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Lesson Transcript

Shira: All About Hebrew Lesson 2 – Cracking the Hebrew Writing system. [שלום] everyone. Welcome back. In this lesson, Amir and I are going to explain the Hebrew alphabet.
Amir: Or the [אלך בית] as we call it in Hebrew.
Shira: The first thing you need to get used to is reading the letters from right to left.
Amir: Is that really difficult?
Shira: After reading from left to right my whole life, I still sometimes start writing Hebrew from the wrong side.
Amir: I guess that would be a challenge.
Shira: The Hebrew alphabet hasn’t always looked the way it does today. The form we know today emerged 550 B.C.
Amir: The original Hebrew script was closely related to ancient Fenitian. It was used in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and is preserved in the Samaritan’s script.
Shira: So what replaced that alphabet?
Amir: As we talked about in the last episode, during the Hebrew’s exile to Babylon, they not only adopted the Aramaic language, but also the alphabet.
Shira: That’s interesting. What I find really interesting about the Hebrew alphabet is that there were traditionally no vowels in it.
Amir: That’s right. All 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet were consonants. For many centuries, Hebrew existed without any notations of [vowel] sounds. It was only around 200 A.D. that they felt the need for vowel notation. And the system of dots placed under and around the letters was developed.
Shira: These dots are called [ניקוד], but you won’t see them in most Hebrew texts. Hebrew speakers are perfectly fine reading Hebrew without [ניקוד].
Amir: True. I think I stopped reading text with [ניקוד] around third grade. Hebrew is so structured that a seasoned Hebrew speaker will know the vowel pattern from the context of the word and its placement in the sentence. Text with [ניקוד] is only found in poetry, children’s literature and religious texts.
Shira: And although the Hebrew alphabet is made up of consonants, today four of those consonants can behave like normal vowels.
Amir: For example, וו] is sometimes used as an [או] sound, and [יוד] is sometimes used as an [אי] sound.
Shira: We should point out that once you get used to the block letters of the Hebrew alphabet, you should quickly move on to learn the cursive system.
Amir: The block letters are another thing that we leave behind in elementary school. Israelis write almost exclusively in cursive script.
Shira: It did take me a little while to make that transition from block letters to cursive. Speaking of letters changing form, we forgot to mention the [סופית] letters.
Amir: Right, Shira. Five letters of the alphabet have a [סופית] form that we use when the letter comes at the end of the word.
Shira: Although this sounds complicated, you only have to worry about learning one case for the letters as there are no uppercase letters in Hebrew. So, Amir, let’s introduce them to the Hebrew [אלך בית].
--
Amir: Here we go. [, אל"ף,בי״ת, גימ״ל]
Shira: [דל״ת, ה״א, ו״ו]
Amir: [זי״ן, חי״ת , טי״ת]
Shira: [יו״ד, כ״ף, למ״ד]
Amir: [מ״ם, נו״ן, סמ״ך]
Shira: [עי״ן, פ״א, צד״י]
Amir: [קו״ף, רי״ש, שי״ן, ת״ו]
Shira: That’s it. So before we finish, I think there’s one more interesting aspect of the alphabet that is worth mentioning.
Amir: What’s that, Shira?
Shira: That the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are also used to represent numbers.
Amir: That’s right. Letters are used to signify numbers when it comes to dates, grades in school and chapters and verses in the Bible.
Shira: It helps to learn them at least up to about 30, so you won’t be in the dark when someone tells you that they’re in [כיתה דלת], which is actually fourth grade.
Amir: And remember, the Hebrew alphabet is not as hard as you might think.
Shira: And a lot of people really enjoy learning it and learning to write it. It’s something new and different. Learn the Hebrew alphabet with us, here, at HebrewPod101.com.
Amir: Thanks for listening.
Shira: Bye.
Amir: [להתראות]

57 Comments

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😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Who has ever tried to read in Hebrew? For that matter, who has ever tried to write in Hebrew?

How was it? What did you notice?

Voni
Thursday at 09:01 AM
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I am loving the history you are sharing about the language of Hebrew. It is already making it much more fun than I thought it would be! I hope, since I am a complete beginner, these lessons will be like elementary school and I can set goals to "grow up". (Hope that made you laugh) Will they be?

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Friday at 09:44 PM
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Shalom Shrutik,


Thank you so much for your kind message! 😇❤️️

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

Levente (לבנטה)

Team HebrewPod101.com

Shrutik
Friday at 07:53 PM
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Nice explanation

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 02:42 AM
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Shalom Terri,


Thank you for your message.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Good luck with your language studies!😇


Kind regards,

Levente (לבנטה)

Team HebrewPod101.com

Terri
Saturday at 07:57 AM
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I have tried, but just a couple of words. I have an app on my phone and try to use that when I can. I have trouble with CH sound and my brain feels backwards after trying to read. same for writing, it felt uncomfortable, but practice3 makes perfect, right?

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Friday at 09:56 PM
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Hi Michelle,


Thanks for commenting and posting your request 👍


You can find lots of information - as well as romanized names for the Hebrew letters - on this link

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew_alphabet


I hope that helps :)


Yours,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Michelle
Friday at 09:38 AM
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where can I see in English letters the Hebrew alphabet so I can learn it please?

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:40 PM
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Hi Hou Tsi,


Thanks for posting your question regarding the Hebrew alphabet!


This way of writing is a simple convention, that is meant to differentiate letters from other words that might be written similarly...

For example, the letter "ב" is written "בית" , which is exactly how we also write "house" - "בית" (when writing without vowels).


So shortly - this is not a strict rule, but it's useful as it helps to make sure that the word is read for its correct meaning 😄


happy to help 😄


Yours,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Hou Tsi
Wednesday at 03:19 PM
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Could you please explain why the letters in the אלר בית are written with apostrophes? For example, Aleph אלייף ? Are they ‘yod’?


I am originally from Hong Kong and I enjoy very much your Hebrew Alphabet Made Easy series.

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 09:55 PM
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Hi טיבה,


Thanks for posting :)


We're happy that you enjoy learning Hebrew with us!


Well, according to your very well-phrased Hebrew sentence, you can actually write not too bad in Hebrew already! 👍👍


We're of course always happy to assist, so please let us know in case you have any questions 😄


Yours,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com