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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(1,956 words)

Author(s): Goral, Mira
Pathology of Language Aphasia is an acquired impairment of language and communication, resulting from brain damage. It is typically caused by a cerebral-vascular accident (stroke) in the language-dominant hemisphere of the brain (the left hemisphere in most individuals), but can also be associated with closed-head injury, brain tumors, and progressive neurological diseases. Studies of aphasia have revealed that, depending on the site and size of the brain lesion, specific aspects of language and co…


(406 words)

Author(s): Bar-Asher Siegal, Elitzur A.
Apocope is the loss of one sound or more at the end of a word In the context of the history of Hebrew, one needs to distinguish between (1) apocope as a synchronic rule which explains how an actual word is derived from an underlying form; and (2) diachronic apocope, which is assumed to have occurred in the proto-history of Hebrew, and can explain the relationship between existing Hebrew forms and their cognates in other Semitic languages. An example of the first kind is the loss of the consonant /t/ in both the feminine singular ending of nouns and in the 3rd person femi…


(205 words)

Author(s): Cohen, Ohad
Apophony is an alternation of sounds within a word which provides grammatical information. The term, first coined by Indo-European linguists in the 19th century, is a combination of the Greek words apo (from) and phony (sound). Apophony in English is exemplified by internal vowel alternations (sometimes referred to as Ablaut) which signify differences in tense ( sing/sang), transitivity ( rise/raise), and number ( goose/geese). Apophony is also found in Semitic languages, for example the ‘broken plural’ of Classical Arabic (e.g., kitāb ‘book’ or kutub ‘books’). In Hebrew, apop…


(1,771 words)

Author(s): Livnat, Zohar
Apposition is a syntactic relation distinct from both coordination and subordination (Burton-Roberts 1994; Livnat and Sela 1995), usually consisting of a sequence of two (or more) expressions that share the same syntactic function and definition. The elements of such a sequence can be identical in reference (‘full apposition’) or the reference of one may be included in the reference of the other (‘partial apposition’). The term ‘apposition’ may be used to refer either to the entirety of an appositional ph…

Apposition. Medieval Grammatical Tradition

(475 words)

Author(s): Maman, Aharon
Medieval Hebrew grammarians were fully aware of the use of apposition in the language of the Bible and described it in detail. According to Téné (1956: Chapter 6, §§73–77; see also §§240–241; Becker 1999:339–341), of the four types of apposition recognized by Arabic grammarians, R. Jonah ibn Janāḥ chose two, “full apposition” and “partial apposition”, and provided numerous examples of both; for example, the apposition in וַיָּשֻׁ֣בוּ הַמַּ֗יִם וַיְכַסּ֤וּ אֶת־הָרֶ֙כֶב֙ וְאֶת־הַפָּ֣רָשִׁ֔ים לְכֹל֙ חֵ֣יל פַּרְעֹ֔ה way-yaš-šūḇū ham-mayim wa-yḵassū ʾɛṯ-hå̄-rɛḵɛḇ wǝ-ʾɛṯ hap-på̄rå̄šīm lǝ-…

Arabic Bible Translations

(6,675 words)

Author(s): Polliack, Meira
1. Semantics in Medieval Jewish Arabic Bible Translation and Interpretation Most Jews of the Islamic world had come to use Arabic in spoken and written communication by the 10th century c.e. This socio-linguistic development created a growing need for translating the Hebrew Bible, and especially the Torah (Pentateuch), into Arabic. The popular circles who attended the schools and synagogues experienced the need to understand Scripture readings in their spoken tongue, whereas the intellectual and scholarly elites who had beco…

Arabic, Hebrew Loanwords in: Modern Period

(4,008 words)

Author(s): Henkin-Roitfarb, Roni
1. Varieties of Arabic Arabic is a diglossic language (Ferguson 1959) with complex and diversified interrelations between many varieties: regional and communal dialects, genderlects (differences between men’s and women’s speech forms), and registers, all in functional distribution with Modern Standard Arabic (Rosenhouse 2008:146). I shall use the term ‘Israeli Arabic’ as a hyponym of the wider term ‘Palestinian Arabic’, which is part of the Syro-Lebanese-Palestinian dialect type. I restrict the scope to the 1948 borders of the State of I…

