[b-hebrew] Mishnaic Hebrew

Chavoux Luyt chavoux at gmail.com
Thu Nov 24 22:13:46 EST 2011

Shalom Karl

You wrote:
> 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.
But my contention is that while the Jews who remained in exile can be
compared to immigrants, the Jews who returned should rather be
compared to the situation like Ireland... where although there was a
strong influence of the second language (English in Ireland, Aramaic
in Judah) even to the point of some no longer speaking their "native"
language (e.g. in Ireland where some Irish are actually
English-speaking), native speakers of the language never died out.
They were back in the land, after all! Also, keep in mind that some of
the poor people of the land did remain in Israel (cf. Jeremiah) and
would have kept Hebrew alive.

While there are linguistic changes between pre- and post-exilic
writers, how are you going to see if it is simply the natural change
in language or indicate that it was used as a second language (cf.
Afrikaans that became a whole new language, but developed from Dutch
through native speakers, even if there was some external influences -
and has a much simpler grammar and spelling compared to Dutch - or
even the development of American English compared to British
English... once again mostly through native speakers, but it can also
be argued as having simplified the language)?

How will you distinguish between the two possible reason for the
changes in Hebrew? Only once you have a method for distinguishing
between normal change in language and changes due to it being spoken
as a second language, can you apply it to biblical Hebrew and draw the
kind of conclusion that you do.

Chavoux Luyt

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