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

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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.

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Saint-Victor’s Abbey in Paris

(701 words)

Author(s): Olszowy-Schlanger, Judith
In 1108 Guillaume de Champeaux, a master in the cathedral school of Paris, founded a hermitage dedicated to St. Victor on Mount St. Geneviève, on the left bank of the River Seine. Five years later, by an act of Louis le Gros, the monastery became an abbey and its members regular canons. Later in the 12th century, the abbey of St. Victor became an important center of learning and a place where a specific school of Bible exegesis was followed. The method consisted of literal exegesis. The literal …

Samaria Ostraca

(810 words)

Author(s): Aḥituv, Shmuel
The Samaria ostraca are made up of two groups: the main group of 102 ostraca from excavations conducted by Harvard University (1908–1910) and a few ostraca from the Joint Expedition excavations (1931–1935). The ostraca of the Harvard excavations are temporary notations of shipments of wine and oil, which were discarded after the copying of their contents into more permanent ledgers. Their contents are limited principally to proper names: personal names, toponyms, and names of clans. On the basis of the site’s stratigraphy, the typology of the ceramics, and palaeography…

Samaritan Hebrew: Biblical

(5,220 words)

Author(s): Florentin, Moshe
1. Introduction Samaritan Hebrew is known to us mainly through the Samaritan version of the Pentateuch. It reflects one of the Hebrew dialects that were in use in Palestine at the end of Second Temple period. As first pointed out by Z. Ben-Ḥayyim, it resembles Mishnaic Hebrew and the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls in several respects. We do not know exactly when Samaritan Hebrew ceased to be a spoken language and was totally replaced by Aramaic. After Hebrew was no longer spoken among the Jews, towards the end of the 2nd century C.E., Samaritans settle…

Samaritan Hebrew: Late

(2,683 words)

Author(s): Florentin, Moshe
1. Introduction The term Late Samaritan Hebrew denotes one of the written forms of Hebrew in use among the Samaritans from about the end of the 13th century C.E. to this day. In fact, the name encompasses a number of quite distinct linguistic styles, one of which, a form that may be called Hybrid Samaritan Hebrew, is in frequent use while the others were used sparingly by Samaritan poets and scribes. Below we shall describe the marginal styles first and then go on to give a somewhat more detailed account of Hybrid Samaritan Hebrew. 2. Pure Hebrew (for More Detail see Florentin 2005a:33–39) We pos…

Samaritan Pentateuch

(1,245 words)

Author(s): Florentin, Moshe
The Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) is the Hebrew text reflected in the Samaritan manuscripts of the Pentateuch. Though the oldest manuscripts of the SP are dated to the Middle Ages, their version and peculiar spellings are not due to scribal errors of late copyists, but rather reflect in general one of the old versions of the Pentateuch that existed during the Second Temple period. This is proven not only by hundreds of similarities between the SP and the Septuagint, but mainly by the findings of the…

Sandhi: Modern Hebrew

(332 words)

Author(s): Fassberg, Steven E.
Sandhi, from a Sanksrit word meaning ‘joining’, is the modification and fusion of sounds at the boundary of grammatical units. Common tendencies of sandhi involve assimilation, dissimilation, and elision. In high registers of spoken modern Hebrew, the Biblical (and Mishnaic) Hebrew process of spirantization (with the bgdkpt consonants) is preserved with the stops b k p > fricatives v x f, respectively, on nouns following prepositions ending in a vowel, e.g., בבית החולים be-vet ha-x̱olim ‘in the hospital’ and בכמה מקומות be-xama meqomot ‘in several places’, though in lower reg…

Sandwich Languages

(868 words)

Author(s): Gindin, Thamar E.
A language that has a substratum of another language and also has a superstratum of the same language as the substratum is known as a ‘sandwich language’. The term describes Jewish languages spoken in Israel. One of the most widely studied characteristics of Jewish languages is the Hebrew component. This component is what remains of the substratum of Biblical, post-biblical, and Medieval Hebrew. When immigrating to Israel, the minority language becomes an immigrant language, with Modern Hebrew—including Israeli slang—as superstra…


