Hi Eric, interesting note. I wonder how the history worked. Was it just a coincidence that these two words meant such different things in their different languages? Or was it because the Israelites understood the Babylonians as confused that the Israelites began using the word babel to mean confusion. --Matthew Faulconer 06:02, 21 Feb 2006 (UTC)
- I've looked into this a bit more and clarified the lexical note a bit. Babel and the Hebrew word for "confusion," balel, aren't exactly the same word, but they sounded very much alike. So chances are that the words developed independently and coincidentally have ironic meanings in this context. In reading Genesis lately (can you guess I teach a Sunday school class?), I've noticed that there's quite a bit about the meanings of words, and names in particular. The names of almost all the important people are ascribed meanings, beginning with Adam and Eve and continuing at least through Abraham/Abram and Sarah/Sarai. The same is true in the New Testament, but to a lesser extent. The name of Jesus (his name was a common one at the time) means "the Lord saves," for example, and Saul's name is changed to Paul when he becomes a Christian.
- What I wondered right away when reading this story is whether there's any similarity between babel/balel and the English word "babble." According to what I could find, the word "babble" has a remote connection with the word "baby" and probably at one time meant "baby talk." The Oxford English Dictionary does say, however, that the story of the Tower of Babel may have influenced the meaning of "babble" even though it didn't provide the word in the first place. I suppose it's possible that the same thing happened in Hebrew. Even if the words didn't have the same origin, one may have influenced the other. Eric 15:54, 21 Feb 2006 (UTC)
- Interesting. I always figured babble was related to barbarian which I had heard came from the Greeks and was the name they gave to those people who you can't make sense of--those people who just say "ba-ba-ba-ba" rather than speaking in Greek. First I'm not sure that is right but a quick google search suggests that I'm not alone in that thinking ( http://www.takeourword.com/Issue010.html ). In that case, it would give four words with very similar meanings that are not related in any direct way: barbarian (those people who say things that aren't intelligible), babble (talk which is meaningless), balel (in Hebrew confusion) and babel (the name of the place where God caused a separation in the languages such that people couldn't understand each other). An interesting coincidence. --Matthew Faulconer 15:14, 22 Feb 2006 (UTC)