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Hebrew Language Primer

 

Basic infomation

The Hebrew language according to those whose language it  is, is 5765 years old. It is the language of the of the "Torah" or more commonly known as the bible or Old Testament. While rarely spoken by any large percentage of the world population it has lasted where many others have long since ceased to exist. While the Hebrew language  ceased to be a major spoken language following Rome's dispersion of the last two tribes of Israel, Jews have always maintained its use in religious areas. All marriage and divorce contracts have ever been written in Hebrew. Prayers and religious rights all were done in hebrew.

In the late 1800s a man by the name of Eliezer Ben Yehuda began codifying and modernizing  what would become modern Hebrew. like most things change didn't come easy, Religious zealots raged and others simply couldn't have been bothered. Likely the British decision to make Hebrew one of three official languages of the  mandate gave its study a major impetus.

Hebrew had changed even on its own over the intervening 1800 or so years . Those of North European decent tended to have one manor of pronunciation while those of arabic, Spanish and Italian decent have another. Words have crept in from mother tongues spoken for centuries. Ben-yehuda started a process that continues today. Modern Hebrew is once again thriving and growing into a modern language. while similar to "Biblical Hebrew", modern hebrew is moving towards the general norms in today's spoken languages.

The Hebrew language has 21 letters five of which have forms when appearing at the end of a word. All the letters of the Hebrew Aleph Bet (alphabet)are consonants. The vowels in hebrew are in the form of symbols, which when added to a letter make up the whole sound of the letter or combination of letters. These vowels are generally not shown in either the printed or written forms. The letters which are used today and for the last 1800 years are somewhat different from the pre-Roman period and have under gone their own evolution.

like all things Hebrew has evolved and will continue to do so. There are some basic facts to keep in mind though. Hebrew is written and read from the right side of the page to the left. There are no capital letters in Hebrew. Each letter has a numerical value and the sum is calculated in a similar manner to Roman numerals.Like any language, Hebrew can fill books with its historical usage and grammar. For our purposes the information above  and the charts below will allow us to at least work with IDF vehicle markings. The charts below give you the printed form, written form, numerical value and where possible English pronunciation. the last section gives a basic explanation of  the vowel system.  I highly recommend  a google search or an" Ulpan" (hebrew course) for a more in depth study.

For those using computers to make their own decals, a representation of th estadard hebrew keyboard is shown at th ebootom of the charts. You acn play with font type and size in most windows programs.

 


Hebrew Aleph Bet
Printed form
written form
alef
bet
dalet
hay
Numerical value
1
2
3
4
5
6
Letter name
Alef
Bet
Gimmel
dalet
Hay
Vav
Closest English sound
A
B,V
G
D
H
V
 
Printed form
written form
chet
Numerical value
7
8
9
10
20
letter name
Zayin
Chet
Tet
Yud
Cuff
Cuff sofit
Closest English sound
Z
no equivalent english sound
T
Y
K
 
Printed form
written form
numerical value
30
40
50
60
letter name
Lamed
Mem
Mem sofit
Nun
Nun sofit
Samech
slosest English sound
L
M
M
N
N
S
 
Printed form
written form
numrical value
70
80
90
 
100
Letter name
Ayin
Pay
Pay sofit
Tsadi
Tsadi sofit
Koof
CLosest English sound
A
F,P
F
TS
TS
K
 
   
Printed form
   
Written form
   
numerical value
200
 300
400
   
Letter name
Raish
Shin
Taf
   
Closest English sound
R
SH
T
   
 
   

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The vowels

Symbol
Closest English sound
'o' as in hot
'e' as in shed
as in the word paw
as in the word food
long e as in the word see
'ai' as in paint
Symbol name
Patach
Segol
Kamats
Kubuts
Chirik
Tsere
Example using letter '�' or Z
Zah
Zeh
Zaw
Zoo
Zee
Zay
Symbol
Closest English sound
   
Adds long 'O' as bow
Adds 'oo' sound as in Boo
Symbol name
 
Shva
Cholom
Shuruk
Example using letter '�' or Z
   
Zow
Zoo
 
       

Hebrew Keyboard

keyboard

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Basic history | Hebrew Alef-Bet | Vowels | Hebrew keyboard

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