Hebrew was revived as a spoken language in the 19th century, and the chief architect was Eliezer Ben Yehuda. It is amazing to think that a language that was extinct and not spoken in everyday life for the past 2,000 years was revived by a passionate community, and is now the official language of Israel. However, it is important to consider that the language spoken now is somewhat different from classical or Biblical Hebrew. Let’s look at some of the differences between both variants of the popular language.
Differences In Sounds
Classical Hebrew differentiated in vowels sounds more carefully. In modern Hebrew, the “ah” and “eh” sounds are treated similarly. Classical Hebrew has two of the letters, Aleph and Ayin, sounding very differently, but many modern Hebrew speakers don’t pronounce these as different letters. In modern Hebrew, the letter Tav has only one sound, but in Biblical Hebrew, it can sound like a T or an S. Resh was closer to a Spanish ‘R’ in Biblical Hebrew, while modern Hebrew uses a sound like the French ‘R’.
The order of the words is slightly different in classical and modern Hebrew. The biblical version is more of a verb-subject-object language, where the verb comes first in a sentence. This is a common feature of all Semitic languages.
However, when modern Hebrew was formulated, the structure changed to the subject-verb-object sequence, which was easy to speak and use in daily routines. This is common in most European languages, and due to this factor, experts argue that Modern Hebrew is not a Semitic language.
You’ll find many verb forms in Biblical Hebrew that have disappeared in the modern version, and the others continue to vanish. You won’t find any feminine plural imperfect verb forms in modern Hebrew. There is an increased use of the male form to talk about both genders in the feminine plural in imperfect and perfect forms.
New Words for Technology
There has been an increased need for new words to describe certain types of technology. Modern Hebrew has used old words to describe new things. However, it has relied on other languages and invented new words to describe new technology. For example, the word for the car (מְכוֹנִית)is originated from a Biblical Hebrew word, and the word for technology (טֶכנוֹלוֹגִיָה) is Russian inspired.
Modern Hebrew has become part of the Jewish People’s identity. And there is definitely an emphasis on people learning Hebrew, especially in Israel.
If you’re thinking about learning the language, then modern Hebrew institutions such as Ulpan-Or can help you with your linguistic learning as they offer digital Hebrew courses that you can access from anywhere. For more details on Ulpan-Or’s Hebrew language courses, Hebrew learning for Israel immersion, or self-study courses, check out their website today!