June 20, 2008


To avoid the problems of font and browser displays of the Hebrew alphabet, at times I'll opt for transliteration at this blog. But the characters of the actual Hebrew alphabet are only a click away.

Granted, transliteration can actually be a barrier to getting familiar with the Hebrew alphabet (which is why Cook and Dobson, among others, use only the Hebrew alphabet for Hebrew). But I've also found that in the beginning stages, transliteration is one helpful check on pronunciation and spelling.

My own transliteration scheme is simplistic and imprecise (which, in a way, is a good reminder that romanization is only an approximation of Hebrew sound--plus, of course, we don't know what Ancient Hebrew actually sounded like). For verses, I tend to use the transliteration from Sacred Texts, which appears to use ISO 259.

I've realized another benefit of transliteration: it makes the sounds of Hebrew feel more like words. That, of course, is purely my bias and limitation as someone whose native language and other languages I've studied use the Roman alphabet. But the danger in reading a non-native alphabet is that it feels like you're deciphering, not reading. Transliteration helps remind me that these are words and sentences, not just symbols.

PVP has a good transliteration table on the first page of the book; but here are some printable transliteration guides from other textbooks.

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