Hebrew 102: Vocab Memory Hooks

My last exam is tomorrow. It’s a Hebrew exam. Urgh. Here, in the hope that typing these makes them stick in my head. Are my vocab memory hooks. For the English speakers amongst us the italicised words represent the pronunciation of the Hebrew (approximately).

זקן = to be/grow old = when you’re old you need za cane to walk.
יכל = to be able = ye call an expert when you want to be able
ירא = to be afraid = I’m not agist, I’m just afraid of people from a different yira.
כבד = to be heavy/important = that is a very heavy and important cabed (cupboard)… maybe…
מלא = to be full with = the mail bag is full with letters
שכב = to lie down = they shackev up together.
דם = blood = Out damn spot.
יראה = fear, reverence = the old man grabbed that kid by the yira and put the fear of God into him.
כלי = vessel, utensil = I had a boat called Kelly, a good vessel.
למה = why? wherefore? = Why do llamas look so silly?
מה = what? = What is that in ma soup?
נאל = to redeem, protect = Boaz hit the na-al on the head when he redeemed Ruth.
שמח = to be glad = Sometimes when parents samach their children in public it makes me glad.
שלח = to stretch out = we stretched the other team’s defence and gave them a real shelaching.
שפך = to pour = I poured water on my computer, now she f#$ked (apparently the ruder the better, and I can’t get this one out of my head).
אף = nose = when I sneeze I go aph-choo
חיל = power, valour = Hitler was powerful so people had to say “hayil Hitler”
צאן = flock, sheep = Once we shear the sheep we can get some new clothes sown (sic)
קהל = assembly, congregation = We have to have our assembly in the qahall
אחר = other, another = I have another tooth acher
אל = No. = You can’t call me al
נא = particle of entreaty (now or please) = Do it na, please…
פן = lest = I take a pen everywhere, lest I think of something and forget it.
ידע = to know = when you know how something goes you go yada yada yada
שכן = to dwell = I wouldn’t want to dwell near a chacane(sic) because people drive crazy through them
אדון = Lord, master = A good mafioso recognises A Don as master.
אהל = Tent = Camping is a taste of a hell.
בשת = shame, disgrace = that referee’s decision was absolutely bosh*t.
גוי = people, nation, gentile = It’s a joy to be a goy.
חשך = darkness, obscurity = The Darkness sound better on Cashek.
צרה = distress, strait = I need something for this one “tsara
שפה = lip, edge = and this one “sapha“…
כמו = like = when you’re in camo you look like a tree.
קדשׁ = holy, sacred, sanctuary = qadosh (again, I’ve got nothing…)
זבח = to slaughter, kill = Zavach is the sound a knife makes hitting bone.
חדל = to cease, leave off = he was going fast, but then ha dalled it back down to one…
חטא = to sin, miss the mark = he did the wrong thing, so he got a cata on his arm.
חפץ = to delight, have pleasure in = I delight in cafetz, a cafe for pets.
צעק = to cry out = If Graeme Kennedy had cried out “tsaak” instead he wouldn’t have been in trouble…
זבח = sacrifice = zebach.
חטאת = sin = If you sin you get the catath nine-tails.
מזבח = altar = mizbech
צדקה = righteousness = zedecha, I remember this one because Melchizedek was the king of righteousness.
אכל = to eat, consume = when you eat a tic tac you eat a calorie
יצא = to go out, come out = yatsa, yahtzee for people who go out…
נסע = to journey, travel = Nasa travels to the moon.
נשא = to lift up, carry = The other Nasa, we have lift up…
רדף = to pursue = Walker, Texas Ranger, rad off after some guys on a horse.
שאל = to ask = Nobody asks for sal-ad.
שכח = to forget = If you shake a baby they’ll forget everything they know.
תפש = to grasp, sieze = I like to grasp as many tapas as possible when the tray comes around.
הק = statute = there’s a statute somewhere that says you have to drink coke
משׁפט = judgment = mishpat
נפשׁ = life, living being = nephesh
איה = where? = Where the hell are ay?
עוד = still, yet = odie the dog never stays still.
בחן = to examine = bachan
ברא = to create = I created a story about the barra I caught.
משׁח = to annoint, smear (related to messiah) = I smeared peanut butter all over the bench and made a messach
עזב = to leave, forsake = azav
אמת = truth = emmeth
חן = favour, grace = The teacher showed me grace by not giving me the cane
מנחה = gift = Some body gave me a minka coat. I said I don’t wear whale.
עולם = forever = the guys from Prison Break were on the o-lam forever.
עון = iniquity, guilt, punishment = my guilt is my aon.
שׁבת = sabbath = sabbath
אז = then, at that time = az soon as.
עד = until, up to = I like to fast forward the programs until I get up to the ads
נלחם = to fight, do battle, rage war = nilcham
נמלט = to slip away, escape = If Ivan (ni)milat escapes he should be shot.
נסתר = to hide oneself = I’m (ni)star at hide and seek.
קרא = to call = qara
נשאר = to be left over, survivor (participle)
נשׁבע = to take an oath = I took an oath to shava my head
מועד = appointed time, season, meeting place = moed
נשׁיא = prince, chief = nisi
עדה = congregation = eda
עץ = tree = ets
שבט = rod, sceptre = you can take that rod and shevet
גם = also = gam
בקר = cattle = I like to cook cattle on the baqar beque
בקר = morning = Morning has boqer, like the first morning…
קץ = end, extremity = qets
שׁר = prince = sar
שׁרה = princess = sarah
בקש = to seek = baqesh
גדל = to be great = gadol
דבר = to speak = davar
הלל = to praise = halal
ספר = to count = saphar
קדש = to be holy = qadesh
אם = mother = em
רב = multitude = rov
תועבה = abomination, taboo = toeba
תמיד = continually = tamid

The St. Eutychus Guide to First Year Greek – Part One

I threatened to do this a while ago. I’m testing the theory that blogging is my learning language. So trying to rewrite the chapters of our textbook, and lectures, in a way that makes sense to me. I plan to one day write a book “The Stupid Greek Rules that Exist Just to Confuse  Students”. It will make me millions.

