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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 [אלף 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 [אלף 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]

90 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?

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Friday at 07:57 PM
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Hi Jo Ann Bethune,


Thanks for your post and for sharing your appreciation for the Hebrew language! ❤️️


We are happy to be able to help you learn how to read in Hebrew! Please feel free to contact us if you need any assistance 😉


Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Jo Ann Bethune
Thursday at 08:09 PM
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I'm trying to learn hebrew alphabet and tried to write it several times. I'm really enjoying the beauty of the language.

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Friday at 01:05 AM
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Dear Dirk Boshoven,


Thank you for posting your feedback.


First - just in case you missed it - to access the lessons that deal with fundamentals of Hebrew writing, please use the lesson library to start the series "Hebrew Alphabet Made Easy" or use this link - https://www.hebrewpod101.com/lesson-library/hebrew-alphabet-made-easy-video/


To answer your question - the letter "י" in the word "בית" is not pronounced. It occurs often that when a letter is voweled with a tzere (as the ב in בֵּית), a "י" appears right next to it. This is a relic from the past. As you know, Hebrew is an ancient language and it is very much possible that this word (and other similar words with this same issue) used to be pronounced differently than it is pronounced today.


I hope this explanation helps, please let us know if you have any further comments or questions - we're happy to assist. 😄👍


regarding the technical question - I'm actually not sure about this right now. I will contact the technical team and will write another comment when having an answer to this.

Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Dirk Boshoven
Thursday at 02:06 AM
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Hi,


we are talking of absolute beginners here, are we.


So I what be grateful if it were possible to give the vocabularies voweld here, for example: אלף בית


And what is puzzling me with that word is the letter י


This letter seems to be not pronounced here. For the hebrew language is highly structured: what is the purpose for having this letter in the word בית?


Thanks for helping

Dirk


and as addition a technical question:

Is there a funktion here that schows me all my commentaries in total?

That would be nice.

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 09:07 PM
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Dear Eva,


Thanks for posting your question.


Our comprehensive Hebrew alphabet series is called "Hebrew Alphabet Made Easy", you can find it here -

https://www.hebrewpod101.com/lesson-library/hebrew-alphabet-made-easy-video/

or by using the lesson library.


I'm sure that you'll find there everything you're looking for and more 😉


Happy to assist 👍


Yours,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Friday at 07:14 AM
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Shalom Anita,


Thank you so much for your positive message! 😇❤️️

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

We wish you good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

Levente (לבנטה)

Team HebrewPod101.com

Eva
Wednesday at 05:53 PM
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Where do I get to learn about the Hebrew alphabet, like name and writing?

Anita
Wednesday at 04:23 PM
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Very interesting

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Sunday at 12:06 AM
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Dear Zarach Davis and Abdel,


Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience with reading Hebrew with us!


If you feel you're missing some of the basics, we would like to refer you to our series "Hebrew Alphabet Made Easy" - https://www.hebrewpod101.com/lesson-library/hebrew-alphabet-made-easy-video/

where all the letters and the punctuation symbols are covered in depth.


Please let us know if you have any questions! we are here to assist 👍


Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Abdel
Wednesday at 09:52 AM
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Shalom,

I try to read it on Hebrew channels on tv or online. Also in the Tenakh I own which is also in phonetics and English.