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I am trying to learn the Hebrew alphabet (that is, learn the basic letters and letter forms, including final forms). I am finding this much more difficult than it was to learn the Greek or Cyrillic alphabets, both of which I learned in an hour or two each several years ago. I had no trouble with learning both Greek uppercase and lowercase as well as final sigma. I am having difficulty with recognizing the differences between the Hebrew letters due to their similarities with each other and comparative lack of similarities with Roman, Greek, and Cyrillic letters. For example, kaf and nun, and he and het appear very similar, and I have looked at an unfamiliar letter and thought "This looks like a...square? I guess that's why they call it 'Square Script', because all the letters are squares!"

How can I learn to recognize and write all of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet? At this point, I am not dealing with vocabulary, grammar, or vowelization at all - just learning the alphabet and the basics of sounding out the consonants.

I have considered starting with the Paleo-Hebrew/Phoenician alphabet, whose letters are much more obviously related to Greek and Roman ones, and then moving "forward" to the current Hebrew forms, but I am concerned that that would simply delay the inevitable and that it would not actually make learning the current Hebrew letters any easier.

I do recognize Hebrew shin and tsade as obviously related to their Cyrillic counterparts.

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Practice writing the Hebrew letters and sample Hebrew words. When you know how to write the letters, the motoric memory helps you also in recognition of the written or printed letters.

  • Thanks. I've been using the Android app "Write it! Hebrew" and am making much faster progress. – Robert Columbia Jul 16 '17 at 11:28
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Read aloud and do so often. If you're in an environment where you can encounter Hebrew now and again, keep your eyes peeled. (I wonder if Google Maps street view would help if you're not.) And look for words whose pronunciation you already know. I remember, for example, how many English words were transcribed in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Can you recognize ספגטי ? (An English word spotted in a restaurant.) Piecing together things like that was very helpful for me: it became a useful game.

@jknappen's suggestion of writing it is also good. Write short sentences or rhymes or key vocabulary using the words you've learned. Write out ספגטי and other words where you already know the sound you're trying to get down. Early in my learning (about a week in), I set myself the task of writing every name I could remember from the game Morrowind in Hebrew characters. When I felt more sure of my accuracy, I asked my roommates if I could write their names in Hebrew on sticky notes and put them on their room doors to see it every time I passed. :)

The way to learn a script, like any aspect of language, isn't to memorize the forms and distinguish the tiny things that separate shapes, like fixating on the rounded character of resh vs. the squarer daled with its "serif" at top right. Instead, it's to associate some meaning with the forms. Put them to some purpose and your brain will begin to treat the minute details as significant for you.

  • For ספגטי, let me guess, "spaghetti"? – Robert Columbia Jul 9 '17 at 17:04
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    Exactly :) Use the same logic to write out other words you know and it might help. – Luke Sawczak Jul 9 '17 at 17:58
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Have you tried reverse engineering to your solution?

Perhaps first familiarize yourself with the basic Hebrew words, learn them, in order to get a better idea of the alphabets and their place in the language? You could easily learn most of the common words and phrases with simple flashcard apps like Hebrew Locker or Beginner Hebrew

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.shex.beginnerhebrew https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.shex.hebrewlocker

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Firstly, there are 2 types of fonts. The "square" one mentioned is the sort of more "literature" type. This one is used to teach young kids initially. Second, there is the more "rounded" font which is the actual one used. I would recommend learning words rather than the alphabet characters. Once you understand words, the letters make more sense and you can better remember them since you have context. You should probably realize also some nuances as there are punctuation marks. Bottom line, try concentrating on learning the language as just the alphabet will be hard to memorize.

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