Hebrew, first what is it? Again,
many thanks to
www.bartleby.com for their explanation.
Below the explanation you will see what Hebrew looks like in case you have never
|The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth
|member of the Canaanite group of the West Semitic
subdivision of the Semitic subfamily of the Afroasiatic family of languages
Hebrew was the language of the Jewish people in biblical times, and most of
the Old Testament was written in Hebrew. The oldest extant example of Hebrew
writing dates from the 11th or 10th cent. B.C. Hebrew
began to die out as a spoken tongue among the Jews after they were defeated
by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. Well before the time
of Jesus it had been replaced by
Aramaic as the Jewish vernacular, although
it was preserved as the language of the Jewish religion. From
A.D. 70, when the dispersion of the Jews from
Palestine began, until modern times, Hebrew has remained the Jewish language
of religion, learning, and literature. During this 2,000-year period, Hebrew
has always been spoken to some extent. At the end of the 19th cent. the
Zionist movement brought about the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language,
which culminated in its designation as an official tongue of the state of
Israel in 1948. There it is spoken by most of the 4.5 million Jews of that
|Grammatically, Hebrew is typical of the Semitic
tongues in that so many words have a triconsonantal root consisting of three
consonants separated by vowels. Changes in, or omissions of, the vowels
alter the meaning of a root. Prefixes and suffixes are also added to roots
to modify the meaning. There are two genders, masculine and feminine, which
are found in the inflection of the verb as well as in noun forms. Modern
Hebrew has experienced some changes in phonology, syntax, and morphology.
Pronunciation of various orthographical forms has changed, as well as the
rules for prefixing and suffixing prepositions to nouns and pronouns.
Ancient Hebrew seemed to favor a word order in which the verb precedes the
subject of a sentence, but in modern Hebrew the subject typically precedes
the verb. Hebrew vocabulary has been updated by the addition of many new
words, especially words of a scientific nature.
|The earliest alphabet used for Hebrew belongs to
the Canaanite branch of the North Semitic writing and is known as Early
Hebrew. Later the Jews adapted the Aramaic writing and evolved from it a
script called Square Hebrew, which is the source of modern Hebrew printing.
Most modern Hebrew handwritten text uses a cursive script developed more
recently. Today the Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters, all consonants. Symbols
for the vowels were apparently introduced about the 8th cent.
A.D. and are usually placed below the consonants if
employed. Their use is generally limited to the Bible, verse, and children’s
books. Hebrew is written from right to left.
|See W. Chomsky, Hebrew: The Eternal Language
(1957); D. J. Kamhi, Modern Hebrew (1982); E. Kutscher, A History
of the Hebrew Language (1984); L. Glinert, The Grammar of Modern
|The Columbia Encyclopedia,
Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2003 Columbia University Press.
Hebrew Letters / Consonants . 19 Mar. 2004 <http://amerisoftinc.com/hebletr1.htm>.
Hebrew Letters / Consonants . 19 Mar. 2004