Pronunciation of "Babel"

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Will Fitzgerald

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Dec 4, 2011, 10:05:30 AM12/4/11
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When we sing 117 (Babylon is fallen), we usually sing "BAYbel's garments we've rejected," rhyming "Babel" with "table."

I've just learned that this is the usual British pronunciation of "Babel," according to Lynne Murphy, an American linguist teaching at the University of Sussex. [1]

So, I'm curious if the 'table' pronunciation of 'Babel' is used elsewhere in the States? In the various regions of the Southern US? What might you hear, for example, in a sermon?

I think, at least in the circles in which I normally sing, we sing "Babel" as homophonous with "babble"  in 126 (Babel's Streams). Is that true for you?

mesc...@rcn.com

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Dec 4, 2011, 10:18:59 AM12/4/11
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In the evangelical circles I grew up in, it was always "Babble." It has been jarring to my ear in Sacred Harp singing in the north/east to hear it "Bayble," but I assumed that the other singers' pronounciation was a result of their not having grown up in the church and not hearing the plethora of sermons on Old Testament themes that I did.

Warren Steel

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Dec 4, 2011, 11:13:57 AM12/4/11
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At 09:05 AM 12/4/2011, Will Fitzgerald wrote:
>When we sing 117 (Babylon is fallen), we usually sing "BAYbel's garments
>we've rejected," rhyming "Babel" with "table."
>I've just learned that this is the usual British pronunciation of "Babel,"
>according to Lynne Murphy, an American linguist teaching at the University
>of Sussex. [1]
>So, I'm curious if the 'table' pronunciation of 'Babel' is used elsewhere
>in the States? In the various regions of the Southern US? What might you
>hear, for example, in a sermon?

We always sing Babel to rhyme with table in Mississippi,
and I've always heard it thus in Alabama as well. I think
this is really the correct way, even though "Babylon" is
said and sung with the short A: BABB-ilon.

My Century Dictionary (about 1900) offers only the long
A Bable pronunciation, which has long been the traditional
and correct pronunciation in the English language. My
American Heritage Dictionary 4th edition, ostensibly based
on usage, shows Bable first, with Babble as an alternative.

I suggest the possibility that the Babble pronunciation
arose as a kind of back-formation from the English Bible,
where the Hebrew play on words in Genesis 11 (Babel/balal,
confuse) is translated: "Therefore is the name of it called
Babel; because the Lord did there confound the languages
of all the earth." But the English word 'babble' is *not*
derived from the Semitic place-name, which despite Genesis
clearly means 'gate of God'.

Interestingly, a new translation of the passage by David
Rosenberg (The Book of J, 1990) takes into account the
modern Hebrew pronunciation in which the letter BETH is
pronounced V between vowels: "That is why they named the
place Bavel: their tongues were baffled there by Yahweh."

As for saying and singing the word Babel: the only place
I've heard the "Babble" pronunciation is outside the South.
We sing "By Bable's streams" and "Bable's garments" but
"BABBilon is fallen."


--
Warren Steel mu...@olemiss.edu
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Warren Steel

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Dec 4, 2011, 11:27:38 AM12/4/11
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At 09:05 AM 12/4/2011, Will Fitzgerald wrote:
>I've just learned that this is the usual British pronunciation of "Babel,"
>according to Lynne Murphy, an American linguist teaching at the University
>of Sussex. [1]

Having read Ms. Murphy's 2006 blog entry, I must take
exception to her assertion that "American Heritage gives
the BrE pronunciation as a second alternative." As I
reported in my earlier reply, and just confirmed, the
American Heritage Dictionary, 4th edition, gives the
"Bable" pronunciation (which she calls British English)
FIRST, with "Babble" as the second alternative. The
fourth edition, published in 2000, was the current one
in 2006, though a new fifth edition was published last
month.

Bob Richmond

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Dec 4, 2011, 11:30:10 AM12/4/11
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Well, I'm quite sure I learned to pronounce it "babble" from my mother
(1906-1981), who was a high school English teacher and was always
right, but apparently in this case she wasn't.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives the British Received Pronunciation
as "baybel" with no alternatives. Two old American pronouncing King
James Bibles didn't mark the word up (in Genesis 11:9), but the
venerable Hurlbut's Story of the Bible (about a century ago) marks it
up as "baybel".

