[b-hebrew] exodus, dating of linguistics

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Sat May 29 15:33:28 EDT 2004

On 29/05/2004 12:38, Michael Abernathy wrote:

>I admit that there is more conformity to a written language; however, in the
>English language you continue to find a great deal of diversity in spelling
>until Webster published a standard dictionary for us to use. ...

Well, yes, but there is a considerable variety of spelling in the Hebrew 
Bible, and the form which we have is probably the result of some later 
partial standardisation.

>... I believe you
>also find that the written language varied considerably until we had the
>standards of Shakespeare, the printed Bible, and finally a printed grammar.
>Prior to these, the written language reflected the dialect. ...

Well, yes, prior to the establishment of a literary norm there was 
considerable variability. But once it was established there was much 
more uniformity, in both Hebrew and English, and many other languages 
for that matter. The standard form of a Bible probably had something to 
do with the establishment of uniformity, in both cases as it certainly 
did also in German.

>... Even now,
>regional differences can be seen in both written and spoken English.  For
>example, a small region of southern Ohio refers to the rear storage
>compartment of a car as a "boot." ...

As everywhere (as far as I know) in the UK. This is certainly an 
interesting regional variation, perhaps indicating late migration from 
Britain to that area. But would a native of this region use "boot" in a 
written work intended for national circulation? Probably not, as they 
would be aware that this is not the most widespread usage.

>... Almost everywhere else in the country, it
>is a "trunk."  I believe it is the same area of the country that universally
>calls every soft drink a "pop."  Their neighbors to the east and the west
>refer to it as a "soda" or a "soda pop."  Given any isolation in time or
>geography, I expect that we should find that locals used a different
>vocabulary and when they used the same words spelled those words
>phonetically according to the local pronunciation.
>Michael Abernathy
>I am ready to believe that the Hebrew Bible helped them develop a consistent
>use for the language.
Indeed, I have no doubt of this. But it does not imply a single editor 
or a small school of editors as you first suggested. One possible model 
is that the first few books were indeed from such a single source, and 
that later books were written in imitation of the style of these early 
books, which quickly became established as a stylistic model at least 
for this kind of genre.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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