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

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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Akkadian Loanwords

(1,177 words)

Author(s): Mankowski, Paul
Akkadian loanwords are those vocables created in phonetic imitation or adapted in semantic imitation of Akkadian (Akk) originals. Biblical Hebrew (BH) displays Akk loans of different types: simple loans, in which both the sound and the meaning of the original are imitated (e.g., BH טַפְסָר ṭap̄så̄r ‘officer’ from Akk ṭupšarru ‘scribe’); semantic loans, in which an Akk meaning is applied to a BH cognate (e.g., BH טַעַם ṭaʿam ‘decree’ from Akk ṭēmu ‘reason’); and calque formations, in which BH morphemes are joined in imitation of Akk morphology (e.g., BH שַׁר־חֲמִשִּׁים śar-ḥămiššīm ‘capt…

Aleppo Codex

(802 words)

Author(s): Ofer, Yosef
The Aleppo Codex is a bound manuscript of the Hebrew Bible, which is the most authoritative source representing the Tiberian biblical text and Masora. Soon after its completion it was called tāj Arabic for ‘crown’, and eventually came to be known in Hebrew as כתר ארם צובא keter ʾaram ṣoḇa ‘the Crown of Aram Zova’. According to the dedicatory inscription written at the end of the manuscript, the consonantal text was written by Shlomo ben Boyaʿa, while the vocalization, accents, and Masoretic notes were added by ראש המלמדים roš ham-melammedim ‘the most senior teacher’, Aharon ben Mosh…


(899 words)

Author(s): Tirosh-Becker, Ofra
Algerian Jews, like those of other Jewish communities in the Diaspora, used Hebrew as their לשון הקדש lešon haq-qodeš ‘the holy tongue’, namely the language of prayer and religious ceremonies, and had their own Hebrew oral reading traditions of the Bible and the Mishnah. Following the pogroms of 1391 in Spain, and especially after the expulsion of the Jews therefrom in 1492, prominent Jewish poets, bearing the rich and vibrant spirit of the great Iberian Hebrew poetry, arrived in Algeria. Among these were the cel…


(686 words)

Author(s): Rendsburg, Gary A.
Alliteration is a literary device whereby the same or similar consonantal sounds are used to create an oral-aural effect in a sentence or verse. Because Hebrew words are based on a triliteral root system, consonants in first, second, or third position within a Hebrew word or root may participate in the alliteration (as opposed to, for example, Old English, where initial consonants alliterate). In Biblical Hebrew alliteration was used only occasionally (also in contrast to Old English and other O…

Alphabet, Origin of

(5,199 words)

Author(s): Daniels, Peter T.
1. Origin The origin of the alphabet goes back more than a thousand years earlier than when anything in the direct lineage of the alphabets of the modern world is known to have existed. People have been recording messages with pictographic ideograms for almost as long as there have been people, but if we adhere to the traditional understanding of writing as referring only to the explicit visible recording of language or speech, rather than extending it to cover any sort of graphic communication device, then writing began in Sumer, southern Mesopotamia, late in the 4…

Amarna Canaanite and Hebrew

(1,971 words)

Author(s): Cochavi-Rainey, Zipora
Amanḥotep IV built a new capital city at El-Amarna, which is located about midway between No-amon (Luxor) and Memphis (just south of Cairo). He changed his name to Akhenaten ‘Beneficial to the Aten’ and called his capital Akhetaten ‘Horizon of the Sun Disc’. It was at this site in 1887 that archaeologists discovered the Amarna archive, which consisted of 381 stone tablets and tablet fragments, all from the 14th century B.C.E. Thirty-two of the texts are ‘scholarly’, e.g., Akkadian literary works…

American Creoles, Hebrew Loanwords in

(1,114 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Aaron D.
Among the early European immigrants to the Americas were significant numbers of (mainly Sephardic) Jews, particularly in the region of the Caribbean (Arbell 2002). It is thanks to this population that one finds Hebrew loanwords in some of the creoles of the Caribbean and South America. In Sranan, the English-based creole that serves as the lingua franca of Suriname (and is the native language of much of the population), there are two clear loanwords from Hebrew. The first is kaseri (< Hebrew כשר kašer ‘kosher’), which means ‘(ritually) clean’. Interestingly, this word is so cl…

Ammonite and Hebrew

(1,446 words)

Author(s): Lemaire, André
Ammonite is the language that was spoken in the territory and kingdom of Ammon, east of the Jordan, during the Iron Age. It is attested in inscriptions dating from circa 800 B.C.E. until the beginning of the 6th century B.C.E. The kingdom of Ammon apparently disappeared during a neo-Babylonian campaign ca. 582 B.C.E. (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities X, 181–182) and later inscriptions are in Aramaic. The corpus of Ammonite inscriptions (Aufrecht 1989; 1999; Hübner 1992:15–129; Israel 1997) is still limited. It contains mainly seals and bullae, many of which were…

Amoraic Hebrew

(3,591 words)

Author(s): Breuer, Yochanan
1. General The Status of the Hebrew Language during the Amoraic Period. It is generally accepted that during the Tannaitic period (approximately 1–220 C.E.), Hebrew was a spoken language (and not restricted to writing), serving in all domains of life (and not only in religious matters, such as liturgy and study). During the Amoraic period (220–500 C.E.), however, it is believed that Hebrew was no longer a spoken language and that it was used solely for religious purposes (Kutscher 1972:54–55). While this v…


(1,133 words)

Author(s): Shatil, Nimrod
1. Introduction ‘Analogy’ is a cognitive process that enables humans to construct paradigms by finding similarities among different elements. Analogy is one of the innate human competencies. Deutscher (2005:173) calls this force “the mind’s craving for order”. Morphological analogy is usually differentiated from semantic analogy, which is known as ‘metaphor’. The present review follows this tradition, limiting itself to issues of morphology. In traditional grammars, the term analogy is used to describe most forms that do not comply…


(1,263 words)

Author(s): Gzella, Holger
Many languages treat nominals that refer to ­animate beings differently from those that speakers construe as inanimate. Yet animacy as such does not constitute a sharply defined notion, but refers to a graded phenomenon (often understood as the cline human > other animate > inanimate) which interacts with other hierarchies, like personhood, empathy, and definiteness or individuation (Dahl and Fraurud 1996). It frequently governs all kinds of grammatical categories linked to reference, e.g., case, number opposition, gender assignment, subj…

Animal Names

(1,736 words)

Author(s): Criscuolo, Alfredo
Lexicographical studies on Hebrew animal names have focused mainly on the biblical zoonymic vocabulary handed down in the Masoretic Text (MT) and, to a lesser extent, on the post-biblical vocabulary of Rabbinic literature (Dor 1997; Riede 2002; Militarev and Kogan 2005; Kogan 2006). Literary studies have investigated the role of literary figures and models of the ancient bestiary in the biblical and post-biblical imagination, with special emphasis on the human-animal relationship as manifested i…


(697 words)

Author(s): Lanfer, Peter
Anti-language is a term used in the fields of sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology to refer to the deliberate choice of a community to write or speak in a language that is counter-cultural. The most famous example in the history of the Hebrew language, a history stretching back over three-thousand years, is that of the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls. William Schniedewind (1999; 2000) has argued that the many peculiarities of Qumran Hebrew can best be explained by considering the dialect …