Edited by Francesc Feliu and Olga Fullana
[IVITRA Research in Linguistics and Literature 20] 2019
► pp. 54–67
The lowest common denominator as a factor in the formation of Modern Hebrew phonology
Spoken Hebrew was revived in speech some 140 years ago. Basic classical Hebrew vocabulary and grammatical structures were retained in their language because Jews had always used Hebrew for liturgical purposes and as a means of communicating between disparate communities. However, the mother tongues used by Jews from different communities and their societal status affected their pronunciation. The phonological structure of Modern Hebrew reflects the lowest common denominator of the language traditions of these early speakers. Some biblical phonemes disappeared from use, allophones turned into phonemes, consonant clusters deviated from the classical language, and loan consonants and unexpected stress patterns entered the phonological system.