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by Wayne Blank
"Many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification"
In English translations of the Holy Bible tongue originates from two New Testament Greek words (pronounced) dialektos, from which we get the word dialect, meaning a recognized language, and glossa, meaning the tongue, but through actual usage, describes the speaking of a language for communication between people.
On that now-famous Pentecost, known as the "birthday of the church," many people suddenly began to "speak in tongues" as The Holy Spirit enabled them. But they spoke in real languages that natives of each particular language could understand. They were not babbling or ranting gibberish.
"And they were all filled with The Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
The ability to instantly speak in tongues, other languages, without having to take the time to learn them as is normally done, was a gift that God gave to some so that the Gospel could be preached to those nations. The "tongues" were actual languages.
"Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?"