Talk:Hebrew alphabet

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tzere in Modern hebrew[edit]

This aleges that tzere in modern hebrew is "correctly pronounced as EI" that is incorrect, sure it is in the anglosized synogogue "sephardic hebrew" they teach in America. but in israel its only dipthongized in some words that are remnants of the ashkenazi pronunciation,even then not everyone does. Also "ei" shouldn't be considered more "correct" as dipthongized vowels are alien to hebrew, ei only exist in Ashkenazi (and Ashkenazi influenced) Hebrew —Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.72.241.66 (talk) 21:52, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree. It is often pronounced as [ej] in Israeli Hebrew, but it is not correct in the normative sense and not consistent in the spoken language. See Asher Laufer, Chapters in Phonetics and Phonetic Transcription, §17.3.1-17.3.2 (the book is in Hebrew). --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 15:07, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

"Names" of letters with geresh[edit]

There are no names for letters with geresh representing non-Hebrew sounds. I heard "Tshadik" a couple of times as a joke, but i've never heard "Jimel", "Zhayin", or "Thav". It looks totally made up. I'm removing those names. Please correct me if i'm wrong. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 18:33, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

You are wrong. =) You can put them back, because they are correct. 'jimel' is a more common name than 'zhayin' or 'thav', and they are not formally taught as part of the alefbet in schools, but those are the names they are called when dictated out loud.Jesszahav (talk) 04:56, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
Please provide sources before inserting into the article. Dan 22:16, 16 April 2009 (UTC)

Literal meaning of letters[edit]

Aharon, could you please state your source for the information under Literal meaning of letters? Regarding the meanings of the letters' names, I believe there is some confusion between their original meanings and etymology on the one hand and the meanings that these names (or words similar to them) acquired later on the other hand. I believe e.g. that the name "Aleph" originated from the old Hebrew word "aluph", meaning ox, and not from "elef", meaning "one thousand". The letter's old form depicted the head of an ox, as you can see in the table. Please be careful to avoid pseudoscientific language comparison between ancient and modern Hebrew. Dan Pelleg (talk) 13:51, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

The table was becoming much too wide, I split the table, and the history section into a new article called, History of the Hebrew alphabet Epson291 (talk) 21:59, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
Good idea - only you've just copied the information from here into the new article, information which is unsourced and at least partly wrong. Dan Pelleg (talk) 22:31, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
I copied this discussion (and the letters, to the new talk page) Epson291 (talk) 06:21, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

This is incorrect. That assumes Hebrew was derived from Phonecian. Aleph its self is constructed of two yuds and a vuv. The gemattria of this number is 26, and it's used to represent the name of G*d. Each letter has an intentional shape. CheskiChips (talk) 14:49, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

I don't know all of them, but I do know that the name of Hebrew Letter Beyt derives from the Hebrew word Bayit(בַּיִת) meaning "house" according to the Ancient Hebrew Research Center. I found a few of them there, but there might be more somewhere on that site. Of course, I've been to this site, and, unfortunately, the dictionary that they have there is very limited, but considering how humble the owner of that site is, you might be able to persuade him to make some updates to it, so long as you provide adequete sources. Scholars love their sources.AurumSpiral1235813 (talk) 20:55, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

Messed up dots in letters[edit]

If you notice in the part where it shows the diferenced between shin and sin, pe and fe bet vet...... All the dots are aligned too far to the left. It seems to be a format error because i checked the source code, but thoughti'd bring it up. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.173.121.231 (talk) 21:13, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

List of Incorrect/Unsubstantiated[edit]

Why in 'History' are Rabbi's who dedicate their entire lives to this not considered "Contemporary Scholars"?

The evidence that letters were resultant from some proto language are unsubstantiated. Evidences include allusion in various Talmud passages with the importance of each precise letter. Later Sefer Yetzirah discusses the importance of the letters in shape. Various kabbalistic teachings are entirely based on the shape of letters, and for that matter the pronunciations. It should not be taken entirely lightly. Theologically Assyria decended of the same family, there's no reason to assume the two weren't always identical.


Pronunciation: yod also is identical to 'ee' and 'ih'. The combination of these two is its self a dipthong creating the modern "y" sound. Aleph-Yod is equivalent to the modern letter "I".

Vuv is more likely "waw", the reason it can use the tones "ooh" and "oh" are the fact that those two sounds as a dipthong are the letter 'w'. This is in use in Mitzrahi Judaism, and some other sects.

Missing in the Dagesh is "Gimel/Jimel" which is in use in many American and Israeli communities. Also Tav/Sav is not the only interpretation, there is also thav/tav which seems more likely. Also missing in Dagesh is Resh / Resh (Gutteral). The modern use is similar to a "w", but the original is a gutteral sound similar to the ayin.

Ayin is not pronounced the same as Aleph. Ayin has a gutteral sound applied to it, a gutteral sound void of tonality almost a controlled rolling grunt.


