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Thread: Need help creating Hebrew flash cards

  1. #1

    Default Need help creating Hebrew flash cards

    Hi, at the moment I'm trying to learn Hebrew.
    I tend to use very thorough flashcards for all my language learning, so I can learn to parse words on the spot.
    For example, the first vocab word in my textbook is אָב (father), so I want a set of flashcards with
    אָב - father, noun masculine singular absolute
    אָבִיו - his father, noun masculine singular construct 3ms
    אֲבֹתָם - their (m) fathers, noun masculine plural construct 3mp
    אָבוֹת - fathers, noun masculine plural absolute
    אָבִיהָ - her father, noun masculine singular construct 3fs etc

    I tried setting my search version to WTM, typing אב@* into the command line, and then generating a word list with "highlighted words from last query".
    This gives me a list of entries looking something like this:
    אָב@ncmsc+S3msExHxNxxRx 227
    אָב@ncmpc+S3mpExHxNxxRx 140
    אָב@ncmsc+S1csExHxNxxRx 131

    I can work with this, but is highly tedious to copy+paste each entry to get the actual wordform.

    Or if I go through the same process, but choose the WTT version when generating the word list, I get a list of entries which doesn't have the parsing code, but doesn't quite match the WTM, so I can't just copy the parsing codes over.
    They don't match because the WTT word list differentiates between words such as אָבֹת and אָבוֹת (a spelling variation which has no effect on the meaning or pronunciation) and between אָבִיו and וּלְאָבִיו (the latter of which simply has a preposition attached), where the WTM doesn't.

    I've tried searches such as (אב).!(*@אב@* *@P) but it's still not working.

    Please help. I've got BW9 if that effects anything.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004


    May I suggest doing something different with your flash cards. Rather than memorizing dozens of separate forms for each root word (lemma), depending on what prefixes or suffixes it may have, I would suggest that you memorize the root words (lemmas) such as "father" and then memorize the endings separately.
    E.g. the suffix for "his" has just a few forms, depending on what the last letter is of the lemma. You can easily recognize the suffix, even if you do not know the rule of what(vowel) points may precede it. The prefix "the" will be the letter h a few with different vowels, depending on the following letter (or dagesh). But if you have a prepositional prefix (e.g. B."in") and the definite article, the will h be omitted, and the vowel pointing will change. You do not want to imagine all the possible combinations of propositions with and without the article (prefixes) and all the singular and plural forms with all the personal suffixes for each word. Your list of flash cards will be unwieldy, and not as helpful as learning the suffixes and prefixes separately.
    I also don't think that you want a separate flash card for every different form of the verbs.
    So it really would be better to learn the suffixes and prefixes separately (maybe via a chart in a grammar book, or [for verbs] in the chart which comes with BW under the Hebrew Grammars). I would save the flash cards for the lemmas.
    My 2 cents' worth.
    Mark Eddy

  3. #3


    +1 for what Mark Eddy said - his "2 cents' worth" advise will save you hundreds of hours and thus thousands of dollars

    Learning all possible forms will take you literally forever. And you don't need it, really.

    Your goal is to read the Hebrew OT (I assume), and not write another new Hebrew book using ancient language off the top of your head. In other words, it's more about learning to recognize forms rather than learning to reproduce them. Surely, you might be asked to reproduce some common ones, but that will be manageable if you learn the rules (prefixes, suffixes, vowel changes, etc) + some exceptions.

    So I would suggest learning basic forms for both verbs and nouns and rules and some common exceptions and spend the rest of your time reading Hebrew OT.

    How many words are you going to learn actually, may I ask?
    Last edited by Rokas; 05-28-2015 at 03:51 AM.

  4. #4


    I've tried and failed the method you're both advocating. It's also the method the textbook suggests, but really doesn't work for me. What my method does is help me recognise the word-endings in the context of actual words. No, I don't need every single extant wordform, but I do need a lot more than just the lemma+paradigm table. Hebrew is my fifth language, so I'm pretty sure I know what works for me and what doesn't by now.

    I used this method for Greek as well. What it meant was I took a lot longer to get going, but now I can parse third declension nouns faster and more instinctually than my lecturer.
    My ultimate endgoal (probably unachievable without native speakers to practice with) is to speak Biblical Hebrew fluently. I expect my flashcard set to pan out at around 10,000 cards. I'm already at 2000, and that was by manually copying and pasting words. I've got the Anki app, so I don't need 10,000 physical flashcards, and it's not unwieldy to carry my phone around everywhere.

    Basically, all I need is a way to create a wordlist from the WTT version which discards any forms which have inseparable prepositions. Disregarding the difference between "holem" and "holem waw" in words where they are interchangeable would be a plus, but I don't think it's possible.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    hypershock, I was nodding my head in agreement with Rokas and Mark. But you help me realize that different people do have different learning styles, and it's clear that you know yours. I don't really have any advice for flashcards (not something that I've tried myself), but I just want to support you in your quest. It does sound like a lot of extra work, but apparently it's the method you need.

    As for speaking biblical Hebrew fluently, well.... You're right, that's going to be a very small language-group! I can see it as a means of immersing oneself in the linguistic culture of the biblical writers, but there might be unforeseen obstacles. Let me suggest a few points:

    • We don't really know how BH was pronounced. The Masoretic tradition represents the end of a long process of development and reflection, and it's practically certain that pronunciation in the age of, say, Ezra was different from that in the age of David. I only say this to suggest that no one today is likely to speak a Hebrew that would be perfectly recognizable to David or Moses.
    • The previous point about linguistic development over centuries holds true for certain points of grammar as well, and for vocabulary.
    • Speaking of which, the vocabulary of BH is limited to the life situations represented in the biblical books. You might become fluent in discussing certain matters, but not enough so as to get your adze repaired, or carry on a business conversation with a hypothetical dealer in fabric or cookware.
    • BH was not an isolated language. Canaanite, Phoenician, Moabite, and Ammonite (as represented by existing inscriptions and other texts) were closely related, if not in fact all dialects of one language. Once you've mastered biblical Hebrew, it would be worthwhile to study some in these other texts as well, so as to enrich the hypothetical conversations.

    An interesting idea!
    Last edited by DavidR; 05-29-2015 at 10:38 AM.
    David Rensberger
    Atlanta, Georgia

  6. #6


    I do have some hope... I know that plenty of Jewish children successfully pass the Torah memorisation aspect of their Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and some people successfully gain fluency in Quenya (Tolkien's Elvish conlang).

    Anyway, I'm looking for help to create my flashcards, not for a debate defending my memorisation methodology.

  7. #7


    Well, Hebrew is my seventh and what I do to "recognize word-endings in the context of actual words" is simply read, and read much. In my opinion, that would be the time better spent than simply reviewing multiple cards in Anki (I'm using it as well) containing the same endings - that would be redundant for me. But as David said, now I understand that we all have different learning styles - all the best for you!

    I personally am going for all Hebrew words having 16 or more occurrences in Hebrew OT - that's around 1800 words (or 3600 cards in Anki, for I am doing it both ways), which will cover approximately 95% of all word occurrences in Hebrew OT.

    Anyway, to answer your question, I don't think it's possible in BW9. I think there's a way to do that in BW10 (the new "forms" tab). You can hover over any word in the tagged text and that tab lists all different forms for you- which you can sort by frequency and export - see the screenshot.

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  8. #8


    Thanks Rokas. The "forms" tab looks like exactly what I need.
    I guess I have to upgrade now :S

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