Mark A Mandel mam at THEWORLD.COM
Wed May 8 02:59:51 UTC 2002

On Tue, 7 May 2002, Duane Campbell wrote:

#Listening to the Sharon news conference, which is being conducted partly
#in Hebrew. I have no knowledge of the language. But what he is speaking
#sounds quite different from the Hebrew I have heard in several Orthodox
#services I have attended.  Is there a significant difference between
#liturgical Hebrew and colloquial Hebrew?

Oh, is there ever! An Israeli co-worker living in the US once told me
that while she, having grown up with the Hebrew Bible and studying it*,
read it as a form of Modern Hebrew, but her kids could not make anything
of it at all. (Not to mention the parts of the liturgy that are in
Aramaic! But that would sound pretty much like the Hebrew in this kind
of observation.)

In terms of sound, you may well have heard Hebrew in the US with an
Ashkenazic pronunciation, from the homelands of Yiddish, whereas Israeli
Hebrew uses Sephardic (Mediterranean) pronunciation. One of the salient
differences in consonantism is the treatment of the very common final
tav, which is /s/ in Ashk. and /t/ in Seph. F'rex, the word that came
into English as "Sabbath" is Ash. ['Sab at s] / "shabbos"  vs.  Seph.
[Sa'bat] / "shabbat".

* Biblical Hebrew is several layers of Hebrew and liturgical is several
more on top of it, but I'm pretty sure they're a lot closer to each
other than to ModH.

-- Mark A. Mandel
   Linguist at Large

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