Sepher Yetzirah also implies that there are defined divisions. Fundamentals. Labials. Palletals. Dentals. Gutterals. and Excess. CheskiChips (talk) 14:47, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

Note that there is archaeological evidence that the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet existed before the Aramaic alphabet, e.g. this image, where the fourth letter, a Paleo-Hebrew Aleph (Early Aramaic character - Alaph.png) is in principal identical to the Phoenician Aleph (Phoenician aleph.png). Note also that you are at least partially misinformed as to pronunciation / spelling habits of native speakers of Modern Hebrew, e.g. the distinction "Gimel/Jimel" is most certainly not made using a dagesh but rather using a geresh. Aleph and Ayin are pronounced identically in Israel's general population (as stated in the article); both pronunciations of Ayin are given in the table under Pronunciation. I would suggest you go ahead and include the information you have to offer under separate entries, such as "The form of Hebrew letters as viewed in the Kabbalah", but please do not confuse traditions and interpretations (which are based on knowledge prior to that obtained through modern scientific methods) with modern, scientifically founded Data. Please be sure to always include verifiable sources to the information you include. Dan Pelleg (talk) 20:30, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for your clarification. CheskiChips (talk) 04:38, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

Greek letters?[edit]

Note that Greek is a daughter language of Phoenician. It might be useful to add the greek letters that apply to the Phoenician letters under the "Names, scripts, values, and transliteration of the letters" in the article. Nschoem 03:04, 20 November 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Nschoem (talkcontribs)

It is already found here. We can't put every related script in the table. Epson291 (talk) 07:50, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Pronunciation of names of letters[edit]

Where on Wikipedia can I find how the names of the letters are pronounced, in the context of referring to them in English? Not the sound represented by the letters, but the name of the letters themselves, when speaking English, as in "the name of the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is aleph". Aleph is easy enough but should vav be "vow", "vav" or "wow", shwa "shwa" /ʃwɑ:/ or "shva" /ʃvɑ:/, he "heh" /hɛ/ or "hey" /heɪ/, etc? The information should probably be given both on this page and the one corresponding to each letter. Flapdragon (talk) 18:13, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

Name of letter Aleph Bet/Vet Gimel Dalet He Vav Zayin Heth Tet Yud Kaph/Khaph
standard pronunciation /'alef/ /bet/ /'gimel/ /'dalet/ /he/ /vav/ /'zajin/ /ħet/ /tet/ /jod/ /kaf/
colloquial Israeli pronunciation (if differing)       /'daled/ /hej/   /'zain/ /χet/   /jud/  
  א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י כ
ך
Name of letter Lamed Mem Nun Samekh Ayin Pe/Phe Tsadi Quph Resh Shin/Sin Tav
standard pronunciation /'lamed/ /mem/ /nun/ /'sameχ/ /'ʕajin/ /pe/ /'ʦadi/ /kof/ /reʃ/ /ʃin/ /tav/
colloquial Israeli pronunciation (if differing)         /'ain/ /pej/ /'ʦadik/ /kuf/ /rejʃ/   /taf/
  ל מ נ ס ע פ צ ק ר ש ת
ם ן ף ץ


([1]) - Dan Pelleg (talk) 21:10, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

(I suppose, since Yiddish uses ther same alphabet, the Yiddish pronunciations of the lettes' names should also be given, as should the names in any other language which uses it. Dan Pelleg (talk) 21:15, 19 March 2009 (UTC))
This is a great start, though it's not clear to me what "standard pronunciation" means in this context, and the table doesn't include English, where of course sounds like [ħ] and [ʕ] are not available. There must be long-established, in fact centuries-old conventions of English pronunciation of Hebrew as a historical and liturgical language. I'm pretty confident of /'alef/, /beθ/, /gɪməl/ and /jɒd/, but I'm too ignorant to know them all. Flapdragon (talk) 21:59, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Yes, "standard pronunciation" should actually read "standard modern Israeli pronunciation", being the standard set by the Academy of the Hebrew Language, taught at Israeli schools etc. I agree, English pronunciation standards belong in such a table too. Dan Pelleg (talk) 22:57, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

overdots for Judeo-Arabic[edit]

I remember reading somewhere that sometimes when the Hebrew alphabet was used to write Judeo-Arabic letters were written with overdots similar to those of the Arabic alphabet to represent similar sounds (e.g. ד with three overdots for [ð]). Is there a proper encoding for this on computers, and should information on this be included in this article? Mo-Al (talk) 00:25, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

While on that topic - any chances of someone including a section on the similarities between this and the Arabic Alphabet? Wanyonyi (talk) 11:42, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
The cantillation diacritics could do it, e.g. "segol" for three overdots: ד֒. Dan 16:38, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

"Standard Israeli" names of the letters[edit]

Should the pronunciation of the names of the letters kheth ח as /ħ/ and ayin ע as /ʕ/ really be called "Standard Israeli", and should the pronunciations that equate them with a dagesh-less kaph and with an aleph respectively really be labelled "colloquial Israeli"? I understand that the Oriental pronunciation is theoretically sort-of official according to the Academy of Hebrew, but isn't it more of an exception than a norm even in official discourse? Calling it "colloquial" would suggest that most Israelis are incapable of speaking in any other way than colloquially even in the most official of settings. That's not the way terms such as "standard" and "colloquial" are used, normally.

