Jason (jcreed) wrote,

Genesis 11:9 goes "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."

And Adam Clarke's commentary on this verse runs,
From this, as before observed, we may infer, that as the people had the same language, so they had a unity of design and sentiment. It is very likely that the original language was composed of monosyllables, that each had a distinct ideal meaning, and only one meaning; as different acceptations of the same word would undoubtedly arise, either from compounding terms, or, when there were but few words in a language, using them by a different mode of pronunciation to express a variety of things. Where this simple monosyllabic language prevailed (and it must have prevailed in the first ages of the world) men would necessarily have simple ideas, and a corresponding simplicity of manners. The Chinese language is exactly such as this; and the Hebrew, if stripped of its vowel points, and its prefixes, suffixes, and postfixes separated from their combinations, so that they might stand by themselves, it would nearly answer to this character even in its present state. In order therefore to remove this unity of sentiment and design, which I suppose to be the necessary consequence of such a language, God confounded their language-caused them to articulate the same word differently, to affix different ideas to the same term, and perhaps, by transposing syllables and interchanging letters, form new terms and compounds, so that the mind of the speaker was apprehended by the hearer in a contrary sense to what was intended.
Tags: linguistics, religion

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