[b-hebrew] intelligibility : Heb. -Moabite etc

Uri Hurwitz uhurwitz at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 28 18:42:56 EDT 2006

Karl Randolph wrote:

What I know of Moabite is what I read on the Mesha 
stone. Unless Hebrew from that time had a different 
pronunciation for the letters than did Moab, which 
I find highly unlikely, the differences between 
Moabite and Hebrew were less than those between a 
Hoosier twang and a deep southern drawl, both U.S. 
English, or about the same as between Norwegian and 

In comparison, the differences between Hebrew and 
Aramaic remind me of the differences between German 
and Dutch, recognizably close cognate languages, 
but not readily understood when spoken.

Karl W. Randolph."
     Correct. To which one may add some other examples::similarity exists 
  also between various dialects of the same Semitic language, such as, say, Pelestinian colloquial Arabic and the one in Morocco, for instance. Speakers
   from such diferent areas need  time to undestand each other fully.
   Another example may be given from England..
     An Englishman told me that when he was placed in a Scottish 
  regiment in the army - that was may deccades ago - it took him  three weeks
   to understand them. Andt hey spoke their version of English, not Celtic.
    From the evidence we have about Moabite , mainly Mesha, this appears
   to have been the situation with regard to the spoken Hebrew at the time. 
  The same occurs with regard to Ugaritic and biblical Hebrew, though
   the variation between them is greater. Anyone well versed in BH, or the
   average speaker and reader of modern Hebrew would undrstand, from their built in knowledge of BH, quite a few lines from the easiest epic from Ugarit, Keret, in latin letters transliteration. Not to mention dozens and dozens of idioms that both 
  languages share.
    In this case, because of the temporal and georaphical distance, the
   pronounciation difference could well be greater than between BH and Moabite, Ammonite or Phoenician.

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