On the other hand, the Tiberian Hebrew forms of the names of the letters really should be given: unlike mainstream Israeli Hebrew, they really do preserve the original sounds.--91.148.159.4 (talk) 16:18, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

The standard set by the Academy of the Hebrew Language is legally compulsory for Israel's government institutions (including all educational institutions), it is "standard" only in this sense. Clarifying this in the article wouldn't hurt. And adding a (sourced!) column with Tiberian pronunciations is a good idea too, go ahead! Dan 00:46, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

Dialectical (the table)[edit]

Done – Dan 00:51, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

Rashi as an ancestral script?[edit]

Rashi script is listed as an ancestral script, alongside phoenecian, aramaic etc. I thought it was developed more recently, in Europe, which hardly qualifies it as an ancestral script. In fact, I think it is based on the block script we have now, so really it is a descendant of the block script.128.100.71.45 (talk) 15:31, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

Yes, moreover it's still used today for printing biblical commentary, as opposed to the Phoenician etc. Dan 13:53, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

Flawed table of Hebrew letters[edit]

In the table of Hebrew letters, the author neglected to list the soft ghimel and dhaleth. The fact that most modern Israelis do not recognize them does not mean they do not exist in Hebrew. The author should correct this; I do not have the tools to do so. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rhayat (talkcontribs) 02:10, 8 November 2010 (UTC)

The markup is a total mess[edit]

The markup of this article, I am afraid, is a total mess, especially in the tables. According to the Wikipedia Manual of Style, markup should be kept as simple as possible: Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Keep markup simple. This concerns, among other things, font sizes: Wikipedia:Manual of Style (text formatting)#Font size:

Increased and decreased font size should primarily be produced through automated facilities such as headings or through carefully designed templates.

The hieratic markup severely handicaps the editability. I have now removed a few of the worst markup excesses, such as font-families (which in many occasions caused problems, see above Talk:Hebrew alphabet#Messed up dots in letters) or absolute size definitions. Much work remains to be done. -- machᵗᵃˡᵏ👍 08:52, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

Thanks mach for all that work. The only thing I think looked better before is the appearance of the tables at the top of the article, which were aligned – they look messy now and the second box is much too wide. Dan 20:42, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

Incorrect and inconsistent vowel forms[edit]

The versions of kamatz and reduced kamatz shown in the first two tables in Hebrew alphabet#Vowel points are not the same as the ones that appear in the Comparison table that follows. The former versions, showing a kamatz as a horizontal line with a dot below instead of a T-like shape, are wholly incorrect. I suppose there might be a historic precedent for that form, but the T shape has been standard for many centuries. Check any of the article's references or the Hebrew Wikipedia article on kamatz. Enoent (talk) 18:40, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

אָ | אֳ
In the traditional typeface for Hebrew serif fonts, the kamats's "foot" is thicker at the bottom, like a drop shape (clearly to see e.g. here). Maybe the uploaders forgot to put on their glasses and assumed it was only their blurred vision that made the bulb seem connected to the bar Face-devil-grin.svgDan 15:24, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

The Unicode fonts are terrible: indistinguishable and nearly illegible. Please replace all reference characters with actual images of letters, in the modern serif typeface.[edit]

The most confusion comes about from the similarities between Vav, Yod,Final Nun (ן,י,ו); Dalet,Zayin (ז,ד); and Final Kaf and Resh (ר,ך). The table of different styles (e.g., Rashi) is somewhat useful, however, the fact remains that for most people, the default font of Hebrew -- with which they are most familiar -- is the modern serif typeface, such as the one in the image in the infobox at the upper right hand corner of the page:

example of the modern serif typeface


Saywhat2012 (talk) 21:20, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

With what tools is it generally formed?[edit]

I have been attempting to write in a similar alphabet but find that the ballpoint pen is just not up for the task, with what sort of writing utensils is this generally written with? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hawjam (talkcontribs) 22:53, 5 May 2013 (UTC)


The vowel sound represented by Patach[edit]

Is the vowel in "bus" really a good English analogue for the vowel sound represented by the niqqud Patach? I'd think it was closer to the "a" in "far" or "fall", as the article on Patach itself seems to indicate. Kevin Nelson (talk) 06:36, 8 January 2014 (UTC)

PE and TSADI issue[edit]

Final PE and TSADI seem to be mistaken for normal PE and TSADI. Can someone who knows Hebrew confirm that and correct it as I am only 99.9% sure about this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 95.76.29.48 (talk) 07:02, 28 November 2014 (UTC)

Hebrew alphabet vs. Hebrew script[edit]

Despite the fact that Hebrew script redirects here, this article is predominantly about the alphabet/abjad used specifically to write the Hebrew language, paying significantly less attention to the other languages written with the Hebrew script, such as the Yiddish language. I would recommend that someone with the appropriate knowledge replace the redirect with a separate article that addresses the Hebrew script from a common point of view, in a similar fashion to the article on the Cyrillic script. Gordon P. Hemsley 13:39, 11 June 2015 (UTC)