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To recall that the question of the Semitic identity of Israeli Hebrew is one concerning its genealogical, and not its typological relationship is to solve the problem.

- Haim B. Rosén (1977: 24)

...the ghost of typological classification masquerading as genetic classification can unfortunately not yet be laid to rest.

- Bernard Comrie (1989: 82)


In discussing the nativization process and its crucial role in the development of Israeli Hebrew, Bar-Adon (1991: 126) asserts that 'if Hebrew were in use only by non-native speakers, it would resemble a somewhat artificial language, a 'pidgin,' rather than a creole.' Since Hebrew is in use by native speakers, he considers the nativization process to be similar rather to the process of creolization, in which a simplified contact language, deriving from a variety of lexical, phonological, and grammatical sources, crystallizes by becoming the first language of its users. Izre'el (1985: 79) refers to the koine-ization outlined by Blanc (1968) and the nativization described by Bar-Adon (1977) in explicitly stating that Israeli Hebrew, the mother tongue of approximately one million native speakers which did not exist as such just one hundred years ago, shows many of the 'classic' signs of pidginization and creolization. He cites, for example, the simplification of both the vowel and consonantal systems of the two major pre-revival 'phonologies' and its subsequent adoption as a single phonological system by the first native Hebrew children as evidence for the operation of these processes in the development of modern spoken Hebrew. More than just leveling the idiosyncrasies of dialects toward the formation of a national koine, the origins and development of Israeli Hebrew show the characteristic simplification and expansion of pidginization and creolization, so that the language may properly be classified as a creole.

Invoking the terms 'creole' and 'creolization' is rarely without controversy. To the non-linguist, and sometimes even to the linguist, the terms have implications of mixture and deviation that undermine the systematicity, and hence the 'linguistic status,' of the speaker's language. Fishman (1981: 8), for example, explains that considerations as to the sources of Jewish languages 'combine to demote Jewish varieties to the status of dialects (and indeed, even to that of Creoles [sic], since the latter alone possess only vitality, or pidgins, since they alone lack even that saving grace).' This attitude represents an attempt to accord Jewish languages the very status which it denies creole languages. It demotes the latter to a language form below the level of dialect, thereby regarding creoles and the process by which they developed as marginal to linguistic theory. However, linguists have been increasingly turning to pidgin and creole linguistics because of the models suggested therein for language acquisition, language variation, and language change (Traugott 1977). Creolization is a complex process of contact-induced language change, characterized by expansion in form and extension in use. A creole is the result of this process having converged to an autonomous norm, i.e. a native language (Hymes 1971: 84). In fact, the distinguishing features of most Jewish languages, as with creole languages, are very often the result of contact and mixture among languages, most commonly a particular Holy Language tradition, with its Whole and Merged Hebrew speech patterns, and a co-territorial non-Jewish language. Weinreich (1954: 78) expressed this fact succinctly in his discussion on the origins of Yiddish, claiming that 'Yiddish is a fusion language, in which...four components have to be reckoned with...The emergence of Yiddish cannot be conceived of as the gradual breakaway of a certain German-speaking group from its former language.'

Hence the use of the label 'creole' is meant only to identify the product(s) of a form of linguistic change in which the language is neither the result of a complete speech community shift, nor merely a changed later form of an ancestor language. This is the claim I expressed earlier regarding the nature of Israeli Hebrew's development. It follows a definition given by Thomason & Kaufman, who argue for the existence of a class of languages 'whose developmental history involves abnormal transmission, by which we mean that a language as a whole has not been passed down from one speaker to the next with changes spread more or less evenly across all parts of the language' (1988: 211). The thought experiment which opened this paper is presented by Thomason & Kaufman using English speakers and a borrowed Russian lexicon as hypothetical languages in a contact situation. They use it to illustrate an essential characteristic of an 'abrupt creole,' namely, that the 'linguistic deculturation' from the original language(s) was abrupt enough so that a new native language, with lexicon and grammatical machinery of diverse origins, crystallized without having existed as a simplified, non-native pidgin (1988: 150). Yet the abrupt creole is neither 'English' nor 'Russian.' A native English speaker will recognize no lexical items or words from these speakers, while a native Russian speaker will find what lexemes s/he recognizes assembled in a fairly 'un-Russian' and incomprehensible way. The language spoken by the borrowing/shifting speakers is the genealogical descendent of neither English nor Russian, nor is it uniquely classifiable as Germanic or Slavic. Its origin is non-genetic, because there is no process of normal transmission in its initial development -- that is, the transmission of an entire single set of interrelated lexical and structural features (Thomason & Kaufman 1988: 200).

