) translation manuals, dictionaries and grammars, we can assume that the idea of a “language” isotopic and regular before any human intervention is also a myth. In what follows, I shall endeavor to unravel a particular myth; that of the original mother tongue of mankind. This myth has one very special feature: it was created by the scientific community and has resurfaced again after seemingly having had its fate sealed.


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