Copyright (c) 1993 Yeshiva University.
Cardozo Law Review
MONOLINGUALISM AND JUDAISM
14 Cardozo L. Rev. 1713
Jose Faur *
"The dialogue with the Greeks," noted Arnaldo Momigliano (1908-1987), "happened because the Romans and Jews wanted it." 1 Unlike the Hebrews and Romans who learned Greek, Greeks never had any curiosity to learn a foreign language. Romans and Jews translated their texts into Greek, but no Greek ever cared to translate any of his literature into a foreign language. The Rabbis allowed the use of a Greek scroll of the Torah in the synagogue services. "It would have been inconceivable for a Greek to have Homer recited in Hebrew!" 2 A fundamental aspect of the monolinguistic mind is that it conceives of its own linguistic and cultural apparatus as universally valid categories of human thought; only its own peculiar form of thinking and value-system are legitimate. 3 By virtue of speaking a different language, aliens reflect abnormality; the "other" is not another, but a subspecies exhibiting faulty standards of thought and culture. 4
Since the monolinguistic mind conceives of the truth according to the exclusive terms of its own linguistic and cultural apparatus, its truth is "context-free" - absolute and categorically valid in all times and societies. 5 The persecution of aliens, undesirables, and heretics present in persecuting societies reflects the ideology whereby one particular group, in possession of "the truth," hounds those who are "different," and hence hierarchically inferior. Since the eleventh century, the persecution of minorities and undesirables had become one of the most important features of European society. Consequently, the appearance of groups "warranting" persecution was the ...
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