Linguistics is a complicated subject on the whole but the reasons for the wide variety of languages are fairly simple.
Prehistoric man migrated from our species's point of origin (likely somewhere in Africa) and then various populations became separated by land or sea barriers. These populations all developed separate languages since none of the groups were intercommunicating. Even when a part of the population which speaks the same language separates they develop a distinctly differing dialect as time goes on (an example would be the dialect of America and Britain, or even the dialects among the regions of the U.S.). Then there are cases later in history when cultures mix through trade or war and they pick up words and phrases from each other to incorporate in their own language.
The Genesis account describes the uniting of some part of the post-Flood human family in a project that opposed God’s will as stated to Noah and his sons. (Ge 9:1) Instead of spreading out and ‘filling the earth,’ they determined to centralize human society, concentrating their residence on a site in what became known as the Plains of Shinar in Mesopotamia. Evidently this was also to become a religious center, with a religious tower.—Ge 11:2-4.
Almighty God gave their presumptuous project a setback by breaking up their unity of action, accomplishing this by confusing their common language. This made impossible any coordinated work on their project and led to their scattering to all parts of the globe. The confusion of their language would also hinder or slow down future progress in a wrong direction, a God-defying direction, since it would limit mankind’s ability to combine its intellectual and physical powers in ambitious schemes and also make it difficult to draw upon the accumulated knowledge of the different language groups formed—knowledge, not from God, but gained through human experience and research. (Compare Ec 7:29; De 32:5.) So, while it introduced a major divisive factor into human society, the confusion of human speech actually benefited human society in retarding the attainment of dangerous and hurtful goals. (Ge 11:5-9; compare Isa 8:9, 10.) One has only to consider certain developments in our own times, resulting from accumulated secular knowledge and man’s misuse thereof, to realize what God foresaw long ago would develop if the effort at Babel were allowed to go unhindered.
Can I use this example to explain? Some years ago I organised an event in Brisbane, Australia at which a deaf lady was to receive an award. I found someone to translate the speeches in deaf sign language, and afterwards to my horror I discovered that there was confusion. It appears that deaf people on one side of the Brisbane River, without contact with deaf people on the south side of the river had developed their own signs. (At that time there was no official Australian Deaf Sign language - there is now, called AUSLAN) People develop their own language by communicating with their "own" people. I often laugh when I see sparrows here in China - they look the same as our Aussie sparrows, but their bird call is different. They developed their own bird call over generations. I hope that helps.
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