Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Transcript

Michael: What are the differences between Modern and Biblical Hebrew?
Katja: And why do these differences exist?
Michael: At HebrewPod101.com, we hear these kinds of questions often. The following situation is typical. SASHA LEE, a high school student, is trying to read a quote in one of her textbooks, but finds a word written in a way she has never seen before. She turns to her friend, and asks,
"Is this in Hebrew?"
SASHA LEE
האם זה בעברית?   
SASHA LEE
האם זה בעברית?
HIGHSCHOOL-FRIENDF
כן, אבל זה בעברית המקראית.
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
SASHA LEE
האם זה בעברית?
Michael: “Is this in Hebrew?”
HIGHSCHOOL-FRIENDF
כן, אבל זה בעברית המקראית.
Michael: “Yes, but it’s in Classical Hebrew.”
Michael: Perhaps Sasha was looking at the Classical Hebrew word for, “I.”
Katja: אָנֹכי
Michael: This is not a word you would come across outside of ancient literary or religious texts, such as the Torah, or
Katja: .תורה
Michael: in “Modern Hebrew,” or
Katja: עברית מודרנית,
Michael: this word has been replaced by the word,
Katja:  אני,
Michael: which is the typical word for the first person singular, “I,” used today.
Classical Hebrew differs so much from Modern Hebrew, that modern Hebrew users cannot easily read the Bible.
On the other hand, someone familiar only with Biblical Hebrew would have trouble communicating with contemporary native speakers.
Of course, modern Hebrew contains a lot of “vocabulary,” or
Katja: ,אוצר מילים
Michael: that describes things that were unknown in ancient times, such as “electricity.”
Katja: .חשמל
Michael: And "concrete,"
Katja: ,בטון
Michael: a loanword that originates in French. 
While many other languages underwent some similar changes, the reasons why Biblical Hebrew evolved into such a different language, lie in its “history,” or
Katja: .היסטוריה
Michael: That’s another question we hear sometimes at HebrewPod101.com:
Katja: Why is Biblical Hebrew  so different from Modern Hebrew?
Michael: Biblical or Classical Hebrew was an “ancient language,” or
Katja: שפה עתיקה
Michael: 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,” 
Katja: ,היסטוריה
Michael: “religion,”
Katja: דת,
Michael: philosophy,
Katja: ,פילוסופיה
Michael: poetry,
Katja: ,שירה
Michael: and culture,
Katja: .תרבות
Michael: A portion of this literary record formed the basis for the Hebrew scriptures, or
Katja: תנ"ך
Michael: and also what came to be called the Bible.
Michael: 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,
Katja: אֱלִיעֶזֶר בֵּן־יְהוּדָה;
Michael: 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,
Katja: ,דקדוק
Michael: pronunciation,
Katja: ,הגיה
Michael: Vocabulary,
Katja: ,אוצר מילים
Michael: -- not a single aspect of the language went untouched by the transformation. And, like any other modern language, Hebrew continues to change.
Ok, that’s all for this lesson. Thank you for listening and we'll see you next time.
Katja: להתראות!

3 Comments

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HebrewPod101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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What Hebrew learning question do you have?

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 08:33 PM
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Hi Carmiel,


Thanks for commenting!


I'm not sure what you're referring to with "classical Hebrew" - the differentiation is usually to "biblical" and "modern". We focus here entirely on the modern Hebrew as it is used nowadays in Israel, both spoken and written.


I hope that helps,


Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Carmiel
Thursday at 05:33 AM
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can a student here learn Classical Hebrew?