Hebrew  
Online Language Courses  
  • Spoken by 4,9 million people in Israel.
  • Modern Hebrew, Ivrit, was declared the official language of Israel in 1948.
  • Ben-Yehuda based Modern Hebrew on Biblical Hebrew. When the Committee set out to invent a new word for a certain concept, it searched through the Biblical word-indexes and foreign dictionaries, particularly Arabic. While Ben-Yehuda preferred Semitic roots to European ones, the abundance of European Hebrew speakers led to the introduction of numerous foreign words. Other changes which had taken place as Hebrew came back to life were the systematization of the grammar (due to the Biblical syntax sometimes being limited and ambiguous) and the adoption of standard Western punctuation.
  • Russian influence is particularly evident in Hebrew. For example, the Russian suffix -acia is used in nouns where English has the suffix -ation. It is so both in direct borrowings from Russian, for example "industrializacia", industrialization, and in words that do not exist in Russian (thus, colloquial English "cannibalization" turns into Hebrew "canibalizatcia"). English influence is also very strong, perhaps due to the thirty years of British rule under the Mandate and the dense ties with the United States. Yiddish influence is also found, in some diminutives for instance. Finally, Arabic, being the language of numerous Mizrahic and Sephardic Jewish immigrants from Arab countries as well as of the Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, has also had an important influence on Hebrew.
  • Modern Hebrew is printed with a script known as "square". It is the same script, ultimately derived from Aramaic, that was used for copying of Bible books in Hebrew for two thousands years. This script also has a cursive version, which is used for handwriting.
  • Hebrew has been the language of numerous poets, which include Rahel, Hayim Nahman Byalik, Shaul Tchernihovsky, Lea Goldberg, Avraham Shlonsky and Natan Alterman. Hebrew was also the language of hundreds of authors, one of whom is the Nobel Prize laureate Shmuel Yosef Agnon.
  • Nearly every immigrant to Israel is encouraged to adopt Standard Hebrew and its nuances as their daily language. As a dialect, Standard Hebrew was originally based on Sephardi Hebrew, but has been further constrained to Ashkenazi phonology to form a unique modern dialect.
  • Hebrew grammar is mostly analytical, lacking inflectional mechanisms for dative constructs, and having no systematic ablative, accusative or dative constructs. However inflection does play an important role in the formation of the verbs, nouns and the genitive construct, which is called "smikhut". Words in smikhut are often combined with hyphens.
  • Hebrew distinguishes between masculine nouns---such as yeled (="boy, child")---and feminine nouns---such as yaldah (="girl"). There is no neuter gender. Generally, almost all nouns that end in "ah" are feminine. Sometimes, as in the example, a feminine form can be formed through adding a final "ah" to a masculine noun (written as the letter "he").
  • Modern Hebrew is written from right to left using the Hebrew alphabet. Modern scripts are based on the "square" letter form, in which most of the letters are made by adding lines to the letter resh (ר). In handwriting, a similar concept is used, however where printed letters have right angles, scripts have arcs. All Hebrew consonant phonemes are represented by a single letter. Although a single letter might represent two phonemes (thus the letter "bet" represents both /b/ and /v/), they always differ only in the stress, and so can be considered a single consonant.
  • Vowels are optional and written as dots and dashes under the text. Different combinations of dots and dashes signify different types of vowels. A convenient rule to remember is that long vowels have an even number of dots and dashes. The semi-vowels hei, vav and yud can represent both a consonant (/h/, /v/ and /y/, respectively) or a vowel, which presence is ambiguous. In the latter case, these letters are called "emot qria" ("matres lectionis" in Latin, "mothers of reading" in English). With a vowel, the letter alef is mute. When a vowel is absent, alef stands for /a/. The letter hei in the end of a word also sounds like /a/ and signifies the feminine gender. The letter waw standing after the vowels /u/ and /o/ lengthens them, and so does the letter yud after the vowel /i/.
  • The Hebrew language is normally written in the Hebrew alphabet. Due to publishing difficulties, and the unfamiliarity of many readers with the alphabet, there are many ways of transcribing Hebrew into Roman letters. The most accurate method is the International Phonetic Alphabet.
Online Dictionaries
Online Newspapers
Online TV & Radio Stations
© Copyright 2002-2004 Language Directory All Rights Reseved.

The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1