Stephen Hill wrote:
I ran across this article today (http://www.zuckermann.org/pdf/Hybridity ... bility.pdf
) and would be interested to know what you all think about it.
Some relevant bits from the conclusion:
This article contributes towards recognizing that the revival of a no-longer spoken language is unlikely without cross-fertilization from the revivalists’ mother tongue(s) and towards understanding Israeli as a hybridic language
I hypothesize that the Congruence Principle is most significant to the study of Israeli: If a feature exists in more than one contributing language (or idiolect, sociolect, ethnolect etc.), it is more likely to persist in the emerging language
One of the common objections to teaching Greek (or Latin or Classical Hebrew) communicatively is that you'll end up with a hybrid language, neither fish nor fowl, that will trick students and teachers into thinking they're speaking Greek when in reality they're speaking a worthless interlanguage of sorts. Do Zuckermann's claims lend credence to this objection? Or does the analogy fail because he's addressing the widespread revival of a language in a naturalistic context, rather than spoken usage limited to students and teachers who consciously strive to emulate the ancient language? I tend to think the latter. Spoken ancient Greek shows no signs, to put it mildly, of spreading beyond the circle of students and teachers who use it for its own sake and/or for pedagogical reasons. Its being adopted on a scale comparable to that of Modern Hebrew is rather unlikely.
There are a couple of assumptions in the above, spoken and unspoken, that could potentially confuse the discussion.
For one, every time that a monolingual person becomes a bilingual they go through a process of building an interlanguage that is neither the first language nor the second language. In addition, there is evidence and a commonly held view that a multilingual person is essentially different from a monolingual person to some degree, even in their first language. Lest this psycholinguistic situation deter someone from going down the multilingual path, it may be added that multilingualism is a common and natural human condition, something to be embraced and studied, not avoided.
As a second point, the idea that multilingualism somehow invalidates the learner's language knowledge (... a worthless interlanguage of sorts") is a strawman argument. The alternatives are worse. Imagine having no interlanguage at all. Those with such a lack would be even farther away from the language of interest. In addition, they do not have the apparatus in place for the rapid reading of the language and they would block their closest approximation to the language of interest. Multilinguals all testify that they appreciate the direct access to the second language and one does not hear of complaints that they wished that they could go back to monolingualism.
Stephen is correct that the interest in teachers and students in continually using the ancient written texts as the standard for evaluating any language use also protects it from a denigration of being merely a 'hybrid'. In fact it is a window into the ancient language and the greater the fluency and processing ability of the learner the greater their ability to enjoy the literature. Linguistic analysis, of course, is a different matter altogether, as is seen in modern linguistics and English. Modern linguistics is an endeavor to understand how human language works and how any one language works. It is a theoretical battleground at times. But general linguistics is not the analysis or appreciation of a literature, nor is it the primary tool today for literary studies. For that, one wants widespread, rapid reading, as well as a close pedantic reading of a text against itself, wider literary contexts, and culture. For this endeavor, there is no substitute for a fluent control of a language, even if it is a second language.