Thomason & Kaufman concentrate on the distinction between genetic and non-genetic development because they believe it to be crucial for the application of the Comparative Method in reconstructing historical linguistic states. In the case of Israeli Hebrew, the historical state of its principal component is well reconstructed, of course. The task of historical Hebrew linguistics is to trace the development of features in the current language state to their origins either in a past stage of the language, or to an external source. Comrie (1989: 82) characterizes as a common assumption of historical linguistics, that no matter how intense the level of borrowing, it will always be the case that 'daughter' languages remain genetic descendants of their 'parent' language. Yet genetic relationship entails a systematic correspondence in all linguistic subsystems, such that a daughter language is a changed later form of its single parent language (Thomason & Kaufman 1988: 11). I believe that the abrupt creolization model more accurately characterizes the genesis of Israeli Hebrew, because it is not a changed later form of its single parent language. The grammar of pre-revival Hebrew, the system which is internalized by the native speaker and constitutes part of what enables him/her to produce and understand arbitrary utterances in the language, was not the expression of this Hebrew speaker's linguistic competence. Israeli Hebrew necessarily derived certain structures from non-Hebrew sources, because those structures did not exist in pre-revival diglossic Hebrew.

The most obvious source of these structures is the language from which most of the first Hebrew speakers shifted, and whose speech output was the first linguistic data heard by the native children: Yiddish. As noted earlier, opinions about the degree of affinity between Israeli Hebrew and Yiddish vary widely. Having explored some of the attempt to minimize Yiddish influence in the previous section, I would like to explore an intriguing theory which does just the opposite. The development of Israeli Hebrew on a 'Yiddish base' is, as Bolozky (1994: 82) notes, 'a reasonable hypothesis, [since] many unexplained phenomena fall into place with the notion of an underlying Yiddish syntax, modified by Hebrew structures already in operation in Yiddish.' It is also an exciting one, with important implications for the study of Modern Hebrew and its origins, for research on language revival, and in particular for the issue of genetic linguistics. In fact, the same evidence used by Wexler (1990b) to propose a genetic link between Yiddish and Modern Hebrew motivates much of my own position regarding the nature of Modern Hebrew. However, while striving to account for the discrepancies of past accounts of the development of Israeli Hebrew, Wexler's explanation actually serves to highlight the some of the same issues in genetic linguistics upon which I base my claims.


Replacing the Thomason & Kaufman English/Russian thought experiment with Yiddish/Hebrew also illustrates the essential nature of the theory proposed by Wexler (1990b) that Modern Hebrew, by virtue of having its origins in the Yiddish speech of Yiddish speakers, is a genetically-related development of the Yiddish language -- a changed later form of Yiddish. While the Thomason & Kaufman model claims that such a language is genetically related to none of its source languages, Wexler extends his other claims of a Slavic (medieval Judeo-Sorbian, to be precise) origin for Yiddish to assert that Modern Hebrew is a genetically Slavic language. In his scenario, the revival of Hebrew involved a re-lexification, whereby Yiddish and Slavic speakers replaced almost all of their native vocabulary with a borrowed Semitic Hebrew lexicon, while (unwittingly) maintaining the phonological, phonotactic, and syntactic features of these Slavic languages, especially Yiddish. Wexler dubbed this process a 'partial language shift,' and states that Jews, especially Ashkenazic Jews, have a history of similar shifts to and from the Hebrew language. He believes that the 'striking parallels' between the Biblical/Mishnaic and Modern Hebrew lexicon, due to the relexification of Yiddish, are the cause for native Hebrew speakers to mistakenly assert a genetic link between their language and the classical Semitic language. In fact, he cites Thomason & Kaufman (1988) among those linguists who would not establish genetic relationships on the basis of lexicon alone (1990b: 103).

