How to Write the Hebrew Alphabet.
The earliest examples of written Hebrew date back to the 10th century BCE. After 200 CE, Hebrew was used mainly as Jewish liturgy. It made its comeback as a spoken language in the 19th century. It is the native language to over five million people, mostly in Israel. The picture to the right shows the printed Hebrew alphabet, known as the Alefbet.
A Few Facts about the Hebrew Alphabet
Hebrew is written from right to left. It consists of 22 consonants. Vowels are added in after as accents to the letters. The print/block form of the writing is usually left for printing only or for people just learning Hebrew. In Hebrew, that is called "Dfus." Once the alphabet has been learned, even small children switch to the rounded cursive lettering, called "Ktav." It is called the Alefbet because the first two letters are alef and bet.
A Little About The Hebrew Alphabet.
While many people think that these are characters versus a letter, they are in fact letters. They do not have a meaning on their own, they simply represent a sound, just as the the letters of the English alphabet do. There are many letters/sounds that correspond with English and several sounds that are unique to Hebrew. As in English, the name of the letter is pretty much the same as the sound it makes. There are no capital letters in Hebrew but there are "final" letters. These are a few letters that change their form when they are placed at the end of a word. The five letters are: Khaf, mem, nun, peh and tzadi. They are pronounced the same whether a "sofit" (so-feet) or in the middle of the word so you only need to learn how to write and recognize them! In ancient Hebrew, these long tail letters used to come at the beginning of the word. At some point while modern Hebrew was being formed, they were moved to the end of the word.
Vowels in Hebrew
The Hebrew alphabet is made up of consonants. People who are fluent in Hebrew do not need vowels and most written Hebrew does not have vowels. However, the need for pronunciation was strong enough that they come up with a system of dots, called Nikud (knee-cood), to indicate vowels. Nikud means points. They are used for beginning learners and are often seen in the bible and Torah. They are also be used when there may be need for further clarification.
Learning the Alefbet
In Israel, children learn to read and write in first grade, just like in the United States. Of course, there is somne writing in Pre-School, as well as tv shows that promote learning the alphabet. One of the more familiar tv shows is Shalom Sesame. It is the Israeli version of Sesame Street. It features Israeli and Palestinian counterparts to the the American characters. It teaches the same morals and values and features both Hebrew and Arabic. Not only do the kids love it but adults can learn from watching it, too!
Downloadable Hebrew Programs.
There are many different programs available to either teach, translate or give you the ability to type in Hebrew. If you want to type, you would either need to:
- Get a Hebrew keyboard
- Know which letters and symbols represent which letters and symbols you will need to type in Hebrew
- Buy stickers for your current keyboard.
Once you have that in place, you may need to download a program that will allow you to type in Hebrew. Many Mac and microsoft computers already have that supported. You will just need to look for it either in your installation disk or under system preferences. If you do not already have it on your computer, there are many different programs available and most of them are free.