Palestinian amoraic hebrew as a living vernacular: An indication from morphosyntax

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Presently, most scholars hold that the linguistic status of Rabbinic Hebrew from Byzantine Palestine (380-640 ce) is that of a dead literary language, influenced by Aramaic and earlier varieties of Hebrew, and that Hebrew had already died out as a spoken vernacular in the second or early third century ce. The sources for this variety are rabbinic texts produced by the Palestinian Amoraim and to a lesser degree, epigraphy. The article challenges this view, claiming that such opinions have not been based on a systematic morphosyntactic examination of Palestinian Amoraic Hebrew. The article presents such an analysis of a morphosyntactic structure, namely, pseudo-coordinated verb pairs. Two sub-structures are examined: (I) imperative + imperative and (II) imperative + yiqtol, in Palestinian Amoraic Hebrew, Tannaitic Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew and Jewish Palestinian Aramaic. Palestinian Amoraic Hebrew is found to clearly align with Tannaitic Hebrew, and not Biblical Hebrew and Jewish Palestinian Aramaic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-418
Number of pages100
JournalJournal of Semitic Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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