Monday, November 21, 2011

Week 7: Hebrew

Now, here's a language I think I'm going to study a lot more than Syriac.

The question is, why? Am I so pro-Israel? No.

1) I have always been interested in witchcraft, magic, occult things, and somewhere in the history the Europeans decided Hebrew looks decidedly mystical, very interesting, must be really magical too, and then they found out about Kabbalah, and then they started talking about all these books and writings about magic in Hebrew. (or that was what I thought... in reality, most of these "Hebrew" scriptures were written in French or some other such language, because the idiots didn't really know Hebrew, and all these "Hebrew scriptures" they are referring to exist only in their imagination. So there so. Nevertheless, as I was growing up in Finland back at the 70's and 80's, we didn't have the access to translated books the way we have today. So - I thought I NEEDED to learn Hebrew to be able to ever read these books.)

2) Hebrew was part of the classical high-school education when all the "latin school" students were supposed to be priests... If all those guys knew Latin, Greek and Hebrew, so would I.

3) My husband is Jewish. I want to learn Hebrew and Yiddisch for him. :-)


There's about 5 million of native Hebrew (Ivrit) speakers, and about the same amount speak Hebrew as their second language. It is one of the official languages of Israel.

Ivrit was re-created, revived, using the historical Hebrew, Hebrew pidgins and creoles (especially Yiddish), and the living Semitic languages (and some Turkish and Latin) as base in the end of 19th century.

There isn't really a word order; one can omit the verb from the sentence, and other stuff like that, which makes it nice. They say the conjugation of verbs is the most difficult thing in Hebrew.

So - I learned the Aleph-Beit through this song. Even though I hate the preppy style and explanatory stuff in between is... er... stupid? what ever. Nevertheless, I learned the Aleph-Beit.
(I also like this Aleph Beis song, even though... well... Yeah, it's for kids and it's also somewhat stupid, but it does the work. I also hate the "one of a kind". I don't think it means what he thinks it does...)

Then I suggest you take a piece of paper and write, like you did when you learned to write your mothertongue. A row after row alephs, bets, gimels, dalets and so on.
Then you should write the names of the letters in Hebrew.
Then you should find words that start with each letter and write those, line after line...
And then you should start copying sentences.
If you do this every day, write your two pages, you will know the letters, you will be reading fluently, and the biggest obstacle is gone.
It should take only a couple of hours to learn the aleph-beit, and then two pages of practice will keep them in your head.

And I know there is a handwriting form of these letters, but I think that differs so very much of the printed form, I would try to emulate the printed form to my best ability, perhaps take a couple of pointers from the handwriting, like the difference of waw and nun, to learn the printed form properly, and then learn the handwriting (cursive) later - just like we did.

Here's a video I like about how to write the Hebrew letters nicely, calligraphy style. (It also shows the Arabic letters, so you might learn them too at the same time :-D)

Here's how to write "cursive" Hebrew 

Here's about the numbers, and here something about using numbers with words. (It has some importance when learning the numbers, because "teens" are "one ten, two tens, three tens..." and ten is feminine... so achat'esreh, shteim'esreh, shlosh'esreh, arba'esreh, chamesh'esreh, shesh'esreh, shva'esreh, shmone'esreh, tsha'esreh.
20+ is twenty and ... esrim v' and the number in feminine
30, 40, 50 etc. are number+im (threes, fours, fives?)
And hundred... well, there's a book called "May-Ah Teach You 100 Hebrew Words?!". 100 is mea.

Useful Hebrew phrases

1 comment:

  1. Your article about Hebrew language is really informative. I am beginner of learning Hebrew language . I have many useful resources , books, lonely planet Hebrew Phrasebook, 3500 word dictionary , audio CD to learn Hebrew language . I have taken course which is Pimsleur conversational Hebrew method and i have achieved good command in Hebrew language.