Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics

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Subject: Language and Linguistics

Edited by: Geoffrey Khan
Associate editors: Shmuel Bolozky, Steven Fassberg, Gary A. Rendsburg, Aaron D. Rubin, Ora R. Schwarzwald, Tamar Zewi

The Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics Online offers a systematic and comprehensive treatment of all aspects of the history and study of the Hebrew language from its earliest attested form to the present day.
The Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics Online features advanced search options, as well as extensive cross-references and full-text search functionality using the Hebrew character set. With over 850 entries and approximately 400 contributing scholars, the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics Online is the authoritative reference work for students and researchers in the fields of Hebrew linguistics, general linguistics, Biblical studies, Hebrew and Jewish literature, and related fields.

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Name of God in Modern Non-Western Bible Translations

(1,495 words)

Author(s): Mojola, Aloo Osotsi
1. Introduction How should God’s name(s) be given in a translation of the Bible? Since the name represents a key feature of the world from which it comes, translating it into the language of a (possibly very) different society and culture raises important questions, both for the translator and for the target language and culture, perhaps even for the source culture as well. To give one example: should God’s name in the source language and text be borrowed as-is into the target text, should it take the form of a loan translation, or should an existing term in the target language be used? 2. Rendit…

Names of Dishes: Israeli Hebrew

(761 words)

Author(s): Florio, Francesca Maddalena
As a result of the considerable diversity in the origins of Israeli food, the gastronomical lexicon of Israeli Hebrew is a melting pot of many languages. Terms referring to traditional Jewish dishes derive from the languages spoken by the Jews of the Diaspora. Most of them are Yiddish names, such as צ׳ולנט čolenṭ, a traditional stew based on legumes and served for Shabbat lunch, לאטקס laṭqes, potato pancakes, רוגלך rugelax, rolled and filled pastries, קוגל qugel, a sweet noodle pudding, קניידלך qneydlax, dumplings made of matso meal and usually served in chicken soup, בייגל beygel, ring-…

Names of Musical Instruments: Modern Hebrew

(1,134 words)

Author(s): Leibowitz, Efrat
The terms for musical instruments in Modern Hebrew are derived from three different sources: Biblical and post-Biblical Hebrew, foreign words, and terminology introduced into Hebrew by the Academy of the Hebrew Language. 1. Biblical and Post-biblical Hebrew Terminology The initial source for names of musical instruments is the Bible. Nearly a dozen currently used modern instruments received their names from instruments whose names appear in the Bible. Some instruments have preserved their names since their biblical appearance, such as חָלִיל ḥå̄līl ‘transverse flute’, חֲצֹצְרָ…

Names of Musical Instruments: Pre-Modern Period

(3,001 words)

Author(s): Bhayro, Siam
1. Introduction The field of near eastern archaeomusicology attempts to synthesize the latest research in several often distinct fields of study, such as anthropology, archaeology, comparative philology, and musicology. Even with the application of sound methods, however, the picture that emerges can be very complex. Perhaps the most famous example relates to the Hebrew term כִּנּוֹר kinnōr ‘lyre’, which is cognate with the Akkadian term kinnāru ‘lyre’. The ancient lexical lists from Ebla, however, equate Akkadian kinnāru with Sumerian balag (Sjöberg 1984:78), which appears …

Names of People: Biblical Hebrew

(2,216 words)

Author(s): Hess, Richard S.
Personal names are a subcategory of proper names. The latter consists of nominals that refer to a specific object, place, person, persons, or class, and no other. Personal names identify individual persons, whether divine (Tetragrammaton) or human. In English and related languages, linguists identify common nouns as having sense, but not reference. Thus ‘human’ as a common noun has sense. One can look up the word in a dictionary and find a definition. However, it does not refer to a particular human and so does not have reference. However, a personal name such as Adam does have reference…

Names of People: Book of Mormon

(1,141 words)

Author(s): Tvedtnes, John A.
Thanks mostly to the Bible, Hebrew names or variants thereof are known through much of the world. Some of the names found in English Bibles also show up in the Book of Mormon, some Hebrew names found in the Book of Mormon are not in the Bible. A rare peculiarity of Semitic names is the use of the nisbe (gentilic) forms, of which the Book of Mormon, like the Bible, has just a few: Moroni ‘Moronite’ (Words of Mormon 1:1 et passim) from the place-name Moron (Ether 7:5–6); Lamoni (‘Lamanite’) (Alma 17:21 et passim), from Laman, son of Lehi (1 Nephi 2:5 et …

