Pondering The Confusion of Tongues

I don't consider myself a biblical historian, but I am very interested in the historical (if any) significance of the tales in the Old Testament. One of these is the tale of the Tower of Babel (Migdal Bavel, Burj Babil, Etemenanki, etc.).

Though the actual location of the tower's location is hotly debated amongst scholars, a primary consistency is the tale related in Genesis:

The whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Šin'âr, and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, "Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, "Come, let us build us a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."
     And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the children of men built. And the Lord said, "Behold, the people are one and they have all one language, and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be withheld from them which they have imagined to do. Come, let Us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth; and they left off building the city.
     Therefore is the name of it called Bâbel (that is "Confusion") because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth; and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
[Genesis 11.1-9;
tr. King James 21st Century]

I could go into depth about the various stories and histories revolving around the Tower and how it came to fall, plans to rebuild it by Alexander the Great, etc., but my primary interest today is in the act known as the Confusion of Tongues.

Now, the Book of Jubilees states that the tower was built for "forty and three years" before God said "No, no!", but other sources give various other times, even a century or more.

Here's where we get to the meat of an idea that holds fast for gaming; how did the various tribes form? What caused the Confusion of Tongues? Sure, we can go ahead and say God did it. Deities are powerful, and command the ability to do crazy things like that. From a cultural point of view, however, it wouldn't make sense.

How would various cultures arise simply because people speak different languages. French, Italian, and Spanish cultures share more similarities than they have differences, yet their languages are different and they came from a single "tribe"; ancient Rome. And so, I present the alternate theory that the languages and cultures developed among work groups, which, working only amongst themselves, would have used specific jargon for the job, and only associating with others working on their section, side, specific job (stonecutter, hauler, mortar-makers) would begin only speaking the common words of their trade/living space/whatever, and may be completely unfamiliar with those on the other side of the structure.

Now, if anyone is unsure how much a language can change in such a short amount of time, simply think about how young the United States is, and how differently we speak from the British, and that's with relatively constant contact. Imagine if your family and one other lived across the road from one another for 40-100 years and never had contact with one another or with any outside mutual language-sharers, relying only on the land you live on. I would assume that these two families would speak in, perhaps drastically, different ways.

In any event, this theory might inform world-building when defining the cultures of your game world. It's certainly made me think more on the concepts of culture.

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