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Hebrew “Sociolinguistics”

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Chapter Summary

The history of Jewish linguistic thinking has always been described in its own (Jewish rather than general linguistic) terms. In their surveys of the pre-modern Hebrew linguistic library, scholars from Wilhelm Bacher to David Tene have reconstructed a grammatical tradition which, though initially dependent on Arabic descriptive models, soon developed a focus and dynamic of its own. In their technical descriptions of the Hebrew language, however, Jewish grammarians generally showed less interest in the social settings of language. A particularly vivid picture of that ancient multilingualism was provided by Solomon Loewisohn, who was himself a bilingual author. Both Landau and Loewisohn, who lived and worked in Prague around the turn of the nineteenth century, were confronted with political changes that entailed new cultural choices.

Keywords: ancient multilingualism; Hebrew language; Jewish grammarians; Wilhelm Bacher



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