Friday, March 13, 2009

Hebrew Mnemonics

As I've been learning Hebrew over the past semesters, the discouraging lack of cognates with English has made Hebrew vocabulary much more difficult to learn than Greek vocabulary. Most of the other students in my classes have experienced the same difficulty, and I suspect many others who weren't in my classes have, too. I was amused almost daily by the creativity of the students' methods of remembering these words.

In order to preserve some of the best mnemonics, I typed some of them up, using mostly the ones that worked best (or were the funniest) for me or for my friends. Since I began working on collecting as many as I can, I've found this site by Ghil'ad Zuckermann, an Associate Professor in the field at Cambridge, which contains a short but helpful list of nice, quirky mnemonics, but for apparently modern Hebrew.

My goal is to have a catchy mnemonic for every word that occurs in the Hebrew Bible 50 times or more, so, on to the reason for this post:
if you are taking or have taken Hebrew and have a great mnemonic for a vocabulary item, put it in the comments. I'll collect them and send all of the contributors a copy. I'm working through them in order of frequency, and I've got about 80 solid mnemonics. Send away!


francisoreilly said...

You may be interested to know of the following mnemonic-related resource: is a free website devoted to making it easier to learn basic foreign language vocabulary using mnemonics. We don't currently cover Hebrew, but we may do if the demand is there. Otherwise, you may be interested in the resource for the other languages it supports.

About a hundred items are available for each of five major languages, each one with a mnemonic already provided (most actually have more than one so you can choose what suits you best), or you can create your own mnemonics.

A learning/self-testing algorithm uses spaced repetition to prioritize your learning effort.

All the best

Francis -

chrisrainey said...

Thanks for the comments on my blog. I learn a lot reading yours. I am in Greek right now and enjoy it, but Hebrew is going to be a beast from what I hear. Hope you and the family are doing well over in Louisville.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I don't know if you're still collecting these, but I'd be interested in having a copy of what you came up with. I'm a Hebrew seminary student at Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA and struggling to learn the vocabulary...I would appreciate any and all help I can find!! Thank you so much!!! :) Krista

Morah Ivrit said...

It doesn't appear that you are active on this google page anymore, but I am creating my own Hebrew mnemonics, and have several. I would like to know yours that you developed, too. I am teaching Hebrew using the First Hebrew Primer.
check out my webpage:, which is just brand new.

kelevgadol said...

I have over a hundred hebrew mnemonics but my best ones are on youtube.

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