Israeli people speak Hebrew. The written Hebrew language is difficult for most casual English observers to understand. The characters are different from the standard English alphabet, with symbols based on a script that dates back to the 11th century B.C. However, writing common Hebrew words and phrases in English characters can help with pronunciation and understanding. Prepare a few choice words and phrases before visiting Israel. While many locals have a good grasp of English, it's polite and respectful to learn even a few words of the local language.
Use "chaver" to refer to a male friend. Pronounce "chaver" "shah-vehr." If speaking about a group of male friends, or a mixed gender group, say "chaverim," pronounced "shah-ver-im." Say "shalom chaverim" to greet a group of people, as this means "hello friends."
Refer to a female friend as "chaverah," pronounced "shah-ver-ah." When you're talking about a group of female friends, use "chaverot," pronounced "shah-ver-oh."
Greet a friend or acquaintance with the phrase "alo haver." This is an informal way of saying "hello, friend" in Hebrew.
Try saying "ata medaber Anglit?" if you can't remember a particular Hebrew word or can't follow a conversation. It means, "Do you speak English?"
Tips & Warnings
- Hebrew contains a sound not common in the English language. The letters "ch" or "kh" are pronounced much like the "ch" in Bach or loch. If in doubt, using an English "h" sound is close enough.
- Photo Credit Sea beach i Israel image by Pavel Bernshtam from Fotolia.com