[b-hebrew] song of Deborah

Dewayne Dulaney dewayne.dulaney at gmail.com
Mon Nov 21 21:05:20 EST 2011

OK, I may have overstated things a bit. Perhaps it depends on how one
defines a native speaker. As for the "first language", a child raised
bilingually could be considered to have two first languages. And
granted, the issue of inspiration is not relevant. As for the NT
writers, I think it likely that all except Luke, and possibly the
author of Hebrews, were raised bilingually learning both Aramaic and

On 11/21/11, Will Parsons <wbparsons at alum.mit.edu> wrote:
> Hi Dewayne:
> On Mon, 21 Nov 2011 16:10:58 -0600, Dewayne Dulaney
> <dewayne.dulaney at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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.
> Spanish is the native language of millions of people, even if it not your
> native language.
> Karl is right in making the distinction between a language that is spoken
> but
> learned as a second language and one that is the primary language, or mother
> tongue of a community.  I don't know enough about the linguistic situation
> of
> post-exilic Hebrew to venture an opinion on whether or not Mishnaic Hebrew
> was
> ever spoken natively, but certainly that is was used for oral communication
> is
> not enough to prove that it was, no more than that Latin was the primary
> language for anyone despite its being used as a means of oral communication
> in
> certain spheres (e.g., law, education) throughout the mediaeval period.
>> 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.
> Assuming that Mishnaic Hebrew was not spoken as a native language (which I
> am not stating as a fact), no, the Mishnaic speaker did not have that
> possibility, any more than a mediaeval European had the possibility of being
> near-native in Latin, since in fact there was no such thing as a native
> Latin
> speaker.
>> 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
>> accent.
> Not to quibble with your point that one can become exceedingly good in a
> language that one wasn't brought up in, you are again working from your
> experience in Spanish, which is a fully living, native language.  Such
> languages develop and are used differently that a purely learned language.
> To point out one (comparitively minor) point: you mention acquiring a "good
> accent" (which implies pronouncing the language as close as possible to how
> a
> native speaker would).  This has been (until quite recent times) irrelevant
> in
> the case of learned languages, since there were no native speakers to
> compare
> one's pronunciation to.
>> 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.
> I don't.  What's to prevent an author to write in a language that he was
> competent in and even had mastery of, but which was not his native language?
>> 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.
> I certainly have no quarrel with the statements you make that these men were
> indeed well-educated and learned Hebrew from childhood, but that doesn't
> mean
> their first language was Hebrew.  Nor should it have any bearing on whether
> the authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit - certainly in the case of the
> NT
> no-one considers that the fact that several authors of the NT wrote in Greek
> but were not native speakers of Greek has any relevance to whether they were
> inspired or not.
>> 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.
> --
> William Parsons

"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.

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list