English – Hebrew Translation & Hebrew – English Translation

Hebrew (עִבְרִית), a Semitic language, is considered the language of the Jewish people. It is an official language in Israel (along with Arabic) where it is spoken by approximately 7 million people. There are around 200,000 native speakers of Hebrew in the USA, and a further 2.5 million non-native speakers. Hebrew is the origin of the Yiddish language spoken by many Jews mostly in Eastern Europe.

Classical Hebrew is a language of study and prayer for Jewish communities worldwide. Most of the Hebrew Bible (the Torah) is written in Classical Hebrew, and therefore Jews have referred to it as the Holy Language since ancient times. The word ‘Hebrew’ itself is derived from a name for the Jewish people. Ancient Hebrew names (e.g. Jacob, Joseph) and words (e.g. amen, hallelujah) have resisted translation and survived throughout the centuries.

Hebrew is one of the oldest languages in the world (the earliest examples of Hebrew writing have been traced back to between the tenth and eleventh centuries BC). It died out as a spoken language by around the third century AD (replaced by the closely related Aramaic), though continued to be used in its written form, particularly as the language of Judaism. It was revived as a spoken language in the late nineteenth century, when it was also modernised; new words and expressions were adapted from Hebrew writings or borrowed from Turkish, Arabic, Aramaic or Latin, e.g. ‘fun’ (כיף) from Arabic. New words were also coined from other European languages, including ‘DJ’ (דיג׳יי) from English and ‘rubber’ (גומי) from the German word ‘Gummi’. The revival of Modern Hebrew was spearheaded by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, who also compiled The Complete Dictionary of Ancient and Modern Hebrew.

Hebrew is written from right to left using the Hebrew alphabet, which contains 22 letters, all of which are consonants. Modern usage, however, indicates vowels. Romanisation of Hebrew occurs when the Latin alphabet is used to transliterate Hebrew. There are no official transliteration rules and the lack of equivalence between the two alphabets leads to significant variation.

Hebrew is regulated by the Academy of the Hebrew Language, set up by the Israeli government in 1953 as a supreme institution for scholarship on the Hebrew language, and replacing the Hebrew Language Committee founded in 1890. It creates new, Hebrew-derived words to replace loanwords and sets the standards for grammar, spelling, punctuation and transliteration.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between 1946 and 1948 near Qumran (about 1 km from the Dead Sea shore). These are a collection of 972 ancient Jewish texts from the Hebrew Bible, primarily written in Hebrew but also in Aramaic and Greek.

Business Language Services Ltd. (BLS) specialises in Hebrew translation Services (both English to Hebrew and Hebrew to English). We have a broad network of highly experienced, qualified professional Hebrew translators, who only translate into their mother tongue. What’s more, all our Hebrew translations are proofread by a second, independent linguist.

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