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2 when they started to write from left to right some of the letters were turned around. Playing around with a couple of the Phoenician letters below, you will soon see the resemblance to the English letters we use today. Phoenician

Roman

A S So the Hebrew alphabet may not be as difficult as it looks. If you work slowly through the alphabet, describing each letter closely for yourself, you will soon find that you are reading with little difficulty. You may want to think about what the letter reminds you of: for instance, the letter L in Hebrew is Ï , which looks a bit like lightning, or maybe a llama; the letter d is „ which could be seen as a door-hinge; h is ‰ – a house with a hole in its wall; p is Ù , possibly a pug-dog’s face! You may prefer to give yourself aural rather than visual clues, or a mixture of both. We have tried to suggest mnemonics in our pronunciation guide, but you will learn most effectively when you find the ones that mean most to you. The accompanying tapes or CDs should help you too in associating sound and symbol directly. Hebrew letters are all consonants (although two double up as vowels, as you will see); the vowels are indicated by dots and dashes above, below and sometimes in between the letters. Like other Semitic languages, Hebrew is a consonantal language in that the meaning of a word depends primarily on the consonants; vowel changes generally indicate nuances or light modification of the basic meaning. In some ways this is also true of English: ‘did’ and ‘deed’ are clearly related, but then ‘dead’ means something very different; the change in the vowels has created an entirely different meaning. In Hebrew the consonants dictate the meaning, whatever the vowels. Vowel signs were added to Hebrew texts around the seventh and eighth centuries CE when the use of Hebrew as a conversational language had become less widespread and many people needed pronunciation guides. Modern Israelis, like the speakers of Hebrew in biblical times, have little need of these guides and only use them in cases of particular difficulty – where, for instance, there is an ambiguity in meaning that the context cannot sort out, or in foreign names or borrowed words that Hebrew speakers cannot be

Colloquial hebrew  

Colloquial hebrew: Easy and enjoyable lessons in Hebrew

Colloquial hebrew  

Colloquial hebrew: Easy and enjoyable lessons in Hebrew

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