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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]

128 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?

Barbara Gelb
Monday at 02:29 AM
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I can't learn the way you're doing this. I need to learn the letters first. This is hopeless. I'm going to find another website to learn for free. This is a joke.

Abel Morán Rodríguez
Sunday at 02:33 AM
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Honestly, the Hebrew alphabet is scary.

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:36 PM
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Dear Daniel Tonn,


Thank you for commenting and for posting this feedback!


Please note that some lessons are mostly intended to be taken as audio, while some are more text/video-oriented... To learn the alphabet and vowel system, please check this link:


https://www.hebrewpod101.com/hebrew-alphabet/


Happy learning 😄😄


Yours,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Daniel Tonn
Monday at 09:32 AM
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As an absolute beginner (except that I do know the alefbet quite well), I deeply wish you would include nikud markings at least for a while in your absolute beginner lessons.

I understand that one eventually will not see or need nikud, but for now it is really frustrating.

Even "nikud" in Hebrew is confusing, since it is not clear whether it is pronounced "nikooohd" or "nikuud"

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 04:31 PM
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Hi Julie,


Thank you for studying with us.😄

Check this page: https://www.hebrewpod101.com/hebrew-alphabet/


Feel free to let us know if you have any questions.

Cheers,

Lena

Team HebrewPod101.com

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 06:05 PM
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Hi Guy LaVake,


Thank you for posting. 😄

Please check this link:

https://www.hebrewpod101.com/hebrew-alphabet/


Cheers,

Lena

Team HebrewPod101.com

Guy LaVake
Saturday at 04:36 PM
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Download Your FREE Guide to the Hebrew Alphabet!


How/Where?

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 05:51 PM
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Hi Hong Nguyen,


Thank you for posting. Please don't be discouraged.

We have plenty of useful lessons and you can find them in our Lesson Library! 😄

https://www.hebrewpod101.com/lesson-library/absolute-beginner


You can select your level and then sort your search by various options.

I hope it helps.

Cheers,

Lena

Team HebrewPod101.com

Hong Nguyen
Wednesday at 09:56 PM
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We are very disappointed as there is no any useful lesson for beginners.

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 09:12 PM
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Dear Manuel and Manuel,


Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts and experiences about reading Hebrew with us!


Please let us know if you have any questions - we're here to assist 😄👍


Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com