Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Hebrew vowels

Ten Vowels
There are ten vowels in the Hebrew language, five long and five short. A long vowel has an embedded אם הקריאה. The letter that is pronounced is followed by one of four letters א,ה,ו,י. The kametz is pronounced with an additional alef after the letter. A tsayreh has an additional yod, and the shoorek and cholem have an additional vav. A chirik followed by a yod is a long vowel.
The five short vowels are similar to the five long, but they do not have the אם הקריאה.
  1. The patach is similar to the kametz
  2. The segol is similar to the tsayreh
  3. The kubbutz is similar to the shoorek
  4. The chirik chaser is similar to the chirik malei
  5. The kametz katan is the short vowel for the cholem and is pronounced similarly.
The Chirik Malei is a chirik followed with a written letter yod. The chirik chaser is followed by a נח נראת.
What is a נח נסתר ?
A נח נסתר is a pause that does not appear in print. In other words, there is no explicit letter where the reader stops. Rather, the reader stops on an additional letter that is assumed or hidden.
What is a נח נראת ?
A written letter that contains a שוא נח or a דגש חזק. [A דגש חזק has an embedded שוא נח].
Basic Syllables
Syllables may be open or closed. Typically open unaccented-syllables contain long vowels, which as noted, is completed with a נח נסתר. Closed unaccented-syllables contain short vowels and are closed by a נח נראת.
In accented syllables, the reverse is true. Typically short vowels exist in open syllables and are closed by the accent (מתג or טעם). Long vowels exist in closed accented-syllables and the accent is completed with a נח נראת such as a שוא נא or a דגש חזק.
The word חֶ֖סֶד, for example, the first
חֶ is accented and exists in an open syllable. The second syllable סֶד is unaccented and short. The word וְחָכָ֑ם֖ has a long vowel, a kametz (חָ) in an open unaccented syllable and a long vowel in a closed accented syllable (כָ֑ם).

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