It is implied that prior to the event, humanity spoke a single language, either identical to or derived from the "Adamic language" spoken by Adam and Eve in Paradise. In the confusion of tongues, this language was split into seventy or seventy-two dialects, depending on tradition. This has sometimes been interpreted as being in contradiction to ,
This issue only arises, however, if is interpreted as taking place before and separate from the Tower of Babel story, instead of as an overview of events later described in detail in . It also necessitates that the reference to the earth being "divided" is taken to mean the division of languages, rather than a physical division of the earth (such as in the formation of continents).
During the Middle Ages, the Hebrew language was widely considered the language used by God to address Adam in Paradise, and by Adam as nomothete (the Adamic language) by various Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholastics. Dante in the Divina commedia implies however that the language of Paradise was different from later Hebrew by saying that Adam addressed God as I rather than El.
Preceding the acceptance of the Indo-European language family, these languages were considered to be "Japhetite" by some authors (e.g. Rasmus Rask in 1815; see Indo-European studies). Beginning in Renaissance Europe, priority over Hebrew was claimed for the alleged Japhetic languages, which were supposedly never corrupted because their speakers had not participated in the construction of the Tower of Babel. Among the candidates for a living descendant of the Adamic language were: Gaelic (see Auraicept na n-Éces); Tuscan (Giovanni Battista Gelli, 1542, Piero Francesco Giambullari, 1564); Dutch (Goropius Becanus, 1569, Abraham Mylius, 1612); Swedish (Olaus Rudbeck, 1675); German (Georg Philipp Harsdörffer, 1641, Schottel, 1641); and among the candidates for Adamic language itself were: Hebrew (see Middle Ages); Proto-Indo-European (Anne Catherine Emmerich, 1790). The Swedish physician Andreas Kempe wrote a satirical tract in 1688, where he made fun of the contest between the European nationalists to claim their native tongue as the Adamic language. Caricaturing the attempts by the Swede Olaus Rudbeck to pronounce Swedish the original language of mankind, Kempe wrote a scathing parody where Adam spoke Danish, God was a Swede, while the serpent was a francophone.
Constructing the Truth. From « Confusion of tongues » to « Construction in analysis »/ Freuds Moses-Studie als Tagtraum/ Le meurtre de Moïse. Freud et le monothéïsme/ Wege aus der vaterlosen Psychoanalyse. Vier Abhandlungen über Freuds « Mann Moses »/ Psychoanalysis or Mind and Meaning/ My Life in Theory/ Le Moïse de Freud. Judaïsme terminable et interminable/ Et Moïse créa les Juifs... : Le testament de Freud/ Michelangelos Moses und Freuds « Wagstück ». Eine Collage
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