This paper characterizes Medieval Hebrew and Aramaic as literary languages and seeks to explain how a 'literary language' - namely a language used mainly in literary contexts - arises, while utilizing three types of research: comparative philological research, which compares different languages and texts in terms of their vocabulary and grammar; sociolinguistic research, which examines the social functions of language use; and psycholinguistic research, which (in this particular case) examines issues of language acquisition. The paper builds on philological studies of literary languages to explain how the grammar of these languages evolves. It assumes that the acquisition of such languages is similar to second-language acquisition, while taking into account that these languages are both acquired and used in a strictly literary context. The main argument of the paper is that literary languages should be studied the same way as other languages, because ultimately - after making some adjustments motivated by their particular functions - they are compatible with the standard models of second-language acquisition.
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