Hebrew language

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"Hebrew" redirects here. Hebrew language_sentence_0

For other uses, see Hebrew (disambiguation). Hebrew language_sentence_1

Hebrew language_table_infobox_0

HebrewHebrew language_header_cell_0_0_0
PronunciationHebrew language_header_cell_0_1_0 Modern: [ivˈʁit]

Tiberian: [ʕiv'rit]Hebrew language_cell_0_1_1

Native toHebrew language_header_cell_0_2_0 IsraelHebrew language_cell_0_2_1
RegionHebrew language_header_cell_0_3_0 Land of IsraelHebrew language_cell_0_3_1
EthnicityHebrew language_header_cell_0_4_0 Hebrews; Jews and SamaritansHebrew language_cell_0_4_1
ExtinctHebrew language_header_cell_0_5_0 Mishnaic Hebrew extinct as a spoken language by the 5th century CE, surviving as a liturgical language along with Biblical Hebrew for JudaismHebrew language_cell_0_5_1
RevivalHebrew language_header_cell_0_6_0 Revived in the late 19th century CE. 9 million speakers of Modern Hebrew of which 5 million are native speakers (2017)Hebrew language_cell_0_6_1
Language familyHebrew language_header_cell_0_7_0 Afro-AsiaticHebrew language_cell_0_7_1
Early formsHebrew language_header_cell_0_8_0 Biblical HebrewHebrew language_cell_0_8_1
Standard formsHebrew language_header_cell_0_9_0 Modern HebrewHebrew language_cell_0_9_1
Writing systemHebrew language_header_cell_0_10_0 Hebrew alphabet

Hebrew Braille Paleo-Hebrew alphabet (Archaic Biblical Hebrew) Imperial Aramaic script (Late Biblical Hebrew)Hebrew language_cell_0_10_1

Signed formsHebrew language_header_cell_0_11_0 Signed Hebrew (oral Hebrew accompanied by sign)Hebrew language_cell_0_11_1
Official statusHebrew language_header_cell_0_12_0
Official language inHebrew language_header_cell_0_13_0 Israel (as Modern Hebrew)Hebrew language_cell_0_13_1
Recognised minority

language inHebrew language_header_cell_0_14_0

Poland

 South AfricaHebrew language_cell_0_14_1

Regulated byHebrew language_header_cell_0_15_0 Academy of the Hebrew Language

האקדמיה ללשון העברית (HaAkademia LaLashon HaʿIvrit)Hebrew language_cell_0_15_1

Language codesHebrew language_header_cell_0_16_0
ISO 639-1Hebrew language_header_cell_0_17_0 Hebrew language_cell_0_17_1
ISO 639-2Hebrew language_header_cell_0_18_0 Hebrew language_cell_0_18_1
ISO 639-3Hebrew language_header_cell_0_19_0 Variously:

 – Modern Hebrew  – Classical Hebrew (liturgical)  – Samaritan Hebrew (liturgical)  – Moabite (extinct)  – Edomite (extinct)Hebrew language_cell_0_19_1

GlottologHebrew language_header_cell_0_20_0 Hebrew language_cell_0_20_1
LinguasphereHebrew language_header_cell_0_21_0 12-AAB-aHebrew language_cell_0_21_1

Hebrew (עִבְרִית‎, Ivrit (help·), IPA: [ivˈʁit or [ʕivˈɾit) is a Northwest Semitic language native to Israel. Hebrew language_sentence_2

In 2013, Modern Hebrew was spoken by over nine million people worldwide. Hebrew language_sentence_3

Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors; however, the language was not referred to by the name "Hebrew" in the Tanakh itself. Hebrew language_sentence_4

The Mishnah Megillah refers to the Hebrew language as Ashurit meaning Assyrian, which is a metonym derived from the name of the alphabet. Hebrew language_sentence_5

The earliest examples of written Paleo-Hebrew date to the 10th century BCE. Hebrew language_sentence_6

Hebrew belongs to the Northwest Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family, and is the only Canaanite language still spoken and the only truly successful example of a revived dead language, and one of only two Northwest Semitic languages still spoken, the other being Aramaic, which is spoken primarily by Christian Assyrians and Syriac-Arameans, the Gnostic Mandeans as well as some Near Eastern Jews. Hebrew language_sentence_7

Hebrew ceased to be an everyday spoken language somewhere between 200 and 400 CE, declining since the aftermath of the Bar Kokhba revolt. Hebrew language_sentence_8

Aramaic and, to a lesser extent, Greek were already in use as international languages, especially among elites and immigrants. Hebrew language_sentence_9

Hebrew survived into the medieval period as the language of Jewish liturgy, rabbinic literature, intra-Jewish commerce and poetry. Hebrew language_sentence_10

With the rise of national consciousness among Jews in the 19th century, it was revived as a spoken and literary language, becoming the main language of the Yishuv and subsequently of the State of Israel. Hebrew language_sentence_11

According to Ethnologue, in 1998, Hebrew was the language of five million people worldwide. Hebrew language_sentence_12

After Israel, the United States has the second largest Hebrew-speaking population, with about 220,000 fluent speakers, mostly from Israel. Hebrew language_sentence_13

Modern Hebrew is the official language of the State of Israel, while premodern Hebrew is used for prayer or study in Jewish communities around the world today. Hebrew language_sentence_14

The Samaritan dialect is also the liturgical tongue of the Samaritans, while modern Hebrew or Arabic is their vernacular. Hebrew language_sentence_15

As a foreign language, it is studied mostly by Jews and students of Judaism and Israel and by archaeologists and linguists specializing in the Middle East and its civilizations, as well as by theologians in Christian seminaries. Hebrew language_sentence_16

Nearly all of the Hebrew Bible is written in Biblical Hebrew, with much of its present form in the dialect that scholars believe flourished around the 6th century BCE, around the time of the Babylonian captivity. Hebrew language_sentence_17

For this reason, Hebrew has been referred to by Jews as Lashon Hakodesh (לשון הקודש), "the holy language" or "the language of holiness", since ancient times. Hebrew language_sentence_18

The Mishnah Megillah refers to the Hebrew language as "Ashurit". Hebrew language_sentence_19

Joel Manuel Hoffman states, "However, Megillah 17a (again in Hebrew) refers to a 'foreigner who heard [the Megillah] in Ashurit.' Hebrew language_sentence_20

Here it looks like Ashurit refers to the Hebrew language, particularly in light of the point of the passage, which is that the foreigner who hears the Megillah in Ashurit has fulfilled his holy obligation to hear the Megillah, having heard it in a holy language." Hebrew language_sentence_21

Etymology Hebrew language_section_0

The modern English word "Hebrew" is derived from Old French Ebrau, via Latin from the Greek Ἑβραῖος (Hebraîos) and Aramaic 'ibrāy, all ultimately derived from Biblical Hebrew Ivri (עברי), one of several names for the Israelite (Jewish and Samaritan) people (Hebrews). Hebrew language_sentence_22

It is traditionally understood to be an adjective based on the name of Abraham's ancestor, Eber, mentioned in . Hebrew language_sentence_23

The name is believed to be based on the Semitic root ʕ-b-r (עבר) meaning "beyond", "other side", "across"; interpretations of the term "Hebrew" generally render its meaning as roughly "from the other side [of the river/desert]"—i.e., an exonym for the inhabitants of the land of Israel/Judah, perhaps from the perspective of Mesopotamia, Phoenicia or the Transjordan (with the river referenced perhaps the Euphrates, Jordan or Litani; or maybe the northern Arabian Desert between Babylonia and Canaan). Hebrew language_sentence_24

Compare the word Habiru or cognate Assyrian ebru, of identical meaning. Hebrew language_sentence_25

One of the earliest references to the language's name as "Ivrit" is found in the prologue to the Book of Ben Sira, from the 2nd century BCE. Hebrew language_sentence_26

The Hebrew Bible does not use the term "Hebrew" in reference to the language of the Hebrew people; its later historiography, in the Book of Kings, refers to it as ‏יְהוּדִית‎ Yehudit 'Judahite (language)'. Hebrew language_sentence_27

History Hebrew language_section_1

Hebrew belongs to the Canaanite group of languages. Hebrew language_sentence_28

Canaanite languages are a branch of the Northwest Semitic family of languages. Hebrew language_sentence_29

