top of page


Linguistics: About

Here you can read my essay on vowel differences between different dialects in Hebrew, which I have been studying for over 8 years, which won me 1st place in a linguistics essay competition in the middle school division.

Linguistics: Text

Read my essay below!

            Hebrew has some of the most different dialects and variations, with changes present in almost every category of linguistics. Perhaps the most clearly audible change varying across these variants is the phonology, and how each letter, especially in the case of vowels, sounds. The three main categories of Hebrew discussed in this essay will be biblical Hebrew (its variations mainly being Ashkenazi and Sephardic, differing primarily based on location) and modern Hebrew (principally Israeli, but also other types seen not in religion but instead common speech).

             Ashkenazi Hebrew is the Hebrew spoken by the descendants of the Jews from Germany, especially Rhineland, whereas Sephardic Hebrew is spoken by descendants of the Jews from Spain, especially the Iberian Peninsula. Before this time, Hebrew was for the most part unified into one dialect. Though this was not a huge geographic gap, it created major differences in the phonology of Hebrew. The first main difference is in the Hebrew letter ת   , which creates a ‘t’ sound. In both dialects, if there is a dagesh, or a dot in the middle (תּ), then it makes a hard ‘t,’ but if there is not a dot (ת), then in Ashkenazi it makes a ‘s’ sound, while in Sephardic it still makes a ‘t' sound. Another major difference is that in vowels pronounced as ‘ah,’ ‘eh,’ and ‘oh’ in Sephardic Hebrew are pronounced more as ‘u,’ ‘ei,’ and ‘oi’ in Ashkenazi. These differences make a huge difference in how Hebrew is pronounced in more biblical Hebrew, and creates quite evident distinctions between the two main dialects.

             There are, in addition to this, many differences between biblical Hebrew as a whole and modern, mainly Israeli, Hebrew. Modern Hebrew is generally based off of Sephardic Hebrew, however, there are still some major differences between the two. The main difference here is that some vocabulary is either removed, added, or changed between the two different dialects. In addition, some words used in biblical Hebrew can have multifaceted meanings leading to large amounts of debate and discussion surrounding even one word. However, this rarely is present in modern Hebrew, similar to how there is not much discussion surrounding English words. One might compare this difference to the distinction between modern English and Shakespearean English – aside from a few vocabulary and grammar changes, the actual language is considerably  the same. Additionally, it is difficult to know how the words were pronounced prior to medieval times, so there may very much be differences of which nobody is aware.

             Overall, though Hebrew is by and large uniform in phonology, there are a few major differences between different older, more biblical, dialects of biblical Hebrew, and in fact some differences between biblical Hebrew and modern Hebrew as a whole. These differences show just how much a language can evolve, even if only being used for religion, and how important linguistics is in learning about an older culture and its development into a newer one.

Linguistics: Text
bottom of page