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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…
What's the difference between niqqud and ktiv male systems of writing vowels? And which one should I learn?
Let's start at the beginning! Originally, Hebrew was written without any vowels or vowel symbols at all. All the letters were consonants. This is called Ktiv Haser, and you may be familiar with it if you've seen the Torah written out in its original form.
Reading this can be very challenging for people new to Hebrew or unfamiliar with the vocabulary in a given text. Because of this, Ktiv Menukad was introduced. Ktiv Menukad involves a series of dots and other forms of notation called Niqqud. They're added to words and fully represent their vowel sounds. You'll see this writing system in language textbooks, as well as in children’s books or poetry.
For people who know Hebrew well, or who use it in their everyday life, though, this Ktiv Menukad is very labor intensive and inconvenient.
The Academy of the Hebrew Language has established a set of rules to write without niqqud, but still indicate some vowels using the letters Alef, He, Vav, and Yud. This is commonly called Ktiv Male, and it's the most widely used writing system in Israel today. You'll see it in newspapers, books, on signs, and in TV subtitles.
Here is an example of a word Shulkhan (table) written with the three different systems:
When learning Hebrew, you should study all of these systems to some degree. When starting out, you can use the Ktiv Menukad to help you develop your pronunciation and build your vocabulary. As you become a more proficient Hebrew user, though, you'll want to get familiar with Ktiv Male, as this will be the most common system you'll use as an adult in your everyday life! In fact, it's becoming more common recently to teach Hebrew with Ktiv Male, and skip Ktiv Menukad altogether.
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!