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I've just tried to make some improvements with Unicode. I don't speak Hebrew though and the English is not very clear in this article so I think I've made some mistakes which will need correcting, especially in the specific examples of one consonant plus one vowel.

I think the word "constat" used here should probably be "consonant" but "constant" seems to also be written. I didn't try to fix this. — Hippietrail 02:55, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)


It would be nice if there were some notes on how and why kamatz gadol and kamatz katan look the same but sound different, and maybe how to tell them apart. — Hippietrail 03:50, 27 Aug 2004 (UTC)

They can't be told apart because they look the same. However, there are some rules for knowing with is which; for example, if the letter following a kamatz has a sh'va nach under it, then it is always a kamatz katan. Jayjg 04:06, 27 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I thought about trying to explain the difference, but to be honest sometimes I don't know myself. I know that the general rule of thumb is that an open qames is always a qames gadhol, and a shut qames is always a qames qatan. But without additional nequddoth, it's sometimes hard to tell which is open and which is shut, outside of context. - Gilgamesh 09:48, 27 Aug 2004 (UTC)
According to Pratico and Van Pelt, the qamets hatuf occurs only in closed, unaccented syllables; whereas, the qamets gathol "prefers" open, pretonic or closed accented syllables. This does leave quite a bit of ambiguity, except where clarified with metheg. --Jonadab
From a purely phonological point of view, it should generally be impossible for a qamets to occur in a closed syllable, although the exception in Hebrew is with stressed syllables. This should apply to all long vowels. For this reason we are able to distinguish the qamets hatuf in positions where the syllable is closed and unstressed. Nonetheless, just as we may find a patah in an open syllable, it is impossible to distinguish but phonologically possible that qamets hatuf may exist in an open syllable (or stressed, I guess). I can't think of any examples for the moment, but I'm sure there are some. Thus the rule is only one way. Really if someone wants to know these sorts of details, Wikipedia shouldn't be their only source =). -- jnothman 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I keep thinking of more things (-:

  • The similarity and difference between the dagesh, mapiq, and the dot used with vav to form shureq.
  • How the sin dot and shin dot can coincide with a preceding or follow holem dot (or something similar - I may be wrong).
  • The fact that dagesh has two uses (forte and lene I think) but no need for detail here since it's covered in the dagesh article.
  • Why have the Unicode names been removed? For many involved with computers and internationalization but not Hebrew specifically, these will be the only names they are likely to see.
  • The fact that hateph segol/patah/qamesh are all varieties of sheva.
  • Literal translations of the names of each symbol.
  • How the vowel points from one word are combined with the consonants of another in holy books.

Hippietrail 12:35, 27 Aug 2004 (UTC)


  • Maqqef is probably worth discussing. --Jonadab
Removing the Unicode names was my oversight, as I more or less rewrote most of the article from scratch. Go ahead and add them if you think they're important. - Gilgamesh 04:30, 28 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Maybe the page should be structured so that there is first a table of vowel-length against vowel quality -- jnothman 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Transliteration vs. transcription[edit]

Greetings, I was wondering about the issue of transliteration vs. transcription. I am familiar with the IPA and was wondering if there is a system of Latin letters with diacritics that corresponds exactly with the IPA (eg. the letter "Sin" -in this article it is given a romanized version of "s" with a háček diacritic on top -like above the "a" in háček-. It then gives an IPA equivalent of unvoiced alveolar lateral fricative). Strictly speaking transliteration matches one to one to the original letter while transcription matches one to one with the pronunciation. While I understand in Biblical/Yemenite Hebrew there would be no difference because it is a phonetic alphabet; my question is concerning the romanization system itself. What is it and is it a system for transcription? I am also curious as to the source of information on the sound of "Sin" in Biblical Hebrew. I am searching for data on Yemenite Hebrew pronunciation, specifically the Sharabi "dialect". I have had a hard time getting data on Gimel with no dagesh, and very poor data on "Sin" (dot on left). WRITTEN BY: amatuer Hebrew student and creator of

