[b-hebrew] Aramaic in Babylonia

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Wed Jul 6 14:02:31 EDT 2005


To get the peripheral subject out of the way first: as for the dating of Daniel, there are the internal claims and the external “conclusions” of the scholars. Seeing as the scholars’ conclusion is based solely on philosophical presuppositions which I reject, there are no historical sources to back them up, I prefer to go with the historical claims internal to the book.

I wonder how much difference there was between spoken Northwest Semitic and spoken Akkadian during the neo-Babylonian period. How much had they varied?

In looking at an European example, about 1200 years ago, about the beginning of the Viking period, a common language was spoken from the Alps to Scandinavia, including England. There were slight regional variations, but in general those were on the level of accents rather than true language differences. In the intervening time, German had the great consonantal shift, England was invaded by French speaking Vikings changing their language and even within Scandinavia there can be humorous (or not so humorous) misunderstandings as the languages have changed so much.

A more modern example is Arabic: from what I have been told, it is still basically the same language from Iraq in the east to the western Sahara, but that there are regional accents that can be discerned.

Thus my question, was there a discernible difference between spoken Akkadian and Aramaic during the neo-Babylonian period? I recognize we may never have an answer to this question.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>
> Hi Karl,
> As you know, most scholars would date the composition of Daniel to a much
> later period, by which most people would have forgotten that Akkadian had
> even existed. So the fact that Daniel uses Aramaic is not really proof of
> anything.
> As far as "spoken" Akkadian and Aramaic - we have very little evidence of
> "spoken" languages as is, but I think that it's reasonable to assume that
> any written language reflects the spoken language of at least some group at
> some time. At least in their written form (and I don't mean that one used
> cuneaform and the other used the 22 letter aleph-bet), Akkadian and Aramaic
> are very different, one being Eastern Semitic, the other Northwestern
> Semitic.
> Yigal

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