Arabic, Hebrew Loanwords in: Pre-Modern Period

(1,808 words)

Author(s): Hopkins, Simon
As opposed to the large number of Aramaic loans in Classical Arabic (Fraenkel 1886), specifically Hebrew loans are rather few and for the most part restricted to the Qurʾān (particularly its eschatological portions) and the religious milieu of pre-Islamic Arabia in which that book arose. Most of these Hebrew words probably reached Arabic through the mediation of Aramaic, some from Jewish (and/or Christian) contacts in Northern Arabia and the Fertile Crescent, others less directly via Christian A…

Arabic Influence: Medieval Period

(4,084 words)

Author(s): Hopkins, Simon
The majority of Jews who lived during the period corresponding to the European Middle Ages dwelt within the Islamic Empire and spoke Arabic as their mother-tongue. The influence of Arabic upon the Hebrew written by Arabic-speaking Jews during this period is very noticeable indeed. Information on phonology is, in the nature of things, rather limited, but, for example, the realization of גּ [ g] as ج [ j], mentioned for Iraq already by al-Qirqisāni in the 10th century and current today in Yemenite tradition, suggests that Arabic influence on medieval Hebrew pronun…

Arabic Influence: Modern Period

(4,400 words)

Author(s): Henkin-Roitfarb, Roni
The impact of Arabic on pre-modern Hebrew, most prominently on the Hebrew of the Middle Ages, is well documented. This entry surveys the influence of Arabic (literary, Palestinian, and Jewish Moroccan) on Modern Israeli Hebrew from the 1880s. Two routes of adoption are discussed: planned coining and spontaneous borrowing. Sometimes these routes overlap, i.e., when spontaneous borrowing is standardized retroactively. 1. Pre-State Contact In late 19-century Ottoman Palestine, where Modern Israeli Hebrew emerged as a spoken language, Palestinian Arabic was the…

Arabic Loanwords

(1,762 words)

Author(s): Shehadeh, Haseeb
Arabic exerted great influence on Hebrew in the medieval period, when Arabic replaced Aramaic and other languages as both the vernacular and literary language of Jews in Muslim lands. In the golden age of Jewish culture on the Iberian Peninsula, where Jews were entirely assimilated into Arab society, the Hebrew language was subject to profound and comprehensive Arabic influence. Now, in the modern period, contact between Arabs and Hebrew-speaking Jews remains common. Approximately one-third of M…

Arab Population of Israel: Grammatical Aspects

(1,671 words)

Author(s): Kleinberger, Aharon Geva
1. General Background Since the independence of the State of Israel in 1948, the Arab population in the country has been in a closer contact with Modern Hebrew (עברית ʿivrit) than at any time since 1922, when the British Mandate for Palestine declared English, Arabic, and Hebrew to be the official languages of the country. Today Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages of the State of Israel, but Arabs in Israel know Hebrew for use in daily life much better than Jews know Arabic. This abnormality is due to factors of politics and prestige. Since the late 1980s the Arab population o…

Arab Population of Israel: Sociolinguistic Aspects

(2,882 words)

Author(s): Amara, Muhammad
1. Introduction This entry focuses on Hebrew among the Palestinian population of Israel (henceforth HPI) from a sociolinguistic perspective, concentrating on status, knowledge and use of Hebrew, teaching Hebrew, and Hebrew loanwords in Palestinian Arabic in Israel. HPI is interesting for many reasons, including its contact with the Arabic language and its effects on Palestinian culture and identity. In spite of the similarities with other cases of language contact worldwide, the case of Arabic–Heb…

Arad Letters

(879 words)

