Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Millionaire and the Trojan Horse of Language

You know when something has popped into your mind several times so you reach the point where you think 'I really must write that down'? Well, that's where I'm at with this. It's an obvious connection. But I need to make it explicitly.

First. I posted this money wisdom quote in Sept 2013 on the invention of the word millionaire. According to James Buchan it "was invented in the open air in a little street near what's now the Centre Beaubourg in Paris known as the Rue Quincampoix or Quincenpoix in the autumn of 1719." It was used in relation to John Law.

Second. I posted this Ramble on Thomas Crump's Boundaries in Nov 2012. Thomas's central idea was that language acts as a 'Trojan Horse' to number. He argues that 'the words used to denote numbers in an indigenous language will change in response to increased interaction with a dominant culture' and that the agent effecting change is Money.

They're are differences. The word millionaire wasn't foisted upon the French by an invading army, like the Spanish conquest of South America to which Crump refers. But they share the idea that a new word encapsulating some new conception of value is significant. It effects the way we think, and the way we perceive our reality. Some new potential is realised.

Crump put it like this;
The indigenous populations were able to encapsulate the ritual of the church, adapt its calendar to their own traditional ceremonial cycle and its popular theology to their own world view, and isolate the practice of religion from the mainstream of Spanish, or at the present time, world catholicism. The integrity of the local languages was hardly threatened. But the Peso succeeded where the cross failed.
I think these ideas have been bubbling away as I've been reading and absorbing Tim Johnson's paper on Reciprocity as the Foundation of Financial Economics which I'll write about soon. A dominant theme in Tim's paper is the idea - most commonly associated with Simmel - that Money has played a significant role in the development of abstract thought. On this blog I've looked at the work of both Richard Seaford and Joel Kaye in relation to this idea (Kaye features heavily in Tim's work).

The dimension that Crump and Buchan add (or perhaps, emphasise) is there is not only a relationship between number and Money, but also language and Money.

No comments:

Post a Comment