עברית סוף סוף - Hebrew at last! Also working on German

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Deinonysus
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עברית סוף סוף - Hebrew at last! Also working on German

Postby Deinonysus » Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:57 pm

עברית

For the past few years, Hebrew has always been my "next" language. Meanwhile, I've studied several languages long-term and dabbled in at least a score.

I always theoretically want to learn Hebrew; my parents are fluent and they are friends with many native speakers, so I have plenty of opportunity to practice. I have a new baby daughter who just turned a month old and I'd like her to learn at least conversational Hebrew as well. I'm a false beginner and I already know the writing system and some basic grammar and vocabulary, and due to heavy exposure as a child I can speak with a convincing accent.

There are also other more abstract motivating factors. Although there are major differences between modern and biblical Hebrew (I've heard that it's similar to the difference between contemporary and early modern English, ie Shakespeare or the King James Bible), it would get me close to being able to read the most influential piece of literature in Western Civilization in the original. And lastly, I think ancient civilizations are very cool and I think it's amazing that there's a modern language that was also contemporary with Ancient Egyptian and Babylonian, and was also partly mutually intelligible with other Canaanite languages such as Phoenician.

However, despite these factors, there always seems to be another language that's more fun, more interesting, easier, or more practical.

But a recent interest in conlanging brought me the final piece of motivation I needed to get started. The Semitic triliteral root system is frankly astonishing and it's amazing that anything like it evolved naturally. Most languages keep their affixes separate (as in agglutinative languages such as Turkish or Swahili). Others have merged several pieces of information into a single morpheme (as in Fusional languages such as Russian or Latin). But the triliteral root system is non-concatenative. The template of three separate consonants stays the same while the vowels shift and change around and in between them. There must have been an absurd number of steps to get from concatenative affixes to a biliteral template system and eventually a triliteral system. It's one of the coolest and most unlikely oddballs of language evolution.

Scope

I want to commit to at least six months working on Hebrew and get up to a decent conversational level. The last time I worked on Hebrew I actually had some good momentum but then dropped Hebrew to work on French exclusively leading up to a trip to French Canada a few years ago, and I never picked it back up. But this time my wife and I are at home with a new baby, so there won't be any fun vacations to distract me!

Hebrew Resources
I'm starting out with these resources:

  • Pimsleur Hebrew
  • Assimil Hebrew
  • Hebrew - A language course - Primer and level 1 (א).

All of these have audio and/or vowel markings. Hebrew is typically written without vowels; however, medieval scholars created a system of diacritical markers called נקדות (nekudot) that mark vowels. They also show distinguish between hard (plosive) and soft (fricative) versions of consonants, although many of these distinctions have been lost in Modern Hebrew. Many vowels have also merged.

I'm using a very old website to learn how to touch-type in Hebrew. Unfortunately it isn't an HTTPS site and uses an old Java applet, so you need to go into the Java security settings to enable it. It only works for me in IE. Use at your own risk.
http://zigzagworld.com/HKTutor/

I also want to learn to hand write in cursive. I never mastered it in Hebrew school. I do have a workbook at home but the internet and a pen and paper should suffice.

There are also some good resources that I will not use until I'm more advanced because they don't use vowels and there isn't always audio. It really bothers me to read something without being able to pronounce it properly.
  • Duolingo
  • Clozemaster

ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ

In a shocking turn of events that should surprise nobody, I can't even get through a week of studying Hebrew without getting dragged into a random-ass obscure language. Inuktitut is an Eskimo-Aleut language spoken by Inuit people in Northern Canada. It's related to Greenlandic.

Some cool features that drew me to it:
  • The writing system is amazing! It's a syllabary created for Cree by missionaries, partly inspired by Devanagari. It was adapted to Inuktitut with some diacritics. The vowel of a syllable is indicated by the direction of a syllable - up for /i/ (eg ᐃ /i/ or ᑭ /ki/), rotated 90º or 180º for /u/ (eg ᐅ /u/ or ᑯ /ku/), and then flipped horizontally for /a/ (eg ᐊ /a/ or ᑲ /ka/). A bare consonant with no vowel is a superscript of the /a/ syllable (eg ᒃ /k/). Long vowels are marked with a dot (eg ᐄ /aː/), and a diacritic mark is added to /k/ to get /q/ (eg ᕿ /qi/) or to added to /g/ to get /ŋ/ (eg ᖏ /ŋi/) or /ŋg/ (eg ᙱ /ŋgi/).
  • The phonology is very small with no sounds that I have trouble pronouncing. It only has three phonemic vowels, and its small consonant inventory contains two of my favorites, /q/ and /ɬ/. Vowels and consonants can be short or long.
  • It's polysynthetic, meaning that words inflect so much that one word can express an entire sentence. A famous example is ᖃᖓᑕᓲᒃᑯᕕᒻᒨᕆᐊᖃᓛᖅᑐᖓ (qangatasuukkuvimmuuriaqalaaqtunga), meaning "I’ll have to go to the airport."

