Wizen, Moshe Aharon

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WIZEN, MOSHE AHARON (1878–1953), Hebrew grammarian. Born in Rozwadow, Galicia, Wizen was reared in a traditional ḥasidic atmosphere, and at the same time acquired proficiency in several languages. He started to teach at the age of 18, and in 1904 he went to Switzerland for two years to study at the University of Berne. In 1906 he moved to Lemberg, and worked there until the outbreak of World War i, when he was drafted into the army. After the war he settled in Vienna, where he taught in the Jewish Teachers' Seminary established by Zvi Hirsch Perez *Chajes. In 1938 he immigrated to Ereẓ Israel; he directed Hebrew language courses in Tel Aviv.

As a young man, Wizen published poems and feuilletons in Ha-Pisgah and Ha-Maggid; but his subsequent labors were devoted primarily to linguistic research. Wizen wrote a comparative grammar of Hebrew and other Semitic languages, Torat ha-LashonSefer Dikduk Sefat Ever (1923). However, unlike his predecessors, he did not confine himself to the language of the Bible, but also included in his work linguistic forms found in the rabbinic and post-rabbinic period (indicating by different symbols the time when each word was first used). He dealt systematically with vocalization, inflection, and word-formation. He provided comprehensive paradigms of the conjugations and the declensions, including forms that do not appear in the sources but are nonetheless implied by virtue of the system.

While Wizen's general classification of the parts of speech is based upon that of the medieval grammarians, his internal classifications of words derive from the approach adopted by modern grammarians of the Hebrew language. His division of the noun (greatly influenced by that of Brockelmann into declension groups and groups of derivatives) accords with present-day linguistic theory, as do his description and explanations of the vowels (as for example his treatment of the "intermediate" or "half-sounded" šewa). He supported his description of the Hebrew verb-root by comparison with Akkadian and explained the forms of the verb in different conjugations by comparison with proto-Semitic, adding notes to illuminate any apparently irregular form; and following Abraham *Ibn Ezra, he also wrote a section on incompatible consonants in the root – a subject avoided by later grammarians.

[Menahem Zevi Kaddari]