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Frank Henninger <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 13 Jan 1997 17:06:39 EST
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Dear Dany,

     You're already starting to get some scholarly responses.  This
is off the top of the head.

     Simply, many believe we can't think what we can't name in
language.  It's a debate.  A bright classmate used to say, "If you
can't write it, you can't think it."  I'm inclined to agree.  If so,
everyone's thinking is limited by the limitations of his language,
and the more limited the more limited.  Dialects tend to be rich in
the ability to express ideas common to the area in which the dialect
is spoken, and poor in the ability to express ideas not common there.
So perhaps Huck can't think things out so easily partly because his
language doesn't serve.

     On the other hand, ethical concerns are universal.

     On the third hand, each culture is blind to certain sorts of
ethical concerns as they are perceived by other cultures.  Some of
the blindness of Huck's culture is obvious to us just as our
blindness is impossible for us to perceive.  That's part of why it's
such a struggle for Huck to work his way free from the prejudices of
his day, because his language's (dialect's) creators don't see them
as prejudices.  Or at least that's how the theory might go as,
without studying it,  I understand it.

     In any case, we can share the joy of Huck's acultural resolve
because he manages to free himself, perhaps, even from the
limitations of his language in a way few of us do, and then rarely.

     Sorry if you already knew all this.


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