The start of a Robert Irwin review (intriguingly titled “Arabian Antwerp”) in the June 28, 2002 Times Literary Supplement:

“In his Origines Antwerpianae (1569), Goropius Becanus argued that not only was language divine in origin, but that its original form was Dutch. More specifically, he identified the Primal Language as a dialect of Antwerp. The ancestry of the burghers of that city could be traced back to the sons of Japeth, and the latter were folk who had not become linguistically confused by working on the Tower of Babel.”

There you have human egomania and illogic in a nutshell: My language is the best language, and the original language to boot! There are many examples, but I like the obscure specificity of this one.

Irwin continues: “Becanus’s thesis commanded more support in the sixteenth century than it is likely to receive today.” I love the TLS. (Wearing my editor’s hat, however, I must point out that the second “that” in the quoted paragraph would have been better omitted.)


  1. The sad thing about Goropism is that within it lie the seeds of the evil nexus of nationalism, racism, and linguistic chauvinism. Cf. the current brouhaha in Hinduist circles on the Aryan invasion myth. Also, see my entry on Becanus:

  2. Ah, excellent! Anyone interested in these matters should definitely read Jim’s entry, which provides further examples.
    (Note to Jim: See, my comments section allows HTML.)

  3. I’ve been meaning to turn on the HTML tags in comment, but just hadn’t got around to it yet. Now when are you going to turn on trackback?

  4. Ouch — the biter bit! OK, I’ll figure it out… when I get back from California.

  5. John Cowan says:

    The oldest surviving Language Hat message, and very fitly named too! Of course, trackback still doesn’t work….

  6. But now it does!

  7. If you are like me and came here to marvel at antiquity, you will find that the links are 404ish.
    But the way of the WayBackMachine, Grasshopper, leads to joy:

  8. Jim-links that is—from the first comment

  9. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks, RH-B

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