Different people use different systems of transcription. In Biblical Hebrew, the system used in Gesenius' Grammar is probably fairly influential. He kindly doesn't document it for us, but examples can be seen at I know my teaching grammar (Pratico and Van Pelt) has documentation on the system it uses, even if it doesn't always agree with itself :).
-- TimNelson (talk) 00:04, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
You'll find the Israeli standard here. Less relevant for extinct forms of Hebrew, though. Dan 00:11, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Font/Browser problems[edit]

I am unable to verify that most of the markings are shown in the correct positions with Mozilla or IE. I've checked with Firefox under Gnome (Mandrake 9.2) as well as Moz 1.5 and IE 5.5 (under WinMe), and in all cases most of the marking appear in the next space over to the left, after the consonant they should be under. Konqueror does somewhat better, but how many people use that? I've added notes to the article indicating position, but I'm wondering if we should consider adding an image showing some text with the markings positioned correctly (a scan of the first few verses of Genesis perhaps), for clarification.

I don't have a problem in Opera (7.50 and later have BiDi support). Maybe this paragraph is just nonsense and too vague and should be scrapped. jnothman 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Firefox 1.5 seems to work, if the cholam is supposed to be on top? (I don't know Hebrew at all although I've tried to learn the alphabet) But in my opinion the dots are really difficult to see in native fonts, so perhaps pictures with the dots bolder and a bit bigger might be used. Also, I don't understand the table - the dots are vowels and the alphabet letters are consonants, right, so why does the transliteration not have the consonant?

Correct symbols?[edit]

According to the book "Phonetic Symbol Guide" by Geoffrey K. Pullum, and William A. Ladusaw, the IPA symbol for ś is probably not ɬ but ç (in the context of a Semetic language) i.e. a voiceless palatal fricative, not an unvoiced alveolar lateral fricative. But again, I would like to know the source for your information, as I am trying to learn. This particular letter is very hard to get data on (has been so far by me).

WRITTEN BY: amatuer Hebrew student and creator of

Nov. 14, 2004

standard singular v biblical plural[edit]

I'm just wondering why the introduction gives the singular form for Standard Hebrew (נִיקוּד) but the plural version for Biblical Hebrew (נְקֻדּוֹת). That would be pretty confusing for people who aren't familiary with Hebrew plurals. Or is it actually that the term was once plural but now only singular? — Hippietrail 02:27, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I'm not entirely sure why, as I study more Biblical Hebrew than Standard Hebrew, and I was more used to nəquddôṯ vs. niqqudot. I think the article name is niqqud precisely because it's singular, much like similar conventions for article names for Samaritan, Jew and Arab. - Gilgamesh 02:24, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
It's a matter of part of speech. Nequddot means "dots," and thus is plural. It refers to the actual dots used. Niqqud is, as mentioned below, an abstract noun meaning "pointing" (in the sense of "furnishing with points") or "punctuation". Clsn 13:51, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
Clsn is exactly right. Anyone who edits here should remember that nequddot is plural and niqqud is singular: The nequddot are helpful..., the niqqud is helpful.... Neither one is older than the other; both are ancient words, both completely alive in modern Hebrew. You could translate them 'dots' and 'dotting', respectively. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:56, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

The Wikipedia terminology for Hebrew is awful! The terms are used inconsistently within Wikipedia and in ways that don't correspond to how specialists outside of Wikipedia use them. In the first sentence of this article, for example, four different terms are used: "Hebrew", "Biblical", "Standard", and "Tiberian", and they refer to only three -- not four -- categories of things: actual Hebrew spelling (two different words, labeled "Hebrew" in one case, "Biblical" in the other, for no reason at all); a phonetic transcription of modern Hebrew pronunciation of one of those two words (labeled "Standard"); and a conventional transliteration of the Hebrew spelling (labeled "Tiberian", although it certainly does not accurately represent what is known about the Tiberian pronunciation of Hebrew back in the 8th century or so, which would be [naqudˈdoːθ], [niqˈquːð].) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:09, 4 September 2008 (UTC)


I don't suppose there's a point to stating that niqqud simply means "punctuation"? No pun intended. I'm not sure about the archaic roots, but in contemporary Hebrew, a נקודה is simply a "point" or "dot" or "period", and ניקוד is simply the... whatever you call that sorta noun that's like a gerund, but not in the present tense. Y'know, like "electrocution", as opposed to "electocuting", ניקוד as opposed to מנקד\ת. "Pointification". "Punctuation". Grok?

