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Where the Dotty Dagesh Appears
The "dagesh" is the dot sometimes found in Hebrew letters. This "dot" may be either a dagesh lene or dagesh forte. The dagesh lene may appear in six of the Hebrew consonants (if you need help learning the Hebrew alphabet, watch this video): bet, gimel, dalet, kaf, pe or tav (ת, פ, כ, ד, ב).

An easy and common way to remember these consonsonants is the acronym "BeGaD KeFaT," functioning similarly to the mnemonic device of "Roy G. Biv" to remember the colors of the rainbow.

The dagesh lene serves as a pronunciation cue — with the dagesh lene the pronunciation of the Hebrew consonant is "hard."

The dagesh forte doubles the consonant and may be placed in ANY consonant except the gutturals (alef, he, het, ayin or res). When the forte stands in a "BeGaD KeFaT" letter, it also "hardens" the pronunciation of that consonant.

Rules for the Dagesh - Simplified!
A "dot" in the middle of any letter OTHER than a "BeGaD KeFaT" letter MUST be a dagesh forte.  Things don't get complicated till we deal with the "forte." As stated above, a dagesh forte may stand in ANY consonant INCLUDING the "BeGaD KeFaT" letters (with the exception of the gutturals).


Instead of memorizing confusing rules about the dagesh lene and forte, REMEMBER THIS: a dagesh lene NEVER stands after a vowel! If there is a "dot" in a letter after a vowel it MUST be dagesh forte! 

Keeping the Lene and Forte Distinct in Your Memory
Keeping this ONE rule in mind will greatly reduce your confusion when you encounter the dagesh. But quite often students don't remember which dagesh is which dagesh. In other words, does the "forte" harden pronunciation or does the "lene" double the consonant's value or vice versa?


Here is an easy way to keep the dagesh lene and forte distinct in your mind and memory: associate and visualize the dagesh "lene" as being "lean" as in lean (sound-alike), hard muscle. This will "cue" your memory to harden the consonants in which the lene appears.


Associate and visualize the dagesh "forte" as being dual towered fort (sound-alike). A fort must have a door, I visualize the Hebrew "qames" (ָ) vowel as the door of the fort. This helps me to always remember that after a vowel, the dagesh MUST be a forte! Simple!

More Biblical Hebrew Memory Helps!
I hope this brief article on the dagesh forte and lene has helped you! For more powerful memory helps in learning Hebrew grammar and paradigms be sure to visit Biblical Hebrew Made Easy! Or visit my author homepage, Boost Your Memory!

 
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Hebrew Words — Why Vocabulary is Important
When it comes to learning a language, mastery of vocabulary, obviously, is necessary. The joy of reading a language is killed when you have to look up every word in the text.  I believe this is why so many students simply give up or grind through Hebrew just to pass so they never have to look at the language again.

When I interviewed Rev. Dr. Walter Maier III, Professor of Hebrew at Concordia Theological Seminary,  he stated that vocabulary is essential for learning Hebrew.  It is the foundational building block of learning Hebrew. Of course I agree. Interestingly he also stated that Hebrew grammar will fall into place once a certain level of mastery is gained over the vocabulary of Biblical Hebrew. What was not discussed in our interview was how many vocabulary words in Hebrew should the student have mastery over.

The Law of Diminishing Returns and 8,679 Words
The law of Diminishing Return states, "The tendency for a continuing application of effort or skill toward a particular project or goal to decline in effectiveness after a certain level of result has been achieved." and this is true for learning Biblical Hebrew vocabulary as well.

There are 419, 687 words in the Hebrew Old Testament text. Of those 419,687 words 8,679 are unique that compose the total usage of 419,687 words total. So the question is: How many of the 8,679 words do I need to have absolute mastery over to have competency in Biblical Hebrew? 

Of course "competency" is subjective, but if you wanted to recognize nearly 90% of all word occurrences in the Hebrew text the answer would be: 22% of the 8,679 words — that means you would need to know a mere 1,903 Hebrew vocabulary words. That is not an unrealistic amount of vocabulary to master in a year or less with dedication. But for some, this will seem daunting or not worth the investment of time and effort. If this is you, keep reading for the good news...

80% Recognition — Less is More
Keep the "Law of Diminishing Returns" in mind. The more Hebrew vocabulary you learn, the better. But at some point the returns diminish after a certain number of vocabulary words are memorized.

In my opinion, that magic number is: 641.

That is FAR less than 1,903, isn't it? In fact, that number seems entirely possible ot memorize. And guess what? With mastery of a mere 641 Hebrew words you will have OVER 80% recognition of Hebrew vocabulary in the Old Testament text! After learning 641 of the highest frequency the "law of diminishing" returns kicks in. That is good news for Hebrew students.


Start Learning Hebrew Vocabulary FAST
With Biblical Hebrew: The Complete System you will quickly learn over 500 high frequency words. In addition you will learn how to conquer the Hebrew paradigms using ancient memory techniques modified for today's student.

Visit us at Biblical Hebrew Made Easy! to learn more, or visit Blair Kasfeldt's webpage Boost Your Memory.

Blessings to you as you learn Biblical Hebrew!

 
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Learn Your A-B-C's
The first step in learning any language is to have mastery of the language's alphabet. The same hold true for Hebrew.

A simple and effective way to quickly memorize the Hebrew "alef-bet" is to put the alphabet to song.

Singing the alphabet is likely the way you first learned your English alphabet as a child. Putting the alphabet to melody is a simple "mnemonic" (memory help) to learn the alphabet by heart. The fact that you can likely still sing the alphabet song attests to the strength of this mnemonic. 

Visual / Audio Help in Learning the Hebrew Alphabet
Below you will find a video that will help you learn the Hebrew alphabet by putting the consonants of the Hebrew alphabet to song.  Simply listen to the song a few times and start singing along!

This will help you learn the sequential order of the Hebrew alphabet. Pay attention to the Hebrew characters as you watch and listen to the song.

Biblical Hebrew Vocabulary Helps
To learn Hebrew vocabulary and grammar quickly and easily, visit us on the web at Biblical Hebrew Made Easy! To see more works by author Blair Kasfeldt, visit his website, Boost Your Memory!