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50 shades of... roots?

Week 16, Episode 31

Since there are no separate letters to indicate vowels in Hebrew, and the signs of niqqud are usually dropped most of the time, the reading becomes mind reading for you have to guess from the context what the author means.

Like, if I have no vowels and write "bk", you may understand it as "book", "bike", "beak", or even "bake", so the only way for you to get the meaning is to guess it from the context I provide, for example: "Th bk hs 40 pgs." How about now? "The book has 40 pages." You got it!

But Hebrew goes deeper into telepathic abilities of one who dares to use it. The language really challenges you to get to the root of things. And I mean—root. As in Greek, words in Hebrew are not just sets of symbols to indicate things or actions, rather they bare deep meanings that these symbols represent.

Actually, every letter has a story behind it, and when combined their story becomes even more elaborate. Take a look at which idea is integrated into each letter of the Hebrew "aleph beit":

When in Hebrew two letters (initially, pictographs) are put together, a Parent Root word is formed. Take the letter "ב" (Bbeyt, a house), combine with "נ" (Nnun, a seed which continues the next generation), and the Parent Root (BeN) is formed. The two letters of this root have the combined meaning of the "house continues" which is usually translated as "son", the one who continues the house to the next generation. Now you see what I mean?

There are also Child Roots formed by adding one of the letters to the front, middle or end of the Parent Root and directly related in meaning to the Parent Root. An Adopted Root is a three consonant root consisting of three strong consonants. These roots are not part of the original parent/child root system of the Semitic language but were evolved out of it over time or were introduced from a non-Semitic language. 

And like this, the vast majority of words in the Hebrew language can be boiled down to a three-consonant root word (rarely 4, more rarely 2) that contains the essence of the word's meaning. Check out how it works for "walk", for example:

Notice that the letter "kaph" is written as ך when at the end of a word and as כ everywhere else.

Another example: When פ and ר are combined with a third letter to form a root, we have the idea of an entity that was whole and has disintegrated into many parts. Something that was in order and was transformed into disarray. It has become part of a whole that has become separate. The following examples of Hebrew roots should demonstrate this (don't forget to read—or observe :)—Hebrew words from right to left):

פרא – Generates an adjective that implies wild, savage, out of order.

פרד – Generates words that mean to separate or to depart.

פרה – Is the source of words meaning to become fruitful or pregnant (one made into two that eventually separate).

פרז – Generates words that mean excessive and over-flowing, as well as adjectives that describe a city with no boundaries (no dividing wall).

פרת – Means to give details but also to change a bank note into small coins.

פרם – Means to take apart (a cloth).

פרש – Means to slice into many parts (like slicing bread). It also means to separate from (as from a company or group).

פרע – Means to inflict disorder or chaos.

פרץ – Means to break into (like in a burglary) and also to make a dent or a hole (in a wall).

פרכ – This root means to dismantle.

רפא – Has the meaning of putting something which was out of order, into order – to cure. (This is the reverse of words that begin with פר).

Do you notice the shades of meanings? Do you see how knowing the initial idea behind the letters and roots they form help you categorize the words? Do you feel your mind-reading superpower already? :)

I hope now you have a vision of the Hbrw lngg :) Without any vowels but with ancient stories the letters and their combinations can tell, you get the language where with some practice you develop a strong telepathic ability of guessing. :) 


.llr w wh thT

I wanted to say "That's how we roll." It obviously doesn't work with English :)

Now that we ressurected the dead, reloaded the matrix and experienced all 50 shades of roots, let's see how Hebrew survives in the modern world.

Sababa! (Sah-bah-bah) Awesome!

" Gourgeous article I am. Now me you like! "

Read more about Hebrew and other languages at

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