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.

Subscriptions: Brill.com


(2,325 words)

Author(s): Colasuonno, Maria Maddalena
Sociolinguistics is a branch of linguistics that deals with the interconnection between linguistic variables and social features in order to determine “Who speaks What language to Whom and When” (Fishman 1965). Conventionally, Ancient Hebrew (AH) is divided into Epigraphic Hebrew (EpH), Biblical Hebrew (BH; further subdivided into Archaic Biblical Hebrew [ABH], Classical [or Standard] Biblical Hebrew [CBH or SBH], and Late Biblical Hebrew [LBH]), and Mishnaic Hebrew (MH). The labels EpH, BH and MH conceal a number of diachron…


(1,147 words)

Author(s): Bolozky, Shmuel
Sonority is a concept which phonologists and phoneticians have been using since the 19th century, but they have not reached agreement on how it should be defined (see Parker 2002 for a fairly exhaustive list of definitions). Like the syllable, it is not a precise phonetic concept, and some phoneticians argue that it is not even ‘phonetically real’. It has, however, proved useful within the realm of phonology, with articulatory and perceptual correlates, and phonologists (again Parker 2002, for e…

South America

(2,465 words)

Author(s): de Faria Francisco, Edson
This article focuses on the use and distribution of the Hebrew language in South American countries, including references to its use in Jewish schools, universities, and seminaries. Also mentioned is a short history of Jewish immigration to South America as well as some facts on the use of the different Hebrew pronunciation traditions (Ashkenazic and Sephardic). Moreover, this article deals with some South American publications devoted to Hebrew (Biblical and Modern), such as dictionaries, grammars, Hebrew Bible editions and translations, among other texts. 1. Short History of…


(7,116 words)

Author(s): del Lete Olmo, Gregorio
1. The Middle Ages: Jews The Hebrew language probably made its appearance in the Iberian Peninsula with the arrival of the first Jewish groups in the 2nd–5th centuries C.E., following their dispersion throughout the Roman Empire. The prescriptions of the Council of Elvira (305 C.E.) and the successive ecclesiastical and civil regulations of the Visigothic authorities against the Jews (5th–7th centuries) bear early witness to their presence in the Iberian Peninsula. But it was due to the marked development of the Jewish communities in medieval Islamic and Christian …

Spanish, Hebrew Loanwords in

(2,641 words)

Author(s): Bunis, David M.
The Jewish communities of medieval Spain were among the most productive and influential in Europe. Documents preserved from those communities demonstrate that Iberian Jews employed numerous Hebraisms in their Ibero-Romance vernaculars, at least in writing. Among their descendants, the written as well as oral use of Hebraisms is widely documented in the Judezmo (Judeo-Spanish) of the Ottoman Empire and Ḥaketía of North Africa into the modern era. And yet, unlike the Hebraisms employed in the lang…

Spanish Loanwords in Hebrew

(717 words)

Author(s): David M. Bunis
From the Middle Ages through modern times, most words of Hispanic origin which have been used in varieties of Hebrew entered through Judezmo (Judaeo-Spanish), and their use was generally limited to Sephardic writers. Early in the 20th century, a few Spanish literary works were translated into Hebrew (e.g., Cervantes’ Don Quixote, translated by Hayim Nahman Bialik in 1912), but the Spanish terms they contained resulted in no linguistic borrowings in the emerging Modern Hebrew other than דון קישוט don kišot, used for an impractical idealist. Officially, Jews were barred from…

Speech Acts: Biblical Hebrew

(3,549 words)

Author(s): Wagner, Andreas
1. Basic Concepts of Linguistic Theory One of the insights of more recent forays into language is the discovery of the pragmatic dimension of linguistic utterances. Philosophers and linguists (L. Wittgenstein, K. Bühler, E. Koschmieder) encountered the limitations of describing language in such cases where the focus of analysis was merely on sign-character, referential function, linguistic structure, and the like. The insight that language also serves for the execution of acts eventually emerged most …