According to OED the Semitic etymology bab (gate) of 'el (name of a
god) is attested in Babylonian (Akkadian) also.

Bob Richmond
New Harp of Columbia treble
Knoxville TN
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Wade Kotter

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Dec 4, 2011, 12:08:37 PM12/4/11
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We sing it as "BAYbel" in 117 here in Utah; unfortunately, we don't sing 126 very often, but if I were to sing it I would also use the "BAYbel" pronunciation. I think the fact that I sing it as BAYbel derives from two sources: 1.) I have been strongly influenced by the southern tradition through both recordings and in person; and 2.) This is the way it is most often pronounced over the pulpit in my LDS experience, both here in Utah and in Maryland where I was raised. I don't have enough experience attending worship services in other denominations in Maryland or Utah to identify the most common pronunciation, but I can say that our non-LDS singers in Utah seem perfectly comfortable singing "BAYbel" instead of "Babble."

Wade Kotter
South Ogden, UT


From: Will Fitzgerald <will.fi...@gmail.com>
To: fasola-di...@googlegroups.com
Sent: Sunday, December 4, 2011 8:05 AM
Subject: [fasola-discussions] Pronunciation of "Babel"

Robert McKay

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Dec 4, 2011, 11:21:41 AM12/4/11
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It may be a regional thing, since in all my years, in various parts of
the States, in and out of church, I've never once heard anyone say it
"babble." :)

Robert McKay (goffsca...@juno.com)
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Robert McKay

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Dec 4, 2011, 11:20:10 AM12/4/11
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On Sun, 4 Dec 2011 07:05:30 -0800 (PST) Will Fitzgerald <will.fi...@gmail.com> writes:
 
So, I'm curious if the 'table' pronunciation of 'Babel' is used elsewhere in the States? In the various regions of the Southern US? What might you hear, for example, in a sermon?
 
I've never heard any other pronunciation, whether in California where I grew up, or in the south, or here in New Mexico.  It's the Tower of Babel, not of babble.<g>
 
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amity

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Dec 4, 2011, 1:58:24 PM12/4/11
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I have always heard "Tower of Babble."  In fact, isn't the Genesis story of Babel where the English word "babble" comes from?
If so it must be the more historically sanctioned pronunciation?  Any etymologists out there?
Terre Schill
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Will Fitzgerald

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Dec 4, 2011, 2:08:22 PM12/4/11
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babble (v.) Look up babble at Dictionary.com
mid-13c., babeln "to prattle, chatter," akin to other Western European words for stammering and prattling (cf. Swedish babbla, O.Fr. babillier) attested from the same era, some of which probably were borrowed from others, but etymologists cannot now determine which were original. Probably imitative of baby-talk, in any case (cf. L. babulus "babbler," Gk. barbaros "non-Greek-speaking"). "No direct connexion with Babel can be traced; though association with that may have affected the senses" [OED]. Meaning "to repeat oneself incoherently, speak foolishly" is attested from c.1400. Related:Babbledbabbling. The noun meaning "idle talk" is from c.1500.

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Annie Grieshop

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Dec 4, 2011, 2:20:28 PM12/4/11
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It was certainly pronounced as rhyming with "table" where I grew up in Ohio -- church, religion classes, and school all said "bay-ble".

Annie

Thurlow Weed

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Dec 4, 2011, 3:18:19 PM12/4/11
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I grew up pronouncing it "Bay-bel." While I still do, the word is a
combination of two Hebrew words, "bab" and "el." In both cases the
vowels are short, thus making the pronunciation technically "babble." I
suspect the "baybel" pronunciation is an English corruption to follow
English pronunciation rules.

Thurlow Weed
Lancaster, OH

Charles Wells

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Dec 4, 2011, 3:30:30 PM12/4/11
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At Bull Street Baptist church in Savannah in the 1950's we always said "baybel".

Charles Wells

On Sun, Dec 4, 2011 at 9:18 AM, <mesc...@rcn.com> wrote:
In the evangelical circles I grew up in, it was always "Babble."  It has been jarring to my ear in Sacred Harp singing in the north/east to hear it "Bayble," but I assumed that the other singers' pronounciation was a result of their not having grown up in the church and not hearing the plethora of sermons on Old Testament themes that I did.
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Richard Hulan

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Dec 4, 2011, 3:17:12 PM12/4/11
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I used to work at a Jewish camp in the summers, and I was there during the day of mourning, Tisha B'av.  And in the course of helping the Cantor, I learned the opening strains of Ps. 137, "By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept when we remembered thee, O Zion."  In Hebrew it's more or less  'al naharoth bawvayl,  second word btw pronounced  naharos  by most of our campers.  (That's sort of a shibboleth, for many.  Sephardim vs. Ashkenazim, and all that; cf. "The last night of Ballyhoo."  A lot of these kids were in fact from Atlanta, the setting of that play.)

