Arabic Hebrew: An introduction to how modern Israelis really speak


Join me on Sunday, February 19, 2017  2:30 pm, at Congregation Emanu-El synagogue, Victoria, B.C., for the second talk in its series Sketches of Israel and the Middle East, when I address the topic Arabic Hebrew: An Introduction to How Modern Israelis Really Speak.

(Can’t make it that day? State your interest in attending the talk on another occasion (and preferred day and time) in our online poll.

Modern Hebrew bears a resemblance to biblical Hebrew similar to that of modern English to Shakespeare. Today’s Israelis can read and understand most or all of biblical Hebrew (depending on the text) but modern Hebrew has added extra “storeys”: some are imports from European languages (such as informatziah, qonteqst, alternativah) and form part of official, written Hebrew, but others, from the local Arabic, are informal. This “Arabic-Hebrew” has become such an integral part of everyday speech that most Israelis are unaware that many words they commonly use are Arabic. Anyone seeking to gain a true knowledge of modern spoken Hebrew, or to understand Israelis when they’re speaking, must acquaint themselves with this side of Hebrew that does not appear in any siddur or even in Hebrew language textbooks.

In this talk Jonathan will review the most common Arabic Hebrew terms, their meanings, origins, and uses in everyday language. Email Heshi at if you have any questions.  Entry is by donation; light refreshments will be served.

Note: To avoid disturbing the Fiddler on the Roof rehearsals taking place in the annex that same afternoon, please access via the Sanctuary entrance, not that of the annex.

3 thoughts on “Arabic Hebrew: An introduction to how modern Israelis really speak

  1. In a more perfect world I’d be there in the audience, feasting on every word. (and wondering slyly whether anyone guesses my identity. ) The post doesn’t mention the continent for this happening, so I got bids from El Al for all seven, just in case.
    Sincere hopes for an attentive crowd, riveting follow-up discussion, and tasy snacks/ JS


  2. Pingback: Nice try—but (alas) no nargillah | Notes by Autumn Light

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