1. What language(s) and/or dialect(s) do(es) members of your culture speak? What is the most prominent or widely-spoken language in your culture today?
Jewish people in Israel speak some Hebrew but primarily use Yiddish, a combination of German and Hebrew developed by those who originated in Eastern Europe. Hasidic Jews in the United States speak English, as do some who live in Israel. In ancient times, Jews spoke Ladino and Arameic (from http://www.joi.org/qa/lang.shtml). For the following questions I have chosen Hebrew because it is the language used in scripture.
2. Give a brief historical overview from the origin of the language to today –
a. Hebrew originated as a written and spoken language in Jerusalem and there are writings from as early as 587 B.C.E.
b. Hebrew was known as a sacred language during biblical times. Hebrew experienced a revival in the early 1900s in Europe, mainly due to Eliezer ben Yehudah. Yehudah developed a modern Hebrew vocabulary that included a mix of old and new words. He is known as the “father of modern Hebrew”.
c. Hebrew today is mostly the same as the old biblical language. Is it widely-spoken in Israel by Jewish citizens. However, there is very little use of Hebrew as a spoken language outside of Israel. Many Jews in Europe, and some in Israel, use Yiddish or English to communicate on a daily basis.
d. Hebrew will not likely spread due to its connection to Jewish culture; however, as long as there are Jews in Israel and Europe, language will not be completely eliminated. It will likely remain in scripture forever.
Answers a-d are from http://www.myjewishlearning.com/culture/2/Languages/Hebrew.shtml?p=2
3. One interesting feature of Hebrew is that it is often written with no vowels. Our alphabet has 5 vowels, but Hebrew is normally ignores them. When vowels are written, they are under the letter that they correspond to; however, vowels are usually only used when someone is learning the language. The Torah does not have any vowels in the scripture. One other difference is that Hebrew is read and written from write to left; in English, we read and write left to right (from http://www.myjewishlearning.com/culture/2/Languages/Hebrew.shtml?p=1).
4. Much like English, Hebrew uses a standardized alphabet. English has 26 letters and Hebrew uses 22 (they do not have vowels). Hebrew has just one more consonant than English. The alphabet is called the “Aleph-bet”, very close to our English pronunciation. Aleph and bet are the first two letters in the Hebrew alphabet (from http://www.myjewishlearning.com/culture/2/Languages/Hebrew.shtml?p=1)
5. Choose TWO (2) of the following characteristics to post for your culture (or one or more of your culture’s native languages, if multiple languages are spoken).
a. The gesture in Star Trek of “live long and prosper” actually originated in Judaism. That hand gesture is similar to the Hebrew hand gesture of the letter “Shin”. This hand movement often symbolizes the name “Shaddai”, meaning “almighty” or “G-d” (from http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/06/the-iconic-live-long-and-prosper-hand-gesture-was-originally-a-jewish-sign/)
d. A slang term used in your culture –
– Hebrew word: tipesh
– In English, tipesh means “a silly or stupid male”.
– This word is usually used to describe someone rather than name calling. While it is slightly offensive, “tipesh” is just a relaxed way of saying somebody is a fool.
(above answers from http://www.ulpan.net/hebrew-slang-idiots)
– Tipesh, as with most Hebrew slang, comes from somewhat from Yiddish. The Yiddish word “tippish” means “typical” in English, which is where “tipesh” gets its root (from http://www.ehebrew.org/articles/hebrew-slang.php#.Uy39Fvk730Y).