[b-hebrew] song of Deborah

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Tue Nov 22 18:47:42 EST 2011


On Mon, Nov 21, 2011 at 2:10 PM, Dewayne Dulaney <dewayne.dulaney at gmail.com>

> 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. … 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
> accent.

Take your Spanish experience and apply it to the reading of the
post-Babylonian Exile Biblical books of Haggai, Zachariah, Esther,
Nehemiah, etc., comparing them to the pre-Babylonian Exile books like
Proverbs, Qohelet, Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, etc.

What I notice is that already in those latter books, there is far more
sparing use of the idioms and other higher “levels of control” that would
indicate native fluency of the language in a milieu of other native
speakers. Rather we have varying levels of competency that would include
being able to carry on a conversation in the language, but otherwise
indicating that this was a second language for those writers.

These also indicate that the pronunciation changed significantly during
this period, as the native Aramaic speakers would have followed their
Aramaic pronunciations, especially since the writing had no vowel
indicators to reign in pronunciation wandering. This may have been the
period when the sin and shin became differentiated, whereas previously they
were one letter. We know that by the time of the LXX some of the letters
became aspirated, though to a lesser extent in the north (Galilee) as shown
by name transliterations in the New Testament.

We find the statement in Nehemiah 13:24 that the mixed marriages resulted
in children who did not understand Hebrew. That would not have been
necessary if this had been a Hebrew speaking milieu—even if the children
spoke the other languages at home, they would pick up Hebrew at a young age
from the street. But this does become an issue in an Aramaic speaking
milieu where the women from mixed marriages taught their children their
native tongues at home, possibly as a second language, where speaking
Hebrew was something to be taught as a second language, necessary because
of its religious and civic uses (similar to medieval Latin).

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

Probably worth more than 2¢.

> Dewayne Dulaney
> Karl W. Randolph.

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