According to Avraham Ben-Yosef, Hebrew flourished as a spoken language in the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah during the period from about 1200 to 586 BCE. Hebrew language_sentence_30

Scholars debate the degree to which Hebrew was a spoken vernacular in ancient times following the Babylonian exile when the predominant international language in the region was Old Aramaic. Hebrew language_sentence_31

Hebrew was extinct as a colloquial language by Late Antiquity, but it continued to be used as a literary language and as the liturgical language of Judaism, evolving various dialects of literary Medieval Hebrew, until its revival as a spoken language in the late 19th century. Hebrew language_sentence_32

Oldest Hebrew inscriptions Hebrew language_section_2

Further information: Paleo-Hebrew alphabet and Ancient Hebrew writings Hebrew language_sentence_33

In July 2008, Israeli archaeologist Yossi Garfinkel discovered a ceramic shard at Khirbet Qeiyafa that he claimed may be the earliest Hebrew writing yet discovered, dating from around 3,000 years ago. Hebrew language_sentence_34

Hebrew University archaeologist Amihai Mazar said that the inscription was "proto-Canaanite" but cautioned that "The differentiation between the scripts, and between the languages themselves in that period, remains unclear," and suggested that calling the text Hebrew might be going too far. Hebrew language_sentence_35

The Gezer calendar also dates back to the 10th century BCE at the beginning of the Monarchic period, the traditional time of the reign of David and Solomon. Hebrew language_sentence_36

Classified as Archaic Biblical Hebrew, the calendar presents a list of seasons and related agricultural activities. Hebrew language_sentence_37

The Gezer calendar (named after the city in whose proximity it was found) is written in an old Semitic script, akin to the Phoenician one that, through the Greeks and Etruscans, later became the Roman script. Hebrew language_sentence_38

The Gezer calendar is written without any vowels, and it does not use consonants to imply vowels even in the places in which later Hebrew spelling requires them. Hebrew language_sentence_39

Numerous older tablets have been found in the region with similar scripts written in other Semitic languages, for example, Protosinaitic. Hebrew language_sentence_40

It is believed that the original shapes of the script go back to Egyptian hieroglyphs, though the phonetic values are instead inspired by the acrophonic principle. Hebrew language_sentence_41

The common ancestor of Hebrew and Phoenician is called Canaanite, and was the first to use a Semitic alphabet distinct from that of Egyptian. Hebrew language_sentence_42

One ancient document is the famous Moabite Stone, written in the Moabite dialect; the Siloam Inscription, found near Jerusalem, is an early example of Hebrew. Hebrew language_sentence_43

Less ancient samples of Archaic Hebrew include the ostraca found near Lachish, which describe events preceding the final capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian captivity of 586 BCE. Hebrew language_sentence_44

Classical Hebrew Hebrew language_section_3

Biblical Hebrew Hebrew language_section_4

Main article: Biblical Hebrew Hebrew language_sentence_45

In its widest sense, Biblical Hebrew refers to the spoken language of ancient Israel flourishing between the 10th century BCE and the turn of the 4th century CE. Hebrew language_sentence_46

It comprises several evolving and overlapping dialects. Hebrew language_sentence_47

The phases of Classical Hebrew are often named after important literary works associated with them. Hebrew language_sentence_48

Hebrew language_unordered_list_0

Hebrew language_unordered_list_1

  • Standard Biblical Hebrew around the 8th to 6th centuries BCE, corresponding to the late Monarchic period and the Babylonian Exile. It is represented by the bulk of the Hebrew Bible that attains much of its present form around this time. Also called Biblical Hebrew, Early Biblical Hebrew, Classical Biblical Hebrew or Classical Hebrew (in the narrowest sense).Hebrew language_item_1_1
  • Late Biblical Hebrew, from the 5th to the 3rd centuries BCE, corresponding to the Persian period and represented by certain texts in the Hebrew Bible, notably the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Basically similar to Classical Biblical Hebrew, apart from a few foreign words adopted for mainly governmental terms, and some syntactical innovations such as the use of the particle she- (alternative of "asher", meaning "that, which, who"). It adopted the Imperial Aramaic script (from which the modern Hebrew script descends).Hebrew language_item_1_2
  • Israelian Hebrew is a proposed northern dialect of biblical Hebrew, believed to have existed in all eras of the language, in some cases competing with late biblical Hebrew as an explanation for non-standard linguistic features of biblical texts.Hebrew language_item_1_3

Early post-Biblical Hebrew Hebrew language_section_5

Hebrew language_unordered_list_2

  • Dead Sea Scroll Hebrew from the 3rd century BCE to the 1st century CE, corresponding to the Hellenistic and Roman Periods before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and represented by the Qumran Scrolls that form most (but not all) of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Commonly abbreviated as DSS Hebrew, also called Qumran Hebrew. The Imperial Aramaic script of the earlier scrolls in the 3rd century BCE evolved into the Hebrew square script of the later scrolls in the 1st century CE, also known as ketav Ashuri (Assyrian script), still in use today.Hebrew language_item_2_4
  • Mishnaic Hebrew from the 1st to the 3rd or 4th century CE, corresponding to the Roman Period after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and represented by the bulk of the Mishnah and Tosefta within the Talmud and by the Dead Sea Scrolls, notably the Bar Kokhba letters and the Copper Scroll. Also called Tannaitic Hebrew or Early Rabbinic Hebrew.Hebrew language_item_2_5

Sometimes the above phases of spoken Classical Hebrew are simplified into "Biblical Hebrew" (including several dialects from the 10th century BCE to 2nd century BCE and extant in certain Dead Sea Scrolls) and "Mishnaic Hebrew" (including several dialects from the 3rd century BCE to the 3rd century CE and extant in certain other Dead Sea Scrolls). Hebrew language_sentence_49

However, today most Hebrew linguists classify Dead Sea Scroll Hebrew as a set of dialects evolving out of Late Biblical Hebrew and into Mishnaic Hebrew, thus including elements from both but remaining distinct from either. Hebrew language_sentence_50

By the start of the Byzantine Period in the 4th century CE, Classical Hebrew ceased as a regularly spoken language, roughly a century after the publication of the Mishnah, apparently declining since the aftermath of the catastrophic Bar Kokhba revolt around 135 CE. Hebrew language_sentence_51

Displacement by Aramaic Hebrew language_section_6

See also: Aramaic language Hebrew language_sentence_52

In the early 6th century BCE, the Neo-Babylonian Empire conquered the ancient Kingdom of Judah, destroying much of Jerusalem and exiling its population far to the East in Babylon. Hebrew language_sentence_53

During the Babylonian captivity, many Israelites learned Aramaic, the closely related Semitic language of their captors. Hebrew language_sentence_54

Thus for a significant period, the Jewish elite became influenced by Aramaic. Hebrew language_sentence_55

After Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon, he allowed the Jewish people to return from captivity. Hebrew language_sentence_56

As a result, a local version of Aramaic came to be spoken in Israel alongside Hebrew. Hebrew language_sentence_57

By the beginning of the Common Era, Aramaic was the primary colloquial language of Samarian, Babylonian and Galileean Jews, and western and intellectual Jews spoke Greek, but a form of so-called Rabbinic Hebrew continued to be used as a vernacular in Judea until it was displaced by Aramaic, probably in the 3rd century CE. Hebrew language_sentence_58

Certain Sadducee, Pharisee, Scribe, Hermit, Zealot and Priest classes maintained an insistence on Hebrew, and all Jews maintained their identity with Hebrew songs and simple quotations from Hebrew texts. Hebrew language_sentence_59

While there is no doubt that at a certain point, Hebrew was displaced as the everyday spoken language of most Jews, and that its chief successor in the Middle East was the closely related Aramaic language, then Greek, scholarly opinions on the exact dating of that shift have changed very much. Hebrew language_sentence_60

In the first half of the 20th century, most scholars followed Geiger and Dalman in thinking that Aramaic became a spoken language in the land of Israel as early as the beginning of Israel's Hellenistic Period in the 4th century BCE, and that as a corollary Hebrew ceased to function as a spoken language around the same time. Hebrew language_sentence_61

