Contributor, Hyperpolyglot

by rinaldi on 

October 4, 2018
Extinct Language that Got Revived - The Story
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Shalom aleykhem! שלום עליכם!
Greetings to our dearest Language Enthusiasts!

On Sunday, 23 September 2018, Polyglot Indonesia Jakarta Chapter arranged a meet-up titled “Extinct Language that Got Revived,” in which we talked about the most successful case of dead language revival, the Hebrew Language. This was the first ever Hebrew language meet-up in all chapters and we collaborated with Sapri Sale, a Modern Hebrew - Indonesian lexicographer and also a Hebrew language teacher and instructor. He has opened the first Modern Hebrew course class for public in Indonesia, located at the Indonesia Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP) building in Jakarta.

Sapri Sale is the writer of the first Hebrew-Indonesian dictionary titled “מילון הראשון” (Milon Harishon/The First Dictionary). He is an Arabic scholar who studied the subject at the famous Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. While studying, he developed an interest in Hebrew and decided to learn it in depth. Mr. Sale noticed that there was not yet a comprehensive Hebrew dictionary in his native language, so he decided to compile the first Hebrew - Indonesian dictionary, which he completed in ten years. His main intention is to introduce the Hebrew language to the Indonesian audience.

The meetup was opened by Fajar Triperdana, Polyglot Indonesia Jakarta Chapter's Regional Coordinator, who introduced the concept of dead language and language revival to our 51 participants of the day. Then, Mr. Sale took over with the explanation on how a language that have been considered extinct for more than 2000 years, save for some liturgical use, got revived. He further explained about the development of Hebrew from Biblical-Classical era up to the beginning of the 20th century, when Modern Hebrew was considered officially born. He also expressed some important reasons why we should learn Modern Hebrew in today's context. He then continued with introduction of Hebrew alphabets and several examples of basic Hebrew phrases. In this part, he addressed several similarities with those of Arabic, which to some extent is more familiar to Indonesian native speakers due to many loan words in Indonesian come from Arabic. Afterwards, Mr. Sale taught the basics of Modern Hebrew grammar. He mentioned that each noun (and therefore pronoun) in Hebrew has two genders, i.e. zakhar (masculine), and nekeva (feminine) and comes in singular or plural form. The use of nouns and pronouns in a sentence complies with this rule, hence Hebrew being a “gender-related” language.

In the second part of the meetup, each participant was given a sheet to practice writing Hebrew alphabets. Later on, the participants were challenged in two games, the first one is to write a transliteration of a sentence in Indonesian language and the second one is to write one's own complete name, both in Hebrew alphabets. The winners, Silviana Zahra and Muhammad Mahir Nayl Habib, were rewarded with a “Buku Percakapan Sehari-Hari Bahasa Ibrani” (Daily Conversations in Hebrew) written by Mr. Sale.

Next, comes the time for discussion and presentation. As the event’s title suggested, each language tables were asked to select and discuss an extinct language and present it in front of all other participants afterwards. English Tables presented about Mandar language from Sulawesi and Ancient Greek languages. French Table introduced us to Cia Cia language from Sulawesi. Spanish Table talked about Yaqui language from Mexíco. German Table explained about the extinct Gothic language. Dutch Table showed us Syriac language, a dialect of Aramaic language. Russian Table gave a short presentation on Sanskrit language. Arabic Table told us about Coptic language from Egypt. Korean Table depicted the interesting Manchu language from China. Japanese Table described about Okinawan language. Mandarin Chinese Table delivered a presentation on oracle bone scripture which was practiced in ancient China.

Thank you for Mr. Sapri Sale for the educative explanation about Hebrew language. Special thanks to Hoshino Tea Time and for the great venue! Thanks a lot, and hope to see you again on another Polyglot Indonesia Jakarta Chapter's meet-up! (For the photo documentation, please check our Facebook fan page album)

Toda raba u-le-hitra’ot!
תודה רבה ולהתראות!

About the author

As a naturally timid person, speaking to a stranger used to be a daunting task for Rinaldi. Yet as he is also curious and eager to make new friends, he realized that the key problem was communication. He needed the right tool, and he found it in foreign languages.

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