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Hebrew

Hebrew is one of the world's oldest languages, spoken and written today in much the same way as it was more than two thousand years ago. After ceasing to exist as a spoken language about 250 B.C., it was reborn as a modern language in the 19th century.

Hebrew (עִבְרִית) is a semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Culturally, it is considered the language of the Jewish people.

Mo
dern Hebrew is spoken by most of the seven million people in Israel while Classical Hebrew has been used for prayer or study in Jewish communities around the world. It is one of the official languages of Israel along with Arabic.

Hebrew was nearly extinct as a spoken language by Late Antiquity. It was no longer used as a mother tongue - for over sixteen centuries being used almost exclusively as a liturgical language but it survived- evolving various dialects of literary Medieval Hebrew, until its revival as a spoken language in the late 19th century.
Modern Hebrew pronunciation developed from a mixture of the different Jewish reading traditions, generally tending towards simplification.

The Hebrew alphabet (Hebrew : אָלֶף־בֵּית עִבְרִי, known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish Languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic.

The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters; five have different forms when they are used at the end of a word. Hebrew, like Arabic, is written right to left. Originally, the alphabet was an abjad (a type of writing system -In Arabic (‎‎أبجد)), A (Alif), B (Ba), J (Jeem), D (Daal) make the word "Abjad"- which means "Alphabet"- in which each symbol always or usually stands for a consonant; the reader must supply the appropriate vowel) consisting only of consonant . Like other abjads, such as the Arabic alphabet (العربية), means were later devised to indicate vowels by separate vowel point. About the 8th century a system developed for indicating vowels through the use of small dots and dashes placed above and below the consonants. These signs are still in use today, but they are confined to school books, prayer books, and textbooks for foreigners, and are not to be seen in newspapers, magazines, or books of general use.




Different pronunciation systems are found.

Ashkenazi Hebrew originating in Central and Eastern Europe, is still widely used in Ashkenazi Jewish religious services and studies in Israel and abroad. It was influenced by theYiddish language.

Sepharadi Hebrew is the traditional pronunciation of the Spanish and Portugese Jews and Sepharadi Jews in the countries of the former Ottoman Empire. This pronunciation, in the form used by the Jerusalem Sephardic community, is the basis of the Hebrew phonology of Israeli native speakers. It was influenced by the Judezmo language.

Oriental Hebrew is a collection of dialects spoken liturgically by Jews in various parts of theArab and Islamic world. It was possibly influenced by the Aramaic and Arabic languages, and in some cases by Sepharadi Hebrew, although some linguists maintain that it is the direct heir of Biblical Hebrew and thus represents the true dialect of Hebrew. The same claim is sometimes made forYemenite Hebrew or Temanit, which differs from other Mizrahi dialects by having a radically different vowel system, and distinguishing between different diacritically marked consonants that are pronounced identically in other dialects (for example gimel and "ghimel").


Mainly from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_languages
http://digitalshowcase.dpsk12.org/ARCHIVE-07/Misc/Henry/Dani-Israel/Israel%20index.htm
http://hebrewlanguage.com/Hebrewintro.htm










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