Notes by Autumn Light

On Hebrew, English, translation, editing, and more—by Jonathan Orr-Stav

What are some misconceptions about the Hebrew language?

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(My answer to this question at Quora.com)

The biggest misconception, by far, is that it is written in the “Hebrew script”.

For the past 2500 years, it has been written most commonly in the Aramaic script (or a derivation thereof), following a controversial (and emotionally wrenching) decision by the Talmudic Sages, on practical graphical grounds, to abandon the true, original, Hebrew script that had been in use in Israel and Judea since the Exodus about 1550 BCE till the conquest of Judea around 575 BCE.

Because that decision was so controversial, it was buried in a comparatively obscure part of the Talmud, and the tracks covered up by changing the name of the script from ktav ashuri (“Assyrian Script”) to ktav meruba (“Square Script”). Within a couple of centuries, most people (including scholars) had forgotten or never knew that this was not the original script in which Hebrew had been written.

Given that that original Hebrew script was also not unique to the Israelites, but common to all Canaanite peoples, it follows that Hebrew is not really a script at all, but a language, which can be displayed in various forms.

This is Hebrew (a traditional-style Square Hebrew font [1]):

but so is this (a simulation of the original Old Hebrew script):

and this (Modern Hebrew cursive [2]):

and this (Hebrew in Morse code [3]):

Bear this in mind, next time you read amusing but nonsensical pontifications about the mystical significance of Hebrew characters, such as this one.

_________

References:

[1] פרויקט הפונטים

[2] 12 פונטים חינמיים בעברית — אות־אות־אות

[3]א. תקשורת בקוד מורס

What are some misconceptions about the Hebrew language?

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Author: יונתן אור-סתיו | Jonathan Orr-Stav

Hebrew-English translator, editor, author. מתרגם עברית–אנגלית, עורך באנגלית, וסופר.

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