[b-hebrew] Fw: Aramaic to them?

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Tue Mar 9 16:59:57 EST 2004


English has a history that makes it difficult 
to compare with other languages: already the 
English as used by Chaucer was a pidgin 
language, a combination of French and Old 
English. As I understand the process, pidgin 
languages always involve simplification. And 
now modern English is becoming the pidgin for 
the world, combined with the fact that the 
government schools, particularly here in the 
U.S.A. are doing a terrible job of teaching 
English, with the result of a tremendous 
pressure to simplify the language further.

It is the loss of the WAYYIQTOL form that is a 
large part of the reason I think that Hebrew 
was no longer spoken as a native language 
within a few generations after the Galut 
Babel. The perfect could easily shift to being 
a past tense, the imperfect to a future tense, 
the participle to present tense: these were 
concepts that were common to most languages 
and I suspect even Aramaic of that time, but 
the WAYYIQTOL form referred to a functionality 
that was unique to Hebrew, hence would it not 
be the form the most difficult to master for 
those who are not used to it, therefore the 
first to be dropped in a fossil use of the 
language? That’s what I expect.

Latin had an advantage in that most of where 
it continued to be used as a fossil language 
was in areas where daughter languages were 
spoken—daughter languages which maintained the 
functionality present in Latin. Therefore 
those who learned to speak Latin did not have 
to learn new concepts when learning the 
grammatical forms. Even so, Latin did change 
in recognizable ways over the centuries.

Peter, I’m not philosophically opposed to the 
idea that there was a Hebrew speaking 
community in Judea and/or Samaria two 
millennia ago, in fact, philosophically, I’d 
prefer to believe that such a community 
existed, it is just that I don’t see 
convincing evidence for such a community. In 
this discussion I’m just playing the part of 
the devil’s advocate.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Kirk <peterkirk at qaya.org>

> On 07/03/2004 21:18, Karl Randolph wrote:
> >... And that the verbal forms gradually shifted away from the 
> >Biblical forms to parallel the usages in the writers' mother tongues is again indicative that Hebrew was a 
> >language used well only by an elite, and even they were not always very well versed in the language. 
> > 
> >  
> >
> Trevor has answered the first part of this well. As for this second 
> part, the verb forms in dead languages e.g. Latin are usually slavishly 
> copied from those of the classical form, and not shifted (at least in 
> form, maybe in function) to those of the writers' mother tongues. Your 
> suggestion that the writers were not well versed in the language is an 
> interesting one, although unlikely given the devotion of the scribes to 
> the Hebrew scriptures and the extent to which these scriptures were 
> copied. But if this idea is undermined by the fact that the verb form 
> most thoroughly lost in Mishnaic Hebrew and I think in QH was the one 
> which is most common and therefore most likely to be mastered first in 
> BH, that is the WAYYIQTOL form.
> -- 
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/

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