Language code switching in Daniel

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Mon Dec 31 05:22:59 EST 2001

Don't assume too quickly that an original text must have been in one
language, or even that a language shift must have been at a major discourse
boundary. I have personally witnessed many times speakers shifting from one
language to another (actually quite unrelated languages, unlike Hebrew and
Aramaic) in the middle of a sentence, often triggered by a particular word
or phrase which is perhaps more natural in the second language, or by the
need to quote some words in the second language. Rather like the language
shift at Daniel 2:4-5. This is a well known phenomenon known by linguists as
"code switching", which is common in conversations between bilingual
speakers. It does look a little strange to see the same happen in writing,
but not necessarily if the original was taken down by dictation.

Peter Kirk

> -----Original Message-----
> From: c stirling bartholomew [mailto:cc.constantine at]
> Sent: 31 December 2001 06:14
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: Greek vs. Hebrew
> Third - Daniel in the Hebrew Bible is bilingual. The language
> division does
> not fall exactly on a major discourse boundary. The original language of
> Daniel is a topic of debate. We may not have some of the book in its
> original language. It might have all been written originally in Aramaic.
> What language are we looking for in our "autograph?"
> So when we take a look at the text of a book like Daniel we find ourselves
> working with a lot of variables. Problems with lots of variables are
> difficult to solve. I think the "autograph" of the Daniel is out of reach.
> We don't even know what we are looking for, the language, the
> size the shape
> the contents.
> Enough on this topic.
> greetings,
> Clay
> --
> Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
> Three Tree Point
> P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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