The Schizoid Nature of Modern Hebrew - A slavic Language in Search of a Semitic Past

Table of contents :
0.1 Transcription and transliteration 8

1.1 The "miracle" of the Modern Hebrew revival 13
1.2 The relationship of Modern Hebrew to pre-revival Hebrew 17
1.3 Non-Hebrew Semitic influences in Modern Hebrew 27
1.4 Yiddish and "Common European" influences in Modern Hebrew 30

2.1 The "miracle" of the Modern Hebrew revival: a reassessment 46
2.2 The relationship of Modern Hebrew to pre-revival Hebrew: a reassessment 46
2.3 Non-Hebrew Semitic influences in Modern Hebrew: a reassessment 46
2.4 Yiddish and "Common European" influences in Modem Hebrew: a reassessment 54
2.41 The attitudes of Modern Hebrew language planners towards the Hebrew resources of Yiddish 55
2.42 The role of Yiddish in the recovery of old colloquial Hebrew 57
2.43 The "hidden Slavic standard" in Modern Hebrew 72

3.1 Conclusions 98
3.2 Topics for future research 121



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ALEXANDER BORG, SASSON SOMEKH, PAUL WEXLER Published under the auspices of the Irene Halmos Chair for Arabie Literature, and the Department of Linguistics






CIP-Titelaufnahme der Deutschen Bibliothek Wexler, Paul:: The schizoid nature of modern Hebrew a slavic language in search of a semitic past / Paul Wexler. - Wiesbaden : Harrassowitz, 1990 (Mediterranean language and culture mon ograph series ; Vol . 7) ISBN 3-447-03063-1 NE:GT

e 1990 Otto Harrassowitz, Wi esbaden. This work , including ail of its parts, is protected by copyright. Any use beyond the limits of copyright law without permission of the publisher is forb This applies particulary to idden and subject to penalty. reprodu and storage and process ctions, translations, microfilms ing in electronic systems. Typeset by Desktop Publishing System , Tel Aviv University, Israel. Printing and binding: KN Digital Printfor ce GmbH, D-70565 Stutt gart Printed in Germany ISSN 0179-1621

In tribute to the Belorussian lands which saw the birth of three inventive speakers of Yiddish Mendele Mojxer Sforim b. Kapyl' c. 1836 - cl Odessa 1917 father of Modern Hebrew literature Eliezer Ben-Jehuda b. Luzhki 1857 - d. Jerusalem 1922 father of the Modern Hebrew language revival Ludwik L.Zamenhof b. Biaiystok 1858 - d. Paris 1917 father of Esperanto

In memory of my mother, Elisabeth Dzuba Wexler b. Ostropil', Xmel'nyc'kyj oblast', Ukraine 1908 - cl Philadelphia 1990



INTRODUCTION 0.1 Transcription and transliteration




THE OLD VIEW: MODERN HEBREW IS A SEMITIC LANGUAGE 1.1 The "miracle" of the Modem Hebrew revival 1.2 The relationship of Modem Hebrew to pre-revival Hebrew 1.3 Non-Hebrew Semitic influences in Modem Hebrew 1.4 Yiddish and "Common European" influences in Modem Hebrew

9 13 17 27 30


THE NEW VIEW: MODERN HEBREW IS A SLA VIC LANGUAGE 2.1 The "miracle" of the Modem Hebrew revival: a reassessment 2.2 The relationship of Modem Hebrew to pre-revival Hebrew: a reassessment 2.3 Non-Hebrew Semitic influences in Modem Hebrew: a reassessment 2.4 Yiddish and "Common European" influences in Modem Hebrew: � reassessment 2.41 The attitudes of Modem Hebrew language planners towards fue Hebrew resources of Yiddish 2.42 The role of Yiddish in the recovery of old colloquial Hebrew 2.43 The ''hidden Slavic standard" in Modem Hebrew




46 46 46

54 55

57 72 98 98 121








"The pages that follow will tell a...familiar and ... persistent story. The ultimate outcome of a policy is not what determines its qualification as folly. All misgovernment is contrary to self­ interest in the long run, but may actually strengthen a regime temporarily. It qualifies as folly when it is a perverse persistence in a policy demonstrably unworkable or counter-produ_ctive. It seems almost superfluous to say that the present study stems from the ubiquity of this problem in our time." (B.W .Tuchman 1984:33)

Hebrew is commonly regarded as a former living language which ceased to be a native tongue some 1800 years ago (though it always enjoyed liturgical and written functions among the Jews), only to be given a spoken function anew by a small group of mainly Yiddish speakers in the late 19th century. Since the re-acquisition of a lost colloquial function is undocumented in any other speech community, Modern Hebrew has become an object of fascination among linguists and laymen alik:e. In the census of 1916, 40% of the 85,000 Jews resident in Ottoman Palestine gave Hebrew as their first or daily language, with a higher percentage among young people under 15. 1 In 1922, Hebrew was recognized as one of the three official languages of British-mandated Palestine (alongside Arabie and English). By the tune 1

Fellman 1973:111, citing Bachi 1955.


2 the Sta te of Israel in 1948, the language was sp oke n by a . o f the cr eation of non ·n1 y m nat n, ve, ·11· m od sp . a ea i half ker T ai r s 10 1 ove ay, Hebrew population of well guage of Israel spok en by over 3 ,500,000 Jews . the maJ· or national lan 1s (the . . d1ng perhaps -mclu rs 500 speake ,0 00 native ab ro are a m d ), and the majority of who Druze Arabs, 000 and Circassians in Israel d 000, sec ond language of well over 2, the Golan Heights (areas part of Egypt, Jor: occupied Gaza, the West Bank and . and Syria respectively until 1967) 2 The Hebrew language "revival " bas generated a spate of literature-both scholarl and popular. However, very much like the study of the Jewish languages whic� replaced old colloquial Hebrew some 1800 years ago (e.g. Judeo-Greek, Judeo­ Aramaic), and which are being supplanted in our day and age by a new colloquial Hebrew (e.g. Yiddish, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Spanish, etc.), the field of Mo dern Hebrew abounds in imprecise formulations, myths and inaccuracies. The insights of theoretical linguistics-especially in diachronie matters-have penetrated Jewish and Hebrew linguistics ail too slowly. Unfortunately, the important topics are still essentially terra incognita. I look in vain for an in-depth history of Modem Hebrew, a detailed description of the revival process, and the changing norms of prescriptive intervention. In some writings, I have the distinct impression that the history of Modem Hebrew borders on the tabu. Paradoxically, the most cogent observations of Modem Hebrew have corne from the pens of scholars who themselves were not primaril y, or at ail, Hebrew linguists.3 The present monograph bas three goals: (1)

ln chapter 1, I will examine briefly how the Hebrew language revival has been described by revivalists, language planners, native speakers and linguists.4


3 4

I plan to show in this book . . that lhere 15 nothmg in the history of Modern Hebrew which 1·uatifies the use of · · a l" . I use the term " reviv the term only in refemng to authon who ......e auch a claim. E.a. Hairn Blanc, Hillel Halkin ' y udel Mark, Xaim Josef Tavjov, Edward Ullendorff, . 1 wm use the te•111 "revav a ' l 1sts" specifica i 1ly to refer to the ftrst speakers of Modern Hebrew' reaervin g the term "langu age P 1anners" for the second and sub equent & neratlona.




(2) In chapter 2, I will demonstrate why the traditional accounts of the Hebrew language revival, which enjoy almost universal circulation, are inadequate, and I will offer an alternative model.5 (3) In chapter 3, I will explore the implications of the Modem Hebrew revival for theoretical linguistics, and propose new topics for research. Ideally, we should delay our investigations until a detailed history and description of Modern Hebrew are available. However, our present knowledge of Modem Hebrew developments and language shift in general, inadequate as it may be, should make possible at least a preliminary exploration of our subject.6 I do not pretend that the present study can fill the gapping lacunae in Hebrew linguistics noted above; many details will have to be postponed for the future, and some details given here (hopefully not too many) will need to be corrected. My thesis is as follows: (1)

It is no coïncidence that the impetus to revive Hebrew as a colloquial language came from a small number of Eastern Yiddish speakers at the close of the 19th century. Of all the Jewish languages, Yiddish has by far the largest corpus of Hebrew words and expressions-most of which entered Yiddish together with Hebrew grammatical machinery-and the most heterogeneous component structure. Prior familiarity with Hebrew lexicon and, to some extent, with the grammar, as well as the prolonged bilingualism and language mixing of a millenium in the Yiddish community, were probably prerequisites to the reconstitution of spoken Hebrew. (2) In the absence of a body of monolingual speakers of Hebrew who could supply a native norm, revivalists could only hopc to carry out a "partial language

5 6

Most of my critique of the traditional views cited in chs 1-1.4 will appear in chs 22.43, but some anticipatory reassessment is given in chs 1-1.4 as well. An emotionally charged environment apparèntly convinced Rosén in 1956 to refrain from studying the history of the rise of spoken Modern Hebrew: "I am ready and willing to confess, that it would be arrogance to dare to write at this moment the history of the Israeli period of the Hebrew language" (73). I will not explore here the important topic of how the Hebrew language "revival" affected the development of an innovative Jewish culture in Palestine/Israel; on this, see Harshav 1990.


4 s partial language shift involved two native Yiddish. Thi eir th m f ro . processes: ft shi . y· I b o ary f u voca 1dd v c sh p 1 w Sla 1 as nn and re n la G a c ed bY He brew • th e bu1k Of the e • • • hebrrusms all (ret ame d Yiddish heb nc1at1on of rru.sms as components' and the pronu . . sted adJ was to a sms) e hebra1 � � � norm consisting of well as newly acquired ed ts Yiddish and Judeo-Sparush pronunc1at1ons of written Hebrew e1emen Shar by the • and . re-phonologization respectiv cat1on fi re-lex1 es ess roc ely_; 1 will call these p tanding the rise of spoken Modem Hebrew; re­ Re-lexification is the key to unders introduced was in isite, order to heighten the phonologization, though not a prerequ typologically Semitic profile of Mod em Hebrew. Thus, Modem Hebrew is a language with relatively homogeneous Yiddish syntactic and phonological structures and phonotactics; its lexicon and morphology (but not necessarily the morphotactics), on the other hand, are of heterogene ous origin: Semitic Hebrew sources composed before 200 A.D., and non-Semitic Hebrew sources from that date to the present. The superimposition of Hebrew vocabulary on a Yiddish syntax, morphotactics, phonology and phonotactics at best could produce a form of Yiddish with a bizarre (from the point of view of Yiddish) vocabulary-but hardly suffices to turn an lndo-European language into the "direct heir" of old monolingual Semitic Hebrew. •


(3) I will demonstrate briefly why I believe that the genetic affiliation of Yiddish is Slavic and not Germanie. Since Modem Hebrew is a dialect of Yiddish, it follows that it too is a Slavic language. Specifically, both Yiddish and Modem Hebrew are dialects of Upper Sorbian-a West Slavic language spoken today by a tiny population of bilinguals (in G erman) in the southeastem corner of the German Democratic Republic. The near univer sal practice of calling a Semitic language (Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew)1 and a Slavic Ianguage (Modem Hebrew) 7 8

The term re- lexiftcat'ton was first used by Stewart 1962 in his discu ssion of creole language development • I do not know when the term re-phonologization was fiUSt • ...a . Uaçu

Hebrew, 11 the native la ngu�ge of the Jews in Palestin , s a pcriod e i ttested in documents spannina I f O _approximatel y 1400 ycars; the literary period is traditionally divided into two pe nods· the pen of Bib lical Hebrew between approxim ately 1200-200 B.C. (the Bible. xt can be supplemented by inscriptions) and the post­ Biblical period e xtendi :om the apocryphal literature and the Dead Sea scro lls (2nd-lat cc B ·c · ) up to e Midr ashic literature of the carly Christian era. ln addition





by the same name "Hebrew" confuses native speakers and non-native observors alike. Both genetic and typological considerations would have clearly dictated the retention of the name "Yiddish" for the new language. The revivalists believed (or wanted to give the impression) that Modem Hebrew was in some way a direct continuation of Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew. While I maintain that the revivalists were wrong to think that they did, or could, ascribe colloquial functions to a language long unspoken, I do not lose sight of the fact that the "perception" of speakers is a sufficiently powerful factor that can influence the future course of a language. (4) There still remains the intriguing question of whether the revival of a colloquial Semitic Modem Hebrew could have become a reality-either at the outset or subsequently-e.g. if non-Yiddish speakers had spearheaded the revival or if revivalists and native speakers had favored other sources of enrichment or linguistic processes. The development of Modem Hebrew during the last century shows how difficult it is to tamper with the syntactic and phonological structures of a language. (5) I propose to show that the significance of the Hebrew language revival (which many observors bombastically label a "miracle") is not the story of how an ancient Semitic language regained its lapsed spoken functions, but of how a Slavic language, Yiddish-already home to an enormous Hebrew vocabulary numbering upwards of 10,000 words-opened its floodgates even more to Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew which resulted in the obsolescence of most of its non-Hebrew vocabulary, and in the phonological and semantic recalibration of most of its Hebrew corpus. This is not the first time in history that Yiddish speakers tampered with the

to Hebrew, some of the sacred texts of the Jews were composed in Judeo-Aramaic. These include the Biblical Aramaic passages probably composed between the 5th2nd cc B.C., the Dead Sea documents (e.g. Genesis Apocryphon) and the Palestinian Targum written during the first centuries of the present era, as well as texts from the 2nd-5th c c A.D. (see Moscati. 1969: 10-1). Differentiating the corpus of Mishnaic and Biblical Hebrew is complicated since the extant Biblical Hebrew corpus is extremely limited, so that we cannot know for sure whether Hebrew lexicon "unique" to the Mishna was not also used in early periods of Biblical Hebrew (see discussion of the Tel El-Amama materials in Rabin n.d.:17).



age; but it is the first tim e that the torre I nt f eb fl00dgates of their angu v om a iddish lang d ua Y ge fr with Sla ic 8 ° � rew pe rmanently transforme . Ylltactic and . le w erman on, g a I x1c and 1nto a tures, an G gua e ith an a struc phonological lmost . . " gh f most o th w1 1ts SIav1c syntactic thou iconle w x re Heb an ly d phonologica1 total structures still intact. The phenomenon of partial language shift which produced the unique dialect of Yiddish known popularly as Modem Hebrew bas several precedents extending back to the 9th century, though, until the late 19th century, the acts of re-lexification that attended the Ashkenazic Jewish commwiity were never intended to produce a "new language" that would dislodge Yiddish. Hence, the roots of Modern Hebrew go back to the 9th century wben Jews in the bilingual Germano-Sla vic lands first began to make a partial language shift to German lexicon, and the revival of Modern Hebrew rightly belongs to the one-thousand-year history of Yiddish (and Slavic) and not to that of S emitic Hebrew; those who speak of the obsolescence of Yiddish in our day and age are imprecise. (6) The revival of Modem Hebrew cannot be called a "miracle" since there was no revival; however, the epithet "miracle" might still be applied to three aspects of Modem Hebrew: (a) within a century, the pool of speakers rose from a few hundred non-natives to over five and a half million natives and non-natives; (b) the hoax that Modem Hebrew was a Semitic language has been accepted in all circles, and (c), by extension, the same name "Hebrew" has corne to be applied to two languages of disparate genetic classification. gap between the unprecedented attempt by Slavic speakers to revive an unspoken language of Semitic stock and their actual achievements raises important questions for historical and gcnetic linguistics, the theory of universal grammar, psycholinguistics and second-language acquis ition. These are the real reasons why native speakers and non-native observors alike should be fascinated ith e w tb phenomenon of Modem Hebre w. (7) The

1 want to thank 8 nwnber o f colleagues who assisted me in the preparation of . 11111 �: 1 o e 8 � partic ular debt of gratitude to Julia Horvath and Shlomo lzre'el of Tel-Aviv Univ eraitY whose numerous comments both saved me from unfortunate blunders as well as helped me to exploit· my own data to the fullest. I also profitted . . from dIICUIIIODI W 1'th Qu 11• Bat-El an d Itamar Even-Zohar (also f T 1-Aviv



University) and from the comments to a paper presented on this subject at the 6th Annual Conference of the Israel Association of Theoretical Linguists in Tel-Aviv in June 1990. Departrnent of Linguistics Tel-Aviv University, 1990



O.l Transcription and transliteration A variet y of systems are currentl y used in the West to transcnbe and transht erate . . Arabi. e an d Cyn·11·1c alphabets; for t sh, he Y1dd1 sak e of cons1. sten from the Hebrewc I have largely adopted the s ystem used by YIVO (Jidisher visnshaftlixer i·ns1l.lut) inY, New York, whereby the alveopalatal fricatives and affricates are denoted by sh z and tsh, dzh respectively; the velar fricatives, however, will be denoted by x �d � (and not by kh and r as in the YIVO system). Also follo wing YIVO , the schwa 1n Yiddish is transcribed bye; however, the Biblical/Mishnaic schwa is denoted by a. In Hebrew examples, open e is transcribed by Greek epsilon, but in names and titles, it appears simply as e. Vowel length is denoted by a colon following the vowel.



"Our Hebrew language is a Semitic language. This fact-which entails the assomption that we, its speakers, are a Semitic people-is indeed a fact of considerable significance". (H.B.Rosén 1956:1) " illusion [sic!] that Israeli Hebrew was not really, fundamentally and intrinsically Hebr�w, would taint scholarship with ethnico­ ideological attitudes, which we had better not allow to distort our insights." (H.B.Rosén 1977:29, fn 7)

Among revivalists, language planners and native speakers there is full agreement that pre-revival Hebrew is a Semitic language; there is some disagreement about the genetic classification of Modem Hebrew. The status of Modem Hebrew first surfaced in the early revivalist discussions, and, surprisingly, still elicits comments in many synchronie studies of the language, even when genetic assignment is not the topic at band. There are two schools of thought on the genetic classification of Modem e Hebrew: (1) Modem Hebrew is a Semitic language; (2) Mod m Hebrew is not a as an ed Semitic language. In the latter case, Modern Hebrew is defin either e or specifically as a dialect of unspecified "pan-" or "Eastern European" languag Yiddish.



( 1) Modem Hebrew is

a Semitic language.

Modem Hebrew shares a host of isoglo A typical remark is that while sses With and nt s , word og for ax y phonol y mati in an on r (see also ch "Eu opean" l guages 4 1 . l. or language c m t M llendorff Semi U a i F , ess, erthel od nev e is, ) below , it Hebrew 2 thou gh 1· ' · " S · · e , a d t s pe n1z em1t1c status is not bas be com e markedl: "1ndo-euro _ in 1ts affected verbal not has sy e ste influenc n m.3 F or R a b i n doubt since foreig Modem Hebrew derives its Semitic pedigree from the fact that it is based 0� "classical", i.e. Biblical Hebrew-a Semitic language-notwithstanding the fact that 4 Modern Hebrew is linked to "Western civilization". Similarly, Rosén defines Modern Hebrew as Semitic because it shares formal elements with other Semitic languages, though the meanings and constructions of the Hebrew vocabulary imitate the "Hauptkultursp�achen Europas" (aside from German, which languages are these?);5 the massive Yiddish impact on Modem Hebrew is characterized as a later "adstratum" which cannot affect its Semitic classif ication.6 While Izre'el defines Modern Hebrew as the result of the creolization of Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew by speakers of colloquial European languages, he finds the predominantly Hebrew morphology justification for regarding the language as Semitic.7 For Wild, the question of whether Modem Hebrew is "still Semitic" (because of its morphology and despite its Indo-European components) or is "no longer Semitic" (because of its Indo-European "substratum") is immaterial; the only crucial 1

2 3 4 5

6 7

Bennan 1976:S7; Blau 1976:86; Cole 1976:1.

1957(1977:72). Id. 1958(1977:162). 1974:col 661. 1970:lOl; see also id. 1977:24-6, 29, 237. Rosén adamant ly opposes the idea lhat . Modem Hebrew might not be Semitic (see 1977:16, fn 2 and 19, fn 7-and the quotation introducing thia chapter ). Note that Rosén 1977 cites Plessner 1931 in bis biblioaraphy with an •, which denotes materials of "seconda y significa ce" (see r n below for Pleuner·, doubts about the Sem itic status of Modem Hebrew). Roa6n 1977:36. 1986:84. Versteegh also i· mp1·tes that Moder H b n e rew passed through a stage of .1 n : 1:�o , lhouah the evidence is bard to recover (1984:133). Zand speaks of a � �1 of creolb.ation-first of Yiddish by Hebrew, and then of Hebrew.�Y Y llatu, h ( �22-3). Like Izre'el, Zand does not appea to q stion the Semine ue r of M�mHebrew.



question is what native speakers think.8 All these scholars seem to be suggesting that Modem Hebrew is genetically Semitic, though typologically "European".9 (2) Modem Hebrew is not a Semitic language, but rather an unspecified "pan-" or "Eastern European" language, or a dialect of Yiddish. The view that Modem Hebrew is a "pan-" or "Eastern European" language is a minority view (on this vague terminology, see also chs 1.4 and 2.4 below), most often characterized by confusion over the difference between genetic and typological classifications. Doubts about the Semitic character of Modem Hebrew first surfaced among European observors in the 1920s and 1930s. For example, Bergstrasser saw the failure to "cultivate" a sure Hebrew Sprachgefühl (how would that even be possible in the absence of native speakers?) as the reason for the creation of a " Wirklichkeit eine europaische Sprache in durchsichtiger hebraischer Verkleidung ist, mit gemeineuropaischen Zügen und einzelsprachlichen Besonderheiten, aber nur ganz ausserlich hebraischem Charakter" . 1° Fleisch concurred, adding that "pan-European" traits have created a gap between Modem Hebrew and medieval Hebrew that far surpasses that between the latter and Biblical Hebrew.11 By identifying Modem Hebrew as "pan-European", Bergstrasser and Fleisch seem to be denying the language membership in any language family. Plessner concurs that Hebrew was "eine Sprache, in der Europaismen und schwere Verstôsse gegen die Grammatik gang und gabe wurden",12 and suggests that the impact of European languages bas lead to the "Entsemitisierung" of Modem Hebrew. 13 Curiously, contemporary scholars who view Modem Hebrew as a Semitic language occasionally voice doubts. For example, Kutscher asks pointedly whether the language is still Hebrew or whether it is best considered "entirely unnatural 8

9 10 11 12 13

1977:758-9; see also Ullendorff 1958(1977:162]. This is not a new view. See the remarks of the influential Prague School linguist, N.Trubetzkoy: "FUr nationale Frage ist die Sprachwissenschaft ganz belanglos. Entscheidend ist das nationale Selbstgefühl, das von den sprachlichen Grenzen unabhangig ist" (Novak 1939-40:302). This point is lucidly and succinctly made by Halkin 1969:58. 1928:47. 1947:56. This point was also made earlier by Bergstrasser. 1925:col 684, repeated in bis 1931:col 803. Ibid., col 805, fn 4-but no details of "de-semiticization" are given.



and artif.ICI. a l like Esperanto". 14 Bendavid describes Modem Hebrew as "n ' 0 thIn " 15 g up w other than a translation of Eastern Euro p h . pean languages . . .Blau, o s e s on . f or the Semitic theory i s not in doubt, wntes: "I do not, m prmc1ple, object 10 calling Modern Hebrew a non-Se itic Ianguage �tho gh I d bt th e useful � ness of posing �� � the question of whether a g1ven lan�uage_ 1s Still �em1tic, no longer Semitic or bas become Semitic), except with the stipulation, that 1t be done not on the b as is of th e ersonal backg round of the speak ers, b ut on the basi s of I ingu �onsiderations... " 16 Blau-like Plessner and Fleisch before�eems to be m l isintic i py g that languages can enter and leave the Semitic camp. Tur-Sinai, who un hesitatingly defines Modern Hebrew as Semitic, implies that the prejudice that m any semitists have against using Modem Hebrew data in the stud y of classical Semitic Ianguages suggests that they may regard Modem Hebrew as not (sufficien ) tl y Semit ic. 17 To the best of my knowledge, Kacnelson is the only observor or Modern Hebrew who explicitly labeled Modern Hebre w a dialect of Yiddish. 18 The existence in Modem Hebrew of inn umerable translations of Yiddish pat terns of discourse (loan translations) is the basis for the author's claim. 19

14 1982:296. Kutscher's posthumous book is character ized by disorganization and a plethora of factual errors; no doubt, had the author liv ed to finish the book, this and other interesting

questions raised

in the book would have been ad Wexler 1986). Elsewhere in dressed fully (see Ibis book and in bis other writin gs, Kutscher expresses no cloubts abo ut the Semitic as sig nment of Modern Hebr 1958(1977:162] on ew . See also Ullendorff this pos sibility.

15 1:1 967:253. 1 6 1976:90.

17 1951 l li . See • bo Driver 1954:35 ; o lsrae ?uru_ven . . 7 D lgopol'skij 1972:23 and Wil mes' the sub� d 1977:757. In · t 0 r Modern He .tt..... _ ._...,.. brew is often ignored in the curriculum 0f unenta of Hebre w Janguage tradilionaJ dia' c ( though not literaturc), hroruc but this may reflect the . orientar100 0f mo,t hebra Hebrew il "leaa" ists rather than the belief that Modem 8 . . c than 18 1960:61 ' 6 the o bs ole te Semitic languages. ::,a 7..,,_ ,� rn •� 11 " branch" 19 1960:43 . Ha u-'--OW ikin cites Kacne1son aa a man Ql;Ul' IJ)eaken :" ,..tio uCSICl Hanhav 1990. Jt of Yiddish ori . now ispl . n of the nostalgia that some ModerTl ia clear � ay for Yiddish (1969:60). ee now also 1 trained nnula tions and linauiat I Will o frorn argu ffer support for KacneJson's mentation that Kacnelson is not claim in chs 2-3 below.





1.1 The "miracle" of the Modern Hebrew revival A number of reasons have been advanced to explain the success of the revival of spoken Hebrew: Pre-revival Hebrew was (1) the only lingua franca for Jews of disparate linguistic background in Palestine,20 (2) the common Ianguage of liturgy and written expression in all Jewish communities, and (3) the touchstone of Zionist ideology.21 There are differences of opinion about whether the term revival is relevant to Modern Hebrew, and if so, whether it is miraculous or unique. Opinions range from enthusiastic support for the notion of revival (e.g. "...the story of the Hebrew Revival sounds closer to fantasy than to reality. It is indeed unique")22 to the charge of artificiality.23 (1) The revival of Modem Hebrew deserves to be called a miracle or unique; eight reasons have been advanced.

20 Fellman 1973:26; Kutscher 1982:193; Sivan 1982:40-1. Ornan raises a salient point, that the absence of an all-encompassing national language for all ethnie groups in Ottoman and British Palestine was a more important factor in determining the success of Modern Hebrew in Palestine than the efforts of Jewish nationalists (1972:244). 21 Tur-Sinai 1960:9; Gold 1989:366-7. 22 Morag 1959:263. 23 Bloomfield 1939:45; Porzig 1964:262. Blau also calls the modemization of written Arabie a miracle, on the grounds that while Latin was replaced as a written language by the Neo-Latin languages, literary Arabie was "modernized" rather than replaced by individual spoken Arabie dialects (1976:20-1). The use of the term "miracle" with Arabie is no more appropriate than it is with Modern Hebrew. Blau neglects the fact that neither the Arabie nor the Latin experience is distinctive (on other diglossie situations in Greece, China, Haiti, etc., see Ferguson 1959a). More precisely, the Neo-Latin Ianguages are "descendants" of "Vulgar", and not written Latin; in seeking c written Latin enrichment, the Neo-Latin languages resemble the East Slavi language ic n) communities which long retained Church Slavic (of South Slav origi as the es the revival of spoken Ianguage of liturgy and written expression. Mei�et equat_ m the Middle Age_s (1918:89, 97). Hebrew with the use of spoken Latin by scholars . see ch 3.1, mumties, ch com spee pean Euro l ieva Med and 1 dis' h · the Y'd 0n d.1gloss1a · m sects 3-4 below.


14 a "dead" languag. e . cons titutes. the reverse of the conun0 of · l a v rev1 The a n ( ) st1ng colloqwal languages.24 ex1 to ns ctio fun en itt wr tendency to grant a colloquial language som� 1800 years ago, Hebrew bas as se demi its ce Sin (b) . ned 1n· use as a "diglo ssie half-language", 1.e. the language of wr·1 tten ma1 re erent stock.25 A common assertion is diff of s uage lang en spok e gsid expression alon en Hebrew for so many years was actually beneficial that the nonexistence of spok have inexorably developed far from its Biblical an� since a "living" Hebrew would become "fragmented" into a variety of Mishnaic roots, and the grammar would have es developed distinctive pronunciation nonns-just as the separated Jewish communiti 26 norms of whole and merged Hebrew. (c) The creation of the new spoken language was accomplished in the space of a single generation, and native equivalents were foWld for many loans in the initial stages of language planning.n (d) The scale of the Hebrew language revival (i.e. "re-nativization", standardization, enrichment, and growth in conceptual precision) is unprecedented.21

24 Kulscber 195 7:41; D.Cohen 1968:1293; M.Cohen 19 70:25. The frequent inference that Hebrew was a "dead" language until the present revival is misleading; only langua�es which have no fonctions in any speech community, e.g. Etn1scan and m n, should be so labeled. Pre-revival Hebrew, with its liturgical and written :. ne:ons, could hardly be called "dead" Lifshic 1 20:lff and Parfitt 1972:238, to 9 . cne only two writers ex r c ·u deny that Hebrew was ever a dead language. ' Pi i Y 2S Feil 935 33; � : sec also W.Chomsky 1967:226 and fn 24 above. 26 8 � • 95 3: 41-2; Tur-S inai 1 9 55:4; W.Chomsky 1 9 59:189; Kutscher ;; : ; : � 2 l : 9 . 27 Tur-S'mai· 1951.3 . 4- 5; Fell man 1974·354. 2 8 Landau 1970:722; Go . ld 1989•·364. -S.. Gold cites par Uel to est clos the Esperanto as He . - rs . brew, t hough the fiormer hu failed to ac . quire a significant body of n t1v (ibid., 364, 385-6 fn S) S also ch 3.2, sec t 1 below for a comp ison f th iwo lanauaaea in tcnn� of t�ir omponent structure.




