Tongue/language - same word?

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by linguist786, Jul 16, 2006.

  1. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    In your language, does the word "tongue" and "language" translate to the same word? And another little question - Why do you think they may be linked?
    My "guess" would be that language is spoken - with the tongue. Without it, you wouldn't be able to speak. Something like that?

    I know the following:
    (blue = language. red = tongue)

    language/tongue :thumbsdown:

    ભાષા/જ઼બાન :thumbsdown:

    भाषा/ज़बान :thumbsdown:

    زبان/زبان :thumbsup:

    langue/langue :thumbsup:

    Sprache/Zunge :thumbsdown:

    lengua/idioma/lengua :thumbsup:

    lingua/lingua :thumbsup:

    Having said all of that, can there still be instances where the word for "tongue" can still be used to mean "language"? (or vice versa)
    (Just like in English, for example: mother tongue)

    I just find the link between the two words interesting.

    Corrections welcome if necessary.
  2. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    I forgot I knew some others:

    لسان/لغة/ لسان :thumbsup:

    Chinese Mandarin:
    舌头/语言 :thumbsdown:
    (she2 tou2/yu3 yan2)
  3. Pivra Senior Member


    bhaasaa ภาษา/ lin ลิ้น, jewha ชิวหา :thumbsdown:
  4. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
    Portuguese: língua (both meanings).
    Czech: jazyk (both).
    Polish: język (both).
    Romanian: limbă (both).
    Russian: язык (both).
    Macedonian: jaзик (both).
    Catalan: llengua (both).
  5. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Linguist, what about the lines from the Dil se song:

    woh yaar hai jo khusboo ki tarah
    hai jiski zubaa(n) urdu ki tarah

    wouldn't the second line there refer to ones language and tongue simultaneously? Maybe because I speak Hindi and Panjabi just like I do english sometimes, my mind is clouded, but I think they'd be the same...
  6. ukuca

    ukuca Senior Member

    Istanbul - Turkey
    Turkish - Turkey
    In Turkish:
    tongue = dil
    langue = dil, :thumbsup: also lisan
    but, tongue is not equal to "lisan"
  7. leesboek New Member

    taal/tong :thumbsdown:
  8. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    Cantonese for tongue is "lei" I think but I don't know the CHinese character for it.
    It's definitely not used for " language" though.
  9. avalon2004 Senior Member

    Merseyside, England
    UK- English/Spanish
    In Greek, the word γλώσσα [glóssa] is also used for both tongue and language.
  10. Confused Linguist Senior Member

    English & Bengali
    (bhaashaa/jeebh) :thumbsdown:

    matribhaashaa (mother-tongue)
  11. midismilex Senior Member

    Taiwanese, Mandarin
    Perhaps the answer is both right in Chinese but not exactly in Mandarin.
  12. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    In Russia, the word for 'language' and 'tongue' is the same - язык.
    But we have two words for 'dialect' - диалект and наречие. It seems that the difference between those two words is that диалект sounds more formally, whereas наречие is a bit more informal. At least, I've never seen the word наречие in any serious work on linguistics.
  13. amikama

    amikama sordomodo

    לשון/לשון :thumbsup:

    שפה/שפה :thumbsup:

    (where blue = language, red = tongue, green = lip)

    Furthermore, ניב (niv) means both "dialect"/"idiom" and "eyetooth/fang" ;)
  14. Aylish New Member

    Sweden Swedish Turkish
    in swedish it is not the same word.Tongue : tunga , language : språk
  15. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Confused, is it Bhaashaa or Bhaoshaa ;)
  16. Confused Linguist Senior Member

    English & Bengali
    It is Bhaashaa because the long 'a' sound was not affected during the vowel shift that lent Bengali its unique pronunciation of Sanskrit loan words. Hope this helps. :)
  17. karuna

    karuna Senior Member

    The planet Earth
    Latvian, Latvia
    In Latvian:

    (where blue = language, red = tongue)

    mēle has been used to indicate language but nowadays it will sound archaic. Sometimes it is used in poetry.
  18. übermönch

    übermönch Senior Member

    Warum wohne ich bloß in so einem KAFF?
    World - 1.German, 2.Russian, 3.English
    In German, you actually can use tongue (Zunge) for language, but it's just very archaic. Same goes for English by the way (f.e. native tongue) Besides all words with lang* or ling* in them are derrived from the latin word for tongue.
  19. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Interesting remark. Because Arabic has almost the same : the word lisaan لسان is mainly for tongue, and can also mean language, but it's usage as synonym for language is getting less common. We mostly use the word lugha لغة for language.
  20. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    I think this is interesting:

    The word "dingua" may have developed to "tingua/tengua", which got to "tongue" in English (ME: tunge). The German word "Zunge" (OHG: zunga) got it's "z" sound due to the 2nd sound shift. So, after all, the two words "tongue" and "language" are closely connected - speaking about logic and etymology. :)
  21. Maja

    Maja Senior Member

    Binghamton, NY
    Serbian, Serbia
    In Serbian it is the same!

    language - jezik (језик)
    tongue - jezik (језик)

  22. Becker Member

    In Sinhalese

    language = basa
    tongue = diva

    mother tongue = mav basa
  23. alby Senior Member

    In Croatian is the same:

  24. stargazer

    stargazer Senior Member

    Slovenia, Slovenian

    In Slovenian, we also use JEZIK for both LANGUAGE and TONGUE
  25. MarX Banned

    Indonesian, Indonesia
    Hi Linguist!

    In Indonesian:

    bahasa/lidah :thumbsdown:

    Lidah is never used to mean language.


