Begin Learning Hebrew Here
"Hebrew must be a hard language to learn"
Oftentimes, when I tell people I speak pretty fluent Hebrew, they say to me, "Hebrew must be a hard language to learn". I tell them that Hebrew is a lot easier to learn than English.
Hebrew has 22 letters and a large percentage of the words are made up of root words (usually 3 letters long) that can be used in verb, noun or adjective constructs.
The first letter of the Hebrew Alphabet (called the "Aleph-Bet") is Aleph.
The second letter of the Hebrew alphabet is Bet. It sounds like the letter "B". It has a dot in the middle called a dagesh which can appear in most letters, but only changes the sound of only 3 (in Sephardi -- Spanish Jewish -- pronunciation and 4 in Ashkenazi -- Northern/Eastern European Jews) letters -- Bet, Koph, Peh (and Tav)
Just Bet without a dagesh -- sounds like the letter V.
Brief Interlude... Hebrew Vowels
Vowels in Hebrew aren't always written out. But these are a few of the vowels that are written under letters.
The names of the vowels (from left to right, top to bottom) are segol, patah, kamatz, tzereh, kubutz and hirik.
And now, for a real, honest to goodness Hebrew word......
This is a real live, honest to goodness Hebrew word that you will hear all over Israel (and often in Jewish communities in other areas of the world) -- Abba -- which means Daddy.
Take an Aleph (no sound) and put an "ah" under it and then take a Bet ("b" sound) and put an "ah" under it for a Ba and end if off with another Aleph (again, no sound) and you have Abba.
Back to the Letters.....
Gimel has a sound like a hard "G" as in Good or Go.
Daled has a sound like the letter "D".
Hay sounds like an aspirated H -- as in hello, howdy, etc. It also is a common letter to end words with, particularly feminine nouns and names.
Vav sounds like the letter "V" (or, in some cases, people transliterate it as a "W") when used as a consonant.
Brief Interlude... Vav as a Vowel
These two vowels (Holum and Shuruk) are created using a Vav.
Zayin sounds like the letter "Z".
Het sounds like the ch in Achtung and is the first letter in the word Hanukka.
Tet sounds like the letter "T".
Yod (which is a small letter that is only about 1/2 the size of most other letters -- the top half) when used as a consonant, (it sometimes takes the place of a vowel) sounds like a "Y".
Koph sounds like the letter K (it is often transliterated as a Q)
Khoph (Koph without a dagesh) has a sound similar to the Het (see above).
Lamed sounds like the letter "L".
And, now, for something totally different....
Ok, not so different -- Another Real Live, oft used, Hebrew Word
This word is "Gadol" -- it means "Big" (for males).
Mem sounds like the letter "M".
Nun sounds like an "N".
Samekh sounds like the letter "S" (never like the letter "Z" as in rise).
Ayin originally (and for most Hebrew speakers from the middle east) had a guttural sound similar to a "G" -- this is why words like Amora (the "sister" city of Sodom) and Azah (as in the strip) -- became "Gomorrah" and "Gaza". From the perspective of most American speakers, Ayin has no sound.
Peh sounds like a "P".
Phe has a sound like an "F".
Tzake sounds like the "ZZ" in Pizza.
Kuf sounds like a "K".
Resh sounds like an "R" but it's more rolling -- from the throat.
Shin sounds like "Sh"
Sin sounds like "S" (but never "Z", just like Samekh) -- the Sin (with the "dot" on the left, as opposed to the Shin with the "dot" on the right) is much less common, so if you see the letter without dots, the Shin is the default pronunciation.
Tav Sounds like a "T"*
* To Ashkenazim, this would be a Sav -- with a dagesh Ashkenazim would call it "Tav". The "Sav" would sound like an "S".
Schva (the No Sound Vowel)
A Schva is put under a when only the letter sound should be pronounced.
Final Letters (Koph-Khoph)
There are 5 letters that look different at the end of words -- I separated Koph-Khoph because it's the only letter than doesn't just have the one sort. The Khoph Sofit (that means the "end" letter) can have a dagesh with a Kamatz, without a dagesh with a Kamatz, or without a dagesh without a Kamatz.
Mem, Nun, Phe and Tzade Sofits
These letters sound just like the regular letters they replace at the end of the word -- Mem like an M, Nun like an N, Phe like an F and Tzade like the ZZ in Pizza.
Compugraph Designs' Jewelry and "Stuff" Site
Compugraph Designs has a Jewelry page on Facebook.
Compugraph Designs' Printfection Store (Jewish Holidays)
In addition to our Cafe Press and Zazzle sites (see modules above), we also have a store on "Printfection" which includes cutting boards (good wedding or housewarming gifts), mugs and cups, tees, etc.
This cutting board is only one of several Jewish holiday themed items at our store:
(Click on the picture to go directly to this product's page)
Compugraph Designs Page on Printpop
Compugraph Designs Art Now Site
"Art Now" is another "Print on Demand" site. They have a nice collection of clocks and watches, including the one pictured here. Click on the picture to see the entire site.