Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics

Get access Subject: Language And Linguistics
Edited by: Geoffrey Khan
Associate editors: Shmuel Bolozky, Steven Fassberg, Gary A. Rendsburg, Aaron D. Rubin, Ora R. Schwarzwald, Tamar Zewi

Help us improve our service

The Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics Online offers a systematic and comprehensive treatment of all aspects of the history and study of the Hebrew language from its earliest attested form to the present day.
The Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics Online features advanced search options, as well as extensive cross-references and full-text search functionality using the Hebrew character set. With over 850 entries and approximately 400 contributing scholars, the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics Online is the authoritative reference work for students and researchers in the fields of Hebrew linguistics, general linguistics, Biblical studies, Hebrew and Jewish literature, and related fields.

Subscriptions: Brill.com

Galilean Dialect

(675 words)

Author(s): Schwarzwald, Ora (Rodrigue)
The Galilean dialect was a unique, esoteric variety of Hebrew spoken during the early years of the language’s revival in Israel. As spoken linguistic norms had not yet been established, there were many varieties of the spoken language represented throughout the country. The Galilean dialect was created in the late 1890s and died out in the 1920s (Bar-Adon 1975). The leading teacher responsible for the creation of the dialect was Yitzḥak Epstein, who in turn was succeeded by Simḥa Ḥayyim Wilkomitz and supported by teachers in the Upper Galilee. In order to represent classical feature…

Gaonic Correspondence

(2,906 words)

Author(s): Outhwaite, Ben
The geʾonim throughout much of their history were remote from the majority of the Jewish population over whom they wielded spiritual and moral leadership, and they were thus accustomed to communicating through letters. While much of their earlier correspondence has come down to us in the form of collections of gaonic responsa, a form of communication characterized by its legalistic character and technical language, thanks to the discovery of the Cairo Genizah, we possess hundreds of other letters, written by the famed geʾonim of Iraq and by the lesser-known incumbents of the …


(3,312 words)

Author(s): Khan, Geoffrey
A gaʿya is a short vertical sign that is written under words in Tiberian Masoretic Bibles. The term is used in the early Masoretic sources (vocalized גַּעְיָה gaʿyå̄ and גִּיעְיָה giʿyå̄). It later came to be known as the מֶתֶג meteg, a term that was introduced by Yequtiʾel ha-Naqdan (first half of the 13th century) (ed. Gumpertz 1958) and is still widely used today. The gaʿya is part of the accent system and is generally only marked in manuscripts that have accent signs, but omitted in those that have only vocalization signs. The gaʿya sign is written beneath the consonant, generally to …


(1,063 words)

Author(s): Florentin, Moshe
Gemination, i.e., the prolonged pronunciation of a consonant usually marked by dagesh forte, is a common phonetic phenomenon in Biblical Hebrew (BH), e.g., the כּ kk in תַּכִּירוּ takkiru ‘you recognize’. It is also phonemic, as seen by pairs such as מִלָּה millå̄ ‘word’ vs. מִילָה mīlå̄ ‘circumcision’, the noun גְּאֻלָּה gəʾullå̄ ‘redemption’ vs. the passive participle גְּאוּלָה gəʾūlå̄ ‘redeemed (ms)’, יִגַּע yiggaʿ ‘he touches’ vs. יִיגַע yīgaʿ ‘he labors’. There are various sources of gemination (i.e. types of dagesh forte) in BH: (1) characteristic dagesh, i.e., gemination which is an …


(3,360 words)

Author(s): Schwarzwald, Ora (Rodrigue)
Gender is a category which classifies nouns into masculine, feminine, neuter, and other classes, and these, in turn, may determine grammatical agreement of other words in a sentence (Hockett 1958:231; Corbett 1991:7–32). Hebrew has two genders, masculine (m) and feminine (f), and they are assigned to each noun; thus, for instance, דלת délet ‘door’ is feminine and שער šáʿar ‘gate’ is masculine, כובע kovaʿ ‘hat’ is masculine and מגבעת migbáʿat ‘brimmed hat’ is feminine, אבן ʾéven ‘stone’ is feminine and סלע séla ‘rock’ is masculine. They determine the inflection of other membe…

