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Abstract

Nowadays Hebrew is the main official language spoken in Israel (beside Arabic and English) and lingua franca of Jews living in the diaspora. It has undergone some significant changes and has been exposed to influences from other languages throughout all the stages of its development – since the Biblical times, through the Babylonian exile, the Middle Ages, the Haskala period, its revival in the 19th century, till the modern times. Despite not being used for every-day conversation for more than two thousand years, Hebrew kept developing in literature (mostly liturgical) due to its constant contact with numerous languages that were spoken by Jews: Aramaic, Arabic, Ladino, Yiddish and others. Nowadays it is developing dynamically and, as some authors claim, is losing its Semitic nature – although the grammar is still based mainly on Ancient Hebrew, numerous foreign lexical, syntactical and phonological influences may easily be observed in Modern Hebrew. This paper is an attempt to explain the reason for such diversity of influences in Hebrew, with special focus on Israeli Hebrew. Some examples of foreign components in the colloquial language will be presented, mostly of Yiddish, Russian and Arabic origin.
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