Anyway, I believe Babylon is just  vvyl  in Ps. 137 -- in non-modern Hebrew, and w/o the "pointing" (insertion of vowel marks, and other aids to pronunciation, into a written text that omitted them).  Vvyl, written from right to left, and pronounced Bawvayl.

My recollection of this could, of course, be inaccurate -- last worked there 50 years ago.

Dick Hulan
Spfld VA

Robert Vaughn

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Dec 4, 2011, 3:12:01 PM12/4/11
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Sent: Sunday, December 4, 2011 9:05 AM

Subject: [fasola-discussions] Pronunciation of "Babel"

When we sing 117 (Babylon is fallen), we usually sing "BAYbel's garments we've rejected," rhyming "Babel" with "table."

I've just learned that this is the usual British pronunciation of "Babel," according to Lynne Murphy, an American linguist teaching at the University of Sussex. [1]

So, I'm curious if the 'table' pronunciation of 'Babel' is used elsewhere in the States? In the various regions of the Southern US? What might you hear, for example, in a sermon?

I think, at least in the circles in which I normally sing, we sing "Babel" as homophonous with "babble"  in 126 (Babel's Streams). Is that true for you?

I wouldn't swear to what others in our circles normally sing, since I've never really thought about it. I'm sure I (think I) hear "babble" as rhymes with "rabble" (no long "a" sound) since that is what I'm singing. I believe I could swear to all "our" preachers saying "babble" and never "baybel". So I'm thinking locally most of us are probably singing what we hear in church context.

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Give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land.

j frankel

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Dec 4, 2011, 5:48:58 PM12/4/11
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To complete the misery on all this, you should note that I was taught to pronounce 2 horizontal dots under a Hebrew letter as "ay", that long-a sound given in a lot of Christian pronunciations of the word "Babylon".  So a vowel for "ay" does exist (there's another construct to give that sound, too).  But that Hebrew/English version of psalm 137 I looked up has the vowel as something I was taught to pronounce "aw", but that Modern Hebrew, including the guy reading the psalm if you use the "listen" button I just noticed, does indeed pronounce "ah", not "ay" (or "aw").  Please also note that the Modern Hebrew pronunciation of Jerusalem is "Yerushalayim" (there's no "J" in Hebrew), please don't try to pronounce it that way in Sacred Harp songs, please.  Please let's drop this.
 
(In the song I sing "Baybel's garments" but then sing "Babble-on is fallen".  So you can all sue me, & I can sue myself.   Too.)
 
 
Please let's drop this?
 
 
Please.
On Sun, Dec 4, 2011 at 5:30 PM, j frankel <ghos...@gmail.com> wrote:
As opposed to "working a in Jewish camp in summers", I am Jewish & was brought up hearing Eastern European pronunciations of Hebrew.  That would be "Ashkenazic", to decipher what may otherwise be oblique to many below.  "Sephardic" is the term that refers to Jewish populations in the middle-East, including Israel itself, & southeast Asia over the centuries.  Generally the Spanish Inquisition in 1492 & onward sent a huge population of Jews back into the middle-East, those that weren't still there already.
 
 
The "shibboleth" I believe Mr. Hulan refers to is whether to pronounce a particular letter in Hebrew as a "T" sound or an "S" sound.  Neither occurs in the Hebrew for "Babylon". 
 
 
(I will forever pronounce "S"s where I was taught them.   With a dot inside, the letter gets pronounced one way, without the dot, the other way. Unless I wind up in Israel some day, where Modern Hebrew pronounces them all as "T"s, after not only the Sephardic custom but the custom of speakers of Arabic for similar words, & people pretend not to understand me or whatever they do when they hear those "S"s.  No-one, to my knowledge, pronounces the letter as "th", but the "T"-letter ("tof") always gets spelled that way in English.  I do not know why.)
 