Author(s): Aḥituv, Shmuel
The Arad letters were found during the excavations of the Judaean fort of Arad. The ostraca belong to the 8th–early 6th centuries B.C.E., most of them from the late 7th–early 6th centuries B.C.E. Many were addressed to a certain Elyašib by his superior. The letters consist mainly of orders to issue rations of bread, wine, and oil. These orders have no blessing formulas, but begin with the address אל אלישב ʾl ʾlyšb ‘to ʾElyašib’, and proceed with orders, such as ועת תן w-ʿt tn ‘and now, give’ (3.1–2), or שלח šlḥ ‘send’ (5.1–2; 6.1–2). However, the use of imperatives in this way should…

Aramaic Influence on Biblical Hebrew

(2,181 words)

Author(s): Stadel, Christian
Aramaic and Hebrew were languages in contact throughout the entire period in which the text of the Hebrew Bible took shape. Aramaic influence on the grammar and lexicon of Biblical Hebrew (BH) is recognizable in all phases of the language, and possibly even in its Masoretic vocalization. It is reasonable to assume that different dialects of Aramaic exerted influence on different phases of BH. Apart from incidental interference with the BH language system, Aramaic words or forms were used as deliberate literary devices in both BH poetry and prose. 1. Identifying Aramaic in BH Our incomple…

Aramaic Loanwords and Borrowing

(2,662 words)

Author(s): Shitrit, Talya
Hebrew and Aramaic were for centuries bound by strong cultural ties, and these had a considerable effect on the Hebrew language. Both languages have a common Semitic origin and share similarities in the lexicon and in grammatical structure. During the biblical period, they were brought into ever closer contact, until about the 3rd century C.E., when Hebrew ceased to serve as a spoken language and was replaced by Aramaic. Later on, when the latter was also replaced by other languages, there still…

Aramaic Targums

(2,211 words)

Author(s): Kuty, Renaud J.
1. Introduction The term ‘Targum’ refers to a variety of early translations of the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic, the earliest of which go back to the beginning of the Common Era. Best known among them are Targum Onqelos to the Pentateuch and Targum Jonathan to the Prophets, but Targumic literature includes several other corpora, such as Targum Neofiti, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, the Fragment Targums, the Targumic fragments from the Cairo Genizah, and the Samaritan Targum (though technically Syriac is a …

Archaisms: Biblical Hebrew

(1,214 words)

Author(s): Bloch, Yigal
A linguistic feature is considered an archaism in Biblical Hebrew (BH) if it deviates from the standard linguistic usage in BH, but is commonly used in texts belonging to the linguistic milieu out of which BH emerged (i.e., the Northwest Semitic languages of the 2nd millennium B.C.E., as exemplified by Ugaritic and by the Canaanite forms attested in the Amarna letters). A linguistic feature may also be considered archaic if, in the reconstruction of a given case of linguistic development, said feature occupies a place one or more stages earlier than that of the standard usage in BH. The abov…


(3,793 words)

Author(s): Notarius, Tania
A verbal argument is a nominal phrase syntactically related to the verb (compare ‘cases’ in Fillmore 1968). Core arguments (complements) are obligatory and reflect the verb’s valency (argument structure): “Valency relates to the number of core arguments” (Dixon 2000:3), e.g., דני שבר כוס dani šavar kos ‘Dani broke a glass’, in which both the subject and object are obligatory. Adjuncts are non-obligatory and do not belong to the predication core, e.g., דני שבר כוס עם פטיש dani šavar kos ʿim paṭiš ‘Dani broke a glass with a hammer’, in which the prepositional phrase עם פטיש ʿim paṭiš ‘with a…

Armenian, Hebrew Loanwords in

(597 words)

Author(s): La Porta, Sergio
Armenian constitutes an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages (Hübschmann 1875), with close affinities to ancient Phrygian (Diakonoff 1984) and Greek (Clackson 1994). Although ancient sources testify to the existence of the Armenian language from antiquity, the earliest written sources date to the 5th century C.E., subsequent to the creation of the Armenian alphabet by Mesrop Maštoc‘ at the beginning of that century. One of the remarkable features of Armenian has been its a…
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