[b-hebrew] Fw: Aramaic to them?
kwrandolph at email.com
Tue Mar 2 22:50:10 EST 2004
Judah haNasis maid is not a good example to
this discussionshe worked in an environment
where Hebrew was spoken, namely Judah haNasis
house and school: if she had a head on her
shoulders and any amount of linguistic
ability, she could have picked up Hebrew from
her surroundings. Just because she was a maid
does not mean that she wasnt smart nor able
to learn Hebrew.
As far as how soon Hebrew was used only among
the elites after the Galut Babel, I would
hesitate to say. Among the returnees were
people who had seen Solomons temple before
being taken captivehow many of them still
spoke only Hebrew? Probably more than a few.
Aramaic was at that time a language that most
were expected to know, but for what percentage
was it their primary language? When did
Aramaic become the primary language of the
majority? I suspect it was well before the
time of the Maccabbees. The evidence I have
seen indicates that a fluent knowledge of
Hebrew was pretty much the realm of the elites
by the first century, and for the common
people, Aramaic was their primary language.
Notice, nowhere do I claim that Hebrew was not
spoken fluently by at least a minority elite,
just that the evidence pointing to a possible
majority of the people speaking Hebrew as
their primary language is weak at best.
Karl W. Randolph.
----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Kirk <peterkirk at qaya.org>
> Thanks for the clarification. Well, this probably describes well the
> situation of Hebrew among Jews in the mediaeval and early modern
> periods, in fact probably right up to the late 19th century. But how far
> back does this situation go? The older opinion that it dates right back
> to the Babylonian exile seems to have been discredited by the DSS
> evidence that Hebrew was a living language during the period that the
> DSS were written. The evidence from Judah haNasi's maid suggests that
> this was not yet true even c. 200 CE; the maid was hardly one of an
> academic or religious elite! No, it seems clear that at least until this
> time there was some community using Hebrew as an everyday language,
> probably as a mother tongue; it was not just a language learned by
> specialists, so the pattern you have noted does not apply. Judah
> haNasi's surprise may be because he had the same misconception as you,
> that in that time the language was only spoken by specialists like
> himself. The debate must be on how large this mother tongue community
> was at various times, and where it was situated geographically and socially.
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
Sign-up for Ads Free at Mail.com
More information about the b-hebrew