Gender and Language

(2,091 words)

Author(s): Muchnik, Malka
Hebrew clearly marks gender in all its morphological forms and syntactic structures. It has masculine and feminine forms not only for personal, possessive, and demonstrative pronouns, but also for verbs, participles, animate and inanimate nouns, inflected nouns, inflected prepositions, adjectives, and numerals. Feminine forms are usually marked by appending an -a or—(V) t suffix to the masculine, which serves as the basic form (Schwarzwald 1991; 2002). This system is a typical example of what Spender (1985) calls a “man-made language”. Syntactic …

Gender Representation in Biblical Hebrew

(1,486 words)

Author(s): Stein, David E. S.
When a linguistic expression refers to a person, its representation of that referent’s gender is a complex function of language structure, grammar, semantics, and pragmatics. To elucidate that relationship, this entry distinguishes four types of gender (Table 1). Herein, the term ‘reference’ means the designation of persons (including personified non-humans); it applies whether the expression is couched in the grammatical first, second, or third person. Table 1. Four Types of Gender Gender type Description Syntactic Formal concord that connects related words Lexical A noun’s …

Generative Grammar and Hebrew

(11,098 words)

Author(s): Borer, Hagit
Broadly speaking, the term Generative Grammar (GG) has been used to refer to the claim that some form of neurologically built-in, well-defined grammatical faculty underlies Natural Language (NL) knowledge and use. At least one direct consequence of this claim is that for GG, the study of NL must focus on the abilities of individual speakers, rather than, e.g., on community language, insofar as the mind/brain is an individual, rather than a shared organ. From this perspective the fact that some form of external language, ‘E-Language’ in the terminol…


(1,367 words)

Author(s): Greenberg, Yael
Modern Hebrew uses a variety of grammatical constructions to mark generic statements, that is, to report nonspecific, regular, and nonaccidnetal facts (through Characterizing Genericity [Krifka et al. 1995] and/or through Habituality), and to make reference to nonspecific entities (known as Kind Reference). 1. Characterizing Generic Sentences In this connection it is important to note that the distinction between perfective and imperfective aspect, which in many languages correlates with the episodic/generic distinction, respectively, is no…


(1,903 words)

Author(s): Edzard, Lutz
The relational case genitive (from Latin casus genetivus, which in turn is a loan translation of Greek ptōsis gēnikē) can have a variety of functions, such as absolute, objective, subjective, partitive, possessive, definitive, qualitative, explicative, and epexegetical (see, e.g., Bußmann 1983:162f.). Unlike in Akkadian or Classical Arabic, the genitive is not overtly marked in Hebrew, but it can be postulated structurally and in terms of language-comparison for nouns governed by prepositions (some of which are g…

Gentilic: Biblical Hebrew

(1,253 words)

Author(s): Hilman, Yitzhak
The gentilic suffix יִ - -ī (sometimes referred to by the Arabic term nisba) is used to form adjectives that denote some form of relation, such as affiliation, origin, or numerical order. Originally this suffix was consonantal ( -iy); indeed, in Classical Arabic, on account of its case endings, it is still so, in fact with a geminated y that has preserved its consonantal nature. It has also been preserved in Aramaic, with a slight phonetic change, namely, יַ - -ay, especially in the plural, e.g., יהוּדָיֵ֗א yəhūḏå̄yē ‘Jews’ (Ezra 4.12), כַּשְׂדָּיֵא kaśdå̄yē ( ketib) ‘Chaldeans’ (Dan. 4.4) (s…

Gentilic: Modern Hebrew

(1,852 words)

