Re: "Dead" languages: Can be learned as natural ones?
Posted: 2014-07-12, 20:53
IpseDixit wrote:"Dead" languages: Can be learned as natural ones?
Hebrew was quite a dead language. If nowadays there are roughly 10 million native Hebrew speakers, someone must have learnt it as a "natural" language...
Modern Hebrew is only partly a development of medieval and ancient Hebrew. Although a modern Israeli could indeed read the Bible and has to learn some words which aren't used that much anymore in modern speech, some Israeli linguists say that Hebrew is more like a creole language of ancient Hebrew and several other languages. If you regard the history modern Hebrew was a mixing of ancient Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, Assyrian and some other languages, so the only way in which it could have been a real revival of an ancient language was if Elizer Ben Yehuda only used ancient Hebrew words for the whole language, which he decided not to do, also for good reasons as that would have made the process of reviving the language way too complex.
It is learnt as a native language by the way. Elizer Ben Yehuda isolated his son from other people, he wasn't allowed to play with other kids, because he wanted to prevent his son from coming into contact with speakers of another language, and this was quite smart of him as he realized that if he would play with other children he wouldn't learn Hebrew as a native language. He and his wife only spoke Hebrew to their son, sometimes people refer to this with the phrase: raq be ivrit! (only in Hebrew!)
Although it's the way in which Hebrew was made in a first language, I wonder if this was the best method, as this wouldn't be allowed for children anymore in these days. Though, it's interesting how modern Israelis can read the Bible with words which they know as their first language.