"Abstract noun". AnonMoos 04:07, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

Punctuation is everything that isn't letters, and people usually interpret "punctuation" as dots, commas (,) , colons (:), semicolons (;), etc. In niqqud, the dots are used to represent vowels and other modifications to letters. In punctuation, they're used to form the sentence better.
Yet for some odd reason, I tend to confuse the two also. ailaG (talk) 10:56, 29 May 2008 (UTC)


It should be noted the the mappiq can only appear in a "ה" (and only in very specific cases). Coredumb 09:54, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

Questions from an illiterate[edit]

Hi, I have never read or understood the Hebrew alfabet before, so consider me the perfect test case for making this article nitwit-proof. Reading the article, the following questions come to mind but are not answered by it. Let them help you to improve the article:

  • "This table uses the consonants ב ,ח or ש"
    • Is there a reason to use these consonants and not others? Isn't it possible to combine the niqqud with other consonants?
  • "Rafé ... to distinguish פּ /p/ from ֿפ /f/"
    • To me it would seem more logical that the rafe is written right above the pe to make it an f
  • The vowels below are written in several niqqud, and are seperately mentioned. This suggests that they are different from eachother. However, their differences are not explained (nor them not being different). Maybe giving a common word as example for every vowel is the best way of showing their differences:
    • IPA /a/ = חֲ / בַ / בַה / בַא / בָ / בָה / בָא
    • IPA /e/ = בֵ / בֵי / בֵה / בֵא
    • IPA /i/ = בִ / בִי /
    • IPA /o/ = חֳ / בָ / בֹ
    • IPA /u/ = בֻ / בוּ
  • What about many vowels immediately following eachother, like in the word farao: are the patach and cholam combinedly added to the resh? Or in the name or Golda Meir: are the tzeirei and chirik combinedly added to the mem? Probably there are also words with sequences of three vowels.
  • So niqqud indicate the vowel following the consonant. What if a word starts with a vowel? Are the niqqud located around an empty space?
  • chataf is used in several occasions but not explained

Thanks. ActiveSelective 23:46, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

  • about use of letters: ח is used with chataf vowels, because these only appear with a certain type of letters called gutturals (ח is one of them); sin and shin dots can only appear with letter ש. Points used with ב can be used with any other letter except for gutturals.
  • rafe is written above the letter. If you don't see it that way must be a browser rendering problem.
  • in Tiberian (classical) Hebrew all these vowels had different pronuntiations, but they don't anymore in modern Hembrew.
  • in words like farao etc. there is a consonant (א or ע) in between the two vowels that gets lost when transcribed to roman script (just a matter of convention, I think). The bottom line is (let's put it that way) Hebrew don't have diftongs (sequences of two vowels in the same syllable), so you'll never find tzeirei and chirik together.
  • Hebrew neither has words starting with a vowel (the only exception in the conjunction וּ). Hebrew syllabic structure is pretty fixed: it always starts with a consonant, has a single vowel, and may or may not end with a consonant ( which can be י or ו, acting as a second vowel, these being the only cases of diftongs).
  • chataf translates as something like "hurried", and is used to mean a "really short" patach, qamats or segol.
Hope that helps.--Xavier 22:37, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Hebrew alphabet
long short very short sound transliteration
ָ ַ ֲ /a:/ /a/ /a'/ a / ay
ֵ ֶ ֱ /e:/ /e/ /e'/ e / ey
וֹ ָ ֳ /o:/ /o/ /o'/ o / oy
וּ ֻ   /u:/ /u/ u
יִ ִ   /i:/ /i/ i
By adding two vertical dots (shwa)
the vowel is made very short.
The short o and long a have the same niqqud.

