[b-hebrew] Mishnaic Hebrew

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Nov 23 16:27:43 EST 2011


On Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 12:54 PM, Chavoux Luyt <chavoux at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Karl
> You wrote:
> > 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).
> I must say that I doubt it that a language (and its pronunciation)
> could disappear in a single generation.

The Babylonian Exile itself lasted over two generations, and the events
listed in both Nehemiah and Ezra were a few generations after that. I think
Nehemiah opens in 417 BC and Ezra slightly after that.

Those who have worked with immigrants and their children find that the
children generally have but a smattering of their parents’ languages, the
grandchildren almost none, unless the language is systematically taught as
a second language. In the latter case, the children’s primary language that
they speak in their everyday usage is the language of their milieu, their
ancestors’ language the second language.

> Yes some of the mixed children
> could not understand Hebrew. But there certainly must have been enough
> native speakers of Hebrew to keep the language alive (there were still
> some old men alive who remembered the first temple!), especially in
> Israel itself among the returnees.

See above.

> Shalom
> Chavoux Luyt

Karl W. Randolph.

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