If you’d like to join in the fun – how bout suggesting some rude memory hooks for my vocab. The ruder they are, the easier they are to remember.

Amalgamation in the Future Tense

This rule is one of the first hurdles thrown in for beginner Greek students. The future tense in Greek chucks an σ (s) in the middle of a word, after the stem (the stem of a verb stays the same in any form of that verb, an English equivalent is loved, loving, loves, (I) love – the stem is lov). The σ, called a future time morpheme, doesn’t play nice with some other letters. It’s a bit racialist. It won’t hang out with a π (p), β (b), φ (f or ph) – if you try to make them hang out they get in a twist and become a ψ (ps). The σ is pickier still. It also doesn’t like κ (k), γ (g), or χ(x). With these bad boys the σ becomes a ξ (xs). There are some letters the σ won’t even get tangled up with. They just disappear. These are the τ (t), δ (d), and θ (th).

There are 24 letters in the greek alphabet and the σ won’t play nice with nine of them. It also has its own “special” form when it falls at the end of a word (ς).

The person number suffix and the disappearing ν

There are two Greek letters that look like English letters but sound nothing like them (or three if you think ω looks like a w). The ν is actually an n, and the ρ is an r.

The future time morpheme isn’t the only thing you chuck on a stem. There’s also the person-number suffix. Each verb comes with a built in person. Just in case you’re too lazy to write a noun. So “λυω” which means “I release”, has a built in “I” – a first person number suffix (ω). This suffix changes depending on whether the verb is plural or singular, and whether it’s first, second, or third person. You also, for the purpose of pronunciation (probably) and confusing poor students (definitely), chuck a vowel on the stem before the suffix. I’ll put a / in these examples to demonstrate where the stem ends and the suffix begins.


  • λυ/ω = first person, singular = I release
  • λυ/εις = second person, singular = you release
  • λυ/ει = third person, singular = he/she/it releases
  • λυ/ο/μεν = first person, plural = we release
  • λυ/ε/τε = second person, plural = you(se) release
  • λυ/ουσι(ν) = third person plural = they release

The ν on the end of the third person plural is a “movable ν” – it just disappears whenever it feels like it, or before any word that starts with a consonant. It’s like our indefinite article (“an” and “a”, though Greek does not have an indefinite article)

The built in noun works a little like this: νατηανοσ λυει translates “Nathan releases,” a sentence that just has the word λυει translates “he releases.” Or she, or it, depending on context. This becomes handy once you learn about nouns and their cases, because nouns can play different roles in a sentence and sometimes there’s a missing noun that you’ll find inside the verb (if the “nominative” case is missing).

Bonus basics

The way a verb functions can also be altered by the presence of a “negative” – in the indicative mood this will be either ου, ουκ (if the word comes before a word starting with a vowel), or ουχ (if the word comes before a vowel that has a rough breathing mark (a rough breathing mark makes a “h” sound so υπο with a rough breathing mark is pronounced “hupo”) so ουκ λυω is I do not release. ην is used in the non-indicative moods.
The question mark “;” changes the verb as well. So λυω; is “Do I release”…

Semantic Range

Greek words have a variety of meanings and can’t always be pinned down to a single English equivalent. It’s more helpful to think of them as describing concepts.

Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • αγω = (ago) I lead = Caesar was a leader from long αγω…
  • ακουω = (akou-o) I hear = This place as good ακουωstics
  • βαπτιζω = (Baptizo) I Baptise = speaks for itself…
  • βλεπω = (Blepo) I see = I see a βλεπω on the radar.
  • γραφω = (grapho) I write = I like to write in grids, like a γραφω
  • διδασκω = (didasko) I teach = Didactic
  • δοξαζω =  (doxazo) I glorify = Doxology
  • ετοιμαζω = (etoimazo) I prepare = When we have visitors I need to prepare by cleaning up m’ετοιμαζο (eh – toy – mess – oh). Or something.
  • εχω = (exo) I have = I have an εχωllent wife. If I make puns like this I may not any longer, then she’d be my εχο…
  • θεραπευω = (therapeu-o) I heal = Therapy
  • κηρυσσω = (Kerusso) I preach = Tom κηρυσσω preaches about Scientology.
  • λυω = (luo) I loose/release = Pilate released Barabbas in λυω Jesus
  • πειθω = (paytho*) I trust  = Never trust a Spaniard with a lisp, he will still your πειθωs.
  • πεμπω = (pempo) I send = Send him off with πεμπω and ceremony.
  • πιστευω =(pisteu-o) I believe = I would not believe it if you told me you πιστευω metres in the air.
  • σωζω = (sozo) I save = Pele shoots, but Jesus σωζω
  • ειμι = (amy*) I am = I’m me, I am.

ειμι and πειθω contain a dipthong – two vowels stuck together that make a single sound. The ει dipthong makes an “ay” sound. The other dipthongs make sounds like they do in English words, except for αυ (which makes an “ow” sound), the others make sound like the following: αι (aisle), οι (oil), υι (suite), , ευ (feud), and ου (soup)