|Region||Israel and Palestinian territories, predominantly in Nablus and Holon|
|Extinct||ca. 2nd century|
survives in liturgical use
Samaritan Hebrew (Hebrew: עברית שומרונית) is a reading tradition used liturgically by the Samaritans for reading the Ancient Hebrew language of the Samaritan Pentateuch, in contrast to Tiberian Hebrew among the Jews.
For the Samaritans, Ancient Hebrew ceased to be a spoken everyday language and was succeeded by Samaritan Aramaic, which itself ceased to be a spoken language some time between the 10th and 12th centuries and was succeeded by Arabic (or more specifically Samaritan Palestinian Arabic).
The phonology of Samaritan Hebrew is very similar to that of Samaritan Arabic, and is used by the Samaritans in prayer. Today, the spoken vernacular among Samaritans is evenly split between Modern Israeli Hebrew and Palestinian Arabic, depending on whether they reside in Holon (Israel) or in Shechem (i.e. Nablus, in Palestine's Area A).
The Samaritan language first became known in detail to the Western world with the publication of a manuscript of the Samaritan Pentateuch in 1631 by Jean Morin. In 1616 the traveler Pietro della Valle had purchased a copy of the text in Damascus, and this manuscript, now known as Codex B, was deposited in a Parisian library.
Between 1957 and 1977 Ze'ev Ben-Haim published in five volumes his monumental Hebrew work on the Hebrew and Aramaic traditions of the Samaritans. Ben-Haim, whose views prevail today, proved that modern Samaritan Hebrew is not very different from Second Temple Samaritan, which itself was a language shared with the other residents of the region before it was supplanted by Aramaic.
Samaritan Hebrew is written in the Samaritan alphabet, a direct descendant of the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet, which in turn is a variant of the earlier Phoenician alphabet.
The Samaritan alphabet is close to the script that appears on many Ancient Hebrew coins and inscriptions. By contrast, all other varieties of Hebrew, as written by Jews, employ the later 'square' Hebrew alphabet, which is in fact a variation of the Aramaic alphabet that Jews began using in the Babylonian captivity following the exile of the Kingdom of Judah in the 6th century BCE. During the 3rd century BCE, Jews began to use this stylized "square" form of the script used by the Achaemenid Empire for Imperial Aramaic, its chancellery script while the Samaritans continued to use the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet, which evolved into the Samaritan alphabet.
In modern times, a cursive variant of the Samaritan alphabet is used in personal affects.
|Hebrew (Ashuri) Letter||א||ב||ג||ד||ה||ו||ז||ח||ט||י||כ||ל||מ||נ||ס||ע||פ||צ||ק||ר||ש||ת|
|Pronunciation||[ʔ]||[b]||[ɡ]||[d]||[ʔ]||[b], [w]||[z]||[ʔ], [ʕ]||[tˤ]||[j]||[k]||[l]||[m]||[n]||[s]||[ʔ], [ʕ]||[f], [b]||[sˤ]||[q], [ʔ]||[r]||[ʃ]||[t]|
|Niqqud with ࠌ/מ||, ,|
|value||/a/, /ɒ/||/e/||/e/, /i/||/o/, /u/||(geminate consonant)||/ʕa/|
Samaritan Hebrew shows the following consonantal differences from Biblical Hebrew: The original phonemes */b ɡ d k p t/ do not have spirantized allophones, though at least some did originally in Samaritan Hebrew (evidenced in the preposition "in" ב- /av/ or /b/). */p/ has shifted to /f/ (except occasionally */pː/ > /bː/). */w/ has shifted to /b/ everywhere except in the conjunction ו- 'and' where it is pronounced as /w/. */ɬ/ has merged with /ʃ/, unlike in all other contemporary Hebrew traditions in which it is pronounced /s/. The laryngeals /ʔ ħ h ʕ/ have become /ʔ/ or null everywhere, except before /a ɒ/ where */ħ ʕ/ sometimes become /ʕ/. /q/ is sometimes pronounced as [ʔ], though not in Pentateuch reading, as a result of influence from Samaritan Arabic. /q/ may also be pronounced as [χ], but this occurs only rarely and in fluent reading.
|Close||i iː||u uː|
|Open||a aː||ɒ ɒː|
Phonemic length is contrastive, e.g. /rɒb/ רב 'great' vs. /rɒːb/ רחב 'wide'. Long vowels are usually the result of the elision of guttural consonants.
/i/ and /e/ are both realized as [ə] in closed post-tonic syllables, e.g. /bit/ בית 'house' /abbət/ הבית 'the house' /ɡer/ גר /aɡɡər/ הגר. In other cases, stressed /i/ shifts to /e/ when that syllable is no longer stressed, e.g. /dabbirti/ דברתי but דברתמה /dabbertimma/. /u/ and /o/ only contrast in open post-tonic syllables, e.g. ידו /jedu/ 'his hand' ידיו /jedo/ 'his hands', where /o/ stems from a contracted diphthong. In other environments, /o/ appears in closed syllables and /u/ in open syllables, e.g. דור /dor/ דורות /durot/.
Stress generally differs from other traditions, being found usually on the penultimate and sometimes on the ultimate.
|female||átti (note the final yodh[further explanation needed])||éttên|
|singular||masc||ze||alaz (written with a he at the beginning).|
Who, which: éšar.
When suffixes are added, ê and ô in the last syllable may become î and û: bôr (Judean bohr) "pit" > búrôt "pits". Note also af "anger" > éppa "her anger".
Segolates behave more or less as in other Hebrew varieties: beţen "stomach" > báţnek "your stomach", ke′seph "silver" > ke′sefánu (Judean Hebrew kaspe′nu) "our silver", dérek > dirkakimma "your (m. pl.) road" but áreş (in Judean Hebrew: 'e'rets) "earth" > árşak (Judean Hebrew 'arts-ekha) "your earth".
The definite article is a- or e-, and causes gemination of the following consonant, unless it is a guttural; it is written with a he, but as usual, the h is silent. Thus, for example: énnar / ánnar = "the youth"; ellêm = "the meat"; a'émor = "the donkey".
Regular plural suffixes are
Dual is sometimes -ayem (Judean Hebrew: a′yim), šenatayem "two years", usually -êm like the plural yédêm "hands" (Judean Hebrew yadhayim.)
Samaritans have the tradition of either spelling out loud with the Samaritan letters
"Yohth, Ie', Baa, Ie' "
or saying "Shema" meaning "(The Divine) Name" in Aramaic, similar to Judean Hebrew "Ha-Shem" .
|2nd person||male||-ta||-tímma||ti-||te- -un|
|female||-ti||-tên||ti- -i||te- -na|
|3nd person||male||-||-u||yi-||yi- -u|
"in, using", pronounced:
"as, like", pronounced: