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Re: orion Harrison on: Spoken DSS Hebrew.
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Actually, I pointed out in a note in my Divination a few years ago, that
*most* of the world's societies are bi- or multilingual. In fact, it has
only been the rise of the European nation-state, with territorial
boundaries that (largely) correspond to ethnic and linguistic boundaries,
that has created the notion that this is the way it *should* be (it was a
feature of the Romantic devotion to the vernacular language and the
"Folksseele" that was thought to reside in it. It even formed the basis for
Hitlerīs claim that there had to be Lebensraum, including "defensible
boundaries", for all the German-speakers of "pure" "Aryan" descent).
Fortunately, there are the mixed populations of Belgium and Switzerland
even in Europe to temper the europocentric view, and even the Great Melting
Pot is now pretty much a bilingual society.
There is no great trick to multilingual skills--just routine interfacing
with other ethnic/linguistic groups and the vagaries of trade, politics,
warfare, marital policy and so forth will produce at least *some* speakers
of each otherīs language.
The point I have repeatedly been trying to make in connexion with Aramaic
is that there is no question but that we can detect a rise in its sphere of
influence in the Levant in the course of the 1st millennium bce. That it
coexisted side by side with Hebrew is evident from the OT. But the OT
persists in regarding Aramaic as a *foreign* or *extraneous* phenomenon.
Linguistically, this is quite different from the rabbis of the middle ages,
who shifted from Hebrew text to Aramaic text without being aware that they
were actually changing languages.
And Mr Harrisonīs remarks on the presence of Greek tell us nothing about
the extent of actual Greek usage in Syro-Palestinian society in the period
in question. What one would need to document the rise of Greek in 1st
century bce Palestine would be troves of letters and business records, as
well as graffitti and ostraca in larger numbers, or at least in sufficient
numbers as to suggest a competitive situation with the use of Hebrew.
People seem not to get the point that reference in literary sources of
uncertain date and provenance just cannot take the place of actual
Furthermore, as I keep mentioning, languages donīt just die out, and there
*is* an entire branch of modern linguistics that studies "language death"
phenomena. And I know of no evidence that has ever been advanced by any
scholar to show that such language death phenomena can be demonstrated in
connexion with the use of Hebrew. So not only do we have abundant
*documentary* evidence for the use of Hebrew in the form of the DSS, we
have *no* , repeat *no* documentary evidence for its decline.
with best regards,