Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Late talking

Language Hat tells the following story:

"Otto Neugebauer told the writer the following legend about Einstein. It seems that when Einstein was a young boy he was a lake talker and naturally his parents were worried. Finally, one dat at supper, he broke into speech with the words 'Die Suppe ist zu heiss.' (The soup is too hot.) His parents were greatly relieved, but asked him why he hadn't spoken up to that time. The answer came back: 'Bisher war Alles in Ordnung.' (Until now everything was in order.)"

Before she died, my mother told me that she could remember not talking when she was four and thinking that one of these days she was going to. And one day she did. And she went on to become a great story teller. The Einstein story is nice but probably too good to be true. A legend, as the Language Hat points out. Pretty much the same story is told about a two-year-old who happens not be be Einstein by Andreas Hetzel in Negativität und Unbestimmtheit: Beiträge zu einer Philosophie des Nichtwissens (Transcript Verlang, 2009, p. 76).