We often hear much about evolutionary creationism in relation to biology as well as the evolution of our planet or the universe. However, we do not hear often about the development of human languages, a science known as linguistics. It is a shame that no discussion is made on this topic since communication is so important in the lives of human beings. If we could not talk or use body language, it would probably be impossible to know what someone is thinking. This took me several days to compose; however, I did my best to write something worth reading. I hope others will be interested in the topic and take part. Everyone should be polite and take the subject seriously. As a theologian and linguist, I will begin with a quote from the Holy Scriptures of the Geneva Bible from sixteenth century England. Notice how the language has changed. After that has been done, I shall begin with history and science. I hope you can read this.
Genesis 11: 1-8 Then the whole earth was of one language and one speache. And as thei went from the East, they founde a plain in the land of Shinar & there thei abode. And thei said one to an other, Come let vs make brycke for ftone ,and flyme had thei in ftead of morter. Alfo they faid, Go to, let vs build vs a citie and a tower, whofe toppe may reach vnto the heauen, that we may get vs a name, left we be Fcatred vpon ye whole earth. But the Lord came down to fe the citie & tower, which ye fonnes of men buylded. And the Lord faid & Beholde the people is one& thei beginne to do, nether can thei now be ftopped, from whatfoever thei have imagined to do. Come down, let vs go down, an that euerie one not perceiue an others fpeache. So the Lord fcatred them from thence vpon all the earth, and thei left of to build the citie .
This topic took a little while to complete, but it is now finished. The question is: Is the Tower of Babel a myth to explain the beginning of different languages or is this an indication that God has used evolution to begin the development of the tongues of the earth? I plan to discuss how the Germanic languages have developed using history, theology, which I have already done, and science. God bless and enjoy reading.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GERMANIC PEOPLES AND LANGUAGES
I must begin with the dispersion of the Germanic peoples from what seems to me to be their original homeland. As you know the Germanic languages came from the Proto-Indo-European parent language, from which Celtic, Greek, Latin and many other European languages descend. The original Indo-Europeans are believed to have come out of Russia approximately five thousand years ago. It is believed that they lived somewhere around the Black Sea. Different branches of the Indo-Europeans settled in different parts in Europe, conquering the peoples who were already living there. It is believed by linguists that Basque in Spain is a language that existed in Europe before the arrival of the Indo-Europeans. Another Non-Indo-European language would be the Etruscan tongue in Italy. Other Indo-Europeans traveled to the south and east in Eurasia, some in Russia and others into India.
The ancestors of what I will call the Proto-Germans settled in eastern Europe and then moved into Scandinavia, i.e., Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. For unknown reasons, the Proto-Germans moved into Northern Germany, Holland and Belgium and conquered the native Celts there. According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, the Proto-Germanic language evolved into North Germanic, East Germanic, and West Germanic. North Germanic Languages include Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. Even though these are considered different languages, Swedish people can understand some Danish as well as Norwegian. There was only one East Germanic language that is now extinct: Gothic. There is a Bible Translation made for the Goths by an un-orthodox Christian monk. Some of the Gothic language was still spoken in the Ukraine as far as the eighteenth century. Gothic was spoken in the Lombard Kingdom of Italy as well as Spain. Eventually, Gothic became a dead language in Spain and Italy by around the eighth or ninth centuries. Vulgar Latin, descended from the Latin of Rome, became the languages in Spain and Italy. These developed into the dialects in those regions. Modern Spanish and Italian came from these. West-Germanic began to divide into numerous dialects up to the time when the Roman Empire came to an end in AD 476. These dialects have become in our own time known as Modern High German, the standard language of Germany, Austria and Switzerland and parts of Belgium and South Africa. Low German, spoken mostly in North Germany, Yiddish, a descendant of Middle High German spoken by many Jews throughout the world. Others include Frisian in Northwest Germany and Holland, Dutch in Holland, Flemish in Belgium, and English throughout the former British Empire as well as Scottish, a descendant of Northumbrian Old English. I must say that the genes of the Germanic tribes of ancient times have spread everywhere.
A COMPARISON OF ENGLISH AND GERMAN: WE ARE COUSINS AFTERALL!
History and science can show that the English and German populations are closely related. The Anglo-Saxons from Northern Germany conquered England from the Romans and the Celts in the fifth century AD. At that period of history, the Saxons in Germany and in England could still speak with each other. Even though that is no longer true without someone knowing the language of the other, the relationship of English and German can be seen in the following examples.
Modern English, Old English, Low German, and High German
I can go. Ic cann gan. Ik kann gehen. Ich kann gehen.
I could give more examples that would show my point; however, due to room here, I shall abbreviate my examples.
HOW DO LANGUAGES EVOLVE?
That is probably the $64,000 dollar question. I do not claim to be a biologist, even though I have a little knowledge of the subject. I would have to say that God caused our brain to grow and evolve to the point that human language came about. The next question is: does theistic evolution have to do with the language of human beings? I must say “yes.” Do history and natural causes help languages to change? The answer again is yes. Let’s take for example Danelaw, Church Latin, and Norman French. Around the eighth and nineth centuries the Danes influenced the language of Old England when they conquered parts of that nation and intermarried into the English. Pronouns such as “their, they, them” all came from the Danish and Old Norse languages. Latin mostly influenced English through the church. Due to room on the forum, I shall give one example: to adore, meaning to worship or love. To adore can be seen in the following Christmas Hymn: Venite adoremus . The Norman French, who were originally from Scandinavia, gave us words such as “war” and “amore.” Now the big question above. How do languages evolve? As I have already said, God is the beginning of this process. Does that mean that He did it at the Tower of Babel or would it have happened anyway? I say that it would have happened anyway. Languages make the world interesting, and the God of Israel and the universe caused it!
May God bless all of you and your growth in knowledge.
Books I would like to recommend are:
Alfred the Great and His Times: The Golden Dragon by Professor Alf Mapp, BA, LLD, Old Dominion University
Maryknoll Book of Peoples by The Maryknoll Society of the Roman Catholic Church
English Words from Latin and Greek Roots, by Dr. Ayers