babel babble

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Dec 14 16:59:19 UTC 2006

I was officially taught by a professional schoolteacher (no later than 1961) that the word "babble" comes from the "Tower of Babel" (pronounced "babble").

  So for me it's always been The Tower of Babble. "Baybel" sounds almost like an affectation.


Michael H Covarrubias <mcovarru at PURDUE.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Michael H Covarrubias
Subject: babel babble

When announcing the Golden Globe nominations Matt Perry pronounced the movie
"Babel" as "babble."

OED doesn't list this pronunciation though M-W and American Heritage give it
second listing.

AHD includes the meaning of confusion and noise as a different entry (not
capitalized) with the 'babble' pronunciation listed first. It traces the
etymology to the place name.

The OED lists this meaning under the Babel, obviously with the same single

Is this is a persistent false-friend pronunciation: an apparent belief that
Babel is related etymologically to 'babble'?


English Language & Linguistics
Purdue University
mcovarru at


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