If you are wondering which chapter I am calling “the Language chapter,” it is 1 Corinthians 14 because it has a lot to say about language. Since we like to talk about language here on my blog, I thought it would be a good chapter to choose. It comes right after 1 Corinthians 13 that also begins talking about language because in 1 Corinthians 12, the people were arguing over who had the better gift, the people who could preach or the people who could speak in foreign languages. In 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul put them in in their place poetically and kindly. He told them they needed to learn to love one another and taught them how to do it. He said all the gifts the miraculous gifts the Holy Spirit had given them were going to end, and they all just needed to learn to love one another. In chapter 14, he goes on to talk about language. He says that the gift of preaching is more important than the gift of speaking in foreign languages. He says that any gift they have is only good if it builds the church up. If it does the others some good, then it has value. If someone speaks a foreign language, and no one understands him, no one is getting benefit, but if a person stands up and speaks to the others about God, then everyone gets benefit.
In my last blog, I wrote about verses 7 & 8 where the apostle Paul talks about how even inanimate objects such as harps and flutes need notes for us to understand the tune. He is speaking metaphorically about language. We need the words, and we need the grammar to be understood. Through all of this, the apostle Paul is showing what a well educated, talented, eloquent guy he really was through his use of figures of speech, his reasoning, and his poetic style of writing.
As for the Spanish grammar, we have been learning several verb tenses using the verb “hablar”: Here are some useful conjugations with “hablar”:
Simpe present tense, meaning everyday or all the time: I speak- hablo, you speak – hablas, he, she, or it speaks – habla, we speak- hablamos, they speak – ellos hablan.
Simple past tense, meaning it happened at one time in the past and is finished: I spoke – hable’, you spoke – hablaste, he spoke – hablo’, we spoke – hablamos, they spoke – ellos hablaron.
Present perfect tense, meaning it began in the past and continued until now: I have spoken – he hablado, you have spoken – has hablado, he has spoken – ha hablado, we have spoken – hemos hablado, they have spoken – han hablado.
Present progressive tense, meaning it is happening right now and continuing: I am speaking – estoy hablando, you are speaking – estas hablando, he is speaking – esta hablando, we are speaking – estamos habando, they are speaking – estan hablando.
Future tense, meaning it will happen in the future: I will speak – hablare’, you will speak – hablaras, he will speak – hablar,a’, we will speak – hablaremos, they will speak – hablaran.
Another future tense (In English, this is less formal): I am going to speak – voy a hablar, you are going to speak – vas a hablar, he is going to speak – va a hablar, we are going to speak – vamos a hablar, they are going to speak – van a hablar.
Past progressive, meaning it happened continuously over a time in the past: I was speaking – estaba hablando, you were speaking – estabas hablando, he was speaking – estaba hablando, we were speaking – estabamos hablando, they were speaking – estaban hablando.
The gerund, meaning it looks like a verb, but it is a noun: speaking – hablando
Perhaps we have talked about other tenses with this verb, but it looks like we have talked about a lot. As we go through, we keep building on our knowledge of Spanish grammar as well as our Biblical knowledge, so lets keep going.
Verse 9: Asi’ tambien vosotros, si por la lengua no diereis palabra bien comprensible, ?Como se entendera’ lo que decis? Porque hablareis al aire.
Asi’ tambien vosotros – “Like this you also.” “Asi” ” means “like this” or “like that.” “Asi” is referring to the musical instruments in the verses before when the apostle Paul was saying that if you played without notes, no one would know the tune. “Tambien” means “also.” “Vosotros” is a plural “you.” This is something I left out above because it is a “you” that is not only plural, but it is close to the people that are being talked to. Most Spanish teachers tell students not to learn the verb form that goes with this pronoun because the don’t think you will need it much. It isn’t used much, but it is used sometimes, so it is good to have some knowledge of it. You guys speak – vosotros hableis. However, it is more respectful to say: “ustedes hablan” for “you guys speak.” If you are teaching a class or preaching, or in any way speaking in front of a group of people, use “ustedes hablan.”
Si por la lengua no diereis palabra bien comprensible -“If by the tongue, you will not give understandable words.” “Si” means “if.” If “si” had an accent mark, it would mean “yes,” but it doesn’t, so it means “if.” “Por” means “by.” “La lengua” is “the tongue.” “Lengua” is a feminine singular noun, so it ends in an “a,” and it needs an article that is also feminine and singular, so it need “la” as opposed to “el” or “las” or “los.” Sometimes in Spanish “lengua” can mean “tongue,” and sometimes it means “language.” Also in English, in old times, we called a language “a tongue.” Now a days, we more often use the word language, and in Spanish, the more modern word for language they like to use is “idioma.” The way it is phrased here, “lengua” could mean “tongue” or “language.” “No diereis” means “will not give.” “Diereis” comes from “dar” which means “to give.” It is also that form that goes with “vosotros” (you guys) again. You aren’t going to hear it very often, but it exists. If you want to say “you guys give,” the better way to say it is “ustedes dan.” You should know by now that adjectives come after the nouns in Spanish. “Palabra” is the noun that means “word.” “Comprensible” means “understandable.” “Comprensible” is related to “comprender” which many learn as “to understand” in high school Spanish. It has that “ible” on the end that all English speakers understand means “can” so “comprensible” is “can be understood.” “Palabra” comprensible” is “can be understood word.” “Bien” means “well,” and adverb that describes “comprensible,” the adjective. “Bien comprensible” means “can be understood well.” “Palabra bien comprensible” means “word that can be understood well” so we have “if you guys don’t give a word that can be understood well.”