Scope
I'm only expecting to work on Inuktitut for a couple of weeks. I want to learn the syllabary and also learn some very basic grammar and vocabulary.

Inuktitut Reources

Tusaalanga.ca is a free resource with audio that teaches any of five dialects spoken in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. I went with the default selection of ᕿᑭᖅᑖᓗᒃ ᓂᒋᐊᓂ (Qikiqtaaluk nigiani) aka the South Baffin dialect. It's spoken in Iqaliut, the territory's capital.

Edit:

I've dropped Inuktitut and picked up Hungarian.

Magyar

See post for details: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 27#p137127

Hungarian Resources
Duolingo
Pimsleur

Edit2: I dropped Hungarian too. I can never keep up 3 languages at once for more than a week at a time so I had to drop Hebrew for a while while I was working on Hungarian, but now I'm back to it.
Last edited by Deinonysus on Wed May 01, 2019 8:16 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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: 16 / 90 Pimsleur Hebrew
: 10 / 100 Assimil Hebrew
: 30 / 420 Duolingo Hebrew

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cjareck
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Re: עברית סוף סוף - Hebrew at last! Also studying German, wanderlusting Inuktitut

Postby cjareck » Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:31 pm

Good luck with your study! I will follow this log. However, don't you think that it may be a little bit overoptimistic to plan a conversational level after half a year in Hebrew? I do not know how much you know already (as a false beginner) and how much time are you going to spend on learning, but I think that more time will be necessary to achieve your goal.
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Deinonysus
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Re: עברית סוף סוף - Hebrew at last! Also studying German, wanderlusting Inuktitut

Postby Deinonysus » Tue Mar 12, 2019 5:36 pm

cjareck wrote:Good luck with your study! I will follow this log. However, don't you think that it may be a little bit overoptimistic to plan a conversational level after half a year in Hebrew? I do not know how much you know already (as a false beginner) and how much time are you going to spend on learning, but I think that more time will be necessary to achieve your goal.

Ordinarily, it would be overly optimistic in the extreme. Hebrew is not an easy language.

However, I went through the first 40-50 Pimsleur lessons a few years ago and absorbed everything very quickly. I remembered a lot of the basic vocabulary and I seemed to have a very good intuitive sense of the grammar, despite my best efforts to not pay attention as a child. In addition, my parents will be overjoyed to give me conversation practice, and I'll also have some extra study time due to paternity leave. So because of those factors, I think at least a very basic conversational level is reasonable within a six-month timeframe. I guess only time will tell, though.

Hopefully I can keep going after six months, but given my Wanderlust tendencies, that might be the best I can hope for.
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: 10 / 100 Assimil Hebrew
: 30 / 420 Duolingo Hebrew

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Re: עברית סוף סוף - Hebrew at last! Also studying German, wanderlusting Inuktitut

Postby cjareck » Tue Mar 12, 2019 5:44 pm

I have one language exchange per week and the second one every two weeks since September and only lately I noticed an improvement in speaking and a very small one in listening comprehension. And that after a few years learning. But, I must admit, as a busy guy I spend little time on learning only. When you have parents who speak Hebrew, then you are able to practice a lot and the development of your skills will surely be quicker.
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Re: עברית סוף סוף - Hebrew at last! Also studying German, wanderlusting Inuktitut

Postby Deinonysus » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:26 pm

אני כתב בעברית!‏

It only took me a couple of days to comfortably touch-type in Hebrew. To any readers who have never tried to learn a keyboard layout in another script, I would strongly recommend it! You will probably be very surprised at how quickly you pick it up. It's a matter of days, not weeks or months. You can probably learn the home row in ten minutes and it might sound silly but you get a great dopamine rush from getting quick concrete results from so little work. I also learned the Korean layout when I was briefly studying the language last year. Unfortunately, I'm sure that I've completely forgotten it by now. Use it or lose it!

I practiced typing a bit by transcribing some headlines from the Israeli newspaper הארץ (Haaretz). I think that will be a regular activity, at least until I'm ready to start Duolingo.

Punctuation in mixed passages of Hebrew and English is the most frustrating thing to deal with. If you're only typing in Hebrew then it's easy enough to set the entire text field to right-to-left. In Windows you press CTRL and simultaniously press right shift + right arrow. To get it back to left-to-right it's CTRL then left shift and left arrow. But if you want to write a line of Hebrew in a left-to-right field, it will put the punctuation at the beginning of the sentance (on the right-hand side). There's supposed to be a keyboard shortcut to insert a right-to-left mark that will force the punctuation to the end of the sentence, but it doesn't work for me. The solution is to compose any bilingual messages in Notepad, where there's an option to insert Unicode control characters including the RTL mark.

