Hebrew language

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Hebrew (I'vrit) is a Semitic language. Having become a language used only for Bible and Mishnah study, as well as ceremony and prayer over the past two and a half thousand years, Hebrew has experienced a rebirth as a spoken language during the 20th century, replacing Judaeo-Spanish, Yiddish and other languages of the Jewish diaspora as the spoken language of the majority of the Jewish people living in Israel.


Writing conventions

The Hebrew language is normally written in the Hebrew alphabet. Due to publishing difficulties, and the unfamiliarity of many readers with that alphabet, there have been multiple ways of transcribing Hebrew into Roman letters. The only method which is strictly correct is the International Phonetic Alphabet. It is used (in a simplified ASCII form) in the section concerned with Phonology, to describe the sounds of the Hebrew language. However, the IPA is quite obscure and redundant when it comes to transcribing the words of a single language to a general audience. Therefore the system that this article will feature will try to restore the sound of Hebrew, and at least some orthographic pecularities. The system comes down to the following:

  • The letter tsadik (צ) is transcribed by "c" so that it could be distinguished from other combinations of /t/ and /s/.
  • The letter a'in (ע) with various vowels is transcribed as a', e', i', o' and u'.
  • The letter shin (ש) is transcribed by "sh".
  • Both the letter tau (ת) and the letter tet (ט) are transcribed by "t".
  • The letter he (ה) at the end of a word, which stands for feminine gender, is transcribed by "ah" (it is read /a/)
  • The letter quf (ק) is transcribed by "q" (it is read /k/).
  • Single-letter prepositions and the definite article are separated with a dash (-) from their subject.
  • Stresses and schwas are not marked since the stresses are not pronounced, and the schwa's locations are apparent.
  • The vowels are always written.

See Common phrases in different languages