Speech Acts: Modern Hebrew

(3,061 words)

Author(s): Blum-Kulka, Shoshana
It was the British philosopher John L. Austin who laid the foundations for what became known as ‘Standard Speech Act Theory’. In his book How to Do Things with Words (1962), Austin moved from the basic insight about the capacity of certain linguistic expressions to perform communicative acts, to a general theory of communicative actions, namely ‘speech acts’. Austin noted that certain expressions, such as אני מתנצל ε̌ ʾani mitnaṣel ‘I apologize’ or הרי את מקודשת לי בטבעת זו כדת משה וישראל hare ʾat mequdešet li be-ṭabaʿat zo ke-dat moše ve-yiśraʾel ‘you are dedicated to me through thi…

Split, Phonological

(946 words)

Author(s): Korchin, Paul
Phonemic split is the division of one phoneme into two. Two kinds of phonological division are possible: ‘primary split’ and ‘secondary split’ (Hoenigswald 1960:91–95). Primary split happens when a phoneme develops an allophone that is acoustically equivalent to an already existing phoneme within the given language. This results in a change of distributions for the phonemes involved, but it does not increase the overall phonemic inventory of the language, since an allophone has merely been reali…

Sports Writing, Language of

(936 words)

Author(s): Fassberg, Teddy
The language of sports writing in Hebrew, like sports writing in general, differs in a number of aspects from that of the general media. Famously known as the ‘toy department’ of the newspaper, sport sections are rife with puns, particularly in headlines. Sports headlines, with varying degrees of sophistication, draw on a wide variety of shared cultural knowledge (Shlossberg 2002), including history, e.g., גירוש ספרד? ואן ניסטלרוי ורובן למכירה geruš sfarad? van nisṭelroy ve-roben li-mxira ‘Spanish expulsion? Van Nistelrooy and Robben are for sale’ ( Yediʿot ʾAx̱ronot 16.6.2009); …

S (s phonemes - Sztybel Publishing House)

(10,151 words)

s phonemes  pronunciation of Bne Hes and Bne Ḵes, Graphophonemic Assignment, Morocco, Pronunciation Traditions, Phonology: Biblical Hebrew   in German/Yiddish Ashkenazi Pronunciation Tradition: Medieval   in Samaritan Hebrew Samaritan Hebrew: Biblical  writing of   in Biblical Hebrew Orthography: Biblical Hebrew   in Epigraphic Hebrew Orthography: Biblical Hebrew   in Modern Hebrew Orthography: Modern Hebrew   see also samekh ; śin/šin Sa˓adia Gaon Grammatical Thought in Medieval Jewish Exegesis in Europe, Hebraisms in Arabic Versions of the Hebrew…

Stative: Biblical Hebrew

(664 words)

Author(s): Pat-El, Na’ama
Stative is a type of Actionality, describing a class of activity inherent in a verb. Semantically, a verb denoting state, i.e., a stative verb, does not indicate change but does not exclude such a possibility (Actionality ( Aktionsart): Pre-Modern Hebrew). These verbs describe a situation that requires no effort from the agent (for example, stative ‘hear’ versus non-stative ‘listen’; stative ‘know’ versus non-stative ‘learn’). Stative verbs may denote, among other things, attributes (‘be large’), mental states (‘love’) and physical states (‘sleep’). In the Semitic languages …

Stative: Modern Hebrew

(1,604 words)

Author(s): Doron, Edit
The stative-dynamic contrast is one of the aspectual distinctions among verbs. Stative verbs denote situations which involve neither agentivity nor change over time (Vendler 1957; Dowty 1979). Distinguishing stative from dynamic verbs is complicated by the fact that some stative verbs can also be interpreted as inchoative or agentive, i.e., as non-stative. Examples are כעס kaʿas ‘be angry’ (also inchoative ‘get angry’), הפריע hifriaʿ ‘disturb’ (also agentive), רכב raxav ‘ride’ (also agentive); the stative ‘be in a riding position’ interpretation of the latter is…

