Friday, May 16, 2008


To avoid all the problems of font and browser displays of the Hebrew alphabet, I thiink I'm going to opt for transliteration at this blog. But remember, the characters of the actual Hebrew alphabet are only a click away.

Granted, transliteration can actually be a barrier to getting familiar with the Hebrew alphabet (which is why Cook and Dobson, which use only the Hebrew alphabet for Hebrew, are more intuitive). But I've also found that at this stage, transliteration is one helpful measure to make sure I'm getting the pronunciation right of the Hebrew letters and words.

My own transliteration scheme is simplistic and imprecise (which, in a way, is a good reminder that romanization is only an approximation of Hebrew sound--plus, of course, we don't know what Ancient Hebrew actually sounded like). For verses, I tend to use the transliteration from Sacred Texts, which appears to use ISO 259.

(Update: I've realized another benefit of transliteration: it makes Hebrew sounds feel more like words. That, of course, is purely my bias and limitation as someone whose native language and other languages I've studied use the Roman alphabet. But the danger in reading a non-native alphabet is that it feels like you're deciphering, not reading. Transliteration helps remind me that these are words and sentences, not just symbols.)

Here are some consonant transliteration guides from other textbooks:






Also, while the point is to read Hebrew, not to write it, some textbooks have some helpful handwriting guides: see the guides from Cook and Ross









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