Names of People: Hellenistic and Roman Period

(2,499 words)

Author(s): Ilan, Tal
In the Hellenistic and Roman period Jews continued to use Hebrew personal names, though the impetus to invent new ones, based on a close acquaintance with living Hebrew, died out. New names that entered the Jewish onomasticon in this period were in principle influenced by neighboring cultures—some names Semitic, but the majority Greek—and seem to have been chosen on the basis of sound and perhaps also on the basis of influential political figures who bore them (as for example Alexander, after Alexander the Great—see Ilan 2002:56), but were not based on a deep understanding…

Names of People: Middle Ages (Islamic Lands)

(1,518 words)

Author(s): Bareket, Elinoar
The following survey is based on a sample of about three-thousand names, taken from approximately one-thousand Genizah documents, such as letters and court deeds from Egypt of the Fatimid period. It is concerned with given names, and not family names or nicknames. Most of the people in these documents are mentioned not only by their names, but also by their fathers and grandfathers’ names, and thus, this survey gives us a peek into multi-generation family traditions. 1. Male Names A survey of all the names and their degree of distribution shows with certainty that of all t…

Names of People: Modern Hebrew

(6,144 words)

Author(s): Rosenhouse, Judith
1. Introduction Personal names are an important part of the vocabulary in every language. Hebrew given names are usually based on meaningful lexemes. Personal names can be classified by origin (that is, whether they occur already in Biblical Hebrew, in the Diaspora literature, or only in Modern Hebrew), by their structures, and use for female and male individuals. Biblical names are considered at present traditional, usually reflecting names that have been passed down in a family through the gener…

Names of People: Modern Hebrew: Philosophical and Sociological Aspects

(5,392 words)

Author(s): Ephratt, Michal
This entry sets out the many facets of Modern Hebrew personal names in Israel. Contrary to other countries, Israel has no sealed list of personal names. Parents can take existing names (given names or family names) or they can generate a personal name expressing their individual preferences, creativity, and choices; hardly any limitations are imposed on the addition of names. Usually, the given name is the free choice (in some traditional groups, almost free) of the name provider (usually the pa…

Names of People: Personal Names in Pre-Modern Europe

(2,065 words)

Author(s): Beider, Alexander
The first representative lists of medieval European Jews appear in sources from the first centuries of the 2nd millennium C.E. During that period, the most common male names came from the Bible. Among them are: (1) the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; (2) Joseph and Judah, two of the sons of Jacob; (3) the prophets Moses and Samuel; (4) the kings David and Solomon. Names from this list appear among the most frequently used in various European Jewish communities: the Iberian Peninsula, northern and southern France, England, Italy, the German-speaking pr…

Names of People: Surnames in Pre-Modern Europe

(2,620 words)

Author(s): Beider, Alexander
In sources from various towns of western Germany one sporadically encounters Jews having surnames from the 14th century onward. During the 16th–18th centuries, surnames were already commonplace in Frankfurt-am-Main and Prague. The same is true for Vienna and Hamburg from the start of the 17th century. Some of these surnames are based on the Hebrew lexicon or are taken from the Hebrew component of Yiddish. For example, on tombstones in Prague one finds (a) numerous occupational names such as: חייט ḥayyå̄ṭ ‘tailor’, חלפן ḥalp̄å̄n ‘money exchanger’, חזן ḥazzå̄n ‘cantor’, דיין dayyå̄n ‘j…

Names of the Hebrew Language

(2,168 words)

Author(s): Hopkins, Simon
The names used to denote the Hebrew language, past and present, can be divided into two main groups: those derived from the Hebrew root עב״ר ʿ-b-r, i.e., ‘Hebrew’ = עברי ʿiḇri, and those which express the sacred, scriptural status of Hebrew as the ancestral ‘Holy Tongue’ = לשון קודש ləšon haq-qodeš. 1. ‘Hebrew’ The term עברית ʿiḇriṯ ~ עברי ʿiḇri ‘Hebrew’ as a linguistic designation does not occur in the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew language is there referred to either as שְׂפַת כְּנַעַן śəp̄aṯ kənaʿan ‘the language of Canaan’ (as opposed to Egypt—Isa. 19.18) or adverbially as יְהוּדִית yəhūḏīṯ ‘in …