  26. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    Not in Tagalog. Tongue= Dila Language= Wika/Salita But we use to say: Kung ano mayroon ang Diwa siyang mabibigkas ng Dila. ( The spirit within dictates what to say/tell)
  27. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    月利 (one character, but I can't type it.) v. 語言. :thumbsdown:
    (lei, jyu jin)

    It used to be the same as Putonghua, but thanks to superstition, people have switched to lei instead.
  28. ogrebattle New Member

    Français (France) & Anglais (UK)
    In French it is not the same at all; Langage is the capacity to build communication within the brain, Langue is the outcome of the development that follows this capacity.
  29. LilianaB Banned

    US New York
    In Lithuanian they are not the same (especially the way the words are used). Language (spoken and written -- a system of signs used for communication) is kalba. Tongue (organ) is žodis, but also word is žodis (speech sometimes). I think word comes from tongue because you use tongue to speak. It is the essential organ to produce speech.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2012
  30. darush Senior Member

    in Persian they are the same, زبان /zabān/
  31. Selyd Senior Member

    (мова /mowa/= language. язик /yazyk/= tongue).
  32. AutumnOwl Senior Member

    It's true that the common word for language in Swedish is språk, but there is also an older word, tungomål, which comes from the word tongue. There is also an expression, "att tala i tungor", which comes from the Bible when the first Christians became able to speak different languages, today usually used when someone is speaking in religious ecstasy, but it can also be used when someone is "speaking gibberish", or speaking confusingly.

    Have the same word for both tongue and language, kieli.
  33. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    That would be glossolalia, wouldn't it ("speaking in tongues")?

    In Greek both tongue/language are described by «γλώσσα» /'ɣlosa/ (fem.) a Classical fem. noun «γλῶσσα» 'glōssă & «γλῶττα» 'glōttă --> tongue, language with obscure etymology (some philologists see a connection with the ancient fem. nouns «γλώξ» glōks --> beard of corn and «γλωχίς» glō'xīs --> any projecting point).
    It should be noted however that in Classical/Koine Greek, language was defined mostly by the masculine noun «λόγος» 'lŏgŏs --> reckoning, ratio, proportion, word, reason, speech, language (e.g «Ἕλλην λόγος» --> Greek language)
  34. AutumnOwl Senior Member

    Yes it is.
  35. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Hi Whodunit!
    In Old Norse, language was "tungu". Don't know about tongue...
    So I think the English tongue derives from tungu, at first meaning both language and tongue.
    Then the Germanic word "tongue" stuck for referring to a common thing: a part of the body, while for the cultural concept English switched to the French-derived word language. Is it possible?
    Also, in English there's an odd word: mothertongue :confused: Shouldn't it be *"mother language" instead?
    In fact in most languages it's called "mother language" (lingua madre, lengue maternelle, língua materna, 母语 etc.).

    Hi OneStroke!
    What does 月利 mean?

    In my Chinese dialect, Wenzhounese:
    口舌/口肣 v. 语言/说话 :thumbsdown:

    Curiously, we also changed the word for "tongue" due to superstition.
    The original word 舌 is homophone with "折=lose money in business" (as in 折本). So we replaced it with 肣 instead, which means "tongue" in ancient Chinese and is homophone with "赚=gain money" instead.
    But nowadays, young people tend to use the original "unlucky" form, while old people tend to use the "lucky" form.
    But the food duck tongue (yes, we eat them :D) is always called 鸭肣, with the "lucky" form.

    (Actually they are homophone in Mandarin too ;) but Mandarin speakers aren't so supersticious, and 折本 is not a common word in Mandarin.)

    Here 说话 is a noun meaning "language, speech", it doesn't mean "speaking"; for that we only say 讲话 or 讲说话。
    语言 is an influence from Mandarin/Chinese written language.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012
  36. ancalimon Senior Member

    We also use ağız for both mouth and dialect.

    For example: Azerbaycan ağzı, Türkiye ağzından biraz farklıdır. (Azerbaijan dialect is a little bit different from Turkey dialect)

    lisan is an Arabic loan in Turkish.
  37. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    Hungarian, the same: NYELV = language, tongue
  38. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    月利 is just our 'lucky' form. The 'unlucky' form has died out in Cantonese completely except as a bound morpheme.

    Also, you're right that 語言 is an influence from the written language. In colloquial Cantonese, we say 話 for 'language' (which, incidentally, has the unlucky character for 'tongue' in it), but with a change of tone to the second.

    P.S. Duck tongues?!
  39. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Hi OneStroke!
    I was searching about 脷 to see if it had an ancient meaning, but is not listed in the Kangxi dictionary(康熙詞典)。
    According to some website, it was newly created in Cantonese, to be homophone with 利=gain, profit,then it was added the "meat" radical and it became 脷; because the original 舌 was homophone with 蝕=to lose money in business, as in 蝕本. Practically the same as my dialect, and I'm having doubts if our word for "losing money" should be written 折本 or 蝕本。

    Your observation about 話 is interesting, probably because we need the tongue to talk. Perhaps 舌 and 話 were pronounced the same in Old Chinese (上古漢語), or maybe not: just a combined ideogram(會意字)。
    So do you pronounce 廣東話 and 講話 with a different tone for 話?

    By the way, duck tongues are a popular food in Hong Kong too, where they are mostly imported from Taiwan. See here and here.
    Probably because they are imported from Taiwan, they are called 鴨舌 and not 鴨脷, which could be confused with the 鴨脷洲 island in Hong Kong.

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