(e) There was probably never a language spoken for most of its history by such a high proportion of non-native speakers who were aware of the foreign components of their lexicon.29 (f)

While "normal" languages are lineal heirs to their earlier historical stages, Modem Hebrew was receptive to all the preceding chronological strata simul taneously.30 (g)

Not only was Modem Hebrew no one's mother tongue, but none of the early revivalists were speakers of closely related "dialects".31 (h) In contrast to normal generational transmission, Hebrew-speaking parents often leamed to speak the new language from their children.32 (2) A number of scholars have argued either that the use of the term revival is inappropriate for Modem Hebrew or that some of the claims for revival are based on invalid arguments; seven objections have been raised. (a) Hebrew never entirely lost its colloquial status, though its circle of speakers was always extremely restricted.33

29 Rosén 1977:59-ignoring well-known confirming examples such as Yiddish and Sorbian. 30 See Klozner 1929 and Ben-Hayyim 1953:44, to cite only a few authors. At best, what is unique is the extreme receptivity of Hebrew to multiple chronological strata; the principle itself is hardly unique. 31 Blanc 1968:237. 3 2 Tur-Sinai 1960:12; Gold 1989:378. 3 3 Federbush 1967:307, 325-7. Even if this claim is valid, it has no bearing on the 19th-century revival of Modern Hebrew: before the late 19th cèntury, few native speakers ever transmitted this language to their children, and Ben-Jehuda himself was not a native speaker. It would be worthwhile recovering the Hebrew nonns of native speakers outside of Palestine/Israel, either from literature or from interviews. I am grateful to Moshe Greenberg of The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, an American-bom native speaker of Hebrew, for discussing these points with me.



. 1 Hcbre w continucd to exist "in the guise o a f Aramaic" ( qu1 1Io ( • • 34 • ver interrupted). A vanat1on of th1s claim is W, WhoSe ., � t.rad.1u. on was ne . . . 3s Chornsky•8 was Hebrew preserv i e lloqu al d m Y co 1 .dd1 sh. Felirnan al mm nt that .n1uch w texts through a so rv that since Yiddish-spcaking children leamed. Hebre Word� . Y ebrew and iddish, H 1 dd1sh be ca me cal u l. Y into on lat s tran d or -w q es of one th (c) Hebr w never Iost its function as t he language of scholarship and religious pre ion.37 (d) Th r vival of Hebrew is commonplace, since, in Roth's words, "before Ben uda...J ws could speak Hebrew; a/ter him they did. "38 (e) The

notion of revival is inept, since Modem Hebrew is not identical with any earlier variety.YJ ff Modem Hebrew developed through a process of creoliz.ation, there is no reason to use the tenn miracle.40 (f)


Kacnelson argues against the notion of revival in general, on the groW1ds that no other language that came to lack spoken functions bas ever been revived, e.g. Akkadian, Latin, Classical Gree k or Egyptian.•1 34

Shaffer 1972:318. 1 suppose the author embedded in ludeo-Aram aic. On contem

had in mind the large vol ume of hebraisrns porary Aramaic, see ch 2.3 belo w.

35 1967:252 See . also ch 2.42 below . 36 1975:351. W C · ho m sky'1 .in d't p s uta bl e cha racterizatio n of Yid h bears reine m beri na (aee c dis h 2.42 below) · on 8ttitu development 0 f · des towards the role of Y1d· d"1sh m· me Modem Heb re w 7 • ch 1 ·4 and 2.41 belo Blanc 1 96 8·237. w. '. F: uman 1973 1982:40 1 • lm = 16 , 113; 1974:352; p{ied 11 who Blau 1976:10, 14; Sivan le " H eb r w , t h e v Vir Uen Hebrew · gu 1 cullivated b arious r ecensions of monohn " e &ed Hebrew" • a er y l) k s of ail Jcwish langua ges-in oppo ition to the Hebr w W x compon nt e 19 81b:l 19 2 mbedded in each Jewish langu 0 ) ( ·· 195 :136. 1 a : 1 ln




Sorne observors cannot make up their minds about the miracle or uniqueness of the Modem Hebrew revival. For example, Harshav claims that "the revival of the Heb rew language is the most miraculous achievement of the Jewish people in the modem period ", 42 but then goes on to write that since various aspects (left unspecified) of the Hebrew language revival resemble linguistic phenomena in other speech communities, only the speed of the revival and its impact on "the consciousness of the individual and the collective" are without precedent;43 but then what are we to make of his (italicized) phrase: "the myth of the revival of the [Hebrew] language in Palestine"?44

1.2 The relationship of Modern Hebrew to pre-revival Hebrew Revivalists envisioned Modem Hebrew as a composite of elements from Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew .45 All contemporary language planners espouse this standard for Modem Hebrew, but there is no unanimity over the relative input of each component. For most revivalists and language planners, Biblical Hebrew was regarded as the preferred source of enrichment because it was the·medium of the Bible,46 but another 42 43 44 45

1990:11; see also ibid., 22. Ibid., 14; see also ibid., 27. Ibid., 52. Fellman 1973:74, discussing Ben-Jehuda. On the dates of Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew, see ch 0, fn 8 above. 4 6 Israeli schoolchildren are required to study the system of vowel diacritics added to the unvocalized Biblical Hebrew text in the first millenium A.D. (as well as study the Bible text itselO for almost their entire educational career; nowadays, the vocalization rules are used in teaching children to read, in poetry and occasionally to distinguish words that have the identical consonantal shell (e.g. mlx = [melex] 'king' or [malax] 'he ruled'). Nevertheless, the average Israeli has difficulty providing the correct vowel diacritics for written texts which consist mainly of consonants (J.B.Segal 1958:404). Harshav 1990:43 is correct that the abandonment of the Ashkenazic pronunciation, which was closer to the Masoretic vocalization tradition than the Sephardic pronunciation, has made the use of vowel diacritics even more cumbersome. Haugen has suggested that the habit of reading the Bible aloud facilitated the revival of spoken Modern Hebrew (1966a[l972:106], citing Morag 1959). Note Kutscher's remark that the ease of reading Biblical Hebrew gives


18 . onally cited is that Bibli . cal Hebrew is relatively c losed to 1 s a c oc . n . o s . rea also 1s Hebrew compatible with the 47 eference for B1bhcal tenoror . influences. 1be pr d cup1e "th w1 pre B·b1· was 1 br 1cal oc ship t -œ turY scholar . H e ew . the umes.. 9th n . . . � ng v1ew m 1avor of emulatmg M"1shnaic and se Klozner expressed a dissenti lec . . . val norms,41 on the grounds that the reaha and world v1ew of the Bible pe .ted Medie n0 ModHe avar a/av kelax 'go out of style'; BHe jisher hadurim (lit 'iron out the rug ged places') + ModHe jishev sixsux (lit 'settle a dispute') > Mo4He jishev hadurim 'iron out the difficulties'. Necer, who cites these examples, assumes that such "de formations" in the spoken language are due to the speaker's emotional or physical state, or to negligence, while in the written language, they point to unfamiliarity with Classical Hebrew sources.64 There is also a tendency (dating from the 9th-10th centuries) to re-interpret Mishnaic Hebrew forms according to the norms of Biblical Hebrew, see e.g. the replacement of MHe -ax by BHe -�xa 2nd p sg m poss suffix in post-Mishnaic texts, as in the Modem Hebrew variants, beal korxax - beal korxexa 'against your will'.65 Similarly, there is still a widespread tendency to describe Modem Hebrew in terms of Biblical Hebrew processes, rather tllan as a language in its own right.66 Hebraists have stressed that not all Modem Hebrew expressions with pre-revival precedents are necessarily derived from the latter, e.g. ModHe carEVEt 'heartbum' is not to be considered a direct "semantic development" of BHe carEvEt 'scar', but rather a semantic recalibration of the inherited root c-r-v 'bum'; 67 similarly, gerund fonns such as ModHe bejod'o 'at the time of bis knowing' should not be construed as a continuation of the identical Biblical Hebrew infmitive construction meaning 'in his knowing'. 68 Rosén provides no historical explanation for these changes, but I can imagine that European patterns of discourse are behind some, if not all, of them, see 64 1982:40. 65 Kutscher 1982:35, 197. Though beal korxexa is the current colloquial/literary fonn. Kutscher attributes the retention of beal korxax in Modern Hebrew to Yiddish, which preserves the Mishnaic Hebrew form (Y balk6rxox 'perforce'). Kutscher writes: "Here we see that the long arm of the purists was not able to reach into every nook and corner of the spoken idiom during the period of the Diaspora" (ibid., 197). The replacement of -exa by -Vx is dated by Kutscher to the 10th century and was accepted in Ash.kenazic circles. On the role of Yiddish in preserving old colloquial Hebrew nonns, see ch 2.42 below. For further discussion of the spread of Biblical to Mishnaic norms, see Etan 1974:col 660. 66 According to D.Cohen (1964:233), the first hebraist not to treat Modern Hebrew as an extension of Biblical Hebrew was Rosén. This is imprecise; see Bomstein 1927, inter ali� and note the title of Rosén's 1962 book: A textbook of lsraeli Hebrew with an introduction to the Classical language(l). Ornan's synthetic discussion of Hebrew grammar merges facts from most historical periods (1971). 67 Rosén 1977:85. 68 Ibid., 105, fn 91.



Uk petshija 'heartburn' (with a root shared by such urn, rtb a he g En . e.g Words as e roast 'bak k , ry , f ' f e , , ace p ' un th [o fum hum ty en, e ' ov ., s ]) pi sh stove, . îhese Hebrew of com ces . c pon instan ent m the er as ge well r as 1 · 1ed above, examples , . . . s are w1denm g the gap betwe en Modem Heb that innovation �gg est vividly no language planners have called for �� , heless neve rt s; stage val revi abQ % pre t in e el also proposes that s ce nts MOdern innovations composed of Hebrew eleme . Izr . n ( l' 1zat1o f creo see ch o 1 ss proce a a bo ve), the unit of Hebrew developed through Y the 69 d . rupture n bee bas . e tun gh ou thr e ag gu Hebrew lan Discus sions over the pronunciation norms provide a particularly convenient arena in which to observe from close-up (1) the attempts of the revivalists to link Modem with pre-revival Hebrew norms, (2) the sensitivity of many Modem Hebrew speakers over the "deficient" Semitic status of their language and (3) the mechanics of partial language shift. The early revivalists expressed a preference for the pronunciation norms of the resident (largely arabicized) Sephardic Jews in Palestine, on the assumption that the latter, most of whom historically resided in Mediterranean countries and spoke Judeo-Spanish (often in addition to other Mediterranean languages, e.g., Arabie, Turkish and other Romance languages), preserved a pronunciation of whole Hebrew that was allegedly more accurate historically than that of the Ashkenazic Jews.70 Other reasons given for choosing Judeo-Spanish Hebrew were that (1) some Sephardic Jews used Hebrew as a spoken language before the revival movement, (2) Ashkenazic Jews regarded this norm as more "aesthetic", and (3) Judeo-Spanish Hebrew did not carry the stigma of being associated with East European Jewish culture.71 The selection of the "Sephardic" pronunciation made Palestinian Jewry 69 1986:84. 70 This is untrue (see ch 2.42 below). For a description of lberian- and post-lberian Judeo-Spanish ·Hebrew norms, see Garbell 1954 and Bunis 1981b respectively. Revivalials meant whole Hebrew, though the r y arely disting uished between whol_e vs. merged Hebrew. "Ashkenazic" is th elf e native epithet for Ge rman Jews and tb descendants-most of whom were histor ically Yiddish-spealcing. 71 Mong t 959:250. The historical roots of this vie w should be explored in depÙl, ln me lSlb-century German Yiddish circles Ladino (the Judeo-S panish calque :_ ::.�: of �e Bible) also enjoyed greater pr; ti ha s ge t n native Yiddish (see Gilman 19 · ' citmg the views of N.H.Wessely 1725-1805) · Rabin cites the addiùonal argument that the Yiddi sh-speaki · · tion ng revivali sts adopted J udeo-Spanish p ronuncta be.cause the Sephardi. Jew s wei-e businessmen and ar tisa ( . .: 12-3 th s e ns n d ); i argument



quite distinct from the overwhelming majority of Jews outside Palestine who followed a variety of Ashkenazic pronunciation norms.n The Ashkenaz�c language planners adopted the Judeo-Spanish pronunciation of the qamac diacritic as a in place of the mid or high rounded vowel in Yiddish merged/whole Hebrew, and postvocalic ungeminated t as t rather than s (both Yiddish and Judeo-Spanish whole, but only occasionally merged, Hebrew observed spirantization of b, p, k > v,f, x; see also chs 2.42 and 2.43, sect 12 below). This meant that the distribution of a and t, both of which existed in Yiddish Hebrew, was to be expanded. However, the early Ashkenazic revivalists ignored a number of features in some Sephardic pronunciation norms that were lacking altogether in their own inventory, e.g. the opposition of long and short consonants, schwa between initial consonant clusters,73 and the cade grapheme as s (e.g. JSp meHe sadik 'saint, saintly person1 vs. Y c.74 (On variant norms in the late 19th-early 20th centuries, see below.) A nwnber of purists have agitated for the incorporation of h, . t for the letters hEt . and 1ajin (= ModHe, Y, JSpHe x; ModHe zero, Y zero or occasionally a nasal or a nasalized vowel [and, in non-Hebrew words, e], JSpHe x in closed syllables, otherwise zero), on the grounds-that pharyngeal(ized) segments exist in Arabie (see e.g. ClArab h, . t, s,. .t, d, q, etc.), and thus must have existed in Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew.75 Nevertheless, only �, t have been accepted by a few Modern Hebrew speakers who did not have pharyngeal fricatives in their native languages, and retained by speakers who did have the consonants in their native languages.


72 73



is unclear to me--unless Rabin meant that Ashkenazic Jews cultivated Hebrew as a lingua franca. Lifshic 1920:25, fn 1 observes that the Samaritan pronunciation of Hebrew is irrelevant for Modern Hebrew since it is based on a different punctuation system; I know of no other citation of Samaritan. Harshav 1990:16, 31. Yiddish generally lack.s geminated consonants, but long vowels are retained dialectally-in Central (Polish) Yiddish, but not in Ben-Jehuda's native Northeastem (Belorussian-Lithuanian) dialect. On the fate of schwa in Modern Hebrew, see ch 2.43, sect 11 below. Bunis 1981a:58. fr' · · s ngeal pha m as 1cat1ve nced pronou be to were jin a l � Jelin proposed that if l}ê,t and and g; for the latter he x for s letter new the A rab.1c manner. Hebrew would need 1 a dot on top (following Arabie orthographie norms) .. w'th proposed rK..t i.,. and /aJln Hebrew words, but dcnoted (1905:89). in Yiddish lajin had no phonetic value in most ow). e in non-Hebrew words (see discussion in ch 2.42 bel



k of two Modem Hebrew pronunciation norms-bo a p m 1 . al 1h Of • e be twee n two pre-rev1v omis pr com wh a t en li e o es . l e ûally rcpr i brew . " 76 For the compromise Y.ddi 1 s h nish. J pa ud deo-S eo u -s J d : 1"ddish n . Pani. sh� 1, Blanc ha I}, reJects that Hcbrew s co m ined the te nun i tian nonn of Mode nns . _........nnl ) "Ashkcnazified", "As hkenazo1·d" and "General Israeli" n 'l"l. d r (m • 1 11e the come nor as m be of b s this mo t speaJcer ptur th fact that . 1 • • • . . ,a r tb ir thno-hngu1stac ong1 ns. The pronunc1at.ton norm thasl pr fer pical "r" to the uvular "r" which predominates in "Gener� U. thi minority norm "arabicized Israeli ". 80 Apart frorn lan m nt , both norms display a marked "(common) average in th ir phonological inventory.11 m j rit nor minority Modem Hebrew pronunciation norm calls for tion of th lost allegedly Biblical Hebrew phonological d istinctions, d readily identified by the writing system, e.g. BHe *w, !, f, q-for -- m Helrew has v, t, c, k-though as late as the 1920s, some purists were ,u .....,.. .... ,82 ,e"'....,,· ng the restoration of pharyngealization in {, q. pendent of the status of the pharyngeal fricatives, both norms accept pbonemic alternations which are a direct result of the original pharyng · e , �. '� e.g. ahmor 1 will guard' < sh-m-r vs. axshod 'I will suspect' < OHe �H� ...


7? 7

·n Blanc 1956a; 1968; Devens 1980. I treat th Yiddish and Jude(). monolithic, though there are minor diff ne m ng di 1 ts ( ee ely V jnrajx 1973 and Bunis 1981a; 1981b; l ). F r a d ription of •ni1>er of t 1 pre-revival pronunci tion norm f or g 1 7l; H br w �lool 1

Blan o M ern H br w, : 7. any n ti in 1 · mann - ith ut � '· in

, in




h-sh-d. There has also been an attempt among some speakers of the majority norm to lengthen the vowel following the original voiced pharyngeal fricative, e.g. nata(')ati 'I planted' < n!1tj (vs. natati 'I gave'), but this feature is now rarely encountered. Still, speakers of the majority norm are often defensive about their inability or failure to pronoW1ce �Et, 1ajin as�. t, and Blanc bas noted among them a hierarchy of sensitivity, according to which some speakers treat tas an optional "decorative" device; � is not the object of imitation, and hence, remains a mark of orthoepic or "arabicized Israeli" speech.83 ln the initial period of the revival there also existed a Galilean variant of the ashkenazified Judeo-Spanish pronunciation of Hebrew.84 The distinctive features of this pronunciation norm were two: (1) Postvocalic ungeminated k and p were spirantized to x,f, while bwas used, facultatively, for both Y wh/meHe band v, e.g. OHe shevat name of a Hebrew rnonth > Galilean He shebat or shvat (the latter is the norm in contemporary Modem Hebrew).85 (2) The Galilean Hebrew soW1d pattern also included �. 1, !, q.86 Bar-Adon offers no discussion of the origin of the minority Galilean norms, but I would note that one element of this norm is encountered among Hebrew speakers in the Russian Empire and Germany as late as the 1930s: i.e. the stop reflex bin place of the historical spirant, e.g. R(He) (i)eshibot 'Jewish religious seminaries' (1901),87 G(He) Jeschiba sg (1932)88 but also G(He) Jeschiwa (1936-this is the current norm).89 Moreover, while spirantization applies to-the medial tav letter in 83 1968:245. In Arabie, where the pharyngeal fricatives and pharyngealized consonants have generally been retained, some speakers also replace the 1ajin with a backing of the surrounding vowels (see Devens 1980:129) , and a tendency bas been noted among Cairo women to substitute palatalized for pharyngealized consonants (Royal 1985:150). See also ch 2.42 below. 84 For details, see Bar-Adon 1975. 85 According to Bar-Ad on, the absence of spirantization with b was motivated by the desire to avoid confusion with the letter vav, pronounced as w or v (ibid., 24, 29, 81). On the dismantling of consonant clusters, see ch 2.43, sect 11 below. ModHe e continues the Biblical Hebrew schwa. 86 Bar Adon 1975:25, 29. 87 Ginzburg and Marek 1901:xix. 88 Assaf 1932. 89 Bio G orion et al. 1936:col 325. Non-Palestinian Modern Hebrew exam pl · · any recorded m· a Cyn·llic transcription are given here in romanized fonn. Note ongtn er 1934:13); 1(H ) al so Po(He) jeszîb6t (Schorr 1915:427) and jeszybot (AltboJ



Po(He) nesivot (1913) (= ModHe netivot, name of a Warsaw Hebrew journal), finai competing norms of pronunciation in Europe de serve a 1 is not affected .90 The detailed study. There were still other pronunciation norms that failed to gain acceptance. For example, Dzhabotinski 1930 rejected the emulation of Arabie �, 1, on the grounds that the Arabie presence in Palestine was posterior to that of Hebrew and thus was historically unrevealing. Instead, he proposed that Hebrew emulate a "Mediterranean" type of pronunciation (with Italian and Provençal phonology as models), 91 which would include geminated consonants (as in Italian), except before another consonant (e.g. jedabru 'they will speak' for historical *jadabbru).92 While revivalists showed occasional interest in the Yemenite pronunciation norms of Hebrew, they never proposed adopting these norms for Modem Hebr ew .93 Jischub 'Jewish seulement in Palestine' (< He jishuv 'seulement': Lifshic 1920:24). In German y, hebraists appear to have succeeded i n following the majority Palestinian n orms more rigorously. For example, Bornstein 1927 advocated geminated con son ants, a nd consigned initial consonant clusters to the heap of ungrammatical segments, but he did not call for JJ, l. Though his book was written for German -speaking Jews, the author himself was a Polish Jew. Should the label "Galilean" therefore be used in view of the European connections? 90 See also R(He) shesilim ( 1917-name of a Moscow Hebrew children's journal) = ModHe shlilim. Note also the practice of using the Hebrew letter tav without dagesh (= Ys) to denote s in foreign words, e.g. G Gesenius family n ame was spelled /gznjwt/ (= ModHe /gznjws/), R poêtesa 'poetess' was spelled /pw'jUt'/ (Shtajnberg 1896, discussed in Mirkin 1978). The paucity of examples precludes the writing of any rule. The vowel in the first syllable is required in both R(He) shesilim and Po(He) n1rsivot due to the ungrammaticality of *nt-, *shs- in both Yiddish and Modern Hebrew. I have no information on the status of the pharnygeal fricatives in early 20th-century East European Hebrew-speaking circles. 91 1930:4, 8. 92 Dzhabotinski 1930:32. ln this regard, Dzhabotinski was following not o nly the constraints of ltalian, but also (coincidentally?) of colloquial Palestinian Arabie. Rieger 1953 shares Dzhabotinski's dislike for �. 1 and affection for geminated consonants and the dismantling of consonant clusters by schwa (now p rono n ed generally as ,r). Tbese were precisely the norms that the Language Academ (� � d hala.rhon) wu still proposing (unsuccessfully) for radio announcers thr!ugha ;e early 1960s (see Weinberg 1966:41, fn 7). 9 3 Klozner recommended writing zh with the letter g�l with an apo strophe, smc · . . e in · trad1non, '· the Yememte postvocalic ungemmated g 1S pronounc ed as a n alveopalatal



The reason is probably that there were f ew Yemenites resident in Palestine at the beginning of the language revival who could have supplied the norms natively. In recent years, hebraists have been praising the Yemenite Hebrew pronunciation norm as closest to the original Hebrew pronunciation.94 Observors differ over the likelihood that the majority pronunciation norm might become "more Semitic-like" in inventory. For example, Garbell was guardedly optimistic that the Arabie consonantal value of �êl, lajin would be recovered;95 and J.B.Segal (ibid.) also predicted an eventual Judeo-Arabic impact (see also chs 1.3 and 2.3 below). Even in domains like the state radio and television, where �, t were once required by announcers,96 the "arabicized lsraeli" norm has decidedly lost ground. On the proposed reversa! of "europeanization" in the Iexicon and grammar, see ch 1.4 below. The shape of the Hebrew letters adopted for Modem Hebrew follows Ashkenazic rather than Sephardic practice.r;n 1.3 Non-Hebrew Semitic influences in Modern Hebrew Revivalists advocated opening Modern Hebrew broadly to enrichment from two Semitic Ianguages-contemporary Arabie and .Old Judeo-Aramaic-as a means of supplementing the modest corpus of Semitic roots preserved in Biblical and

94 95 96 97

fricative (1893(1957:12]), but this norm was not adopted. Tur-Sinai notes that authentic Yem whHe joshenet 'she sleeps' (in poetry, and common in colloquial Modem Hebrew) contrasts with normative ModHe jeshena (1955:14). W.Choms ky also praises y emenite Hebrew for retaining old forms ( � 959:182): Yemenite Hebrew resembles Ashkenazic Hebrew in spirantizing postvocahc ungem1nated tav. 227, 284-5; see also ch Schreiden 1957:350; Kutscher 1968; 1982:15, 21, 27, 148, 2.42 below. red this view. 1930:15. Tur-Sinai 1955:16-7 and J.B.Segal 1958:405 sha See Bendavid 1:1967. Harshav 1990:38.



ected to provide loans an d mode ls 1or lo . hna1. c Hebrew ·91 Arabie w as exp . M1s an 99 v1de loans. trans1au. ons, while Aramaic was to pro The enthusiasm for Arabie was based on three argwnents (only the first of Which is factual): (1) Arabie had the lar�est vocabuI3:y of ail the Semitic Ianguage s, (2) every native word in Arabie const1tuted a potent1al Hebrew term, and (3) S yrian and Palestinian Arabie allegedly preserved an important substratum of hebraisms which could be repatriated.1°0 Ultimately, Arabie never became a major source of enrichment since most revivalists were of Eastern European origin and were not conversant with colloquial Arabic. 101 Hence, Aramaic became the most important Semitic source of enrichment for Modem Hebrew-not so much through direct loans from Old Ararnaic text s, but through aramaisms embedded in Old Hebrew texts. The revivalists and contemporary language planners have given three reasons for their receptivity to Aramaic: (1) Aramaic was the language of the Talmud (and partly of some Jewish prayers), (2) Aramaic is structurally very close to Hebrew, and (3) numerous aramaisms had 98






already been incorporated into written Hebrew in the Mishnaic and post-Mishnaic period. Rosén considers Aramaic the only "non-foreign" source of enrichment for Hebrew. 102 However, a minority of language planners argued that the exaggerated use of aramaisms, especially when cognate hebraisms were available, could lead to the undesirable "mixing of two languages". 103 For example, Klozner objected to the replacement of He meot-xi.tin 'Passover alms for the poor' by Aram kimxa de fisxa (lit 'flour for Passover'). 104 A cbaracteristic feature of the "open-door" poliey towards Aramaie is tbat aramaisms need not be phonologically adjusted to Hebrew phonotactics. Klozner urged that Modem Hebrew aramaisms like amatla 'pretense, excuse' and shen totevet 'false tooth' should be hebraized to *amshala, * shen toshevet respectively-following the sound correspondences goveming cognate forms between the two languages105-see e.g. He shalosh = Aram tlat 'three'; this suggestion was never adopted by native speakers (perhaps because few were aware of the sound correspondences between Aramaic and Hebrew, and could identify aramaisms in Hebrew). Components from Aramaic often, and from Arabie rarely, coexist in Modem Hebrew alongside native cognates, e.g. ModHe rishm( 'official' (adj) adapted from Arab rasmi 'ibid.', alongside synonymous ModHe râsmi borrowed directly (the latter is not now usually encountered in the written norm) ; 106 nat He katan 'small' vs. katin 'minor in age' < Aram.

