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October 8, 2021 in Hazzan Asa Fradkin
Babble-and a concert invite!
“The same thing happened to us in advanced English!” Dafna- Age 11
We were waiting for the bus and my daughter was discussing the previous day’s early dismissal with a neighbor’s daughter due to that “storm” that never came. She didn’t feel any compunction about mentioning her class’ advanced moniker and still doesn’t.
This is where I’d put a smiley face if I were texting.
Yes, my daughter loves languages. She has already tried teaching herself Japanese and French on the duolingo app and enjoys learning Hebrew as well.
Her mother and I also love to speak and sing in multiple languages. French, Italian, German, Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian and yes, English.
That makes this Tower of Babel story quite a curiosity for me. Why do the biblical authors view lingual diversity as a curse? Or as a vehicle of repression?
I can’t recall meeting anyone with multi lingual skill who wasn’t proud of such an accomplishment.
Rosetta Stone, Babble, DuoLingo and others are making millions by offering people the keys to other peoples linguistic worlds.
The American English vernacular has been inestimably enhanced by its adoption of Yiddish words like: Shlep, Shmuck, Shpiel, Schmear and even Maven, amongst many others.
Then again, language is also used as a bludgeon. Calls by the Right for English to be the National language have smacked of xenophobia even while Spanish becomes nearly a second language in the US.
Ethic groups worldwide have often been persecuted for using a different dialect or language than their peers. In Uganda, certain schools have punished children for speaking native African languages.
In the 90s there was an uproar about “Ebonics” and whether it constitutes a real grammatical dialect ( it does).
But what’s the real thrust of this linguistic punishment in the story? Humbling those who would seek to topple God. Disabling their communication would bring them low both physically and spiritually.
It’s not easy to keep human beings’ god complex in check. But we’ve learned a great deal since the days of reward and punishment. We understand that celebrating diversity is the gateway to empathy, humility and compassion.
On October 17th, I am doing my own Babble. A recital celebrating the soaring emotions of music from the perspective of soulful prayer on the Bima and the lived human experience off it.
Music will be in French, Italian, Hebrew and English and will be a vehicle to reach other cultures, perspectives and people throughout time who prayed, lived and loved as we do now.
Join me for some spiritual Babble! Now here’s a short clip to get you started
From Don Quichotte a Dulcinee
“If you were to tell me that the word, spinning as it does, offends you, I would send Panca immediately to fix it in place”