Wexler's position is an interesting one with regard to the channel of transmission of Hebrew material. The merged Semitic component of Jewish languages, he believes, represents a chain of borrowing going back to the last languages in contact with colloquial Hebrew and Aramaic. Yiddish, which has a greater corpus of Hebraisms than any other Jewish languages, often exhibits a greater phonetic discrepancy between the Merged and Whole Hebrew realizations of Hebraic items. While revivalists were mostly concerned with expanding the spoken use of the Whole Hebrew norms, and especially those of non-Ashkenazic speakers, Wexler concentrates on the Merged Hebrew norms of Yiddish as being both more preservative of aspects of old colloquial Hebrew, and a richer source of linguistic information for the study of Israeli Hebrew. He bases these claims on the well-attested facts that Yiddish and Slavic speakers formed the overwhelming majority of the first 'revivers' of Hebrew speech and the parents of the first Israeli Hebrew speakers. Thus the Yiddish vernacular, full of lexical and phonological 'Hebraism' already, was crucial in facilitating the shift to Hebrew. In fact, he states unequivocally that 'had the language planners of the late nineteenth century been predominantly speakers of Jewish languages other than Yiddish -- all of which have a far smaller Hebrew and Judeo-Aramaic corpus -- it would probably have proven impossible to revive Hebrew as a spoken language' (1990a: 124).

These influences are for Wexler part of the 'hidden Slavic standard' of Modern Hebrew speech. He believes that one of the distinguishing features of Modern Hebrew is the co-existence of minimal pairs defined by a Yiddish-influenced divergence from traditional norms. He compares this process to that which resulted in similar doublets in Romance languages, where borrowed Latinisms co-exist alongside inherited cognates, e.g. French 'frêle' vs. 'fragile.' While the former reflects the operation of sound change on the Old French form, the latter was 'rephonologized' through a combination of historical knowledge and synchronic French phonology. Similarly, the reduced operation of spirantization in Modern Hebrew actually reflects its partial dismantling in Yiddish Merged Hebrew, though its effects (rather than its continued productivity) surface in the borrowed Biblical/Mishnaic lexicon of Modern Hebrew (1990b: 94-95). Wexler claims that in borrowing Hebraic material from their native language, Yiddish speakers eliminated elements of their native phonology and morphosyntax from many of Yiddish Hebraisms by re-phonologizing lexical items with what he calls an 'Ashkenazified Judeo-Spanish pronunciation.' In other words, the 'relexification-cum-rephonologization' of Modern Hebrew, which represented the revivalists' best efforts to distance modern Hebrew speech from Ashkenazic norms, actually canceled the effects of historical sound changes in the Semitic Hebrew component of Yiddish, so that Hebraisms of the latter are often phonologically closer to the forms of Old Hebrew than those in Modern Hebrew itself (1990b: 75). Only the etymology of the Modern Hebrew lexicon has maintained a genuine link to its Semitic ancestry.

Wexler's position is echoed by the claims of others who have focused on the phonological and lexical influence of Yiddish on Israeli Hebrew, often denied by many normativists. Prager (1981), for example, shows how lexemes created in Yiddish with Hebrew raw material have been subsequently naturalized in Hebrew. These do not merely represent borrowings from Yiddish to Prager, but rather the persistence of Yiddish merged Hebrew forms in Israeli Hebrew. Since Hebraisms in Yiddish were by definition non-native, these Israeli Hebrew borrowings forms a class of 'reverse substitutions.' For example, normative [taxl"@t] and Merged Hebrew [ta@xl´s] forms of Hebrew tylkt 'purpose, goal,' co-exist in Israeli Hebrew, where the latter carries its Yiddish meaning of 'practical purpose, business matter.' Similarly, hayxm [mEcia@] 'find (n.), discovery' opposes [mEc"@´] 'bargain (n.),' and hrbc [xevra@] 'society, company' matches with [xe@vrE] 'the gang.' Although they are unattested in Classical Hebrew with the specific semantic or phonological features of the Yiddish formations, and because they do not correspond to the Ashkenazic Whole Hebrew realizations, Prager maintains that the specifically Yiddish origins of these terms are consistently ignored in the lexicographic analysis of Israeli Hebrew. Gold (1982) shows similar evidence of Yiddish creativity having influenced Modern Hebrew, focusing on Yiddish items formed from Hebrew-Aramaic elements that do not follow normative Hebrew-Aramaic grammar. He cites Hebrew compounds with Nb [bEn], 'boy, son,' which he claims to have been coined on the model of Yiddish words containing [-- kInd] 'child,' [--bç@x´r] 'young man, bachelor,' or [- j"@Ngl] 'boy.' More intriguingly, he cites a semantic shift in the use of a Hebrew word of Biblical origin, MdaJNb [bEnadam], 'human,' to the sense of Yiddish wenim [mEntS], 'a real human being.' In this case, Gold believes a Yiddish word of non-Semitic origin to have determined the Modern Hebrew meaning of a Semitic Hebrew word.


