From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Hebrew (I'vrit, עברית) belongs to the North-Eastern branch of Afroasiatic languages which was formerly known as Semitic. For 2,500 years Hebrew was used mostly for study of the Bible and Mishnah, ceremony, and prayer, but it was reborn as a spoken language during the 20th century, replacing Arabic, Ladino, Yiddish and other languages of the Jewish diaspora as the spoken language of the majority of the Jewish people living in Israel. Hebrew reads from right to left.
Hebrew is one of the two official languages of the state of Israel, alongside Arabic. Modern Hebrew is referred to in Hebrew as "I'vrit" (pronounced EEvreet).
The Hebrew language is normally written in the Hebrew alphabet. Due to publishing difficulties, and the unfamiliarity of many readers with the alphabet, there are many ways of transcribing Hebrew into Roman letters. The only method which is strictly accurate 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 peculiarities. The system comes down to the following:
- The letter tsadeh (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 tav (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.
- The letter yod is usually transcribed by "y" and sometimes by "j" if the Hebrew word or name is carried over to the English language.