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Hebrew reloaded

Week 15, Episode 30

The language of Hebrew we know today has a mysterious story behind its ressurection from the dead and just about 100 years of usage in speech. The language was reconstructed and basically forced to become alive again. And its present is as fantastic as the past. Buckle up, 'coz you are in for a ride... backwards?

The first thing you realize about Hebrew when you see it is that no matter how long you're going to stare at these square script, you won't get it right by making any logical assumptions (let's say, based on your English language knowledge) what thoseletters are. Russian doesn't help either, trust me. Plus, there are no capital letters in Hebrew.

The second thing you notice is that the lines are written in reverse—from right to left, and not from left to right. Now, I know you probably heard about it before (if not about Hebrew, then maybe about Chinese), but since it is the first language on our Langventure written "backwards", just imagine for a moment seeing the world from this point of view.

The books are written from right to left, the signs on the streets are written from right to left, the text on your shampoo, in your passport, in your laptop... I mean, what a completely different way to look at the world! Here, see it for yourself while also having a "taste" of what Hebrew sounds like:

There are 22 letters in Hebrew, but don't be too fast to convince yourself it means the language is easy to speak OR read. See, if you learn Hebrew, then you'll have to learn how to understand not 22 but 44 letters, because each of them has a handwritten "brother", and rest assured, they don't look alike. Yeah, by the way, 5 letters look differently if they're put at the end of a word.

One more thing: there are no vowels in Hebrew. But! There are vowel sounds! How can it be? Thanks to the magic word "niqqud". While all the words in the Hebrew language are spelled only with consonants, you can still mark the presence of a vowel sound by the system of dots and dashes placed in certain positions (under, above, from the left) around a letter—"niqqud".

This way of structuring consonant and vowel sounds in writing is called abjad and similar to what you see in Arabic or Persian.

Four consonants, though—Aleph (א), Hei (ה), Vav (ו), Yodh (י)—are not as strong as others, so they got affected by matres lectionis. It is not a desease or a special matress for letters (what a strange image), rather this usage of consonants to indicate a vowel.

Hebrew has just 3 tenses (Present, Past and Future), no cases, no indefinite articles. The definite article acts as a prefix to a word. Besides singular and plural nouns, in Hebrew you also meet dual nouns—those that come in pairs (like hands, eyes, etc.)—written with a different ending.

Actually, the grammar rules are not that complicated. The real struggle is the unfamiliar looking alphabet, strange system of "roots" (4 types) for changing a verb depending on a tense used and the unusual application of "vowel marks" that most of the times are not even presented.

What can I say, it was not easy to return Hebrew back into speech, it is not that easy to acquire it either. But it does make you wonder how different languages work.

Wait, mystical things do not end here :) When you learn Hebrew, it grants you with a superpower—an ability of mind reading! See in the next episode!

!מעולה (Meh-oo-leh) Cool!

" Such a mind-blowing article I am! Like me now! "

Read more about Hebrew and other languages at

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