Yes, it does! Thank you very much! Now improvement on the article... The table on the right is -I think- better systemized and helps readers to get grips on the niqqud. Not necessarily as a replacement of the long table, but as an addition. (the transliteration and "sound" should be looked at and corrected, I think) ActiveSelective 08:28, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

How to enter niqqud?[edit]

I couldn't found article from Wikipedia explaining how to enter niqqud from keyboard. Maybe you can help me by writing/linking good article in Wikipedia about niqqud and keyboard? --Thv 20:31, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

press capslock, then shift and one of the numbers,- or + above the letters. Amoruso 06:56, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
This is useful. I will add further details in the article. Dovi 08:37, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
Or get the Tiro keyboard layout, and the documentation that goes with it. It seems to do pretty much everything.
-- TimNelson (talk) 00:07, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Alternate Historical Systems of Niqqud[edit]

A useful addition to this article would be a discussion of the extinct varieties of Niqqud, such as the Babylonian, Palestinian, and Samaritan, as well as the evolution of the Tiberian. Ratzd'mishukribo 03:08, 26 October 2006 (UTC)


I did a serious table and organization redo Epson291 23:23, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

consonant niqqud?[edit]

Is consonant pointing, such as k-dot for [x], or p-dot for [f], considered part of niqqud, the way the difference between sin and shin is? kwami (talk) 19:53, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Yes it is, and it's called dagesh. It is referred to in the long table. Dan Pelleg (talk) 17:13, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Shva, Mapik[edit]

I didn't change these myself, because there must be a reason they were written that way.
Shva - makes the vowel very short? I disagree.. Even in the word "shva", the "sh" isn't short at all. It means no vowels. A yud or vav can have no niqqud on them when they function as niqqud themselves - for example, in the word צירה, the yud has no niqqud because it's part of the tsadi's niqqud. But other than these cases - all letters have niqqud, and if there's no vowel, they get a shva.
I'm not a scholar though, so this is only my intuitive reasoning here.

Regarding mapik and shuruk - they may look the same and share the same key in Windows keyboard layouts, but they're very different, and IMHO deserve two different rows in the table. ailaG (talk) 11:05, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

Meaning of unpointed consonant[edit]

  1. Under what circumstances is a consonant not pointed at all?
  2. Does lack of pointing always mean lack of a following vowel, or are there other possibilities?

--JWB (talk) 23:36, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

Depends on the level of poining of that text. If the text is mostly pointed, then one letter without niqqud means it doesn't have a vowel. If the text is mostly unpointed, then letters without niqqud should be read the way it is "obvious" (to hebrew speakers). In such text, the usage of niqqud would be in order to clarify disambiguation between words that spell the same but sound differently. TaBaZzz (talk) 15:00, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

Plus: also in texts fully marked with nikud, in the following cases letters aren't marked with nikud: silent alephs and hes, yuds which are part of a chirik male or a tsere male, and in most cases final letters which aren't folowed by a vowel, with the exception of words in which both the last and second last letter aren't followed by vowels (in this case both the last and second last letter are marked with two consecutive shva nach, plus the dagesh-kal in the last letter if needed). And there's one case in which the nikud-mark signifies a vowel before the letter under which it's written: a patach under a final chet, ayin or non silent he. Dan Pelleg (talk) 23:25, 4 September 2008 (UTC)


It has been suggested that Hebrew_phonology#Orthography be merged here. I would also suggest that dagesh be merged, and that the combined article be renamed Hebrew diacritics in keeping with Wikipedia's naming conventions (see Greek diacritics, Arabic diacritics, etc.). Practically no English speaker knows what the words niqqud or dagesh mean unless they are already familiar with the Hebrew alphabet, which makes the current names far from user friendly. kwami (talk) 22:18, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

I disagree, I think dagesh is perfectly fine where it is, it contains to much information to add here. And if dagesh was merged, so would Mappiq, Rafe, Gershayim, and Geresh all here too, they're all Hebrew diacritics. Epson291 (talk) 00:03, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
Not at all. There's no problem with having specialized articles. Circumflex gets its own article, so there's no reason mappiq can't as well.
I just noticed that dagesh is already discussed in the article. That means that it is misnamed, since dagesh is not a niqqud. What about leaving the dagesh article separate, but renaming this article Hebrew diacritics? (Or if I'm wrong and dagesh is considered a niqqud, then the latter would be synonymous with "Hebrew diacritics", which would be the preferable name per Wikipedia naming conventions.) kwami (talk) 00:13, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
Dagesh is classified as "nikud". The term "nikud" doesn't exactly parallel "diacritics", a more precise translation would have to be "vowel signs and diacritics". On the other hand, not all Hebrew vowel signs are nikud, since some are letters, and not all Hebrew diacritics are nikud, e.g. geresh. Dan Pelleg (talk) 00:51, 26 February 2009 (UTC)