102 1977:94. Shlomo Izre'el bas pointed out to me that Rosenberg c.1898 regarded the major components of Modern Hebrew to be Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew and Talmudic Judeo-Aramaic. 103 Klozner 1949:195; Igeret l:[1962]:23-citing this view in the writings of Avraham ibn Ezra (1088-1164). Only the mixing of Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew is tolerated by Ianguage planners (see ch 1.2 above). 104 1949:193. The former expression was used in Yiddish; on attitudes to the latter, see ch 1.4 below. 105 1949:194. 106 Garbell observes that rasmi (with Arabie penultimate stress) was favored in Palestinian Hebrew vs. rishm( in non-Palestinian Hebrew (1930:32). See also Piamenta 1961:152. The detailed comparison of Palestinian and non-Palestinian Hebrew norms should be a desideratum of Modern Hebrew linguistics. On the Aramaic compc>nent in Modem Hebrew, see Kutscher 1982:71-7, 119, 131-2, 2079.



ropean" innuences i n Modern Hebrew Eu on mm d Co a " h Y ddis • n 14 i d not deny the extensive use of foreign Reviv alists and language planner s � _ i ns loan se tra for lat ons in Modern patterns of d1scour ign ore f y, iall pec es and, s loan volume of the European impact, few doubt the Hebrew. Notw ithstanding the to the Semitic family of languages (see ch 1 correctness of assigning Hebre w ization" may be summarized in the following above). The discussions of "european five points: Innovative Modem Hebrew use of native elements is often examined for ve s possible European precedents. For example, in a purely descripti discu sion, Bar­ o Adon first inclined to ascribe the new imperative and jussive constructions t Yiddish influence; but Yiddish origin became less attractive once the constructions were noted among Jews of "Oriental" origin who allegedly had no "imrnediate contact" with Yiddish. 107 Bar-Adon finally concluded that the Modem Hebrew constructions might be entirely native, since the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls offered a preœdentu• ( 1)

regarded as undesirable. For Halkin, "europeanization" is even dangerous since it threatens to make Biblical Hebrew incomprehensible to contemporary speakers; this would violate Zionist ideology that speaking Modem Hebrew strengthens the relationship betwe en the secular lsraeli and Jewish history. 109 Allegedly, excessive "europeanization" could be r�versed by cultivating more of the Classica l (i.e. Semi tic) heritage.110 A dissenting view cornes from Ullendorff who finds that in the first six decades of this century · · Modem Hebrew has been increasmg · J Y d.1stancm g 1tself from the old literary sources om which it claims to have sprung.111 On the possibi lity � of "re-semiticization" of odem Hebrew pronwtciation, see ch 1.2 above. (2) Excessive europeanization of Modem Hebrew is

107 1966:412. Bar-Adon ignores the fact tha . t y tddish Hebrew norms wer adopted by e large numben of non-Ashkenazic J ews (sec ch 1.2 above). 108 Ibid.• 413. 1 09 1969:S9. 110 Ibid., 60; Tubieliewicz 19s7.' R os�n 1969:108-9; 1977: 31. 111 19 7(1977:76)-thou1h not to the poin t of losing hs Semitic tatu




techniques have been recommended for reducing the European impact on dcm Hebrew: (a) replacing European loans with native terms attested in pre­ re ival sources, (b) constructing new native compounds which were phonetically and semantically similar to the europeanisms (typically of Latin and Greek origin) to be replaced, and (c) expanding the meanings of existing Hebrew words by accepting meanings borrowed from European words of similar phonetic shape. The second and third techniques, though relatively unproductive, reinforce at best the covert dependence of Modem Hebrew on European languages. Consider the following examples: (a) ModHe monit (< m-n-h 'count') replaces taksi (< Fr taxe 'tax'); (b) ModHe prate-lpirte-kol (lit 'details-of all') was proposed as a replacement for

R protokol 112 'protocol' (< Gk); ModHe xolird (lit 'illness' + 'bad') for R xoléra 'cholera' (< Gk); ModHe sofit 'suffix' (< sof 'end'+ -it nomimal suffix) for R sufiks (< Lat). The first two inventions have now been replaced by loans in contemporary Hebrew, e.g. protokol, xoléra; sofit coexists with sufiks. An example of a hebraized Yiddish expression is Y shaxer-mo.xer 'shady dealing, wheeler and dealer' > ModHe saxar-mcxu (< He saxar 'trade'+ He mcxu 'selling') or saxar-maxar, where the second component bas no meaning in Hebrew (see maxer 'maker' < Y < G). This example is interesting since the ultimate source of the first component in the Yiddish expression is He saxar. The hebraism was restructured in German Yiddish or German slang (whence it was borrowed back by Yiddish) to sh­ since s- was ungrammatical (see G schacher-).113 Sorne speakers violate the nonns of Hebrew dependency constructions with this phrase, by affixing the definite article to the first component, e.g. hasaxar-mexEr vs. expected normative * saxar-hamexu (see further examplcs and discussion in ch 2.43, sccts 2-3 below). 112 The Modem Hebrew forms capture the present meaning of the immediate source form , but not of their ultimate etyma (e.g., R protolcol < Gk 'first' + 'glue'). I arbilrarily cite Ru sian as the European source language. These and similar examples are di cussed by Garbell 1930:41; Kutscher 1982:188. On the category of "pan europeanism " in Modem Hebr w, sec also ch 2.4 b low. 113 or Yiddish geographical detail , e Ûl Language and ulture Atla f hk n i J wry, questionnaires ##015 050/4 and Wexler, in press:ch 3.34. On th of t rm n h brai m to wid variety of Slavic and Finno-U ri 1 n u .• W l 1983:2 9-71.



'ba se, sup port; animal p�n' and msxh /rnasexa; ona/ ex /m nh mx (c) B/MHe em Hebrew the mearungs machine and rnask , mo1ten .unage' have acquired in Mod . are now arcbai� 114 th e ongm .. al mearungs a; sk ma d an a in sh under the impact of R ma 115 in Modem Hebrew. (3) The volume of outright loans in Modem Hebrew bas been diminishing. Loan translations constructed on foreign patterns of discourse are expanding and tend 10 be communally unmarked (i.e. standard). (4) The European impact can have the effect of creating a diglossie situation within Modem Hebrew, since colloquial Hebrew is more receptive to European influences while written Hebrew tends to cultivate pre-revival Hebrew norrns which are absent in the colloquial register.116 (5) The European source languages

are very often not defmed with precision, and there is an undisguised tendency to adopt common patterns of integration for ail 114 These and other examples were cited by Garbell 1930:40-1; Rosén 1956:72. been 115 The failure to adjust He x to the sh or Je in the Russian models may have intentio�l; this way, the European etyma were better disguised. The existence of BHe m., (ModHe masa ) 'burden, load' may have facilitated the reception of ModHe ma.ra 'mass' < R ma.rsa. See also ibid. 116 � ib�d., 57-8; Plessner 1931:col 806; Blanc 1968:248; ch 3.1, sect 4 below (t™:ludin g discussion of the differential impact of Slavic languages on different re� ten of Modern Hebrew), and the discussion of "miracle" in ch 1.1 above. Such a dichotomy ha1 d� roots 10 · Y'dd 1 15� ' whole Hebrew. E.Goldenberg observ� that Mediev al Yiddish ;�le brew co ted of two norms: (a) an arabicized nonn for �is i: reliaiou , and philosoii). hi e ession and (b) a non-arabicized norm for other �c ::: of purposa (1974:col 6 lhe former norm by Ashkenazic Jews reflects the importance of Med'aterranea n Hebrcw w ntmgs · · · these fields; it is une lear m . wh ether Ashke n azic J ew1 exphc itl y ac cepte d the arabicized n orm for comm u nicatio n with J ewi1 h c om mu niti es in A ra b'1c-speaking countries. Otber lanauaaa of lit uray and lite rary expressi on auch as LaUn . and Church Slavic tended to become fraamented into ·a1,,.;,. 1..--diffi ....�rent r ensions (on "uniqueness ,..' see ch 1 · 1 above; on the uae of A.ra b ""'" 111111 pulP i t' in Yidcl'uh mer ged and Modem Hebrew, ch 2.42 below). lt wou ld be i ntereatin a to dete rmine whether non-Ashken zi J 1ao aouaht to cultiv le a unifionn no 1 nn of written H eb rew i m· by a cepting h r ions, aay, from Yiddish whoie Hebi w.



European source languages. These policies have the affect of concealing the impact of any one European source language. For example, the first Hebre� term for 'dualism' in the 1920s, dualismus (= G Dualismus), was restructured in the 1940s to dualizm and finally replaced by nat shnijut in the 1960s;117 dualizm could be identified at best as English, French or Slavic. In ber pioneering study of foreign influences in Modem Hebrew, Garbell spoke of general "europeanisms" (loans which could have more than one European source language), in addition to three identified source languages: "russianisms", "germanisms" and "yiddishisms".118 More recently, Blanc cited "europeanization", "European sub-and adstrata" and "common European" features,119 but in an earlier important article, Yiddish was the sole object of his attention (see also below); Rosén also invents the hybrid name "Slavo-Yiddish".120 Of ail the European languages which have influenced Modern Hebrew, Yiddish bas generated the most heated debate. Most revivalists displayed 117 Curot... 1966. 118 1930:73ff. The emphasis on Russian, which is not limited to Garbell, seems to me misplaced. The Slavic contacts of Yiddish began in the 9th-10th centuries with Sorbian and possibly Polabian (in the German lands), followed by Polish and possibly Crech in the 11th century, and Belorussian and Ukrainian by the late 14th century (see ch 2 below). Russian was the last Slavic language to make contact with Yiddish in the late 18th century, when the large Jewish population in the eastem Polish lands came under Russian control; the restrictive "Pale of Settlement" excluded most Jews from the Russian-language areas of Czarist Russia until the Bolshevik Revolution. Of course, the late chronology of Yiddish-Russian contact need not rule out Russian as the major purveyor of internationalisms to Yiddish. The Polish, Belorussian and Ukrainian component in Eastern Yiddish far exceeds that of Russian (excluding technical terminology-see Shapiro, et al. 1984), though written Modern Hebrew may have been relatively more exposed to Russian literary (and possibly even Iinguistic) influences (see Even-Zohar 1978). The term "Standard Average European" appears to have been coined by Hall 1944:10. 119 1968:238-9, 247. 120 1977:35, 201, 228. This term is nonsensical, independent of the Slavic origin of Yiddish. The term "Slavo-Yiddish" reflects Rosén's belief that Yiddish is the major carrier of Slavic influence to Modern Hebrew (1977:35, 201, 228-9); this view was first voiced by Garbell 1930:6-8. Alternatively, the term precludes identifying a specific source language. For discussion of the "eu�o�ea�ization" of Modern w1cz 1957; Zand 1965; Hebrew, see ibid.; Ben-Hayyim 1953; Blanc 1956a; Tub1elie W.Chomsky 1967.



and many observors and langua ge pl anners today are Still ve . h, dis Yid to ath Modern Hebrew .121 For example ' Rose� n u ry anupctantYto adm1't Yiddish influen.ce on se s . sh . pact on Modern Hebrew. Fi s relu ' r im Y1dd1 t h e defim . minimize the es . . two techniques to e l.x w1 e eatest a im gr lan th th pa g the gu ct as o n ish) n Yidd l Vi Ode . a rn . . . Russ1an (rather th eatures f 1n 1dd1sh Y ed Mod er alle n g nes He brew as be defi . . that a constructio . tttn H ebre w. 122. Seco nd, . n 11ke ModHe haseJ,r, hus' while adnu g E:r "Hebrew" 1n ori·gin· · T e -1-r ok ad that [in] -bo -it') 'the (lit fi ' nds a parallel that I read shfkarati boloto 'the book gelejnt (lit 'the book which I have it read'), Rosén in y dos bu:x vos ix hob im tion itself developed under the influence of "Old su ggests that the Yiddish construc are tbat m the second approacb Semitic" (i.e. Hebrew). Rosén seems to be unaw gen be is implicitly recognizing Yiddish as the repository of 123uine Old Hebrew reatures and a significant "innuence" in Modern Hebrew -though nowhere does he recommend Yiddish hebraisms as a potential source of enrichment for Modem Hebrew (in fact, be generally avoids a normative stance). The tenns "pan-" or "common European" also conveniently disguise the role of Yiddish in Modem Hebrew. Few revivalists or contemporary language planners would espouse the remark by the l0th-century Egyptian hebraist, Saadja Gaon, that a knowledge of post-Biblical Hebrew is essential to an understanding of Biblical Hebrew and that many words of Biblical Hebrew origin that are not recorded in the Bible can be retrieved from the oral and written traditions of the different Jewish cominunities-especially Yiddish.124 l 21 See discussion in Prager 1981; Gold 1982. For other examples of neglect of the Yiddish impact on Modem Hebrew, see Blanc 1956b:795; Nobl 1958; Blau 1976:26, 53. Tur-Sinai accepts Y bain 'interested person' (see also baln zajn 'be a , volunteer' zalJ·n a baln cuJo» ,;r 'be mteres · ted m, · have an urge for', balones eagemess• . mterest') for ' Modern Hebrew, but mistranslates Y bain as 'one who wants to own, �ve; _applicant for a thing' (1960:11 , 22). The root is ultimately < OHe balai propnetor' (see also ch 3.1, sect 2 below). Alkalaj 1965 cites ModHe ba'alan 'avid. eager; proprietor'' ba'alan "t ' avi'd'1ty, eagerness; proprietorship ' and the innova 1·1ve , bal,an glutton gourmand . ' (crossed with He b-l-' 'swallow'?). Harkavi 1928 den· ved the Y'd i d'ish te'rm from He b h I ebrew • • • 'be surprised, shocked' and offered the H _ translation nivhal 1 . �- (wilb tbe prep osition 'to'); this "hebraism" is unattested in Modern Hebrcw dicuonar ies 122 1977:29-on the fall ·. . ac y of th1s cla1m, see fn 11 8 above. 123 197 7:2 7, fn 15. 124 See Aloni 19 60· Sb ro 196 3:1 33; Ullendorf f 197 1(1977 :16); Ku tscher 1982:112, and chs' 1 ·2 a-=ve and• esp ecia lly, 2.42 below.



I would offer three reasons for the negative attitude of most Hebre w linguists and Yid ds wa dish: Yi r to dis h rs wa e s k in ea com � p petition with Modern Hebrew (1) as s uag of Pal e est ine and (2) the major medium the spoken lang of written expression of the Ashkenazic Jews (beginning with the late 19th cent ury); (3) af ter the partial Yid of dis shift to h Bi e g a blical /Mishnaic Hebrew, Yiddish still Iangu failed to disap pear readily (until the German annihilation of the European Jews in World War II-see also chs 2.4-2.43 below). Since the 1960s, a growing number of linguis ts, if not language pla nners, have suggested that Yiddish-and not Eng lish, French, German and Arabie as Rosén had proposed-had the greatest impact of all foreign languages on Modern Hebrew, especially in providing models for loan translations. 125 As I will show below, it is imprecise to speak of a Yiddish "impact" on Modern Hebrew--only of a Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew impact on Yiddish.

· my 125 It is impression that non-language p Ianners may be quicker to admit the Yiddish

· · · · ong m of loan transla tions m Modern Hebrew · See Garbell 1930:6-8, 30-1; Rubm 1945; Hajlprin 1947; Blanc 1956b:795 (commenting on Rosén 1�56:36); �965; Zand 1965; Dolgopol'skij 1972:23; see also the normative �endav1d 1:1967.111, 144 (who proposes German an d p 1.1sh as the next most important contacts of . Modern Hebrew after Yiddish). ln Amenca, CaJt. l'm called ModHe xalav cipor . 1m,.1x 'something wondrous, unattainable, (ht· 'b'rrd's mi1k') a translati. on of y fiOJg . . 0erman . is ultimately a translation (usmg (1943:80), though the Yiddish expression . . Greek pattem of discourse; fior a detailed discussion words) of a Sla vic or Byzantme · 1ang uages see wex1er 1987·42-3· of this term in Yiddish and the other S1avic



"The evidence of vocabulary replacement and phonolo gical irregularity is sufficient to show that something other than normal processes of change was at work, though not clear enough to prove pidginization decisively." (Southworth 1971:268)

a Kacnelson was on the right track when he suggested that Modem Hebrew was "branch" of Yiddish.1 But bis claim needs to be rephrased with greater precisi on. ln the late 19th century, a small number of Yiddish speakers initiated a partial language shift, which had two results: (1) most of the non-Hebrew lexicon of Yiddish was relaced by Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew lexicon, wbile the grammatical and phonological structures, and, to some extent, the morpbotactic s, of Yiddish were left intact; (2) the prononciation of the Yiddish bebraisms, only so me or which were retained, was cbanged. This compound process may be called "re-lexification" c um "re-phonologization". The result 01 the partial lang age shirt wm a form of Yiddish with a bizarre u vocabulary-bu t not 8 Semitic language. A S em itic lexicon hardly suffice to s turn an lndo-European lang uage l ike Yiddish into the "direct beir" of OId .. Semitic Hebrew • Thus• ene ti i c m ally I , there is no question about ûie ·non-Se ttc . . ongm of Modem Hebrew. 1

l 960:60-see ch 1 a bove.



l believe that the model of partial language shift is sufficient to establish the non-Semitic (specifically West Slavic-see below) origin of Modem Hebrew. The mustering of examples from Modem Hebrew syntax or phonology would have no impact on this genetic assignment. Such examples are, however, of considerable interest if we want to determine how much of the Slavic origin of Modern Hebrew was still demonstrable after a century of existence-i.e. to what extent Modern Hebrew was typologically Slavic or Semitic. (The fact remains, that Modem Hebrew syntax, phonology, phonotactics and morphotactics do reveal numerous features which are in ail likelihood of Slavic origin-from Yiddish, and other Slavic languages-while there are also non-native syntactic and phonological features of Semitic Hebrew origin as well.) It may even turn out that, in terms of its "Semitic profile", Modem Hebrew was not any "less Semitic" than languages derived from proto-Semitic-but these would be strictly typological and not genetic parallels. Any resemblance between Modem Hebrew and, say, Arabie, structure is relevant for typological, but not genetic considerations. Partial language shift among Yiddish speakers in the Iate 19th century does not need to be reconstructed; partial language shift in the history of Judeo­ Sorbian/Yiddish is more problematic. But even in the case of events that transpired centuries ago, it is encouraging to note that the linguist often has a variety of tools at his disposa! to help him uncover important facts about the extemal history of a language. The ability to create spoken Modern Hebrew in the late 19th century shows that the partial language shift postulated from Judeo-Sorbian to German is hardly farfetchcd. 1 do not know of any observor other than Kacnelson who explicitly proposed that Modem Hebrew was an Indo-European language, though others have implicitly made such claims. 2 Y et, none of these scholars appreciated that the distribution of "native" and "non-native" components in a language might be indicative of a prior partial language shift from the language which had


1 or example, Blanc 1965, 1968, Z nd 1965 and Dolgopol skij 1972:23 ail de cribed the " uropean" imprinl in Mod rn Hebr w as both " ubstratal" n br " dslr tal", and noted, like arb 11 1930 befor them, that while Biblic l ntributed th vo bul ry nd morphology, Indo-European 1 ngu v ly to th yntax nd phonology. e al o W. h m y' t 2b ab V



ax and phonology, phonotactics, and to s t syn the of ulk b e orne cont r1.buted th . . h.3 Y1dd1s .e. otactics-i exte nt, the morph onolog_ �zation are tantamount t? saying that the Plan to ph red an on ati c ifi Re-lex form of Sem1uc Hebrew was not reabzed; I would go further uial loq col a e" eviv "r ere can be �o � of a Hebrew languag e and say that the plan was not realizable. � h B1b a from cal nd con Mish lexi d nai e c Hebrew y borrow "revival", if Yiddish merel ve speakers of a Semitic language), while retainin nati of age u lang en writt (the rew component (the written language o f nativ! some of its post-M ishnaic Heb es). Formulations suc h as "Modern Hebrew speakers of non-Semitic languag rew was influenced by a Yiddish substratum borrowed from Yiddish" or "Modem Heb ever, though the language revivalistli or superstratum" are ill-conceived. How itic Hebrew, they failed to revive a modern spoken continuation of Old Sem l believed, and bad others believe with them, that they did. They certain y succeeded in affecting a partial language shift from Yiddish to Biblical and �Jishnaic Hebrew. I suspect that the Modem Hebrew revivalists believed that reconstituting Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew lexicon would be sufficient to revive Semitic Hebrew; note that most of Ben-Jehuda's efforts were directed to the compilation of a comprehensive Hebrew dictionary (see his 1940ft). Lifshic was one of the very few language planners who seemed to appreciate that a genuine revival involved more than lexical changes. The failure of the revivalists to reconstitute spoken Semitic Hebrew had no impact on the success of their political aspirations. The claims of con temporary Jews to a territory in which their ancestors (the Hebrews/Jews) spoke two Semitic languages-Hebrew and Aramaic-would not be affected by the status of Mo dem Hebrew any more than it would be by the fact that most contemporary Jews outside Israel did not speak or read Hebrew. Z1on1s . . t 1deology . claimed that there was an unbroken historical link between the conte mporary Jews and the Jewish populauon .m Pal . estine some 1800 Years ago,. the use of Mod em Hebrew as a spoken Ianguage. _ regarded as a cont1n uat1o n of Bibl'ic al/Mishnaic · Hebrew-would clearly substanuate this claim . Thus, most Z1.on1.sts sou ght to base Modem Hebrew primarily on the linguistic resources of the 8.1 ble, and secoorlarily on the Mishna (the relative mix. varied with the planner-see ch 1 • 2 above an d disc . ussion below). Reviv alis ts constantly stress the need f,or con temporary Jews to Wlderstan d the Old Testament in

----:-3 For � lheoretical discussion, see Tho ma son •nd Kaufman 1988; on the facts of Yidd11h. aee W ex.lcr in press.



th original language with a minimum of difficulty. Aside from ideology, a practical rcason given for reviving Hebrew was that only this language could serve as a 4 common denominator of the various Jewish communities in Palestine. Only a few Zionists (e.g. Klozner) expressed a preference for placing Modern Hebrew firmly on a later Mishnaic Hebrew basis, on the grounds that Biblical realia were strange to contemporary Jews and that the language of the Mishna was doser to Yiddish. Other attested stages of the language, especially the Hebrew component embedded in Jewish languages, were essentially to be ignored. There are three factors contributing to the belief of the revivalists and most contemporary native speakers that Modern Hebrew is a resurrected colloquial form of Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew: ( 1) The overwhelming majority of Modern Hebrew roots have "cognates" in pre-revival stages; (2) the myth of the Hebrew language revival is propagated by educators and normative grammarians alike; (3) Modern Hebrew and pre-revival Hebrew are called by the identical glottonym. The choice of a glottonym is of no small interest. Aside from a few late 19th­ century writers who called the language in all its historical stages EVET,5 all speakers of Modem Hebrew call the language by the pre-revival glottonym ivrit.6 A number of European languages have borrowed ModHe ivrit as the exclusive name of the revived language, e.g. R, Y ivrit; G Ivrit 'Modem Hebrew'.7 The terminological distinction in Russian and Yiddish was intended to avoid the potential ambiguity of 4

5 6


A few Zionists, e.g. Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, did not envisage the _Jewish state as Hebrew-speaking. On Herzl's views, see S.Avineri 1981:83-7; Gilman 1986:312; 438, fn 9. E.g. Tavjov 1892; Lucato 1895; Klozner 1896b-writers who never conceived of Modern Hebrew as a non-Semitic language. The term is first attested in Greek-spcaking circles in the early Christian era (e.g., in the New Testament and the writings of Josephus, inter alia : see Ullendorff 1963:11). Might the Hebrew glottonym thus be of Greek inspiration? For German, see Wild 1975; 1977. Y •ivres would be expected if the term had been borrowed from pre-revival Hebrew-though see the expression ivres-beivres 'leanùng Hebrew through Hebrew' (J .Levin 1958). The German term is not universally used. I do not know the age of any of thcse terms. Rosén dcvotes a full chapter to the choice of a language name in English (1977). Versteegh adds little clarification by calling Modem Hebrew both Hebrcw" and Ivrit" (1984:56, fn 4; 133). It would be interesting to collect the names recommended for different periods and forms f Hebrew, c.g. Lucato proposed "Canaanite" and "Phoenician" for Bibli al H .b (1895:6). 11




. terms for Hebrew, and not to distinguish between S lavie and SeIn .. ve . . itie nau the br s 1dd1sh ote both and den Y e He na e m ew, and R. Hebrew: R evrejskij as a Ianguag (lit 'Old Hebrew'� was inappropriat e;s y losh ­ n drevnee vrejskij 'pre-revival Hebrew' -rev1val) (pre Hebre w and Ararnaic otes ko jdes h (lit 'the holy tong ue') den indiscriminately. Looking beyond Hebrew, we note that occasionally a single language is called by different names, and disparate languages are called by the same glott onym­ provided the names are in complementary geographical and/or chronologicaI distribution. For example, in different locales and at different tunes Ukrainian was called "Ruthenian" (in Austro-Hungary), and "Little Russian" or "Southwest Russian" (in the Czarist Empire); however, _the different glottonyms were not intended to promote distinct genetic affiliations-only to define the relationship between Ukrainian and Russian. The name rus(') originally denoted a form of Old Scandinavian, then Ukrainian and finally Russian, 9 but in separate speech communities and at different times. Hebrew seems to be unique in that speakers in ail areas and times unanimously call both the Semitic and the Slavic forms of Hebrew by the name ivrit. The closest case to Modem Hebrew would be the use of a common concept (though not glottonym) to name the disparate Jewish languages, e.g. the names Y jidish 'Yiddish' (a West Slavic Ianguage) and JSp dzhudjo 'JudeoSpanish' (an lbero-Romance language) are both derived from the native adjectives 'Jewish'. Theoretically, it would have been preferable to adopt this practice and call Modern Hebrew by the glottonym jehudit (a term f ound in the Bible), the Hebrew translation equivalent of jidish, dzhudjo. But this practice would only create a term inological mélêe. Bence, I will continue to use the term "Modern Hebrew" to denote the dialect of Yiddish that developed in the late 19th century. My claim that Modem Hebrew is a form of Yiddi sh requires comment. Parallel lo tbe Modem Hebrew case, Yiddish bas traditionally been regarded, by native peaker and non-native observors alike, as a form of High Gennan-by dint of the fact that some 75% of Yidd"18h voca bulary bas surface cognates in German. Tous,


1972:24; oûn 1977:16, fn 2. 1 8): 7. 4



10 Modern Hebrew would be a dialect of German. However, I am not convinced by the view that Yiddish was by birth a Germanie language. On the contrary, I believe that Yiddish was derived from Judeo-Sorbian, when Judeo-Sorbian speakers in the east German lands committed a partial language shift to German between the 9th and 13th centuries-i.e. when they re-lexified the bulk of tbeir vocabulary to German. In that case, Modern H ebrew bas to be regarded as a Slavic language. Sorbian is still spoken by a dwindling population of some 70,000 bilingual Slavs (and some Germans) in the Upper and Lower Lausitz areas of the German Democratic Republic. The suggestion that Yiddish might result from re-lexification to German was first proposed by Kojre and Weissberg (without use of the term itself)-but they envisioned the shift to German from colloquial Hebrew and Aramaic rather than from Judeo-Sorbian. 11 This is tantamount to claiming tbat Yiddish is a dialect of Hebrew! Theoretically, cyclical partial language shift might go back this far in time, but where is the evidence?

