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Universal Language

Why is there a P in pneumonia? Where is there a P in Psalm? Why is there a K in knuckles? And why on earth is there a T in Tsunami?

Language is a funny thing. According to, there are 7,099 languages spoken around the world. Papua New Guinea has the most linguistically diverse country in the world…with over 840 languages spoken! That is hard for me to imagine.

Indonesia has 709 languages spoken.

There are 527 languages spoken in Nigeria.

There are 454 languages spoken in India, with English and Hindi being official.

There are 347 languages spoken in the United States with the English language being supreme.

China has more than 300 languages spoken.

And there are other countries with diverse spoken languages including Mexico with 290, Cameroon with 280, Australia with 259, and Brazil with 227.

I have met English-speaking people who also spoke Spanish. I even knew of someone that could speak 5 languages, fluently. Me on the other hand; I have barely ‘mastered’ English. There are so many ways to use our words.

Of all those languages, in all those countries, it is said, English is the hardest to learn. Why? explains it this way: It just makes no sense!

One of the reasons why the English language is known for being difficult is because it’s full of contradictions. There are innumerable examples of conundrums such as:

There is no ham in hamburger.

Neither is there any apple nor pine in pineapple.

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

“Overlook” and “oversee” have opposite meanings, while “look” and “see” mean the same thing.

As native speakers, we rarely stop to think how illogical many of the things we say really are – we’re just used to them. Unless you’ve been brought up speaking English, how can you possibly begin to learn all these oddities? It’s little wonder that people trying to learn English end up feeling confused. But it gets worse.

One of the hardest things about English is that although there are rules, there are lots of exceptions to those rules – so just when you think you’ve come to grips with a rule, something comes along to shatter what you thought you knew by contradicting it. A good example is the rule for remembering whether a word is spelt “ie” or “ei”: “I before E except after C”. Thus “believe” and “receipt”. But this is English – it’s not as simple as that. What about “science”? Or “weird”? Or “seize”? There are loads of irregular verbs, too, such as “fought”, which is the past tense of “fight”, while the past tense of “light” is “lit”.

Native English-speakers intuitively know what order to put words in, but this is hard to teach to those learning the language. The difference between the right and wrong order is so subtle that it’s hard to explain beyond simply saying that it “just sounds right”.

For example, we often use more than one adjective to describe a noun, but which order should they go in? We would say “an interesting little book” not “a little interesting book”. Both are technically grammatically correct, but the first “just sounds right”. It’s a bit of a nightmare for those who are trying to learn, and it may prove one nuance too much. (Source:

Over 7,000 languages and yet there was a time when the entire world population spoke just one.

Genesis 11:1 tells us, “…the whole earth had one language and the same words.” ESV

It gets better. There is a day coming, and I believe soon, when everyone will speak the same language again.

“For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord.” Zephaniah 3:9 ESV

Friend, I don’t know about you, but I want that more than any other thing! I long for that time.

Zephaniah was a minor prophet. I’m not sure why he was called ‘minor’ because his message was far from minor. Zephaniah lays out the warnings of judgement, not only for Jerusalem, but for the entire world. The day is coming.

Yes, the day is coming when “…a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 7:9-12 ESV

by Jeanette Stark – Wednesday, November 23, 2022

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