 
On to the pronunciation of the letter for "B"; its news to me that sometimes its interchangeable with the letter for "V".  It's another case of "with a dot inside it's one sound, without, the dot, another sound", but I don't think I've ever seen "Babylon" in Hebrew as "Bavylon".  Oh well.
 
 
Now, on to the important vowel question:  A linguist friend once told me that vowels are what change most over the centuries.  There aren't any vowels at all in official written Hebrew, but of course there are vowels in actual spoken Hebrew words.  It makes reading stuff written in official Hebrew lots of fun, as the vowels change words (most words in Hebrew have a 3-consonant core) from, say, verbs to adjectives, so only by the position of the word in the sentence do you know what vowels it gets.  Helps if you actually speak the language, which I don't.  The modern convention is to convey vowels with dots (in some cases, lines-&-dots)  written close to letters.  Different dot/line-sets for different vowels, of course.  It's done in prayer books in the US, but not in the actual Torah scrolls.  (Only, Wikipedia, bless their pointy little heads, has a picture it says is of a Torah from the 10th century with vowels!  Well, I'll be.)  I would like to guess newspapers etc in Israel do use those dot-vowels, but I haven't seen one recently.
 
 
The dots/lines-for-vowels on the word Babylon?  So help me Hannah, all I get online are offers to buy services, mostly named, I kid you not, "Babylon".  I was kind of hoping for just a page of actual Hebrew script.  With vowels.  Probably "on there somewhere", but I'm getting tired  & will go home & look it up in one of those old things I still have around, an actual (Hebrew/English, in this case) dictionary!   
 
 
 
 
I thought to look up an actual psalm, remembering that's where I'd previously seen Hebrew script online.
 
 
But, as far as I can tell from this, nothin' gets pronounced "Babylon", it gets pronounced "Bawvel" (so that "v" sound really is in there!).  I'm going by the 1st line, 3rd word, reading the Hebrew right-to-left, as Hebrew is read, & by the 8th line, where the 1st word, the hyphenated word, is "bas-Bavel", or "daughter of Babel"; even I can translate that(! & so can anyone whose been to a bas-, or even bat-, as opposed to bar-mitzvah).  The Sephardim, & anyone speaking Modern Hebrew, would say "bat" (pronounced "bhat"), meaning "daughter", "Bah-vel" (Sephardim & Israelis say "ah" for a vowel I was taught to pronounce "aw").
 
 
But, as I said, linguists tell you vowels change the most over the centuries, & the books I'll be looking in come from the 1950s.  Since they weren't writing vowels down in the Hebrew written in the times of Babylon (unless Wiki-et-all can come up with a page to contradict this), who knows how *they* pronounced it?  Anyone conversant with the other languages spoken in Babylon want to take a flier on this?
 
 
About "that play"; never heard of it 'til now.  Internet works much quicker for that one, though.
 
 

j frankel

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Dec 4, 2011, 5:30:32 PM12/4/11
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As opposed to "working a in Jewish camp in summers", I am Jewish & was brought up hearing Eastern European pronunciations of Hebrew.  That would be "Ashkenazic", to decipher what may otherwise be oblique to many below.  "Sephardic" is the term that refers to Jewish populations in the middle-East, including Israel itself, & southeast Asia over the centuries.  Generally the Spanish Inquisition in 1492 & onward sent a huge population of Jews back into the middle-East, those that weren't still there already.
 
 
The "shibboleth" I believe Mr. Hulan refers to is whether to pronounce a particular letter in Hebrew as a "T" sound or an "S" sound.  Neither occurs in the Hebrew for "Babylon". 
 
 
(I will forever pronounce "S"s where I was taught them.   With a dot inside, the letter gets pronounced one way, without the dot, the other way. Unless I wind up in Israel some day, where Modern Hebrew pronounces them all as "T"s, after not only the Sephardic custom but the custom of speakers of Arabic for similar words, & people pretend not to understand me or whatever they do when they hear those "S"s.  No-one, to my knowledge, pronounces the letter as "th", but the "T"-letter ("tof") always gets spelled that way in English.  I do not know why.)
 
 
On to the pronunciation of the letter for "B"; its news to me that sometimes its interchangeable with the letter for "V".  It's another case of "with a dot inside it's one sound, without, the dot, another sound", but I don't think I've ever seen "Babylon" in Hebrew as "Bavylon".  Oh well.
 
