Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Struggle Against Dumbing Down - 1 Hebrew

Just as Control and Chaos are locked in an eternal struggle,* so is the struggle between ascending and descending when it comes to our Traditions

Let's Take Case 1 the struggle for better Hebrew Ivrit Ivris or even Ivrith.

B"H the Teimanim have preserved a wide array of distinctions. Every vowel and every consonant - both soft and hard is unique. The one exception is the "Sin" and the Samech. So it is no sin to be someich the samech to a Sin ;-)

As I best understand it, the more detailed the distinctions, the more authentic it is, or the more likely it is to be authentic...

We Ashk'nazim have preserved vowels fairly well, and even differentiated the Tav and the Sav. But lost the soft Gimmel and Daleth, the ayyin [mostly] and the cheit or heit..

S'phardim lost little in the consonants but lost the qamatz, and - I'm not clear on this - sometimes mix the segol and the tzeirei.

At any rate Eliezer ben Yehudah came and rewrote the book on pronunciation. Note: I'm not impugning his intentions

Throw out the Ashkenazi vowels and the S'phardic consonants and "dumb it down" to the lowest common denominator.

After 100 years of going down hill, you MIGHT think it's time to ascend back. To restore the lost nuances and subtleties that were lost by engineering to simplicity.

So now I'm told the supreme authorities of Ivrit are dumbing down the orthography [spelling] to compound the travesty of the lost nuances by Yudding every Hiriq etc.

IOW now that Ivrit has sunk low enough, let's sink it even deeper! Reminds me of the Romans Plowing under the ruins of the Holy Temple to add insult to injury!

Instead we should be zealously guarding our M'sorah, and not tossing out the nuances

Shloymie: Rabbi Wolpoe, Hebrew has evolved many times.
Rabbinic Hebrew is not Biblical Hebrew and Medieval Hebrew is not Mishnaic Hebrew.

RRW: Good point and I guess one might get overly fastidious at times. Still, the trend is disturbing, and not one we should welcome but mourn. We may have to accept our losses at times, but NOT celebrate them

Shloymie: You're no stick in the mud! Why are you fossilizing Hebrew?

RRW: I'm not! I'm trying to improve the quality by restoring "atarah l'yoshnah" and putting forth a better quality product! I'm actually an advocate for change not unlike R. Hirsch in his time.

Shloymie: Still a living breathing language needs room to maneuver

RRW: Fine in colloquial speech. Can't we maintain a higher standard in LITURGICAL Ivrit! Can't we have leining and davening to Hashem in "better than" the vernacular? Would anyone l'havdil re-write Shakespeare or
The Gettysburg Address in slang?

Shloymie: We're not rewriting here.

RRW: OK you're correct, but we can do better and therefore we should do better, and we BE"H shall do better!

Shloymie: Shall?

RRW: Ok we're gonna do better :-)

Future topics
• More on Hebrew Nuances
Kashrut Certification
• Older, Lost Traditions
• It's for the Birds
• Purging it Best


* this is a humorous reference to the struggle of Kaos and Kontrol in TV's Get Smart

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