(753 words)

Author(s): Harviainen, Tapani
Jews were not permitted to settle in the Scandinavian countries prior to the 18th century, although knowledge of Hebrew had been introduced there during the Reformation, which had marked the beginning of the inclusion of the holy languages, i.e., Hebrew and Greek, in academic curricula at universities in the Protestant countries. The first universities in Scandinavia were established in Uppsala (1477), Dorpat-Tartu (1632), Åbo-Turku (1640), Lund (1666), and Greifswald (1456) in the Swedish Empir…

Scientific Texts: Medieval Period

(1,242 words)

Author(s): Ferrario, Gabriele
Although Jewish scientists in Islamic lands had long been reading and copying Arabic works as well as producing original contributions in Judeo-Arabic, the 12th century saw the beginning of a flourishing movement amongst Jewish communities in Al-Andalus, and later in southern France and Italy, to acquire and assimilate Arabic scientific knowledge, a movement that raised the issue of a Hebrew scientific vocabulary. The expansion of Almoravid (11th c.) and later Almohad (12th–beginning of 13th c.) rule initiated a wave of Jewish migration from Al-Andalus and…

Script, History of Development

(6,081 words)

Author(s): Engel, Edna
Dated Hebrew manuscripts and Genizah documents such as deeds, letters, Ketubbot or Giṭṭin, as well as inscriptions made on various kinds of materials, are authentic evidence for the state of Hebrew script in the period covered by this entry. Copied by professional scribes, written by scholars, or penned by laymen, these remnants reflect the types, modes, and styles of written texts that were produced in this period. Inspired by cultural phenomena and by various styles of calligraphy, such as those coming fr…

Script, History of Development

(6,097 words)

Author(s): Edna Engel
Dated Hebrew manuscripts and Genizah documents such as deeds, letters, Ketubbot or Giṭṭin, as well as inscriptions made on various kinds of materials, are authentic evidence for the state of Hebrew script in the period covered by this entry - 9th-16th centuries. Copied by professional scribes, written by scholars, or penned by laymen, these remnants reflect the types, modes, and styles of written texts that were produced in this period. Inspired by cultural phenomena and by various styles of calligraphy, su…
Date: 2014-10-01

Script in Christian Art

(3,912 words)

Author(s): Rodov, Ilia
The use of Hebrew script in Christian plastic arts is a distinct case of written signs being embedded into representational or figurative images. The majority of the intended viewers of Christian art cannot read Hebrew. The primary methods of artists illiterate in Hebrew were to imitate or copy the foreign writing. The imitations vary from a scribble and letter-like strokes or patterns to signs simulating non-Latin, mainly oriental scripts, to shapes resembling some Hebrew characters. Authentic …

Script in Jewish Art

(2,858 words)

Author(s): Yaniv, Bracha
Script is a common element in art in general and in religious art in particular. In Jewish culture, which discouraged pictorial expression, script became a dominant element in art and, in certain periods or media, even the core of the artwork itself. Moreover, although the vernacular spoken by Jews all over the Diaspora was anything but Hebrew, the Hebrew Scriptures, mainly the Bible, became the source of the scripts interwoven in art. This phenomenon typifies Jewish art of a religious nature, s…

Seals and Bullae

(1,052 words)

Author(s): Misgav, Haggai
A seal is an object, usually made of stone, which has been designed and fashioned by a craftsman with carved shapes and/or letters. The mark of the seal, called a bulla, is its impression on a piece of tin, generally used to seal documents. Seals and bullae are known to have been in use throughout the ancient Near East from the 3rd millennium B.C.E., both in Egypt and in Mesopotamia. The main use of the seals was to authorize legal documents. Their presence represented the testimony and agreement of the seal’s owner to the contents of a written document. The number of bullae that have been pr…