I've started to work out a routine to work my language and piano learning around the kid's schedule. I can use Hebrew - A language Course when I'm holding her so that my wife can go to sleep early. I can squeeze in an Assimil lesson and some piano practice when she's feeding; unfortunately that's also the only time I have to get ready for bed and make my lunch, but I've been making it work. The Assimil lessons are very short in the beginning, only a couple of lines; they're aimed at true beginners who are still learning the אלףבית. Later on the lessons will be longer and in a month and a half I'll be starting the second wave, but by then the kid will be older and hopefully a bit lower maintenance.

I've started watching the Hebrew playlist on the YouTube channel "Learn Arabic with Maha". Maha is bilingual in Arabic and Hebrew, and she teaches Italian as well. She speaks Hebrew with a Oriental accent, common among Arabs who speak Hebrew, which preserves many great sounds that were unfortunately lost in standard Modern Hebrew. For example:
  • ט is not merged with ת (regular /t/) but is emphatic.
  • ח is not merged with the soft כ (the voiceless uvular fricative /χ/) but is the voiceless pharyngeal fricative /ħ/
  • ע is not silent but is the voiced pharyngial fricative /ʕ/.

Here is a link to the first of her two אלףבית videos where she goes over her pronunciation of the letters (the way she pronounces them as well as the standard):


Inuktitut
I'm around half-way through learning the syllabary on Memrise. I've also gone over lesson one on Tusaalanga a few times, but there's a lot to process and not much has sunk in yet.
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Re: עברית סוף סוף - Hebrew at last! Also studying German, wanderlusting Inuktitut

Postby zenmonkey » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:39 pm

Congrats! Could you go into a bit on how you taught yourself touch typing in Hebrew?
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Re: עברית סוף סוף - Hebrew at last! Also studying German, wanderlusting Inuktitut

Postby Deinonysus » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:51 pm

zenmonkey wrote:Congrats! Could you go into a bit on how you taught yourself touch typing in Hebrew?

I used a very old website called Hebrew Keyboard Tutor Plus http://zigzagworld.com/HKTutor/. As I mentioned in the first post, it's hard to get it to work and there are some security warnings.

There isn't always a resource like this to learn a layout. This was the case for a couple of keyboard layouts that I created myself. What I usually do in this case is that I put the letters of the home row into a random string generator and practice transcribing the results until I'm comfortable. Then I add in more sections of the keyboard until I know the whole layout. Again, this is very quick and it should't take the average person more than a couple of days to learn to touch-type in a new layout. And if you have the time or concentration you can do it in one sitting.
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: 30 / 420 Duolingo Hebrew

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Re: עברית סוף סוף - Hebrew at last! Also studying German, wanderlusting Inuktitut

Postby zenmonkey » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:09 pm

Deinonysus wrote:
zenmonkey wrote:Congrats! Could you go into a bit on how you taught yourself touch typing in Hebrew?

I used a very old website called Hebrew Keyboard Tutor Plus http://zigzagworld.com/HKTutor/. As I mentioned in the first post, it's hard to get it to work and there are some security warnings.

There isn't always a resource like this to learn a layout. This was the case for a couple of keyboard layouts that I created myself. What I usually do in this case is that I put the letters of the home row into a random string generator and practice transcribing the results until I'm comfortable. Then I add in more sections of the keyboard until I know the whole layout. Again, this is very quick and it should't take the average person more than a couple of days to learn to touch-type in a new layout. And if you have the time or concentration you can do it in one sitting.


Thanks for that, I had read your first post but I think I missed the tutor. By the way, I got just got it work using an IE9 emulator on Chrome, it basically skips all the issues as it actually running on another machine.

https://ie9.ieonchrome.com/#http://www. ... r/hthe.htm
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Re: עברית סוף סוף - Hebrew at last! Also studying German, wanderlusting Inuktitut

Postby cjareck » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:21 pm

Hope you don't mind a small correction
Deinonysus wrote:אלףבית

You used a sofit form of פ int the middle of the word. It should be אלפבית. What concerns Maha's channel - I watched it for Arabic. It is very good; I like her explanations a lot. The only problem is that she doesn't go much beyond extreme basics.
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Re: עברית סוף סוף - Hebrew at last! Also studying German, wanderlusting Inuktitut

Postby zenmonkey » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:54 pm

cjareck wrote:Hope you don't mind a small correction
Deinonysus wrote:אלףבית

You used a sofit form of פ int the middle of the word. It should be אלפבית. What concerns Maha's channel - I watched it for Arabic. It is very good; I like her explanations a lot. The only problem is that she doesn't go much beyond extreme basics.

אלף בית
with a ף isn't incorrect, it just needs that space in the middle. ;)
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