Is 'babble' related to 'Tower of Babel'?

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Is 'babble' related to 'Tower of Babel'?

Post by Archived Topic » Sat Nov 13, 2004 3:39 pm

Is the word 'babble' derived from the 'Tower of Babel' or 'Babylon'? I found a Middle Ages reference for babble but nothing else. It sort of makes sense when you consider the story of the Tower of Babel. Any help would be appreciated.
Submitted by Liz Runquist (Rapid City - U.S.A.)
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Is 'babble' related to 'Tower of Babel'?

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Nov 13, 2004 4:08 pm

Liz, BABEL and BABBLE are unrelated (except by confusion!). In the Bible Genesis 11 tells the story of Babel, where God – back before he learned to control his temper – angered by the arrogance of builders who thought they could reach heaven by erecting a tower, confused their language so that they could no longer understand each other. The story was probably inspired by a ziggurat in what is now thought to be the city of Babylon, capital of Babylonia, in an clear attempt to explain the existence of different languages. The word was originally Hebrew for ‘Babylon’ and was based on an Akkadian (the language of ancient Babylonia) phrase meaning ‘gate of God.’ But the biblical association caused its adoption into English use (lower case) in the general sense of ‘a confusion of sounds or voices’ (1529) and later any scene of noise and confusion (1625). The word ‘Babel,’ in its original (capitalized) sense was first recorded in print in the Wyclif version of the Bible of 1382.

BABBLE, on the other hand, means (as a noun, but also is a transitive and intransitive verb): 1) [1362] Inarticulate or meaningless talk or sounds. 2) [1230] Idle or foolish talk; chatter or prattle. 3) [1399] A continuous low, murmuring sound, as of streams, brooks, and birds [and thus the ‘babbler’ birds. It comes from either Middle Low German ‘babbelen,’ to prattle, or was formed independently in English as a frequentative (i.e. a verb of repeated action). ‘Babble is based on the repeated ‘ba-ba-ba’ made by a young baby or child practicing speech sounds. This is similar to the process seen in the formation of ‘mama’ and ‘papa.’ Also based on ‘ba,’ French has its ‘babiller,’ to prattle; Icelandic has its ‘babbla,’ to prattle; Latin had ‘babulus’ and ‘babbler,’ meaning ‘babbler,’ and ‘stammering,’ respectively; and Sanskrit had ‘balbala-kr-,’ to stammer.

(Oxford English Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary, Random House and MerriamWebster’s Unabridged Dictionaries, Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology, Oxford Dictionary of word Histories)

Ken G – June 8, 2004
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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Re: Is 'babble' related to 'Tower of Babel'?

Post by Razz Van Winkle » Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:57 pm

Many thanks to Ken Greenwald for providing such a good answer. :D He has been thorough and explained his ideas very well. He has obviously done his homework and knows whereof he speaks. In fact, there are only one or two points upon which I disagree.

Firstly, Ken described a
God – back before he learned to control his temper,
and I can indeed understand how this might seem to make sense in the light of Old Testament scriptures. Nonetheless, I dread to imagine what sort of a god would need to learn to control his* temper... :roll: Certainly not anyone I would worship! :lol: (* See Side Notes below)

My study of history has shown that human society in ancient times, even under the best of circumstances, was extremely barbaric as a general rule. Even if they had science and technology in some cases, humanity was still rife with cruelty and violence, in behavior as well as attitude. I'm sure most educated people of our time would consider them to be relatively uncivilized in regard to their lack of common civility or decency. I'm quite sure that the primitive masses would not have been able to grasp higher higher concepts such as compassion, tolerance or forgiveness.

In order for any god to get their attention, he would have to use a language they understood. He would have to express himself as a god of strength, cruelty, and violence, one to be feared and obeyed. In my opinion, that was merely a temporary persona of divine power, customized for a time when it was necessary and appropriate. It certainly does not fit the description given in the New Testament, wherein the apostle John called him a god of love.

Not until the time we now call Common Era was mankind ready for more insight from divine wisdom or higher consciousness. Our creators chose a certain inspired Hebrew by the name of Jesus to enlighten us by teaching about the next level of spiritual and social evolution. Initially, only some people were ready to hear about love and forgiveness, but those concepts have proven to be growing continually in popular acceptance ever since.

As the sparks fly upward, I am certain that our divine creators will and have already begun to send us more information about elevating our vibrations to even higher levels. In the last book of the New Testament, The Revelation* of Saint John, there is a prophecy about a new book. This would certainly seem to verify my main disagreement with scriptures -- that there is a lot more they have not yet told us. 8) (* See Side Notes below)

My only other contention is something that might be debatable, but it makes perfect sense to me. After studying metaphysics and mysticism for many years, I have developed and embraced those ways of seeing things. It has been my experience that there is no such thing as truly random coincidence. Mysticism teaches that many things have deeper symbolic meanings usually only apparent to those who seek higher understanding. Metaphysics teaches that the spiritual realm of things unseen (as described by mystics) contains on some level a complete replica of our world. By this way of reckoning, the meaning of all things, choices, words and actions in the physical realm of our senses always mirror or reflect something in the spiritual realm. (Please correct me if you can think of a better way to explain these terms.)

According to this philosophy, it seems quite reasonable that any apparent coincidence between the words Babel and babble is no accident. The evidence is not apparent until all the pieces tie in together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, revealing a picture that only makes complete sense when all the parts are brought together.

In this case, thanks again to Ken Greenwald :D for his work tracing the etymology of the words, Babel and babble. If Babel (or Babylon) means 'gate of god' or even something similar, it would be a good reflection of the teaching of Jesus, who said one must be born again and become as a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven. Since babble means baby talk in so many diverse language groups as Germanic, Latin or Romance languages and even Hindi, it seems to have a rather universal significance.

When I did some research into languages of the world, I was surprised and delighted to find that they all seem to stem from a singular etymology. This might or might not prove anything, but it does support the story of the tower of Babel, in which everyone spoke one language until the gods decided to scramble our speech, restricting our ability to communicate.

For that matter, I have always said the Internet is the new Tower of Babel. It has effectively reversed the old edict of non-communication and thus, with so much abundant and unstoppable freedom of information available, it effectively grants to humanity the power of gods, much as the tower of Babel was intended to do.

Whenever I find such remarkable coincidences as these, it often seems to me that the gods are laughing and playing with us. According to Biblical scriptures, it only seems fitting that our loving parents would find time to play and have fun with their beloved children. :mrgreen:
God bless us, everyone.
~ quote from Dickens speaking as Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol

* Side Notes -
1. When I say 'he' or 'his', I am using it in the traditional old school sense of 'him', without specifying any gender. The more common modern expression would be 'they'. I'm old enough to have been raised and taught to use more traditional English, so it is comfortable for me.
2. Having mentioned the book of Revelation, I'd like to emphasize that I made no mistake. The word Revelation is actually singular, despite the very common error of pronouncing it in a plural form. It is understandable coming from anyone who has not read it, but I am continually amazed and disgusted by hearing this error come from the mouths of even those who claim to teach the scriptures. It's just a personal pet peeve of mine, but knowing this might enable you to spot the phonies or those who simply have not quite done all their homework. 8)

Re: Is 'babble' related to 'Tower of Babel'?

Post by trolley » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:02 am

Welcome Razz. That's one hell of an entrance.

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