Babel: History or Myth

This is an expository essay, comparing and contrasting the story of the Tower of Babel vs. the evolution of language, with a specific concenration on the English language.

This essay begins with a quotation taken from the Bible, describing the story of the Tower of Babel. It then proceeds to break down language, from its origins through its evolution down to modern times. It attempts to portray that although Babel is a myth, its premise is true-all language and thus people were cut from essentially the same cloth.
?And the Lord said, ?Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.?? (Genesis 11:6-7) It is the humans? ability to communicate through spoken word which differentiates us from our primitive counterparts. The legend of Babel identifies language as the tie that binds a society together and denotes a direct correlation between language and the advancement of a particular society. According to tradition, after the Lord destroyed the world by flood, the sons of Noah, who spoke one language and who were descendants of the same origin, were given the task to repopulate the earth. Perpetually plagued by the sins of Adam, they were driven to build a tower so great that they themselves would be seen as gods. Therefore the Lord debilitated them by removing their ability to communicate with one another, which forced them to diverge into separate, distinct societies. Although the story grossly over simplifies both the complex history of man and the evolution of language, its premise does have some merit. Popular modern languages can be traced ancestrally to a few families. Furthermore, languages that have survived – English as the most prominent example – are considerably indebted to the influence of the powerful societies that spoke them.”