Introduction to Hebrew Linguistics

Inleiding Hebreeuwse taalkunde (HE65111)
Spring 2011, BA in Hebrew, University of Amsterdam
Teacher: Tamás Biró

Course description

One-semester introductory course about the history of the Hebrew language and its structure, including some words about the Semitic languages, the Judeo-languages, general linguistics, and much more.
Weekly assignments and readings: please look at the end of each ppt.

Block 1:

Week 1: Introduction. Download ppt (or as pdf).

Week 2: The Semitic context. Download ppt (or as pdf).

Week 3: The North-West Semitic context. Writing systems, epigraphy and inscriptions. Download ppt (or as pdf).

Week 4: Biblical Hebrew. Qumran, Samaritan Hebrew. Download slides as ppt or pdf. Biblical texts: handout.

Week 5: Rabbinic Hebrew. History of the Aramaic language. Download ppt or pdf. Texts: Mishna and Babylonian Talmud.

Week 6: Medieval Hebrew. Judeo-languages Download ppt or pdf. Texts: Rashi, Mishne Tora and Got fun Avrohom.

Week 7: Haskala, Modern Hebrew, Israeli [Hebrew]. Download ppt or pdf.

Take-home exam: download.
Deadline: March 31.


Block 2:

Week 8: Phonology 1. Download ppt or pdf (first part of the file).
Assignment for week 9.

Week 9: Phonology 2. Download ppt or pdf (second part of the file).
Additional material on the consonants.
Assignment for week 10.

Week 10: Morphology 1. Download ppt or pdf (first part of the file).
Assignment for week 11.

Week 11: Morphology 2. Download ppt or pdf (first part of the file).
Assignment for May 4.

Week 12: Syntax, semantics, lexicon.
Download ppt or pdf (second part of the file).
Lexicon: see second part of "week 7".
Assignment for May 11.

Week 13: Sociolinguistics.
Beside all the sociolinguistic issues discussed in Block 1, please read the following handout, written by J. Junger in 2008 (see also the blackboard page of this course).
Assignment for May 18.

Week 14: Summary. Extra: psycholinguistics, computational linguistics.
Last meeting: Monday, May 23, 11.00 (sharp!)-13.00, in PCH 4.34.


Final exam:

Final exam: Monday, June 6, 11.00 (sharp!)-13.00, in PCH 3.08.
Material to prepare for final exam (preliminary) CANCELLED!

Final take-home exam: download pdf. Deadline: June 25.
And here is once again the handout with Biblical Hebrew texts.



Chaim Rabin: A Short History of the Hebrew Language. Orot publication, 1973.
Internet edition, 2005. Local copy (passwd protected).

Patrick R. Bennett: Comparative Semitic Linguistics: A Manual. Eisenbrauns, 1998.
Being ordered by the UvA library, soon in PCH. Passwd protected downloads:
Pages 1 -- 18: Cover pages, intro and Part 1.
Pages 19 -- 33: Parts 2 and 3.
Pages 68 -- 93: Paradigms A and B.
Pages 130 -- 142: Wordlist B (for homework).
Pages 232 -- 249: Wordlist G/H/I. Also in original A3 format (for homework).

Arie Schippers en Kees Versteegh. Het Arabisch: Norm en realiteit. Coutinho 1987. Pp 11-27 (semitische talen, schift).
Download (passwd protected).

John Huehnergard: 'Introduction'. In: John Kaltner and Steven L. McKenzie (eds.): Beyond Babel: A Handbook for Biblical Hebrew and Related Languages. SBL 2002. Pp. 1-18.
The whole book (in the UB) is highly recommended to those specializing on Biblical studies or antiquities.
Download (passwd protected; page numbers missing – sorry for it).

Jana Loose (ed.). De Talen van het Oude Nabije Oosten. Ex Oriente Lux, Leiden. Peeters, Leuven, 1999.
The whole book (on shelf in the Bungehuis library) is highly recommended to those specializing on Biblical studies or antiquities.
Read the section on "Syrië en Palestina: De Noordwestsemitische talen" (pp. 77-120). Passwd protected download.

Sabatino Moscati (ed.). An Introduction to the Comparative Grammar of the Semitic Languages: Phonology and Morphology. Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, 1964 (and later printings).
Reading the useful (even though certainly not up-to-date!) summary of the Semitic languages will help you prepare for the exam. Password protected
The whole book (several copies at the UvA) is an important reference work for anyone dealing with Semitic linguistics.

Benjamin Harshav: 'Essay on Multilingualism'. In: Marvin Herzog et al. (eds.), Eydes: Evidence of Yiddish Documented in European Societies, The Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2008.
Download (password protected).

Haiim B. Rosén. Contemporary Hebrew. The Hague [etc.]: Mouton, 1977. Chapter 1.
Available in the UvA library (3 copies).
Download (passwd protected).

Joseph Shimron: 'Semitic languages: Are they really root-based?'.
In: Idem (ed.): Language Processing and Acquisition in Languages of Semitic, Root-based, Morphology. John Benjamins: Amsterdam, 2002.
Download (passwd protected).

Website of Ghil'ad Zuckermann ('Articles').
See especially: “Abba, Why Was Professor Higgins Trying to Teach Eliza to Speak Like Our Cleaning Lady?”: Mizrahim, Ashkenazim, Prescriptivism and the Real Sounds of the Israeli Language’. Australian Journal of Jewish Studies 19.
and: 'A New Vision for "Israeli Hebrew": Theoretical and Practical Implications of Analysing Israel's Main Language as a Semi-Engineered Semito-European Hybrid Language'. Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 5.1: 57-71.

Robert Hetzron, Alan S. Kaye, Paul Newman (and others), in: Bernard Comrie (ed.). The Major Languages of South Asia, The Middle East and Africa. Routledge: London, 1987.
Available in the UvA library (2 copies).
Download (passwd protected).

Please also look at the 2008 handouts on the BlackBoard page of this course.