In the commonly accepted view of the genesis of Yiddish (most elaborately enunciated in some four decades of research by Max Weinreich [see Vajnrajx 1973]), French-and Italian-speaking Jews allegedly settled in the Rhineland and marginally in Bavaria in the 9th-10th centuries where they selectively adapted local German dialects; the latter, combining with a small surviving Romance substratum, was shaped into a unique form of German, used exclusively by Jews, and called (since the 1600s) Yiddish. As Jews migrated from the Rhineland to the central and southeastern German lands in the llth-12th centuries, the Germanie component of Yiddish allegedly became exclusively High German. In addition, the Jews now established contact with Slavic languages-a contact which was to continue uninterruptedly with varying degrees of intensity, until the present. Dissatisfaction with the traditional view that Yiddish was born in the southwest German lands had already been expressed by M.Mieses, 12 but only recently has the venue of Yiddish birth been definitively shifted from the southwest to the southeast German

10 11


Only a few anti-Semitic authors in late 17th-18th-century Germany suggested that Yiddish should not be regarde a in the second syllable?



an influences in Modern Hebr · e-w. a 2•4 Yiddish and II Common Europe " rea�essment 1 noted in ch 1.4 above that a charac teristic feature of Modem Hebrew is th e " o " o "pan Eu on of c atego ope general r mm c ry r an" loans in Mode development of a m Hebrew. This category is created by subjecting europeanisms of diverse or igins to a common pattern of integration. For example, MoclHe -acja replaces Y -acje, R -acija, Fr -ation, etc, so that words like ModHe integracja 'integration' or rotacja 'rotation' cannot be readily attributed to any specific European language. Only occasionally does the linguist (but rarely the naïve speaker) have information (usually semantic) which reveals a specific origin for a loan shared by a number of potential dono r languages, e.g. on semantic grounds, ModHe balagan 'confusion, mess' is more likely from Y balagan 'mess; (show)booth' than from Po balagan '(show)booth' or R balagan '(show)booth; farce';41 He protekcja 'protection money' resembles synonymous R protekcija more closely than Fr, Eng protection, etc. 'protection'. While language planners do not say so explicitly, they must surely be aware that the category of "pan-" or "common European" loans both permits Modem Hebrew to borrow non-native elements from European languages without revealing a specific source language, as well as conceals the seminal impact of Yiddish on the development of Modem Hebrew. Identifying the source languages of loan translations can also be problematic. A phrase like ModHe hu maca xen be'endia 'she liked him' (lit 'be found favor in-hereyes') might be borrowed from Semitic (e.g. from Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew) or be a partial calque of synonymous impersonal constructions such as R on ej nravilsja, G 42 er hat ihr gefallen with ej, ihr dat obj, or Arab alzhabha (with -ha ace obj); the Modem Hebrew phrase might also have been an independent, thus native, innovation. The existence of such an expression in so many contact languages may 41


The contrut between the Polish penultimate and the Hebrew (and Yiddish) final •treas need not rule out Polish as the possible donor. See also discussion in Garbell 1930:24. Kutacher definea He balagan as a russianism (1982:224)-in order to avoid p01iting I Yiddish donor r in the belief that Yiddish could not b e a likely donor7 ln coun�distinction lo European loans, the few arabis ms in colloquial Hebrew are ot subjected to I unifying fiher, e .g. the Arabie etyma of coll He shD/a ' ttractive w n• (< Urban Arab 6h41a , where OArab • q >·)a nd nagla 'load, run' ( B uin Ar b nagla, where OArab •q > g) could easily be identified. n bi nd t t


a ,

ch 2.3 abov .



f ts in M�em Hebrew; here I am reminded of the tendency of creol e ccount or i use � guages t o re�in featur�s. common to �th in�ut languages. The origin of Hebrew an larly diff1c ult to estabhsh, s1nce there are cases wher e original 11rases is pa rucu w expressions have � re�aped in Modem Hebrew under the impact :iblical Hebre f Yiddish. For example, ModHe na asa lz xoshex be'enajim 'I was stwmed' appears ; fu calque of the Yiddish phrase es iz mir gevorn fineter in di ojgn (lit 'it is 0 be a ll in the eyes'), which in turn was a Ioose translation of BHe to-me become dark xashxU enaj (lit 'my eyes grew dim': Lamentations 5:17).43 The integration patterns of "pan-europeanisms" are subject to change through time. While early Modem Hebrew aligned itself with the Russian form of intemationalisms, current Modem Hebrew now prefers the West European form of intemationalisms, e.g. early ModHe avtobus > cont ModHe otobus 'bus'. In both cases, precise donor languages are bard to identify: the former could be from Yiddish or Russian, while the latter could be from German, French or Polish, etc.44 A future study should seek to determine the relative chronology of europeanisms in Modem Hebrew-i.e. distinguish between inherited Yiddish substrata and later European superstratal borrowings. On the paramount role of Yiddish in Modem Hebrew, see chs 2.41-3 below. 2.41 The attitudes of Modern Hebrew Ianguage planners towards the Hebrew resources of Yiddish Despite Fellm�'s statement that "the linguistic continuity of Hebrew was the outward symbol for the spiritual continuity of Judaism and the historical continuity of the Jewish people",4S the revivalists and Ianguage planners broadly 43 See Klozner 1929:16; Halkin 1969:57. 44 Rabin believes that the Slavic impact on Modern Hebrew via models for loan translations has been consistently diminishing (1974:col 663), but he does not mention Yiddish amo ng the Slavic Ianguages. On the two areals of internationalisms in European languagcs, see Akulenko 1961;. Wexler ! 969 · Bolb Yiddish and Modem Hebrew language planners recommend agamst Russ1an f�tures · · · · tern · · in bor for s,mvol 10 ational vocabulary of Greco-Lann ongm, e.g. y. sim. bol 'sym Ûlat y s,mbol (== R simvol') (Shexter 1964:15, citing the views of VaJnraJX). Note irnitates Uk symbol (following Latin). For Modern Hebrew examples, see ch 1.4 4






tten eith er by p redo mina c ultivated attestations of Hebr ew wri nuy Jew ) e b rew c H or . shna1 M . 1 and by ical ibl g B s Who monolingual speakers (e. . o native languages were spoken in the Mediterranean (i.e. Arabie, R manee).� The innovative corpus found in North European Hebrew writings composed by native speakers of German or Yiddish and other Slavic languages-attested since the 12th century-was not regarded as a primary source of enrichment for Moder n Hebrew. The exclusion of Yiddish hebraisms is i n part a manifestation of the antagonism which most revivalists felt towards Yiddish, and in part a reflection of their ignorance of Yiddish whole Hebrew texts (though Ben­ Jehuda himself had included a f ew Medieval Hebrew treatises composed by Yiddish­ and Judeo-Slavic-speaking Jews among the sources for bis Modem Hebrew dictionary-1940). Revivalists and language planners have noted that much of the Yiddish corpus of hebraisms was either not attested in, or differed from the Hebrew in the Bible; many of these innovative forms were regarded as "errors" that were to be avoided in Modern Hebrew (see ch 2.42, fn 75 below). This decision heightened the distance between colloquiaVwritten Modem Hebrew and the Hebrew embedded in Yiddish (and other Jewish languages).•7 The revivalists and most contemporary language planners 46


For statistics of the different Hebrew components in Modem Hebrew based on the corpus of Even-Shoshan's dictionary (1964-70), see ch 2.42 below. By adopting an archaicizing stance, Hebrew language planners resemble Czech and many Belorussian and Ukrainian purists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The possibility that Slavic puristic movements influenced the Hebrew revivalists bas, to the best of my knowledge, never been explored-though it is an obvious topic calling for investigation (see also ch 2.3, fn 30 above). Kutscher attempted some superficial comparisons between Modem Hebrew and Hungarian language renewal (1982). Such comparisons naturally have merit in a general typological investigation of purism, but the Slavic experiences are more gennane since many of the Hebrew revivalists spoke Polish and/or an East Slavic language (in addition to their native Yiddish = Judeo-Sorbian) and were aware of developments among the contiguous and coterritorial Slavs. For a detailed comparative description of puristic and anti-puristic movements in Belorussian and Ukrainian, see Wexler 1974 . Conversely, Shexter, a contemporary Yiddish language planner, considers Mishnaic and Rabbinic (Medieval) Hebrew the preferred sources of enrichment for Yiddish (1986:287). A comparison of contemporaneous Yiddish and Hebrew language planning in the last century would make a fascinating study.



eem to be a ware that much of the merged Hebrew component in do oot s the whole Hebrew of Yiddish and other Jewish . and to a Iesser extent Y1ddisb ( • • • f utes a unique reservo1r es) constit o old colloquial Hebrew features in g ua Jang · 1s· unattested in other sources. The nguage, mue h o r wh1ch ail domains of la tu anu rogr ne d forfei re of this material bas, until recently, hardly ever been admitted � the literature. Thus, the closure to Yiddish hebraisms had the effect of eroding the rew with old colloquial Hebrew (and Aramaic), though li nks of Modem Heb Hebrew, the last stage of old colloquial Hebrew, could receptivity to M ishnaic Yiddish hebraisms.48 The broad opening of Modem of loss the set off y iall art p a Hebrew to Biblical Hebrew meant that the new spoken l nguage was in effect conc eived of primarily as a continuation of the norms of the oldest written attestation. 2.42 The role of Yiddish in the recovery of old colloquial Hebrew I have stated repeatedly that almost all descriptions of Modem Hebrew fail to appreciate the importance of Yiddish in the revival process. In contrast to the views of revivalists and language planners cited in ch 1.2 above, I believe that a sine qua In its relation to German, Yiddish, paradoxically, shows a greater independence than Modern Hebrew. For example, in the late 1930s Vajnrajx had recommended translating G Versprechen 'slip of the tongue' and Verschreiben 'slip of the pen' as Y rejdtoes and shrajbtoes respectively (with toes 'error' < He taut)-i.e. he replaced a German prefix with a (new) Yiddish suffix even though Yiddish had a cognate prefix far- (though, with these roots, far- had a different meaning, see e.g. Y farre(j)dn 'forget oneself; charm away with words' vs. farre(j)dn zix 'blunder in speaking' with zix refl; farshrajbm 'write down, enter': Shexter 1964:14-5). Modern Hebrew prefers to create a prefix on the German model, e.g. ModHe plitat pE, plitat lcolmos (< plita 'emission'). Though, in translating German and French terms with other prefixes, Modern Hebrew uses both prefixed and suffixed constructions, e.g. Fr préromantique 'preromantic' > ModHe kdam-romanti, but G Vorurteil 'prejudice' > ModHe dea lcduma, G Vorbedingung 'precondition' > ModHe tnaj mukdam. 48 Th e esta blishment of a Modern Hebrew pronunciation norm, by supplanting the traditional pronunciation norms of ail the Jewish language communities, bas also contributed to the loss of old colloquial Hebrew norms. These norms have to be recorded immediately if they are not to be lost entirely. The project of describing the d iffe rent recensions of Hebrew directed by S.Morag at The Hebrew University, JerusaJem i an important contribution to this study.



as the fact tbat the Jewisb settl e re ers to non f or the revival of col loquial H b w w rrn e a an no d a h t ous IIebr Palest·I ne spoke a language-Yiddi sh-tb e t firs s to tate the n e bee e xp hav li to cily that � component. Tavjov 1904 seems tbis · . . k en f H e spo o b re n w 1tto u1s . acq T avjov even knowledge could facilitate the . y · nent m Idd'ish' as a way of accelerar recommended increasing the Hebrew compo s· mg . h then, th'1s v1ew 49 1nce . rew as Heb f o und scant the shift from Yiddish to Modem best, observors have not ed that the reflection in Hebrew linguistic circles. At included the study of BiblicaI and revivalists had a traditional Jewish education which r 50 is Mishnaic Hebrew (but the role of Yiddish merged Hebrew igno ed). 1 believe that had the language planners of the late 19th century been predominantly speakers of Jewish languages other than Yiddish-an of which have a far smaller Hebrew and Aramaic corpus-they would most probably have been unable to develop a spoken Hebrew. A possible exception to this generaliu1tion might be Esperanto, which was based on a latinoid vocabulary which was barely attested in the native Yiddish of its inventor, Ludwik Zamenhof. However, the fact is that Esperanto failed to gain many adherents among Yiddish speakers (it would be interesting to know if the acquisition of Esperanto is more widespread among Romance speakers). Judeo-Spanish speakers in late 19th-century Palestine have been recorded speaking Hebrew, but it is unclear if they had their own revived Modern Hebrew or 49 50

1904(1923:216-7] and cited only by Mark 195 8:127, fn 5, to the best of my knowledge. The bilingual Yiddish-Hebrew Wiiter, Mendele Mojxer Sforim (c. 18361917) also shared this opinion (see Kutscher 1968:509). A sympathetic, though often incomplete, appreciation for the role of Yiddish in "re iving" Modern Hebrew can be found in Shapiro 196 3:127, 133; Zand 196S; : KoJre 1967:l51; Fellman 1975:350-1; 1987:47· see also the disc ussio n above. The anti-Yiddish bias of the hebraists reaches i� peak in the writing s of Klozner, w� used "Ashkenazic German" (judaized Gennan Wiitten in Yiddish characters--0n 1 th1 language, see exler 1981a), along with Russian , rather than Yiddish, to gloSS � the Hebrew terms m Grazovski 190l[l919 _ 1 For examplea of neglect of the Yiddish impact on Modem Hebrew see Nobl 1958; Blau 1976·2 6 53 S 1 so · • · ce • commcnts by B lanc 1956b:795; Prager 1981; Gold 1982. · " Kutacher 1ug geata that Yiddish wu i . nsablc for the Modem Hebrew "r Vl 8l oclispe - of the ro1e of the biling 1 becau•• ua y •'dd.ash-Hebrew Wliter Mendele Moj fi un. ho in the proces1 o lranalating bis Yiddish works into H br w, m t lii . ! ----1uacy of 81b lical Hebr cw style for M odem H br w.

:e ,�.........



y followed the norms of Yiddish speakers (Parti whether the itt 1972 and Oman 1984 . menon, but g1ve eno h no p ex e th ampl es-see also ch 3. 1, se d.1scuss• • ct 2 below). ff . • • ers had succee eak sp ded sh 1n ddi rev i ivi Y ng a colloqui. a1 Modem Hebr nOn . . speak ew 1ddish ers, Y then of the existence of a mass1v · e Hebrew co J.ll• depen dent . mponent . . a be not prerequ1 1ght s1te m for h is the d partial language shift. In that case in Yid _ ,1 would prop ose tha� th� long-term _habits. of language mixing (e.g. in Yiddish) and partial Ian�ge shi f� m Ashkena�1c _Jew1sh circles may be the crucial contributing factors. It 1s unden1able that Y1dd1sh has alw ays displayed a more variegated comp onent make-up than any of the other Jewish languages, such that the latter differ considerably less from the cogriate non-Jewish dialects than Yiddish does from other Slavic languages or German. Paradoxically, though Yiddish provided the necessary catalyst for the rise of colloquial Hebrew, most of its Hebrew corpus was rejected as a source of enricbment for new colloquial Hebrew by most revivalists and early language planners-except for some expressive vocabulary, hypocoristic names and miscellaneous lexical items.51 The anti-Yiddish bias of Modem Hebrew regulators often finds explicit expression. For example, ModHe ozne haman 'pastry eaten at Purim' (lit 'the ears of Haman'-the anti-Jewish figure in the Purim narration) is regarded as a better term than EY homentashn (lit 'the pockets of Raman') or a Hebrew translation of the latter. Curiously, ozne haman (found now in Western Yiddish dialects, Judeo-ltalian and in non-Jewish East Slavic languages) is attested in the Hebrew writings of Kalonimos ben Kalonimos (b. 1286 Arles-d. post-1328); ozne haman is not disqualified as a "Yiddish neologism" since current Eastern Yiddish lacks it.52 A Yiddish hebraism not recommended for Modern Hebrew is :xalshn 'be weak, faint' < He x-1-sh 'weak', since the verb in this meaning occurs in no stage of Hebrew · 53 51

52 53

220 See especially Klozner 1896b and the discussion in Rubinshtejn 1965= 217• fate of and Fellman 1973:88 • 135-6. Yid dish appears to be doomed now to �e very language . . . wntt en Hebrew for many centunes-1.e. to be a co11 0 quial and wntten ahnost exclusively of religious Jews (see ch 3.1, sect 4d below). Je�n 1940(19 9:129]. On these ter?1s, see_Wexler 19 7 2 t' (19 29:col 216). LeJbl thinks it7 was patterned on Middle High G sw,�_ ! � �:-:�in 1esh 'become Note, however' AlkalaJ· 1965: xalash libo 'he felt famt,e weak'. • h,.,:a . · m Modem Very weak, feel faint' (on the use of the latter, lhe hitpa 'ef denved 1orm Hebrew, see ch 2 .43, sect 4 below).



of Hebrew language planners to ex In Spite of the official disinclin ation pIOtt . �ew . nno a . ve He brew xp a te e u i i r s, i 1 vation q es � s inno o � Ashkenazic Hebrew ns élnd . _ ct on meanings did fmd their way_ into_ M?dem Hebrew d1 1 anes pubhshed as recenuy as the interbellum period-prunartly m Europe(however, I do not know whether the reflected the current norms of Palestinian Modem Hebrew). See e.g. nadan 'dowry• 56 gizem 'exaggerate'," gi lajon in the meaning margin, inter alia, mekorim 'sources•:s, 9 medina in the meaning city,58 galax 'priest',5 aver 'air'(< Aram, ultimately < Gk).60 Even Yiddish romanisms and arabisms were included in some early Hebrew revivaI dictionaries, e.g. netal,' 1 xag hanital 62 'Christmas' < It Natale (vs. ModHe xag hamo lad, lit 'holiday-of the-birth', which imitates Arab 1i:d 'almi :la:d) and almembar 'synagogue pulpit'63 < Arab 'alminbar 'pulpit'-in the dis tinctively Western Yiddish form-vs. EY balemer and ModHe te va-on the latter, see ch 2.3 above). The retention of almembar, etc. may be due to its use by the influential French scholar, Rashi (1028/1040?-1105). The utili7.ation of Yiddish hebraisms in Modem Hebrew through the 1930 s, and to some extent even today, despite the ban on this source by most language pJanners, is not surprising. The revivalists themselves admitted that the resources of Biblical and Misbnaic Hebrew hardly sufficed to create a living language. Consider the statistics. Biblical Hebrew bas approximately 1350 roots, of which Mishnaic Hebrew lacks approximately 250; conversely, Mishnaic Hebrew has about 300 roots not attested in Biblical Hebrew. The statistics given by Even Shoshan for bis dictionary are revealing: slightly over 16,000 words of Biblical/Mishnaic origin vs.








ords of "M edi eval" and· "Modem" origin, i.e. approximately 57% of w 0 0 2 1 · jiJmost 2 , rarY H ebrew 1exicon cons1sts of non- s em1t1c · · hebraisms! Note that the o e . the cont rnP . e ources of Yiddish hav been estimated at approxim ately 10,000 words-far f1 brew re s pe Biblical corpus. I do not know what percentage of the Yiddish ·n1 excess of the . . 1 1cal or Mishnaic m d . B"bl" atteste un Hebrew sources.64 is s m s ai r b e h f o s u corp r liance on Yiddish hebraisms fostered the independence of Modem Hebrew e e Th "blicalfMishnaic Hebrew sources. The statistics given by Even-Shoshan and froill B1 over 50% of the Hebrew resources of Modern Hebrew are either . suggest that . S1van gh 1n (th " ou terms of text frequency the percentage y porar m nte co " "rnedieval" or drops to 19%, accor ding to Sivan).65 I would asswne that a sizeable amount of the ish hebraisms or neologisms coined in Yiddish whole and SO%+ are unique Yidd 66 rnerged Hebrew! Innovative hebraisms in Modern Hebrew belong to one of two cate gories: (1) extensions of Biblical/Mishnaic roots (in which case the links with pre-"revival" Hebrew are only loosely retained); (2) Hebrew vocabulary of either monolingual Biblical or Mishnaic origin which is unattested in the relatively sparse written records, but has survived through the medium of oral tradition in merged Hebrew-especially Yiddish merged Hebrew (in which case the links between Modern and pre-revival Hebrew have become even more tenuous). hmovations of A'

64 For statistics of the roots, see M.H.Segal 1936:104; Ullendorff 1971:(1977:249]; Kutscher 1982:132, 199; Rabin n.d.:16-8, 92; for statistics of the words, see Even Shoshan 7:1970:3062. Figures proposed for the Hebrew-Aramaic component in Yiddish vary considerably due to widely differing samples. Avé-Lallemant talked about some 7000 loans in German Yiddish (1858-62, cited by Nobl 1961-2:20), W.Chomsky posited c. 4000 (1967:251) and Mark set the highest figure with some 12,000 (inclu ding Yiddish innovations) (1958:124; see also id., 1954). See Guggenheim-GrUnberg 1980 for examples of radical fluctuation in Western Yiddish samples. 1980 (cited by Sc hwarzwald 1981:63). Even-Shoshan observed that 30% of the present Hebrew vocabulary of Modern Hebrew Was i nvented in the last hundred years (1:1964, cited by Tene 1969:55). . maten· al generated m Rabin Po s1ts · · the nu mber of neologisms consisting of native l :el ast century at approximatel 15,000 (n.d.:19). If rejected neologisms w�re y the n umber would be far higher· an instructive project would be to compile ' ictionary of a dc_uded, · s reta·med · h hebratsm fa il ed neologisms. A detailed study of the Yiddis in o n Re� der Hebrew is urgently required. See discussion in Mark 1958; Nobl 1964; 1sner 1976.



th t l

u:. Lu:U,.'v..,,

ften imitate patterns of d iscourse in Yi ddish or other European

nt h, In investigatin g the origins of the Hebrew compone in Yiddis we must be l e ements-though in ac careful to di tinguish between substratal and adstrata l tuai 67 inh as material l e. ( trata w Subs possibl 1) erited tic differ ntiation may be im : th 1 1 J wi h languages in contact with old colloquial Hebrew (Judeo-Greek1 e t Jud _ ramai an d Judeo-Latin), and passed on orally o the su cc ssor Jewish languag with which Yiddish itself was in contact (e.g. J udeo-Slavic, Judeo­ 611 man , and possibly Judeo-Greek). (2) Adstratal material com prises hebraisms 7


hwarzw ld 1 5: 140 and Sabar 1989:sect 1. 7 offer simplistic tests for separating ub- from dstratal components in a Jewish language. For instance, Sabar offers four criteria for identifying colloquial (bis "older") H brew components in a Jewish language: attestation in (1) more than one Jewish language, (2) cryptic argots, (3) hypocoristic forms and (4) frozen expressions. Only the first criterion is useful (see discussion below). Of whole and merged Hebrew, one norm is not a priori older than the other; on the possibility that the two norms of Hebrew may be of disparate origins, see Weingreen 1965:627; Bunis 1988; Wexler 1988:ch 1.5. 'The earliest Judeo-Greek text is the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. On recovering Judeo-Greek from Jewish successor languages in non-Hellenic Europe. see Wexler 1985; on Jewish language phenomena in general, see Wexler 1981b. On the se and geography of spoken Hebrew and Aramaic in Palestine up to the 3rd century A.D., sec Greenfield 1978a; 1978b. It is beyond our present concem to distinauilh bctwecn the recovery of colloquial Hebrew (spoken primarily in Judea) and Aramaic (which prcdominated in the Galil ) ( ibid., 154). Occasio nally, the aern tisms of Yiddi h seem, tentatively, mor .. comp tible" with Aramaic than with Hebrew (su detail below). tz 1985 advance th vi w th t Ar m ic w still po en by the initial Jewish tl lo many in the 9th-l 0th enturi • though h omits evidence and fails to u h pr·c:oc�sor · or x mpl , Kojr had rli r proposed th t colloquial and ma· both w import into th man lanœ and that Yiddish was by u I r pl -thirds of th Hebrew -Aramaic



texts at any time either by Yiddish eak d {rom original Hebrew sp ers, or by e exu-a ct . , sub w1s stra h e tal languages cited above, and then tr he J . ansm1tted ers of any of t 5pea1c · dish through oral or written chan nels (the latter are mainly Judeo-R omanœm Y w 1d � Thu s, isms). Mish bra naic Hebrew components in Yiddish at al he .Qreek ad str either substratal or adstratal. thetnSelves can be To the extent that it surfaces at all, the chronology of Hebrew loans primaril of Yiddish historical phonology.7° Nevertheless, even in th� occupies students lined to regard the Yiddish pronunciation norms of Hebrew as circle s, few are inc of Yiddish, and hence capable of providing clues to the relatively free of the impact 71 reconstruction of old colloquial Hebrew. At best, a few students of Yiddish have entertained the possibility that some features of the Yiddish prononciation norms ofHebrew may have developed in the alleged Judeo-Romance substratum,12 but the bulle of the features are usually dismissed as no older than the 13th centufy.73 Of all the contemporary Jewish languages, only the Yemenite Judeo-Arabic pronunciation

Aronius 1902:#48; Bréhier 1903; Frey 1936; Asaria 1959:35; Fitz 1972; Solin 1980. 69 In "adult life", Yiddish remained in contact with Judeo-French and Judeo-Italian (until about the 16th century), thus possibly receiving later adstratal (colloquial and written) hebraisms from the latter. 70 See Vajnrajx 1973 passim and Jacobs' discussion of Tiberian He so:ô 'secret' (1989:sect 4). 71 See Garb ell 1954. My objections to Garbell are spelled out in detail in Wexler 1988:65ff. I cannot agree with Morag (1969:139) that the velar nasal that cornes in place of I in regional Yiddish and Dutch Judeo-Portuguese might be influenced by vernacular Yiddish, Dutch Judeo-Portuguese or Dutch, since all three languages lack the velar nasal (except < n before k, g). While Yiddish may have had some impact on Hebrew pronunciation norms (e.g. stress position, reduction of stressed vowels), it is also possible that Hebrew "allowed" Yiddish to expand its inventory and diStribution of clusters (to include, e.g. bd-, tx - and x- -the latter was also introduced by Slavic loans). On the impact of merged Hebrew on whole Hebrew, see Sister 1937:6 and Ostrin 1976. For an optimistic view that Jewish languages might 0 aid in reconstructing old Hebrew pronunciation patterns, see Schreiden 1957=35 and Eldar 1980:233 , 244. 72 S omance ee especially Vajnrajx 2:1973:ch 7. I personally do not posit 8 Judeo-R substratum in Yiddish-only a minor Judeo-Romance ad- or su perstratum (see dctails in Wexler 1988; in press, and ch 2 above). 73 S ee Weingreen 1965:617; Kutscher 1966: 223; Morag 1969:l33, 137-8·



• •

. authenttc1ty.74 S cho}ars have also 1 o f ree deg h hig a h wit d dite . ong of Hebrew 1s cre . fo . me fr d or ng an1 m al o / er rm f l Written � noted that Yiddish hebraisms often dif m s and mearungs have been characterized as recensions of Hebrew. These unique form (or its Judeo-Romance and Judeo-Greek either (l) the innovations of Yiddish the low level of Hebrew scholarship precursors), or (2) accidentai errors that reflect · in the Ashkenazic commun1' y.15 Notwithstanding occasional remarks that Hebrew innovations in Yiddish might w,76 neither the H at least be valuable for the history of Medieval European ebre merged Hebrew components in Yiddish nor whole Hebrew texts composed by Yiddish speakers has received anything like the attention lavished on the Biblical/Mishnaic or lberian (genetically Romance and Arabie) Hebrew legacy.77 It is the rare scholar who would suggest that Yiddish might retain old colloquial 78 Hebrew lexicon not easily retrievable from other sources. The neglect of the t

See Kac 1977:xii and ch 1.2 above. On positive attitudes of language planners towards Yemenite Hebrew, see ch 1.2 above. 75 On the de.finition of Yiddish hebraisms as "errors", see Klozner 1896b:91; Tavjov 1904(1923:221]; Rosén 1986:16. Kutscher cla i ms that Yiddish speake rs "incorrectly" pronounce He�' l, [, c, q -in contrast to Arab ic-speaking Jews (1968:5()())-but be does not include the front vowel in the first syllable of Y rebe 'rabbi' for OHe a (for wh ich we would expect Y a) in bis list of "errors" (1966:218; see details in Wexler 1988:17ff). On the claim of "incorrect" use of Hebrew by ltal ian Jews, see Bachi 1926:365-6; Berenblut 1949:257-8; Colorni 1970:135. Such approaches have been justly cr iticized by Sister 1937:12. On the innovative use of hebraisms in Yiddish, see Lejbl 1929:216 (on xaleshn 'to faint'-cited in fn 53 above); Mark 1958; Nobl 1958 . 7 6 See Kutscher 1959:49 and Weinreich 1971:col 797. On the importance of Demotic Greek for illum inating obscure phemomena in Ancient Greek, see Glucker 1989. 77 Kutscher bemoans the neglect of Yiddish whole Hebrew by scholars (1968:508). See also Bergrin 1970. 78 S� Rabinovich 1930:389 and Kutscher 1982:195. Curiously, German slang !ex1cons may preserve facts of Yiddish Hebrew either lost, or peripheral, in Yiddi sh ttself. For example G slg bsaffot 'letter' (1510) bas a surface cognate OBav in arian Y /c.atavut /kasoves/ 'secr t wn·u· ng ' (8axur 1541), which surfaces as R slg Jcsivota . rmau. � . ,unrehable 1nfo on (Skatshinskij 1982:65- -ota is a native collective suffix, sec e.g. R bednota 'the poor') and as Po slg ksyjwe 'false testimony about a h rse' (Lud':" ikowaki a�d Walczak 1922:41). Standard Yiddish lack th n gati ve meamngs, ace bave 'block letters, ornate writing' (but not Po lg Jcsiw 'thieves'




e ish langua ges is all the mo " norms of the J w re stri.k.1ng when we }Jebre ' r tbat the peri• od wh.1ch Hebrew filled alm . ost exc1 us1vely noncons•de tended fi or some ex s on 1800 ti nc yea u rst f som · ew ha t.m exce� of the colJO y badkenen (= He badk- + -an ag +Y-en inf); Y dav(e)nen 'pray (of Jews)' < Arab(?). Yiddish has many derived verbs in 1!1e absence of the underlying agentive noun e.g. there is no B/ModHe *badkan; Y *badken, *daven. 118 I suspect that He hluhpa'a in the mca nmg · of ,.i nfluence' is a calque of t he latini zed patterns of disco une in E pean 1an gua ges, e.g . Lat ;nfluentia (lit 'in'+ 'flowing') u,� v "• Cz M > o E;11n 'J• ,u8• Uk v/., IV (lil ,.10' + 'pounng , ') · The on, g1, nal meaning s of OHe sh· p·' ue fiow; be on an incline· On the o ther hand, Pal estm · ia · n Arabie has ta'si:r m the root meaning (leave) traces . 119 1976:23, 50, fn 30. bin vich 1930. 1 20



In my opinion, the increased popularity of He -an in Yiddish can be ascribed to Slavic v erbal derivation, which usually requires a linking suffix before the infinitive ending; 121 the specific choice of -an may be due to the similarity with the Upper 122 Sor bian verbal noun suffix -nje . The Slavic influence would exp Iain why Yiddish speakers felt little need to construct underlying agentive nouns for many derived verbs. Modem Hebrew continues to use no small number of agentive nouns with -an which were constructed in Yiddish, e.g. OHe q-v-r 'bury' > ModHe kavran (spelled as kabran in Alkalaj 1965) 'widertaker' = Y kabren. 123 In Jewish Iang uages other than Yiddish, this hebraism is formed according to the pattern C 1aCiaC3, e.g. JSp meHe kabar.124 Kna'ani cites ModHe kanjan 'commercial buyer' as a neologism (< BHe q-n-h 'buy'), but the existence of the noun in some dialects of Western Yiddish (e.g. Swiss) and in German slang suggests some antiquity.125 Significantly, Modern Hebrew derives new agentive no uns from innovative Yiddish verbs, thus eliminating holes in the paradigm, e.g. OHe k-t­ v 'write' > Y kasfenen (*kas/en 'writer, scribe') > ModHe katvan 'scribe, secretary', in addition to katav 'journalist'.126 Quite possibly under Yiddish influence, Modem Hebrew has developed doublets of the type lec (original): lecan (< Y lejcn) 'jester, clown' (see also Y leceven 'act like a clown'). Where Yiddish currently uses an agentive with He ba'al in place of an archaic Yiddish form with -an, Modern Hebrew follows suit, e.g. OY meHe maxlokan 'quarrelsome (person)' < He maxloket 'quarrer 12 1 See Wexler 1982. 122 For details, see id., in press. 123 On the absence of spirantization in Modern Hebrew, see ch 2.42 above and sect 12 below. MHe kavran (with spirantization) denoted a bird that lays its eggs in the sand. Note that in the variant kabran (Alkalaj 1965) there is no spirantization, either because the word was lifted directly from Yiddish, or (what is less li.kely) because of interference from synonymous kabar (unattested in Modern Hebrew). The third consona nt of a root in Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew did not undergo spirantization after a consonant, e.g. core.x 'need': corko 'his need', but this is not the case in Modern Hebrew, e.g. carxan 'consumer'. 124 For medieval Ibero-Romance attestation of OHe kabar, kover, see Epstein 1925:66, 115, fn 66; Eisler 1948:202, 206. J 2 5 1962-80. The term was not listed in Alkalaj 196 5. 12 6 Alkalaj 1965 lists ganvan, gnavtan 'petty thief-though the former, attested in Andalusian Hebrew of the 11th century (Kna'ani 1962-80), is not current; Shlomo Jzre'el informs me that ganvan appears in children's literature (e.g. h aorev haga nvan 'the thieving raven').



