Vocabulary (Review)

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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Yana here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher where I’ll answer some of your most common Hebrew questions.
The question for this lesson is…
Just what is the difference between Biblical and Modern Hebrew?
Now, you may be attracted to Hebrew for any number of reasons. Perhaps you want to communicate with friends or family. Or maybe you're interested in studying the many religious and classical texts written in Hebrew. Depending on your reasons for learning Hebrew, you may end up learning one of two very different languages!
Biblical or Classical Hebrew was an ancient language that first emerged in the 10th century BC. Over the next few centuries, the ancient Hebrew people used it to communicate and to make a record of their history, religion, philosophy, poetry, and culture. A portion of this literary record formed the basis for Hebrew scriptures and also what came to be called the Bible.
During the Roman period, the language evolved beyond recognition and later fell out of use in daily life. But it lived on in religious contexts.
Hebrew experienced a revival in the late 19th century as part of the larger Zionist movement. Thanks to the efforts of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, who prepared the first modern Hebrew dictionary, people started using Hebrew again to communicate with one another as they went about their lives.
But because of the influence of European languages, Hebrew changed. Grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary -- not a single aspect of the language went untouched by the transformation. And, like any other modern language, Hebrew continues to change.
So for example,
The word "I" or "me" in biblical Hebrew is
This same word has changed in modern Hebrew to
Besides this change in pronunciation, modern Hebrew got a lot of new words from languages like French and German. For example, the word "concrete" or
Came from French, while schnitzel, or
Came from German.
And of course there are new words to describe things that did not exist in ancient times, like:
חשמל - Electricity
מחשב - Computer
מכונית - Car
טלפון - Telephone
At this point in history, someone familiar only with Biblical Hebrew would not be able to communicate very well with contemporary native speakers. At the same time, a modern Hebrew speaker can not easily read the Bible.
How was it? Pretty interesting right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!