Re: Languages: Lip and tongue

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Mon Sep 14 1998 - 17:51:07 EDT

Randall M. Tidmore wrote:

>While translating a study on "Tongues" (Acts 2; etc.) from Spanish to
>English, I was reading an O.T. reference (Gen. 11:1). In Spanish (RVA 1960)
>the word "tongue" is used. When I checked the Hebrew word (Strongs #8193) it
>says "lip." Was "lip" an idiom in Hebrew for language as "tongue" was in
>Greek? I noticed that the Sept. translated it as "lip" rather than change to
>"tongue." I found this very interesting.

Dear Randy,

Both SAFA ("lip") and and LASHON ("tongue") are used in Hebrew for
"language" or "speech". Often SAFA refers to the organ of speech rather
than to speech itself, while LASHON more often refers to foreign languages
than to the organ. You find LASHON with the meaning "language(s) in Gen
10:5,20 and 31, and you find SAFA with the meaning "language" or "speech"
in Gen 11:1,6,7 and 9.


Rolf Furuli
Lecturer in Semitic languages
University of Oslo

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