127 expressed as Y bal-max/oike J s- d . Ben Mosbe, 13th c) ' is now an + -an (attested 1n 121 . el') quarr f ModHe ba'al maxlokEJ (lit 'possessor-o recommended as an agentive SUffix In early Modem Hebrew, -n (< -an ) was even 129 see also the tautologo us agentive for borrowed nouns, e.g. historutin 'historian'; 130 'communist', now replaced marking in ModHe socialistan 'socialist', komuni.stan by socialist, komunist. (3) Noun compounding and the expression of possession. Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew dependency constructions of the type bet-hamore 'the bouse of the teacber' tend to be more productive in written and formai spoken Modem Hebrew than in informal spoken Hebrew; the latter pref ers analytic expression of posession, e.g. habait shel hamore (lit 'the-house of the-teacher'-see also sect 3e below). This fact prompted Levi to speak of a "stylistic rather than a substantive syntactic or semantic difference".131 An excei:>tion to the above generalization are idomatic expressions of the type bet-(ha)sefu '(the) school' (lit 'bouse-of [the-]book'- habait shel hase/ET could only mean 'the bouse of the book'). In Biblical Hebrew, the definite article ha- was attached to the second constituent, e.g. ba'al-bait 'proprietor': ba'al habait 'the proprietor', while pluralization operated on the first constituent, e.g. ba'ale (ha)bait '(the) proprietor,'. In Modem Hebrew, particularly in the colloquial language, there is a tendency to attacb the definite article to the first constituent and the plural suffix to the second constituent, e.g. haba'al-bait 'the proprietor', haktav-jad 'the manuscript', habet-din 'the religious law court', habet-kneset 'the synagogue' (see also hasaxar-mEX.ET in ch 1.4 above) all of which exist in Yiddish too; hagontY sus im 'the horse thief, hatarnegol-habar 'the grouse' ( < tarnegol-habar sg, 1it 'turkey-of the-field)-{not

127 See Ka�na 1944-5:46; I do not know when it became -obsolete. The -t, a sign of _ the fermrune gender, was deleted upon the addition of -an m. . c1'ted the mc 128 Shapuo · reased productivity of -an -agent ives in Modem Hebrew but gave no explanation (1963:131). 129 Klozner l 896b:60-1 though be later reJCC · ted -n 1n the revised edition of 194 9:73. hirtor . ion. . ' 5; current 11 130 Garbell 1930:29. 131 1976:14.



iddi h). 13� Coll ModHe orex dlni.m is the plural of orex din 'lawyer i ', the 1n ss seco nd stre ate constituent following Yiddish practice-though ilh 1 nulùm t rm itself is not used in Yiddish. Thus, a plural pattern in hebraisms which i c mpati ble with Yiddish (Slavic) norms (where compound nonns are pluralized ith a ingle plural suffix on the second component) bas been continued in Modem H br w. A wiique feature of Mishnaic Hebrew dependency constructions is the plur lization of both constit uents, e.g. bet-kneset 'synagogue' (lit 'bouse' + th ri n g'), bate-k nesiot pl-like orxe dinim 'lawyers'. This pattern is also ionally att sted in Yiddish, e.g. Y bejsakneses 'synagogue', bote-knesjes pl, not appear to have gaincd a foothold in Modem Hebrew-perhaps because but ubl pluralization violates Slavic norms(?). fi ture of Mod m Hebrew dependency constructions, especially in the spoken language is the possibility of a compound head noun, e.g. bidiat uvehaskamat hakah / lit 'with-the-knowledge-of and-the-assent-of the-public' in imitation of the ord order of Yiddish and other European languages; in contrast are BHe bidiat kahal uvehaskamato (lit 'with-the-knowledge-of the-public and-with-its-assent') and :Mlle bidiato uvehaskamato shel hakahal (lit 'with-its-knowledge and-with-itssent of the-public'). 133 There are five reasons for the growing disuse· of dependency constructions in ;l".l.��m Hebrew-some of them independent of Yiddish: 1

(a) Yiddi h grammar requires a different order for the head and the determiner, ·c 1 metimes carried over to Yiddish merged H br w, .g. whHe ta'anit ester t of ther' Y mette ester-tones, whHe shamash kahal 'community sexton' Y e Jco:1-shames. lie and consonantal i con truction in l I br w oft n r qu1r . v ut Yiddi h t nd to iv up morphoph n mi lt mation in its bov and sect �·,-nt (not th di w ion of pirantiz ti n in h 2er,.cralizin th " on tru t" llomorph (th form f th hcad nowi t t th " b lut " or f llomorph). Th u

fth n



7: 8 );



b 11 1





not always preserved in Yiddish (and Modem Hebrew), see e.g. the alternation of f./ in the first syllable of whHe xerpa 'shame' abs sg: xerp at con sg: xarafot abs xerpot con pl> y xarpe( s) abs/con sg: xarpes abs/con pl; whHe ocar 'treasur ' e abs/con sg: ocarot abs pl: ocrot con pl> Y ojcer abs/con sg: ojcres abs/con l p. Sorne Yiddish hebraisms surface with their distinctive plural fonns in Modern Hebrew, especially in the colloquial language, e.g. coll Mo dH e oc(a)rot 'treasures' abs/con pl vs. lit ModHe ocarot abs pl: ocrot con pl.


(c) The distribution of the two allomorphs is not always predictable, e.g. He siml- 'dress' appears in simla abs sg: simlat con sg: simlot con pl vs. smal- in smalot abs pl, while He mElex 'king' abs/con sg cont rasts with mlax- in mlaxim abs pl and malx- in malxe con pl.134 Nouns of identical canonic shape in the absolute plural, e.g ModHe pratim 'details' and dvarim 'things', may have unpredicatably different construct plurals, e.g. prate vs. divre (but note also coll ModHe pirte). Even if these variations in the plural are predictable from the underlying absolute singular (see e.g. pral vs. davar), there still remains the morphophonemic complication. (d) Two nouns may occasionally yield the identical construct form e.g. zaken , 'old (man)' and zakan 'beard' > zkan 'old man of; beard of. (e) In colloquial Hebrew, there is a marked tendency to replace dependency constructions which mark possession by an analytic structure inv olving the prepos ition shel 'of. This analytic construction imitates the expression of possession in Mishnaic Hebrew and in all Slavic Ianguages, e.g. y majn bux, So moja /cniha 'my book'. The expression of possession in Biblical Hebrew was by means of suffixation, · e.g. BHe ldl�lato (< klala1 'curse' con sg + -to 3rd p m sg poss · pro), wh1ch today 1s . . most typ1cal of the written and formai spoken registe · rs l35 otherwise Mo dem , Hebrew prefers a construction with shel 'or+ pro (1" owid . 1n . Mishna 1c . Hebrew), e.g. . curse , (ht . haklala shelo 'lus 'the-curse of-him') · New 1ore1g " . n loans almost never take . a possessive suffix, e.g. Jeurs 'course'· hakurs shelo 'bis course' (lit 'the-course ofhim': •Jr.urso). 134 ln colloquial Modern Hebrew :_, ' luruOI abS p l IS COmmon, b ut not ap prov peak.er1 (aee Weinbera 191 4:39). Ulacher 1982:252. 135

by most



(4) Verb derivation. In Semitic languages, verbs are derived from a base root by means of Ablaut, with or without the addition of consonants. The meanings of the derived patterns, known as binjan, -im pl, have constituted a descriptive problem for some time. There are several indications that the verbal derivational system was becoming unproductive in Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew; Modem Hebrew continues this tendency. In the Hebrew component of Yiddish, the He binjan system absorbed a strong Slavic imprint which bas remained intact in Modem Hebrew. Consider the following distinctive features of the binjan system: sects a-b discuss properties of Semitic Hebrew; sects c-g, Slavic Hebrew. (a) There is evidence of a richer system in the past. For example, in comparison to Arabie dialects, which usually use 7 derived forms productively, Modem Hebrew (like Yiddish) now counts only 4 binjanim: the so-called pi'el, hifi/, nifal, hitpa'el -with the first two fonns accompanied by less productive passive equivalents pu'al, hufal (on the latter, see sect 7 below). 136 There are vestigial binjanim in earlier stages of Semitic Hebrew which do not surface often or at ail in later crosscuts, e.g. BHe hitpa:fe/, MHe nitpafe/; B/MHe hitpafe/ is usually described as having an allomorphic variant produced by metathesis of the first root consonant with the prefixal -t-, required whenever the former is a dental or alveopalatal consonant, e.g. (ModHe) lavash 'dress': hitlabesh 'get dress·ed' but shimesh 'serve as': hishtamesh 'use' rather than *hitshamesh. 131 Arabie productively distinguishes between derived forms constructed with the cognate prefix (CIArab) ta- and the discontinous morpheme (CIArab) 'i-ta- (e.g. fa'ala do, make' and derived forms tafaUa/a vs. 'ifta'ala), which suggests that Old Hebrew may have merged two distinct patterns. It is curious that in Biblical (and Modern) Hebrew, of the range of meanings and functions expressed by the hitpa'el form (e.g. reflexive or reciprocal action, passive of the base form, pretense, verbs derived from adjectival and nominal stems), the "metathesized" verbs only express

136 Contrary to most descriptions, I do not consider the base form (He /cal, Arab fafa/a) as "binjanim" since no semantic features are involved. 137 This is the analysis given by Grande 1972:219ff.



are precisely the functions shared by the Ar bi a e th first three meanings-which 131 'iftalala pattem. w, the autonomy of the-pattems (b) In both Biblical and post-Biblical Hebre w w alic patte ocî v rn que ass oc un ated ith eac� weakened by the fact that there was no i the nifal pf, e.g · · n. For example, the canonic shape. -Ci C2aC3. . characterized binJa . . 'he l Jigda w11l g e.g. , ro llllpf w' kal ; the th as well e canonic nixtav 'was written', as shape -C1 aC2eC3 characterized both the hitpa'el pf, e.g. hitlabesh 'got dr e ssed' and the nifal impf, e.g. jikatev (in B/MHe jikkatev) 'it will be written', etc. See further remarks in sect 3g just below. (c) The y meHe verbal system accelerates conditions that began in Biblical Hebrew. For example, the opacity of the system (e.g. the inability to predict the meanings of many derived verbs) threatens to tum the binjanim into conjugations, like the four infinitive endings in Upper Sorbian which are devoid of semantic (dzelaé 'work'), -ié functions: -owaé (kupowaé 'buy'), -nyé (bl�dnyé 'tum pale'), (warié) 'boil', or the three infinitive endings in Yiddish: -(e)n (maxn 'make'), -enen (ganvenen 'steal'), -even (rateven 'save').


The kal illustrates the extent to which the Hebrew component in Yiddish (to some extent of colloquial Hebrew origin) has continued processes that began in the Biblical Hebrew period-according to the requirements of a Slavic grammar. Sects i-ii illustrate Biblical Hebrew usage, sects iii-v, Modem Hebrew. (i) Unlike the pi'el and hifil which have corresponding passive fonns pu'al, hufal produced by vowel change (on the growing productivity of the pu' al in Modem Hebrew, see sect 7 below), the Ica/ is passivizable by prefi xation-e.g. nifal pattern-but not every example of the latter has a passive fun ction, e.g. · BHe lamad 'learn': nllmad 'be leamed' but nixnas 'enter' (*'be entered'· *kanas 'enter'). The Bib lical Hebrew use of the nifal in the mea ning of '�gin to, become' is

138 On the changina funcliona


f the hupa'el, sec Be ndavid 2:1971:4 7- · compl c tion in my ana1yaia i that Ar 'iftalala-unli ke H hitpa' 1-1 ............lion of the second root consonant.



139 unproductive in Mo dem Hebrew, whereas a new mediopassive function (e.g. amad 'stand': nE'emad 'corne to a stop' ) is gaining popularity .140

(ii) The /cal is the most complex pattern in the system, since it f orms two

conjugational types in the imperfective/future (e.g. EVdok impf-'I will inspect' with -o- vs. Elmad impf-'I will leam' with -a-: see ch 1.21 above) and is the only pattern in the system to accommodate exceptional verbs (e.g. natan 'he gave': natati 'I gave': sen 'I will give', lanti 'I spent the night': alun 'I will spend the night). The kal fonn is incompatible with Yiddish grammar for three reasons: (iii) The binjan system accomrnodates native roots most of which consist of three root consonants; it is difficult to accommodate non-Hebrew verb stems which tend to be restricted in the number of root consonants. The only binjanim which can conveniently receive such stems are the pi'el and the derivationally related hitpa'el. 141 As a result, in Modem Hebrew, almost no new native verbs can be fonned in the ka/ form and no recent loans can be integrated in this pattern, e.g. Eng bluff> ModHe bile/ in the pi'el pattern (the kal, *balai, does not exist). The few neologisms based on Hebrew stems known to me in the kal often require a cognate object, e.g. garav garbaim 'put on socks' (a recent neologism), na'al na'alaim 'put on shoes' (first attested with a cognate object in Mishnaic Hebrew; without a (non)cognate object, na'al would mean 'Iock'). It would be worth checking whether new ka/ forms are primarily those which are derived from a noun, as presumably in the case of garav above, or xarap 'snore' < xrop 'a snore' (< Y xrop 'ib', xropm 'snore'); in the latter example (as Outi Bat-El pointed out to me), the overlap of xrop with the future stem of the ka/ may have facilitated the choice of that conjugation pattern.

139 Jgeret 2:1968:118 nostalg ically calls for its retum. 140 On the Yiddish origins of the latter, see Blanc 1965. 141 Rare examples of foreig n roots in the hifil exclusively are hishvic 'brag' nd shvicn hishpric 'spray' (with an unusual medial cluster of three consonants) 'perspire', shpricn). Shlomo Izre'el cites the example of hiblid 'let ble d' fr m 1 _ ld speaker(< Eng bleed ). y



ges, as well as German, prOduc (iv) Yiddish and the other Slavic langua enew . and stems accom ai nomm modate no nverbal stems from native adjectival and native . G (=, -eveY re.g. -i , heme morp g linkin a of s == mean by verb stems ( So p -owa-, etc.).1•2 The kal, which consists only of the bare, primarily trico nsonai:ta� pattern, deviates from European nonns; the pi'el, on the other hand, by providing; minimal morphological machinery to the triconsonantal root, offers a more accurate copy of verb derivation in the Slavic languages and German. (v) In Slavic languages, most verbs have two stems with distinctive morphological properties to express aspectual distinctions, e.g. So podleseé impf vs. podllsié pf 'lengthen'; pisaé impf vs. napisaé pf 'write'; dopisowaé (sej) impf vs. dopisaé pf 'write to, correspond with'. The kal, with no distinctive morphological (binjan) markers, could thus become unattractive to speakers of a Slavic language. I assume that the extreme unproductivity of the kal began in the period of Judeo-Sorbian; Eastern Yiddish has only weakly developed aspectual, or "aspectoid" pairs, e.g. Y shrajbm 'write': onshrajbm 'finish writing', blien 'bloom': farblien 'bloom forth'-and never utilizes infixation to mark aspectoid distinctions. (d) Unlike the binjan system of Biblical Hebrew or contemporary Arabie, the ModHe binjan system has corne to resemble the verbal prefixes of European languages both in their functional and semantic parameters. 143 For example, the use of the Mod.He hitpa'el verbal pattern very often translates a reflexive verb in Yiddish (with zix) or other Slavic language (e.g. Uk, R -sja), e.g. ModHe hitmace 'specialize in' (see also below) = y specializirn zix, Uk specijal izuvatysja; ModHe hitganev 'steal into' = Y arajnganvenen zix, Uk dobuv atysja. Examples of derived verbal nouns from this pattern are ModH e 'inter cession' = Y hishtadles (and the corresponding refl bamien zix, hishtadlut staren zix, Uk staratysja, ModHe hishtadel ' '); ModHe hitnaclut 'apolog ' y =Y try hisnacles (antshuldikn zix, R izvinjat'sja, Mod He hitnacel 'apologize'); ModHe hit' orerut 'awakening' = Y hisoreres (opvekn zix, R pro buz h dat'sja, ModHe hit' orer 'awaken'). Many of these hitpa'el verbs and their derived nouns are first tt sted in Medi v� Hcbrew literature; wûortunately, o r kn a e u owledge of attestation i � spotty and Kna 8111 0 962-80) usually gives attestation uniquely from th whole 142 J 43

or detaila, see Wexler 1982; in press. or a compuative diacuuion, with emphasis

on Ukrainian,

id., 1

1- .



, ,ritings of Romance-and �a�ic-speaking Jews. It is conceivable that the 1 b hit a'el nn were developed 1n different Jew _ sh languages independently (see 1 fo s sani p above on He hitxalesh, and sect 12 below). f a}so ch 2.42. n 53 Sometimes, Yiddi sh and Modem Hebrew use the same hebraism in the hitpa'el part m, but with a different meaning, e.g. Y misxatn zajn zix 'become connected by marriage; marry one's children into the family of vs. ModHe hitxaten 'get married' ( ee also Y ziveg zajn 'get married' < He zivug 'marriage, match', but hizdaveg 'be paired; copulate'). These semantic differences show that Modern Hebrew can maiotain a distance from the Yiddish Hebrew corpus, but not from the ·ddisb Hebrew principles. 1.,. (e)

odem Hebrew verb paradigms often consist of derived fonns of different chronological strata and genetic origin. For example, from the root m-c-' 'find', odem Hebrew has accepted nimca 'be found' and himci 'invent' < BHe, and derived new hitmace 'specialize in' (lit 'find oneself in'-see above). From the root '-h-v 'love', Modem Hebrew has borrowed BHe ne'ehav 'be loved', while adding new hE#dziv 'make someone love' and hit'ahev 'fall in love with' (in the same pattern hich expresses reflexive and reciprocal actions). 145 Often there are Slavic precedents for the Modem Hebrew derivations, see e.g. Uk zakoxuvaty, vljubljaty 'make omeone love', Y far/ibn zix, Uk zakoxuvatysja 'fall in love with' (with zix, -sja refl). (f) The weakening of the binjan system may also d rive from the Yiddish r c ice of integrftting most Hcbrcw vcrb stems a 'C rding to a p riphrastic · gation inv >lving tlic Hchrcw masculine singul r parti 'Îpl nd a common set o Yiddi h auxiliarie , e.g. 11 bodek 'h insi ��ts' (th ka/ form). merame 'he 146 ' (pi'el) Y bojdek zll}n (badken n). m rt1me ljn inf ( ith ' zajn' ').

vow l qunntit , s. a:} w

rv d in

i br. di u i n


r nunci tion so iliat ilie Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew imperfective/future frames of th hitpa'el- -C 1 a C 2C 2eC 3-and nifal- -C 10 C 2eC 3-becam e hom ophonous: 1 7 r roots in Slavic grammar, _ 1 tl½eC3 . • Toese phonological developments have Ûlei e.g. Yiddish (like most other Slavic languages) bas no vocalic length (at least not in the Northeastem dialect spoken by Ben-Jehuda), and no distinctive consonantal Iength. Modem Hebrew continues the Yiddish practice of no geminated consonants and, in addition, has obliterated the opposition of a and o or u in verbal paradigms. The loss of geminated consonants in Hebrew-which is pre-Yiddish (and Judeo­ Sorbian?) may have been a major contributing factor to the breakdown of the binjan system (in whole Hebrew recensions other than Yiddish as well); in Arabie, there is neither a dramatic contraction of the binjanim, nor loss of geminated consonants. See also remarks in sect 4b above. (5) Assimilation of -n-. ln Biblical Hebrew, root initial -n- after a prefix was assimilated in some derived verb fonns, e.g. nafal 'fall': hippil 'cause to fall' (for *hinpil-now ModHe hipil); old verbs continue to have n-assimilation in Modem Hebrew, but non-Biblical Hebrew verbs lack the rule, e.g. nigen 'to play (an instrwnent)': hingin 'set to music' (and not *higin). The rule loss first appears in Mishnaic Hebrew (e.g. MHe namux 'low': hinmix 'to lower'-also current) and there is some tendency in Modem Hebrew to extend rule loss to Biblical Hebrew components, e.g. Mod.He jinshox 'be will bite' ( < n-sh-x) vs. BHe jishshax. 141 This suggests that Mishnaic Hebrew norms now predominate in Modem Hebrew-in both spoken and written registers. A possible Yiddish contribution to the unproductivity of n-assimilation cannot be ruled out, sincc Yiddish hebraisms are very often closer to Mishnaic than to Biblical nonns.

14 7 ln Ar 4


dial 11, the patterna hav a ar ter dearee of formai 1982:251. la l 2:1 8:1 6-7 for th f


ut n my. •



criai verbs. Early language planners-familiar with the rich prefix capabilities of Yiddish and other Slavic languages-expressed their dissatisfaction at the Iack of prefixes in 49 Modem Hebrew .1 To compensate for the lack of verbal prefixes, Zlotnik proposed the use of serial verbs, which had enjoyed a precedent in Biblical Hebrew (e.g. BHe holex vegodel 'continues to grow', lit 'goes and-grows'); ail of bis constru ctions without exception match the prefix functions of Yiddish and the other Slavic Iangua ges, e.g. xika vehigia 'wait up to a certain point' (lit 'wait and-arrive') is pattemed on Y dervarten zix 'wait long enough'-with der- pf, used in the meaning of up to, enough (pattemed on Uk do-) + varten 'wait' + zix refl-see Uk dozhydatysja (< do- 'up to' + zhydaty 'wait' + -sja refl). 150 Zlotnik's suggested constructions are not current in Modern Hebrew, but the use of Biblical Hebrew serial verbs enjoys moderate productivity in both the spoken and written language. Yiddish bas a few serial verbs, used mainly to express aspectual distinctions, e.g. fleg(t) kumen 'used to corne'. Future studies sbould seek to determine wby Zlotnik's constructions failed to be retained in Modern Hebrew. The corpus of Modem Hebrew verbal and nominal prefixes continues to remain relatively closed to non-native, especially non-Aramaic, affixes; it thus parallels developments in Slavic grammars. For example, Lat re- 'again' can be used occasionally with nouns, e.g. ModHe irgun 'organization' (derived from the latinism, e.g. R organ 'ibid.'), re-irgun 'reorganization', but never with verbs, e.g. 'reorganize' i irgen mexadash (lit 'organize anew' and not *re-irg n). Aramaic verbal prefixes joy very mode t use, e.g. sh-as in shixtev 'rcwrit ' k-t-v 'write'. With nouns and from it Aramai resources, adjective , Modem Hebrew productivcly cr at s pr fi e.g. bar- '-able' (< Aram bar ' on') as in bar-bi ·ua 't a ·ibl ' lit 'able' + � productiv ly 'p rformancc').1'1 In Slavic gmmmar , fi w for i n v r l pr fi d and for i n v rb ar u u lly limit d in th ir d riv ti n l po ibiliti s, .g. m 20 in I pr fix in U r ini n, man vruva 'to man uvr ' impf with z- to fonn th rf. tiv vakujuv ty ' v u t ' impf corn in with v rb pr 1 in th lit r lan u


7) p sive voice. cies are reversed in Mod . Mishnaic Hebrew tenden ern . ch . , 1... Occas10nally, Biblical and ., . . h w 1 s uctiv unpr i d i o denved pi el verv-pu a the of e P e v 1 assi n the . g . e , w re Heb .1s2 M in ity odem ular pop He br its ew The regained Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew, bas tive sel ectional and dis tributional norms of the ova inn t ren cur the for on eri crit Yiddish grammar which pro ductively forrns be y ma w bre He dem Mo in ms hebrais Modem and Bibli�/Mishnaic Hebrew would passive verbs; any similarity between ModHe carEVEt m ch 1.2 above). thus be coincidental (see discussion of B/ (8) Plural number.

In Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew most masculine nouns took the plural suffix -im while feminine nouns pluralized with -ot; there were, exceptionally, a number of masculine nouns that took -ot, e.g. makor 'source': mekorot pl, maxanE 'camp': maxanot pl, and a still smaller number of feminine nouns took -im, e.g. isha 'woman': nashim pl. As I noted in ch 2.42 above, a number of masculine hebraisms which pluralize with -ot in whole Hebrew, appear in Yiddish with the suffix -im, e.g. molcer 'source': mekojrim pl. Occasionally, even feminine nowis in Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew become masculine in Yiddish and take -im, e.g. OHe shabbat 'sabbath': shabbatot pl > Y shabes: shabosim pl. Modem Hebrew follo ws BiblicaJ/Mishnaic Hebrew nonns of pluralization. ModHe -im and -ot give no sure indication of gender assignment, just as the plural morpbemes in Yiddish do not; e.g. y -er and -(e)s can be assigned to all three genders, e.g. blinc(es) f 'pancake(s)' (continued as ModHe blinches-with ibilant confusion typical of Ben-Jehuda's native dialect of Yiddish?), slup(es) m � ' pole(s); bob 'bean' m and bobe 'grandmother' f both pluralize as bobes. This is also a property of the plural markers in other Slavic gua lan ges-but not in German, where 152 The p,lal la allo popular in Ethio

· Mod m Arabie and Aramaic (see M.H. eg� 1908:674). On the other band �: _ ' lhe P ave of the dcrived verb patt m hi[il, wu comrnon in M hna ic H, b rew b (i id ·• 67 5 )-the reason for this produ tivtt 1hould be aouaht. ially in ft•� li ht 0 f the fact that in Ar amaic the rnr-�,\nndin bi11ja11 is '•114/al. H14/al ia not .... uCU 1arly common . n t Modern H br . Th r may be that thi1 Pl xpr the a u ive m eanina, whi h i n t nTf'!l"'-'�'"l, l ved (i. . pr by • ) V b in Y e iddi or oth 1 vi n ua



often correlate with gender assigrunent (even more so in earlier plural ma rkers � s), e.g. G -er is usually attached to neuter nouns (e.g. Dach 'roof: Ddcher pl), g ouns (e.g. Druck 'pressure': Drücke pl), -( e)n to feminine nouns .e to masculine n . 153 (c.g. Dame 'lady': Damen pl) (9) Dual number.

There are also innovations which could be independent of ail extemal influences, but a Yiddish impetus cannot be ruled out entirely. For example, a few nouns in Modem Hebrew have a dual f orm, constructed in one of two ways: (a) following Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew, from the singular construct stem, as, e.g. xodes h 'month': xodshaim dual vs. xodashim pl; sha'a 'hour': sha'ataim dual vs. sha'ot pl, and (b) from the plural construct stem, which is innovative (and so far relatively unproductive), e.g. shura 'column': shurot pl vs. shurotaim dual; koma 'storey': komot pl vs. komotaim dual. A fonn like BHe xomotaim 'two walls' may offer a basis for the new fonnation, since it appears on the surface to be formed from the plural stem, e.g. xomot 'walls'­ but some scholars have suggested that this a distortion of xomat con sg. 154 Apart from this, a dual like B/ModHe xodshaim 'two months' could be derived either from xodesh abs/con sg or xodashim 'months' abs pl (with the deletion of pretonic vowels), or from xodshe 'months or con pl. There is no dual in Yiddish, but in the few European languages which do preserve the dual, e.g. Sorbian, the endings of the dual are related to those of the plural; Belorussian retains an originally dual ending -yma for the instrumental plural of a fcw nouns (e.g. pljachyma 'shoulders'), and after the numerals 2-3-4 (which in Old Bclorussian required a dual noun) feminine and neuter nouns take a "pseudo-dual" cnding (accompanied by root changes) to denote the plural, e.g. si!ly 'villages' (with initial stress): dva sjaly '2 villages' (with final tre s). Whether or not the ncw dual in Mod m Hebrew (with its two co­ exi tcnt ystems, as in Belorussian • nd Arabie!) is in any way ascribable to Slavic, it i independent of pre-revival Hebr w norms.

or a comparison of th distribution of plural markcr in Biblic 1 nd � hn i H br w, Bendavid 2:1971:4 9. niu 1910:280; Jgerel 2:1968:107, 181-2. On th 1 4 f tu n udo u 1 m Arabie, 81 ne 1970.



