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Language Mix and Multilingualism in Ancient Palestine: Literary and Inscriptional Evidence / עירוב לשונות ורב-לשוניות בארץ ישראל בעת העתיקה: ממצאים ספרותיים ואפיגרפיים

סטיבן ד' פראד and Steven D. Fraade
Lĕšonénu: A Journal for the Study of the Hebrew Language and Cognate Subjects / לשוננו: כתב-עת לחקר הלשון העברית והתחומים הסמוכים לה
Vol. עג‎, No. ג/ד‎ (אלול התשע"א), pp. 273-307
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24328321
Page Count: 35
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Language Mix and Multilingualism in Ancient Palestine: Literary and Inscriptional Evidence / עירוב לשונות ורב-לשוניות בארץ ישראל בעת העתיקה: ממצאים ספרותיים ואפיגרפיים
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Abstract

Ancient Jewish society was widely and deeply marked by multilingualism, the three primary languages used in a variety of domains and for a variety of functions having been Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Choosing which language to use in which domain and for which function, and being able to switch between them as appropriate, was a practice for which we have large bodies of literary, documentary, and inscriptional evidence. The implications of such language choices were both practical and symbolic, realistic as well as ideological. They were critical for the shaping and maintaining of Jewish identity as lived in close contact with foreign cultures and their languages, whether in the land of Israel or in the diasporas. Against this broad canvas the article first surveys the theme of multilingualism, including views of Hebrew in relation to other languages, as widely expressed within early rabbinic literature. It then looks at the practice of multilingual language choice with respect mainly to the interrelation between Hebrew and Aramaic within the land of Israel during Roman times, comparing the picture that emerges from rabbinic literary sources, on the one hand, with that of the documentary and inscriptional evidence, on the other. For both sets of data, patterns of linguistic interpenetration, internal translation, and linguistic code-switching are considered. The picture that emerges is notable for its degree of consistency across modes and media, as for its dynamic variability.

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