Monday, November 14, 2011

Making or doing

“It may be that the very reason that the verb ʿāśâ extends across the range of English ‘to do’ and ‘to make’ is because these two activities are much more closely interconnected in ancient thinking.” [footnote: Note the observation of H. Te Velde concerning Egypt: “The creation theology that was practiced or performed in the cult did not simply commemorate the great mythological deeds of the gods or express the coherence and process of the created world; it was, in effect, creation itself. An Egyptian term for performing rituals is ‘doing things.’ The priest had to ‘do things’ to make sure that the order of the cosmos would be maintained and that the universe, the state and the individual would continue their ordered existence” (CANE 1744)]— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 134


Peter Kirk said...

Well, by that argument "these two activities are much more closely interconnected" in the thinking of most people who don't speak English. The distinction between "to do" and "to make" is very specific to our one language, and most other languages have one common verb which covers the meaning of both in English. Anyway this whole argument depends on the discredited Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

jps said...


See today's post for explanation. Unfortunately, only posting short pieces leaves John open to misunderstandings...