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2. HEBREW DIGLOSSIA


tvydvdwa Mywn vbywh Mydvhy ta ytyar Mhh Mymyb Mg
Myrykm Mnyav tydvdwa rbdm yxc Mhynbv :tvybavm tvynvmi
Miv Mi Nvwlkv tydvhy rbdl

d'kjg'k : g'y hymcn -


In those days I also saw the Jews that had married women of Ashdod, of Amon, and of Moab; and their children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people.

- Nehemiah 13:23-24



2.1. A Holy Tongue
2.2. The phonology of diglossia: Whole and Merged Hebrew
2.3. Language shift as linguistic change
2.4. The Ashkenazic substratum of Israeli Hebrew


2.1. A HOLY TONGUE

Hebrew ceased to be a spoken idiom at approximately the time when the first great literary work was written in a 'new' form of the language, ca. 200 C.E. Mishnaic Hebrew, also referred to as Rabbinic Hebrew, was a form of Hebrew quite distinct in syntax and vocabulary from that which is represented in the Bible. Lexical differences include Aramaic borrowings such as aba [a@ba] and ama ["@ma] vs. Bib ba [av] and Ma [Em] 'father' and 'mother,' as well as native replacement of other basic words, e.g. Bib Kya [ex] vs. Mish dxyk [kejca@d] 'how,' Bib Pa [af] vs. Mish Mevc [xote@m] 'nose,' Bib rqvb [bo@kEr] vs. Mish tyrcw [Saxar"@t] 'morning,' and, fittingly enough, Bib hpw [safa@] vs. Mish Nvwl [laSo@n] 'language' (Sáenz-Badillos 1993: 199). The emergence of Mishnaic Hebrew occurred at a time when forms of Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew were all characteristic languages spoken in Jewish communities. Although Jewish communities were by no means monolingual in their linguistic behavior, the use of Hebrew as a vernacular was already in decline relative to the other languages. Thus Hebrew and Aramaic were to become identified as part of a relationship that would serve as the defining characteristic of Jewish linguistic behavior. Weinberg (1981: 38) explains the genesis of Jewish diglossia:

The same historical events that dealt blow after blow to the national and the physical existence of the Jewish people -- the Roman wars, beginning in 64 B.C.E., the destruction of the second temple in 70 C.E., and the repression of the Bar-Kokhba revolt in 135 C.E. -- necessitated the preservation of the people's religious and cultural possessions in the language and signaled the end of that language in speech.

Hence the Jewish people became a diglossic community, preserving the same sacred texts and producing a great body of scholarly, liturgical, and poetic writing in a language known as the wdvqh Nvwl [laSo@n hako@dES], 'The Holy Language,' which would not serve as a daily spoken medium.

Although it involved two distinct languages, Hebrew and Aramaic, there is a tendency in the linguistic conceptions of the Jewish people to equate the Holy Language with the Hebrew language. Hence most revivalists regarded Aramaic more as an 'external' source of Semitic enrichment for the expansion of Modern Hebrew than as a component of the Holy Tongue to be concurrently revived (Wexler 1990b). Aramaic was a principal language in the Near East for over a thousand years. It remained in colloquial use among Jews until the end of the first millennium C.E., and its genealogical descendent continues to be spoken as modern Syriac. Yet it was a more or less strongly 'Aramaicized' Hebrew which was treated as the wdvqh Nvwl, especially in regards to the Hebraisms which comprise the most conspicuous part of the Holy Language element in colloquial Jewish languages (Mark 1954). Katz (1985: 93) prefers to speak of the 'Semitic component,' rather than the 'usually encountered Hebrew-Aramaic component, since the latter implies a merged subsystem, which is not the case.' He points out that Aramaic has a distinct 'psychological sanctity,' citing the wydq [kad"@S] prayer for the dead and the yrdn lk [kol nidre@j] on rvpk Mvy [jom kipu@r], 'the Day of Atonement,' as evidence for the independence of Aramaic from Hebrew in the Holy Language (1993: 47). Yet most Jewish speakers, though they may be aware of Aramaic-language liturgical and scholastic writing, do not readily identify individual Aramaisms in the Holy Language, and do so even less in their own Jewish vernaculars. The Aramaic component of the Holy Language is in this sense secondary to Hebrew in both content and function, so that Hebrew has a significantly higher degree of linguistic and cultural saliency to most Jewish speakers. Thus it was possible for revivalists to identify the revival of the Hebrew language as the revival of the Holy Language.

