Yes, there is: it’s determined by the binyan (construction) of the verb.
There are seven binyanim, each with its characteristic pattern of vowels. Their names reflect the vowel pattern in the past tense (3rd person singular, masculine)—thus:
The appropriate binyan of a verb is determined by whether it is a simple verb, or one that refers to an action to or on something else; or a manipulation of an object or a person; or a continuous or repeating operation—or the passive corollary of any the above. (For more information on that, see my post on How do I know if a verb in hebrew is pa’al type, pi’el type, or other?)
[A2A] Fun exercise.
In biblical (Old Testament) times, the Canaanite alphabet was common to all Canaanite nations—from Moab and Edom in the southeast to Phoenicia in the northwest. The language was substantially the same, as well, throughout that period, with dialectal differences that widened over the centuries, so that by the time of the late First Temple period (750–580 BCE) mutual comprehension was only partial.
There are plenty of references to letter frequency in modern Hebrew (one good English-language one is Stefan Trost’s Character Frequency: Hebrew). However, although linguistically modern Hebrew is very similar to biblical Hebrew, it does contain many words of foreign origin, and tends to use ‘full spelling’ (i.e. use the letters vav and yod to indicate the vowels /o/u/ and /i/, respectively), which can skew the results somewhat.
So a better test would be a certified ancient text of sufficient length to be indicative.
The Mesha Stele—a commemoration by King Mesha of Moab of the liberation of his people from the “yoke” of Israelite rule—is a good candidate in that regard, as it dates to around 840 BCE, and is written in the Moabite language, in the Canaanite script (see right).
Yes. Call me pedantic, but…
- With the possible exception of greengrocers (who can’t help it, poor lambs), I avoid businesses that use apostrophes in plural forms (e.g. leaflet’s), or it’s when they mean its; or discrete when they mean discreet; or loose when they mean lose—particularly if it’s in posh marketing materials, and/or they charge a great deal. If their English is faulty, they may also be careless in their area of expertise, where I can’t spot the mistakes.
No—just as the works of Shakespeare or the King James Bible don’t represent the invention of English writing. A document of such seminal importance is never the first example of a new script, but on the contrary, evidence of a well-established one.
That is correct: curly quotes look too much like the Hebrew letter yod (י), so they are avoided, lest people confuse the two.
One of the recurring problems for ESL (English as a Second Language) learners and other non-native English speakers is what preposition to use with regard to location—specifically, in, at, or on.
This varies seemingly unpredictably, so that one says:
- in the room, but at the house, and on the street
- in Parliament, but at the Legislature.
(with thanks to Dahlia Beck)
You would think that one of Canada’s major banks would use someone who knows Hebrew to design the artwork aimed at its Jewish customers—or at least give the artwork to a Hebrew speaker before approval.