Samaritan Hebrew language

Samaritan Hebrew language

Infobox Language
name=Samaritan Hebrew
nativename=Hebrew|עברית "‘Ivrit"
pronunciation= [ʔiwˈʁiθ]
region=Israel and Palestinian Authority territories, predominantly in Samaria and Holon.
speakers=fewer than 1,000; liturgical only
fam3=West Semitic
fam4=Central Semitic
fam5=Northwest Semitic
script=Samaritan abjad
The Samaritan Hebrew language is a descendant of Biblical Hebrew as pronounced and written by the Samaritans. It is used in the reading tradition of the Samaritan Pentateuch.


It is written in the Samaritan alphabet, a direct descendant of the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet (itself a variation of what phoenicians used as a alphabet, see, the Phoenician alphabet), whereas all other varieties of Hebrew are written in the later Hebrew alphabet, a variation on the Aramaic alphabet.


The Samaritan pronunciation of Hebrew differs in several respects from most others. The laryngeals He and Cheth have disappeared or turned into vowels. Behth and Waw both are pronounced as "b" (in fact, the letters' names are pronounced Bîhth and Baa), only the waw-conjunctive is pronounced as "u". There is no double pronunciation of the Shin like Jewish Hebrew; it is always pronounced "sh". Consonants with dagesh are pronounced geminate. Stress is commonly penultimate rather than ultimate.



- ’Ā´lāph. ' /ʔ/

- Bîhth. /b/

- Gā´mān. /ɡ/

- Dā´lath. /d/

- Iē’. /ey/,

- Báā. /b/

- Zēn. /z/

- Īhth.

- Tihth. /tˁ/

- Yūhth. /y/

- Káph. /k/ - [x] allophonically

- Lā´bāth. /l/

- Mīīm. /m/

- Nūn. /n/

- Sîn´gath/Sîn´kath. /s/

- ‛A´yîn. /ʕ/

- Phī’. /f/

- Tsa•dhey´. /tzsˁ/ /tş/

- Qūhph. /qˁ/

- Rīhšh. /ɾ/

- šhān. /š/ (sh)

- Táph./t/


Parts of speech



you (male)átta
you (female)átti (note the final "yohdh")
you (male, plural)attímma
you (female, plural)éttên
they (male)ímma
they (female)ínna


This: masc. ze, fem. zéot, pl. ílla.

That: alaz (written with a "he" at the beginning).


Who, which: éšar.


Who? = mi. What? = ma.


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'émur = "the donkey".


Regular plural suffixes are -êm, Judean Hebrew -im) masc., -ôt (Judean Hebrew: -oth.) fem: eyyamêm "the days", elamôt "dreams".

Dual is sometimes -ayem (Judean Hebrew: a′yim) (šenatayem "two years"), usually -êm like the plural (yédêm "hands", Judean Hebrew "yadhayim".)

Tradition of Divine name

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" .


Affixes are:

you (male)-tati-
you (female)-ti?
you (plural)-tímmate- -un
you (female, plural)-tên?
they (male)-uyi- -u
they (female)?ti- -inna



"in, using", pronounced:
* b- before a vowel (or, therefore, a former guttural): b-érbi = "with a sword"; b-íštu "with his wife".
* ba- before a bilabial consonant: bá-bêt (Judean Hebrew: ba-ba′yith) "in a house", ba-mádbar "in a wilderness"
* ev- before other consonant: ev-lila "in a night", ev-dévar "with the thing".
* ba-/be- before the definite article ("the"): barrášet (Judean Hebrew: Bere’·shith′) "in the beginning"; béyyôm "in the day".

"as, like", pronounced:
* ka without the article: ka-demútu "in his likeness"
* ke with the article: ké-yyôm "like the day".

"to" pronounced:
* l- before a vowel: l-ávi "to my father", l-évad "to the slave"
* el-, al- before a consonant: al-béni "to the children (of)"
* le- before l: le-léket "to go"
* l- before the article: lammúad "at the appointed time"; la-şé'on "to the flock"

"and" pronounced:
* w- before consonants: wal-Šárra "and to Sarah"
* u- before vowels: u-yeššeg "and he caught up".

Other prepositions:
* al: towards
* elfáni: before
* bêd-u: for him
* elqérôt: against
* balêd-i: except me


* u: or
* em: if, when
* avel: but


* la: not
* kâ: also
* afu: also
* ín-ak: you are not
* ífa (ípa): where?
* méti: when
* fâ: here
* šémma: there
* mittét: under


*J. Rosenberg, "Lehrbuch der samaritanischen Sprache und Literatur", A. Hartleben's Verlag: Wien, Pest, Leipzig.
* Ben-Hayyim, Ze'ev, and Tal, Abraham, "A Grammar of Samaritan Hebrew Based on the Recitation of the Law in Comparison with the Tiberian and Other Jewish Traditions": 2000 ISBN 1-57506-047-7

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