[b-hebrew] Mishnaic Hebrew

Dave Washburn davidlwashburn at gmail.com
Thu Nov 24 22:28:04 EST 2011


On Thu, Nov 24, 2011 at 7:13 PM, Chavoux Luyt <chavoux at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.
>

The Irish situation would be analogous except for one thing: when the
Assyrians and later the Babylonians took Israel into exile, they resettled
large chunks of their own people, or at least people from other parts of
their empire, into the land. These people probably spoke Aramaic; at the
very least, they didn't speak Hebrew. So even coming back to the land, the
exiles' grandchildren would have found the situation drastically changed,
because native speakers were few if any. Yes, some of the poorest of the
poor were left in the land, but again, two generations had passed. The
descendants of those poor would have found it expedient to adopt the new
language of the settlers, since they had absolutely no clout for
determining what went on in the land.

That being the case, I have to say I find Karl's scenario a bit more likely
than yours.

-- 
Dave Washburn

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