92 (10) Definiteness.

Modem Hebrew, Iike Biblical Hebrew, bas both lexical and non-lexical means expressing the category of definiteness: ha- 'the' nom: la-, ba- 'to, in the': Et hath ace. The use of El- is redundant in Modem Hebrew due to the preference for a fix SVO order of constituents, but occasional recommendations to eliminate a- fro: the standard language have been largely rejected. ln colloquial Hebrew, there is a tendency to contract et ha- > ta-, e.g. raiti et haxatul '1 saw the cat' > coll raiti taxatul. us The contraction of El ha- > ta- might have been facilitated by the Modern Hebrew tendency to delete h, possibly an imitation of dialectal Polish Yiddish, but not of the Northeastem (Belorussian or "Litvak") Yiddish spoken by Ben-Jehuda.156 The further contraction of et ha- > ta- cannot be explained as a desire to avoid a sequence of two vowels, since El ha- following a consonant can also be contracted, e.g rait taxatul [-ita-] 'you (f sg) saw the cat'. Thus, I assume that contracton is an attempt to create a uniform CV-structure for the Modem Hebrew article: ha-:la-, ba-� ta-. Such a paradigm is reminiscent of the inflected demonstrative pronouns (and defmite article) in a number of Slavic languages, e.g. Y der 'the' m nom sg vs. dem m/neuter ace sg. The need for an objective case marker also finds a parallel in some Slavic languages; e.g. in Russian, which lacks lexical means to express definiteness, the latter can be expressed by the choice of objective case markers, e.g. a direct object of a negated transitive verb is often interpreted as indefinite if put in the genitive case, and definite in the accusative case.157 The existence in the Hebrew letters of Bar-Koxba (d. 135) of a form tais unrelated to the Modem Hebrew phenomenon.1sa Another feature in Modem Hebrew syntax of possible Slavic origin is the optional word order transformation in indefinite noun phrases, where definite noun phrases are frequently placed in sentence-initial position, in contrast to indefinite

' :�

155 The same morphcmc with the obi.,ect pronoun · . . 1s subJect to contraction, e.g. azov ot,. ,leave me alone' > coll azov ti (Blanc 1955balso l!'f + 30: ot,· is an allomorph of �: . _, 1st p 11 obj pro). The latter is rerniniscent of e·1bli ca1 Hebrew constructi· ons such . , , . u ozv•n• leave met 1mperative + obj not . e d in Modern Hebrew. See a1so iscu si n of BHe lorveni in ch 3.1, sect 2s o d belo:� 1965:218 -21, 232. 156 See Hem>& l 5 7 For example, R ja n• vizhM dorogi 'I do not see a ro hu dorogu 1 do not see the road' ace 11 (sec Wex.Ier 197 ad' genitive sg v . ja ne v,r 6) 8 J m arateful to hlomo lzre 'el for thia infonn a u· o n.


S whlch may appear in lhe post-verbal position. For . ample, dH ,. ,.. . ed' s h. . · 1 ,,:1, ha ·eJEd higia 'the boy amv v . igia Jt:Acu a bo. y arrived' Oit 'arriv d boy') _ y der ji:gl iz ongekomen vs. es iz ongekcmen a jing/ (with es 'itî. This is also the f v d word order in Slavic languages which lack lexical expression of d --finit n .• e.g. mal'chik prishel '(the) boy came' vs. prishel mal'chik (a) boy came' (ibid.). s also ch 3.2, sect 15 below. noun PhraSe


(11) Consonant clusters.

The Yiddish impact is probably responsible for the large number of consonant clusters in the Hebrew component of Modem Hebrew, especially in initial position­ contrasting with BHe CeC. LS9 Yiddish bas deleted au schwas in Hebrew words if the resulting clusters are grammatical in Slavic. 160 Modern Hebrew continues the Yiddish habit of not clismantling the clu ter , ough a nwnber of languagc planncrs have called for the restoration of the inter on� onantal schwa,161 and in official govemment romanization, the schwa (in th t nn of ,e) is inscrtcd, e.g. sheqalim for [shkalim] 'shekels'. 162 Judeo·Spani h m rged Hebre, w as a rule does not allow clusters. Rosén claims that Modem H br,ew ,con onant clustcrs are fonned according to the principle of ascencling relative onori'ty (what of shk- in the cxample above?), so that assigning the cluster inventory to some given Jewish speech form-substrate identification-"may be a trifle too forced'' . 163 In any case, the link with Biblical/Mishnaic and Judeo-Spanish Hebrew has been severed. 164

159 On the inadmissability of consonant clusters in Semitic languages, see Ullendorff 1957(1977:77]. 160 Medial clusters consisting of three consonants are not grammatical in Modem Hebrew, e.g. tixtevu 'you will write' pl and not *tixlvu (but see kalvu 'they wrote'). Triconsonantal clusters are attested in Slavic, but not -:av-. 161 E.g., Dzhabotinski 1930:14-7; Gumperc 1938:104-7. 16 2 Note that the letter kuf is often romanized as q-following the practice in historical Semitic linguistics, to distinguish it from the letter kaf which is transliterated as Je_ even though both letters are now pronounced identically as fk/. 163 1977:69-70. 164 For other attempts by Rosén to deny a Yiddish impact on Modern Hebrew, see ch 1.4 above. On the elimination of the schwa in Modem Hebrew "fast speech", see Bolozky 1977.

M [ hRN m�uRHW . IS Sl�A VI • .

,.1dd.1 h 01 rged Hebrcw clustcrs arc discontinucd in Modem Hcbrew,a. s a pani Judeo-S sh z1fied p ro ashkena n the u of n n cia uctio introd t ion of f th ModHe th if ex e) schwa (= cep = B V t He CVC' 0 m ple , in e fi1rst . r .,,/UUU tfi h a e g. : ' ll vowel c * BHe = a, . praJer n n t 1· h. , I, in whi �h cas • th cpcnthcti 1 illa :h d BI •xsi:di:m 'followers' > BHe xasi:di:m. Yidd ish mergec1 limin t d both p nthctic vowels in kccping with Ü'e Slavic tolerance for 1 n t clu 1 rs and intoleran ce for borrowed mo rph ophonemic thu , y tfile, idim. Modern Hcbrew retains tfila but restores xasidi,n û ith th . dditi n m aning Hassidic Jews), since the ashkenazified Judeo­ (n n r t ins th morpho phonemic altemations created by the p .. m nts, though not the pharyngeal segments themselves. m ,

(1 ) p'ranti7.ati n. Bi ical Hebrew had a spirantization rule whereby postvocalic non-geminated ( i torically non-pharyngealized) b, g, d, k, p, t became fricatives; this n e c · ed in ishnaic Hebrew as well, but the numerous exceptions there suggest that the e had become Wlproductive (see ch 2.42 above). Yiddish, spirantization affects b, p, k > v,f, x occasionally in merged Hetre i ently in Yidd ish whole Hebrew; t > s consistently in both forms of e . 1be absence of the spirantization rule in Yiddish hebraisms may be d e to i 1 v·c P o tactics, and/or to the tend ency of target tang ua to reject none ophonemic altemations in borrowed vocah ul ry. Th I i language precedent for a pirantization rul ; vo li alt m ti n in minal tem in vie an�_. .,._.. are u ually function '] of tr zh .g. R yna l ' if ' om : [7.h6ny) nom pl), whil ti n fun tion of ( • . [m · ] nom pl.) 1 pirantiz tion id d i h ol H br pi m �11',l\,j,U""




h 1.



l r Modem Heb�ew. In c�mp�son, spirantization is far less frequent forll al eg is�ers of merged hebra1sms reta1ned 1n Modern Hebrew. Note also that in the Yiddish paradigm level ing is not typical of the verbal system, except in the ka/; this question deseives further study. Modem Hebrew only displays examples of b, p and k > v,f and x; t > s was 161 eliminated by re-phonologization. As m any observors have pointed out, the existence of minimal pairs in Modem Hebrew with and without spirantization is evidence that the rule is no longer productive , e.g. ModHe lefaxot 'at Ieast' and historically unexpected lepaxot 'for less (than)'; hitxaber 'be(come) linked' (< BHe -bb­ since derived verbs with the prefix hit-required gemination of the medial root consonant) vs. the new denominative hitxaver 'become friends' (< xaver 'friend'); 168 hishtabec 'become integrated' < sh-v-c vs. the new denominative hishtavec 'have a stroke' (< shavac 'stroke'). Such doublets are standard in both colloquial and Iiterary usage. The development of forms such as hitxaver, hishtavec (neither of which exist in Yiddish) shows that the binjan system is being restructured in the direction of the Slavic practice of deriving compound verbs by prefixation. ln Slavic languages, prefixation is also far more productive than infixation (which, with or without prefixation, serves primarily to mark aspect). Thus, in Modem Hebrew, hit- is becoming a device for deriving new denominative verbs-in addition to its older (Biblical/Mishnaic) function of deriving verbs from the pi'el verb form (see also sect 4d above). A Slavic model for ModHe hitxaver is strengthened by the fact that the Slavic languages use the reflexive pronoun in the translation equivalents, e.g. Y xaver 'friend': xavern zix 'be associated with', Po przyjacieJ 'fri nd': przyjaznié si� 'become friends'. 169 be I on of Modlle lefaxot:lepaxot is that Mod rn Hebrew accepts the Yidd" b merged Hebrew dismantling of spirantization, but not always its d1 ribution I norm . The differ nt distribution is du to th fact that Modem � w retain a fi w h brai m with Yiddi h pronw1 iati n nonn ·, .g. c 11 taxies hildr n't 1 b v ), whil 'purp , point', naxe 'pl hk n zifi d Jud o- pani h r pl cing Y1ddi h m r d I br w with th kov d 'hon r': / kov d 'in r un 1ation. or x mpl , Yiddi h h br i m li

hitj d d

j di ' i .n '




honor of have no affec t on the 1. iv10de honor of < BHe kavod 'honor': /ixvod 'in rn i 10 But BHe . lixvod , lef kavod : ax o terms t the of ' on a ciati t pronun l w Hebre east'.... e ModH le d as n faxot, al o gsi e ane which had become y meHe lepoxes-reappears w , . rew-m b He f o the m norms e ion ciat anin nun pro g 'for less lepaxot-following Yiddish merged (and whole?� Hebrew. (than)'; this meaning is unknown in Yiddish In Modem Hebrew the spirantization rule tends to operate 1n words borrowed from Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew, but not in inherited Yiddish hebraisms-as wen as in Hebrew neologisms and most recent loans; as in Yiddish merg ed Hebrew, the stop allophones are generalized in Modem Hebrew, e.g. ModHe kita 'class': bekita 'in a class', polin 'Poland': bepolin 'in Poland' and ModHe lebalef 'to bluff< Eng bluff -and rarely *bexita, *befolin and never *levale/. 171 An example of free variation in colloquial Modem Hebrew is ktav 'letter': bixtav = biktav 'in writing'.112 New hebraisms and loans in Modem Hebrew may acquire the spirantization rule in the formal spoken language.173 ( 13)

Stress in borrowed Hebrew names.

Modem Hebrew personal names of Hebrew origin often have non-final stress, which is typical of their accentuation in Yiddish, e.g. ModHe rdxel, mi>she, david = Y roxl, mi>jshe, dôvid. This pattern also spreads to Hebrew names never used in Yiddish, such as dr6ra, nica. The Hebrew Language Academy has consistently opposed the non-final stress pattern because of its Yiddish origins. 174 It is significant that the dismantlement of the spirantization rule in hebraisms, the non-Biblical/Mishnaic patterns of pluralizing and definitizing 170 Yiddish rnerged hebraisms with a fricative, e •g • 1:· a boo",..' , are ,A.,,OJ . "d 'ded"1cau·on m • best regar 171 172 173 174

ded u borrowmgs from Yiddish whol e Hebrew. See also discussion in ch 2.42 above. See Oarbell 1930:23. Efrat 1981 · 48 notes · a strong · that am ong teachers, there 1s . �ç_ I · lica ten..-;;ncy to 10 l ow B1b l nonns and say buital In Modem Hebrew pirantizat'ion may be a fonction of consonant clusters; thts question requirea •�dy. On the uncertainty of when to apply sp · iranti· zation m Modern Hebrew, see BenHayyim 1953:67. Diun ... 1965:123. Many foreian words and ca · nal ly neolog1sm 1 1yJlabl e- 1nal atr I ' e • 1 • ,uai vé,.ra.,a ,un ive � sio rsn y', tânkim 'tanks' Uda 'i la a neoloai m of Ben.Jehuda' ( , cr ossing lt gcla110 'i s 'cong J') , r m'



ncy constructions (reminiscent of Yiddish merge d Hebrew }IebrelV depende • • on the analy c e eral press , s gen } h of possession and the x i in d d h i i and Y the ac (which resemb le Yiddish grammar) are all con tractio n of et ha- ' ' e • colloqwal mporary Hebrew. In the written (and formai onte c baracteristic of ; oken) norms, it is easier for users of the language to maintain Semitic :ebrew norms of Biblical and Mishnaic origin. This distribution gives rise to a unique diglo�ic situation in which only the written norm of SJavic Hebrew cultivates links with a genetically distinct language-Semitic Hebrew.11s

11S N te the discussions of a Biblical vs. a Mishnaic Hebrew basis in chs 1.2 nd 2. a�ve, and the new diglossia in Modem Hebrew in ch 3.1, s t 4 below.



"ln every speech community attitudes and beliefs are probably current about the language of the community as well as about other languages and language in general. Sorne of these are true, i.e. correspond very well to objective reality, others are involved with esthetic or religious notions the validity of which cannot be investigated empirically, and still others which purport to deal with facts are partly or wholly false." (C.A.Ferguson 1959b:75)

3.1 Conclusions Eight conclusions follow from this study: ( 1) Modem Hebrew is a Slavic language. (2) Language revival is an impossibility. (3) The Ashkenazic Jews have a tradition of cyclical partial Iangua e shifL g (4) The diglossie relationship between Yid dish and Yid dis h whole Hebrew both resembled and differed from other instances of dig lossia in Europe . 5 Mo m He de brew is a fusion language in the sen ( ) se that its Hebrew Iexicon cornes from two genetic stocks: Semitic and Slavic.



) The extemal history of a language provides indispensable clues for the . rna! history o f a language. . tion of the inte intcrpreta . . h en the development of Modem Hebrew differs from that chtldr m of e ol (?) T e r (6

in other speech


(S) The par tial language shift from Yiddish lexicon (of all etymological componen ts, including many hebraisms-aramaisms) to Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew Iexicon bas altered the position of Yiddish within the Sprachbund of European Ianguages. (1) Modem Hebrew is a Slavic language. Both Yiddish and Modern Hebrew are dialects of Judeo-Sorbian - a West Slavic language. As I will show in ch 3.2, sect 1 below, Esperanto is also the result of a partial language shift from Yiddish, and hence should also be defined as a dialect of Sorbian. This means that the traditional classification of the Sorbian language into two dialects-"Upper" and "Lower" Sorbian-should be expanded by three members: Yiddish, Modem Hebrew and Esperanto. By the same token, the membership in the Slavic family of languages can be expanded from fourteen (Polabian, Upper Sorbian, Lower Sorbian, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Kashubian/Slovincian, Slovenian, Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian/Church Slavic, Bulgarian, Russian, Belorussian and Ukrainian) to seventeen. Like Yiddish, Modem Hebrew has a marked Polish, Belorussian, Ukrainian, and most recently, Russian, superstratum. The native Sorbian component of Yiddish and Modem Hebrew manifests itself primarily in the syntax and phonology (including phonotactics), and to some extcnt in the scmantics and morphotactics-a fact which e tablishes the Slavic origin of thcsc two languagcs. All non-Sorbian components in Judeo-Sorbian and Yiddish constitute ''borrowings"; thcse influences surface primaril y in the lexicon. Thus, Yiddish and Modern Hebrew are unique among the lavic languages in both the heterogeneous origin and relative paucity of their Slavic lexicon-and in being written in the H br w alphabet. Almo t all cont mporary speaker of Mod m H br w-a lavic language-bcli v that th ir languag i th heir to Biblical and Mishnaic H br w Semitic languag .1 1

H n-Horin nd Boloz y 1972: 4 correctly di tingui h b tw n th ir ntizaû n I Mod m H br w and the pirantiz ti n rul in 8ihli l I " t" Jink b 1w n I ibli 1 nd Mod m H br w,





The astounding fact is that for a millenium the Ashkenazic Jews maintain ed two forms of Judeo-Sorbian-Yiddish and Yiddish wbole/Modern Hebre w.... ow of no Slavic. I kn spe to ake without any sense of language loyalty rs of Yiddish or Modem Hebrew who would ever think of regarding their nativ e languages as "Slavic", or recommend that their languages be made unconditio nally receptive to enrichment from other Slavic languages. •

(2) Language revival is an impossibility.

Modern Hebrew is Slavic since it was created by native speakers of a Slavic language-Yiddish-by means of a partial language shift. Had Arabic­ speaking Jews initiated a partial language shift from Judeo-Arabic, the resulting Modem Hebrew would have been a dialect of Arabie. An intriguing question is what would have happened if several comnumities of Jews had simultaneously re-lexified their native languages to Hebrew, producing recensions of Modem Hebrew of disparate genetic stock? And if these recensions of Modem Hebrew had been coterritorial, might they have merged into a common "Modem Hebrew koiné"? The Modem Hebrew experience does not allow us to explore these questions systematically, since non-Ashkenazic Jews in Palestine either had little intention of carrying out a partial language shift, or, if they did, failed to withstand the pressure of the majority Ashkenazic norm; aside from a few features of pronunciation of Judeo-Spaniah origin-selected by Asbkenazic Jews--Modem Hebrew is entirely of · makin .2 Y g However, the creation of whole Hebrew recensions by speakers of • languag offers a close parallel for 1 J sideration--tbough witbout the cotien'lltonlWty. native language of the scribe, itel'l�w writinas. (On parallels between Mea1•v1 ,..auu NQll'l&l1ona. ow.) verthel ftllllGIU e into



S 3 (b) Many Je wish languages inherited a common corpu s of colloquial g e 1angua . . . . .sms from Mishnaic Hebrew, or from a common Jew1sh substratum. Consider hebrat . con st . l . n . a number of E pe lex eo reek Jud m 1 mon -G 11 1 use 1n m o c uro an all the s the absence (or reduction) of spirantization in Yiddish and ;�:ish Ianguages , or Hebrew (discussed in ch 2.42, sect 12 above). Judeo-Spanish merged It is also possible that had Judeo-Arabic speakers re-lexified their native Ianguage, the resulting Modern Hebrew would have had more phonological and grammatical features in common with Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew, due to the structural similarities of Arabie and Semitic Hebrew. For example, the construction consisting of a participle and a pronominal object suffix surfaces, beginning with the 12th century, in the whole Hebrew writings of Arabic-speaking Jews (and their Romance-speaking descendants) uniquely, see e.g. torveni 'he served as my guarantor'; elsewhere, this construction is f ound only in Biblical Hebrew. The absence of this particular expression in other whole Hebrew recensions suggests that lorveni was calqued on analogous Arabie constructions." Neverthel�, no matter

wbat the native language of the revivalists, a Northwest Semitic language­ Hebrew-could still not have been revived.5

While the Yiddish-speaking revivalists sponsored the use of Modem Hebrew because it was the common linguistic link for ·the use of Jews of all Iinguistic backgrounds, they never intended to create a Modem Hebrew koiné. In fact, the decision to exclude a nwnber of Yiddish whole and merged Hebrew features from the 3



Rachabi gives examples of Yemenite Hebrew neologisms from the 13th-17th centuries which have parallels in non-Yemenite Hebrew of the 20th century, and recent Yemenite Hebrew innovations which were independently coined in the early Christian era in Palestinian Hebrew in texts unknown to Yemenites (1978:xxi). Very often, many languages spoken by the Jews in 19th-20th-century Palestine differ from Hebrew in the same way. For example, the replacement of OHe en 'there is/are not' by lo jesh (lo 'no[tl' + jesh 'there is/are') is attested among speakers of Judeo­ Spanish, Judeo-Arabic and Yiddish-presumably on the positive/negative models of JSp ajlno aj, JArab fl:lma fl:sh and Y siz do/siz nit do (Garbell 1930:70, citing Lifshic 1917:36, fn 22). The example cornes from Cvi Becer of Bar-llan University. See also discussion of object pronouns in ch 2.43, fn 155 above. It would be useful to compare Semitic and Slavic Hebrew with Arabie (see Morag 1989). The impossiblity of language revival is reminiscent of Schleicher's b li f in th l t 19th century that it would be possible to reconstruct not only th co but 1 th me g of lnclo� uropean (see hmann 1962:40).



n Modem Hebrew pronunciation norm had the immediate goal of increasing th e di tance between speech communities, e.g. the Yiddish spirantization of postvoea lic ungeminated tav as s and the pronunciation of the qamac diacritic as a mid or high back rounded vowel would have found parallels in Yemenite merged/whole Hebrew·, yet, these f eatures were not recommended for retention. The partial adoption of the Judeo-Spanish pronunciation of Hebrew (e.g. tav = uniquely t, and qamac = a) couid hardly bridge the gap between contemporary Ashkenazic and Sephardic pronunciation norms, since rnany other features of Judeo-Spanish Hebrew were rejected in Modem Hebrew. Many have described Modem Hebrew as "genetically Semitic-yet typologically European" (see chs 1, 2 above). I would reformulate tltis phrase to read: Modem Hebrew is "genetically Slavic with a strong tendency to be(come) typologically Semitic".6 In studying the history of Modem Hebrew, it is imperative to distinguish between two distinct, but interrelated questions: (a) The revivalists believed that the goal of reconstituting a Semitic Hebrew was attainable, and bardly a speaker of Modern Hebrew doubts that the revival is a fait accompli. This topic needs to be studied jointly by sociologists, psychologists, political scientists and linguists. Revivalists enjoyed tlteir greatest success in manipulating tlte lexicon-i.e. by replacing most of the non-Hebrew lexicon of Yiddish with pre-revival Hebrew words, and by re-phonologizing the remaining Yiddish hebraisms. Also, language planners were far more successful in directing th l xicon of the written than of the poken language. These developm nts ar commensurate with prescriptive intervention in other peech conununiti .7










king parallels betwee n the Biblical/Mishnaic and Modem It is precisely the stri least in form if not always in meaning-that have prompted J{ebrew lexicon-at of native speakers of Modem Hebrew to view their language as several generationsthe "heir" to Biblical and M ishnaic Hebrew. It is also the lexical parallels with Germa n that prompt speakers of Yiddish to regard their Slavic Ianguage as a derivative of German. The approach of naive native speakers of Modern Hebrew and Yiddish to language cla�ification contrasts sharply witb that of linguists who would not establish genetic a�igments solely or exclusively on the basis of Iexicon which is prone to drüt.8 (b) The revivalists failed to revive Semitic Hebrew. This is a linguistic issue

of the greatest magnitude.

Modern Hebrew is not a Semitic language: it is a dialect of Sorbian with a heavy Semitic overlay.9 Hence, one cannot speak of the "europeanization" (= "yiddishization") of Modern Hebrew syntax and phonology-only of the "semiticization" of Yiddish lexicon. The failure of the revival is not due to the fact that the revivalists spoke the wrong set of languages or were incompetant. I suspect that the revival of a spoken norm for an unspoken language of liturgy and literature is simply an impossibility. Revivalists may have naively believed that once re-lexification and re-phonologiuition of Yiddish were achieved, the revival would be a/ait accompli. These were not at all impossible goals: the mechanics of re-lexificàtion required only that the Yiddish speaker flood the language with additional lexicon from Yiddish whole Hebrew. 8 9

See Thomason and Kaufman 1988. Berditshevski keenly appreciated the problem of the non-Semitic character of Modern Hebrew when be wrote in 1913: "The borders between [Hebrew and Yiddish] have been tom up completely and no one among us knows any longer what is Hebrew and what is Yiddish. We read things today in Hebrew and we think for a moment that they belong to us [supporters of Modern Hebrew vs. Yiddish]; and the next day, we read the same things in Yiddish. On the other band, we are given things in Yiddish...and suddenly we are told that they have been taken, borrowed from Hebrew... " (330). This development was exacerbated by the fact that the major bilingu al writers of Modern Hebrew and Yiddish, e.g. Mendele Mojxer Sforim, rranslated (or had translated) their works from one language to the other. See also ch 1.1, sect 2b above.



The introduction of ashkenazified Hebrew pronwiciation norms could rea di} accomplished by simple diasystemic corres�ndence rules �ased on the histo�c� Hebrew spellings. Thus, the orthographie representat1on of Y meHe xosn 'bridegroom'-�et + qamac + tav + qamac + nun-guarante es the proper output.. . . . . xatan. Knowledge of the spelling is cruc1al, s1nce w1thout 1t, the Yiddish speaker could at best convert xosn > *xatn (assuming o reflects the qamac diacritic) or) *xotn (assuming O reflects the letter vav). The tiny residue of Yiddish hebr aisms which have a for Hebrew qamac (instead of the expected o, u), e.g. Y xaver 'friend'' could be accepted as such since they automatically conform to Modem Hebrew pronunciation norms. 10 The use of the writing system eliminates the need to Iearn Modern Hebrew prononciation directly from a Judeo-Spanish speaker. The adopted ashkenazified Judeo-Spanish pronwiciation could be easily acquired by Yiddish speakers since it was underdifferentiated in comparison with Yiddish merged/whole Hebrew. (It is interesting to speculate whether language planners could have convinced Judeo-Spanish speakers of Hebrew to adopt the relatively overdifferentiated Yiddish pronunciation norms.) The failure to produce a "Semitic" grammar and phonotactics for Modem Hebrew, while a source of disappointment, never led the revivalists to doubt the possibility of language revival; they maintained that if the grammar of Modem Hebrew düfered sharply from those of Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew, the cause was to be sought in the negligence of language planners and naïve speakers alike; the latter were allegedly amenable to re-education.

Hebrew etymon is xa:v�r with the qamac diacritic in the first syllable; however, Y xaver-unl�s a borro�mg from a Jewish language in which qamac = /a/­ _ suggests that, at least m some. h1stoncal periods , Jews reconsu ...ucted the vowe 1 as . t ponctuations patax (= /a/) Vanan we are ll attes . ted in medieval Hebrew documen ts. A .

1 O The Old

. Y'ddi . . m 1 sh 1s xover honorary title variant pronunc1auon in the synagog ue, wh'1c h bas . been dropped m Modern Hebrew (see also sect 3d be ) low • ln Y'1dd'1Sh whoJe Hebren, ... , • • s pro was meanmg nou mail nc h m ed :xover. the ebrais . ) The differential impact. of foreign lang uages and of different types of (non-Slav1c . . Hebrew ' which contr1buted to the maintenance of the di& 1 . p of oss1.c relat1onsh1 ( erged/whole Hebrew •. needs d tu s y e . · � W xler 1971 m :334, fn 6;Even-Zohar 1978). 5 9 l 390 4 Pu h . emre1c g l , W ra m ee 19 , 64(1988:14). On diasystem


(3) 'The Ashkenaz


ic Jews have a tradition of cyclical partial Ianguage shüt.

The partial language shift that brought a flood of hebraisms into Yiddish in the y was not unprecedented in the annals of Ashkenazic Jewry. There late l9th centur than five types of re-lexification, differing significantly in have been no le� motivation, mechanics and results; most have been unaccompanied by re­ pbonologization. Four of the types, (b)-(e), are found in other Jewish speech commwiities; I do not know if type (a) is as well. (a) A partial language shift from Judeo-Sorbian to German Iexicon between the 9th and 13th centuries resulted in the dialect of Judeo-Sorbian which came to be known (by the 1600s) as Yiddish. Judeo-Sorbian in tum became extinct-but the relative chronology of its obsolescence is impossible to determine. I believe that the inordinately large Hebrew-Aramaic component in Yiddish has its roots in Judeo­ Sorbian habits of borrowing. 11 (b) A cyclical partial language shift from Yiddish to Hebrew lexicon resulted in the creation of Yiddish cryptolects (mainly in the Western dialects), alongside standard Yiddish.12 Guggenheim-Grünberg has noted that in the cryptic Yiddish ofthe Swiss horse-dealers the percentage ofhebraisms could rise to as high as 85% (1954).

11 For details, see Wexler, in press, especially ch 3.221. On the possibility of concomitant re-phonologization of Hebrew in the partial language shift from Judeo­ Sorbian, see discussion below. 12 See Wexler 1988:chs 2-3. An analogue is the Christian demand in 18th-century Germany that the Jews take oaths which consisted of German syntax and mainly Hebrew lexicon (the texts are given in Geiger 1871, cited by Gilman 1986:84). German Christi ans in the 18th century frequently claimed that the inability of the Jews to speak German (instead of Yiddish) was due to the use of Hebrew-the original ("substratal") language of the Jews (see Gilman 1986:18, 70-1, 78, 86). A comparative treatment of Jewish cryptolects is an urgent task of Jewi h comparative linguistics. My present impression is that the Hebrew compon nt of olher Jewish cryptolects is far smaller than that of Yiddish. For compari n, s Yar h aler 1977 (for Judeo-Persian) and Oranskij 1971 (for non-Jewi h lranian l nguag ).