 
Now, on to the important vowel question:  A linguist friend once told me that vowels are what change most over the centuries.  There aren't any vowels at all in official written Hebrew, but of course there are vowels in actual spoken Hebrew words.  It makes reading stuff written in official Hebrew lots of fun, as the vowels change words (most words in Hebrew have a 3-consonant core) from, say, verbs to adjectives, so only by the position of the word in the sentence do you know what vowels it gets.  Helps if you actually speak the language, which I don't.  The modern convention is to convey vowels with dots (in some cases, lines-&-dots)  written close to letters.  Different dot/line-sets for different vowels, of course.  It's done in prayer books in the US, but not in the actual Torah scrolls.  (Only, Wikipedia, bless their pointy little heads, has a picture it says is of a Torah from the 10th century with vowels!  Well, I'll be.)  I would like to guess newspapers etc in Israel do use those dot-vowels, but I haven't seen one recently.
 
 
The dots/lines-for-vowels on the word Babylon?  So help me Hannah, all I get online are offers to buy services, mostly named, I kid you not, "Babylon".  I was kind of hoping for just a page of actual Hebrew script.  With vowels.  Probably "on there somewhere", but I'm getting tired  & will go home & look it up in one of those old things I still have around, an actual (Hebrew/English, in this case) dictionary!   
 
 
 
 
I thought to look up an actual psalm, remembering that's where I'd previously seen Hebrew script online.
 
 
But, as far as I can tell from this, nothin' gets pronounced "Babylon", it gets pronounced "Bawvel" (so that "v" sound really is in there!).  I'm going by the 1st line, 3rd word, reading the Hebrew right-to-left, as Hebrew is read, & by the 8th line, where the 1st word, the hyphenated word, is "bas-Bavel", or "daughter of Babel"; even I can translate that(! & so can anyone whose been to a bas-, or even bat-, as opposed to bar-mitzvah).  The Sephardim, & anyone speaking Modern Hebrew, would say "bat" (pronounced "bhat"), meaning "daughter", "Bah-vel" (Sephardim & Israelis say "ah" for a vowel I was taught to pronounce "aw").
 
 
But, as I said, linguists tell you vowels change the most over the centuries, & the books I'll be looking in come from the 1950s.  Since they weren't writing vowels down in the Hebrew written in the times of Babylon (unless Wiki-et-all can come up with a page to contradict this), who knows how *they* pronounced it?  Anyone conversant with the other languages spoken in Babylon want to take a flier on this?
 
 
About "that play"; never heard of it 'til now.  Internet works much quicker for that one, though.
 
 
On Sun, Dec 4, 2011 at 3:17 PM, Richard Hulan <hu...@erols.com> wrote:

Claire Outten

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Dec 4, 2011, 5:45:55 PM12/4/11
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Absolutely - like in Ha-BAK-uk. Both A's are short, but emphasis on the 2nd syllable flows better in English.
Claire Outten, COV KY
Cincinnati Sacred Harp Singer

--- On Sun, 12/4/11, Thurlow Weed <tw...@greenapple.com> wrote:

Claire Outten

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Dec 4, 2011, 5:43:56 PM12/4/11
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We always called it Baybul in Tennessee.  Maybe you could spell it Bayble - like Bible but with a long A.  Babble always sounds silly to me. 
Claire Outten

--- On Sun, 12/4/11, Charles Wells <cha...@abstractmath.org> wrote:

From: Charles Wells <cha...@abstractmath.org>
Subject: Re: [fasola-discussions] Pronunciation of "Babel"
To: fasola-di...@googlegroups.com

Robert McKay

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Dec 4, 2011, 5:20:20 PM12/4/11
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On Sun, 04 Dec 2011 15:18:19 -0500 Thurlow Weed <tw...@greenapple.com>
writes:

> I grew up pronouncing it "Bay-bel." While I still do, the word is a
> combination of two Hebrew words, "bab" and "el." In both cases the
> vowels are short, thus making the pronunciation technically
> "babble."

Actually I suspect it's bahb-EL. I don't speak Hebrew, however, so I
could be wrong.<g>

> I
> suspect the "baybel" pronunciation is an English corruption to
> follow
> English pronunciation rules.

Certainly as a general rule an A is long when there's just one consonnant
after it (e.g. table) and short when two consonants follow (e.g. rabble).

