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Hebrew Words with External Origins: The Influence of Other Languages on Hebrew

Hebrew is a language with a rich and ancient history, but it has also been influenced by other languages over the centuries. In fact, many Hebrew words have surprising origins, reflecting the diverse cultural and linguistic influences that have shaped the language. This article will explore some of the most interesting examples of Hebrew words with surprising origins, and examine the ways in which other languages have influenced the evolution of Hebrew.



One of the most interesting examples of the influence of other languages on Hebrew is the incorporation of words from the Arabic language. This is particularly true of modern Hebrew, which has been shaped by the influence of Arabic-speaking communities in Israel and the surrounding region. Words like "shuk שוק" (market), "kibbutz קיבוץ" (communal settlement), and "kabab קבב" (kebab) are all examples of Hebrew words that have their origins in Arabic.


Arabic, affected Modern Hebrew

Another language that has had a significant impact on Hebrew is Yiddish. Yiddish is a Germanic language that was widely spoken by Ashkenazi Jews in Europe, and it has left a lasting imprint on the Hebrew language. Words like "chutzpah חוצפה" (nerve, audacity), "macher מאעכר" (a person who gets things done), and "oy vey אוי ויי" (oh no) are all examples of Yiddish words that have been incorporated into Hebrew.


The influence of English on Hebrew is another example of the way in which other languages have shaped the evolution of Hebrew. In recent years, English has become a dominant global language, and many English words and expressions have found their way into Hebrew. Words like "application אפליקציה," "internet אינטרנט," and "email אימייל" are all examples of English words that are now commonly used in Hebrew.


Finally, it is worth mentioning the influence of Greek on Hebrew. The Greek language has had a lasting impact on the Hebrew language, particularly in the realm of religious terminology. Words like "messiah משיח" (salvation) and "hallelujah הללויה" (praise the Lord) are examples of Greek words that have been incorporated into Hebrew.


Greece, affected Biblical Hebrew

In conclusion, the evolution of Hebrew has been shaped by the influence of many different languages over the centuries. From Arabic to Yiddish, English to Greek, the Hebrew language has absorbed words and expressions from other languages, creating a rich and diverse linguistic tapestry. These surprising origins of Hebrew words serve as a reminder of the fascinating cultural and linguistic influences that have shaped the language, and of the enduring power of language to connect and unite people across cultures and borders.

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