Problems with Hebrew

Have you ever heard of the series on The History Channel called Ancient Aliens? Instead of taking this perfect opportunity to make fun of the eccentricity (at best) of the show’s postulations, I call attention to this:

A screenshot of Ancient Aliens‘s attempt at Hebrew.

In “Angels and Aliens”, episode 7 of season 2, the Hebrew word for “angel” is shown to viewers. When I first saw it, I at once felt a sort of pride at being able to pick up the mistake, and wonder at how it could possibly have made its way unto TV.

It’s not that surprising, though, once I think about it. Hebrew, unlike English, is written from right to left. The problem is, our Western operating systems (such as the ones the Ancient Aliens video editors most likely used) are not designed to handle text like that. So, if you don’t have the language pack installed, words that are typed in Hebrew often end up showing up in reverse. The word malach that Ancient Aliens wanted to show us should actually be written as:

It is sort of annoying, actually. When I was first learning Hebrew and printing out vocab words, I was learning some words backwards! Now, I know to save Hebrew as a pdf if I want to print from another computer.

If you don’t know Hebrew, like the makers of Ancient Aliens… you might be in for some trouble. I imagine some people might have ended up with some strange Hebrew tattoos because of this.

Scary.

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One Response to Problems with Hebrew

  1. read.robin says:

    Haha, probably! Like those stories you always hear of people getting tattoos in kanji that are actually just menu items.

    Like

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