The question of whether such influences are central or peripheral to the nature and development of Israeli Hebrew is part of a set of broader issues in historical and contact linguistics. Thomason & Kaufman often refer to Weinreich's work on contact-induced language change and genetic relationships as heir to the Prague school's proposals for linguistic constraints on linguistic interference (1988: 13). For instance, Weinreich understands Meillet's insistence on continuity of transmission to be not a criterion, but only a common characteristic of genetic relationship. Therefore, he claims that the existence of cognates in the basic morphemic stock may be used as a primary measure of genetic distance in general (1958: 376).

Hence basic vocabulary and inflectional or derivational morphology have traditionally been cited as criteria for maintaining Israeli Hebrew's genetic affiliation as Semitic, insofar as both maintain the character of Classical 'Semitic' Hebrew. A modern Hebrew dictionary such as Even-Shoshan's lists only 22% of current Hebrew vocabulary as having its source in the Biblical language. Sivan (1980: 27-28) claims, however, that the percentage of words of Biblical origin in actual modern Hebrew texts is about 65%, and that considerations of semantic change in Biblical vocabulary further increase the role of Biblical Hebrew in the modern language. He likens this discrepancy to that found in modern English dictionaries, which cite less than 10% of the modern English vocabulary as being of Anglo-Saxon origin, while the percentage of Germanic word stock in actual speech runs from 70% to 90%. This inconsistency does not prevent English from being classified universally as Germanic; so Sivan maintains the same is true of Modern Hebrew's Semitic origins.

On the other hand, Rosén (1969) makes an interesting argument for Israeli Hebrew as simultaneously Semitic in origin and affiliation, while almost completely Western in its conceptual approach to categorical classification. He attributes this to a certain 'question fatale' which undermined the relational system of concepts that existed in Classical Hebrew. By asking 'what is X called in Hebrew,' the overwhelmingly European revivalists ensured that the reconstruction of the Hebrew linguistic system, beyond its physically apparent formal features, would perpetuate a Western conceptual system based on the range of reference of 'X.' He points to several semantic relations which he claims have been re-organized to match European semantic ranges, resulting in an almost perfect one-to-one relation between Israeli Hebrew and Western European word classes (1969: 100-105).

However, while Wexler claims that Modern Hebrew is genetically Slavic, he believes that it displays a strong tendency to become typologically Semitic (1990b: 102). This is because various elements of the sound structure and phraseology of Israeli Hebrew have their immediate origins in a Slavic language, Yiddish. The revival did not result in the Europeanization of Hebrew syntax and phonology, as is most often claimed, but in the Semitcization of the Yiddish lexicon, by borrowing heavily from a Semitic lexicon and re-phonologizing the genetically Semitic material in Yiddish Whole Hebrew. In fact, this corresponds exactly to the one area in which revivalists achieved a true measure of success. The tendency of Israeli Hebrew to become typologically Semitic represents the ongoing efforts of the Academy and normativists to replace 'native' (i.e. Yiddish/Slavic) forms of Israeli Hebrew with forms from what Wexler believes to be a genetically unrelated language, Classical Semitic Hebrew (1990b: 103). However, this phenomenon is hardly uncommon in multilingual situations, where one language, whether or the not the target language of a shifting speech community, is viewed as more prestigious. The discrepancy between the dictionary content and actual use of the Greco-Latin stratum in English is an artifact of such borrowing. The two major varieties of Yiddish are also distinguished by, among others things, differential lexical borrowing. Thus increased eloquence is in Eastern Yiddish associated with a greater frequency of Hebrew-Aramaic elements, while in Western Yiddish an analogous stylistic effect is associated with an increase in the German component (Hymes 1971: 68).

Bolozky (1994) agrees with Wexler that the retention of the great number of Yiddish Hebraisms in the Modern Hebrew lexicon, side by side with Biblical or Mishnaic forms, provides evidence for the Yiddish base of Israeli Hebrew. Given the attitudes toward Yiddish in the early revival period, and the revivalists' concentration on the classical lexicon, it is unlikely that Yiddish Hebraisms would be regarded as a source for borrowing. Yet their existence, in the form of semantic and phonological contrasts with indigenous Hebrew elements, testifies to their persistence in the partial language shift as native forms. Still, Bolozky is skeptical about assigning a Slavic genetic affiliation to Israeli Hebrew, and cites several inherited Semitic features typical of Hebrew in all its historical forms. He states, for example, that 'if linear [word] formation can be shown to be expanding at the expense of [characteristically Semitic] discontinuous derivation, then it could be argued that Modern Hebrew is indeed losing its Semitic character' (1994: 75). Tene (1969: 59), in fact, showed how Modern Hebrew 'seems to be impenetrable to foreign influence as far as verb conjugations and noun declensions are concerned,' and that borrowing of verbs is impossible without full grammatical integration.

