should I take Russian or Ancient Hebrew next semester

pros: it’s cool. my friend might take the class with me
cons: it is hard and it is a modern spoken language so I will have to learn to read, write, speak and listen

pros: it’s cool. I already know Latin and Greek so I want to learn another ancient language. I only have to learn to read it.
cons: I don’t know what else I can read except the Bible. it might be harder since it is not indo-european.
who has experience with either of these?

I’ve taken Russian for a long time, I would vote for Russian. It’s a good basis for learning other slavic languages, like Polish, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, etc. Learning the cyrillic alphabet applies to many other languages.

Fluency in Russian is considered a marketable skill, and Russian history and politics is endlessly fascinating.

Are you sure the class is Classical/Biblical Hebrew, and not modern (Israeli) Hebrew?

I did three years of Russian in college, and they labored to instill some biblical Hebrew into me at religious school and for a little while, some stuck. I can’t really compare the experiences, as, obviously only one was voluntary.

Being able to read the new alphabet in either language is simple.

Aren’t you taking classes so you can find a decent job after you graduate?

Stop thinking about NOW, and decide which language to take based on how it’ll affect your future. Will it give you a leg up in the job market? Are you going for a hobby language? have
you plans to go to Israel and maybe converse with people there, in their modern Hebrew?

You’ve really given us too few clues to really answer your question. Try to think ahead and figure where your knowledge of languages will hopefully take you in 5 or 10 years time.

an seanchai

Don’t forget mysterious artifacts.

I guess really the language that would most improve me for the job market is Spanish, but I have no interest in learning it, partly just because of lingustiic reasons, and parly becuase I am racist. English in America goddamnit.

I already know Latin, Greek, and some German. I have no idea what job I will do, but that is not my concern in choosing the class. I am sure the class is ancient hebrew, because there is another class that is modern hebrew. I have no plans to go to Israel. If anywhere, I would like to go to Germany, just to improve my German.

Also next semester I’m taking German, Latin, and Greek (in Latin and Greek we only read) classes. For modern languages, I want to focus on improving my spoken German. So I don’t want to start Russian because that would maybe confuse me. I just want to learn another ancient language and Hebrew is the best choice. I would like to do Sanskrit, but sadly my school doesn’t offer that/

I studied German and Italian in university, with a minor in the former. I have my Latin final next week, and I enjoyed the course thoroughly. If you already have Greek and Latin down, unless you plan on being a theologian, I think you’d have more fun learning Russian, particularly if you don’t do it as a reading course.

I look forward to reading the thread you open three years from now wondering why you’re unable to find a job.

I am tired as fuck of everyone bagging on me about what job I am going to get with my major.

Relax. I was just kidding. I don’t particularly care what job you get when you graduate. But unless you’ve got a trust fund like my college roommate, you should be thinking about it (especially if you’re going to have student loans). The job market is tough; you’ll be competing against recent college grads here in America, as well as ones elsewhere in the world.

I have thought about that a lot. My major now is Latin/Ancient Greek. I like it so that is what I chose. As I go further with it, I continue to enjoy it. Getting a job is not at the top of my priorities list (although maybe it should be higher)

Anyway I’ve only 1 year left of college so it is too late to change my major now

Join the club! It’s hard doing anything related to the humanities when all of your parents’ semi-literate friends ride your ass about your music degree, and think the only merit to university is to learn computer programming and business. I no longer try to justify myself.

They’re no real difference between them. “Modern” Hebrew has a larger vocabulary and a broader variety of writing styles, but other than that, it’s the exact same language.

I would choose russian but that’s just because I always find Chekhov so whiny and I wonder if he’d be less irritating in the original russian.

Only if you want to shit indoors and eat regularly. And buy laser discs.


If you dig the ancient language thing, go with Hebrew. But then stick with it. Or stick with Russian. It is much better for you to take 3 semesters of a foreign language than one here, one there…cause face it, knowing “some” of a language and “some” of another language isn’t as great as knowing a “conversational” level of a language.

Can’t look for sites just now, so I can only speak for myself and every other single person I’ve known. Taking language classes in college will not result in fluency.

I agree that college classes should be practical, but in my dinky liberal arts school they also encouraged us to take classes on things we enjoyed, some eclectic stuff. And again, college classes (IME) will make conversation possible, and could help land a job in that country, but fluency is impossible.

I decided to respond in this thread when I read this bit here. I studied German throughout high school, and dove into Latin in college. I needed just one more class in German to complete my language requirement, so I took that.

Latin didn’t give me the vaunted extra understanding of Romance languages, cognates, etc., probably because I was lazy. Japanese was offered for the first time in my sophomore year. I took 3 semesters of Japanese, was probably near the top of my class (if only because so many people dropped out :smiley: ), got on the plane to Japan thinking I spoke like a native, and promptly had my ass handed to me. I couldn’t get past the first page of the placement test.

FTR, all that German I took throughout high school is long gone. As is the Latin. I am glad I took them, but they led to nothing. I stuck with Japanese, I do simultaneous interpretation in the medical field, and pretty much have my ass handed to me every day now, so I’m much more humble these days. :smiley: )

It sounds like you like German, and would like to go there. In my mind, there is NOTHING more fun than going to a country, experiencing the joy of understanding (even if only rudimentary) spoken and written words, and learning it as you live there. GO GO GO. You’ll soak the language up like a sponge. GO.

If you like languages, I predict that while you probably will confuse German and Russian if you take them both, but there are also ways that the languages complement each other, and people who love language enjoy these discoveries.

Just a point on the graph for ya.

There’s also some grammatical differences. For instance, in Biblical Hebrew, the “and”-prefix changes the tense of the verb it’s attached to. So yomer is “he will say”, whereas vayomer means “and he said”. Og only knows why.
Modern Hebrew they got rid of that complication. And or no and, it’s all the same.

Clearly. But, you can get an intermediate level of knowledge and supplement that with outside resources like TV, news, and speaking regularly with native speakers. It obviously depends on how much you put into it.

I took Russian in college and learned Biblical Hebrew on my own decades later. I had a lot more fun with the Hebrew and found it generally easier. For example, I found the alphabet easier because of the total lack of resemblance to the “normal” alphabet. I liked reading “backwards.” The vocabulary was more limited and therefore easier. And being a Bible-junkie, I’ve found it more useful and pertinent to my interests.