3,000 years of communication
Classical Hebrew is one of the world’s oldest languages with a heritage stretching back over 3,000 years.
Today’s modern Hebrew emerged around the turn of the 20th century and is the version used in business.
It’s the official language of the State of Israel but is also used in many Jewish communities around the world.
Many Hebrew words have influenced the English language, ‘hallelujah’, ‘kosher’ and ‘behemoth’ all have their roots in Hebrew.
With over 4 million speakers, Hebrew is a widely used business language and we’re proud to have some of the world’s best Hebrew and translators and interpreters standing by to help your business thrive.
- As with most Semitic languages, western speakers may struggle to produce some of the vocalisations as they are completely different sounds.
- Verbs take a different form depending on whether the subject of the sentence is male or female.
- For the most part, Hebrew follows the same sentence structure as English.
- Unlike English, every noun is assigned a gender.
An introduction to the Hebrew language
Hebrew is a west Semitic language, historically regarded as the language of the Hebrews / Israelites
Between the 1st and 4th centuries, Hebrew ceased to be an everyday spoken language, surviving only as the liturgical language of Judaism.
During the 19th century Hebrew underwent a revival as a spoken and literary language and now has roughly 9 million speakers worldwide, of whom 7 million live in Israel. Outside of Israel, the United States has the highest concentration of Hebrew speakers with around 300,000 fluent speakers.
Eliezer Ben Yehuda was undoubtedly the father of the renaissance of the Hebrew language. Originally from Lithuania, he settled in Palestine in 1881 and worked tirelessly to promote the establishment of Hebrew as a spoken language in what was to become Israel.
Modern Hebrew is seen as a direct continuation of biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew, however there is a strong Slavic structure as well as acquiring some European and colloquial Arabic vocabulary. Linguistic scholars accept that the influence of Yiddish has been a primary contributor to Modern Hebrew and as such has created a different language.
Modern Hebrew employs the Hebrew alphabet which is a consonant-only script consisting of 22 letters. The modern script is based on the square letterform, Ashurit, developed from the Aramaic script. A cursive script called Ashkenazi is used for handwriting in Modern Hebrew.
Due to globalisation and the number of Israelis who visit America and vice versa, steps have needed to be taken to ensure the protection of the Hebrew language and stem the influx of English words. The Academy of the Hebrew language currently invents around 2,000 new words each year by using old Hebrew words that capture the meaning of modern terms to stave off the incorporation of English words.
Some examples of English words of Hebrew origin
There are many more words in English that have a Hebrew origin and of course, many biblical names that are commonly used in English have a Judeo-Christian and therefore Hebrew origin.