Re: Did man originally speak a single language?

Glenn R. Morton (
Sun, 01 Nov 1998 19:54:11 -0600

Hi George:

At 01:47 PM 10/31/98 -0500, George Murphy wrote:
> An interesting post. I am also not a linguist & don't even play one on TV,
>but my father was a classical philologist, so I picked up some of the
>warnings against "false etymologies" &c. A few comments -
> 1) One would expect such relationships if humanity had a unitary origin,
>apart from possible connections with Gen.11 - in which we are given no
details about
>the extent to which the tongues were confused.
> 2) A detailed list such as in your post is helpful but is to some extent
>overkill. We know that the Romance languages are derived largely from
Latin, so
>similarity of Portugese, Rumanian &c words doesn't really add evidence.
The same would
>be true of some other language families.

Agreed, but the list, to be complete must contain those languages with
which we are familiar. The similarity across language families is
interesting to me at least, and there are other words that fill the same
bill, like tik/dik/dig which is used in our word digit (as in finger) and
index (indeks). The word, 'mama' for mother, is practically universal
according to Ruhlen and I can attest to its existence in Mandarin.

> 3) It's interesting that neither Hebrew (mayim) nor Greek (hydor) has
>words for water that fit the "aqua" pattern. Maybe there are rarer words
which do.

Not all languages have retained this sound, but then one wouldn't expect
them to. Gothic german had the sound, modern German doesn't.


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