Issues in the Linguistic Analysis of a Dead Language, with Particular Reference to Ancient Hebrew

Robert Holmstedt


With the increasing maturation of the linguistic analysis
of ancient Hebrew, it becomes increasingly important that we keep in mind the
inherent challenges of analyzing no-longer-spoken languages, like ancient
Hebrew. In this article I address a number of such issues in the hopes of
provoking some fruitful discussion. First, I address the distinction between
linguistic analysis and philological analysis. Then I address some of the major
methodological and theoretical challenges facing those who bring modern
linguistic theories to bear upon a ‘dead’ language such as ancient Hebrew,
including the lack of native speakers, the limited corpus, and the relationship
of ancient Hebrew to modern Israeli Hebrew.

Full Text: