Talk:Biblical Hebrew/GA1

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GA Review[edit]

Article (edit | visual edit | history) · Article talk (edit | history) · Watch

Reviewer:Quadell (talk) 18:47, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
Nominator: User:Mo-Al

Rate Attribute Review Comment
1. Well written:
1a. the prose is clear and concise, and the spelling and grammar are correct. Prose is generally excellent.
1b. it complies with the manual of style guidelines for lead sections, layout, words to watch, fiction, and list incorporation. The lead is great, the use of lists and charts and infoboxes is impeccable, footnotes are interesting and helpful, etc.
2. Verifiable with no original research:
2a. it contains a list of all references (sources of information), presented in accordance with the layout style guideline. References are great!
2b. all in-line citations are from reliable sources, including those for direct quotations, statistics, published opinion, counter-intuitive or controversial statements that are challenged or likely to be challenged, and contentious material relating to living persons—science-based articles should follow the scientific citation guidelines. Citations are reliable and consistent. Very well done.
2c. it contains no original research. No problems.
3. Broad in its coverage:
3a. it addresses the main aspects of the topic. Exhaustive.
3b. it stays focused on the topic without going into unnecessary detail (see summary style). No problems.
4. Neutral: it represents viewpoints fairly and without editorial bias, giving due weight to each.
5. Stable: it does not change significantly from day to day because of an ongoing edit war or content dispute. No problems.
6. Illustrated, if possible, by images:
6a. images are tagged with their copyright status, and valid fair use rationales are provided for non-free content. No problems.
6b. images are relevant to the topic, and have suitable captions. It seems like there could be more useful images. But there are no problems with what's there.
7. Overall assessment. I am proud to pass this nomination.

Overall comments[edit]

This is an amazing article. Very thorough, very well-sourced. I've found a number of relatively minor issues that I hope can be dealt with without too much difficulty.

Resolved issues[edit]

  • You're missing an endquote at "the earliest Biblical Hebrew [still] had a great deal in common with Ugaritic and Amarna Canaanite.["] Also, this should really be attributed in the text, since it's not clear whose analysis this is.
  • I've now paraphrased this quote. Mo-Al (talk) 18:37, 1 August 2011 (UTC)
  • These two claims seem contradictory: "Biblical Hebrew after the Second Temple period evolved into Mishnaic Hebrew, which was spoken until the 4th century CE." vs. "These additions were added after 600 CE; Hebrew had already ceased being spoken around 200 CE."
  • Fixed. Mo-Al (talk) 21:23, 1 August 2011 (UTC)
  • To a linguist, IPA is clear as day. But to a casual reader, it needs to be introduced or linked somehow. When the lead jumps right in with "Earlier Biblical Hebrew possessed the three phonemes /ɬ χ ʁ/, which...", a non-expert might think ɬ, χ, and ʁ might be Hebrew characters. Featured Articles on languages, such as Turkish language and Swedish language, use {{IPA notice}} before the first use of IPA. Those article don't have IPA in the lead, though, and I'm not sure the best way to handle it in this case. But however you deal with it, I don't think you can throw in IPA symbols without saying what they are. Perhaps the lead should say "...represented in IPA as..."?
  • I've removed the IPA. I think it doesn't impact the quality of the lead. Mo-Al (talk) 15:25, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • I've tried too add more appropriate linking. Mo-Al (talk) 15:34, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • The lead refers to the "emphatic" consonants as "likely ejective or pharyngealized". But the "Phonology" section says "The so called 'emphatics' were likely glottalized, but possibly pharyngealized or velarized." Which is more accurate?
  • Clarified. Basically glottalized = ejective. Mo-Al (talk) 21:53, 1 August 2011 (UTC)
  • The "Eras" section says "Most of the Hebrew Bible is written in Standard Biblical Hebrew. This is dated to the period from the 8th to the 6th century BCE." Then, later, it says "Later pre-exilic Biblical Hebrew... is known as 'Biblical Hebrew proper' or 'Standard Biblical Hebrew'". So which era is Standard Biblical Hebrew? This is confusing to me.
  • Clarified. The second sentence was misplaced. Mo-Al (talk) 18:43, 1 August 2011 (UTC)
  • The "Classification" section introduces the abbreviations "As Biblical Hebrew (BH) evolved from Proto-Semitic (PS)...", but these abbreviations are never used so far as I can tell. Can they just be removed?
  • Sure, done. Mo-Al (talk) 18:37, 1 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Since Hebrew is a right-to-left language, there are many places in the text where references or punctuation breaks when next to Hebrew words. This can be prevented by using {{rtl-lang|he|עֲשוֹת}} around each word (where עֲשוֹת is used as the example in this case), whenever a parenthesis or reference or period would touch the word. This would prevent the reference problem at the first paragraph of the "Dialects" section, or the parentheses problem in the fifth paragraph in the "Orthography" section. See this discussion for more.
  • I've tried to catch all of these and fix them. Mo-Al (talk) 15:20, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • The "Consonants" section refers to "Rabbinic Hebrew", but this term has not been explained. Is this the same as "Mishnaic Hebrew"?
  • Yes. I've standardized the terminology. Mo-Al (talk) 21:06, 1 August 2011 (UTC)
  • The "Consonants" section says "In all Jewish reading traditions /ɬ/ and /s/ have merged completely; however in Samaritan Hebrew /ɬ/ has instead merged with /ʃ/." This seems to state that Samaritan Hebrew is not a Jewish reading tradition. Is this uncontested? (Forgive my ignorance, but it sounds suspect to me.) If it's contested, it should be reworded.
  • I think it is uncontested that Samaritanism and Judaism are considered separate religions. For instance, until recently Samaritans would not marry Jews, though recently this has been relaxed due to concerns of genetic disease. Mo-Al (talk) 18:47, 1 August 2011 (UTC)
    • I checked with a couple other editors, and this is fine. – Quadell (talk) 11:54, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • The "Tiberian, etc." chart in "Vowels" has a 4 superscript after the open "a", but no note as to what that means.
  • Removed. Mo-Al (talk) 18:47, 1 August 2011 (UTC)
  • The prose is excellent, but frequently assumes a higher level of expertise than appropriate. A reader may not know what "out-group communication" is, for instance, and I can't find a relevant article on it. The "Classification" section refers to "lexical isoglosses" and "morphological isoglosses" (but the Isogloss article claims an isogloss is a geographic boundary, which doesn't make sense in this context). The "Dialects" section mentions "monopthongization", "an anaptyctic vowel", and "II-y verbs", all without link or explanation. (And does "Jerome" refer to this guy?) The "Orthography" section refers to "construct state" and the "law of attenuation". The "Consonants" section refers to "marginally phonemic", "word-initial spirants", "vowel in sandhi", and "merging into null". The "Morphology" section refers to "epenthesis", "cohortative", "imperative", and "jussive".
  • I've tried to clarify the cases you've mentioned either by paraphrasing or by linking. Let me know if there are other locations where the text should be clarified. Mo-Al (talk) 19:45, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
    • Every case has been suitably linked and explained. Excellent work. – Quadell (talk) 19:59, 2 August 2011 (UTC)

Remaining issues[edit]

None remain. – Quadell (talk) 19:59, 2 August 2011 (UTC)


The following are merely questions, not clearly identified problems, and none of these issues will prevent the article from attaining GA status. However, they are questions that I think should be considered and discussed.

  1. There are very few images in the article, and none with captions. Would any of the images in Commons:Category:Ancient Hebrew inscriptions or subcategories (particularly Commons:Category:Ancient coins of Israel and of Judaea) be useful in this article?
  2. Your method of formatting looks like "Yardeni (1997:25)", with the link split, the opening parenthesis inside the link and the closing parenthesis outside. This looks a bit visually jarring. Have you considered linking the entire line to the bibliography entry? Or using a format, such as "Yardeni (1997), p. 25", where this is not an issue?
    • Having examined the templates you use, and other good and featured articles, I retract this question. It is not an issue. – Quadell (talk) 19:36, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  3. The article states "The Israelite tribes established a kingdom in Canaan at the beginning of the first millennium BCE, which later split into the kingdom of Israel in the north and the kingdom of Judah in the south after a dispute of succession." I think that's a fair statement of the majority scholarly opinion, but it's not undisputed. There is still "The Bible Unearthed" interpretation (Finkelstein & Silberman), which holds there was never a united monarchy. On the one hand, I don't want the article to get waylaid on debates that aren't directly relevant to Biblical Hebrew. On the other hand, I don't want to state something disputed as fact, per our NPOV policy. What's the best way to handle this?
    • I am not knowledgeable about the scholarly view of early Israelite history. This might require input from another editor. Mo-Al (talk) 18:39, 1 August 2011 (UTC)
    Would a phrasing starting something like "A majority scholarly opinion is that the Israelite tribes established a kingdom in Canaan [...]"? This leaves room for other opinion, states who it is that has the majority opinion, what that majority opinion is, and doesn't need to restructure the original sentence that much. I don't think it necessary to really elaborate further about the details in the statement than this. If someone is interested in more details, the link I used here goes to the "History of ancient Israel and Judah" article which gets into more detail. — al-Shimoni (talk) 17:08, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
    Or "According to most scholars,...". If such a disclaimer is necessary. – Quadell (talk) 17:47, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  4. Someone who can read Hebrew will be able to understand the article more fully than someone who cannot (like me), and that's unavoidable... but I wanted to let you know the parts the article starts to lose me. For instance all of the "Orthography" section is perfectly intelligible to me, except for the second half of the sixth paragraph, starting "In the Qumran tradition...". Are these examples--particular letters used in particular traditions--too detailed for a summary article on Biblical Hebrew? Similarly, the "Vowels" subsection of "Phonology" is not only much longer than the other sections, it goes into a far deeper level of detail in terms of subtle vowel differences between traditions and their changes over time. The "Vowels" section is by far the most difficult section for a non-Hebrew-reader to make sense of. Is this more detail than necessary? I don't think it's a criterion 3b violation, but it's worth considering trimming this. It's possible that Phonology of Biblical Hebrew should be its own article, with a shorter summary of the contents here. But these are just things to consider.
    • I've tried to use summary style for the phonology section. Mo-Al (talk) 15:50, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
      • Excellent work, thank you! – Quadell (talk) 17:35, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  5. The "Syntax" section is really about the differences between BH syntax and MH syntax. Since I don't know MH, this is of limited use. Are there aspects of BH syntax that are not covered, but should be? I don't know enough about Semitic languages to say.
    • I am reworking the grammar section into a different format so that it will make more sense. Mo-Al (talk) 17:52, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
      • Wow, that's a lot of new info! Let me look over all of it, and I'll get back with you... – Quadell (talk) 19:36, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
        • This resolves all my concerns, thank you. – Quadell (talk) 19:43, 2 August 2011 (UTC)