Segal, Klausner and Ben Yehuda are notable exceptions to this view. Hebrew language_sentence_62

During the latter half of the 20th century, accumulating archaeological evidence and especially linguistic analysis of the Dead Sea Scrolls has disproven that view. Hebrew language_sentence_63

The Dead Sea Scrolls, uncovered in 1946–1948 near Qumran revealed ancient Jewish texts overwhelmingly in Hebrew, not Aramaic. Hebrew language_sentence_64

The Qumran scrolls indicate that Hebrew texts were readily understandable to the average Israelite, and that the language had evolved since Biblical times as spoken languages do. Hebrew language_sentence_65

Recent scholarship recognizes that reports of Jews speaking in Aramaic indicate a multilingual society, not necessarily the primary language spoken. Hebrew language_sentence_66

Alongside Aramaic, Hebrew co-existed within Israel as a spoken language. Hebrew language_sentence_67

Most scholars now date the demise of Hebrew as a spoken language to the end of the Roman Period, or about 200 CE. Hebrew language_sentence_68

It continued on as a literary language down through the Byzantine Period from the 4th century CE. Hebrew language_sentence_69

The exact roles of Aramaic and Hebrew remain hotly debated. Hebrew language_sentence_70

A trilingual scenario has been proposed for the land of Israel. Hebrew language_sentence_71

Hebrew functioned as the local mother tongue with powerful ties to Israel's history, origins and golden age and as the language of Israel's religion; Aramaic functioned as the international language with the rest of the Middle East; and eventually Greek functioned as another international language with the eastern areas of the Roman Empire. Hebrew language_sentence_72

William Schniedewind argues that after waning in the Persian Period, the religious importance of Hebrew grew in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and cites epigraphical evidence that Hebrew survived as a vernacular language – though both its grammar and its writing system had been substantially influenced by Aramaic. Hebrew language_sentence_73

According to another summary, Greek was the language of government, Hebrew the language of prayer, study and religious texts, and Aramaic was the language of legal contracts and trade. Hebrew language_sentence_74

There was also a geographic pattern: according to Spolsky, by the beginning of the Common Era, "Judeo-Aramaic was mainly used in Galilee in the north, Greek was concentrated in the former colonies and around governmental centers, and Hebrew monolingualism continued mainly in the southern villages of Judea." Hebrew language_sentence_75

In other words, "in terms of dialect geography, at the time of the tannaim Palestine could be divided into the Aramaic-speaking regions of Galilee and Samaria and a smaller area, Judaea, in which Rabbinic Hebrew was used among the descendants of returning exiles." Hebrew language_sentence_76

In addition, it has been surmised that Koine Greek was the primary vehicle of communication in coastal cities and among the upper class of Jerusalem, while Aramaic was prevalent in the lower class of Jerusalem, but not in the surrounding countryside. Hebrew language_sentence_77

After the suppression of the Bar Kokhba revolt in the 2nd century CE, Judaeans were forced to disperse. Hebrew language_sentence_78

Many relocated to Galilee, so most remaining native speakers of Hebrew at that last stage would have been found in the north. Hebrew language_sentence_79

The Christian New Testament contains some Semitic place names and quotes. Hebrew language_sentence_80

The language of such Semitic glosses (and in general the language spoken by Jews in scenes from the New Testament) is often referred to as "Hebrew" in the text, although this term is often re-interpreted as referring to Aramaic instead and is rendered accordingly in recent translations. Hebrew language_sentence_81

Nonetheless, these glosses can be interpreted as Hebrew as well. Hebrew language_sentence_82

It has been argued that Hebrew, rather than Aramaic or Koine Greek, lay behind the composition of the Gospel of Matthew. Hebrew language_sentence_83

(See the Hebrew Gospel hypothesis or Language of Jesus for more details on Hebrew and Aramaic in the gospels.) Hebrew language_sentence_84

Mishnah and Talmud Hebrew language_section_7

Main article: Mishnaic Hebrew Hebrew language_sentence_85

The term "Mishnaic Hebrew" generally refers to the Hebrew dialects found in the Talmud, excepting quotations from the Hebrew Bible. Hebrew language_sentence_86

The dialects organize into Mishnaic Hebrew (also called Tannaitic Hebrew, Early Rabbinic Hebrew, or Mishnaic Hebrew I), which was a spoken language, and Amoraic Hebrew (also called Late Rabbinic Hebrew or Mishnaic Hebrew II), which was a literary language. Hebrew language_sentence_87

The earlier section of the Talmud is the Mishnah that was published around 200 CE, although many of the stories take place much earlier, and was written in the earlier Mishnaic dialect. Hebrew language_sentence_88

The dialect is also found in certain Dead Sea Scrolls. Hebrew language_sentence_89

Mishnaic Hebrew is considered to be one of the dialects of Classical Hebrew that functioned as a living language in the land of Israel. Hebrew language_sentence_90

A transitional form of the language occurs in the other works of Tannaitic literature dating from the century beginning with the completion of the Mishnah. Hebrew language_sentence_91

These include the halachic Midrashim (Sifra, Sifre, Mechilta etc.) and the expanded collection of Mishnah-related material known as the Tosefta. Hebrew language_sentence_92

The Talmud contains excerpts from these works, as well as further Tannaitic material not attested elsewhere; the generic term for these passages is Baraitot. Hebrew language_sentence_93

The dialect of all these works is very similar to Mishnaic Hebrew. Hebrew language_sentence_94

About a century after the publication of the Mishnah, Mishnaic Hebrew fell into disuse as a spoken language. Hebrew language_sentence_95

The later section of the Talmud, the Gemara, generally comments on the Mishnah and Baraitot in two forms of Aramaic. Hebrew language_sentence_96

Nevertheless, Hebrew survived as a liturgical and literary language in the form of later Amoraic Hebrew, which sometimes occurs in the text of the Gemara. Hebrew language_sentence_97

Hebrew was always regarded as the language of Israel's religion, history and national pride, and after it faded as a spoken language, it continued to be used as a lingua franca among scholars and Jews traveling in foreign countries. Hebrew language_sentence_98

After the 2nd century CE when the Roman Empire exiled most of the Jewish population of Jerusalem following the Bar Kokhba revolt, they adapted to the societies in which they found themselves, yet letters, contracts, commerce, science, philosophy, medicine, poetry and laws continued to be written mostly in Hebrew, which adapted by borrowing and inventing terms. Hebrew language_sentence_99

Medieval Hebrew Hebrew language_section_8

Main article: Medieval Hebrew Hebrew language_sentence_100

After the Talmud, various regional literary dialects of Medieval Hebrew evolved. Hebrew language_sentence_101

The most important is Tiberian Hebrew or Masoretic Hebrew, a local dialect of Tiberias in Galilee that became the standard for vocalizing the Hebrew Bible and thus still influences all other regional dialects of Hebrew. Hebrew language_sentence_102

This Tiberian Hebrew from the 7th to 10th century CE is sometimes called "Biblical Hebrew" because it is used to pronounce the Hebrew Bible; however, properly it should be distinguished from the historical Biblical Hebrew of the 6th century BCE, whose original pronunciation must be reconstructed. Hebrew language_sentence_103

Tiberian Hebrew incorporates the remarkable scholarship of the Masoretes (from masoret meaning "tradition"), who added vowel points and grammar points to the Hebrew letters to preserve much earlier features of Hebrew, for use in chanting the Hebrew Bible. Hebrew language_sentence_104

The Masoretes inherited a biblical text whose letters were considered too sacred to be altered, so their markings were in the form of pointing in and around the letters. Hebrew language_sentence_105

The Syriac alphabet, precursor to the Arabic alphabet, also developed vowel pointing systems around this time. Hebrew language_sentence_106

The Aleppo Codex, a Hebrew Bible with the Masoretic pointing, was written in the 10th century, likely in Tiberias, and survives to this day. Hebrew language_sentence_107

It is perhaps the most important Hebrew manuscript in existence. Hebrew language_sentence_108

During the Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain, important work was done by grammarians in explaining the grammar and vocabulary of Biblical Hebrew; much of this was based on the work of the grammarians of Classical Arabic. Hebrew language_sentence_109

