> Two people I know - you (well, I only "know" you
> in the sense of being on RfM, but eventually, we
> get to know each other pretty well) and my son's
> best friend have converted to Judaism as adults.
> I don't really have any interest from a religious
> standpoint, as Mo-ism pretty well cured me of any
> interest in that direction.
> But I wonder, as a life-long linguist, how much
> Hebrew did you have to learn (to read, write, and
> speak) and was it difficult?
> When I was much younger and had a nimbler brain, I
> took a night class in Greek. I was able to learn
> the alphabet in about half-an-hour, and can still
> read it on things like menus and street signs (not
> bad after nearly half-a-century, huh!)
Both of my children are linguists and multi-lingual. I have barely been able to master English, although I've been a poet and songwriter for some of my life who writes in a classical strain and my former mastery of songwriting was folk songs. :)
I have not been able to learn a second language to save my soul. Hebrew is not that difficult to learn from what I've been told, but it might as well be to me. At worship services the Hebrew is printed on one side of the prayer book to follow along. And the English equivalent on the other for those like me who are Hebrew challenged.
It's a requirement if you grow up Jewish to learn it. Since I didn't actually become involved in Judaism until 2006 actively, by then was well into my 40's. Learning a language is so much easier for the young than it is when we get older. Although I do know some folks who've been Jewish their lifetimes who struggle with Hebrew. So they wing it, like I do. :)
> But Greek has a very distinct relationship between
> letters and signs. The only weird thing I remember
> is that one (or maybe both) of the letters for "o"
> change form at the end of the word. I didn't stay
> in the class past the very elementary level, but I
> got around very well when I was there on my own,
> some ten years ago.
> But Hebrew has something I have never run into
> before. No vowels! There is apparently a single
> soundless consonant that is used to carry the
> sound of any stressed vowels. (The very thought of
> coming up with such a complex concept boggles my
> mind, but that's what I've read.)
> So - as you see it, how much Hebrew did you have
> to learn, how long did it take, and how difficult
> was it? I would love to try a class in elementary
> Hebrew, but despite my language background, I'm
> terrified that I would go down in flames. I'd love
> to hear your take on it.
From what I understand it does have some vowels, but they are silent. The alphabet consists of 22 letters, all consonants, which language has evolved from earlier times.
"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, but is now considered an "impure abjad". 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 both biblical and 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. There is a trend in modern Modern Hebrew toward the use of matres lectionis to indicate vowels that have traditionally gone unwritten, a practice known as "full spelling".
I know when God is written or Lord, or any word to describe Elohim in English, the vowels are removed and replaced with a hyphen. That's to show respect to the Creator.http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_Two/Introduction/introduction.html
My daughter speaks and writes fluent Hebrew. She learns languages easily, and majored in French in college. I do not share that ability unfortunately. Wish that I did.
To really understand Judaism best, it would behoove any student of Torah to learn the language. And yet I muddle along for the prayer services and comaraderie of being with fellow Jewish worshipers on Shabbat and other holy days. Some of it rubs off on me even without knowing the Hebrew. Someday I may yet commit myself to learning it, I just don't feel suited to doing it now.
I didn't know you were a linguist. Very cool. It is a discipline in itself. That you were able to learn the Greek alphabet so quickly and retain it after many years indicates you have a good recall for languages. :)
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/04/2017 09:50PM by Amyjo.