Author(s): Hilman, Yitzhak
The most common relational morpheme in Modern Hebrew is the suffix  ִי- - ī, which in gentilic use may refer to a geographical name or concept, as in תל-אביבי tel-ʾavivi ‘of, from, living in Tel-Aviv’, צרפתי ṣarfati ‘French’, ספרדי sfaradi ‘Spanish, Sephardic’, אשכנזי ʾaškenazi ‘Ashkenazi’, עירוני ʿironi ‘urban’, כפרי kafri ‘rural, rustic’, or to a social division, as in דתי dati ‘religious, orthodox’, חילוני x̱iloni ‘secular’. In possessive constructions the morpheme appears in the second constituent, as in the Bible, where it is the only element that is inflected, for example ארץ-יש…

Gentilic: Rabbinic Hebrew

(662 words)

Author(s): Hilman, Yitzhak
In Rabbinic Hebrew the most common gentilic is the suffix - ִי -i, with no consonantal element, as in גְּלִילִי gelili ‘Galilean’ (from גָּלִיל Galil ‘Galilee’), יְוָנִי yewani ‘Greek’ (from יון Yawan ‘Greece’), כּוּתִי kuti ‘Samaritan’ (from כותה Kuta), בַּבְלִי baḇli ‘Babylonian’ (from בבל baḇel ‘Babylon’), ר׳ שמעון שזורי ribbi šimʿon šezuri ‘R. Simon of Šezur’; feminine forms: גְּלִילִית gelilit ‘Galilean’, יְוָנִית yewanit ‘Greek’, אֵילָתִית ʾ elatit ‘from Eilat’, and with the ending - ִיָּה - iyya: אמה העִבְרִיָּה ʾ ama ha-ʿiḇriyya ‘Hebrew she-slave’; plural forms: כּוּתִים kutim ‘Sama…

Germanic Languages, Hebrew Loanwords in

(1,566 words)

Author(s): Wagner, Esther-Miriam
Hebrew lexemes have been introduced into the Germanic languages over a long period of time. The earliest loanwords were biblical words, which entered the liturgical registers through Latin and Greek and then spread from there into the spoken registers. Other Hebrew words were borrowed through language contact with Yiddish and through sociolects containing Yiddish and Hebrew words. German Hebrew loanwords entered German in two different ways. Biblical words such as amen, Tohuwabohu ‘chaos’ (< Hebrew תֹּהוּ וָבֹהוּ; cf. Gen. 1.2), Satan, hallelujah, and lexemes borrowed from Heb…

German Influence on Hebrew

(3,549 words)

Author(s): Hoestermann, Cordelia
1. Introduction This entry deals not with direct borrowing of German words into Hebrew, but rather with more subtle cases of influence pertaining to pronunciation, orthography, word formation, semantic modification, and syntactic structure. It is often difficult or impossible to isolate the influence of German from that of other European languages, because of the basic similarity of Standard Average European phraseology. The long list of loan translations collected by Joshua Blau (1981:60–141) illustrates this problem (in gener…

Gezer Calendar

(575 words)

Author(s): Aḥituv, Shmuel
The Gezer Tablet, or ‘Calendar’, as it is commonly known, was found in the 1908 excavations of the dumps of the Israelite city and thus has no archaeological context. This small limestone tablet (7.2 × 11.1 cm) had been incised, defaced, and then overwritten with the seven lines of the so-called calendar. The text, most probably a writing exercise, is written in the Proto-Phoenician/Canaanite script, which, however, does not allow for unequivocal determination of its language. As the tablet was …

G (g (gimel) - El ǧuyetón (periodical))

(3,636 words)

g (gimel)  in Hebrew-to-Arabic transcription Transcription into Arabic Script: Modern Period  pronunciation of Italy, Pronunciation Traditions, Kurdistan, Pronunciation Tradition, Tiberian Reading Tradition Gabbai, Abraham ben Jedidah (printer) Printing Gafsa (Tunisia) Tunisia, Pronunciation Traditions Galai, Benjamin Poetry, Modern Hebrew Galicia, Jewish surnames in Names of People: Surnames in Pre-Modern Europe Galilean Aramaic Vocalization, Palestinian Galilean Modern Hebrew dialect Dialects, Galilean Dialect, Guttural Consonants: Pre-Masoretic…