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I'm aware there are number of accounts of the Tower of Babel in Midrash, from the Islamic traditions, Kabalah, Josephus and the Jubilees.

For the most part, these accounts seem to derive from Genesis. But is there any independent source for the story?

Are there any accounts of how language diversity came to be that also involve tower construction?

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2 Answers 2

I've been unable to find other tower-construction myths that explain diverse languages. According to this article Hindu mythology includes a tree that reached to the heavens and itself grew haughty (the tree, not men), and as a result the tree was struck down and diverse languages and beliefs ensued. That's a similar theme in broad strokes, but very different in details This tree is the only "physical structure affecting language" story I've found.

In Sumerian myth the god Enki acted to confuse human languages, but the legend doesn't say why. Greek and Norse myths also involve gods acting to give language(s). None of these mention human building projects.

Please note: This answer was written for a neutral, academic audience and is not intended to be interpreted in the context of a religious belief or doctrine.

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There is a naturalistic proposal which reverses the cause and effect.

In the biblical account, building the tower is the cause for God to scramble the languages which causes them to disperse.

The naturalistic theory (based in a common ancestor) says that as man dispersed, small groups developed their own branches of the language until they could no longer communicate. I know of no connection to a tower in this proposal.

Another tradition reminiscent of the tower:

American Indians did not all speak the same language, but would gather to trade or make peace and war together. These gathering included shamanistic ritual around the totem pole. It is claimed the pole itself never represented an idol.


There are theories of languages arising independently.

In opposition, there is a project called "Edenics" which theorizes that a form of Hebrew was spoken prior to the tower and that all other primitive languages were formed by scrambling the letter of each word. Common scrambled phonemes are being collected and traced.

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