Jim   Thursday, May 20, 2004, 03:08 GMT
My funeral it just may be but let's look at this from a linguistic perspective and we can talk about my funeral at the link above.
Chilli   Thursday, May 20, 2004, 15:03 GMT
Oh boy. Since I'm already going to hell (for telling someone to pull a stick out of their ass amongst other things) I would just like to say that I don't think that the Babel theory holds water. And I'll leave it at that.

I did like the Godless Linguistics. Especially this bit: "While it's too complicated to explain here, let me assure you that Top Scientists have verified Apostrophism by hurling basketballs into racks of linotype."

I'm going to get thrown out of the SILENT ZONE for snorting too loudly.
Tremmert   Thursday, May 20, 2004, 18:02 GMT
Religion aside - even from a scientific point of view, if people originally came from a fairly small area (ie Southern Africa) and then spread out obviously with the increase in the time it would take to travel from one settlement to the next would cause any common language to split up. Only in today's information age could a 'common' langauge evolve because communication is so fast.
Hythloday   Friday, May 21, 2004, 21:12 GMT
I think religion is a mental illness. Let's stick to linguistics, it's much more interesting and relevant.
mike   Saturday, May 22, 2004, 14:43 GMT
Don't you think that the Babel story is just a metaphor for what has been going on for thousands of years. We speak different languages because there are so many of us in this world and the world has always been so huge - before the Internet era that is - that it was simply impossible, what with the variety of circumstances, cultures, mindsets etc, for one language to remain. Although I'm a Christian I don't take the Bible literally because if I did I'd have to believe that God created the world in six days and gave himself a break on the seventh. Taking the Bible literally leads to a number of logical fallacies and seems to be reserved for the hordes of pig-headed conservatives who claim they are always right. Again, the Bible story of BAbel is by all means a metaphor describing the linguistic chaos resulting from necessity not sin. Necessity, because settling down in one spot on earth was undoable from the word go. People had to multpile, find new places to live and create new language for new circumstances. Now given that the world is becoming smaller and smaller, the boundaries between countries become gradually blurred and the osmosis of cultures, teraditions and mentalities is a matter of fact I daresay we are already witness to the creation of one international language. I doubt it will be English in its present form but I also daresay English in its present form will provide its basis.
Juan   Sunday, May 23, 2004, 02:49 GMT
Hey, there is no need to be religion basher. That is so uncalled for dude.
Paul   Sunday, May 23, 2004, 04:03 GMT
Language tends to evolve. Our pronunciation and word choice has changed a lot from the times of Chaucer and Shakespeare. If you don't have good communication (i.e. telephones) languages tend to diverge. For example we know Vulgar Latin diverged in a number of different Romance Languages in just a little over 900 years. Call this the Babel Effect.

Hopefully, now that we have widespread literacy, the internet, and good cheap long distance communication, we will be able to slow down and maybe even stop this erosian of language.
Hopefully, language will simply expand to include New words for new concepts and things, without our losing the understanding of the old words.

English seems the world champion repository of new words, so it will probably be around for a while. I hesitate to to say it will become the world language. No one country has remained a world power for a long enough period to dramatically change the percentage of their language speakers to up over 51% of the world population.

Regards, Paul V.
Jim   Tuesday, May 25, 2004, 01:20 GMT
"No one country ... over 51% of the world population." No not yet but the day might come. Also with English we're not talking only one country but many. It's the same with Spanish.

Perhaps the Bable myth is a metaphor as Mike says. I think it's more likely a primitive attempt at explaining a known phenomenon. Genesis seems to be full of these primitive mythological explanations.

Why is the sky blue? Because there is water above the firmament and we all know water is blue, just look at the sea. Why have snakes no legs? Because God cursed the serpent for deceiving Eve. Why do we see a rainbow after a storm? It's Gods sign promising not to flood the World again.

All simple primitive explanations of phenomena we now use sciences such as biology, physics, linguistics, etc. to explain. The ancients noticed that other peoples spoke other tongues. What could be the cause of this? It must have been God who did it: let's make up a story to explain the fact. The story passes down generation after generation changing here and there. It goes from one culture to another and gets adapted. Eventually it's written in a holy book.
Juan   Tuesday, May 25, 2004, 07:12 GMT
Enough with the faith/religion bashing already! Ok, you firmly believe that we have no meaningful purpose and significance in this world but to simply keep on living our mundane existence for the next 70 odd years or so and then simply disappear off the face of the planet and be forgotten not long after. Fine that's entirely up to you. But don't denigrate others who don't share that view. No one can genuinely claim and prove that a Creator/God does not exist. There are so many things that science cannot and will never be able to explain (ie. light and it's dual nature which can be modeled as a wave and particle) There are limits to our ability. Unfortunately, humans do have a tendency to start believing we are gods ourselves. Scientists are probably the best example of that trait, due to the knowledge they acquire, they get quite arrogant. Personally, I do believe there is more to life than to live for a specific period in time and then die never to be heard of again.
Jim   Tuesday, May 25, 2004, 07:33 GMT
I intend no religion-bashing I'm just saying what might be the origin of the story. If the Babel myth is not the literal truth that doesn't invalidate Christianity. It only invalidates Christian fundamentalism.
Jim   Wednesday, May 26, 2004, 02:38 GMT
Anyway, let's keep the Bible-bashing verses religion-bashing debate on the other thread:

Now I'll attempt to answer Konrad's question more fully. He asked "Are we heading for another divine intervention that will cause us to speak in a plethora of tongues once again?" A I've noted this question assumes the story to be true. I replied that I don't believe the story and thus I don't think it happened once and I don't think that it will ever happen but what if I'm wrong?

Let's assume that the story of the Tower of Babel is true. On that assumption, can we predict whether God is going to pull the same trick again? He's supposed to have flooded the whole World once to eradicate all the wicked folk. If that really happened, it would have taken a string of miracles. It was a really round-about way of doing business for a supposedly omnipotent god. Has it worked? Is the World now rid of wickedness? But God's put his bow in the sky to say He's not doing that again.

It there anything in the Bible to indicate whether God is going to confuse our language again? I don't think that the Bible gives any hint either way. So assuming that Genesis is literally true, what can we predict about God's intentions with respect to whether or not He'll confound our language again. I think we probably could say nothing for certain. Who could understand the mind of God?

However, there as no hints in the Bible saying that it will happen again so it's probably a safe bet that it won't ... or will He? We'll have to find the cause of the first event.

Genesis 11:1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.

11:2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

11:3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.

11:4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

11:5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

11:6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

11:7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.

11:8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

11:9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

Perhaps if we all get together and try building another tower up to Heaven, then God's going to confuse our language again but if we stick to our relatively small skyscrapers, perhaps we'll be okay.
Hythloday   Wednesday, May 26, 2004, 19:53 GMT
Come on, does anyone seriously think that story is true? If you do, you need locking up.
Jim   Thursday, May 27, 2004, 00:05 GMT
Lock those nutters up and you'll only fuel their muddle-headed cause.
Juan   Thursday, May 27, 2004, 07:16 GMT
Who are you calling a nutter?
Mighty Mick   Thursday, May 27, 2004, 07:40 GMT
I'm not so sure the "Tower of Babel" (myth? or a figurative work in terms of a philosophical argument?) exists in Islam because Islam doesn't follow the Old Testament unlike Christianity and Judaism.

However, parts of the Koran are made up of bits and pieces of the Old Testament so it's possible.