[b-hebrew] mishnaic Hebrew + Deborah

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Nov 23 18:26:34 EST 2011


On Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 11:10 AM, Randall Buth <randallbuth at gmail.com>wrote:

> karl katav
> > 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.
> Statements like this do not mean anything without data.…
> This is recording an observation. Data, in the form that academics like,
would take years to compile with statistical analysis, and as far as I
know, no one has done that yet.

> > These also indicate that the pronunciation changed significantly during
> > this period, as the native Aramaic speakers would have followed their
> > Aramaic pronunciations,
> Unfortunately, this is pure speculation and needs an expertise for
> discussion
> that Karl has repeatedly admitted that he doesn't have.

This is consistent with what happens in immigrant populations, and unless
you want to do special pleading for the case of the Jews who were scattered
around in Babylon as immigrants by Nebuchadnezzar, this is the pattern to
be expected.

> We do know that
> ALL traditions show significant distinctions between Hebrew and Aramaic
> at all periods and that the distinctions make sense and fit a credible
> historical linguistics picture when fit into the larger Semitic
> language picture.

This pattern also fits the case of Hebrew being systematically taught in an
Aramaic milieu.

> ...
> > (Karl again) This may have been the
> > period when the sin and shin became differentiated, whereas previously
> they
> > were one letter.
> This is actually backwards. From comparative Semitic data we know that
> there
> were two phonemes that apparently collapsed already in Phoenician, since
> they
> only developed one letter. Likewise, there was a *th phoneme that
> collapsed in
> Phoenician with "shin" while Aramaic preserved it as *th in the early
> period but
> then collapsed it with "tav" in the late First Temple period as the
> begedkefet
> phenomenon entered the language.

There is no question that the alphabet was used by “Asiatics” (Hebrews) in
Egypt before the Exodus, how long before that we don’t know. Moses then
wrote Torah long after we have evidence of alphabetic use. That would
indicate that the Phoenicians learned the alphabet from the Hebrews rather
than the other way around.

That the alphabet used did not distinguish between the sin and the shin
indicates that they were considered the same phoneme by Moses and earlier
“Asiatic” writers.

As for comparative linguistics and the influence of other languages on
Hebrew before Moses, that is pure speculation with no evidence to back it

As for changes in the post-Biblical ages, we have some evidence with which
we can work.

> > 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.
> This discussion requires an understanding of 1st century Greek.
> As late as the 3rd century CE, the Jewish and Christian population in Rome
> had 'hard' stops, as seen in catacomb words like χηθε 'here lies' = κεἶται.

How much of that was dialectal? How much mispronunciation by people whose
native tongues were not Greek? First century Greek was written much like
English a couple of centuries ago: by ear and not by fixt rools of speling.

> >
> > (still Karl) 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.
> This cuts both ways. It also testifies that there were mother-tongue Hebrew
> speakers, that people had not had a total forgetfulness of Hebrew and then
> reconstituted it incorrectly (a la Karl's Aramaic), but somehow kept
> it distinct
> from Aramaic, all the while leaving a record that would make historical
> linguistic sense when its details would be investigated 2000 years later.
> We do know that Aramaic was the international business language and that
> there were quite a few foreigners in the land. (Where were they getting
> their
> foreign wives from? Catalog services and internet were unavailable.)

I am working with known patterns of language acquisition and
intergenerational language use among immigrants and their descendants.

That statement by Nehemiah gives no indication of mother-tongue Hebrew
speakers, rather it argues against it. If there were a community where
Hebrew were the daily used language in all spheres of life, then children
from the foreign wives would have learned Hebrew on the street with their
playmates. But if another language (in this case Aramaic) is the language
of the street and hearth, then a family needs the support of a fromme
Jewish mama to make sure the little ones learn Hebrew to fulfill their
religious functions. (Try teaching a second language in the home without
the wife’s support—almost impossible.)

Every mention of Aramaic in the Bible indicates that it was a different
language than Hebrew. There is no mention ever of total forgetfulness of
Hebrew, not in the Bible and on this list only in statements like yours

> > (`od Karl) As far as Mishnaic Hebrew, all I know about it is what I have
> read on
> > this list. As far as it being natively spoken, I have seen nothing that
> > indicates that it was nor proof that it wasn?t. Rather what you have is
> > people speaking it as a second language, some very well copying aspects
> > from Biblical Hebrew, others more like Hebrew words on an Aramaic grammar
> > of that time.
> This is a rather definite conclusion for someone without control of all of
> the
> relevant data. It certainly does not explain why there were two registers
> of Hebrew during the Second Temple, a high 'classical' and a low
> mishnaic/proto-mishnaic.

Yes it does, and more.

> > But I do find indications that those who came to Judea after the
> Babylonian
> > exile to repopulate that empty land
> Just how 'empty' was the land? nature abhors a vacuum, as they say. And
> there seem to be quite a few people around who were resisting Nehemya
> and were not a part of the movement to return and restore Zion.

Nehemiah was a century later.

Judea was completely depopulated, as well the countries around it were
greatly decreased in their populations. Those other countries would have
first to refill their own lands before expanding into empty Judea, and a
little over two generations was not long enough to accomplish that.

But after the first group of Jews came under Cyrus the Great, that acted as
a magnet for other peoples to come for trade and business (did not a later
period see the same pattern?). That provided the peoples to oppose

> > did not speak Hebrew on the street nor
> > at the hearth.
> This is even a stranger comment since Karl quoted Ne 13 where as late
> as Nehemya there where still hearth/mother-tongue speakers.

As stated above, the comment by Nehemiah argues against the existence of
native mother-tongue Hebrew speakers.

>> --
> Randall Buth, PhD
> www.biblicallanguagecenter.com
> Biblical Language Center
> Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life
> Karl W. Randolph.

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