Are you still wondering which language to study at John Carroll?  Did you ever wonder why all people don’t just all speak one common language – or –  why there seem to be so many languages???  People tried to explain this phenomenon even in biblical days!  The building of the Tower of Babel and the Confusion of Tongues (languages) in ancient Babylon is mentioned rather briefly in Genesis Chapters 10 and 11.

Traditions similar to the Babel story exist in various other ancient nations and even in primitive tribes. Although not as frequently encountered as traditions of the Great Flood, many tribes do have a tradition of a former age when all people spoke the same language until the languages were confused as a judgment of the gods.

If people cannot communicate with each other, then how can they be expected to cooperate with each other?  This primeval confusion of tongues emphasizes what modern man often fails to realize: the real divisions among men are not racial or physical or geographic, but linguistic. When people could no longer understand each other, there was finally no alternative for them but to separate from each other. But, we believe that the study of languages can bring people back together again!

First, read the whole text in standard English – then, explore a few sentences in the languages that we teach (or that some of our professors also speak) here at JCU!

“Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.’ Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 11:1-9)

Wycliffe version (1395) – Middle English

Forsothe the lond was of o langage, and of the same speche. . . And therfor the name therof was clepid Babel, for the langage of al erthe was confoundide there; and fro thennus the Lord scaterede hem on the face of alle cuntrees.

 


English Standard Version (2002)

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. . . . Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

 


a (Simplified Chinese)

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Hanyu pinyin (Chinese phonetic alphabet)

Na shí, tianxiarén de kouyin yányu, doushi yiyang. . . Yinwei Yéhéhúa zai nali bianluan tianxia rén de yányu, shi zhongrén fensan zai quán di shang, suoyi na chéng míng jiao “Babíe” (jiushi “bianluan” de yisi).

 


a (Japanese)

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Romaji transliteration (Japanese phonetic alphabet)

Sono koro, ninrui wa mina onaji kotoba o hanashiteimashita. . . Kono to no na ga baberu (“konran” no i) to yobareta no wa, kono tame desu. Tsumari, Kamisama ga takusan no kokugo o ataete ningen o konran sase, kakuchi ni hiroku chirashita no ga, kono baberu no chi datta no desu.

 


Elliniká (Ancient Greek)

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Ancient Greek (Transliteration)

kai en pasa e ge kheilos en kai fône mia pasin. . . dia touto eklethe to onoma autes synkhysis oti ekei synekheen kyrios ta kheile pases tes ges kai ekeithen diespeiren autous kyrios o theos epi prosôpon pases tes ges

 


Latina (Latin)

erat autem terra labii unius et sermonum eorundem . . . et idcirco vocatum est nomen eius Babel quia ibi confusum est labium universae terrae et inde dispersit eos Dominus super faciem cunctarum regionum

 


Français (French)  La Tour de Babel

Toute la Terre n’avait qu’une seule langue et les mêmes mots. . . C’est pourquoi on l’appela du nom de Babel, car c’est là que l’Éternel confondit le langage de toute la Terre, et c’est de là que l’Éternel les dispersa sur toute sa face.

 


Italiano (Italian)  La Torre di Babele

Tutta la terra aveva una sola lingua e le stesse parole. . . Per questo la si chiamo Babele, perché la il Signore confuse la lingua di tutta la terra e di la il Signore li disperse su tutta la terra.

 


Español (Spanish) La torre de Babel

En ese entonces se hablaba un solo idioma en toda la tierra. . . Por eso a la ciudad se le llamó Babel, porque fue allí donde el Senor confundió el idioma de toda la gente de la tierra, y de donde los dispersó por todo el mundo.

 


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Russkij  (Russian – Transliteration)

Na vsej zemlje Byl odin jazyk i odno narjeèje. . . Posjemu dano jemu imja: Vavilon, ibo tam smješal Gospod’ jazyk vsjej zjemli, i ottuda rassjejal ih Gospod’ po vsjej zjemlje.

 


Slovenský (Slovak)

Vtedy celý svet používal jedinú reè a rovnaké slová. . . Preto ho pomenovali Bábelom, lebo tam Hospodin zmiatol reè celému svetu a odtia ich Hospodin rozptýlil po celej zemi.

 


Deutsch (German)

Es hatte aber alle Welt einerlei Zunge und Sprache. . . Daher heißt ihr Name Babel, weil der HERR daselbst verwirrt hat aller Länder Sprache und sie von dort zerstreut hat in alle Länder.


Magyar (Hungarian)

Az egész földnek ugyanaz volt a nyelve és ugyanazok voltak a szavai. . . Ezért nevezik azt Bábelnek, mivel az Úr ott zavarta össze az egész föld nyelvét és onnét szórta szét oket az Úr az egész földön.


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Ukrainian – Transliteration

I bula vsja zemlja odna mova ta slova odni. . . I tomu to nazvano jmennja jomu: Vavylon, bo tam pomišav Hospod’ movu vsijeji zemli. I rozporošyv jix zvidty Hospod’ po poverxni vsijeji zemli.


Hrvatski (Croatian)

Sva je zemlja imala jedan jezik i rijeci iste. . . Stoga mu je ime Babel, jer je ondje Jahve pobrkao govor svima u onom kraju i odande ih je Jahve raspršio po svoj zemlji.


Català (Catalan)

Tenia aleshores tota la terra una única llengua i unes paraules idèntiques. . . . Per això fou anomenada Babel, perquè allà confongué el Senyor la llengua de tota la terra, i des d’allà els dispersà sobre la faç de tota la terra.


Lietuviu kalba (Lithuanian)

Visa žeme turejo viena kalba ir tuos pacius žodžius. . . .Todel jis buvo pavadintas Babeliu, nes ten VIEŠPATS sumaiše visos žemes kalba ir iš ten VIEŠPATS išsklaide juos po visa žemes veida.


Arabic

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