Ora (Rodrigue) Schwarzwald
Bar Ilan University
Modern Hebrew revival in Israel during the last century is a unique phenomenon: a written language used by Jews over 1700 years for either liturgy or writing has become a spoken language used for all purposes.
Although the revivers of Hebrew tried to base the spoken language on the grammar of Hebrew classical periods, the phonetic and grammatical structure of Modern Hebrew shows divergence from it due to various factors.
New words in Modern Hebrew are derived primarily in three ways: 1. combination of a consonantal root with pattern, e.g. g-d-l+-i-e- > gidel 'raised,' g-d-l+mi--a- > migdal 'tower'; 2. stem + affix, e.g. bank+ay > bankay 'banker,' migdal+i > migdali 'tower-like'; 3. blends, e.g. migdal + ’or 'light' > migdalor 'lighthouse.' Loan words are added from various sources with some phonetic adaptation, e.g. bank, telefon, and can follow Hebrew derivational rules, e.g. telefoni 'of the phone (adj),' t-l-f-n+-i-e- > tilfen 'telephoned (v).'
All verbs are derived by root and (seven) patterns' combination, unlike nouns. There are three tenses and one mood in the verb. Nouns are either masculine or feminine. Person inflection in the verbs is obligatory, and so is preposition inflection. Nouns and adjectives are inflected for number and gender, but possessive inflection is limited in nouns, e.g. yadi ~ hayad šeli 'my hand.'
Modern Hebrew is an SVO language with an alternating VSO word order that was dominant in classical Hebrew. Topicalization and other word order shifts are possible. Adjectives follow head nouns, but numeral quantifiers precede them. Nominal sentences with no copula are very common in Hebrew, e.g. hi yafa 'she (is) beautiful.' Copulative verbs are obligatory in the past or the future tense.
The lexicon of Modern Hebrew is composed of original Hebrew words from all its language periods together with loan words. Semantic shifts occur in many original words, however, a lot of the changes are due to loan translations or loan shifts.
ISBN 9783895861444. Languages of the World/Materials 127. 110pp. 2001.