Heth

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Heth
Phoenician Hebrew Aramaic Syriac Arabic
Heth ח Heth ܚ ح‍,ح
Alphabetic derivatives
Greek Latin Cyrillic
Η H И,Й
Phonemic representation: ħ / χ / x
Position in alphabet: 8
Numerical value: 8

Ḥet or H̱et (also spelled Khet, Kheth, Chet, Cheth, Het, or Heth) is the eighth letter of many Semitic abjads (alphabets), including Phoenician Phoenician heth.png, Syriac ܚ, Hebrew ח, Arabic ح. In Berber (a non-Semitic language) it is rendered as or Ḥ. Heth is usually represented in the Latin alphabet by .

Heth originally represented a voiceless fricative, either pharyngeal /ħ/, or velar /x/ (the two Proto-Semitic phonemes having merged in Canaanite). In Arabic, two corresponding letters were created for both phonemic sounds: unmodified ḥāʾ ح represents /ħ/, while ḫāʾ خ represents /x/.

In modern Israeli Hebrew, the historical phonemes of the letters Ḥet ח (/ħ/) and Khaf כ (/x/) merged, both becoming the voiceless uvular fricative ([χ]).

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Eta Η, Etruscan H 𐌇, Latin H and Cyrillic И. While H is a consonant in the Latin alphabet, the Greek and Cyrillic equivalents represent vowel sounds.

Origins[edit]

The letter shape ultimately goes back to a hieroglyph for "courtyard",

O6

(possibly named ḥasir in the Middle Bronze Age alphabets, while the name goes rather back to ḫayt, the name reconstructed for a letter derived from a hieroglyph for "thread",

V28

. In Arabic "thread" is خيط xajtˤ or xeːtˤ

The corresponding South Arabian letters are ḥ and ḫ , corresponding to Ge'ez Ḥauṭ ሐ and Ḫarm ኀ.

Hebrew Ḥet[edit]

Orthographic variants
Various Print Fonts Cursive
Hebrew
Rashi
Script
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
ח ח ח Hebrew letter Het handwriting.svg Hebrew letter Het Rashi.png

Hebrew spelling: חֵית

Pronunciation[edit]

In Modern Israeli Hebrew, the letter Ḥet usually has the sound value of a voiceless uvular fricative (/χ/), as in Ashkenazi Hebrew. In other phonologies, it is pronounced as a voiceless pharyngeal fricative (/ħ/) and is still among Mizrahim (especially among the older generation and popular Mizrahi singers), in accordance with oriental Jewish traditions.

The ability to pronounce the Arabic letter ḥāʾ (ح) correctly as a voiceless pharyngeal fricative /ħ/ is often used as a shibboleth to distinguish Arabic-speakers from non-Arabic-speakers; in particular, pronunciation of the letter as /x/ is seen as a hallmark of Ashkenazi Jews and Greeks.

Ḥet is one of the few Hebrew consonants that can take a vowel at the end of a word. This occurs when patach gnuva comes under the Ḥet at the end of the word. The combination is then pronounced /-aχ/ rather than /-χa/. For example: פתוח (/ˌpaˈtuaχ/), and תפוח (/ˌtaˈpuaχ/).

Variations[edit]

Ḥet, along with Aleph, Ayin, Resh, and He, cannot receive a dagesh. As pharyngeal fricatives are difficult for most English speakers to pronounce, loanwords are usually Anglicized to have /h/. Thus challah (חלה), pronounced by native Hebrew speakers as /χala/ or /ħala/ is pronounced /halə/ by most English speakers, who cannot often perceive the difference between [h] and [ħ].

Significance[edit]

In gematria, Ḥet represents the number eight.

In chat rooms, online forums, and social networking the letter Ḥet repeated (חחחחחחחחחח) denotes laughter, similar to the English LOL.

Arabic ḥāʾ[edit]

The letter is named حاء ḥāʾ and is the sixth letter of the alphabet. Its shape varies depending on its position in the word:


Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ح ـح ـحـ حـ

Pronunciation[edit]

In Arabic, the ḥāʾ is similar to the English H, but is much "raspier",[1] IPA: [ħ]~[ʜ].

In Persian, it is [h], exactly as .

Character encodings[edit]

Character ח ح ܚ
Unicode name HEBREW LETTER HET ARABIC LETTER HAH SYRIAC LETTER HETH SAMARITAN LETTER IT
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1495 U+05D7 1581 U+062D 1818 U+071A 2055 U+0807
UTF-8 215 151 D7 97 216 173 D8 AD 220 154 DC 9A 224 160 135 E0 A0 87
Numeric character reference ח ח ح ح ܚ ܚ ࠇ ࠇ
Character 𐎈 𐡇 𐤇
Unicode name UGARITIC LETTER HOTA IMPERIAL ARAMAIC LETTER HETH PHOENICIAN LETTER HET
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 66440 U+10388 67655 U+10847 67847 U+10907
UTF-8 240 144 142 136 F0 90 8E 88 240 144 161 135 F0 90 A1 87 240 144 164 135 F0 90 A4 87
UTF-16 55296 57224 D800 DF88 55298 56391 D802 DC47 55298 56583 D802 DD07
Numeric character reference 𐎈 𐎈 𐡇 𐡇 𐤇 𐤇

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bouchentouf, Amine (2006). Arabic for Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc. p. 15.