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Our sages say that we didn’t change our language, clothes, and names and in that merit we were redeemed. However didn’t we have to communicate with the Egyptians in their language?

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  • Personally, I see it as a compliment that we were like Yosef -- we kept our clothes on (morality) kept our names/identity (he never is called Tzafnat Paneach) and our distinct language (so he understood his brothers). Even though he spoke Egyptian, he retained his Hebrew.
    – rosends
    Apr 12 at 10:37
  • I think their whips spoke volumes
    – Kovy Jacob
    Apr 13 at 7:24

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Indeed, the Maor VaShemesh in remazei Pesach writes that all Jews spoke Egyptian and what our sages meant when they said that the Jewish people were redeemed in merit of the fact that they didn’t change their Jewish names, language, and garb, it doesn’t necessarily mean they spoke Hebrew but that they spoke in a pure and refined language in Egyptian! Thats what it means to speak “Jewish”.

However the Maharsha says that our Yiddish in Egypt was Aramaic being that our Matriarchs were daughters of Lavan the Arami (Aramaic) and that’s why our sages say that the Targum or translation to the Torah was given at Sinai together with the Torah. Otherwise why would they need it if they spoke Hebrew?

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    See Reuven Chaim Klein's book Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew (Mosaica Press), which has a whole chapter dedicated to this question. Apr 12 at 7:44
  • By Egyptian you mean Hyksos' language, namely Canaanite or? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyksos Apr 12 at 12:35
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The writing does not exclude speaking multiple languages; such that you would speak Hebrew to a Jew and Egyptian to an Egyptian.

A textual analysis of proper nouns suggests that cradle speech was Hebrew as there is no back-contamination of the proper nouns from Egyptian. Weight this as you will; it could have been unwound by someone who was smart enough to realize how this works.

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Rebbetzin Jungreis used to teach: "They keep their language: THERE WERE NO DELATORS AMONG THEM. They keep their clothes IT REFERS TO TEFILLIN AND TALIS and They keep their names: that means they keep their good name: no lashon harah.

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