Hebrew is spoken by about 8 million people, mostly in Israel, though there are many Hebrew speakers in the United States and in other countries throughout the world. A Semitic language, the oldest examples of written Hebrew date back to between the 11th and 10th centuries BCE, and most of the Old Testament of the Bible was originally written in Hebrew. By the 4th century CE, however, the language was essentially extinct and was only revived through the efforts of scholars and activists in the 1880s. Today Hebrew is a vibrant, living language.
Hebrew Fun Facts
Some useful Hebrew expressions: Shalom, literally peace, is a way of saying “hello” or “goodbye.” Mazel tov means “good luck” and is the traditional way of expressing congratulations. And L’chayim, “To life!,” is a popular toast.
A is for… The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet (“Aleph”) developed into the Greek Alpha, and eventually the modern Roman A. It comes from the word “aluph,” which means champion, head, or bull.
Hebrew, is written from right to left. Originally, the alphabet was an abjad consisting only of consonants. Later a system was devised to indicate vowels by separate points, known in Hebrew as niqqud.
Hebrew and the Livemocha Community
- Most Israelis on Livemocha are learning English, but large numbers are also learning Hebrew, French, and Spanish
- After Hebrew, the languages spoken by most Israelis on Livemocha are Arabic, English, and Russian
- Americans are learning Hebrew almost 2x more than people from any other country on Livemocha. Members from Brazil, Israel, Russia, and Egypt, however, are also learning Hebrew in large numbers