When I use an Artscroll gemara with vowels, sometimes it will vocalize the word לך differently. The pattern I notice seems to be that it vocalizes לך as לְךָ for hebrew, i.e. a mishna or braisa, and לָךְ for Aramaic. Is this correct?

Also, many times what seems to be Aramaic finds its way into a braisa or mishna, is that true or not?

  • Are you asking if there are Aramaic words in the Mishna?
    – Double AA
    Jul 18 '12 at 13:59
  • Eliyahu, these are two separate questions, although I'll try to answer them as one. Please consider asking them separately, and I'll edit my answer here accordingly and then try to answer the second question separately.
    – Seth J
    Jul 18 '12 at 14:39
  • Is the first question in scope? I know it has to do with gemara, but not in a learning sense. You can learn gemara just as well without knowing how this aspect of grammar works.
    – Double AA
    Jul 18 '12 at 14:43
  • @DoubleAA, it's a pretty confusing thing to try to understand the basics of the language you're using to study Talmud, and it can be distracting from the actual learning. I know that when I got hung up in בשר בחלב a few weeks ago because of a discussion in the Tur comparing חלב to חלב, I got so frustrated I had to take a walk to clear my head - and that was after I finally figured out what was going on. I think it rates as in scope.
    – Seth J
    Jul 18 '12 at 15:02
  • I put them together as a guess of an answer. Thanks for the great responses so far! Grammar doesn't hold me back very much but sometimes I'm in the mood to get it just right.
    – Eliyahu
    Jul 18 '12 at 16:52

I think that the best way to answer this question would be to recommend that you acquire a good reference grammar and acquaint yourself with Babylonian Talmudic Aramaic. To that end, the most readable is certainly the one by Yitzhak Frank, though I prefer the one by Alger Johns, even though it's technically for Biblical Aramaic. You might also want to look at M.H. Segal's Grammar of Mishnaic Hebrew. If you do, you'll see that the Hebrew of the Mishna, the Tosefta, the tannaitic midrashim and the beraitot is all very influenced by Aramaic, in terms of grammar (the construction of individual words), syntax (the construction of sentences) and orthography (spelling).

That's so far as your second question is concerned. So far as the first is concerned, there is variation between לְךָ and לָךְ even within the Hebrew of Tanakh, specifically when the referent is masculine. Unless you are able to provide an example that indicates otherwise, I imagine that is the situation here too. It has nothing to do with the difference between Hebrew and Aramaic, but reflects merely on differing orthographic conventions. Likewise, you will see masculine plurals in the Mishna alternating, even within a single mishna, between possessing a final mem or a final nun.

I cannot speak for the vocalisation of ArtScroll, but there is a vocalisation tradition for the Mishna that is well established. In fact, there was even a system of accentuation at one time as well, with Tiberian te'amim, such as we find in the MT. You can see manuscripts of the Mishna, some of which are vocalised, at this site.

  • Note that Biblical Hebrew uses lach as a masculine pausal form and, more to the point, that later Hebrew uses it for masculine even not as a pausal form (e.g. "nakdishach v'naaritzach", although some later editions hypercorrected that to "nakdish'cha v'naaritz'cha").
    – msh210
    Jul 18 '12 at 15:42
  • Example: todays dafyomi, נח ע"ב in a braaisa לדברי אין קץ שאין לךָ אשה שטהורה לבעלה. On the same amud in the gemara אמר לךְ רב הונא
    – Eliyahu
    Jul 18 '12 at 16:49

As a general rule, Jewish Babylonian Aramaic, the stream of Aramaic used by the Talmud Bavli, vocalizes לך as לָךְ, even when addressing a male, despite the fact that this is generally used only when addressing females in Hebrew.

Generally, the Mishnah is written in Hebrew. However, it is written in what is known as Mishnaic Hebrew. What that means is that the lines between Aramaic and Hebrew, which are closely related languages, began to be blurred in the era in which the Mishnah was written.

So, your impression of the phenomenon in the Artscroll is correct - ie., the pattern you've noticed that it uses one vocalization for males in Aramaic, but uses the other vocalization for males in Hebrew, is correct. Furthermore, some Aramaic - or, more often, Aramaic patterns in Hebrew - are evident in the primarily-Hebrew Mishnah.

  • When learning Mishnaic Hebrew, with its elements of both, how are you מכריע which way it should be?
    – Eliyahu
    Jul 18 '12 at 16:51
  • @Eliyahu, the same way you figure out any other word in Hebrew/Aramaic without vowels. Context and experience. If you're not sure, then go with your default instinct - in Mishnah assume it's like "regular" Hebrew, while in the Gemara assume it's like "regular" Aramaic.
    – Seth J
    Jul 18 '12 at 16:56
  • @Eliyahu and Seth, kind of like going by context when you want to know if the word is אִין (yes) or אֵין (not/no). Jul 18 '12 at 17:05
  • @HodofHod, good comparison, except I've actually heard it said that the correct vocalization of the former is identical to the latter, just that we've become accustom to pronouncing it differently to avoid confusion.
    – Seth J
    Jul 18 '12 at 17:09
  • 1
    @HodofHod, yup! See my comment about חלב (on the question above). That one really gave me a headache. The most frustrating part was that the Tur is essentially saying, "Don't get confused about the laws of meat that has absorbed חלב and think this is the rule in all cases of Isur; for meat that has absorbed חלב the rule is the opposite." Seriously! He had to choose that example of a different Isur to make his point? Meat that has absorbed חלב! And of course because it's the Tur, everyone who follows uses the same example. (You can see I'm not quite over this.)
    – Seth J
    Jul 18 '12 at 17:35

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