[b-hebrew] song of Deborah

Dewayne Dulaney dewayne.dulaney at gmail.com
Mon Nov 21 17:10:58 EST 2011

One does not need to speak a language natively to have an excellent
mastery of it. Near-native is just as good in the case of Mishnaic
Hebrew. I am not a native speaker of Spanish; American English is my
native tongue. However, due to a good teacher, hard work and practice,
despite only having the opportunity to speak it with other non-native
speakers while in my first Spanish studies in high school (2 years),
when I made my first trip to Mexico the following year,  I was able to
function and be understood on a near-native level by natives, and even
serve effectively as an interpreter. Continued work with the language
in my college years solidified and extended this, so that when I met
and talked with international students from a dozen different Hispanic
nations, I was frequently mistaken for a native speaker.

I mention this not to brag but to show what is possible. The Mishnaic
speaker had the possibility of becoming near-native in that dialect,
which would have sufficed. Even less that that level could still be
good if it was not possible. As a former Spanish teacher myself, I
have observed that there are varying levels of mastery in language
learning, and some skills are faster to develop than others. One
learns to understand what is spoken somewhat faster than he/she learns
to speak well, for instance. A good accent usually takes longer to
acquire than control of vocabulary and syntax when speaking. Control
of idioms also takes more time and effort. One could function at a
high level in some sense without having the highest level of control.
I have known Spanish students who have near-native speaking fluency as
regards vocabulary and sentence formation but who do not have a good

As for the assertions made earlier in this thread that the post-exilic
authors of the Tanakh did not have native ability in Hebrew, I find
that unbelievable. Even if one rejects the view that these men were
inspired by the Holy Spirit (and I personally do believe they were so
guided), the information we have about their backgrounds leds one to
think that for the most part they were well-educated individuals. Such
individuals would be more likely than not to have native ability in
Hebrew. Or if not native, then near-native. Given that they were
raised in homes that respected Jewish tradition and were loyal to
Yahweh, it is a given, in my view, that they would have learned to
speak, read, and write Hebrew even if they also learned Aramaic and
other languages such as Akkadian and Persian.

Well, that's my 2 shekels, for what it's worth.

Dewayne Dulaney

On 11/21/11, Isaac Fried <if at math.bu.edu> wrote:
> Speculations!
> Isaac Fried, Boston University
> On Nov 21, 2011, at 2:15 AM, K Randolph wrote:
>> so Mishnaic Hebrew was an official language used for high
>> literature, religion and civic affaires, but no-one spoke it natively.
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"In the world you will have trouble. But, be brave! I have defeated the world!"
—John 16:33, DDV (Dewayne Dulaney Version)

My Bible blogs: http://my.opera.com/Loquor/blog/ and

Read my translation of the Gospel of John in the Blog at www.greekingout.com.

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