The emergence of Mishnaic Hebrew and a Holy Language tradition meant that from this moment onward through Jewish history, and until this century, no Jewish community would use a form of Hebrew as its vernacular, nor even as a functionally equivalent second language. Yet Hebrew was not to remain a language without use or users, merely frozen in a body of literature. The defining characteristic of diglossia is the complementary use of a language form for purposes from which a vernacular language form is restricted (Ferguson 1959). Therefore, while different languages would serve different communities, at different times and in different places, as the 'low' vernaculars, or L-language, of daily verbal communication, religious and literary activity would be carried out in the 'high' language, or H-language, of culture and history. In the case of Hebrew, its forms and structures would continue to evolve linguistically through its widespread, though non-native, use as a written medium. Still, it would maintain a restricted oral existence. Its texts would be performed ritually by Jews throughout the Diaspora, thereby giving rise to the different pronunciations of 'Hebrew' that would figure crucially in the renativization of Hebrew speech. Jews would also find in Hebrew a potential lingua franca, used especially in the two centuries between the Enlightenment and the speech revival, with the increased contact of Jews of various traditions converging in Palestine (Parfitt 1984).


2.2. THE PHONOLOGY OF DIGLOSSIA: WHOLE AND MERGED HEBREW

As the medium and object of religious study and ritual in many Jewish communities, especially in Europe, knowledge of Classical Hebrew would inevitably affect the vernacular language of its students. Weinreich (1954) introduced a terminological distinction in Jewish linguistics which has since served almost universally to characterize this interaction of colloquial and sacred language. Weinreich identified the most profound linguistic link between Jewish vernaculars and the Holy Language, whereby thousands of items occur simultaneously in different phonological guises, sometimes with semantic and morphosyntactic differentiation, in the colloquial language and in the oral performance of Hebrew. He defined it as an opposition between 'Merged Hebrew' and 'Whole Hebrew' (1954: 85-87). The former includes Semitic Hebrew material that is synchronically integrated into the vernacular, thereby representing a borrowed element within the language. Hence it is Whole Hebrew, where the Aramaic component is more salient than it is in Merged Hebrew, that is referred to as the Holy Language. The term used in Yiddish merged Hebrew is [lo@Sn1 ko@jd´S], where the name is a native word used to refer to the sacred language tradition, the H-language in the diglossic alliance. Uttered in its whole Hebrew form, i.e. read from a text, said in prayer, or produced in some other context of H-language performance by an Ashkenazic Jew, its form would be [laSo@jn hako@jd´S].

In his seminal piece on the sociolinguistic phenomenon of diglossia, Ferguson (1959: 335) pointed out that 'the sound systems of H and L constitute a single phonological structure of which L is the basic system and the divergent features of H phonology are either a subsystem or a parasystem.' Therefore, oral performance in the H-language is dependent on the native competence normally expressed via the L-language, i.e. oral forms of the H-language cannot, as a rule, have sounds not generally present in the L-language phonology. The fact of the matter is that the linguistic system represented by the H-language is an incomplete one, lacking an autonomous phonological component. This fact was captured by Katz (1993), who describes the phonological system of Eastern European Jewish diglossia as comprising two subsystems, each interacting with the Semitic component of Yiddish differently. He defines 'Ashkenazic' not only as the phonological system used by traditional Ashkenazic Jews in their pronunciation of Hebrew and Aramaic, but also as a term to characterize the differences in the behavior of Semitic elements in their Merged and Whole forms. Because neither Hebrew nor Aramaic was anybody's native language in Ashkenaz, Katz believes that

an abstraction of the phonology of these sacred languages without reference to their users' native language would be folly, firstly because it is the spoken language which divulges the true phonology of a speaker and secondly because, in the society in question, the links between the vernacular and the two sacred languages were profound for virtually the entire population. (1993: 48-49)

This phonological framework conforms to that of a diglossic speech community, allowing us to characterize not only the linguistic form of its non-native speakers' knowledge, but the system which describes the specific properties of the performance of Hebrew as a second language, its phonetic similarity to Yiddish and its phonological independence (Glinert 1993a: 9). It captures the phonological facts of Merged and Whole Hebrew, without forcing us to claim full bilingualism in Hebrew where none existed. Nor does it force the consequently unnecessary distinction between the Hebrew and Aramaic knowledge of Ashkenazic speakers. As Katz (1993: 47) states, 'never did the twain merge in lexicon, morphology, or grammatical machinery...They did merge phonologically, however, hence the term and the concept "Ashkenazic".'

