[b-hebrew] Hebrew - a live language throughout the generations

Uri Hurwitz uhurwitz at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 29 18:53:50 EST 2010


   Please understand that the good people here are
 discussing a subject about which they hardly know
 anything. And why should they? This list deals with
 biblical Hebrew. 

   No one argues here that Hebrew was the normal day
 to day discourse of people. Nevertheless, it is little
 realized that this language served as means of
 communications when Jews from different countries who
 spoke different languages met.

   It served as a means of communications about daily
 matters  such as in the very rich Responsa literature;
 it served in the middle ages as the means of creating
  masterpieces of literature that have not lost their
 freshness to this day. Sonnets were written in Hebrew
 before they were in English.

  This is not the venue for a detailed dicussion of
 the subject. Let me end it with a citation of Shlomoh
 Ben Maimon, who in the late 1700 wrote in Heb. on
 the margin of something he studied: "I have a terrible

  I don't think anyone would use a dead language to
 express this.

  So whether this was a completely dead language, or
 a somewhat dead language, or whatever, is of course
 for Wikipedia to decide.

 Uri Hurwitz                              Great Neck, NY


Therefore, I'm not sure if anyone mentioned the book Ivrit Safa Meduberet
("Hebrew - A Spoken Language") by Shlomo Haramati, a professor at the Hebrew
University. This slim, easy-read book, published in 2000, reviews the use of
Hebrew throughout the generations and discusses/debunks the myth that Hebrew
was a dead language that was "resurrected" by Ben-Yehuda. 


One of the points in this book is that while Ben-Yehuda's efforts and
accomplishments in inventing new words and in making the daily use of Hebrew
as a primary language are invaluable and are certainly acknowledged, it is
incorrect to consider Hebrew a dead language. 



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