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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • by ziggy (25) on 2002.07.02 8:43 (#10161) Journal
    I think it's easier to learn Hebrew first. Learning Yiddish first is like learning calculus by skipping algebra altogether.

    Any good introductory text will have a few chapters on learning the alphabet. It's actually reasonably simple to learn the Hebrew alphabet, because it's all phonetic. There are only a few exceptions to the pronunciation in [Sephardic] Hebrew. Also, spelling is very regular and almost algebraic enough to be mechanical in some cases, without losing a sense of poetry. Modern Hebrew is also comprised of many small, regularly formed words. Biblical Hebrew on the other hand uses lots of long-strings-of-characters-with-unknown-derivation. :-)

    Yiddish is interesting for more of the socio-cultural reasons. Once you've got the hang of the Hebrew alphabet, then it's easier to pick up the phonemes that differ in Yiddish. (It's basically applying the Germanic pronunciation to certain instances of non-Hebraic lexemes.)

    • I think it's easier to learn Hebrew first. Learning Yiddish first is like learning calculus by skipping algebra altogether.

      But learning Hebrew in order to learn Yiddish sounds really the long way around. I mean, Yiddish borrows a lot of nouns from Hebrew, but I don't see how one would have to know all the scary details of the Hebrew's morphology and syntax, to say nothing of its kooky vowel-marking system.

      • I don't see how one would have to know all the scary details of the Hebrew's morphology and syntax, to say nothing of its kooky vowel-marking system.

        I believe that Yiddish does use Hebrew vowels. It also adds some vowels of its own I think (using Hebrew consonants to mimic the Germanic spelling or something).

        The usage of vowels is so regular in Hebrew that it's possible to ignore (once you know what vowels are typically used where), and the redundancy tends not to be necessary once you've got a firm

        • I believe that Yiddish does use Hebrew vowels

          Not [salon.com] really. [yivoinstitute.org]

          In fact, the only vowel pointing in the system is the squiggle under the alef to distinguish it from a silent (word-initial) alef. YIVO says to use one squiggle to show it's an  /o/ and another to show it's a  /a/, but apparently some people [amazon.com] don't distinguish those vowels at all. (Incidentally, merging those two vowels is actually relatively common in Germanic languages, I think.)

          • Cool. Guess it is simpler than I had thought. It's been a while since I attempted to read Yiddish, and I thought I saw some more vowels than just the kametz and patach under the Aleph. Typically, the letter vav is used as a pseudo-silent letter to produce the vowels "oh" and "oo", but it is really one of the letters that is used for a "v" consonant. Interesting that Yiddish switches this to emphasize the common use. (This explains why written Modern Hebrew (without vowels) uses the double-vov to indica