Important Hebrew grammarians were Judah ben David Hayyuj, Jonah ibn Janah, Abraham ibn Ezra and later (in Provence), David Kimhi. Hebrew language_sentence_110

A great deal of poetry was written, by poets such as Dunash ben Labrat, Solomon ibn Gabirol, Judah ha-Levi, Moses ibn Ezra and Abraham ibn Ezra, in a "purified" Hebrew based on the work of these grammarians, and in Arabic quantitative or strophic meters. Hebrew language_sentence_111

This literary Hebrew was later used by Italian Jewish poets. Hebrew language_sentence_112

The need to express scientific and philosophical concepts from Classical Greek and Medieval Arabic motivated Medieval Hebrew to borrow terminology and grammar from these other languages, or to coin equivalent terms from existing Hebrew roots, giving rise to a distinct style of philosophical Hebrew. Hebrew language_sentence_113

This is used in the translations made by the Ibn Tibbon family. Hebrew language_sentence_114

(Original Jewish philosophical works were usually written in Arabic.) Hebrew language_sentence_115

Another important influence was Maimonides, who developed a simple style based on Mishnaic Hebrew for use in his law code, the Mishneh Torah. Hebrew language_sentence_116

Subsequent rabbinic literature is written in a blend between this style and the Aramaized Rabbinic Hebrew of the Talmud. Hebrew language_sentence_117

Hebrew persevered through the ages as the main language for written purposes by all Jewish communities around the world for a large range of uses—not only liturgy, but also poetry, philosophy, science and medicine, commerce, daily correspondence and contracts. Hebrew language_sentence_118

There have been many deviations from this generalization such as Bar Kokhba's letters to his lieutenants, which were mostly in Aramaic, and Maimonides' writings, which were mostly in Arabic; but overall, Hebrew did not cease to be used for such purposes. Hebrew language_sentence_119

For example, the first Middle East printing press, in Safed (modern Israel), produced a small number of books in Hebrew in 1577, which were then sold to the nearby Jewish world. Hebrew language_sentence_120

This meant not only that well-educated Jews in all parts of the world could correspond in a mutually intelligible language, and that books and legal documents published or written in any part of the world could be read by Jews in all other parts, but that an educated Jew could travel and converse with Jews in distant places, just as priests and other educated Christians could converse in Latin. Hebrew language_sentence_121

For example, Rabbi Avraham Danzig wrote the Chayei Adam in Hebrew, as opposed to Yiddish, as a guide to Halacha for the "average 17-year-old" (Ibid. Introduction 1). Hebrew language_sentence_122

Similarly, the Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan's purpose in writing the Mishna Berurah was to "produce a work that could be studied daily so that Jews might know the proper procedures to follow minute by minute". Hebrew language_sentence_123

The work was nevertheless written in Talmudic Hebrew and Aramaic, since, "the ordinary Jew [of Eastern Europe] of a century ago, was fluent enough in this idiom to be able to follow the Mishna Berurah without any trouble." Hebrew language_sentence_124

Revival Hebrew language_section_9

Main article: Revival of the Hebrew language Hebrew language_sentence_125

Hebrew has been revived several times as a literary language, most significantly by the Haskalah (Enlightenment) movement of early and mid-19th-century Germany. Hebrew language_sentence_126

In the early 19th century, a form of spoken Hebrew had emerged in the markets of Jerusalem between Jews of different linguistic backgrounds to communicate for commercial purposes. Hebrew language_sentence_127

This Hebrew dialect was to a certain extent a pidgin. Hebrew language_sentence_128

Near the end of that century the Jewish activist Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, owing to the ideology of the national revival (שיבת ציון, Shivat Tziyon, later Zionism), began reviving Hebrew as a modern spoken language. Hebrew language_sentence_129

Eventually, as a result of the local movement he created, but more significantly as a result of the new groups of immigrants known under the name of the Second Aliyah, it replaced a score of languages spoken by Jews at that time. Hebrew language_sentence_130

Those languages were Jewish dialects of local languages, including Judaeo-Spanish (also called "Judezmo" and "Ladino"), Yiddish, Judeo-Arabic and Bukhori (Tajiki), or local languages spoken in the Jewish diaspora such as Russian, Persian and Arabic. Hebrew language_sentence_131

The major result of the literary work of the Hebrew intellectuals along the 19th century was a lexical modernization of Hebrew. Hebrew language_sentence_132

New words and expressions were adapted as neologisms from the large corpus of Hebrew writings since the Hebrew Bible, or borrowed from Arabic (mainly by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda) and older Aramaic and Latin. Hebrew language_sentence_133

Many new words were either borrowed from or coined after European languages, especially English, Russian, German, and French. Hebrew language_sentence_134

Modern Hebrew became an official language in British-ruled Palestine in 1921 (along with English and Arabic), and then in 1948 became an official language of the newly declared State of Israel. Hebrew language_sentence_135

Hebrew is the most widely spoken language in Israel today. Hebrew language_sentence_136

In the Modern Period, from the 19th century onward, the literary Hebrew tradition revived as the spoken language of modern Israel, called variously Israeli Hebrew, Modern Israeli Hebrew, Modern Hebrew, New Hebrew, Israeli Standard Hebrew, Standard Hebrew and so on. Hebrew language_sentence_137

Israeli Hebrew exhibits some features of Sephardic Hebrew from its local Jerusalemite tradition but adapts it with numerous neologisms, borrowed terms (often technical) from European languages and adopted terms (often colloquial) from Arabic. Hebrew language_sentence_138

The literary and narrative use of Hebrew was revived beginning with the Haskalah movement. Hebrew language_sentence_139

The first secular periodical in Hebrew, HaMe'assef (The Gatherer), was published by maskilim in Königsberg (today's Kaliningrad) from 1783 onwards. Hebrew language_sentence_140

In the mid-19th century, publications of several Eastern European Hebrew-language newspapers (e.g. Hamagid, founded in Ełk in 1856) multiplied. Hebrew language_sentence_141

Prominent poets were Hayim Nahman Bialik and Shaul Tchernichovsky; there were also novels written in the language. Hebrew language_sentence_142

The revival of the Hebrew language as a mother tongue was initiated in the late 19th century by the efforts of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda. Hebrew language_sentence_143

He joined the Jewish national movement and in 1881 immigrated to Palestine, then a part of the Ottoman Empire. Hebrew language_sentence_144

Motivated by the surrounding ideals of renovation and rejection of the diaspora "shtetl" lifestyle, Ben-Yehuda set out to develop tools for making the literary and liturgical language into everyday spoken language. Hebrew language_sentence_145

However, his brand of Hebrew followed norms that had been replaced in Eastern Europe by different grammar and style, in the writings of people like Ahad Ha'am and others. Hebrew language_sentence_146

His organizational efforts and involvement with the establishment of schools and the writing of textbooks pushed the vernacularization activity into a gradually accepted movement. Hebrew language_sentence_147

It was not, however, until the 1904–1914 Second Aliyah that Hebrew had caught real momentum in Ottoman Palestine with the more highly organized enterprises set forth by the new group of immigrants. Hebrew language_sentence_148

When the British Mandate of Palestine recognized Hebrew as one of the country's three official languages (English, Arabic, and Hebrew, in 1922), its new formal status contributed to its diffusion. Hebrew language_sentence_149

A constructed modern language with a truly Semitic vocabulary and written appearance, although often European in phonology, was to take its place among the current languages of the nations. Hebrew language_sentence_150

While many saw his work as fanciful or even blasphemous (because Hebrew was the holy language of the Torah and therefore some thought that it should not be used to discuss everyday matters), many soon understood the need for a common language amongst Jews of the British Mandate who at the turn of the 20th century were arriving in large numbers from diverse countries and speaking different languages. Hebrew language_sentence_151

A Committee of the Hebrew Language was established. Hebrew language_sentence_152

After the establishment of Israel, it became the Academy of the Hebrew Language. Hebrew language_sentence_153

The results of Ben-Yehuda's lexicographical work were published in a dictionary (The Complete Dictionary of Ancient and Modern Hebrew). Hebrew language_sentence_154

