Let me start by saying that this question is not a criticism of any one community or their dialect. I'm asking this question from the mindset of there being possible religious obligations to use the most "correct" Hebrew possible.

Sephardim, Ashkenazim, etc. when we follow the evolution of Hebrew in each community, we see that the language evolved and adjusted to the norms of each location/situation.

A quote from an article on Chabad:

Ashkenazim don’t differentiate between the chet and chof; Sepharadim do. Ashkenazim pronounce the non-accented tav similar to the samech, while most Sepharadim pronounce it like the tet...

This being just one example.

All of these linguistic traditions evolved from the exile. When we lost Israel and didn't have a centralized location to keep the "norms" (so to speak) of things like language intact, they evolved in each of the four corners of the world.

My question is this:

If modern evidence comes along that shows the way some or all of the communities changed the pronunciations are considered historically inaccurate, do we have a divine obligation to change our behavior to most reflect the historical language norms?

The reason I ask is if the language is divine and given to us from Hashem, wouldn't those pronunciations be just as important as the words themselves?

Could there also be Messianic implications in relation to "Pure Speech" ?

For then I will make the peoples pure of speech, So that they all invoke the LORD by name And serve Him with one accord. -Zephaniah 3:9

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    There's basically three camps: how your grandfather spoke is Real Hebrew, anything sufficiently understandable/common goes so why change anything, correct anything that is proven mistaken (the latter philosophy can be split into nothing can be proven wrong and the more prevalent some things can be proven wrong). The last position is by far the most traditional de jure, the first position is a Charedi response to Modern Hebrew, and the second position is arguably the most historically linguistically accurate description of de facto popular practice. – Double AA Sep 23 '18 at 1:49
  • Might find interesting: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bension_Kohen – Kazi bácsi Sep 23 '18 at 11:27
  • @Kazibácsin Are you aware of anyone who continued his work after his death or if any leaders within the community endorsed transitioning to his form of Hebrew? – user15672 Sep 23 '18 at 22:11
  • @Avri No, that's why I've posted it as a comment. Minhagim are very strong, and I wouldn't change my pronunciation either (though I've become more sheva na conscious in the recent years). – Kazi bácsi Sep 25 '18 at 20:20
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    @Avri see the Haskamot to his work to see endorsements from many rabbis of all stripes – Double AA Sep 25 '18 at 23:55

Pronunciation is a part of each community tradition, just as the Teffilah text or eating rice on Pesach. As such it can not be "unified".

Some 50 years ago there was an attempt in the Israeli Army to offer a Unified Nosach by R' Goren Z"l and the Chief Rabbinate. I did some Army service some 30 years ago and I remember those "Unified" Sidurim. Turned out, nobody touched them as the Mizrachi guys were very stringent with their Nosach and Ashkenazy guys - there were not many religious Ashkenazi guys and those Sidurim eventually disappeared.

I know that some Ashkenazi communities (Brisk) try to adopt the Mara deAtrah (Sefardish) pronunciation, but it didn't spread so far. (Look for questions about ע and ח for Ashkenazis on this site)

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  • This is nonsense. Very few people speak Hebrew exactly like their grandparents did, and even fewer like their grandparents' grandparents. – Double AA Sep 23 '18 at 12:03
  • @DoubleAA You're (again) very non-specific in your critics, which makes it useless. I would value a more specific feedback - what exactly do you disagree? I live in Jerusalem and we have generations of grandfathers and grandkids (like the Hebron or Kol Torah or Slonim's Hassidus) pronouncing exactly the same. – Al Berko Sep 24 '18 at 18:44
  • how does citing one small community disprove my clear claim? – Double AA Sep 25 '18 at 23:54

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