Modern Hebrew 3

Randall Buth ButhFam at
Sat May 18 19:58:01 EDT 2002

shalom David,

>For exegesis, no way.  I believe it 
>was William Chomsky who said that Modern Hebrew is more an 
>Indo-European language than a Semitic one, especially in terms of 
>syntax.  That's not going to be much help in sorting out the 
>mysteries of Biblical Hebrew.  

I think that this misrepresents modern Hebrew's value. It does not 
provide evidence on its own for the ancient language. Far from it. 
But it does allow a research to cover more ground and thereby 
notice more details and have a closer reading, better feel for the 
texture of what is being read. Plus more direct and easier access into
material like mishnaic Hebrew, which does contain remnant hebrew 
material that never made it into "biblical" by simple accident. 
E.g., kelev 'dog' = biblical, Hatul 'cat' mishnaic. As they say to 
no one in particular, Go figure.  :-)

And wouldn't you agree that a researcher whose active vocabulary 
was in the neighborhood of, say, 10,000 words would be in a better 
position to interpret texts and start off in the right directions than 
someone whose vocabulary was 2,000? A fluent control and use 
of a language maintains a higher active vocabulary, for one. 


Randall Buth

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