A student asked me today about discerning between the letters כ and ק, ת and ט, and ע and א. Here is my response to him!
Here’s the “problem:”
Forgive my old school style of expression from American baseball: You have 2 strikes against you. 1. You didn’t learn Hebrew as a child and 2. You probably don’t hear it spoken now. Having said that you’ve asked an important question that I want to respond to, because I don’t think that I address it “later on” in the series of classes that you’re presently viewing.
Firstly, You’ve pointed out letters that sound the same. You’re right! In more ancient Hebrew none of us, myself included, would have this problem because once upon a time these letters really had different sounds. According to the Jewish tradition- and I’m not an academician- I call to your attention that for thousands of years the Jewish people primarily heard and spoke Hebrew….and the majority of people didn’t read it. The consequence of that is that it is incredibly important that the listener hear the words correctly. It follows that this magnifies the necessity that indeed the letters should all be recognizable by different sounds.
Here’s how things “look” today:
Today here in Israel we are by far the biggest daily users of Hebrew, and since our return to the land over the past hundred years, sadly we have to a large extent lost distinctions between the sounds of letters. That occurs also in those letters that indeed “ought” to have different sounds. Remember that most of us here today spent almost 2000 (!) years in exile outside of the land of Israel.
Now a days we do a lot of reading too, and that component really helps us learn and understand which letter is being used so to speak. (no pun intended)
At the end of the day the common man/woman understands what your saying or writing despite the ambiguity in sound of these letters. I’m sure you’ll succeed too!
So to conclude, thanks for pointing out to me your need to understand this better. I hope I helped.
Learn Hebrew for Free???
Don’t take my word for it! The Alephbet Series is free of charge, and introduces a total beginner to the shapes and sounds of the letters. You will also learn to write script Hebrew, which is an absolute necessity for your success in learning the language. In Parts One, Two, and Three the first three lessons are yours free of charge. Check it out!
The material here is intended for everyone– indeed it is all about Hebrew for All! I’m here for you too. You don’t just buy a series of lessons. I’ll be here to answer your questions, and give you the guidance that you may need to make this your “last stop” to getting Hebrew. If you’ve tried in the past with another approach, I encourage you to give my approach a try. Yes, you will have to work, but you will succeed. Every step in our learning is small, manageable, and sequential. If you find something hard or challenging, don’t go forward, instead watch the video again until you feel comfortable with the material. Doing the exercise associated with the lesson will also guarantee that you are beginning to take control over the material. Doing more review, if you have the time to do so, will help you see results faster.
Are you ready to learn Hebrew with a passion?
In my opinion the single greatest component for success in all language learning is passion. You’ve got to really want to succeed. If it’s not obvious to you that you intend to succeed at this endeavor this time, then take your time to re-evaluate whether now is the time to undertake the challenge. Only if you worked these things through in your head and your heart should you invest. I know from experience that you’ll succeed! Thousands of students have been exposed to this approach, and have proven that it works. I hope you’re ready to become another success!
In upcoming entries I will discuss the challenge of learning vocabulary, which I believe are true universally. I will also discuss the connection between understanding the OS, and becoming a great speaker of Hebrew. In my view almost everyone wants to speak (why not?), but according to my approach we must be realistic about obtaining that specific skill. I can assure you that if you master my approach, and you so desire, you’ll become a great speaker of Hebrew, aside from all the other aspects of comprehension of the language. But, more about that in upcoming entries.
I’m looking forward to learning with you. Shlomo