Any Yiddish Hebraism, by virtue of being a loanword from a co-existent H-language, has a potential Whole Hebrew form. That is not to say that any Yiddish form based on Hebraic material must be attested in Hebrew. Rather, the implication is that Ashkenazic speakers, having command of two co-existing and interacting subsystems within their native phonology, can potentially produce utterances conforming to the patterns of either subsystem. The 'Loshen Kodesh' example illustrates the most salient phonological differences between co-existing Semitic elements of Yiddish Merged Hebrew and Ashkenazic Whole Hebrew. The former have undergone stress shift and post-tonic vowel reduction, resulting in phonological variants such as larwy Xra Yid [E@r´ts jisrç@´l] vs. Ashk [E@rEts jisrçe@l] 'the Land of Israel,' hlk Yid [kA@l´] vs. Ashk [kAlç@] 'bride,' and rwpa Yid [E@fS´r] vs. Ashk [EfSç@r] 'maybe' (Katz 1993: 58-59). In many cases, the variation has been lexicalized, so that the Yiddish form has diverged from the Whole Hebrew form phonologically and semantically, e.g. tybhJlib Ashk [bAAl hAbA@jIs] 'head of the household' vs. Yid [bAl´bçs] 'boss,' and hbqn Ashk [n´kejvç@] 'female, feminine gender' vs. Yid [n´ke@jv´] 'woman of loose morals,' In other cases, the dual pronunciations and meanings both became integrated as Yiddish words, e.g. tva where Merged Hebrew [ejs] = 'heavenly omen' and Whole Hebrew [çs] = 'letter of the alphabet.' Still other Hebraic items form only semantic oppositions in Yiddish and Ashkenazic. For example, rps [se@jf´r] (Israeli Hebrew [sE@fEr]) retains its general meaning of 'book' in Whole Hebrew, whereas in the merged Hebrew component of Yiddish, it contrasts with Yid Kvb [bux] 'book' by narrowing its reference to 'sacred or religious book.' The last two examples point to the fact that 'phonologically Yiddish' forms can be used for either the 'Yiddish' or the 'Ashkenazic' meaning, while Ashkenazic forms are limited to the Ashkenazic meaning, i.e. that which is usually identified with the classical Hebrew or Aramaic gloss (Katz 1993: 66-67).

In many cases, the phonological, morpho-syntactical, and other differences cited by Fishman (1981) as the defining features of Jewish languages are attributable to the varying degree and nature of Hebrew knowledge. This variation, due to the relative impact of Hebrew on the daily life of the particular Jewish community, is such that Hebrew has varying effects on the vernacular language of the community, hence the variation in the Hebrew component of Jewish languages. At the same time, the vernacular itself affects the oral and written production of Hebrew, hence the variation in the Hebrew pronunciations of different communities. An alternative definition of a Jewish language could, in fact, be given not in terms of its structural relation to the co-territorial languages of non-Jewish populations, but of its functional relation to the non-territorial language of all Jewish populations, because it is Hebrew diglossia that serves as the linguistic and historical setting for the revival of the Hebrew language. This situation has been the norm in all traditional Jewish populations since the disappearance of Hebrew as a vernacular language. In fact, a 'traditional' Jewish community can be defined on the basis of such a diglossic relationship, and the degree to which it is manifested in the daily life of the community. A Jewish school is not merely one with a Jewish student body, but one with a curriculum which includes some degree of instruction either in Hebrew or in a Hebrew-language body of liturgy and literature. Thus a Jewish language is not merely a language with Jewish speakers, but one which is used in a diglossic relation with Hebrew (Rabin 1981: 21).

Such a definition is based in the linguistic behavior of the speech community as a whole. Therefore, it precludes the classification of any non-Hebrew language spoken by Jews as a Jewish language, where the individual speaker simply has some degree of knowledge of Hebrew. In fact, Glinert (1993b) coined a term to classify the 'noncommunicative but far from dysfunctional' use of post-revival non-native Hebrew, in order to set it apart from both traditional pre-revival diglossia and from 'Israeli Hebrew as a second language.' He describes the role of Hebrew in non-traditionalist Western Jewish life as one of a 'quasilect' -- a language whose functions are more symbolic than linguistic, part of a system in which next to no one 'knows' the language and the communication of meaning has come to play a fairly minor role (1993b: 249). From a native point of view, Ornan (1985) believes that Israeli Hebrew altogether lacks the fundamental sociolinguistic characteristics of the Jewish language phenomenon. In his 'typological' classification, which refers to extra-structural features in classifying languages, it should not be considered a Jewish language. The consequences for Jewish interlinguistics of redefining what is Jewish language are beyond the scope of this paper. Yet whatever the motivation and justification for the claims by Ornan and Glinert, they clearly illustrate a change in the Hebrew language, a change of a distinctly 'extra-structural' nature.