(c) A cyclical partial Ianguage shift from Yiddish to Hebrew l exicon in both Western and Eastern dialects between the 16th-1.9th centuries resulted in the creation ·1 .& of scribal Yiddish-a form of Yiddish used pnman Y ior recor ding testimonies in court cases. This resulted in the insertion of long Hebrew phrases into written Yiddish texts but the non-Hebrew vocabul ary of Yiddish was not dislo dged, nor was the Yiddish Ianguage replaced. 13 In this "dialect", the Hebrew lexical component could reach impressionistically at least 50%. (d) A cyclical partial language shift from Biblical Hebrew syntax and word. formation to unspoken Yiddish resulted in the creation of Yiddish calque languages, attested since the 14th century. 14 This is the only instance of partial language shift from rather than to whole Hebrew. This "dialect" has virtually no Hebrew lexicon. (e) In the dialects at the basis of contemporary Northeastem and Southeastem Yiddish, there was a marked tendency to regard Yiddish words of unclear etymology as hebraisms; in addition, aramaisms in these Yiddish dialects were often replaced by Hebrew cognates. I call this phenomenon "Hebrew component domioance"which, like that of massive Hebrew lexical borrowing-probably also bas its roots in Judeo-Sorbian, when speakers used hebraisms to replace the numerous germanisms that were gaining circulation in the dialects of Sorbian spoken by the non-Jews.15 The creation of Modern Hebrew is the second instance of type (a). Just as Judeo-Sorbian speakers earlier created Yiddish-a unique form of Judeo-Sorbian-by re­ lexification to German (and possibly concomitant re-phonologization of the Hebrew component-see sect e below), so too did Yiddish speakers create Modem Hebrew-a unique form of Yiddish-by re-lexification to Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew and by re-phonologization of the latter. In both instances, Judeo-Sorbian (= Yiddish) syntaX and phonology remained largel y intact. Since the whole Hebrew recension s were developed by non-native speakers of Hebrew who had no access to native nonns, there is no reason to regard these recensions as "continuations" of Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew; they are best regarded as variants of the writers' native languages. It follows han-Newman 1990. 1 3 See Weinreich 1958; Ka taerk and Leitzmann 1924; Leibowitz 1931. 14 ch 2 aboVe and Wexler, in press:ch 3.221. 1S



sions of Medieval Latin ' and of other unspoken claim that the recen s thi . front uages of literature and hturgy, are also best classified as "dialects" of the spoken g Jan ages of the scribes rather than of Latin, i.e. German Medieval Latin is a g u Jan tc. However, wtlike Hebrew, medieval European scribes made no forro of German, e spoken Latin-nor did they attempt, for the most part, to attempt to reconstitute a 16 imitate Classical Latin prose writing. It is important to isolate the distinctive features that characterize each type of partial language shift. There are nine salient points that emerge from a comparison of the five types: (a) The partial language shift from Judeo-Sorbian to German came about when Judeo-Sorbian speakers found themselves in a situation in which the wholesale germanization of the bilingual Germano-Slavic lands came to threaten both their loyalty to Slavic as well as their unique judaized linguistic profile. Most Sorbs and Polabians in the German lands ultimately did switch fully to German language and culture. However, a full shift to German could not have been attractive to the Jews since acceptance of German language and culture was tantamount to acceptance of Christianity. Hence, the Sorbian Jews opted for a partial language shift as a means of maintaining their unique linguistic profile. This is the only language shift of the Sorbian (Ashkenazic) Jews that might, theoretically, bave been complete, since native speakers of German did exist to provide a native norm. 17

16 I have no doubt that Medieval German-speaking scribes would have balked at calling their written Latin a "dialect of German"! Burney 1962:13 relates that when the Polish ambassador attempted to converse with Charles IX of France (d. 1574) in Latin, neither one could understand the other. The on-going publication of dictionaries of Medieval Latin recensions will greatly facilitate the study of this fascinating phenomenon. Had attcmpts been made to reconstruct spoken Latin, then the non-Latin features in syntax and phonology would no doubt have gained in prominence. See Rabin for the unacceptable claim that the grammar of the high variant (Medieval Latin, Classical Arabie, Sanskrit, etc.) does not change, while the lexicon undergoes considcrable expansion (1981:26). (On Medieval Latin and European diglossia, see sect 4 below.) On recent attempts to resurrect spoken Latin, sec Burney 1962:8l ff, 99ff. In a sense, Esperanto could be described as an attempt to "revive" Latin. See also sect f below. 17 Jt is appropriate to call the Sorbian Jews "Ashkenazic" since the latter term wa originally u cd in rcfercnce to Slavic-speaking Jewries (sce Wexlcr, in pr · : h 1).



(b) It is instructive to clarify the genetic status of the langu age that resulted f the partial language shift Crom Judeo-Sorbian and Yi�dish. The German Yi��: rman phon ologica1 dialects which remained in situ probably began to acq•wre Ge ( . anct lex1con poss1bl Ge al y n additio with increasing syntactic features, along with �� an lands). A populati speed after the demise of Sorbian and Polab1an m the Germ on . . prerequ1s1te fo s-a r u th speaker e contin in of bilingual Yiddish-German germanization of Yiddish-could have arisen relatively quickly on ce the tw! languages developed an immense common lexicon; in addition, the existence of numerous similarities between the Germanie and Slavic phon ological and grammatical systems facilitated the gennanization of Judeo-Sorbian. The obsolescence of Gennan Yiddish happened not when a process of creeping germanization had brought Yiddish to within a hair's breadth of German structure and lexicon, but when the speakers of German Yiddish (= germanized Judeo-Sorbian) decided, for non-linguistic reasons, to shift to German. Despite the similarities between German and German Yiddish, many speakers of the latter had difficulty acquiring German. 11 Contemporary Western Yiddish dialects in Alsace and Switzerland still preserve many features not shared with the coterritorial German dialects. 19 The Slavic origin of Yiddish assures that Yiddish could become typologically, but never genetically Germanic.20 (c) The partial language shift from Judeo-Sorbian to German resulted in a dwindling residue of sorbianisms in the Yiddish lexicon, just as the re-lexification of Yiddish to Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew was not accompanied by the retention of many 18

See. e.g. the remark.s of Antoni Margaritha in the early 16th century (discussed by J.M1eses 1916:28, fn l; 29, fn 2; 31, fn 7). On the diffi culties that 18th-century 9U!Oalr-Y ' e


1sh 1 had in acquiring standard Genn G rman •dd an, sec the referen ces in Gilman 1986: 120, 1 �4. � believe that the "Ashkenazic German" of the mid-18th ry newl u e a 1 y d Ge w JUda ze c ntu rman and not a diluted Gennan Y iddish (see Wexler 1981a). ng which unique fiea 1 9 It would be , worthwhile determini . ed the tures of y·1ddi. sh surv1v . . . longeat in dialects poken tn proximtty to German and wh th c er the features are the . . h daalects. . .., I am not 11 1dd aw arc of any litcrature same in all Y . . on this subJ. ect . .... _ " m t ayuc h that re nght w 11l wu n nevcr be an o th er . . 20 Ro" · hvmg 1 n u •- r li cb w l for a t u i ling e a th s u f, scina in& � H re because of the di f ng t lo 1ca ty i l . rela " and 1 po ta o cal tio g ns l 977 · )• but h . m1. n d 1 n m h t opean typo u h lo r g w Y 1 & i tu .relltea1O m




ents of German origin. The Hebrew component, however, has a ,.1ddt. ·h compon . . . ex1 rei ing ' 1 'fi I cat10 . stan n thi d s, the re-lexification of Judeow1th of e c � _ tter chan . parallel 1n �e cychcal sh1ft away from J ewis h Ianguages. For _ orbian finds a w eo-Ita ban dialects were replaced by the coterritorial Italian dialects h Jud , exarnPie, en l c the of former ents lang on age mp u which could be retained (albeit the on y o udaized language were Hebrew and possibly a handful of ve tigially) in the new non-j . 21 grecisms unknown to Ital1an. (d) The partial language sbift from Yiddish to Modern Hebrew is the only nown case of partial language shift to an initially non-spoken/evolving poken language. Also, a distinctive feature of the most recent partial language shift from Yiddish to Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew was the re-phonologization of the Yiddish hebraisms. Re-phonologization may also have taken place in the shift from Judeo-Sorbian to German, but the evidence is sparse (see e.g. the occasional realii.ation of the Hebrew vowel diacritic qamac as a in words like xaver 'friend' vs. xover honorary title in the synagogue, with the expected rounded vowel).22 I suspect that Modem Hebrew is able to retain such a significant corpus of Yiddish hebraisms because of the requirement of re-phonologization (see sect c just above). (e) The second and third cases of partial language shift both involved the radical a gmentation of the Hebrew resources of the language; they thus differed from type (a) in the affect of the shift on the original Yiddish. Cryptic Yiddi h was onstructed y flooding Yiddi h with hebraisms that werc usually not u in the languag • and erman- peaking ·ntend d 10 allow Jew to converse amon th m 1 s in m nt, without being und r tood hy , m1 ns, for wh m "n rmal" Yiddi h mponent in n r lativ ly compr h n ibl . Th nom1 u H b v lang mu 1 h v i ori in in th W t n1 iddi ·h r t 1 ts. id�i h d ri Jan ua w r not int nd d to r pl "n nn 1" 1 h brruz d 2 22




: l



ion of Modem Hebrew, wher and thus contrast markedly with the creat e the e al ( e and once ish for ai Yidd l l iona s adi so sect 4 aim was explicitly to supplant the tr t below). t proposa! that the development Thus, 1 cannot concur with Gold's recen of Hebrew �e pheno?1e?ologically distinct: Western Yiddish cryptolects and Modem -sh1fhng w1th1n the no n-H ebrew "crypticness can easily be achieved by style h vemacular (by using more items of Leshon-Hakodes [Hebrew] origin) and one usually need not go so far as to codes witch (i.e., from this vernacular to Hebrew); ... "15 In my opinion, "code-" and "style-switching" differ only in the intended impact on Yiddish. It is interesting that in neither case did Yiddish speakers propose a new glottonym: the traditional Yiddish glottonym for Hebrew, loshn kojdesh, was used in many areas to denote the new Western Yiddish cryptolect, while the traditional Hebrew name for Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew­ pronowiced now ivrit-was extended to Modem Hebrew. 1.dd.1sh,

(f) The Yiddish calque translations of the Hebrew Bible are unique in that the language re-lexified was not Yiddish but Biblical Hebrew. This act of partial language shift involved the total replacement of the whole Hebrew lexicon by Yiddish-with the stipulation that most Yiddish hebraisms be excluded-while retaining Biblical Hebrew syntax and word-formation faithfully. The goal of the traditional Jewish Bible translations was to insulate Hebrew syntax and word· formation from the innuences or the native language of the learner; this was acbieved by producing a precise replica or the syntax and word-formation strategies of Biblical Hebrew in the vernacular Janguage. 1be literal translation of the Hebrew Bible and the Mod em Hebrew revival shared the goal of pres��ng Biblical Hebrew gramma r inta ct. The literai translation brought the Y1dd1sh reader to the gra mmar (though not necesssa ri1y . . compreb mion) of Babhcal Hebrew; the Modem . . He brew rev1val mmed to bring Biblical Hebrew grammar to the ylddish speaker/r eader who already co ntrolled a . ai.eable Hebrew vocabulary and gr&nunar but 1· 1 mat. nly succeeded only in altenng the lexical corpua of Yiddish • and in ·pho•nologizin H g ebrew. Hence, the mm · 0f the calque tran lation wa far more modest an d far mor e reartsti· c than that of th en1 ln ts. lly-b vivali y re w bre --""-nlzln tha t He . the tt 1t n I u r ce " ang o a nd word-form tlon and 1 yn o t in i , D ts le i on-th pr pon n of 2







tion displayed a sophistication unmatched by the revivalists sla n a r t e u q 1 a the c 9th century. 1 e t a l e h t I 0

The recognition by speakers of Yiddish (and other Jewish Ianguages) that whole insulated from the syntax and word formation patterns of the Hebrew could be only through a calque translation suppor ts rny claim that s oken vemac ulars ;spoken Hcbrcw, Latin and Church Slavic are best defined as "re-lexified dialects" of the scribe's native language (see the text and fn 16 above). (g)

Linguistic divergence commonly results frorn geographic splits within a single speech community, usually by exposing the former unified speech community to differential foreign influences, but it can also develop within a single speech commWlity, whenever speakers seek linguistic correlates for existing ethno­ religious cleavages. Such "communal" dialects usually have their roots in regionaI dialects, e.g. in Baghdad, when f ellow Muslim speakers adopted the imported Bedouin Arabie speech in the 14th century, Jews and Christians became the sole speakers of the original urban Arabie dialects.26 If Yiddish developed (in part, in large measure?) because of the desire of the Jews to maintain a separate linguistic profile in the face of rampant bilingualism and language shift in their own and/or the neighboring Slavic communities, Modem Hebrew developed because of the desire of Zionists to create communal dialects within the Jewish community. This is the linguistic correlate to the political goal of Zionism-to redefine the relationship between Jews and non-Jews by altering the very definition of the former. Both events of partial language shift could hardly have talcen place wîthout strong extra-linguistic motivation (compare also the con truction of a language ex-novo, as in the case of Esp ranto). The latter factor hould be added to the traditionally rccognized causes of linguistic divergence­ geographic eparation and the ensuing difC rcntial impa 'l of �ub- and supertratal languages on a pccch community.

entrai A i n Jsl mi langu g v . 26 On the links of ovi t Mandarin (Duna n) wilh û Mandarin �eçh of Mu11im ln th Pcopl ' R publi of hin with it Isl mi W l r 1989; on th plit pted throuah Uiahur nd P r ian, v bulary f 1939 f B loru I an and U raini n b lw n Poli h nd u i n ph .r UI n 1 for d tails Il hl di r bi • W l 1974.



(h) The cyclical re-lexification of the Ashkenazic Jews also �nds a Striking parallel in the emergence of the creole languages. A broad comparative study of re­ lexification would make a welcome study. It would be interesting to see if relexification can always serve as a reliable indication of a transmission break-due to 27 pidginii.ation or partial language shift (see also ch 3.2, sect 5 below). (i) Hence, we need to distinguish emphatically between two genetically distinct languages: (Semitic) Old Hebrew, attested between c. 1000 B.C.-200 A.D., and (Slavic) Modem Hebrew-which enjoys a tradition going back 1100 years to the time when speakers of Judeo-Sorbian performed a partial language shift to German lexicon. The "revival of Modem Hebrew" was in reality an attempt to create a colloquial form of the unspoken Slavic Hebrew that had existed for about a millenium. (4) The relationship between Yiddish and Yiddish whole Hebrew was a diglossie relationship which both resembled and differed from other examples of diglossia in Europe. Until the creation of Modem Hebrew, Yiddish and Yiddish whole Hebrew entered into a diglossie relationship,21 where the "low" norm, Yiddish-unique to one speech community-performed spoken (and minor written) functions, while the "high" language, Yiddish whole Hebrew-of which recensions were found in all Jewish speech communities-performed the written and some formai oral functions. A diglossie state also prevailed in Medieval Europe between Latin or Church Slavic and the vemaculars (e.g. French, German; Belorussian, Russian, etc.), and still doe s between contemporary colloquial and written Arabic.19

27 See the dilcus1ion in Labov 1971:459 and Southworth 1971:267-S. The tenn dialoasia aeem• 10 have becn coined by Marçais 1930-1; for a useful, often­ 28 mar s i u se y w th veral ca e st dies, see Ferguson 959a, who i ciœd sum s falsely credit 1 m . ter the wilh the coina1e of revival of spoken Hebr ew with the use of spo ll eq ted the u i a M et e tin by 29 en holar• in the Middle Aaes (1918:89, 97); this comm nt might hav n pt in ive er , �.... of nat M s few odern were He br w. 1918, when there



e tionships tend to be dissolved in the identical manner: the low _ Digloss i rela w ft nner en ated as a "jargon" lacking a proper O" ly d fo 1gr en as o �m m�r .....u..... '"", 30 norrn, which . ritten funct1on s of the now obso le scent high member of the assumes the w . g to 1ncor . porate lexical items from the on, ail the wb1•1e con t·1nu1n 0 posi ti ! i ter.31 In addition to enriching the vocabulary, lexical importation invariably brings in its wake new morphophonemic complications-both during diglossia and in the period of its dissolution. For example, native Russian altemations of the type -ti-/-tsh- and -di-1-zh- (as in svetit' 'to shine': svetshu 1st p sg; rodit' 'give birth to' impf, pf: coll rozhat') now coexist alongside imported ChSI -ti-1-shtsh- and d / - i-zhd- (as in R osvetit' 'illuminate' pf: osveshtshat' impf; rodit' 'give birth to' pf: rozhdat' impf).32 Consider the Modem Hebrew alternation of e with zero in xad- (< Aram): exad (< He) 'one' vs. entirely native kadax, kodeax 'driller': Ekdax 'pistol'. If the dissolution of diglossia entails a sizeable input of high material only or primarily into the high registers of the fonnerly low variant, a new state of diglossia arises within the formerly low norm. 33 Morag wrote that "by this process of transformation [of a literary and liturgical language into a colloquial medium] a new 30 See also the discussion in de Courtenay (1930(1963:344]) on the classification of creolized forms of Russian. 31 See Kahane and Kahane 1979. I disagree with Rabin (1981:23) who thinks that the dissolution of Yiddish-Yiddish whole Hebrew diglossia ended in the supremacy of the former high nonn-Hebrew! 32 See discussion in de Courtenay 1895; Shevelov 1960; for Yiddish and Russian examples, see ch 2.3 above. 3 3 The creation of a third norm is possible even without dissolving the diglossie relationship, whenever speakers of the Iow variant are unsuccessful in acquiring the high norm fluently, or whenever there is mutual interference between the two variants without the intent to dissolve the diglossie relationship. For a comparative discussion see Kahane and Kahane 1979. For Arabie, see Uvi-Provençal 1948:147; Sultanov i955; Smeaton 1956:359; Altoma 1957; Ferguson 1957; Sa'id 1967:12, 1957. In some cases • 11Y fn t ·' Bencheikh 1970; for Gennan, sec Bellmann especia · · · of diglos 1a , th� d'lSSOlution 1S 1979) ne Ka and ne Kaha by ssed � discu not are � h (whic h1gh elements mto the low, now wntten, not accompanied by the incorporation of . . and Be1oruss1an . speech · century, the Ukra1man vananL F or e xample, in the late 19th nal unspoken wntten languages based on Church commuru·u· es discarded their traditio Slavic elements used in their vemacular ; . along with most of the Church SlaVIC, • d'1Sso}uti• n, h ' . Slav1c elements afiter the d'1gloss1c Ru 1an, whi"ch retained Church . Slav1c elements to Modem Beloru i n nd beeom the chief purveyor of Church r 4). l)krain n since the carly 1930s (sec Wexle 197



34 form of the ancient [Hebrew] language emerged..." and Haugen noted ymg nonns of i lhat "Modem Hebrew has shown a rap1· d adaptatl· on to the underl' ts e d ·n w " ing iff trad et rom erent s f native speakers , so that it ba become som h it1ona1 Hebrew ".35 Speech communities differ in the extent to whieh the low language enriched With former high elements is adopted by the average wieducated speaker. Modem Hebr w­ e arising out of the dissolution of the diglossie relationship between Yiddish and Yiddish whole Hebrew-differs in five important ways from other instances of European diglossie dissolution (more precisely, "recalibration"):

(a) Modem Hebrew incorporates a considerably greater lexical comJ)(ment from the high norm (i.e. Biblical/Mishnaie Hebrew) than the European languages do Latin. (b) ln contrast to the European languages whieh are rich in calques of Latin patterns of discourse, Modem Hebrew has few calques of Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew. This follows as a natural consequence of the preceding feature. (c) While the diglossie relationship was showing signs of dissolution in all the Germanie, Romance and West Slavic languages by the 16th century, the Yiddish case was dissolved only in the late 19th century-at the same time that new Belorussian and Ukrainian literary languages without a significant Church Slavic component were being developed. (d) In contrast to the European languages where the dissolution of diglossia was invariable and complete, the dissolution of Yiddish/Yiddish whole Hebrew diglossia in the late 19th century bas, to this day, remained incomplete. At firs t, the development of spoken and written Modem Hebrew only deprived Yiddish of its raison d'être in the eyes of a minority of Yiddish speakers. For most Yiddish speakers, diglossia was dissolved by developing a written Yiddish based on the Eastern Yiddish dialects in the latter half of the 19th centU!Y· This had the effect of reducing the existing functions of Yid dish whole HebreW, as well as of blocldng the development of new functions for the latter. 34 1969:639. ace added in both quotes. 35 1972:}06: boldf



. fui replacement of Yiddish by Modem Hebrew was onl ssure b ya d 11 u ctors: the al ext fa tem ermina ex tion of the European Jews by p cted , , un rmnn drastically reduced the numbe r of Yiddish speakers in Europe, and the ation to Palestine/Israel by the World-War-II survivors secured an Iar �le emigr . lu i e ter ritorial base for Modem Hebrew. The revivalists' realization that it tr m ly difficult to maintain Modem Hebrew alongside Yiddish in the Id am t rritori s is probably the major root of the historical hostility of Hebrew ..ers to Yiddish-and not the oft-stated reason that Yiddish reminded Hebrew­ ing ettlcrs in Pal stin of the Diaspora Jewish culture which they sought to cm H br w may, therefore, be the only recorded instance of linguistic pl e. di , gcn (fr m iddish) carried out before the territory in which it was intended to po was consolidated by the speakers, rather than as a result of the separation (on oth r po sibly unique features, see chs 0, sect 6 and 1.1 above). diminishing number of Yiddish speakers (primarily in Palestine/Israel) became bidialectal in Yiddish and Modem Hebrew-ascribing full spoken and written f nctions to both. These speakers essentially maintained two spoken/written guages-Yiddish and Modem Hebrew-within a single speech community. There ..e parallels to this sort of diglossie dissolution in other communities which invite compari on. I am reminded of the peripatetic Irish tinkers in the United Kingdom and rr land ho maintained both Gaelic and Shelta (an argot consisting of Iri h English abular , until (nonp onolog y and gramm ar and Gaelic, Anglo-Romani .'P ,i ) who often gli h replaced Gaelic.36 Consider also th . d d? a Il r tain two variant " of their native Indic lan u En li h niz d f nn


....... .;Jt,,rv'l



reason for the double linguistic di similar. In the case of Shelta and Romani, the doned their native language codes is the fact that some members of the group aban as added a nativ e lexical and adopted the coterrito rial foreign language-to which w substratum; the Norwegian case has its roots in the differential impact of Danish on Norwegian dialects. Today, the circle of Yiddish speakers is rapidly dwindling everywhere, through a full shift to the coterritorial languages. Thus, the fwictional histories of Yiddish and Modem Hebrew constitute mirror images of one another: just as liturgical/literary whole Hebrew was cultivated mainly by religious Yiddish-speaking males prior to the rise of Modem Hebrew,39 so too is Yiddish today rapidly becoming the exclusive native language of an ultra-orthodox community that shuns the use of spoken Hebrew. This mirror-image relationship seems to be unique to the Ashkenazic Jews. (e) In ail European non-Jewish languages, the dissolution of diglossia with Latin has proven to be irreversible, though in some communities a new diglossie relationship was created when only the written register of the low language incorporated a sizeable lexicon from the former high language. Yiddish speakers who opted for the partial language shift to Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew have also developed a new form of diglossia, witb the difference that the latter is dermed by the differential impact of languages of disparate genetic stock on the spoken and written norms: literary and formal spoken Modern Hebrew prefer Semitic (Biblical/Mishnaic) Hebrew, wbile informai spoken Modern Hebrew prefers Yiddish and Slavic (Yiddish merged) Hebrew enricbment.40

3 9 In � early s�g�s of the re�iva.J.. Modem Hebrew was used more by males (who had a trad1taonal rehgious educauon) than by women. Curiously in the two coterrito rial , East Slavic languages that were deprived of most writte n and forma! spoken functions until 1917-Belorussian_ and Ukrainia�-women w ere praised for speak ing 8 language . Pohs and h of free Russ 1an influences (see Jadv relatively ihin Sh. 1910:4- 5 on Bcloruss ian). Ultima�ly, a large number of id Y dish speakers were to switch fully to s languag Slavic e in rial - whic h some even b the coterrito . . . ecame prommen t wn· iers, . . . Beloruss .g. zm,atro k �� ( 1 ul.J& 88 1) B -19 _ 6 � m ian and Julian Tuwim e 0894-1953) in s m requtres s guah a pe t:ril m cial study. Po) Jewish em Hebrew may also have been m ore exposed to Russ1·an 4 0 ln additi on, writtcn Mod . . . hterary . conventio m ns if not in actual . t least influ ne . maten. a1 (see 11ngu isuc 7 . 8) 19 ven-7...ohar



u t is is a gross dichotomy and future studies will need to provide greater Of co rse, h precisio n. (5) Modem Hebrew is a fusion language in the sense that its lexicon cornes from two genetic stocks: Semitic and Slavic. It is imperative to clarify the use of the tenn "fusion" in reference to Modem Hebrew. Bendavid noted that one can speak of a "blending" (ta'arovEJ), but not of a "mixing" (meziga), of Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew.41 Both terms are compatible with my claim that the selection of both pre-revival components as well as the statu s of grammatical and phonological innovations in Modem Hebrew are determined by the Hebrew norms of Yiddish-the so-called ''hidden Slavic standard of Modem Hebrew". Future studies should determine to what extent the heterogeneous components are becoming integrated into a single whole. In principle, the lexical overlap among the three pre-revival Hebrew components should facilitate "mixing" in the future. Though in Yiddish the mixing of the three genetically diverse components-the native Slavic (Sorbian), the early Hebrew and the most recent Slavic (Polish, Belorussian, Ukrainian) and German-has proven to be superficial. The relative mix of Hebrew components in Yiddish and modem Hebrew differs. Paradoxically, Yiddish may have a more eclectic Biblical Hebrew component than Modem Hebrew. For example, Yiddish could convert Biblical Hebrew verbs into nouns. Thus, perfective verbs like BHe vajjivrax 'he fled' or vajjic1aqu: 'they cried out', vajjehi: 'it came to pass' became nouns in Yiddish: vajivrex 'escape' (as in vajivrex maxn 'to make an escape'), vdj(i)caku '(hue and) cry', vajhf 'calamity'. Modem Hebrew laclcs vajivrax, vajic'aqu, vajehi altogether-perhaps because the latter are too reminiscent of Yiddish hebraisms, and/or because Modern Hebrew is paradoxically Jess tolerant than Yiddish of violations of Slavic grammatical norms.•1 Yiddish may have acccpted thcse hebraisms because they were seen as loans from Yiddish whole Hebrew-a source of enrichmcnt that does not exist for most peakers of Modem Hcbrew. On the othcr band, Modem Hebrew can accept

41 1: 1967:264. n 42 Al laj 1965 lists Modlle vajivrax 'escape' (noun) and asa vajivra. loan translations from Yiddish do not njoy wid cir ul ti n in th but th



unique hebraisms from Jewish languages other than Yiddish (see the Jude o-S panish Hebrew examples in ch 2.3 above). (6) The extemal history of a language provides indispensable clues for th e interpretation of the internai history of a language. Whereas many Ianguages have sought substantial enrichment from languages of different or distant genetic stock (e.g. English from French and Latin, non-Semitic Islamic languages from Arabie), Modem Hebrew is the first example of broad receptivity to an unrelated language which was universally regarded by native speakers as the source of their language. This illusion was possible because of the massive lexical overlap between Biblical/Mishnaic and Modem Hebrew, and the ease with which the derivational systems of all synchronie crosscuts of Hebrew complement each other in Modem Hebrew.43 The Modem Hebrew experience demonstrates that a complete account of the history of a language requires knowledge not only of the linguistic changes in their chronological and geographical parameters, but also of the extemal history of the language. It is sobering to consider whether the linguist could uncover the fact of partial language shift simply from an examination of linguistic data.44 The Modern Hebrew case also suggests tbat genetic classification may not always be an interesting question in historical linguistics. There is some truth to Bailey's statement that "creoles and the utility of the wave model make family trees obsolete".45 (7) The role of children in the development of Modem Hebrew differs from that in other languages.