Robert McKay (goffsca...@juno.com)
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Claire Outten

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Dec 4, 2011, 6:07:32 PM12/4/11
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Plunk!  I dropped it -
Claire Outten

--- On Sun, 12/4/11, j frankel <ghos...@gmail.com> wrote:

From: j frankel <ghos...@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [fasola-discussions] Re: Pronunciation of "Babel"
To: fasola-di...@googlegroups.com

Robert Vaughn

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Dec 4, 2011, 6:33:18 PM12/4/11
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From: Claire Outten <claire...@yahoo.com>
To: fasola-di...@googlegroups.com; wellso...@gmail.com
Sent: Sunday, December 4, 2011 4:43 PM

Subject: Re: [fasola-discussions] Pronunciation of "Babel"
We always called it Baybul in Tennessee.  Maybe you could spell it Bayble - like Bible but with a long A.  Babble always sounds silly to me. 
Claire Outten


Claire, speaking of sounding silly (and as mentioned I say "babble"), I have always sung "and sink in gaping graves" as "gaPPing graves" (short "a" sound). I suppose I learned it/heard it sung that way, or thought I did. I have long known the word "gaping" but never thought I might be singing it wrong until someone wondered why we were singing "gapping". (I still sing "gapping"!)

John Garst

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Dec 4, 2011, 7:34:02 PM12/4/11
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If I could remember like I used to, I could tell you about "Babel" in
Jackson, MS, ca 1943, but I can't, or at least, I don't think I can -
I really don't remember how I used to remember.

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Robert McKay

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Dec 4, 2011, 7:26:42 PM12/4/11
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Since we're dropping it I won't mention that if we were dealing with Korean, I'd be semi-useful since I'm married to one.<lol>
 
Written Korean does have vowels, but I gave up trying to learn how to read or write Hangul.  Where the vowel goes in the block of characters that make up a syllable varies according to rules that I could never grasp.    :)
 
Robert McKay (goffsca...@juno.com)
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In a world that operates largely at random, coincidences are to be expected, but any one of them must always be mistrusted.    --Nero Wolfe

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Will Fitzgerald

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Dec 4, 2011, 8:59:04 PM12/4/11
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In general, as a linguist, I'm not interested in defining one pronunciation as "correct" or "incorrect," but I am interested in knowing how the distribution of pronunciations and how they got there. 

Growing up in Michigan, I never heard anything but the "Babble" pronunciation of Babel -- so, in my provincial way -- it surprises me to learn how widespread the "Bayble" pronunciation is. 

Based on the responses I've gotten so far, here is a distribution of Babble vs Bayble in the US. (This isn't how people *sing* "Bable," which I think so far is uniformly "Bayble").


If you're interested in helping me improve this map, please send me:

(1) How you pronounced Babel as early as you can remember (Babble/Bayble) 
(2) Approximate age and year.
(3) Where this was (City and State, preferably)
(4) Religious background at the time. 

For me this would be:

(1) Babble
(2) 10, 1966
(3) Roseville, Michigan
(4) Methodist

Please send this to me directly -- not to the discussions list. But I'll report back later.

Will

j frankel

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Dec 5, 2011, 12:53:57 PM12/5/11
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I said I wasn't gonna, but now I'm picking this up again just to give this reference:
 
 
For what its worth, & I know nothing about this source.
 
But what I had Googled which got it was "why Babylon and not Babel" because I'm much more interested in why there are two probably-related names than the ultimate "best" pronounciation of either one of them.
 
What the ref gives is a Sumerian word "bab-ilim" where Hebrew has "bab-el".  Which explains a bunch, to me, anyway, though the ref doesn't go into it at all!  "im" denotes plural in Hebrew; apparently in Sumerian too.  So the the name in Sumerian "Bab-Ilim" translates as "Gate of the gods" whereas in Hebrew its "Gate of G-d".  Because in Jewish theology G-d is not plural.
 
Interestingly enough, the ref also cites a Hebrew word pronounced (more or less) "balal" which means "mix, mingle", so we're back to the "babble" meaning again (even though all the reputable sources cited earlier by others say the English word "babble" does not have a Hebrew root).
 
(Note; the dash is put in "G-d" because the Jewish custom is not to write out "G-d".  Even in English!)

j frankel

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Dec 5, 2011, 1:46:33 PM12/5/11
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Aaaargh.  As I suspected, various other sources trash that last one.  There seems to be agreement that what in Hebrew is "Babel" ("Bavel". actually) is in Greek "Babylon" & who-knows-why.
 
