[b-hebrew] Aramaic to Hebrew language switch?
kwrandolph at gmail.com
Fri Aug 27 17:37:54 EDT 2010
On Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 9:05 AM, Ed Walkwitz <edwalkwitz at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Jacob and Laban spoke, respectively, Hebrew and Aramaic, as shown by their
> naming of the witness heap in Gen. 31:47 in those two languages. However
> two generations earlier their Grandfathers, Abraham and Nahor, had
> spoken the same language, since they were brothers.
> I'm guessing Abraham and Nahor spoke Aramaic,
What was the language spoken in Ur of the Chaldeas (wherever that was, some
modern tradition puts that at Urfa in modern southern Turkey)? Was Abraham
himself multi-lingual, speaking his family’s language, as well as a lingua
franca such as Aramaic? These questions and similar ones like them are
questions the surviving texts do not answer.
> and when Abraham came to Caanan,
> his family ended up switching to the language of Caanan,
Did he? See above.
> as happened in reverse
> to the Jewish exiles after the Babylonian exile. This phenomonen is common;
> example Hispanic immigrants to the USA often switch to English in a
> or two.
I noticed the same pattern, among all immigrants (I speak Chinese among a
large Chinese population here in town), and among those born here who try to
maintain their parents’ languages, even those who speak their parents’s
languages well, they speak them as second languages: without many of the
flourishes and figures of speech found among native speakers.
I noticed the same pattern among post Babylonian Exile Biblical authors,
that their use of Hebrew follows the pattern of being a second language, not
the language taught at a mother’s knee nor spoken in the market. My
conclusion is that the loss of the Biblical Hebrew language happened during
the Babylonian Exile, so that the language of the land of Canaan after the
Babylonian Exile was Aramaic, and the foreign wives were teaching their
children their languages as second languages and not Hebrew.
A similar example of continued use of a language is Latin after the fall of
the Roman empire.
> Along with this, is there any theory of why the Caananites, who are not
> ethnically semitic according to Gen. 10, nevertheless spoke a semitic
> Did they switch over to someone else's language at some point along the
I, too, have long wondered about the language of Canaan before the Exodus.
But without historical documents, all we can do is speculate; an endless
speculation that can never be answered.
> Thanks for your thoughts.
> Ed Walkwitz, Des Moines, Iowa
> Karl W. Randolph.
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