Can you give an example of a vowel sign niqqud that is neither a diacritic nor a letter? I'm not following.
We should have a 'Hebrew diacritics' article, if only to make searching the topic easier. The question is whether to move this article, or part of it, to that name (if this is too much detail, we could leave those details here under the name niqqud), or whether to create an entirely new article. The main article per WP naming conventions should have an English name, with the Hebrew only used where English won't do, such as the geresh article. kwami (talk) 20:42, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
Okay, moved from niqqud to Hebrew diacritics, in keeping with coverage of other scripts. The content of the article hasn't been changed, except for a few minor changes of wording mostly in keeping with the new title. kwami (talk) 10:49, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

I wish you'd be a little more patient, I'm sorry for not answering earlier but just don't have the time lately. The Point is: "Nikud" is the established term for a group of graphemes used in written Hebrew, that doesn't correlate with the term "diacritics". As explained before, "Nikud" comprises both diacritics (like dagesh kal or shin dot) and Hebrew vowel signs, themselves comprising letters, diacritic-like symbols, or combinations of both. I say "diacritic-like symbols" and not "diacritics", because they may appear graphically to be diacritics, but they are actually self contained graphemes and not modifiers, as a "real" diacritic is, e.g. segol is always a grapheme for the phoneme /e/ and is therefore not a diacritic. On the other hand, geresh is a Hebrew diacritic which is not a nikud sign. The title "Hebrew diacritics" enforces a foreign concept onto an existing and established system with its own tradition and ultimately is more confusing than enlightening: If you want to learn Hebrew, you'll have to learn what "nikud" means, rather than starting to figure out when which part of "Hebrew diacritics" is Nikud and vice versa. Dan Pelleg (talk) 15:04, 4 March 2009 (UTC)

As to your request ("Can you give an example of a vowel sign niqqud that is neither a diacritic nor a letter "): Most Nikud signs are not diacritics: as mentioned above, segol ֶ is a grapheme for /e/, similarly tseyre ֵ the grapheme for /e/ or /ej/, kamats ָ, patach ַ and chataf-patach ֲ for /a/, kubuts ֻ for /u/, chirik chaser ִ for /i/, cholam chaser ֹ for /o/, all are not letters. Dan Pelleg (talk) 15:13, 4 March 2009 (UTC)
I don't believe you had consensus to move the page, so I reverted it. I agree with Dan Pelleg, I don't think diacritics and niqqud are synomonous. Epson291 (talk) 20:32, 4 March 2009 (UTC)
Sorry for the quick move, but it looks like it was correct. All the examples Dan gave are diacritics. In the Latin script, diacritics do not represent phonemes. However, in abjads and abugidas they do. Richard Goerwitz (Northwest Semitic historical linguist, U. Chicago) calls the niqqud "diacritics". The vowel marks of Hindi, Divehi, etc. are also called "diacritics" in the literature. No, niqqud and 'diacritic' are not synonymous—there are also cantillation marks etc.—but niqqud are a subset of diacritics. Per Wiki naming conventions, we should go with the English name as used in academic literature. (Of course, we'd need to restore something like my edit, to at least mention the non-niqqud diacritics, which could remain at their current locations if they'd be too much to merge. Or we could split this article, with the long table remaining at niqqud, and the short table forming the core of a Hebrew diacritics article.) kwami (talk) 20:44, 4 March 2009 (UTC)
If niqqud is a subset of diacritics then how about creating a new page at "Hebrew diacritics" and this way avoid losing the individual articles? Epson291 (talk) 21:31, 4 March 2009 (UTC)
Okay. I think foreign words as titles are fine, as long as someone looking up the English is supported too. How about I take the short table out of this article, so as not to be redundant? kwami (talk) 21:56, 4 March 2009 (UTC)
I moved the short table & vowel comparison chart. Much of the intro repeats itself, but this can be cleaned up later. kwami (talk) 22:51, 4 March 2009 (UTC)