2.3. LANGUAGE SHIFT AS LINGUISTIC CHANGE

If the history of a language is a function of the history of its speakers, then a language will not undergo change unless it is manipulated in some way by language users (Thomason & Kaufman 1988: 4). Thus it is my view that the revival of Hebrew involved neither a complete language shift nor a series of changes completely internal to the structure(s) of Hebrew. Ferguson (1983) contends that language shift itself represents a form of linguistic change. He argues that altering not necessarily the structural nature of a language, but its socio-geographic distribution and/or its functional allocations, constitutes an essential element of linguistic change. Furthermore, theories of language change are incomplete if they do not allow for the possible influence of language planning, which most often results less in structural than functional changes in a language. Ferguson especially stresses the importance of planning in this sort of linguistic change:

When my linguist friends tell me you can't even change a case ending by language planning -- that language structure is unconscious and built-in -- I can always say, 'How about the whole language that got planned and came into existence as a mother tongue, which hadn't been there as a mother tongue for centuries before?' (1983: 35)

Ferguson's conception of language change offers a more appropriate characterization of the 'non-dead' status of pre-revival Hebrew. If a language were entirely dead -- that is, having no actual communicative function whatsoever -- there would be no possibility of it undergoing any sort of linguistic change, especially re-vernacularization. This is perhaps the essence of the Hebrew revival, a defining feature of which was the intended careful planning of change in lexicon, phonology, syntax, and most importantly, in function -- that the language be the mother tongue of a new Hebrew-speaking nation.

Hence another unique aspect of Modern Hebrew in the Jewish language phenomenon: the shift to the H-language means that Israeli Hebrew speakers do not necessarily treat Classical Hebrew as a 'separate' language. It was certainly the primary motivation of many revivalists that this H-language be perceived at most as a literary form of the vernacular by its speakers, if not an ideal form to which they should aspire. As we will see in section 3, this view had a significant impact on the various directions taken by the linguistic study of Modern Hebrew, perhaps a greater impact than on the language itself. This view also represents a distinguishing feature of Jewish language shift. The retention of written forms of Hebrew and Aramaic have meant that language shift among Jews occurs not only with no loss of ethnic identity, but with continuous adstratal enrichment of the Jewish vernacular thus created -- adoption-cum-adaptation (Wexler 1981). Wexler (1990a: 114) highlights the distinction between what he terms textual/adstratal and inherited/substratal Hebraisms in Jewish languages because he believes that the latter, more commonly found as Merged Hebrew elements, represent a 2,600-year chain of borrowing going back to the last Jewish languages in contact with colloquial Hebrew. These elements may thus represent the reflexes of natural sound change in Hebrew material. This opposes the traditional view, which holds that the Whole Hebrew patterns of certain Sephardic and Yemenite communities preserve the greatest number of ancient Hebrew features. When Ben-Yehuda wrote of his admiration for the 'Oriental' pronunciation of Hebrew by Sephardic Jews in Jerusalem, he was, of course, referring to Whole Hebrew, the performance of a second language, which became the basis for the normative efforts of the speech revival (Fellman 1973). This difference in views had important consequences for the study of sound change in Hebrew and the development of Israeli pronunciation, to which we will return in section 4.

