Hebrew language

(redirected from Standard Hebrew)

Hebrew language,

member of the Canaanite group of the West Semitic subdivision of the Semitic subfamily of the Afroasiatic family of languages (see Afroasiatic languagesAfroasiatic languages
, formerly Hamito-Semitic languages
, family of languages spoken by more than 250 million people in N Africa; much of the Sahara; parts of E, central, and W Africa; and W Asia (especially the Arabian peninsula, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and
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). Hebrew was the language of the Jewish people in biblical times, and most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew. The oldest extant example of Hebrew writing dates from the 11th or 10th cent. B.C. Hebrew began to die out as a spoken tongue among the Jews after they were defeated by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. Well before the time of Jesus it had been replaced by AramaicAramaic
, language belonging to the West Semitic subdivision of the Semitic subfamily of the Afroasiatic family of languages (see Afroasiatic languages). At some point during the second millenium B.C.
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 as the Jewish vernacular, although it was preserved as the language of the Jewish religion. From A.D. 70, when the dispersion of the Jews from Palestine began, until modern times, Hebrew has remained the Jewish language of religion, learning, and literature. During this 2,000-year period, Hebrew has always been spoken to some extent. At the end of the 19th cent. the Zionist movement brought about the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language, which culminated in its designation as an official tongue of the state of Israel in 1948. There it is spoken by most of the 4.5 million Jews of that country.

Grammatically, Hebrew is typical of the Semitic tongues in that so many words have a triconsonantal root consisting of three consonants separated by vowels. Changes in, or omissions of, the vowels alter the meaning of a root. Prefixes and suffixes are also added to roots to modify the meaning. There are two genders, masculine and feminine, which are found in the inflection of the verb as well as in noun forms. Modern Hebrew has experienced some changes in phonology, syntax, and morphology. Pronunciation of various orthographical forms has changed, as well as the rules for prefixing and suffixing prepositions to nouns and pronouns. Ancient Hebrew seemed to favor a word order in which the verb precedes the subject of a sentence, but in modern Hebrew the subject typically precedes the verb. Hebrew vocabulary has been updated by the addition of many new words, especially words of a scientific nature.

The earliest alphabet used for Hebrew belongs to the Canaanite branch of the North Semitic writing and is known as Early Hebrew. Later the Jews adapted the Aramaic writing and evolved from it a script called Square Hebrew, which is the source of modern Hebrew printing. Most modern Hebrew handwritten text uses a cursive script developed more recently. Today the Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters, all consonants. Symbols for the vowels were apparently introduced about the 8th cent. A.D. and are usually placed below the consonants if employed. Their use is generally limited to the Bible, verse, and children's books. Hebrew is written from right to left.


See W. Chomsky, Hebrew: The Eternal Language (1957); D. J. Kamhi, Modern Hebrew (1982); E. Kutscher, A History of the Hebrew Language (1984); L. Glinert, The Grammar of Modern Hebrew (1989).

References in periodicals archive ?
(11) Understandably, Ibn Tibbon's translation became the standard Hebrew version and as such a great source of influence on generations of Jewish philosophers.
While very similar to the standard Hebrew text (MT), it differs according to a study made in the nineteenth century in approximately 6,000 readings, half of which are orthographic (different use of vowel letters).
Some suffixes create words which seem to belong to learned standard Hebrew, while other loan suffixes create substandard colloquial non-standardized words.
There are no English language courses or any other subjects included in their curriculum, according to Yahya, who pointed out that Yemeni Jews can speak the standard Hebrew but they don't understand modern Hebrew words, such as names for devices.
Camping relies on  Genesis 7:11, explaining that the flood occurs "on the seventeenth day of the second month," or  17 Iyar of the then standard Hebrew calendar.
Based on this approach, the verse is correctly translated as the question "What is it?" but the word man in the Bible is not standard Hebrew. (11)
What appears to be occurring in Deuteronomy 32.8-9 is a fairly standard Hebrew poetic style, and like much of Hebrew poetry (and other poetry, for that matter), it makes use of more than one way to say things.
It translates the Masoretic Text (MT), the standard Hebrew text of the Bible, and follows that normative text closely.
Let it be admitted, however, that today's Israelis more frequently greet each other by the English slang "Hi," the Arabic slang "Ahalan," or the standard Hebrew "Shalom," with "Baruk Ha-Ba" regarded as a self-conscious archaism.
Camping relies on  Genesis 7:11, explaining that the flood occurs "on the seventeenth day of the second month." Using the standard Hebrew Calendar this all makes for May 21, 2011.
The editors used the standard Hebrew lexica (HALOT) and (BDB).
The collection of Greek translations that we call the Septuagint (or LXX) was the Bible of the early Church, so highly venerated that its errors as well as other departures from the standard Hebrew text were held to be divinely inspired changes.

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