[b-hebrew] Karl: hebrew is dead?

fred burlingame tensorpath at gmail.com
Tue Dec 28 19:21:15 EST 2010

the key to this post is the phrase "quite a large group."

Does that mean 10, 100, 1,000, 10,000, 100,000 ?


fred burlingame

On Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 5:01 PM, Nir cohen - Prof. Mat. <nir at ccet.ufrn.br>wrote:

> karl,
> 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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