[b-hebrew] English to Hebrew?
uhurwitz at yahoo.com
Sat Dec 2 18:35:26 EST 2006
While it is of course true that the MT as we have it consists of various
linguistic layers, one can still be a bit more optimistic about the actual
spoken language which provided the basis for the written texts:
The existence of texts from pre-exilic period which, -- more than
monumental inscriptions, -- reflect the daily speoken language at the time.
The corpus may be modest, but we have no such examples from
neighboring speakers of NW dialects, Moabites, Ammonites or Edomites,
or even Phoenicians.
Secondly, the is a large number of examples of direct speech in the HB,
a complicated subject, but one which has direct bearing on this discussion.
Finally, there is the intrinsic evdience of diachronic development in the
BH itself. One would have difficulty explaining it, were there no developments
in the spoken language.
And, let's not forget that before the MT we have the evidence of the DSS;
also that the Mishnah, completed by C. 200 CE, at least six centuries
befoe the MT, already uses exactly such text in all its biblical quotes.
All this has nothing to do do whether or not BH should be used as
pedagogical tool with students.
Reinhard G. Lehmann wrote, inter alia:
"........And as far as BIBLICAL Hebrew is concerned it
is important to keep in mind that it is an artificial language,
mixing up several synchronic and diachronic different layers
(registers, dialects and so on). ..... Because there is no one to speak to who has a native speaker's competence in Biblical Hebrew, there is neither a sound reason to
translate a paragraph of any language into Biblical Hebrew nor a
chance to learn anything from that lest that we are ignorant.
Reinhard G. Lehmann
Forschungsstelle für althebräische Sprache
Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz
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