The change in linguistic function represented by the revival of Hebrew also represents the Jewish participation in the rejection of diglossia in post-medieval Europe. To be sure, the actual linguistic situations were fundamentally different. The loss of diglossia for most European populations involved an identification with an already-spoken vernacular, and a decision to prefer it in asserting the indivisibility of nationhood and territoriality. Jews identified with this more conventional sort of linguistic nationalism to a certain degree as well. Though German, Russian, and French all had their supporters as the national language of Israel, none rivaled Hebrew more closely than Yiddish, the vernacular language of the greatest majority of immigrants to Israel in the revival period. A number of groups championed Yiddish as the true national language of Jews, either in opposition to the 'bourgeois' character of Hebrew as a language of the religious or social elite, or merely out of more practical concerns -- Jews needed a national language, yet Yiddish needed no revival. However, promotion of Hebrew had the 'rhetorically easier task' of claiming to be used as the vehicle 'to show our normalization as a people by using in daily life the exalted language of our great tradition,' as opposed to the elevation of Yiddish, whose burden involved making 'the daily language we take for granted (or even despise as a jargon) into an exalted national language' (Spolsky 1991: 143). Therefore, although the aims of asserting nationhood and territoriality were the same for Jews as for other nations, it was the H-language whose domain was to be extended to the functions of the vernacular.

The elimination of diglossia in the wake of the revival of Hebrew has not been as complete for Jews as it was for post-medieval European populations (Wexler 1990b: 115). Whether as a traditional H-language, a 'quasilect,' or just another foreign language, Hebrew diglossia may still manifest itself in many non-Israeli Jews' lives. Although Wexler believes that the divergent evolution of written and spoken Hebrew, not to mention their different genealogies, are the cause of this persisting diglossia, the fact is that the relative frequency with which multiple languages are spoken by Jews has changed little since Hebrew assured its dominance at end of World War I (Hofman & Fisherman 1972: 353). In fact, the growth of native Hebrew speech and its multifaceted form have nourished a renewed scholarly and community interest in the other languages of the linguistic melting pot of Israel. Revivalists themselves were fascinated by the diversity of speech forms already present in Palestine, where native communities spoke different geographical and cultural varieties of Arabic, Spanish, other languages. Many have studied the specific contributions of these languages, and those imported in the huge waves of immigration, to the development of Israeli Hebrew (e.g. Parfitt 1984, Bunis 1988, Even-Zohar 1990a), with an decisive emphasis on that of Yiddish (e.g. Mark 1958, Blanc 1965, Wexler 1990a, 1990b).

Yiddish influence has been one of the more contentious issues in description of Israeli Hebrew. This situation is understandable given the opposing symbolism that each presented to proponents of the national language movement. Attitudes toward the linguistic features of Ashkenazic speech were for the most part negative, and revivalists specifically targeted such features for replacement in the planning of modern spoken Hebrew. Consequently, investigation of possible Yiddish influences has often been viewed cynically as part of an agenda to downplay the achievement of the revival. Still, few linguistic inquiries into the structure of Israeli Hebrew fail to offer at least an opinion regarding the impact of Yiddish. For example, commenting on Blanc's (1965) treatment of 'genuine structural influences of Yiddish in Israeli Hebrew,' Rosén (1977: 36) stresses that this influence was 'not on [his emphasis] Israeli Hebrew, because...these Yiddish elements were not a contributing factor the creation of Israeli Hebrew, but were operative in modifying its shape after it had been created.' Even though Rosén was decidedly not a denier of the structural autonomy of Yiddish elements in Israeli Hebrew, his attitude is reminiscent of the prescriptivists who tried to limit the influence of Yiddish, and the descriptivists who sought to minimize it (Prager 1981). The latter, insofar as their descriptions matched contemporary usage, may have been successful. The former, however, could not have been, given the number of language shifters whose language was underlain by Ashkenazic standards. It is the influence of Yiddish and Yiddish speakers which proved to be decisive in certain areas of this change -- not only on the national language movement as an ideological opponent, but on the national language itself as a substratal influence in its development. This fact will prove crucial to explaining the birth of Israeli Hebrew as an instance of abrupt creolization.

Israeli Hebrew is the result of interrelated linguistic changes, of both a structural and extra-structural nature, which have occurred in the Hebrew language, the Yiddish language, and most importantly, in those whose community spoke both, the Ashkenazic Jews. The dominant linguistic group in Israel today is one which has not been seen in Jewish linguistic history for nearly 2,000 years, one whose linguistic competence is expressed by a Hebrew language, with no restrictions in form or function. Whatever the structural relation to pre-revival Hebrew, it is this fact which represents the most fundamental linguistic change in the revival of the Hebrew language.