The seeds of Ben-Yehuda's work fell on fertile ground, and by the beginning of the 20th century, Hebrew was well on its way to becoming the main language of the Jewish population of both Ottoman and British Palestine. Hebrew language_sentence_155

At the time, members of the Old Yishuv and a very few Hasidic sects, most notably those under the auspices of Satmar, refused to speak Hebrew and spoke only Yiddish. Hebrew language_sentence_156

In the Soviet Union, the use of Hebrew, along with other Jewish cultural and religious activities, was suppressed. Hebrew language_sentence_157

Soviet authorities considered the use of Hebrew "reactionary" since it was associated with Zionism, and the teaching of Hebrew at primary and secondary schools was officially banned by the People's Commissariat for Education as early as 1919, as part of an overall agenda aiming to secularize education (the language itself did not cease to be studied at universities for historical and linguistic purposes). Hebrew language_sentence_158

The official ordinance stated that Yiddish, being the spoken language of the Russian Jews, should be treated as their only national language, while Hebrew was to be treated as a foreign language. Hebrew language_sentence_159

Hebrew books and periodicals ceased to be published and were seized from the libraries, although liturgical texts were still published until the 1930s. Hebrew language_sentence_160

Despite numerous protests, a policy of suppression of the teaching of Hebrew operated from the 1930s on. Hebrew language_sentence_161

Later in the 1980s in the USSR, Hebrew studies reappeared due to people struggling for permission to go to Israel (refuseniks). Hebrew language_sentence_162

Several of the teachers were imprisoned, e.g. Yosef Begun, Ephraim Kholmyansky, Yevgeny Korostyshevsky and others responsible for a Hebrew learning network connecting many cities of the USSR. Hebrew language_sentence_163

Modern Hebrew Hebrew language_section_10

Main article: Modern Hebrew Hebrew language_sentence_164

Standard Hebrew, as developed by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, was based on Mishnaic spelling and Sephardi Hebrew pronunciation. Hebrew language_sentence_165

However, the earliest speakers of Modern Hebrew had Yiddish as their native language and often introduced calques from Yiddish and phono-semantic matchings of international words. Hebrew language_sentence_166

Despite using Sephardic Hebrew pronunciation as its primary basis, modern Israeli Hebrew has adapted to Ashkenazi Hebrew phonology in some respects, mainly the following: Hebrew language_sentence_167

Hebrew language_unordered_list_3

  • the elimination of pharyngeal articulation in the letters chet (ח‎) and ayin ( ע‎) by most Hebrew speakers.Hebrew language_item_3_6
  • the conversion of (ר‎) /r/ from an alveolar flap [ɾ] to a voiced uvular fricative [ʁ] or uvular trill [ʀ], by most of the speakers, like in most varieties of standard German or Yiddish. see Guttural RHebrew language_item_3_7
  • the pronunciation (by many speakers) of tzere ֵ ‎ as [eɪ] in some contexts (sifréj and téjša instead of Sephardic sifré and tésha)Hebrew language_item_3_8
  • the partial elimination of vocal Shva ְ ‎ (zmán instead of Sephardic zĕman)Hebrew language_item_3_9
  • in popular speech, penultimate stress in proper names (Dvóra instead of Dĕvorá; Yehúda instead of Yĕhudá) and some other wordsHebrew language_item_3_10
  • similarly in popular speech, penultimate stress in verb forms with a second person plural suffix (katávtem "you wrote" instead of kĕtavtém).Hebrew language_item_3_11

The vocabulary of Israeli Hebrew is much larger than that of earlier periods. Hebrew language_sentence_168

According to Ghil'ad Zuckermann: Hebrew language_sentence_169

In Israel, Modern Hebrew is currently taught in institutions called Ulpanim (singular: Ulpan). Hebrew language_sentence_170

There are government-owned, as well as private, Ulpanim offering online courses and face-to-face programs. Hebrew language_sentence_171

Current status Hebrew language_section_11

Modern Hebrew is the primary official language of the State of Israel. Hebrew language_sentence_172

As of 2013, there are about 9 million Hebrew speakers worldwide, of whom 7 million speak it fluently. Hebrew language_sentence_173

Currently, 90% of Israeli Jews are proficient in Hebrew, and 70% are highly proficient. Hebrew language_sentence_174

Some 60% of Israeli Arabs are also proficient in Hebrew, and 30% report having a higher proficiency in Hebrew than in Arabic. Hebrew language_sentence_175

In total, about 53% of the Israeli population speaks Hebrew as a native language, while most of the rest speak it fluently. Hebrew language_sentence_176

However, in 2013 Hebrew was the native language of only 49% of Israelis over the age of 20, with Russian, Arabic, French, English, Yiddish and Ladino being the native tongues of most of the rest. Hebrew language_sentence_177

Some 26% of immigrants from the former Soviet Union and 12% of Arabs reported speaking Hebrew poorly or not at all. Hebrew language_sentence_178

Steps have been taken to keep Hebrew the primary language of use, and to prevent large-scale incorporation of English words into the Hebrew vocabulary. Hebrew language_sentence_179

The Academy of the Hebrew Language of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem currently invents about 2,000 new Hebrew words each year for modern words by finding an original Hebrew word that captures the meaning, as an alternative to incorporating more English words into Hebrew vocabulary. Hebrew language_sentence_180

The Haifa municipality has banned officials from using English words in official documents, and is fighting to stop businesses from using only English signs to market their services. Hebrew language_sentence_181

In 2012, a Knesset bill for the preservation of the Hebrew language was proposed, which includes the stipulation that all signage in Israel must first and foremost be in Hebrew, as with all speeches by Israeli officials abroad. Hebrew language_sentence_182

The bill's author, MK Akram Hasson, stated that the bill was proposed as a response to Hebrew "losing its prestige" and children incorporating more English words into their vocabulary. Hebrew language_sentence_183

Hebrew is one of several languages for which the constitution of South Africa calls to be respected in their use for religious purposes. Hebrew language_sentence_184

Also, Hebrew is an official national minority language in Poland, since 6 January 2005. Hebrew language_sentence_185

Phonology Hebrew language_section_12

Further information: Biblical Hebrew § Phonology, and Modern Hebrew phonology Hebrew language_sentence_186

Biblical Hebrew had a typical Semitic consonant inventory, with pharyngeal /ʕ ħ/, a series of "emphatic" consonants (possibly ejective, but this is debated), lateral fricative /ɬ/, and in its older stages also uvular /χ ʁ/. Hebrew language_sentence_187

/χ ʁ/ merged into /ħ ʕ/ in later Biblical Hebrew, and /b ɡ d k p t/ underwent allophonic spirantization to [v ɣ ð x f θ] (known as begadkefat). Hebrew language_sentence_188

The earliest Biblical Hebrew vowel system contained the Proto-Semitic vowels /a aː i iː u uː/ as well as /oː/, but this system changed dramatically over time. Hebrew language_sentence_189

By the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls, /ɬ/ had shifted to /s/ in the Jewish traditions, though for the Samaritans it merged with /ʃ/ instead. Hebrew language_sentence_190

The Tiberian reading tradition of the Middle Ages had the vowel system /a ɛ e i ɔ o u ă ɔ̆ ɛ̆/, though other Medieval reading traditions had fewer vowels. Hebrew language_sentence_191

A number of reading traditions have been preserved in liturgical use. Hebrew language_sentence_192

In Oriental (Sephardi and Mizrahi) Jewish reading traditions, the emphatic consonants are realized as pharyngealized, while the Ashkenazi (northern and eastern European) traditions have lost emphatics and pharyngeals (although according to Ashkenazi law, pharyngeal articulation is preferred over uvular or glottal articulation when representing the community in religious service such as prayer and Torah reading), and show the shift of /w/ to /v/. Hebrew language_sentence_193

The Samaritan tradition has a complex vowel system that does not correspond closely to the Tiberian systems. Hebrew language_sentence_194

Modern Hebrew pronunciation developed from a mixture of the different Jewish reading traditions, generally tending towards simplification. Hebrew language_sentence_195

In line with Sephardi Hebrew pronunciation, emphatic consonants have shifted to their ordinary counterparts, /w/ to /v/, and [ɣ ð θ] are not present. Hebrew language_sentence_196

