[b-hebrew] mishnaic hebrew

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Sun Nov 27 02:08:13 EST 2011

>> 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.

Your reply still misses the point or adds something truly bizare. You are
positing two Hebrew 'high registers' but you have not explained how a
language community would develop such a thing, nor do you seem to
be aware how strange such an "explanation" sounds. Is there another
example of a single language community developing two high registers?
And the elite and villagers appear to have lived together in
reasonable proximity. For example, the 24 temple rotations lived out in
villages. One of them was near Tzuba where we run BH classes a couple
of millenia later. High registers are the goal of speakers in the proper
context, whatever one's background. If someone speaks the register
poorly they may use a low register or not speak, but they do not invent
a recognizably distinct, consistent, new dialect/language.
And if they knew enough Hebrew to 'invent' mishnaic Hebrew they
would have known enough Hebrew to put it in the shape of the elite's LBH.
Your "explanation" fails from internal consistency and inability to cover
the data. In fact, it is the "elites" who are recorded with the low language,
people like Gamaliel.

Please do not suggest that Gamaliel did so because
he was incapable of the high register. Some anti-rabbinicists in the
19th century
tried that and were taken to task and disproven.

>> ...
>> > 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.
> Karl W. Randolph.

If you think that comparing one language having a high and low register
with a second language having a high and low register
is 'apples and oranges', then the thread is over. That is exactly the
comparison that must be made for a reasonable appraisal of the
situation. Too many people have misapplied the "Latin" analogy and
ignored that Latin had two registers as it developed into the romance
languages and that Hebrew had two registers as mishnaic Hebrew

Randall Buth, PhD
Biblical Language Center
Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life

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