Como se entendera’ – “How will you understand yourself?” or “How will he understand himself?” or “How will she understand herself?” “Como” means “how” as a question word, and you can see the question marks. “Entendera’ ” comes from “entender.” This is the word that is more commonly used if you want to ask if someone understand. “Entendera’ ” means “he, she, it, or respectful you will understand.” The “se” before it is a reflexive pronoun that means “himself, herself, itself, or yourself.”
lo que decis? – “it that you say?” “Lo” means “it.” “Que” is a relative pronoun that means “that.” If “que” began the question, it would mean “what,” but it doesn’t so it is a relative pronoun. At times, “que” can also mean “than,” but there is no comparison here. “Decis” comes from “decir.” “Decir” means “to say.” If you conjugate “decir” : dijo = I say. decis = you say, dice = he, she, it says or respectful you say. decimos = we say, dicen = they say or respectful plural you say.
Porque hablareis al aire – “because you guys will speak to the air.” “Porque” means “because.” If it were two words, “por que” would mean “why.” “hablareis” is that “vosotros” (respectful you guys) form again. “Al” is two words meshed together, “a” and “el.” “A” means “to,” and “el” is a masculine, singular “the.” “El” goes with “aire.” which means “air.” “Air” is a non count noun which means it always uses a singular “the,” (el).
Let’s put this verse all together: “Like this you also, if by the tongue, you will not give understandable words, how will you yourself understand what you say? because you guys will speak to the air.”
Verse 10: Tantas clases de idiomas hay, seguramente, en el mundo, y ninguno de ellos carece de significado.
Tantas clases – “so many kinds” or “so many types.” “Tanto” means “so much” or “so many.” However, “clases” is a feminine, plural noun, and “tanto” must be changed to feminine, plural to fit with “clases.” You take the “o” on the end and change it to “a” to make it feminine, and then you put an “s” on the end to make it plural.
de idiomas hay – “of languages there are.” “De” means “of.” At times, it means “from,” but here, you can tell it means “of.” “Idiomas” is the plural form of “idioma” which means “language. This is a word more commonly used by Mexicans today for “language” than “lengua,” but they use them both. “Hay” means “there is” or “there are.” If you want to ask someone if they speak English, say, “Puedes hablar la idioma ingles?” If you want to ask them if they understand English, say “entiendes la idioma ingles?”
siguramente – “surely.” “Sigur” means “sure.” Any time you put “mente” on the end of a Spanish word, it has “ly” on it in English and is an adverb.
en el mundo – “in the world.” “En” means “in.” At times, it means “on,” but here it is “in.” “El” is the masculine singular “the.” “Mundo” means “world.” “Mundo” is talking about people, not about the planet. If you wanted to talk about the planet, say “tierra.”
Y ninguno de ellos – “and none of them.” Again, “y” means “and.” “ninguno” means “not one.” “De,” again, means “of.” “Ellos” means “them.” At times, it means “they,” but because “de ellos” is a prepositional phrase, “de” is the preposition, and “ellos” is the object of the preposition. An object of a preposition must be a noun or a pronoun. The object form of the pronoun in English is “them,” but they use the same pronoun in Spanish for “they” and “them.” “Ellos” is the masculine form because it has the “o” in it. If there were an “a” instead of an “o” they would be specifically talking about women, but with an “o” they may be talking about men or about men and women together.
carece – “it lacks” or “he lacks” or “she lacks.” “Carece” comes from “carecer” which means “to lack.” It is the third person singular simple present tense form which means that it happens everyday and the pronoun embedded could be “he, she, or it.”
de significado – “of meaning.” We know that “de” means “of.” “significar” means “to mean.” We have a noun like this in English “significance.” If we say, “What significance does it have?” We are saying, “What does it mean?” That “ado” on the end means that “significado” is a gerund which means it looks like a verb, but it is a noun. In fact, “significado” is the object of the preposition “de,” and objects of the preposition can only be nouns or pronouns.
Let’s put this verse all together: “There are so many kind of languages surely, in the world and none of them lacks meaning.”
It seems the apostle Paul is adamant about telling these people that when they speak, they need to make themselves understood. If you walk into a church and someone is standing up there saying something you don’t understand, it does no good. They are “speaking into the air.” Every language has meaning, and he thinks everyone should be understood by the people in the church because the church needs to be built up by what is being said.
Since we are talking about languages, it seems that there is another verb that keeps being used “to say” (decir). Let’s conjugate this verb:
Simple present tense: I say – digo, you say – dices, he, she , it says – dice, we say – decimos, they say – dicen.
Simple past tense: I said – dije, you said – dijiste, he, she, it says and respectful you said – dijo, we said – decimos, they said – dicieron.
Future tense – I will say – decire’, you will say – deciras, he, she it will say or respectful you will say – decira’, we will say – deciremos, they will say – diran.
present perfect, a type of past tense – I have said – he dicho, you have said – has dicho, he, she it has said or respectful you have said – ha dicho, we have said -hemos dicho, they have said – han dicho.
Present progressive tense: I am saying – estoy diciendo, you are saying – estas diciendo, he, she, it is saying – esta diciendo, we are staying – estamso diciendo, they are saying – estan diciendo.
Another future tense: I am going to say – voy a decir, you are going to say – vas a decir, he is going to say – va a decir, we are going to say – vamos a decir, they are going to say – van a decir.
Okay, there you have two more verses from 1 Corinthians 14, the language chapter (el capitulo de idiomas). I hope you are getting lots of good out of the Spanish grammar as well as from what the apostle Paul is saying (esta diciendo).