Kids Feedback: What Is the Origin of Language?

on April 28, 2011

Is there a “kid friendly” answer to the origin of language? We see the articles listed in the archives, but they are too advanced for our inquiring 9 year old. Thanks for your assistance.

– J.F., California

The Bible tells us that God created languages. The words “God said” are used many time in Genesis 1 (see Genesis 1:1–31). God also gave the gift of language to Adam and Eve. God and Adam spoke together, Adam named the animals, and he also named Eve (see Genesis 2:15–23). In the beginning, there was only one language that was spoken (Genesis 11:1).

After the flood, this became a problem. God made it very clear to Noah that he wanted people to spread and multiply over the earth. God did not want people to all live in the same area (Genesis 9:1,7). Some of the descendants of Noah disobeyed God’s instructions. They used God’s gift of language to form a rebellion, by organizing and building the tower of Babel.

Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:1–4

God punished mankind for this rebellion. He wanted people to spread throughout the earth, so He made it harder for them to communicate with one another. The Bible says that God “confused their language.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 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.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth. Genesis 11:5–9

People spread over the face of the earth. Those who spoke the same language generally settled together. That is why we see many countries in our world today, with people that speak different languages.

To learn more about Babel, please view the following:

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