[b-hebrew] mishnaic hebrew

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Fri Nov 25 20:50:21 EST 2011


On Thu, Nov 24, 2011 at 10:57 PM, Randall Buth <randallbuth at gmail.com>wrote:

> Karl katav
> > However, the higher level activities in post-Babylonian Exile Judea were
> > supposed to be in Hebrew, not Aramaic.
> This misses the point. Hebrew existed in two registers, a high Hebrew
> and a low Hebrew. That means that listing activities for high Hebrew
> does not explain the existence of a low Hebrew register/dialect.

That both were spoken as second language explains both. The one is from the
elite that studied many years, the other village learning.

> ...
> > Lower level activities, like occasional contact with their distant
> emperor
> > and trade, could be carried on in Aramaic.
> this is an uninformed comment. Cross-cultural governmental business
> is normally done in 'official' languages, high registers. Defining it
> differently is not a position. Within the Persian empire, Aramaic was the
> high language for the various governments.

You are comparing apples with oranges.

Externally, yes, the “high level” activities were in Aramaic. Internally
the “high level” activities were in Hebrew. Ezra gives an example of that
in that the external contacts were recorded in Aramaic, the internal
activities in Hebrew.

> ...
> > or as I think is more probable,
> > that Hebrew was spoken as a second language, similar to how Latin was
> > spoken as a second language during the medieval period to take care of
> the
> > higher level activities in that time and place.
> Once again, this is based on ignoring the fact that mishnaic Hebrew and
> 'classical' Hebrew represent two different registers of a language, and
> also ignoring that fact that Latin went through a similar period when
> there was a high 'classical' Latin and a low vulgar, dialectical Latin. Two
> dialect types representing two registers of a language. This is a common
> mistake made by people who want to discuss Hebrew.

Those two registers are not evident in Biblical Hebrew before the
Babylonian Exile, speculated on, but not strongly evident.

> If you do not have all four pieces in the picture you are not playing with
> a full deck of cards and your picture will be skewed.

It’s true that I don’t have extra cards up my sleeve to be pulled out at
opportune times.

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

Karl W. Randolph.

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