[b-hebrew] Karl: hebrew is dead?

Nir cohen - Prof. Mat. nir at ccet.ufrn.br
Tue Dec 28 18:01:24 EST 2010


i agree that the thread on the use of hebrew in the first millenium was getting along without the proper definitions. but this was not my fault.

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

...nor this! my email did, in fact, make a clear distinction between the biblical and non-biblical language (pls read again!), and in fact was concerned more in defining the "possible clients of massoretic products", as they were coined earlier. the allusion to the death of hebrew in my title was just to register my uneasiness with some previous allusions to this end.

my main point, in simple words, was that the existence of a quite large group of
rabbinic school students, throughout these two millenia, whose knowledge in BIBLICAL (!) hebrew was considerable, in spite of the anachrony, and who were craving for reliable sources of text and interpretation, is all which is necessary to create a market for these "products". in this respect, it is completely irrelevant what was the language jews were using at home and in the street, contrary to the direction the thread was taking.

the second objective of my email was to reinforced the opinion that the "use" of hebrew in these circles (the rabbinical schools) was completely different than that of reciting a text to the whole congregation, as is the custom, say, in the catholic church with latin.

nir cohen

On Tue, 28 Dec 2010 12:23:30 -0800, K Randolph wrote
> 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.
> Karl W. Randolph.

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