July 5, 2013 | Yiddish
I need to learn the Yiddish/Hebrew alphabet better.
I spent quite a bit of time on the Hebrew alphabet when I was studying Hebrew a year and a half ago, but I never got all that comfortable with it. There were a couple of issues.
This Hebrew Book Would Have Taught Me Cursive, But I Didn’t Get to It. Now I Am Taking Action.
First, I never learned cursive. I was subsequently informed that that is the only thing people in Israel use, and that there was no need to learn printing. Well, I studied printing, not cursive, and I couldn’t read the cursive.
Second, the vocabulary was unfamiliar, and the vowels weren’t written. That made learning to read more difficult. Since I might not necessarily even know the Hebrew word and its meaning in real life, how to know what I was looking at, vowelless and all, when I saw it on the page?
The situation with Yiddish is very, very different. According to Lily Kahn in Colloquial Yiddish, “The Yiddish alphabet is almost completely phonetic: each letter has only one sound, and each sound has only one letter (or specific combination of letters). The only exception to this is words deriving from the loshn-koydesh component of the language, which are written in the same way as in Hebrew and Aramaic…”
From ‘Colloquial Yiddish’: I Can Sound This Stuff Out, But It Takes Me Forever
Because so many Yiddish words are Germanic, and because there are a lot more vowels floating around than there were with Hebrew, my alphabet-learning life is now massively easier. I can read the first few letters of a Yiddish word (say, מענ, or m-e-n) and guess what word is coming (מענטש, or mentsh, meaning “person”). I can then read the Hebrew script through to the end to reinforce my grasp of the letters.
Therefore, I am growing comfortable with Yiddish writing at a much faster rate than I did Hebrew. However, I want to do better. I find it hard to learn alphabets well with books, and I have realized that games and quizzes are often more efficient, not to mention fun, ways to learn this kind of thing.
So I searched the web for Yiddish alphabet games. There appear to be more for Hebrew than for Yiddish. I did like Quizlet’s tools reasonably well.
Try Quizlet’s Yiddish Alphabet Test!
A Timed Game to Reinforce the Yiddish Letters
I believe the content on that site is actually user-contributed, and I think I noticed mistakes in the Hebrew and Yiddish alphabet material. I still learned a lot; just be careful.
It occurs to me that online games for other unfamiliar alphabets might be helpful to many adults. I will look into this more for other languages once I finish this Yiddish unit.