For example, the •derivational tree of many Modern Hebrew roots 1S · a mosa1c of one more 1ynchron1c crosscuts, e.g. see OHe b-r-x •

or bless' which fonns ModH berex he �)' blessed' (common to all crosscuts), hitbarex 'he was blessed (usuall y G (BHe)/ 'congratulate oneself; be gifted in' (post-BHe). 44 See Ullendorffs discussion of Amharic, Hebrew and Soqotri · in 1970:· 269 and general • Hoemgswald 1960:59; Thom in remar.ks aso n and Ka ufman theoretical 1988 1926 Sandfeld like and 19 studies 30 doubt, on No B 1973:33. alkan langua •e 4.S g · nta t mos s 1es o · · t tud" f genet th an g ic classifica ti O and shift ue more excttm f Eur n




ves that, as in other speech communities, children and naive Bar-Ad on belie are to be credited with the source of many innovations in early Modem 5 eakers ebrew language planners with their archaic orientatio n, this is Jebrew...,; For many H son for entrusting future linguistic norms to studen ts of the recisely the rea ary heritage rather then to children and naïve speakers.47 �lassical H ebrew liter planning may offer the most extreme case of archaicization Modem Hebrew language attested in the annals of language planning. ln a speech community which favors archaici1.ation, the role of children in coining successful innovations is likely to be


Tur-Sinai implies that the second generation was the first to acquire the norms of Semitic Hebrew: " ...the first generation, the scholars, writers and teachers of the frrst generation, did not actually learn to speak Hebrew. They knew some Hebrew from the sources and wrote and spoke Hebrew remembering those sources and combining phrases drawn from them. But the new population bom in Israel...learnt Hebrew as a practical spoken idiom, and what before might have been literary quotations were for them words and phrases from actual life".48 The author of this quotation and others have failed to recognize that what the first generation of children born in Palestine acquired natively was tbeir parents' Yiddish/Slavic Hebrew-the "Hebrew from the sources". Note also Bloom.field's remark: " artificial language is devised by speakers of a natural language. The arti.ficial language [Modem Hebrew] is devised by speakers of a natural language [Yiddish], inevitably in tenns of this and with little semantic deviation, and it is acquired, in similar tenns, by persons who already speak a natural Ianguage. "49 Bloomfield implièd that artifical languages, other than computor language, cannot be created.

46 1977:49 3-5. 4 7 Bendavid 1:1967:305, 308-9. The espousal by children of deviations from Biblical Hcbrew norms is not due to the innovativencss of the children but to the hidden Slavic standard in Modem Hebrew which the children adopted. Bar-Adon 1977 mak no atte mpt to explain such deviations. Furthcr on in the same article, Bar- don dettacts from bis own argument by claiming that some phonological modifi ti n� attributed to children' language were already present in the whol H br . onunciation norms of ertain Jewish communities (ibid., 4 ). : 12, quoted 1 by ellman 1973: 115. 4 1 :4 . l o i shi 1917: 6; 1 20: 2. 4



rew from native speakers, th Since the revivalists could not. leam Heb ere is .t . "u,e em h S c H ff" ere no e f w " " u ck t t w " p could le p1 o t waY that Modem Hebrew -even . .sh. Modem Hebre . t 1n Y 1dd1 w remained Sla . With en n compo rew O Heb ld a buae o vie ev se ar odem He of f akers brew s t M ive pe trs o be . . en when a substantial body of nat . &lllning . · with the l 930s.50 Most y tdd ish-spe a1c·tng n• nnugrants to Palestin e/Isra el after th l930s leamed the ready-made Slavic Hebrew, though, theoretically, some might have remained aloof of Palestinian Hebrew and independently re-lexified Yiddish te Biblical/Misbnaic Hebrew. The successive waves of Yiddish-speaking immigrant: that flooded Palestine until the early 1950s provided a constant Yiddish (i.e. Slavic) superstratal impact on Modem Hebrew. The major waves of non-Yiddish-speaking immigrants who anived in Israel after 1948 rarely tried to develop an altemativenon­ Slavic Hebrew, an d probably would not have been able to, since the Jewish languages they spoke had a smaller Hebrew content than Yiddish. A possible exception which bears study is the spoken Hebrew of older Yemenites. Bence, anotber lesson of Modern Hebrew is tbat the absence of a body of nadve speakers is not a trivial ·question in second language acquisition. IncidentaHy, there is no reason why the Modem Hebrew case could not be replicated, by having a person try to leam a foreign language from books in the total absence of native speakers. It would be useful to study languages leamed in this way, as well as to crmpare the acquisition of Modem Hebrew with that of a creole language. 0

(8) The partial language shüt from Yiddish to Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew lexicon bas altered the position of Yiddish within the Sprachbund of Ew-opean Ianguages. The broad receptivity of Modem Hebrew to Semitic Hebrew resources of · bment bas bad the effect of reducing the links of Modem Hebrew with the prachbund-at leut on the level of the lexicon (and thus morphology)-and NDll'llma Modem Hebrew from other Slavic languages in Ianguage planni n&-51 (a) arcbaic MOCIOffl Ml19W planne!S uld. in eptivity


••• pclutY



based o� European language stock provide a parallel and olc languages a 1n order (see ch 3.2, be d sects woul 12-3 belo dy w). cornparaU·ve stu J.2 Topics for future research A number of research projects suggest themselves: (1)

It would be instructive to compare Modem Hebrew with Esperant0 .s2 There are interesting points of similarity and dissimilarity both in terms of structure and historical development, in part due to the similar linguistic backgrounds of the "founding fathers". Both Ben-Jehuda and Zamenhof were speakers of the same Northeastem dialect of Yiddish-and both were born in Belorussia: Ben-Jehuda in 1858 in Luzhki, Vicebsk district, 53 Zamenhof in 1859 in Biaiystok-a northeastem Polish town surrounded by a Belorussian-speaking hinterland.54 The similarities between Modem Hebrew and Esperanto are as follows: (a) Like Ben-Jehuda, the inventor of Esperanto, Ludwik Zamenhof, also performed a partial language shift from Yiddish· 1exicon-this time to "deformed Latin"-while largely preserving its phonology and syntax. In both Modem Hebrew and Esperanto, the lexicon was to be largely drawn from unspoken stock.

52 A number of observors of Modem Hcbrcw hav m d allusions to Esperanto-but not always for the right reasons. Kutscher's perceptive statemcnt that Modem Hebrew is a kind of "Hebrew Esperanto" (1957:38) finds an �ho in H lkin's remark that Modem Hebrew is ''a ·kind of S miticized Esp ranto" (1969: 6), but both uthors had in mind the plethora of loans in both langu , not th ir p 11 1 v luti n through a partial language hift. Finally, Blanc not d th t th v ry imilar phon mie inventory of Modern Hebrew and p r nto w s not c id ntal (th only unshar peranto w and Modem li br w chw : 1 8: 0, fn 10). Bum i ture wer 1962:Slff regarded both Mod rn Il br w nd peranto s "artificial" l ngu orr l nly ü Llth liman plac Lu1.h in "I ithu ni " (197 : 19)-whi h 3 b rpr ted in th m n na of ognat Y lite th t rritory tv • r I loru i • n. th influ nti l hilin u l Yiddi h-H br w m loru i in pyl', Min di tr t,


o began as written languages and to b Both Modem Hebrew and Esperant a large · · 1 e · v bl a · w as ent 1ng · hm stic i s d estabh m a nd e a ansion ear i took ly exp �t their � 55 rd. wo n via the writte (c) Yiddish generally and Esperanto always dismant led morphophonemlC· . . sms ". . ms and "lattru alternations in the borrowed hebrais Toere are five essential differences between Modem Hebrew and Esperanto: (a) While the Hebrew lexicon of Modem Hebrew was to a large extent lifted ready-made from pre-revival stages, the entire Esperanto lexicon was created ex­ novo-mostly from Latin roots.56 Unlike Modem Hebrew, Esperanto language planning was not characterized by archaicizing trends (unless the cultivation of Latin can be construed as such), nor did it aim at preserving Slavic grammar intact (witness the introduction of features atypical of Slavic, e.g. agglutination-see sect c below). (b) Modem Hebrew revivalists claimed to have localized the new language on an unbroken chain of transmission leading back to Mishnaic Hebrew; for them the Semitic identity of Modem Hebrew was a foregone conclusion. In contrast, the inventor of Esperanto seems to have eschewed the question of classifying the language genetically; still, Esperanto is not "non-genetic", but a "dialect" of Yiddish-henœ of Slavic.YI

55 Tonkin 1986:40. lt remains to be scen to what extent the existence of a Modern Hebrew literary �adition beginning with the mid-19th century was a pre.requisite for the reaurrection of spoken Modern Hebrew.

S 6 For coaent remaru on the component make -up of Espcranto, see Hurevich 1909; Seraeev 1961:42; Piron 1984; S.Levin 1986; Tonkin 1986:39-40. On a possible Yiddish influence in Eaperanto, sec Golden 1982; on the applicat ion of the term ex· ,aovo to Modern Hebrew and "standard Norwegian" (Nynorsk), see Hoenigswald 1966:13. The fact abat Modem Hebrew has generated new words from much of i Bablical Hebrew component may justify calling the bulk of the Modern Hebr w vocabu lary u-now, aeations too. nmade b a 1ua1 e w ettion that 7 ranto "looked lik.e" a Romance 1n ourtenay (1908(1963:15 ]).



fs hope that Esperanto would become the native Ianguage of o nh e ,am c ) ( nguages prompted him to introduce some non-Indo-European eaJcers of all la the model of Hungarian and Turkish; otherwise, the f�tures, e.g. agglutinati on on anto is essentially Y iddish-like, and some of the word formation s tax of Espe r f:iows Gennan norms (also found in Yiddish).58 Modern Hebrew speakers sought, to incorporate Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew syntacti c features. with minimal success, While Modern Hebrew soon became the native language of a sizeabl e population, Esperanto has become a lmost no one's native language. The failure of Esperanto highlights the importance of territoriality and nationalism-two factors present in the Modem Hebrew experience. (d)

(e) Modern Hebrew language planners preferred to integrate occasional loans from a number of European languages according to a common pattern of integration, while Zamenhof f avored the utilization of Latin roots shared by most European languages as the primary lexical component of the language-restructured according to Esperanto grammatical principles. The motivation in the Modem Hebrew case was to disguise the irnmediate origin of the loans; Zamenhof made no secret of the Latin origin of bis lexicon. See also sect c under similarities above. Ben-Jehuda was a speaker of at least one Slavic language, Russian, in addition to Yiddish, and may have been conversant in Polish and Belorussian as well. He was clearly ·ramiliar with the national striving of Slavic communities for linguistic and political independence. It would thus be useful to compare Modem Hebrew Ianguage planning with the norm s of prescriptive intervention in Belorussian and Ukrainian, which also began to take shape in the latter half of the 19th century.59 Modem Hebrew should be compared in particular with other West Slavic fear that excessive languages whose speakers have at one time or another expressed " of German with a German interference would "convert" their languages into "form (2)

58 Piron 1984:26. compared superficially with Hun ri n 5 9 Modern Hebrew language planning has been (by Kuts h r 1982) and with literary Arabie (by Blau 1976). uch rri < ut y t.ematically. would be of inter st for typologi 1 tudi .



bas had a 8tr00g impact on the Slavic vocabulary.60 Such a fear, while groundlesS, . . . . . 41 fns 46-7 above. shap1ng of prescnpuve 1ntervent1· on, see also ch 2· ' greater precision. One (3) The hidden Slavic standard needs to be defined with suggestion would be to classify Modem Hebrew features according to the extent of attestation in ail pre-revival stages of Hebrew and Aramaic, as well as Yiddish and Yiddish merged/whole Hebrew (see also sect 15 below ). For example, the tautologous infinitive is a property of ail components: Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew, 61 Aramaic, Yiddish Hebrew and Yiddish, while the pluralization of dependency constructions may follow a uniquely Yiddish and Yiddish Hebrew pattern (possibly of colloquial Mishnaic Hebrew origin), etc. Such a study would allow us to measure the relative importance of Yiddish and Yiddish merged/whole Hebrew in the establishment of the hidden Slavic standard. A problem will be to determine whether Modem Helrew feat\ll'es attested in Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew need be derived directly from the latter (see discussion of carevEJ in ch 1.2 above). A further question is to try to distinguish features in Modem Hebrew (and Yiddish) ( of Sorbian origin) from specifically later (Yiddish) origin. (4) The theory of second-language acquisition is likely to gain from a study of the Modem Hebrew phenomenon. In this regard, there are a number of parallels between Hebrew and Arabie which bear investigation. The development of Modem Hebrew and the modemization of contemporary literary Arabie deserve a thorough comparison because they represent two attempts to colloquialize an existing non­ spoken language-Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew and Classical Arabie. In the latter case, modern written (and also spoken) versions of Classical Arabie were created whicb embodied features of the spoken dialects, whereas in Modem Hebrew, deviations from the Old Hebrew literary tradition were officially not condoned. (5) lt would be interesting to determine whether any other Jew ish (or judaized) languages were created by means of a partial language shift. It is regrettable that we hav e led de a not do � diachronie description of partial language shift in any Jewish speech c ommun1ty-only the end results of re-lexification. Note, for example, the 60 See JeŒ 1959:288 for Sorbian; Thomu 1978:494 for c zec h · 61 See detaila in O.Ooldenberg 1971.



hat Jewish speakers of Kurdish became speakers of Neo-Aramaie . 1n suggcstl·on t 62 . hif al ua la ng ge s t ·,urdistan through a parti (6) lt would be useful to com pare Hebrew with other Ianguages whose rnembership in the Semitic language family has at one time or another been questioned, e.g. Maltese, Amharic, Akkadian, Soqo�.63 (7) A comparison of the "Semitic re-lexification" of Yiddish with that of other non-Semitic languages, e.g. the Iranian, Turkic, and various indigenous African Ianguages spoken by Muslim populations, would sharpen our understanding of the Modem Hebrew pheno menon. In both Yiddish and the Islamic cases, the re­ lexification was planned. Also germane would be a detailed comparison of partial language shift in Judeo-S orbian (> German vocabulary) and Yiddish (> Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew vocabulary)-since after both partial language shifts Yiddish and Modern Hebrew speakers came to believe that they were borrowing from related languages-from German and Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew respectively. (8) Modem Hebrew should be compared with languages which have turned to genetically related languages to replenish lost native lexicon, e.g. Rumanian, Turkish. 64 (9) Historie;ally, two factors have impeded the study of the Hebrew compcment in the Jewish languages, especially Yiddish: (a) nineteenth-century scholars excelled in Biblical scholarship, to the near exclusion of other historical stages of the language;65 (b) the Modem Hebrew revivalists were propelled by Zionist ideology to tudy Biblical (and to a lesser extcnt, Mishnaic) Hebrew, and to close Modem Hebrew to enrichment from Yiddish-in any shapc or form.

1964:100-3, but not wid ly c pted. I am grateful to 6 2 Th clairn wu made by Garbell tion nd references. On r Robert o.Hoberman of UNY -Stony Brook for clarifica th refi r ne s in ch 2.42, fn 67. xi ication of Hebrew in J w' h lan ua r 1 28:112; Ull ndorff 1958[1977:1 6, 162]: 1970:2 9; u B rg tr ,4


l mb rd 1

7 nd H yd 1 :217.



Th se factors no longer operate today. The basis f or a historical and comparattve tudy of the Hebrew language bas been greatly e xpanded by the discovery of the Cairo Geniza fragments (at the close of the 19th century), the Dead Sea Serons (in the late 1940s), the study of the Samaritan Hebrew tradition, the rise of Je wish comparative linguistics as a discipline, and the intensified study of the oral Hebrew traditions of the Jewish communities-the latter two developments stimulated both by the mass migration of Jews to Palestine/Israel and by the waning antagonism of Hebrew speakers towards Yiddish and Ashkenazic culture. The disregard that B ar­ Adon 1975 showed for Yiddish in bis study of Galilean Modem Hebrew is rapidly becoming a thing of the past (see ch 2.42, fns 50, 77 above). A further impetus to the study of the Hebrew component in the Jewish languages and the appreciation of the Yiddish imprint on Modem Hebrew was the realization (already shared by a number of revivalists at the early part of this century) that Biblical Hebrew could serve neither as the sole source of enrichment for revived spoken Hebrew, nor as the sole medium of the modem literature. (10) We need to determine accurately the changing relative mix of the diverse

Hebrew components in Modem Hebrew during the last century, and the interrelationship between Yiddish merged and whole Hebrew and Modem Hebrew. The preference for Biblical Hebrew norms in Modem Hebrew could be profitably compared with similar preferences among earlier writers, e.g. the late 18th-century German Jewish Enlighteners. lt remains to be determined which aspects of Yiddish whole and merged Hebrew were retained in Modem Hebrew, and, if possible, why. For example, Yiddish merged Hebrew and Modem Hebrew overlap in the inventory of words for 'language', but differ in their relative frequency, see e.g. Y loshn (< He) and shprax (< G) vs. ModHe lashon, safa-where the usual tenn for 'language' in Yiddish is loshn vs. safa in Modem Hebrew; compare Y megazem zajn 'exaggerate' v . ModHe gizem, higzim,66 where current usage prefers the second variant excluaivel y. (11) I have umed that the ability of Yiddish H br w norms to triumph over Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew norm in Modem H brew was probably due more to th norma of Yiddish merg d ebr w grammar, than to the r la tive impli it f · c grammar in comparison with Biblical Hebrew grammar: t, the im t t Mi A



ars further checking . In this context, the Modern Hebre w . si·mplicity be r Iatrve . mpared w1th co the success and failure of prescriptive be also uld o rience sh speech commllllities. Of particular interest would be a detailed int�ention in other prescribe norms for written Hebrew (see e.g. the pro-Biblical studY of all attempts to Hebrew move ment in the Jewish "Enlightenment" in Western Europe in the late 18th century). (12) In studying the shift from Romani (an Indic language) to Anglo-Romani (an English syntax and phonology with a mixed Romani-English lexicon), Kenrick posits a hierarchy in component loss, from syntax, to phonology and ending with morphology.67• The relative chronology in Üle partial Ianguage shift from Judeo­ Sorbian to German and from Yiddish to Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew should also be explored. Hebrew language planners have also noted that normative phonology bas been harder to maintain in colloquial Modern Hebrew than normative grammar and lexicon.68 (13) Though the parallels between pidgini:zation and the rise of Yiddish/Modem Hebrew are incomplete, the partial language shift from Yiddish to Modem Hebrew should be compared with instances of pidginization, where grammatical and phonological simplification often (always?) results from the absence of an extemal model (see ch 3.1, sect 3h above). For example, Bickerton described the pidginization process as "a process that begins by the speaker using bis native tongue and relexifying first only a few key words... ; that, in the earliest stages, even the few superstrate words will be thoroughly rephonologized to accord with substrate sound system and phonotactics; that, subscqucntly, more superstrate lexicon will be acquired, but may still be rephonologizcd to varying degrecs and will be, for the mo t part, slotted into syntactic surface structures drawn from the substrate; that, even when relexification is complcte down to grammatical items, substrate syntax will be partially retained, and will alternate, apparcntly Wipr dictably, with structures imported from the uperstrate. " 69 ln th partial language shift from Yiddish to Biblical/Mishnaic Hebrew, it was th H brew-Aramaic component of the fonn r

; Nahir 1 78:64.



raÛler than the latter fuat was subject to re-phonologization. Th� fact undoubt edly contributed to the belief tbat Modern Hebrew was not a variant or Yiddis h. (14) Modem Hebrew is not the only instance of an incorrect genetic assignment by native speakers. It would be instructive to collect and compare other such cases. When a once unified speech territory splits into regions which become Iinked to separate speech territories, some speakers along the new divide may be unable to decide with which territory to align themselves; they might identify themselves as speakers of a third-"local" dialect. Shevelov describes such a situation: "A transitional strip on the border of [Belorussian] and [Ukrainian] signifies that these localities were not reached by a strong enough infuence either from the [North] or from the [South]. These remained, so to speak, between the two lan guages, preserving, with more or less purity, features of the [prior] Kiev-Polessian group. It is pointless to ask whether these have a [Ukrainian] base with a superstratum of [Belorussian] features, or a [Belorussian] base with superimposed [Ukrainian] features. These are dialects which, right up to the 20th century, had not defined their position in one or the other of these languages".70 (15) Finally, an intriguing goal for the immediate future is to detennine the extent of parallelism between obligatory and optional grammatical categories in Slavic and Modem Hebrew (on the proposai to compare Semitic and Slavic Hebrew with other Semitic languages, see ch 3.1, fn 4). The example of an optional word order transformation in Modem Hebrew and Russian to mark distinctions of definiteness was given in ch 2.43, sect 10 above. Many other phenomena invite study. For example, in Modem Hebrew the 3rd person singular pronoun is frequently used as a sort of optional present-tense copula substitute (the verb 'to be' is WlDlarked in the present-as in many Slavic languages)t e.g. dani (hu) gevu 'Dani is a man' (lit 'Dani [he] man'), mi (hu) jehudi? 'who is a Jew?' (lit 'who [be] Jew'l'). Sorne speakers report that the construction with hu may denote a temporary situation, while that without hu, a permanent situation. If sot then danl hu gever would be more like 'Dani behaves like a man; Dani is a be-man' vs. danl gEVET Dani is a man (and not a girl, animal, etc.)'. In fact, the phrase mi hu Jehudi is specifically used in the context of the political debate over allowing th 7 O 1953:69. See further discussion in Obrfbski 1936:6, 8. On the use f a li rary languaae by two cloaely related Jangu ges, Sh v I v J 974.

mm n



to determine which converts to judaism are to b li r- bbi nate the right e r nized as full-fledged Jews; the implic ation of mi hu jehudi is 'who can be O i i l authorities)?' vs. mi jehudi? 'who is a Jew (b y re ardcd as a Jew (by the rabb n ca birth, bas always been, in opposition to Christian).' The opposition of permanent:tempo rary state would explain why ModH e dani mar josef 'Dani is MrJo eph' cannot be expanded to *dani hu mar josef. Of course, in Modem Hebrew, oth r meanings may be at play in these examples. ussian can also distinguish between permanent and temporary state through choice and the adjectival declension: e.g. on vernulsja bol'noj (nom) 'he retumed ic ·' (he might have been sick earlier too) vs. on vernulsja bol'nym (inst) 'be retumed sick' (before he was healthy); bud' tatarin (nom) 'be a Tatar' (i.e., if you ere bom a Tatar, be true to your national aspirations) vs. bud' tatarinom (inst) 'be a Tatar' (i.e. start behaving like a Tatar nationalist); on bolen 'be is (presently) sick' ( hort adj) vs. on bol'noj 'be is sickly' (long adj). The latter is matched by Y er iz krank 'he is (presently) sick' vs. er iz a kranker 'be is sickly' (lit 'be is a sick [one]'); there is no instrwnental case in Yiddish.71 Such comparisons should also be carried out with non-Semitic, non-Slavic languages. A large inventory of minute syntactic parallels between Modern Hebrew and Slavic languages would offer powerful support to my thesis. 1

Other topics for future rder of mention:

research were cited in the preceding chapters. They are, in

(1) A detailed comparison of Palcstinian and non-Pal stinian H brew norms from , 19th century to World War II (sec chs 1.3. fn 106; .4 , "t lb);

Modem (2 Th impact of non-Yiddi h- and non- lavi ·-spcaking J w on Slavic

ch 1.4, fn 107., 116): .. . the1r and brew H nt �fod in m ni urop of gy ( Th r 1 tiv chronolo tw en rm of int ration with p i l ttcntion to di ·tin ui hin mg t t I bo · (h 4 ; I m nt id I l Yiddi hol H br w hr nol y nd O r PhY 4) ( h 2. 2; .1, fn 10); r._._... , ... i n ( ) m 11 br w n lo i m boili th M n .' w(

b n 1



(6) Developing techniques for identifying oId colloquial Hebrew elemen ts in _ _ 67) detemun1ng the chronology and extent Jewish languages (ch 2.42, fn , and that Aramaic was spoken and written outside of Palestine (ch 2.43, fn 68); (7) Exploring the proposition that spoken Modem Hebrew prefe rs Yiddish and Slavic Hebrew enrichment while written Modem Hebrew prefers Semitic Hebrew enrichment (3.1, sect 4e); (8) The creation of non-Yiddish dialects of spoken Hebrew, e.g. among Yemenites in (Yemen?), Palestine/Israel (ch 3.1, sect 7); (9) Comparing partial language shift from Judeo-Sorbian and from Yiddish and the rise of creole languages of European stock within a typology of European language creation (ch 3.1, sect 8 and fn 19); (10) Comparative study of Jewish cryptolects (ch 3.1, fn 12); (11) Jewish trilingualism in Hebrew, Yiddish and another Slavic I anguage needs study (ch 3.1, fn 39).


ABBREVIATIONS OFTFRMS AND IANGUAGE NAMES: abs-absolute, ace-accusative, adj-adjective, ag--agentive, Arab-Arabic, Aram-Judeo­ Aramaic, arch-archaic, B-Biblical, Br-Belorussian, c(c)-century(pl), C-consonant, ch(s)�hapter(s), Ch-Church, Cl-Classical, col-columns, coll-colloquial, con­ construct, cont�ontemporary, Cz-C1.eeh� D-Dutch, dat-dative, ed(s)-roition, editor(s), Eng-Engli sh, f-feminine, fn(s)-footnote(s), Fr-French, G-German, Gk-Greek, He­ Hebrew, impf-imperfective, inf-infinitive, inst-instrumental, It-ltalian, J-Judeo-, Lat­ Latin, lit-literary, literally, m-masculine, M-Mishnaic, me-merged, Mod-Modern, nat­ native, n.d.-no date, nom-nominative, n.s.-new series, O-0ld, obj-object, orig­ originally, p-person, pag-pagination, part-participle, pf-perfective, pl-plural, Po­ Polish, Port-Portuguese, poss-possessive, pro-pronoun, R-Russian, refl-reflexive, repr-reprinted, Rom-Romance, rvw-review, sect(s)-section(s), Sem-Semitic, sg­ singular, Sl-Slavic, slg-slang, So-Upper Sorbian, tr-translation, Tu-Turkish, Uk­ Ukrainian, Un-University, unpubl-unpublished, V-vowel, wh-whole, Y-Yiddish, Yem­ Yemenite

ABBREVIATIONS OF 10PONYMS FREQUEN1LY CITED IN TIŒ BIBUOORAPHY: A-Amsterdam, B-Berlin, Ba-Barcelona, Bk-Berkeley, Bl-Bloomington, C-Cambridge, Ch-Chicago, Co-Copenhagen, E-Edinburgh, F-Frankfurt, H-The Hague, J-Jerusalem, K-Krak6w, L-London, L A-Los Angeles, Ldn-Leiden, Len-Leningrad (StPetersburg), Lpz-Leipzig, M-Moscow, Ma-Madrid, Mu-Munich, NY-New York, O-Oxford, Od­ Odessa, P-Paris, Ph-Philadelphia, RG-Ramat-Gan, T A-Tel-Aviv, V-Vienna, Yi-Vilna, W-Warsaw, Wa-Washington, Wi-Wiesbaden ABBREVIATIONS OF fREQUENTLY CITED JOURNALS, COLLECTIVE VOLUMF.S: B ,dSLr-BeitriJge zur Geschiclue der deutschen Sprache und Literatur. Hall


1 B

-Bulletin,School of Oriental and African studies. L. L-Current trends in linguistics 6, ed T.Sebeok. H-P 1970. EJIB-Encyclopaedia judaica 9. B 1932. EJIJ-Encyclopaedia judaica. J 1971. FY-Thefield of Yiddish 1-2, ed U.Weinreich. NY 1954; H 1965; 3, eds U.Weinreich, etaI .

H 1969; 4, eds M.I.Herzog, et al. Ph 1980. HCI.r-Hebrew compulational linguistics. RG. HH-Haencildopedja haivrit 26. J 1974.

JJSI.r-lnternational journal of the sociology of language. H; B-A-NY. /Ulr-The idea of universal language (Report of the 4th Annual Conference of the Center

for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems), eds H.Tonkin and K.Johnson-Weiner. NY 1986. JAOS-Journal of the American OrientalSociety. New Haven. JI.R-Jewish language review. Haïfa. JL1V-Jewish languages. Theme and variations, ed H.H.Paper. C(MA) 1978. JQR-Jewish quarter/y review. Ph. ]SS-Journal ofSemitic studies. Manchester. L-Luhonenll. TA. LL-Leshonenll la'am. J. LS-Language in society. C. MedLR-Mediterranean language review. Wi. O1-0rumlalisti.rche Literaturzeitllng. B. PCI.r-Pidginizalion and creolization of langllages, ed D.Hymes. C 1971. PWCJS-Proceedings of the World Congress of JewishStudies. J. RMI-Rassegna mensile di Israel. Florence, Rome. RSJI.r-Readings in the sociology of Jewish languages 1, ed J.A.Fishman. Ldn 1985. SELHJP-Stwlies in Egyptology and linguistics in honour of HJ.Polotsky, ed H.B.Rosén. J 1964. SJ-Semitskie jazylr.i 1-2/2. M 1963-5. SLOMHBD-Stwlia linguistica et orientalia memoriae Haim Blanc dedicata. eds P.Wexle.r et al. Wi 1989. SMHSS-StlUlies in Mo�rn Hebrew syntax and semantics, ed P.Cole. A-NY-0 1976. STS-Se/er tw-sinai, eds M.Haran and B. ..C.Luria. J 1960. SYL-StlUlies ill Yidduh lingui.rtics, ed P.Wexler. Tübingen 1990. VJa-Voprosy jazylwznanija. M. WP-Working papers in Yiddish and East European studies (Max Weinreich Ce nter for Advanced Swdiea, YIVO). NY. YB-Y/VO-büur. NY. 1.AL-Zwonot ha'akatwnja lala,hon haivrit. J-TA.


ZwOIIOt va'a.d halashon. J.

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