kwami, The thing is, nikud (and cantillation) signs don't modify the phonetic value of the letters they're assigned to; they just add their own phonetic values. Well, if you perceive "diacritic" to be "any written symbol which isn't a letter or a punctuation mark" then "diacritic" applies both to nikud and cantillation marks, and if the term is in fact used in this sense, then that's how it is... However for example defines it as "a mark added to a letter to indicate a special pronunciation"; the American Heritage Dictionary says it's "a mark ... added to a letter to indicate a special phonetic value or distinguish words that are otherwise graphically identical" etc. Just as the "a" in "da" doesn't change the phonetic value of the "d" but rather just adds to its /d/ its own /a/, so it is with nikud: the nikud signs don't change the phonetic value of the letters they're assigned to, they just add their own values as vowel graphemes. Dan Pelleg (talk) 11:20, 14 March 2009 (UTC)

English dictionaries take the Latin alphabet as their starting point, so their definitions won't necessarily work very well for something like Hebrew. I've always seen the vowel marks of both abjads and Brahmic abugidas described as "diacritics" in the lit. Comrie, for example, in The World Atlas of Language Structures, p. 568, states that "In many consonantal scripts, it is possible to add diacritics to indicate vowels," and uses Hebrew po 'here' vs pe 'mouth' as the example. kwami (talk) 11:42, 14 March 2009 (UTC)
Actually, now that I think about it, the AH def works pretty well: Diacritics "distinguish words that are otherwise graphically identical". That's just what niqqud do: po and pe are both written פה; it's the diacritics that disambiguate. And they "indicate a special phonetic value": That's also not far off. There's long been a tradition that Hebrew isn't an alphabet, but a syllabary. (Granted, that has been partially motivated by antisemitism, and partially by a desire to credit the alphabet to the Greeks, but even people without such motivation see some validity in this.) You could argue (though I personally don't find it very convincing) that פ does not represent the consonant /p/, but the syllable /pV/, where /V/ is undefined and perhaps zero. A diacritic can therefore be used to indicate the phonetic value of /V/, much the same way that a diacritic differentiates sin vs. shin, or French é vs. è, etc. But regardless of whether you buy that, the point is that the niqqud are an auxiliary system of glyphs, supplementary to the letters which form the core of the script. That's pretty much the definition of a diacritic. kwami (talk) 11:58, 14 March 2009 (UTC)

Well this analysis of Hebrew orthography seems pretty warped to me. But listen: if, as you say – and I believe you SMirC-wink.svg – "diacritic" is in any case used in the literature to refer to nikud, then of course it's legitimate to use it in that way here. So no argument there. And it's ok to use the same word for two functionally different sets of glyphs, too. I mean, I think we shouldn't try to legitimise this by looking for ways in which they're the same while blurring the distinction. For clarity's sake, the distinction should, if at all, be made as clear as possible – after all, Wikipedia wants to inform and clarify. I mean, there's obviously a functional difference e.g. between the shin dot, a diacritic in the "latin" sense, which can be assigned to the letter ש to make its value either /s/ or /ʃ/, and the cholam chaser, which is simply and always a self contained symbol for /o/, no matter what it's added to, i.e. it is a vowel grapheme.

