0

This question may be controversial but it isn't meant as an insult to any specific community. In fact, it kind of targets everyone if the hypothesis is correct. It speaks to the reality of the exile and how it impacted Jewish culture.

Hebrew comes in a variety of cultural variants which all have unique pronunciations and sounds.

  • Ashkenazi Hebrew
  • Sephardi Hebrew
  • Mizrahi Hebrew
  • Yemenite Hebrew
  • etc.

All of our communities have slightly or severely changed the way words are spoken.The simplest example of this is the Sephardic emphasis on (T) (ת) and the Ashkenazi emphasis on (S)(ת) - Beit vs Beis Hamikdash.

This very likely came from us being forced to adopt foreign tongues for daily life and these sounds impacted how we read and pronounced Hebrew.

If the scholarly investigations have determined what the Hebrew closer to the 2nd temple period actually did sound like, why are we choosing to ignore those realities and not correct our Hebrew? Would it not be a religious obligation for us to correct ourselves if we determined an error had been made at some point during the exile?

To be clear, I am speaking with regards to religious practice Hebrew. The kind used for Brachot and reciting the Torah in shul. Not spoken language Hebrew used daily in the streets.

8
  • Trying to conserve an accent seems like a fool's errand. It's natural for pronunciations to evolve and diverge. But the point of spoken language is to vocalize words; I think the specific sounds and how they're produced are nonessential.
    – shmosel
    Dec 29, 2023 at 11:47
  • Other than the fact that we typically don't rule based on archeology and the like, the matter of older/more authentic pronunciations is still heavily debated, despite many favoring the Temani tradition. Some opine that the different pronunciation traditions are first and foremost based on different dialects of ancient Hebrew, and adoption of Mediaeval tongues second. Thus, for example, we know that already in the time of the tannaim there was a weakening of gutturals in parts of Eretz Yisrael because Chazal mention this.
    – Harel13
    Dec 29, 2023 at 12:19
  • Indeed some do argue that we ought all be trying to correct our pronunciation, this is the thesis of R. Bension ha-Kohen in his שפת אמת שפתי כהן Dec 29, 2023 at 16:16
  • @shmosel Not just vocalize words but vocalize distinct words distinctly. I can vocalize every word as "googoogaga" like most infants do, but that's hardly spoken language.
    – Double AA
    Dec 29, 2023 at 19:06
  • @DoubleAA Sure, but that's not necessarily tied to a specific pronunciation. See my comment below.
    – shmosel
    Dec 29, 2023 at 19:11

0

Browse other questions tagged .