Most Israelis today also merge /ʕ ħ/ with /ʔ χ/, do not have contrastive gemination, and pronounce /r/ as a uvular fricative [ʁ] or a voiced velar fricative [ɣ] rather than an alveolar trill, because of Ashkenazi Hebrew influences. Hebrew language_sentence_197

The consonants /tʃ/ and /dʒ/ have become phonemic due to loan words, and /w/ has similarly been re-introduced. Hebrew language_sentence_198

Consonants Hebrew language_section_13

Hebrew language_table_general_1

Proto

SemiticHebrew language_header_cell_1_0_0

IPAHebrew language_header_cell_1_0_1 HebrewHebrew language_header_cell_1_0_2 ExampleHebrew language_header_cell_1_0_7
writtenHebrew language_header_cell_1_1_0 BiblicalHebrew language_header_cell_1_1_2 TiberianHebrew language_header_cell_1_1_3 ModernHebrew language_header_cell_1_1_4 WordHebrew language_header_cell_1_1_5 MeaningHebrew language_header_cell_1_1_6
*bHebrew language_header_cell_1_2_0 bHebrew language_header_cell_1_2_1 ב‎Hebrew language_cell_1_2_2 ḇ/bHebrew language_cell_1_2_3 /b/Hebrew language_cell_1_2_4 /v/, /b/Hebrew language_cell_1_2_5 /v/, /b/Hebrew language_cell_1_2_6 ביתHebrew language_cell_1_2_7 houseHebrew language_cell_1_2_8
*dHebrew language_header_cell_1_3_0 dHebrew language_header_cell_1_3_1 ד‎Hebrew language_cell_1_3_2 ḏ/dHebrew language_cell_1_3_3 /d/Hebrew language_cell_1_3_4 /ð/, /d/Hebrew language_cell_1_3_5 /d/Hebrew language_cell_1_3_6 דבHebrew language_cell_1_3_7 bearHebrew language_cell_1_3_8
*gHebrew language_header_cell_1_4_0 ɡHebrew language_header_cell_1_4_1 ג‎Hebrew language_cell_1_4_2 ḡ/gHebrew language_cell_1_4_3 /ɡ/Hebrew language_cell_1_4_4 /ɣ/, /g/Hebrew language_cell_1_4_5 /ɡ/Hebrew language_cell_1_4_6 גמלHebrew language_cell_1_4_7 camelHebrew language_cell_1_4_8
*pHebrew language_header_cell_1_5_0 pHebrew language_header_cell_1_5_1 פ‎Hebrew language_cell_1_5_2 p̄/pHebrew language_cell_1_5_3 /p/Hebrew language_cell_1_5_4 /f/, /p/Hebrew language_cell_1_5_5 /f/, /p/Hebrew language_cell_1_5_6 פחםHebrew language_cell_1_5_7 coalHebrew language_cell_1_5_8
*tHebrew language_header_cell_1_6_0 tHebrew language_header_cell_1_6_1 ת‎Hebrew language_cell_1_6_2 ṯ/tHebrew language_cell_1_6_3 /t/Hebrew language_cell_1_6_4 /θ/, /t/Hebrew language_cell_1_6_5 /t/Hebrew language_cell_1_6_6 תמרHebrew language_cell_1_6_7 palmHebrew language_cell_1_6_8
*kHebrew language_header_cell_1_7_0 kHebrew language_header_cell_1_7_1 כ‎Hebrew language_cell_1_7_2 ḵ/kHebrew language_cell_1_7_3 /k/Hebrew language_cell_1_7_4 /x/, /k/Hebrew language_cell_1_7_5 /χ/, /k/Hebrew language_cell_1_7_6 כוכבHebrew language_cell_1_7_7 starHebrew language_cell_1_7_8
*ṭHebrew language_header_cell_1_8_0 Hebrew language_header_cell_1_8_1 ט‎Hebrew language_cell_1_8_2 Hebrew language_cell_1_8_3 Hebrew language_cell_1_8_4 /tˤ/Hebrew language_cell_1_8_5 /t/Hebrew language_cell_1_8_6 טבחHebrew language_cell_1_8_7 cookHebrew language_cell_1_8_8
*qHebrew language_header_cell_1_9_0 Hebrew language_header_cell_1_9_1 ק‎Hebrew language_cell_1_9_2 qHebrew language_cell_1_9_3 qHebrew language_cell_1_9_4 /q/Hebrew language_cell_1_9_5 /k/Hebrew language_cell_1_9_6 קברHebrew language_cell_1_9_7 tombHebrew language_cell_1_9_8
*ḏHebrew language_header_cell_1_10_0 ð / d͡ðHebrew language_header_cell_1_10_1 ז‎Hebrew language_cell_1_10_2 zHebrew language_cell_1_10_3 /ð/Hebrew language_cell_1_10_4 /z/Hebrew language_cell_1_10_5 /z/Hebrew language_cell_1_10_6 זכרHebrew language_cell_1_10_7 maleHebrew language_cell_1_10_8
*zHebrew language_header_cell_1_11_0 z / d͡zHebrew language_header_cell_1_11_1 /z/Hebrew language_cell_1_11_2 זרקHebrew language_cell_1_11_3 threwHebrew language_cell_1_11_4
*sHebrew language_header_cell_1_12_0 s / t͡sHebrew language_header_cell_1_12_1 ס‎Hebrew language_cell_1_12_2 sHebrew language_cell_1_12_3 /s/Hebrew language_cell_1_12_4 /s/Hebrew language_cell_1_12_5 /s/Hebrew language_cell_1_12_6 סוכרHebrew language_cell_1_12_7 sugarHebrew language_cell_1_12_8
Hebrew language_header_cell_1_13_0 ʃ / t͡ʃHebrew language_header_cell_1_13_1 שׁ‎Hebrew language_cell_1_13_2 šHebrew language_cell_1_13_3 /ʃ/Hebrew language_cell_1_13_4 /ʃ/Hebrew language_cell_1_13_5 /ʃ/Hebrew language_cell_1_13_6 שׁמיםHebrew language_cell_1_13_7 skyHebrew language_cell_1_13_8
*ṯHebrew language_header_cell_1_14_0 θ / t͡θHebrew language_header_cell_1_14_1 /θ/Hebrew language_cell_1_14_2 שׁמונהHebrew language_cell_1_14_3 eightHebrew language_cell_1_14_4
Hebrew language_header_cell_1_15_0 ɬ / t͡ɬHebrew language_header_cell_1_15_1 שׂ‎Hebrew language_cell_1_15_2 śHebrew language_cell_1_15_3 /ɬ/Hebrew language_cell_1_15_4 /s/Hebrew language_cell_1_15_5 /s/Hebrew language_cell_1_15_6 שׂמאלHebrew language_cell_1_15_7 leftHebrew language_cell_1_15_8
*ṱHebrew language_header_cell_1_16_0 θʼ / t͡θʼHebrew language_header_cell_1_16_1 צ‎Hebrew language_cell_1_16_2 Hebrew language_cell_1_16_3 Hebrew language_cell_1_16_4 /sˤ/Hebrew language_cell_1_16_5 /ts/Hebrew language_cell_1_16_6 צלHebrew language_cell_1_16_7 shadowHebrew language_cell_1_16_8
*ṣHebrew language_header_cell_1_17_0 / t͡sʼHebrew language_header_cell_1_17_1 צרחHebrew language_cell_1_17_2 screamedHebrew language_cell_1_17_3
*ṣ́Hebrew language_header_cell_1_18_0 ɬʼ / t͡ɬʼHebrew language_header_cell_1_18_1 צחקHebrew language_cell_1_18_2 laughedHebrew language_cell_1_18_3
Hebrew language_header_cell_1_19_0 ɣ~ʁHebrew language_header_cell_1_19_1 ע‎Hebrew language_cell_1_19_2 ʻHebrew language_cell_1_19_3 /ʁ/Hebrew language_cell_1_19_4 /ʕ/Hebrew language_cell_1_19_5 /ʔ/, -Hebrew language_cell_1_19_6 עורבHebrew language_cell_1_19_7 ravenHebrew language_cell_1_19_8
Hebrew language_header_cell_1_20_0 ʕHebrew language_header_cell_1_20_1 /ʕ/Hebrew language_cell_1_20_2 עשׂרHebrew language_cell_1_20_3 tenHebrew language_cell_1_20_4
Hebrew language_header_cell_1_21_0 ʔHebrew language_header_cell_1_21_1 א‎Hebrew language_cell_1_21_2 ʼHebrew language_cell_1_21_3 /ʔ/Hebrew language_cell_1_21_4 /ʔ/Hebrew language_cell_1_21_5 /ʔ/, -Hebrew language_cell_1_21_6 אבHebrew language_cell_1_21_7 fatherHebrew language_cell_1_21_8
*ḫHebrew language_header_cell_1_22_0 x~χHebrew language_header_cell_1_22_1 ח‎Hebrew language_cell_1_22_2 Hebrew language_cell_1_22_3 /χ/Hebrew language_cell_1_22_4 /ħ/Hebrew language_cell_1_22_5 /χ/Hebrew language_cell_1_22_6 חמשׁHebrew language_cell_1_22_7 fiveHebrew language_cell_1_22_8
*ḥHebrew language_header_cell_1_23_0 ħHebrew language_header_cell_1_23_1 /ħ/Hebrew language_cell_1_23_2 חבלHebrew language_cell_1_23_3 ropeHebrew language_cell_1_23_4
*hHebrew language_header_cell_1_24_0 hHebrew language_header_cell_1_24_1 ה‎Hebrew language_cell_1_24_2 hHebrew language_cell_1_24_3 /h/Hebrew language_cell_1_24_4 /h/Hebrew language_cell_1_24_5 /h/, -Hebrew language_cell_1_24_6 הגרHebrew language_cell_1_24_7 emigratedHebrew language_cell_1_24_8
*mHebrew language_header_cell_1_25_0 mHebrew language_header_cell_1_25_1 מ‎Hebrew language_cell_1_25_2 mHebrew language_cell_1_25_3 /m/Hebrew language_cell_1_25_4 /m/Hebrew language_cell_1_25_5 /m/Hebrew language_cell_1_25_6 מיםHebrew language_cell_1_25_7 waterHebrew language_cell_1_25_8
*nHebrew language_header_cell_1_26_0 nHebrew language_header_cell_1_26_1 נ‎Hebrew language_cell_1_26_2 nHebrew language_cell_1_26_3 /n/Hebrew language_cell_1_26_4 /n/Hebrew language_cell_1_26_5 /n/Hebrew language_cell_1_26_6 נביאHebrew language_cell_1_26_7 prophetHebrew language_cell_1_26_8
*rHebrew language_header_cell_1_27_0 ɾHebrew language_header_cell_1_27_1 ר‎Hebrew language_cell_1_27_2 rHebrew language_cell_1_27_3 /ɾ/Hebrew language_cell_1_27_4 /ɾ/Hebrew language_cell_1_27_5 /ʁ/Hebrew language_cell_1_27_6 רגלHebrew language_cell_1_27_7 legHebrew language_cell_1_27_8
*lHebrew language_header_cell_1_28_0 lHebrew language_header_cell_1_28_1 ל‎Hebrew language_cell_1_28_2 lHebrew language_cell_1_28_3 /l/Hebrew language_cell_1_28_4 /l/Hebrew language_cell_1_28_5 /l/Hebrew language_cell_1_28_6 לשׁוןHebrew language_cell_1_28_7 tongueHebrew language_cell_1_28_8
*yHebrew language_header_cell_1_29_0 jHebrew language_header_cell_1_29_1 י‎Hebrew language_cell_1_29_2 yHebrew language_cell_1_29_3 /j/Hebrew language_cell_1_29_4 /j/Hebrew language_cell_1_29_5 /j/Hebrew language_cell_1_29_6 ידHebrew language_cell_1_29_7 handHebrew language_cell_1_29_8
*wHebrew language_header_cell_1_30_0 wHebrew language_header_cell_1_30_1 ו‎Hebrew language_cell_1_30_2 wHebrew language_cell_1_30_3 /w/Hebrew language_cell_1_30_4 /w/Hebrew language_cell_1_30_5 /v/Hebrew language_cell_1_30_6 ורדHebrew language_cell_1_30_7 roseHebrew language_cell_1_30_8
Proto-SemiticHebrew language_header_cell_1_31_0 IPAHebrew language_header_cell_1_31_1 HebrewHebrew language_header_cell_1_31_2 BiblicalHebrew language_header_cell_1_31_4 TiberianHebrew language_header_cell_1_31_5 ModernHebrew language_header_cell_1_31_6 ExampleHebrew language_header_cell_1_31_7

