Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Part 2: How To Transliterate Hebrew Words

In the first part of this series – Howto Transliterate Hebrew Words – we learned how to use the BHC Hebrew-English Transliterator. If you haven’t done this lesson yet, please do it first before you continue. You will also need your BHC Hebrew-English Transliterator for this lesson, so download and print one by clicking here.

The purpose of this lesson is to make you more familiar with specific Hebrew letters. You have probably noticed that some of them look very similar and that there are cases where two Hebrew letters are transliterated by the same English letters.

The little dots are very important in Hebrew. The only difference between #2 and #3 is the dot, but it is what makes #2 a “B” and #3 a “V.” 

Look at the upper left side of #6 and #9 and you will see that #6 has a “gap” and #9 does not. #6 is transliterated as “H” and #9 is “C.”

The Hebrew letter “Kaf” is found in three forms -- #12, #13 & #14. #12 has a dot that makes it “K.” #13 has no dot and it is pronounced as a hard Kaf which is transliterated as “Kh.” Hebrew has five consonants that change shape if the letter is the final letter in a word, which is called “sofit” (so-feet).  #14 is the first of those five final forms of a letter. #12 and #14 are the same letter, except #14 is the final letter of a word.

#16 (Mem) is the second letter with a “sofit” #17. Both are transliterated “M.”

#18 (Nun) is the third letter with a “sofit” #19. Both are transliterated “N.”

#22 (Pey) is the fourth letter with a “sofit” #24. Notice that #22 has a dot and #23 does not have a dot. #23 is a “Fey” and transliterated “F.” The sofit #24 is also transliterated “F.”

#25 (Tzade) is the fifth letter with a “sofit” #26. Both are transliterated “Tz.”

Find the dot above these letters. #29 has the dot on the left side and is called Sin (pronounced “seen”). It is transliterated “S.” #30 has the dot on the right side and is called Shin (pronounced “sheen”). It is transliterated “Sh.”

#7 (Vav) is a very interesting letter.  Anytime you see it, stop and see if there is a dot above on in it. #7 is transliterated “V.” #41 has a dot above it and is transliterated “O,” while #45 has a dot in it and is transliterated “U.”

Now it’s time to take your knowledge of the Hebrew language to the next level by learning the Hebrew Alphabet Song. Use the BHC Hebrew-English Transliterator as your songbook. You will notice a couple of things on the video that are different from the Transliterator. First, the names used on the video are phonetic instead of literal transliterations. Second, the order of letters #29 and #30 are reversed. So in the song you will sing #30 and then #29. Click Here to sing the Hebrew Alphabet Song.

Nothing makes learning about a new language more fun than doing it with a friend. Find a “Hebrew language buddy” for your new adventure.

Use your new skills to view words of the Hebrew Bible. Below you will find a link to a Hebrew-English Version Online of the Bible, which you can use for FREE. You can view it online or download sections in a pdf file. If you look at it online you will probably need to use the “Zoom” on your browser to see the Hebrew letters better. Practice transliterating a few words. If you have a question about a transliteration email me at jim@biblicalheritage.org . Click here to go to the Hebrew-English Online Version of the Bible.

We will examine some more letters in the lesson 3.

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