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August 2, 2015 / 17 Av, 5775
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In Hebrew: ‘My Name Is’

A daily dose of Hebrew.
My Name Is

קוֹרְאִים לִי… שְׁמִי… In English, we say, my name is… In Hebrew, we say that literally as well, with…שְׁמִי (if you say the long version, …הַשֵּׁם שֶׁלִּי, you’ve given yourself away as a foreigner).

You’d use …שמי in slightly formal settings or in a context where you’re trying to be polite. But if you’re meeting someone casually, it’s better to use the literal translation of (they) call me… – …קוֹרְאִים לִי.

Here’s an example of this phrase flipped as a question:

אֵיךְ קוֹרְאִים לָךְ? What’s your (a female’s) name? (literally, what do (they) call you?) You may know that the word קוראיםmeans not only calling, but also reading. That’s because once upon a time, when the vast majority of the world was illiterate, those who knew how to read would hold a text in their hands and call it out to the listening masses.

Case in point – קְרִיאַת הַתּוֹרָהthe reading of the Torah – where one person skilled in reading the non-vocalized Hebrew text inscribed on the Torah scroll, reads it out loud to the congregants.

To distinguish your more common reading to oneself from reading out loud for others, Modern Hebrew uses an active-causative הִפְעִיל verb for the latter: לְהַקְרִיא

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About the Author: Ami Steinberger is founder and director of Ulpan La-Inyan.

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