I like that simplistic reasoning behind that last one but nothing backs it up.  Yet, anyway.

Will Fitzgerald

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Dec 5, 2011, 3:15:30 PM12/5/11
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Again, just to be clear, I'm not interested in the "best"
pronunciation, either.

Will

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Will

ipse

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Dec 5, 2011, 3:47:03 PM12/5/11
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Greetings,

The pronunciation of English vowels varies
by country and region. The same vowel may
also be pronounced differently in certain
contexts, some indicated by spelling.

In the US, regional dialects may reflect the place of
origin of the original settlers (including what part
of the UK), and in some cases preserve various stages
of phonetic development in the parent language.

There is no single "correct" pronunciation of Babel,
whatever its ultimate origin. I appreciate j frankel's
contributions, and I support Will Fitzgerald's project
of a regional atlas of SH pronunciations. The patterns
of "Babel" should be apparent in similar words.

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/North_American_English_regional_phonology
https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Great_Vowel_Shift

Best wishes,

David Jensen

Will Fitzgerald

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Dec 5, 2011, 4:59:25 PM12/5/11
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David,

Thanks for the comments.

I think there is something special going on with "Babel," which is not
accounted for general processes -- Babel-onian exceptionalism, as if
were.

I don't think my little survey will provide a scientific answer, but I
think it might be good exploratory data.

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Robert McKay

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Dec 5, 2011, 4:28:56 PM12/5/11
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I'm sure it's irrelevant, but I got curious and checked the Reina-Valera translation of the Bible, the Spanish equivalent of the KJV.  There it's Babel, which according to the rules of Spanish pronunciation is babh-EL.  To approximate the "table" pronunciation, in Spanish you'd have to spell it Beíbel, or with no accent Beibel, which would come out BEY-bel and bey-BEL respectively.
 
As I say, I don't know that this has any relevance to English pronunciations.  I have found, however, that as a very general rule of thumb, if you pronounce the vowels in a foreign word as you'd pronounce them in Spanish, you tend to get close to the correct pronunciation, for instance in the Korean word Samsung, which is not SAM-sung, but SAHM-soong.    :)
 
Meanwhile, trying desperately to get myself on-topic, I happen to like singing "Babylon Is Fallen."<g>
 
Robert McKay (goffsca...@juno.com)
--------------------------------------------------
Lo! glad I come and Thou, dear Lamb,/Glory Hallelujah;/Shalt take me to Thee as I am,/Glory, Hallelujah!

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Robert McKay

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Dec 5, 2011, 5:37:31 PM12/5/11
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On Mon, 5 Dec 2011 13:59:25 -0800 Will Fitzgerald
<will.fi...@pobox.com> writes:

> I think there is something special going on with "Babel,"

Just out of curiosity, I wonder if Babel pronunciations generally match
Jordan pronunciations. Probably not, since Jerdan is a distinctly
southern pronunciation, but it would be interesting to know. Perhaps
your research will show it, one way or the other. :)

Robert McKay (goffsca...@juno.com)
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The difference between genius and idiocy? Genius has its limits.


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Will Fitzgerald

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Dec 7, 2011, 7:35:30 AM12/7/11
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Ok, folks, here is the Map of locations of people who say "Babble" (red pins) and people who say "Baybel" (green pins) for "Babel." Unfortunately, it doesn't reveal much. I find it interesting that people hear either Babble or Baybel around them, and it tends to surprise them that people pronounce it a different way. But I think we can say "Baybel" is not just a Southern thing, since the results are mixed there, and "Baybel" appears outside the South.

The Map (red=Babble; green=Baybel)

For what it's worth, I will continue to say "Babble" and sing "Baybel." (I did not, I think, hear strong evidence of people singing "Babble").

Thanks to the following people for providing data:

Annie Grieshop
Bill Holt
Bob McKay
Bob Richmond
Charles Wells
Claire Outten
Debora Grosse
Gail Doss
Greg Creech
John Bealle
John Engle
John Ramsey
Judy Mincey
Kathleen Forrest
Lincoln Richardson
Marion Mitchell
Paul Fourshee
Phil Summerlin
Robert Vaughn
Virginia Landgraf
Wade Kotter
Warren Steele

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