Ashkenazi or Sephardi Dialect?

Benjamin Harshav

in Language in Time of Revolution

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 1993 | ISBN: 9780520079588
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520912960 | DOI:
Ashkenazi or Sephardi Dialect?

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Ashkenazi Hebrew pronunciation was formed in Central and Eastern Europe some time after the thirteenth century, then branched out into several dialects and survived in Orthodox communities until the present. This was the Hebrew language that had brought the Zionist immigrants to Eretz-Israel. Once here, they threw out even the Hebrew of their childhood, repressed whatever their memories could express in it, and chose a fundamentally different, foreign accent. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and the first Hebrew speakers in Jerusalem had compelling social reasons: the established Jewish community in Jerusalem was Sephardi, it carried the respect of the glorious Spanish Jewry, and the title “Pure Sephardi” had an aristocratic ring to it. Hebrew was not used in the daily affairs of the Sephardi community, except for precise reading of holy texts, hence the vowels were not changed and the words not contracted, as in the living language, Yiddish.

Keywords: Ashkenazi; Hebrew; Europe; Orthodox; language; Eretz-Israel; Eliezer Ben-Yehuda; Jerusalem; Sephardi; Yiddish

Chapter.  7100 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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