Why hasn’t Ladino (Judaeo-Spanish) been transmitted to young Sephardim in the way Yiddish has been transmitted to young Ashkenazim?

(My answer to this question at Quora.com)

Yiddish is being passed down to the younger generation only among the Ashkenasi ultra-Orthodox Jews (in Israel and in the U.S.—mainly Brooklyn). They do so because they consider Hebrew a sacred language to be used only for the study of Scripture, and not for the profane needs of everyday life.

Everywhere else Yiddish has pretty much died out.

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How do rabbis explain the similarities between the texts of Isaiah and Micah?

Micah was the youngest of four prophets of the Hebrew Bible who lived in the latter half of the 700s BCE (the others being Hosea, Amos, and Isaiah). The similarities of language (the use of tongue twisters, alliteration, rhetorical questions) are due in part to the fact that they are contemporary, and in part (according to certain Talmudic commentaries) that Micah was one of Isaiah’s disciples (limudim).

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In the spiritual essence of hebrew what do these letters/symbols mean in order Vav ←Hey ←bet ←gimmel ←Zayin ←

(My answer to this question at Quora.com)

The Hebrew letter vav can serve either as the consonant v or to signify the vowel /ô/ or /oo/.

If so, the word in question is והבגז , which a Hebrew reader might read as vehavgaz (the Hebrew letter bet usually goes soft—i.e. is pronounced like a /v/—at the end of a syllable).

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In Hebrew, how do you say “of”?

(My answer to this question at Quora.com)

As Adam Booth has indicated, the word of is often indicated by a modification of the word’s ending.

Thus, the word ‘people’ is anashim, and ‘village’ is kfar, but to say ‘people of the village’ you would typically avoid saying anashim shel hakfar in favour of anshei hakfar — the ending ei (pron. ay) signifying plural + of.

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Are the rhythms in the King James Bible due in part to the similarity of its grammatical structure to that of the original language?

Interesting question, but I doubt it. Hebrew grammar is quite different from that of English. It is also much more concise, which means that a four-word sentence such as

אל יתהלל חוגר כמפתח

is rendered as sixteen in English:

Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off

(II Kings 20:11).

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Why have you learned Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic or Faroese as second language? What aspects of those languages are you fascina…

 

(My answer to this question at Quora.com)

I learned a little bit of Norwegian during a summer holiday that I took there in 1981, which ended up being extended by several weeks, with a repeat visit a few months later, and another in 1990.

I was struck by the similarities between it and the Anglo-Saxon part of English (e.g., Skal viroing og fiske? = Shall we go rowing and fishing?); enchanted by its distinctive rhythms of speech; fascinated that Norwegian mothers call to their small children with exactly the same expression and intonation as Jamaican mothers (Kom nå!/Com,nuh!); and marvelled how the vagaries of the Indo-European etymology can lead to virtually the same word—cald in Norwegian (“cold”), and caldo in Italian (“hot”)—having opposite meanings.

I would jump at the opportunity to complete my knowledge of the language, but that will probably have to wait for another lifetime…

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How do you learn to talk with many different accents as some people can do amazingly? Is there natural ability involved?

(My answer to this question at Quora.com)

There are two issues here: speaking in a reasonably native accent in more than one language, and speaking with more than one native accent in the same language (e.g., various regional accents in England, Scotland, Ireland, the U.S., Canada, etc. when speaking English).

It is common courtesy to try and adopt the standard pronunciation of a country when you learn its language—if only so as to make yourself more intelligible to the locals and to put them more at ease. But switching between different native accents in a given language requires training, and is something that you would do only if you were a professional actor or standup comedian and needed it for your work.

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How does the Ancient Phoenician/Paleo Hebrew tongue differ from modern Hebrew? (It was only written in consonants)

As Aaron Christianson has pointed out, script and language are not the same thing: the Palaeo-Hebrew script is one thing, and the language was another—just as the Roman script is distinct from, say, the English or French or German language.

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