Nationalism and Language

(2,309 words)

Author(s): Aytürk, İlker
It is no surprise that all modern mass movements employed and continue to employ vernacular languages as opposed to languages of high culture. This is the only way ideologues of those mass movements have to make sure that they can reach the maximum number of potential followers. Nationalism, on the other hand, is different from other mass movements in that, while it conveys its message in the simple language of the masses, in order to increase the appeal of the message, it also attaches great im…

Negation: Modern Hebrew

(2,608 words)

Author(s): Glinert, Lewis
1. Sentence Negation Sentence negation in Modern Hebrew is syntactic, chiefly using one of three negators, אל ʾal, לא lo and אין ʾen. (a) For negative 2nd person commands, the canonical form is the particle אל ʾal with the bare future tense, e.g., אל תזוז ʾal tazuz ‘don’t move’; the imperative form is not available in the negative. Formal style also uses אל ʾal in 1st and 3rd person commands, e.g., אל נשכח ʾal niškax̱ ‘let us not forget’. (b) In most other contexts, the particle לא lo is used, e.g., in statements and questions, e.g., אתה לא תזוז ʾata lo tazuz ‘you won’t move’, ?אתה לא זז ʾata lo zaz? ‘y…

Negation of Adjectives: Modern Hebrew

(788 words)

Author(s): Agmon, Galit
In Modern Hebrew there are two main ways to negate adjectives. The general negation lexeme לא lo ‘no/not’ can freely combine with any adjective to negate its meaning. The prefix בלתי bilti (which roughly translates as ‘un-’) negates adjectives exclusively and has a very limited distribution. A few occurrences of adjectival negation by the prefixes -אי i- or -א a- also exist in Modern Hebrew. When לא lo serves to negate an adjective it combines with the adjectival phrase, e.g., לא רחוק lo rax̱oq ‘not far’, הלא מאוד רחוק ha-lo meʾod rax̱oq ‘the not-very-far’. בלתי bilti, on the other hand, …

Negation: Pre-Modern Hebrew

(6,711 words)

Author(s): Naudé, Jacobus A. | Rendsburg, Gary A.
Biblical Hebrew possesses a series of negative particles, each used to negate a specific grammatical form or syntagma. Two different types of negators may be identified: (a) those used in sentential negation; and (b) those used in constituent negation (see especially Snyman 2004, based on Minimalist Syntax). For a different model, which posits three different types (item negation, constituent negation, and clausal negation), see Waltke and O’Connor 1990:657. Sentential negation implies that the negative form has scope over the whole subsequent phrase or sequence…


(1,434 words)

Author(s): Yadin, Azzan
A ‘neologism’ is a recently coined word—either a new form altogether or an existing form recently introduced with a different meaning. Though individual speakers have coined words throughout the history of Hebrew, it is often difficult to identify neologisms in pre-modern strata of Hebrew. Yitzhak Avinery collected hundreds of Hebrew words and forms that appear for the first time in the massive Bible and Talmud commentary of Rabbi Shelomo Yiṣḥaqi (Rashi, 1040–1105), but it is not clear that these constitute neologis…


(508 words)

Author(s): Diamond, James S.
Nequdot (also termed puncta extraordinaria) are para-textual dots written above certain letters and words in the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible. In the Pentateuch these dots occur in ten verses: Gen. 16.5; 18.9; 19.33; 33.4; 37.12; Num. 3.39; 8.10; 21.20; 29.15; Deut. 29.28. They also are seen at five other sites: 2 Sam. 19.20; Isa. 44.9; Ezek. 41.20; 46.22; Ps. 27.13. The existence of the dots is flagged in Masora Parva in the margin of Masoretic codices by the abbreviated note נקוד (i.e., נקודות nequdot). These supralineal dots are a different order of marking from the Heb…


(818 words)

Author(s): Revell, E. J.
Nesiga (נסיגה ‘retreat’) is a sandhi phenomenon avoiding the juxtaposition of stressed syllables. Final stress is retracted to an open penultimate syllable before a word with initial stress. 1st and 2nd person ‘ Waw consecutive’ perfect forms show stress on the closed penultimate syllable before a word with initial stress, suggesting similar retraction. However, stress is not otherwise retracted to a closed syllable. Probably, in these forms, the shift of stress to the characteristic final position was blocked (see Revell 1989:…
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