Notes: Hebrew language_sentence_199

Hebrew language_ordered_list_4

  1. Proto-Semitic *ś was still pronounced as ɬ in Biblical Hebrew, but no letter was available in the Phoenician alphabet, so the letter ש‎ did double duty, representing both /ʃ/ and /ɬ/. Later on, however, /ɬ/ merged with /s/, but the old spelling was largely retained, and the two pronunciations of ש‎ were distinguished graphically in Tiberian Hebrew as שׁ‎ /ʃ/ vs. שׂ‎ /s/ < /ɬ/.Hebrew language_item_4_12
  2. Biblical Hebrew as of the 3rd century BCE apparently still distinguished the phonemes ġ /ʁ/, ḫ /χ/, ḏ /ð/ and ṯ /θ/, based on transcriptions in the Septuagint. As in the case of /ɬ/, no letters were available to represent these sounds, and existing letters did double duty: ח‎ /χ/ /ħ/, ע‎ /ʁ/ /ʕ/, שׁ‎ /θ/ /ʃ/ and ז‎ /ð/ /z/. In all of these cases, however, the sounds represented by the same letter eventually merged, leaving no evidence (other than early transcriptions) of the former distinctions.Hebrew language_item_4_13
  3. Hebrew and Aramaic underwent begadkefat spirantization at a certain point, whereby the stop sounds /b ɡ d k p t/ were softened to the corresponding fricatives [v ɣ ð x f θ] (written ḇ ḡ ḏ ḵ p̄ ṯ) when occurring after a vowel and not geminated. This change probably happened after the original Old Aramaic phonemes /θ, ð/ disappeared in the 7th century BCE, and most likely occurred after the loss of Hebrew /χ, ʁ/ c. 200 BCE. It is known to have occurred in Hebrew by the 2nd century. After a certain point this alternation became contrastive in word-medial and final position (though bearing low functional load), but in word-initial position they remained allophonic. In Modern Hebrew, the distinction has a higher functional load due to the loss of gemination, although only the three fricatives /v χ f/ are still preserved (the fricative /x/ is pronounced /χ/ in modern Hebrew). (The others are pronounced like the corresponding stops, apparently under the influence of later non-native speakers whose native European tongues lacked the sounds /ɣ ð θ/ as phonemes.)Hebrew language_item_4_14

Hebrew grammar Hebrew language_section_14

Main article: Modern Hebrew grammar Hebrew language_sentence_200

Further information: History of Hebrew grammar Hebrew language_sentence_201

Hebrew grammar is partly analytic, expressing such forms as dative, ablative and accusative using prepositional particles rather than grammatical cases. Hebrew language_sentence_202

However, inflection plays a decisive role in the formation of verbs and nouns. Hebrew language_sentence_203

For example, nouns have a construct state, called "smikhut", to denote the relationship of "belonging to": this is the converse of the genitive case of more inflected languages. Hebrew language_sentence_204

Words in smikhut are often combined with hyphens. Hebrew language_sentence_205

In modern speech, the use of the construct is sometimes interchangeable with the preposition "shel", meaning "of". Hebrew language_sentence_206

There are many cases, however, where older declined forms are retained (especially in idiomatic expressions and the like), and "person"-enclitics are widely used to "decline" prepositions. Hebrew language_sentence_207

Morphology Hebrew language_section_15

Like all Semitic languages, the Hebrew language exhibits a pattern of stems consisting typically of "triliteral", or 3-consonant consonantal roots, from which nouns, adjectives, and verbs are formed in various ways: e.g. by inserting vowels, doubling consonants, lengthening vowels and/or adding prefixes, suffixes or infixes. Hebrew language_sentence_208

