Today I came across this quote from Francis Bacon on YourVietnamese.com:
“Men imagine that their minds have the command of language, but it often happens that language bears rule over their minds.”
At first I interpreted it as meaning that “language bears (i.e. linguistically-gifted bears) rule over their minds”, rather than the more likely meaning that “language bears rule over their minds”. I don’t know if Mr Bacon intended this to be a pun, but that’s what it is to me.
This got me thinking about what kind of creature a language bear might be – perhaps a real bear that have been taught or acquired a spoken or signed human language; or a talking teddy bear of some kind, like the BábógBaby, an Irish-speaking teddy.
The expression ‘to bear rule’ is not a common one, as far as I’m aware, and sounds like something you would find in the Bible. For example, the King James version of Daniel 2:39 is “And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.”, and Esther 1:22 is “For he sent letters into all the king’s provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house, and that it should be published according to the language of every people.” – the king in question was Ahasuerus, who is identified with Xerxes I (519-465 BC).