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Hebrew
עִבְרִית
Spoken by: 7 million
Spoken in: State of Israel
Language family: Semitic


The Modern Hebrew Language (עִבְרִית - Ivrit) is a Semitic language spoken by approximately 7 million people in the State of Israel (מְדִינַת יִשְרָאֵל medinat yisrael). Hebrew is co-official in Israel with Arabic with Hebrew as the dominant language. It is part of the larger Afro-Asiatic Language Family which covers large portions of the Middle East and Africa. The language was revived in the early 1900s after not being spoken for almost 2000 years. The figure head of this movement was Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (1858-1922) (אליעזר בן–יהודה).

Phonology Edit

ConsonantsEdit

The Hebrew word for consonants is itsurim (עיצורים).

Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Postalveolar-
alveolar
Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasals m
מ
n
נ
Stops p
פּ
b
בּ
t
ט,ת,תּ
d
ד,דּ
k
ק,כּ
g
ג
ʔ
א,ע
Affricates ʦ
צ
Fricatives f
פ
v
ב,ו
s
ס,שׂ
z
ז
ʃ
שׁ
ʒ
ש'ז
x
שׁח,כ,
ʁ
שר
h
ה
Trills ʀ
ר
Approximants j
י
Laterals l
ל

DageshEdit

With dagesh Without dagesh
Symbol Name IPA Example Symbol Name IPA Example
בּ bet /b/ bun ב vet /v/ van
כּ ךּ kaph /k/ kangaroo כ ך khaph /χ/ loch
פּ pey /p/ pass פ ף fey /f/ find

VowelsEdit

Name Symbol Hebrew
IPA English
Example
Hiriq ִ [i] seek חִירִיק
Tzeire ֵ ɛ and ɛi men צֵירֵי or צֵירֶה
Segol ֶ [ɛ], ([ɛi] with
succeeding yod]])
men סֶגוֹל
Patakh ַ [a] far פַּתָּח
Kamatz ָ [a], (or [ɔ]) far קָמָץ
Sin dot (left) [s] sour שִׂי״ן
Shin dot (right) [ʃ] shop שִׁי״ן
Holam וֹ [ɔ] bore חוֹלָם
Shuruk

מַפִּיק

ּ [u] cool שׁוּרוּק
Kubutz ֻ [u] cool קֻבּוּץ
Sh'va (under bet) בְ [ɛ] or [-] silent שְׁוָא
Reduced Segol ֱ [ɛ] men חֲטַף סֶגוֹל
Reduced Patakh ֲ [a] far חֲטַף פַּתָּח
Reduced Kamatz ֳ [ɔ] bore חֲטַף קָמָץ

Grammar Edit

Orthography (alefbet)Edit

The following letters on the chart are the letters in the alefbet.

AlephBet/VetGimelDaletHeyVavZayinChetTetYudKaph/Khaph
א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י כ
ך
LamedMemNunSamekhAyinPey/FeyTsadiQuphReshShin/SinTav
ל מ נ ס ע פ צ ק ר ש ת
ם ן ף ץ

Common difficulties Edit

VowelsEdit

In most cases the Hebrew language is written without vowel marking. This can be rather difficult for the learner, due to the fact that they can't actually know how the word is pronounced. It is said by native speakers that, in time, one simply knows what words say and the trouble dissapears. Children in Israel use the vowel markings and at a certain point in their education they are no longer used.

Consonantal systemEdit

Hebrew, being a Semitic language, uses consonants as the base of the language.
This can be rather unusual for people who do not speak a language with such a system.

For example:

The root k-t-b (כ-ת-ב) deals with "writing"

katavti  כתבתי  "I wrote"
katavta   כתבת  "you (m) wrote"
katav      כתב  "he wrote" or "reporter" (m)
katevet   כתבת  "reporter" (f)
katava    כתבה  "article" (plural katavot כתבות)
miḵtaḇ    מכתב  "postal letter" (plural miḵtaḇim מכתבים)
miḵtaḇa  מכתבה  "writing desk" (plural miḵtaḇot מכתבות)
ktoḇet   כתובת  "address" (plural ktoḇot כתובות)
ktaḇ       כתב  "handwriting"
katuḇ     כתוב  "written" (f ktuḇa כתובה)
hiḵtiḇ   הכתיב  "he dictated" (f hiḵtiḇa הכתיבה)
hitkateḇ התכתב  "he corresponded" (f hitkatḇa התכתבה)
niḵtaḇ    נכתב  "it was written" (m)
niḵteḇa  נכתבה  "it was written" (f)
ktiḇ      כתיב  "spelling" (m)
taḵtiḇ   תכתיב  "prescript" (m)
meḵutaḇ  מכותב  "a person on one's mailing list" (f meḵuteḇet מכותבת)
ktuba    כתובה  "ketubah (a Jewish marriage contract)" (f) (note: b here, not ḇ)

ResourcesEdit

There is an FSI-course for Hebrew.

Learn Hebrew Pod is a subscription podcast with free lessons for the A level. There are also B and C lessons which are more extensive.
(Very recomended - J-learner)

Hebrewpodcasts is another hebrew learning podcast.

מילון מורפיקס - Melingo is a good online dictionary.

SBS Hebrew is an Australian national broadcast in Hebrew. Downloadable archive.

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