2.4. THE ASHKENAZIC SUBSTRATUM OF ISRAELI HEBREW

It is no coincidence that the Eastern European Ashkenazic Jews who initiated the revernacularization of Hebrew called their first language, Yiddish, the Nvwl imAm [ma@m´ lo@Sn] literally 'mother tongue.' Bar-Adon (1991) characterizes the transition of Hebrew from a second to a first language as a process of development in which to become a mother tongue, Hebrew first became a 'father tongue.' His analysis is dependent on the recognition of Ashkenazic Jews as the dominant group of speakers shifting to Hebrew over the course of its revival. Since most Ashkenazic females did not have equal access to formal religious education, in which Hebrew was taught quite rigorously as a second language, they were not as prepared to engage their children in Hebrew conversation as were fathers. Ironically, the mothers of the first Hebrew-speaking children may have been the last members in the family to speak their children's native tongue.

Bar-Adon's characterization not only encapsulates the status of Hebrew in the diglossic repertoire of its speakers, but it also accounts for the crucial feature regarding the acquisition and transmission of Hebrew, even prior to the period of active speech revival. That is, a language transmitted from generation to generation, one which could not rightly be called a 'mother tongue,' could not be considered to have undergone 'normal transmission,' i.e. the transmission of native competence, in the form of a complete single set of interrelated lexical and structural features (Thomason & Kaufman 1988: 200). Native competence includes an autonomous phonological component, i.e. a set of 'rules' and representations which determine the phonetic form of all actually occurring morphemes in a language (Halle 1962: 58). Katz's description of Ashkenazic speech explicitly provides a phonological account of the Hebrew of the vast majority of shifting Hebrew speakers, and the phonological form of the linguistic data being transmitted in the revival of Hebrew. Moreover, it implicitly describes how pre-revival Hebrew did not have the autonomous phonological component required for the normal transmission of a language, autonomous in the sense of being co-identified with a speaker's native vernacular phonology. A sound system was 'normally' transmitted, of course. In its transmission from non-native to native speakers, however, it reflected fundamentally different levels of linguistic structure and knowledge.

Hence the revival of Hebrew was indeed a process of linguistic change: a language shift which restored normal transmission -- native competence and autonomous phonology -- to a diglossic language. The most salient aspect of the shift from Yiddish to Hebrew, the phonological substratum upon which shifting speakers re-vernacularized the Hebrew language, has been the most often denied. Since the raison d'être of a diglossic H-language depends on its separation from the vernacular in both function and structure, it is not surprising for the revival of a classical language to be unreceptive to L-language enrichment, as well as to the assertion of L-language influence (Wexler 1971). Thus the language shift was formulated in terms Whole Hebrew pronunciation patterns rather than vernacular phonology. Revivalists conceived of developing a Hebrew speech community, by uniform adoption of a uniform pronunciation of a uniform second language. In fact, more problematic than the absence of native speakers to many early revivalists and to the Hebrew teachers responsible for inspiring and propagating Hebrew speech, was the 'dichotomy' between the Ashkenazic and the Sephardic pronunciations of Whole Hebrew:

Some argue on behalf of the Sephardic pronunciation from the standpoint of habit when they say that the inhabitants of Palestine have already become accustomed to it...However, we ought not forget that the inhabitants of Palestine are few compared to the inhabitants of the Diaspora, who constitute the majority of our people and who are certainly accustomed to the Ashkenazic pronunciation.

Thus the definition of a national pronunciation was seen as an obstacle second only to the lack of 'modern' expressions in attempting to forge a new Hebrew nation:

If we proceed to replace it with the Sephardic pronunciation, then it will not only become a stumbling block to those who themselves are speakers, but we will further damage the spread of the language by our adding to it yet another impediment. (From the protocols of the charter convention of the Teachers' Union 1903, cited in Saulson 1979)

I have shown that shift constitutes a form of 'external' linguistic change. Furthermore, it seems correct to say that such change might also affect the internal structure of a language, as evidenced by the guardians of the revival of Hebrew, who inevitably bemoan the discrepancies between the language before and after the shift, rarely accepting deviant usage as more than the result of imperfect learning. Although the effort to guide the language acquisition process of children had a certain degree of linguistic foundation, adult language users were not likely to internalize prescriptions concerning their language usage which originated from a source external to them, particularly from a source outside the language acquisition environment (Saulson 1979: 187). The position taken by the Teachers' Union ignored the inevitability of linguistic change as a necessary consequence of language shift, change which may or may not be a direct response to language planning. Since revivalists were not prepared to grant structural status to non-normative forms, the task of elucidating the structure of Modern Hebrew was left to those with a somewhat different connection to the language: professional linguists.


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1997 Devon L. Strolovitch