Assyrian Hebrew?

Ruthy & Baruch alster at
Thu Aug 12 05:21:27 EDT 1999

Peter wrote:

"... well, an awful lot of the Israelites have already gathered in the
state of Israel and must have had just the problem you mentioned. Maybe
someone living there can comment on how this problem has been solved. But
remember that those who gathered were already speaking many other languages
as their mother tongues and knew Hebrew, if at all, as a religious language
only, so the difference was not as great as you say. ..." 

You are correct that the difference in pronunciation between
Hebrew-speaking Jews in Israel today is not great.  Hebrew as a spoken
language was revived by a small group of Jewish immigrants in the late
1800's (led by Eliezer Ben Yehuda), and their decisions on syntax,
pronunciation and other matters were adopted by later immigrants from
around the world, with relatively few exceptions (such as the incapability
of Ashkenazi immigrants to pronounce the letters "het" and "'ayin"). 
However, many communities of immigrants to Israel kept their own
pronunciation for religious uses.  So while an Ashkenazi will understand
his Yemenite neighbor on the street, he will generally not be able to
follow the Yemenite reading from the Torah.  But I think we're straying
pretty far from Biblical Hebrew here.


Baruch Alster
Kochav Ya'akov, Israel

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