Lesson 12
Noun-Noun Phrases
סמיכות

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This format is a somewhat confusing one if you come across it without knowing what it is. Do you remember the word של? With this word, you can get the following phrases:

תוֹשָׁב של ג׳מייקה
resident of Jamaica

But של can also be omitted. And so you would get:

תושב ג׳מייקה
resident of Jamaica
Jamaican resident

The noun that would have been after של describes or modifies the first one, kind of functioning like an adjective. Unlike real adjectives, however, only the describing/modifying noun gets the prefix ה:

ראֹשׁ הַשָׁנָה
Rosh Hashana;
literally “The Head of the Year”;
the Jewish new year

Sometimes, the noun being modified undergoes a change. The form it takes is called the סְמִיכוּת form or the construct form in English.

Sometimes the vowels change:

בַּיִת של קָפֶה
בֵּית קָפֶה
coffee shop;
literally ‘house of coffee’ or ‘coffee house’

If the noun is feminine, singular and ends in ָה or ַה, then the ה becomes ת:

עוּגָה של תפוחים
עוּגָת תפוחים

תוֹרָה של מֹשֶׁה
תורת משה
the Law of Moses

And if it the noun is masculine and plural, thus ending in ים, the ending becomes ֵי:

תוֹשָׁבִים של ג׳מייקה
תוֹשָׁבֵי ג׳מייקה

בָּתִים של סֵפֶר
בּתֵי סֵפֶר
schools
literally, ‘book houses’

This picture from the cover of the Hebrew translation of a popular children’s book provides a good example of both ending-changes, and gives you a good look at stylised Hebrew script:


story

סִפּוּר (ז׳)

kingdom

מַמְלָכָה (נ׳)

Narnia

נָרנִיָה


I remember being thoroughly confused the first time I saw that.

Anyway, here is some more vocabulary that makes use of סמיכות:

Bethlehem; literally ‘House of Bread’

בֵּית לֶחֶם

apple juice

מִיץ תַפּוּחִים

school; literally, ‘book house’

בֵּית סֵפֶר

 

 

Using the following words (and using examples above as reference), make the following phrases in Hebrew:

juice

מִיץ (נ׳)

cake

עוּגָה (נ׳)

orange (the fruit)

תַפּוּז (ז׳)

letters; plural of אות

אוֹתיוֹת (נ׳)

verb

פֹּעַל (ז׳)

page

דַף (ז׳)


1. Orange juice

2. Apple cake

3. Hebrew letters (‘letters of Hebrew’)

4. Infinitive form of verbs (literally ‘name of verb’)

5. Homepage (web terminology; literally ‘page of [the] house’)


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