The Jewish Eye
Lonely Planet Hebrew Phrasebook
Lonely Planet Hebrew Phrasebook, 2nd Edition
with 3500-word two-way dictionary
By Klara Illana Wistinetzki and Justin Ben-Adam (Rudelson)
Lonely Planet Publications (2007)
Reviewed by Simone Bonim - February 13, 2009
Traveling to Israel for work or pleasure, but you don't speak Hebrew. Never fear. Just slip a copy of the Lonely Planet Hebrew Phrasebook in your purse or pocket, and you will be well prepared to meet your basic communication needs while in Israel.
The words and phrases in this handy phrasebook are organized into thematic sections making it easy to find the words you need in just about every situation from finding accommodations and touring the countryside to meeting specific needs such as visiting a doctor or dealing with an emergency situation. In addition to listing common words and phrases for situations such as sports, weather, telling time, buying souvenirs, eating out, using public transportation, and greeting people this phrase book also covers some unique situations such as looking for a job, information for gay and disabled travelers, phrases unique to film and TV crews, and a few religious prayers are also included.
In addition, a 3,500 word English-Hebrew, two-way dictionary is also included. Most important, all the words and phrases presented in this book are written in unvoweled Hebrew, English, and transliterated Hebrew (phonetic spelling) allowing you to sound like a native, even if you cannot read Hebrew. For those interested in learning a little bit about Hebrew, this pocket-sized phrasebook also includes a functional overview of the Hebrew alphabet and how the letters and vowels are pronounced. As well, there is a useful, and a surprisingly detailed (considering the size of the book) overview of Hebrew grammar that will allow you to construct sentences out of the common words contained in this phrasebook, and to understand the basic grammatical rules of Hebrew. Scattered throughout the phrasebook, you'll also find some interesting tidbits of information about Israeli history and culture. A few blank pages have also been included at the end of the phrasebook for taking notes.
Hebrew is a language in which most words take on either a male or female form. In most cases, the writers of this phrase book have used the passive form of words, making their use acceptable in all case, no matter who the speaker or subject of the phrase is. In cases where a passive form is not available, they have indicated both the masculine and feminine forms of the word, thereby helping you to avoid common, and sometimes hilarious, mistakes.
The Lonely Planet Hebrew Phrasebook is the best, and most comprehensive, pocket-sized Hebrew phrasebook that I've seen. Despite its small size the text is clear and easy to read, although those with 'older' eyes might want to carry along a pocket magnifier. The information presented in this phrasebook is intuitively organized and you should find it quite easy to locate the words and phrases you'll need, either via its thematic organization or by using the book's index. There is also a brief, two-page (pages 60-61) list of essential words and phrases in Arabic. There is also a brief 'Hebrew finder' that will allow your new Israeli friends to look up English words in your phrasebook. For its size, this is the best all-round Hebrew phrasebook that you are likely to find. I highly recommended it to those totally unfamiliar with Hebrew as well as those who have studied it a bit, but still might need a little extra language assistance while visiting Israel!
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