This chapter considers the presentation of language acquisition given in the Confessions. It is argued that Augustine presents this as being two-edged; language permits the child to interact with other speakers, but at the cost of being constrained within a system of language, ‘the authority of the ancestors’. The wider question of authority in the Confessions is then considered. It is suggested that authority may be seen as a positive, bottom-up recognition of what is useful and pleasurable, and that ultimately, the model for authority in language is the divine Logos.
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