7 April 2016

The Hebrew alphabet

A plastic stencil with the Hebrew alphabet

My initial attempts at learning to write the Hebrew alphabet "free-hand" proved quite difficult as the shapes of the letters are completely unfamiliar to me.  So, today I have purchased a plastic stencil which I hope will guide me in my endeavour to learn the alphabet and also to be able to learn to write Hebrew.  

Learning a language is always a challenge but when the letters of the alphabet are not adopted from the Latin/Roman alphabet as is in the case of English for example, it makes the task of learning to write even more of a test of one's abilities. As well, the Hebrew alphabet does not have upper case or lower case (otherwise known as case) and it is also written from right to left.  As well it consists only of consonants with indications for vowels.  I am hoping that my existing knowledge of the Arabic alphabet which also has these three facts in common with the Hebrew alphabet in other words, not having case, being written from right to left and being made up of consonants will enable me to grasp the foundations of the Hebrew alphabet fairly easily.

The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters. It does not have case, but five letters have different forms when used at the end of a word. Hebrew is written from right to left. Originally, the alphabet was an abjad consisting only of consonants. As with other abjads, such as the Arabic alphabet, scribes later devised means of indicating vowel sounds by separate vowel points, known in Hebrew as niqqud. In rabbinic Hebrew, the letters א ה ו י are also used as matres lectionis (the use of certain consonants to indicate a vowel) to represent vowels. When used to write Yiddish, the writing system is a true alphabet (except for borrowed Hebrew words). In modern usage of the alphabet, as in the case of Yiddish (except that ע replaces ה) and to some extent modern Israeli Hebrew, vowels may be indicated. Today, the trend is toward full spelling with these letters acting as true vowels.

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