[b-hebrew] hebrew is dead?

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Tue Dec 28 15:23:30 EST 2010


Nir:

On Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 8:28 AM, Nir cohen - Prof. Mat. <nir at ccet.ufrn.br>wrote:

> dear colleagues,
>
> i avoided anexing the extensive debate over the burial of the
> hebrew language during the last few days, due to its length.
>> best
> nir cohen
>
> Much of this depends on how one defines a “dead language”.

If a living language is one that is spoken and written, where there develop
dialectal differences, in which there is continuous change and development,
then Hebrew never ceased to be a living language.

In that same way, Latin is still a living language.

If the definition is of a language where there are no native speakers of the
language, rather it is a second language of all who use it, then Latin is a
dead language, and Hebrew died and was resurrected. And in its resurrection,
it is not the same language as what the prophets spoke.

Other living/dead languages include Esperanto and Klingon (a language made
up for a dumb TV show).

If we are talking about a specific dialect of Hebrew, namely that found in
Tanakh, then that dialect “died” during and shortly after the Babylonian
Exile. The language that developed from it has a different grammar,
different spelling, and many words have different meanings as well as many
neologisms not found in Tanakh. There are more differences between Biblical
and modern Hebrews than between Norwegian and Swedish, which are recognized
as separate languages.

I think we need to define terms before confidently announcing the “death” of
Hebrew.

Karl W. Randolph.



More information about the b-hebrew mailing list