Colonialism and imperialism have enormous impact on every aspect of human life including languages, which is one of the significant markers of cultural identity. Often the colonial subjects had to face suppression of their languages by imposition of the language of the colonizers. When a language that has never been written down dies, it is as if it never existed. Imperialism or colonialism has always been at the heart of the murder of languages. The “linguistic imperialism” is not a modern phenomenon but it has been a reality throughout the history and all over the globe. The underlying reason for this sabotage is that the more linguistically coherent the society is, the easier it is to control. Take away a person’s language, and one robs them of the ability to express unique cultural concepts. The people in ancient Israel became one of the victims of this language incursion. This paper critically examines the impact of colonialism and imperialism on the gradual decline of Hebrew as spoken language during the Hellenistic period by analyzing the archaeological and epigraphic evidence as examples and illustrates the extent of the impact of “foreign” languages on Hebrew that eventually paved the way for its demise. The study further proves that colonialism and imperialism have been functioning throughout the history in a similar pattern to subjugate the “other,” and to exercise their power and interests over the “other.”
Horizons in Biblical Theology – Brill
Published: Mar 20, 2017
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