Beginner Hebrew questions

I’m just getting my feet wet in Hebrew right now, and I have a few very basic questions.

  1. The first is about the vowel markings: as far as I’ve understood they’re to help non-native speakers recognize vowels that aren’t written in the “real text”. I’ve seen people recommend not using vowel-marked texts here on LingQ. Why would it better not to use them in LingQ? Does it mess the LingQ system up, or is it more pedagogically sound?

  2. Does the TTS work on LingQ? I seem to remember it working at one point when I was using the system a few weeks ago, but now I can’t get any words to play. Or does this have to do with the vowel texts/non-vowel texts?

  3. I’m most interested in learning to read the Old Testament, but I’d like to also be able to communicate in Modern Hebrew some day. Should I go with an Ancient Hebrew textbook and use the Modern pronunciation (I have The Basics of Biblical Hebrew), or would it be better to start with a Modern Hebrew language course and work backwards?

Sadly, the lingq system doesn’t save any words with nikkud. It’s very annoying, but I’m not sure how it could count מדבר which can be מִדְבָּר-desert, מְדֻבָּר-speaker, etc, etc. I really think some reading out loud with the vowels would help, there’s always a danger of becoming too reliant on them.

I can’t seem to get the TTS working, but I thought Steve had some sound going. There might be another service Forvo, but I can’t figure it out myself.

I’ve no idea which order is better. I’ve started with Modern and will probably work backwards somewhat as S. Y. Agnon’s language is betwixt and between. By the way, secular Israelis have raided the biblical text for modern items so beware there may be two very different usages for a particular word.

make sure you have access to the Morfix dictionary (via lingq) as well as google.

Have fun!

“…secular Israelis have raided the biblical text for modern items so beware there may be two very different usages for a particular word…”

I guess that’s just natural progression which (to an extent) happens in all languages?

I mean, a modern German would understand “Wagen” first and foremost as a car. But two or three centuries ago a German speaker would have heard the same word and thought about a farm cart drawn by horses.

We get it in English too. I reckon most people today would understand the word “rocket” either to mean a type of space vehicle or a missile weapon of some kind. Yet I’m pretty sure the word was already used in Victorian times (EDIT: or much earlier even?) to mean a device which blew out smoke or vapour. Smoke rockets were used in those days to test piping systems for leaks, I believe.

Thanks for your response, but it raised another question for me: why doesn’t LingQ save words with nikkud? It would seem as though the vowel markings would make the words MORE specific and easier to define, and it would be the words without nikkud that would have multiple meanings and not work as LingQs. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding something?

And, if I’ve understood correctly, nikkud is a basically a crutch for non-native speakers to learn Hebrew, is that correct? Newspapers, books, etc. for literate adults in Israel don’t use it?

As I understand it, traditionally nikkud was used in religious texts, although it didn’t prevent distinct Ashkenaz, Sephardic, Moroccan, Yemenite pronunciations from developing. Today newspapers generally don’t use nikkud. In books, there can be an occasional word where it is added, either to aid with the pronunciation of a foreign word or distinguish which Hebrew word is being used. Usually it doesn’t happen more than a couple of times per chapter. Just often enough to mess up my lingq statistics.
I have no idea why lingq can’t handle it, there are a few diacritics in Arabic that lingq can’t handle either. One would probably have to ask the software guys.

Hmm? William Congreve was playing with rockets in the early 1800s. Do you have an example of the second usage?

Given the peculiar way in which Hebrew was revitalized, a rather shocking story itself, in some cases there was progression, in others,where Brits might use a foreign word like Scimitar for a new IFV, someone decided tha at word for a specific type of priestly garb could be used for a new 1970s combat web gear.

As much as I like Lingq, and Steve as a language ambassador, the website is not without its flaws. Whether it’s no Hebrew nikkud, or some Chinese words being dead links, or the Arabic errors you mention (I can’t vouch for those, haven’t studied it), there are unfortunately some problems.
Also, remember that on this website Hebrew is listed as a Beta language still, so it admittedly has not been brought up to par with the others.

To the original poster:
Regarding the TTS, the problem is that Lingq derives its TTS from Google Translate. If you’ve tried Hebrew on GT, you’ll notice that it doesn’t give TTS either. For Hebrew I would recommend Forvo, however unfortunately this would only help you with one word at a time, and not a 9-word phrase that you highlight in Lingq.
Regarding learning with or without vowels, I am currently starting up on Rosetta Stone without vowels. I may be in a little different situation than you, however, as I already learned the basics and vowel system when I was around 5th grade and going to Hebrew School (religion, not so much the language). In RS I can switch between voweled and unvoweled instantly, though, so I can turn on the vowels just as a quick reference then flip back to unvoweled. The reason I am choosing to learn without vowels is because the professional material I will be applying my studies to for work, such as financial documents, bank statements, and news articles, will be written in Modern Hebrew and will not have the nikkud. I figured I would just throw myself into this style from the get-go so I won’t have to ween myself later.