Nevertheless, Tene admits that 'native Hebrew speech contains a considerable sediment of features stemming from the primary languages of the Hebrew renovators,' and that the influence of their vernacular is 'decisive' in Israeli phonology (1969: 52). This influence is manifested not only on the level of phonemic inventory but, as we have shown, in terms of broader phonological processes. Tene's claim of full grammatical integration should be viewed cautiously, since 'integrated' loanwords such as [tilfe@n] 'he telephoned,' and [medupra@s] 'depressed,' do not conform to the spirantization rule of allophonic variation which can be shown to operate at some level (Fischler 1981). Many of the claims made by Wexler (1990b) rest on such phonological and phonotactic evidence that non-native (i.e. non-Slavic, thus borrowed Semitic) forms in Israeli Hebrew follow Yiddish phonological patterning. The lack of articulation of the pharyngeal and emphatic consonants, the reduced operation of the spirantization rule, and the non-avoidance of initial consonant clusters are for Wexler features in Israeli Hebrew speech inherited from Yiddish norms, highly uncharacteristic of Semitic Hebrew. Yet, as Bolozky (1994: 66) points out, 'the phonological system is usually the least likely to maintain the characteristics of the proto-language, and the most likely to be affected by adjacent languages, regardless of whether they are genetically related or not.' Therefore, the super-imposition of a borrowed lexicon and morphosyntax onto a native sound system is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for asserting a genetic affiliation between the pre-shift language and its subsequent 'daughter' language.


The debate on distinguishing between inherited similarities in two languages and similarities resulting from language contact, known in American linguistics as the Boas-Sapir controversy, is representative of the difficulty of positing structural similarities as the criteria for genetic classification. This difficulty became apparent when linguists and anthropologists applied the methods devised for written languages to unwritten ones, such as the American Indian languages, thereby continuing to reconstruct relatively homogeneous and probably formal styles. The genetic model was first and foremost conceived of as a way of explaining the history of the patterned sound-meaning correspondences that existed between languages (Traugott 1977). Previous languages states, even 'proto-languages,' could be reconstructed based on these relationships. The model was developed because of and for the historical reconstruction of Indo-European languages -- languages that were well attested in written documents which provided the empirical data for reconstruction.

Thomason & Kaufman accept the position associated with Boas that diffusion of linguistic features of all sorts is possible, and therefore that no single subsystem is criterial for establishing genetic relationship. Thus they propose several criteria which they believe underlie the assumption of normal transmission of a language: (a) all languages change through time, (b) change can occur at any and all levels of the linguistic system, (c) a language is passed on with relatively small degrees of change over the short run, and most importantly, (d) the label 'genetic relationship' does not properly apply when transmission is imperfect. Their approach to the study of genetic relationship, and to the study of non-genetic language development, is based theoretically on the social fact of normal transmission rather than merely on the linguistic facts themselves (1988: 9-12).

Wexler (1981: 137) identifies the immediate problem in applying this comparative method to the Jewish language phenomenon:

Traditionally, languages have been chosen for comparison on grounds of genetic affiliation, areal contiguity, or simply random selection. The comparison of Jewish languages is not based on any of these considerations...Each is derived from a coterritorial non-Jewish language, and each is open to similar types of enrichment -- sometimes even similar resources.

In other words, of all the features characterizing Jewish languages as a group, the only unique feature is

...membership in a chain of language shift leading back to Hebrew. To urge the comparison of languages on these grounds is tantamount to proposing a fourth parameter in comparative linguistics.

