There’s More to Language Than Input and Output

4 min read
Danielle Tourgeman, Citizen Café Hebrew teacher
Danielle Tourgeman, Citizen Café Hebrew teacher

What is a ‘Language’? A technicality to set rules and define terms? A way to communicate and convey emotion? Maybe the two are intertwined.
I wonder where the world would be today without the evolution of spoken languages.
How would you describe a language without using one? These questions remain relevant throughout time. It’s a beautiful mystery :).
Let’s address these topics while referencing the Hebrew language’s specific purpose and evolution.

Language is (not just) a way to communicate with others

“Language is a structured system of communication…”(Wikipedia). According to this definition – a language is a tool. It is a technical formality to ensure order and enable life in a group to flow smoothly. It’s a phenomenon that occurs between humans, meaning the primary need for it was humans being social creatures, needing to share experiences, and grow together. Indeed, behind the language’s technical form that enables order and prosperity, lies the even deeper need – to come together.
Fun Hebrew treat: teek-shoh-reht תִקשוֹרֵת (communication)

Language also allows us to think and reflect on our own thoughts

This brings us to the next development – once the concept of language emerged, it could be applied in an internal way. And maybe that’s actually where it was born. The inner talk is enigmatic – what goes on in one’s mind? what does it sound like? Music, art, poetry, psychology, and more evolve through words, so we can see that language exists also inside the mind and heart. There too, is a need to understand and reflect. Another purpose of a language is to carry and express emotions, making one’s body and soul harmony, rather than a one-note song.
Fun Hebrew treat: lahch-shohv לָחשוֹב (to think)

The language of creation

“The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind” (Bob Dylan). One epic line out of many that shaped my entire perspective on life, a few words are connecting so many people. What words surround you? Have they changed over the years? language changes with us and because of us, and was always embraced by artists maybe because the process of creation involves expression and communication! It’s a personal yet approachable frame to convey an outlook and evoke inspiration. In some cultures including Judaism, it’s said that the world was created with a word – transforming nothing into something, creating a reality from thin air, which is exactly what artists and poets try to do.
Fun Hebrew treat: sheer שִיר (a song/a poem)

Language is an important tool for learning and understanding the world around us

The world is a big, ever-progressing place, filled with people and cultures. Each society has its own set of unwritten rules – how to go from A to B, where to look for a house, how to talk in a job interview, and more. You need to know how to speak, to who, and when, if only to get yourself to work and back. Language allows us to understand the world, and harness the true feeling of belonging to something, to somewhere. It helps us move in the world – our personal one, and the vast one we are a part of.
Fun Hebrew treat: leel-mohd לִלמוֹד (to study, to learn)

Learning Hebrew is one of the best ways to learn Israeli culture

Taking a cultural perspective, we can go back to the origins of the Hebrew language. Originating as a purely religious dialect, Hebrew has evolved into a modern powerhouse. It merges the old and new, and reflects the melting pot that is Israel. The best way to feel a part of a place is to speak its language, and meaning – understanding its codes and nuances. Learning Hebrew, may it be through Hebrew lessons, listening to Israeli music, or joining a community, is a fast ticket to a world that includes you. By speaking, listening, and playing, you become infused with Israeli culture. If you’ve spent a day in Israel you know that the Israelis are a community, with all its complexities and beauty. The door is open! All you have to do is walk in and say shah-lom שָלוֹם (Hello in modern Hebrew and also, peace).

Learning a language is a ride. There are ups and downs, and sometimes the destination is unknown. It’s important to find the best environment for this process. If learning everyday, useful Hebrew, led by top-quality facilitators in a fun and engaging class rings a bell for you, we invite you to join our classes at Citizen café! From beginners to fluent speakers, Our unique method uses real-life dialog and creative tools to get you comfortable with Hebrew among students from all over the globe.

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