targums (Peter)

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Mon May 17 17:13:14 EDT 1999

Dear Peter,

At 18.08 17/05/99 -0400, peter_kirk at sil.org wrote:
>You wrote: "If we are dealing with texts from both periods, why can't 
>one generalise over the time between them?" Precisely because you 
>don't know what happened in between. Suppose you had documents in 
>English from Edward the Confessor and documents in English from 
>Richard II, but nothing in between. 

You should know of course that there was an enormous difference between the
English of the time of Edward the Confessor and that of Richard II:
something must have happened. However between the DSS varieties and that of
Murabba'at we don't have anything dramatic in the way of change between the
"Mishnaic Hebrew" of the Copper scroll and MMT and that of the ben Kosebah

>By your method, you would assume 
>that English was used for the whole of the intervening period. But it 
>wasn't. Similarly, if the language situation in Maccabean and late 
>Roman times was similar, it doesn't mean that the time in between was 

This is the nice thing about linguistic continuity. If something happens
linguistically at one time it's effects will remain in some way in a later
time. You can look at English and identify the Old Norse influences on the
language, the Norman French influences and the later French influences. You
can say that words ending with "-age" that finish like village came in with
the Norman French, but words like barrage came in much later. The effects
of linguistic events can be seen despite not having them on record.

Despite small changes in time, I don't think such changes are visible
between the two series of texts (perhaps I should say between the few
exemplars of the Mishnaic dialect line and Murabba'at), so I think we can
say that there have been no noticeable new influences.


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