[b-hebrew] Aramaic in Babylonia

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Wed Jul 6 16:43:54 EDT 2005


All of the example that you mentioned are of what was originally a common
language diverging and splitting into distinct dialects over time, as the
people who speak it spread over a wide area (and in a pre-telecommunication
world). That would be like saying that both Acadian and Aramaic are
descended from a common "protosemitic" ancestor. This may be true, but
certainly by the early 1st millennium they were quite distinct. What you are
proposing, is that at least on the spoken level, they "merged" and became
indistinguiable. I suppose that's possible, but most of the examples that I
can cite are of one language "losing ground" to another. This is certainly
what happened in Mesopotamia: Akkadian was eventually replaced by Aramaic.
my question is when it happened.

As far as Daniel, I suppose that we'll have to agree to difer.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Karl Randolph" <kwrandolph at email.com>
To: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, July 06, 2005 8:02 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Aramaic in Babylonia


To get the peripheral subject out of the way first: as for the dating of
Daniel, there are the internal claims and the external
&#8220;conclusions&#8221; of the scholars. Seeing as the scholars&#8217;
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
> 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
> are very different, one being Eastern Semitic, the other Northwestern
> Semitic.
> Yigal

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