The Hebrew language comes down to us in several versions,
each ethnic community having its own unique tradition of pronunciation. Even
though these traditions are subject to the various vernaculars and sometimes
differ markedly from each other, their common basis is evident. All, that is,
but the pronunciation of the Samaritans, whose tradition stands apart from the
others, unique and surprising. One who hears the Samaritan recitation of the
Torah or any of their Hebrew prayers would think he is listening to some
distant, foreign tongue.
Only here and there would his ear discern a Hebrew word. The
Samaritan community's distinctness in matters of belief and law, its
devotion to its ancestral ways, and its continual preservation of its ancient
ritual practices am so well how as to require no proof. This raises the following question: does the Samaritans' tendency to adhere closely to their
religious heritage apply also to their unique linguistic tradition? In other
words, did the Samaritans carefully maintain their linguistic heritage, as they
did their observance of tradition, preserving it from the time when they spoke
The author's answer -- based on a detailed analysis of all the
available data -- is presented in this volume.
This English translation contains emendations and clarifications making it accessible for the non-Hebrew speaking public while remaining faithful to the original Hebrew in terms of content and conclusions.