Second Temple Period

(5,639 words)

Author(s): Morgenstern, Matthew
1. Preliminary Remarks Most of the linguistic evidence for the Hebrew of the Second Temple Period is derived from the later books of the Bible and from the Dead Sea Scrolls. The less formal manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls provide valuable evidence for the phonetic features that are not attested in the Biblical corpus, while many syntactic developments are shared by both corpora (Dead Sea Scrolls: Linguistic Features). 2. Methodology and Sources The epigraphic material that survives from the First Temple Period is limited, and with the exception of the extremely…

Secret Languages, Hebrew in: Aramaic

(1,429 words)

Author(s): Mutzafi, Hezy
The Jewish Neo-Aramaic (JNA) dialects exhibit dozens of cryptic words and expressions replacing regular lexical parallels that would otherwise be understood by non-Jewish neighbors, whether Aramaic-speaking Christians or Kurdish- and Azerbaijani-speaking Muslims. A considerable proportion of these secret words are derived from Hebrew or Rabbinic Aramaic texts (the other sources being the inherited Aramaic lexical stock and, to a lesser extent, Arabic, Kurdish, and Persian). Just as the JNA varie…

Secret Languages, Hebrew in: Egyptian Judeo-Arabic

(1,058 words)

Author(s): Rosenbaum, Gabriel M.
In the Egyptian Jewish community, as in many Jewish communities, some elements of Hebrew vocabulary embedded within the Egyptian Arabic vernacular served as a secret language. Merchants often developed secret languages for their own particular professions, enabling them to speak about commercial as well as private matters in the presence of customers—including Jews who were not of the profession. The word גּוֹי goy is used by Jews in both East and West to denote a non-Jew, a gentile. In Egypt and other areas in the East, Jews make a terminological distinctio…

Secret Languages, Hebrew in: Introduction

(98 words)

The use of Hebrew words and phrases in Jewish languages, such as Yiddish, Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Persian, and so on, is well known. See the relevant entries devoted to the Hebrew component in these and other languages. Less well known is the use of specific Hebrew terms in Jewish secret languages, as employed by members of certain classes, such as merchants, so that their dealings will be known only to the select few. The following entries provide information on various argots, from across Europe and the Near East. See also Jenisch; Lekoudesch; Rotwelsch.

Secret Languages, Hebrew in: Iranian

(752 words)

Author(s): Gindin, Thamar E.
Luterāʾī, the Jewish jargon of Iran, combines mostly-Hebrew vocabulary with Persian morphology and syntax. Today, most Iranian Jews speak New Persian. Local dialects are almost extinct, as is the jargon that allowed them to speak in the presence of strangers. Luterāʾi, like the dialects, changes from place to place, and so does its name: in most places Luterāʾī or Loterāʾī, Luflāʾī in Kashan, Lutrāʾī in Golpaygan, and Lʾutrūʾī in Kermanshah. Iranian Jews interpret the name as lu-tūrāʾi (< Heb. lo tora + Persian adjectival suffix - ī), ‘not [the language] of the Torah’, i.e., not …

Secret Languages, Hebrew in: Judeo-Italian

(858 words)

Author(s): Modena, Maria Luisa Mayer
As is true with the lexis of most Jewish Languages, Hebrew elements are chosen for a number of different reasons in Judeo-Italian: (1) the lack of suitable specific vocabulary in the local language (in cases such as לולב lulav ‘palm frond’ [used on the holiday of Sukkot]); (2) the prestige of the Holy Tongue; and (3) the need for a solution to linguistic taboos, as happens in naming misfortunes to be avoided (e.g., חולי ḥoli > holi ‘sickness’, מכה makka > makkà ‘disgrace’, פגר peger > peger ‘corpse’ and, with an Italian ending, the verb > pegariare ‘to die’), or with the so-called ‘decency…
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