4-consonant roots also exist and became more frequent in the modern language due to a process of coining verbs from nouns that are themselves constructed from 3-consonant verbs. Hebrew language_sentence_209

Some triliteral roots lose one of their consonants in most forms and are called "Nehim" (Resting). Hebrew language_sentence_210

Hebrew uses a number of one-letter prefixes that are added to words for various purposes. Hebrew language_sentence_211

These are called inseparable prepositions or "Letters of Use" (Hebrew: אותיות השימוש‎, romanized: Otiyot HaShimush). Hebrew language_sentence_212

Such items include: the definite article ha- (/ha/) (= "the"); prepositions be- (/bə/) (= "in"), le- (/lə/) (= "to"; a shortened version of the preposition el), mi- (/mi/) (= "from"; a shortened version of the preposition min); conjunctions ve- (/və/) (= "and"), she- (/ʃe/) (= "that"; a shortened version of the Biblical conjunction asher), ke- (/kə/) (= "as", "like"; a shortened version of the conjunction kmo). Hebrew language_sentence_213

The vowel accompanying each of these letters may differ from those listed above, depending on the first letter or vowel following it. Hebrew language_sentence_214

The rules governing these changes are hardly observed in colloquial speech as most speakers tend to employ the regular form. Hebrew language_sentence_215

However, they may be heard in more formal circumstances. Hebrew language_sentence_216

For example, if a preposition is put before a word that begins with a moving Shva, then the preposition takes the vowel /i/ (and the initial consonant may be weakened): colloquial be-kfar (= "in a village") corresponds to the more formal bi-khfar. Hebrew language_sentence_217

The definite article may be inserted between a preposition or a conjunction and the word it refers to, creating composite words like mé-ha-kfar (= "from the village"). Hebrew language_sentence_218

The latter also demonstrates the change in the vowel of mi-. Hebrew language_sentence_219

With be, le and ke, the definite article is assimilated into the prefix, which then becomes ba, la or ka. Hebrew language_sentence_220

Thus *be-ha-matos becomes ba-matos (= "in the plane"). Hebrew language_sentence_221

Note that this does not happen to mé (the form of "min" or "mi-" used before the letter "he"), therefore mé-ha-matos is a valid form, which means "from the airplane". Hebrew language_sentence_222

Hebrew language_description_list_5

  • * indicates that the given example is grammatically non-standard.Hebrew language_item_5_15

Syntax Hebrew language_section_16

Like most other languages, the vocabulary of the Hebrew language is divided into verbs, nouns, adjectives and so on, and its sentence structure can be analyzed by terms like object, subject and so on. Hebrew language_sentence_223

Hebrew language_unordered_list_6

  • Though early Biblical Hebrew had a verb-subject-object ordering, this gradually transitioned to a subject-verb-object ordering. Many Hebrew sentences have several correct orders of words. One can change the order of the words in the sentence and keep the same meaning. For example, the sentence "Dad went to work", in Hebrew, includes a word for Dad (אבא aba), for went (הלך halaḵ), and for to work (to the working place = לעבודה la-ʿavoda). However, unlike in English, those three words can be put in almost any combination (אבא הלך לעבודה/ לעבודה אבא הלך/ לעבודה הלך אבא/ הלך אבא לעבודה and so on).Hebrew language_item_6_16
  • In Hebrew, there is no indefinite article.Hebrew language_item_6_17
  • Hebrew sentences do not have to include verbs; the copula in the present tense is omitted. For example, the sentence "I am here" (אני פה ani po) has only two words; one for I (אני) and one for here (פה). In the sentence "I am that person" (אני הוא האדם הזה ani hu ha'adam ha'ze), the word for "am" corresponds to the word for "he" (הוא). However, this is usually omitted. Thus, the sentence (אני האדם הזה) is more often used and means the same thing.Hebrew language_item_6_18
  • Negative and interrogative Sentences have the same order as the regular declarative one. A question that has a yes/no answer begins with "האם" (haim, an interrogative form of 'if'), but it's largely omitted in informal speech.Hebrew language_item_6_19
  • In Hebrew there is a specific preposition (את et) for direct objects that would not have a preposition marker in English. The English phrase "he ate the cake" would in Hebrew be הוא אכל את העוגה hu akhal et ha'ugah (literally, "He ate את the cake"). The word את, however, can be omitted, making הוא אכל העוגה hu akhal ha'ugah ("He ate the cake"). Former Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was convinced that את should never be used as it elongates the sentence without adding meaning.Hebrew language_item_6_20
  • In spoken Hebrew -את ה et ha- is also often contracted to -ַת' ta-, e.g. ת'אנשים ta-anashim instead of את האנשים et ha-anashim (the ' indicates non-standard use). This phenomenon has also been found by researchers in the Bar Kokhba documents : מעיד אני עלי תשמים… שאני נותן תכבלים ברגליכם, writing תללו instead of את הללו, as well as תדקל and so on.Hebrew language_item_6_21

Writing system Hebrew language_section_17

Main articles: Hebrew alphabet and Hebrew braille Hebrew language_sentence_224

Modern Hebrew is written from right to left using the Hebrew alphabet, which is an "impure" abjad, or consonant-only script, of 22 letters. Hebrew language_sentence_225

The ancient paleo-Hebrew alphabet is similar to those used for Canaanite and Phoenician. Hebrew language_sentence_226

Modern scripts are based on the "square" letter form, known as Ashurit (Assyrian), which was developed from the Aramaic script. Hebrew language_sentence_227

A cursive Hebrew script is used in handwriting: the letters tend to be more circular in form when written in cursive, and sometimes vary markedly from their printed equivalents. Hebrew language_sentence_228

The medieval version of the cursive script forms the basis of another style, known as Rashi script. Hebrew language_sentence_229

When necessary, vowels are indicated by diacritic marks above or below the letter representing the syllabic onset, or by use of matres lectionis, which are consonantal letters used as vowels. Hebrew language_sentence_230

Further diacritics are used to indicate variations in the pronunciation of the consonants (e.g. bet/vet, shin/sin); and, in some contexts, to indicate the punctuation, accentuation and musical rendition of Biblical texts (see Cantillation). Hebrew language_sentence_231

Liturgical use in Judaism Hebrew language_section_18

Hebrew has always been used as the language of prayer and study, and the following pronunciation systems are found. Hebrew language_sentence_232

Ashkenazi Hebrew, originating in Central and Eastern Europe, is still widely used in Ashkenazi Jewish religious services and studies in Israel and abroad, particularly in the Haredi and other Orthodox communities. Hebrew language_sentence_233

It was influenced by the Yiddish language. Hebrew language_sentence_234

Sephardi Hebrew is the traditional pronunciation of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews and Sephardi Jews in the countries of the former Ottoman Empire, with the exception of Yemenite Hebrew. Hebrew language_sentence_235

This pronunciation, in the form used by the Jerusalem Sephardic community, is the basis of the Hebrew phonology of Israeli native speakers. Hebrew language_sentence_236

It was influenced by the Judezmo language. Hebrew language_sentence_237

Mizrahi (Oriental) Hebrew is actually a collection of dialects spoken liturgically by Jews in various parts of the Arab and Islamic world. Hebrew language_sentence_238

It was derived from the old Arabic language, and in some cases influenced by Sephardi Hebrew. Hebrew language_sentence_239

The same claim is sometimes made for Yemenite Hebrew or Temanit, which differs from other Mizrahi dialects by having a radically different vowel system, and distinguishing between different diacritically marked consonants that are pronounced identically in other dialects (for example gimel and "ghimel".) Hebrew language_sentence_240

These pronunciations are still used in synagogue ritual and religious study in Israel and elsewhere, mostly by people who are not native speakers of Hebrew. Hebrew language_sentence_241

However, some traditionalist Israelis use liturgical pronunciations in prayer. Hebrew language_sentence_242

Many synagogues in the diaspora, even though Ashkenazi by rite and by ethnic composition, have adopted the "Sephardic" pronunciation in deference to Israeli Hebrew. Hebrew language_sentence_243

However, in many British and American schools and synagogues, this pronunciation retains several elements of its Ashkenazi substrate, especially the distinction between tsere and segol. Hebrew language_sentence_244

See also Hebrew language_section_19

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew language.