[b-hebrew] Ancient Language Acquisition

A. Philip Brown II pbrown at GBS.EDU
Tue Mar 2 11:36:00 EST 2004

Trevor Peterson wrote:
Incidentally, I would be curious along the lines of this thread to know
what people think about the notion that a person ought to learn Modern
Israeli Hebrew or spoken Arabic first, before learning ancient Semitic
languages. The potential disadvantage is that modern speakers sometimes
assume too much continuity between their language and the ancient forms;
but if it were done deliberately, I think this hazard could be easily
I had two years of modern Hebrew as a 7th and 9th grader, long before
tackling BH in grad school.  Although I did not achieve fluency in those two
years, I was a good ways ahead of my fellow grad students. Getting used to
some of the major grammatical differences between MH and BH took a little
while, but the overall 'feel' for the language I had acquired more than made
up for this.

My one hesitation regarding Modern Hebrew study is that some who teach it
appear to think this is little to no difference between MH and BH. Such an
inaccurate assessment of the languages does a disservice to students of BH.

Philip Brown
GBS, Cincinnati, OH

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