St. Petersburg I Firkovitch B19a Manuscript of the Hebrew Bible

(864 words)

Author(s): Ofer, Yosef
The manuscript St. Petersburg, National library, Evr I B19a, from the first collection of Firkovitch (also known as Leningrad Codex, Codex Leningradensis, MS L) includes the Masoretic text of the twenty-four books of the Hebrew Bible. The manuscript consists of 491 leaves. The text is written in three columns per page (two columns for the Books of Psalms, Proverbs, and Job), with twenty-seven lines per column. The final twenty-eight leaves contain Masoretic Treatises, some of a grammatical natur…

Stress: Biblical and Rabbinic Pronunciation Traditions

(1,763 words)

Author(s): Henshke, Yehudit
Stress is an important issue in Hebrew linguistics, with respect to both Biblical and post-biblical Hebrew, with many as yet unexplained aspects. The oral traditions of various Jewish communities play a unique role in the discussion of this issue. These are living traditions of pronunciation that provide direct evidence of stress placement in the different communities. This entry will concentrate on the traditions of the communities of North Africa, especially those from Tunisia, and also presen…

Stress: Biblical Hebrew

(1,667 words)

Author(s): Blau, Joshua
The stress system in the Hebrew Bible is transmitted by the cantilation marks that were added, along with the vocalization, by the Masoretes. Although the main purpose of the cantilation marks was not to mark stress, but rather to guide the recitation and chanting of the holy text in the synagogue, they generally stand either below or above the stressed syllable of the word, since the prominent syllables in chanting are also the stressed ones (Biblical Accents: Prosody). In Biblical Hebrew strongly centralizing ultimate stress prevailed, which used up most of the breath i…

Stress: Modern Hebrew

(1,305 words)

Author(s): Cohen, Evan-Gary | Ussishkin, Adam
1. Introduction Stress refers to the relative prominence of syllables in words. Stressed syllables are usually produced with greater acoustic energy than unstressed syllables, which may result in a higher pitch, increased length, and enhanced loudness. Therefore, stressed syllables are acoustically more prominent than unstressed syllables. In Hebrew, stress is contrastive and may distinguish between the meanings otherwise identical words. All content words of Modern Hebrew bear a primary stress. There is no acoustic evidence of word level s…

Structural Linguistics

(2,087 words)

Author(s): Kuzar, Ron
Structural Linguistics is a school of linguistics that developed at the beginning of the 20th century and reigned in the field of linguistics during the first half of the century. Its founding text is Saussure’s (1916) Cours de linguistique générale. Almost totally obsolete by now in its original form, this school has nevertheless survived in a few centers, notably at the Department of Linguistics of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Many of its tenets have been undertaken in Cognitive Linguistics (especially in Construction Gramma…


(1,946 words)

Author(s): Rendsburg, Gary A.
Style-switching refers to the incorporation of non-Hebrew elements into a Hebrew text in order to convey foreignness in particular settings. Among the first scholars to identify style-switching in the Bible and to deal with the phenomenon in any detail were Rabin (1967), with reference to the speech of the watchman from Dumah in Isa. 21.11–12 (Addressee-Switching), and Kaufman (1988:54–55), with attention to the book of Job, the Balaam oracles, the Massa material in Prov. 30–31, and the aforemen…

Stylistic Alternation in Modern Hebrew

(4,757 words)

Author(s): Ilani, Noga
1. Introduction According to one definition, style is the consequence of a choice between alternative expressions available in a language which convey (more or less) the same meaning. Freedom in making such choices is limited by the rules of the language (Enkvist 1964:1–56). 2. Types of Alternative Expressions Stylistic alternatives exist at different levels of linguistic structure. Thus, for example, at the morphological level one has a choice, in Modern Hebrew, between the regular genitival construction (בית המלך bet ha-melex ‘the king’s house’), use of the possessive particle של…
▲   Back to top   ▲