Weinreich (1958) is opposed to this kind of Sprachbund classification, because it is usually defined with respect to any structural isolglosses, in an often ad hoc manner. However, Wexler suggests that the very nature of Jewish languages may provide insights for creole linguistics because of their much longer recorded histories, from which he believes inferences may be drawn regarding earlier stages of creole languages. Since Hebrew speakers, until this century, were not speakers of Hebrew alone, their effect on linguistic change in Hebrew involved assigning both functions and basic structures which it did not have before. The 'miracle' of the Hebrew revival, as has been amply noted, was that Hebrew, 'dead' or 'alive' prior to its revival, has been unambiguously transformed into a native language. Yet it is crucially important to realize that the lack of a native phonological component in pre-revival Hebrew meant that Hebrew speech could not be a normally transmitted linguistic system. It could not have been a genetic development of the literary Hebrew language, whose grammar (in the generativist sense) described a full native competence of neither non-native pre-revival Hebrew speech, nor of the Yiddish language.

The case of Indian English is discussed by Thomason & Kaufman as an example of substratal interference being restricted to phonology in language shift. In this case, too, the influence of the primary language of the shifting speakers was phonologically 'decisive.' Although Standard English morphosyntax was acquired, the particular phonological and intonational patterns of Indian English can be explained by reference to typological features common to most or all languages of India (1988: 129). They attribute this to the fact that the speakers isolated from the main target language speech community have shifted to an established literary language, already in use as a second language among educated speakers. This certainly seems to parallel the shift to Hebrew, in both sociological and phonological terms. Yet Thomason & Kaufman classify Indian English as a case of 'language shift with normal transmission,' while I have stressed the abnormal transmission of a diglossic H-language and its abrupt creolization in the case of Israeli Hebrew. In a sense, Thomason & Kaufman's other scenarios of contact-induced change illustrate how the genesis of Israeli Hebrew has been mischaracterized:

LANGUAGE SHIFT WITH NORMAL TRANSMISSION. This framework recognizes lack of a native speaker community, but sees Hebrew's linguistic structure and the first developments of colloquial modern Hebrew as a case of shift to a pre-existing linguistic structure. This position emphasizes the role of second-language learning in the Hebrew revival, as well as the effects of substratal interference on the target language. A shift with normal transmission is the most general view of the Hebrew revival, with varying degrees of autonomy attributed to pre-revival Hebrew.

LANGUAGE MAINTENANCE. Interestingly enough, two very different positions express the view that Modern Hebrew is the genetic development of two very different languages. The standard view of the revival holds that Hebrew was a language maintained within the Jewish cultural legacy. This framework allows for the widely differing views regarding the degree of borrowing and substratal interference, as well as to the source of foreign influence. It allows for effects of contact-induced change by insisting that these changes occurred internally to the Hebrew system of language, continuously employed and spoken throughout. On the other hand, this framework conforms to Wexler's theory, that a re-lexification involving heavy lexical and morphological borrowing from Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew by Yiddish speakers maintained enough of the latter language to assert that Modern Hebrew is a genetic development of Yiddish. Borrowing entails maintenance, and this supports Wexler's position of a relexification of Yiddish, i.e. with a heavy degree of borrowing.

I believe that the model of LANGUAGE SHIFT WITHOUT NORMAL TRANSMISSION -- Abrupt Creolization -- correctly describes the birth of Israeli Hebrew. As Blanc (1965: 187) points out,

Unlike grammar and lexicon, there was, properly speaking, no Hebrew phonology which could be subjected to the interference of Yiddish speech habits...The present General Israeli sound system is an outgrowth of this combination of Yiddish phonic habits and the new spelling-pronunciation rules, with the addition of some other factors (internally induced phonic change, non-Yiddish external interference, normative influences. Hence, we cannot study Yiddish influence on a pre-existing sound system, but must consider rather residual traces of and deviations from Yiddish sound patterns.

Israeli Hebrew is a contact language whose linguistic study is characterized overwhelmingly by the search for a genetic past. The attempt by Wexler (1990b) to relate Israeli Hebrew's genealogy uniquely to the Slavic language family elucidates the main contact-induced changes in the Hebrew language, but it does not establish a singular genetic link between Yiddish and Modern Hebrew. Hebraic structures were adopted by speakers with what was a novel phonological system in the history Hebrew language, primarily a development of Ashkenazic Hebrew and Yiddish speech. Israeli Hebrew, especially with regard to phonology, is the result of both shift to aspects of a target language and change in the pre-existing structures of speakers which did not exist in the target language. The model of abrupt creolization thereby recognizes the abnormal linguistic transmission inherent in the acquisition of a diglossic H-language, one without an autonomous phonological component.

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© 1997 Devon L. Strolovitch