So could we agree on the following approach: classifying "nikud" under "diacritics" is good, but wherever relevant, the functional distinction should be made clear between the way "diacritic" is used for Latin alphabets ("modifiers of phonetic value"), nikud ("vowel graphemes or modifiers of phonetic value") and cantillation marks ("punctuation marks with tonal or melodic value"). Dan Pelleg (talk) 14:06, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Except that I'm not aware of any such distinction being made in the lit. It's not true, pace the AHD, that diacritics modify the pronunciation of words: that's just one of the uses to which they're put. In many languages using the Latin alphabet, diacritics are used to distinguish homonyms, such as French la "the" vs "there", which are both pronounced [la]. The basic definition of 'diacritic' is an ancillary glyph added to a character (basic glyph). Some change pronunciations, some add pronunciations, some remove pronunciations (killer strokes), some make letters silent (i.e. Irish), and some are purely visual, as French là. The different uses to which diacritics are put have more to do with the kind of script than subcategories of the diacritics themselves. kwami (talk) 20:17, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
Ok, you've convinced me, your definition seems perfectly adequate. Could you site a source that also defines diacritic that way (i.e., not primarily as a "pronunciation changer", but also a "pronunciation adder, remover" etc.)? If so, then also the Wikipedia definition should be corrected. (By the way, please don't misunderstand me, I suggested that "wherever relevant, the functional distinction should be made clear between the different ways "diacritic" is used". All I'm saying is that whenever such a clarification might prevent confusion, it should appear. It is after all perceivable that readers of this Wikipedia, if not informed otherwise, may assume that "diacritic" applies to Hebrew exactly as it applies to French, for example.) Dan Pelleg (talk) 22:23, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
All the lit I know just takes it for granted. Sometimes I see "diacritics and accents", but that seems to just be a way of covering all bases, as the two words are frequently synonymous. Just looked it up in the OED and found "diacritical accents" to describe French. The etymological meaning is a mark that distinguishes characters. Distinguishing pronunciation is not assumed when dealing with non-Latin scripts. For example (skimming The World's Writing Systems), when describing Linear B, where two characters are transcribed ra and ra2, Emmett Bennett calls the subscript <2> a 'diacritic'. He has no idea what its actual value is. When Greek letters are used as numerals, they take a mark to indicate this; that mark is also called a diacritic. William Bright, discussing the Kannada and Telugu scripts, calls both the vowel marks and the virama (killer stroke) 'diacritics'. Richard Goerwitz on Jewish scripts: "Three main Hebrew diacritic vowel/cantillation systems are known to scholars today [Tiberian, Babylonian, & Palestinian]." Ghair & Cain on Dhivehi: "Like other South Asian languages, Taana writes vowels as diacritics on consonants." kwami (talk) 23:53, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

May I refer to these sources and adjust the definition at Diacritic? Dan Pelleg (talk) 00:24, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

Of course. Don't need to ask me. Though in The World's Writing Systems I only see the Greek numeral diacritic described as an "acute accent". kwami (talk) 00:32, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
Made the change, maybe you'd like to take a look, Dan Pelleg (talk) 16:39, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

Spelling of sin/shin dots[edit]

I've noticed that the sin dot and shin dot have their Hebrew names listed; this is great. However, I think it would be both more consistent with the rest of the table, and more useful (at least to me) if the gereshayim were eliminated, and if vowel pointing were used on these names (I'm assuming here that the gereshayim are being used as an abbreviation of some kind). Unfortunately I don't know enough Hebrew to make this change. Thanks,

-- TimNelson (talk) 00:15, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Hmm, in this case the gershaim don't signify abbreviations, but signify that the word is the name of a letter, see this guideline, §31/ז.. This isn't always done and personally I don't know if the gershaim are obligatory. Maybe someone else around here knows? Dan 00:50, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Dan is right - it means that it is the name of the letter. It is useful for conveying that אלף refers to the letter aleph and not the word "thousand", בית is the letter bet and not "house", etc.
The normative spelling rule do say, for example, that the word tav (mark, sign) should be spelled תו, and the name of the letter tav, which has the same etymology, should be spelled תי״ו - with י and gershayim. This, however, refers to spelling without niqqud; in spelling with full niqqud the י definitely must not be written and the gershayim can be omitted when it's clear that it's a name of a letter.
In the table it may be useful to write both spellings, with and without niqqud - Wikipedia is not paper. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 12:39, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Vowel Points[edit]

Vowel points redirects here. However, all languages which have no written vowels now use a vowel point system: most notably Arabic. Why does the term redirect here? --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 14:26, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

"Among those who do not speak Hebrew..."[edit]

This seems ... I don't know what. Tendentious? Full of mystery? A source would be nice, otherwise it sounds like original research. "Among those who do not speak Hebrew, niqqud are the sometimes unnamed focus of controversy regarding the interpretation of the name written with the Tetragrammaton"--Richardson mcphillips (talk) 02:16, 2 May 2012 (UTC)