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Language in Time of Revolution$
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Benjamin Harshav

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780520079588

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520079588.001.0001

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Ashkenazi or Sephardi Dialect?

Ashkenazi or Sephardi Dialect?

(p.153) Twenty-Seven Ashkenazi or Sephardi Dialect?
Language in Time of Revolution

Benjamin Harshav

University of California Press

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

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