pronunciation guide in Hebrew

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a avoda, kama, "ethmol hi ba'a"

e erev, baderekh, mexes

i ivrith, "anaxnu yordim", bishvil

o horim, xoref, yesh lo

u ulai, "madu'a hu lo ba?"

y "bere'shith bara...", Yehudi(th) , (mainly heard in religious/biblical texts, rarely in modern words like nemal-te'ufa)

ai Sinai, matai, ayom

au saund

ei eifo, eikh, axarei

oi noy, goy, oyev

ia yam, yanuar, yad, Germanya

ie yesh, yeled

ii Yisra'el, babayith

io hayom, "ani yode'a"

iu yuxasin

ua ruax, madu'a (?)

ue -

ui -

uo -

uu -

b bayith, bikur, "barukh haba!"

c shalom, shemesh, rosh

d derekh, od, kaduraglan

f filosofya, safa, sof

g gam, agoroth, sheleg

j z'urnal

k kesef-kis, yaqar, raq

l Lama, thalmud, "hu sho�l"

m me'od, ima, amami

n nesi'a, anaxnu, xalon

p pesakh, napax

r rav, harbe, yot�r

s safa, kesef, nixnas

t tenu'a, othi, lehithra'oth

v vered, David, erev

x khanuka, xufsha, akhshaf, ruax

z ze, xazon, az

' hem, hatzala, ahava This sound tends to be swallowed in Modern Hebrew.

Ulai yesh po kama shegi'oth, naxon? Aval ani xosh�v shehakol baseder--.aulun.


  • In Modern Hebrew these are pronounced like lojban e. There is no equivalent of lojban y.
    • I hear the schwa in different ways in modern Hebrew: There are people pronouncing it like a very short 'e', whereas others about like the final in English 'finger' or German 'ich gehe'. (I tend to give it like in Rumanian 'Rom�n�', which seems pretty close).
      • I've only ever heard a shva na pronounced in two ways: like a lojban e (IPA epsilon) or as a null vowel.
    • BTW, pronunciation in Israel differs quite far, e.g. there are (educated) people pronouncing 'ein', 'eifo', 'eikh' as 'en', 'efo' and 'ekh'. (There also are people sophisticated enough to turn to old oriental pronunciation.)
      • Those are indeed sometimes pronounced that way, but it is uniform among native speakers (educated or not).
    • And I still have to add that the schwa pronunciation is also taught in modern grammar books like Langenscheid's and not only in Eliezer Rieger's "Everyday Hebrew", Jerusalem 1954.
      • If they are teaching it that way, they are teaching it wrong, based on analysis of earlier versions of the language. A Textbook of Israeli Hebrew by Haiim B. Ros�n (1962) says that it is an "e which is produced correspondingly to get" (it uses a superscript e for a shva na and a superscript a for a khataf patakh, with no indication that they are pronounced differently from their non-superscript counterparts).
        • Adam, I've to admit that this puzzles me a lot, since (I just checked it anew) British-English 'finger', German 'betrachten/ich hoffe' and Rumanian 'Rom�n/leagn/adevrul' are all represented with the same IPA character (the upsidedown-e). (I am not at all sure about whether these sounds differ slightly in pronunciation or not, but that doesn't matter here.) My modern Hebrew dictionaries give the schwa as e-superscript, yet quite a couple of modern Hebrew grammar books represent shva mobile with exactly the same IPA character in transcription, indicating that it has to be pronounced like the short 'e' in German (e.g. 'beginnen'). A text from Eliezer Rieger's "Everyday Hebrew", Jerusalem 1954, ("Visiting a Kibutz") also has this IPA transcription added: "gam Yehudith halxa lsham. kibutz ze haya harishon beeretz yisra'el." -- .aulun.
    • But you are right so far that "correct" ;-) pronunciation is decreasing, and that I'm experiencing the schwa more and more being neglected especially by younger people (this is not very different from German language and grammar also, practised even by my junior lawyers or - sometimes still worse - by journalists of serious newspapers like "Die S�ddeutsche Zeitung". -- .aulun.
      • High-school language teachers in Israel certainly have plenty of ways to correct their students' language, but getting them to pronounce a shva na as an IPA schwa is not one of them. At any rate, the point still stands: if the above pronunciation of y is meant for speakers of Modern Hebrew, it is wrong. If it is meant for speakers of earlier versions (doubtful with the word nemal teufa in there), then it is unclear. (It's not even certain that a shva na was pronounced as an IPA schwa in Biblical or even Tiberian Hebrew.) -- Adam
        • I'm no longer sure about the exact value of Lojban {y}, but if it is the IPA sound mentioned above, it should be represented by Hebrew shva mobile - at least in a list like this that only is to give parallel contrasts and not at any cost exactly the same sound values.
        • BTW, in my opinion the whole issue seems to be highly fuzzy because theoretical: e.g. in German the two 'schwa'-sounds in a word like 'bekommen' are not the same in spoken practice (except for - maybe - in so-called 'standard'(?) German, i.e. a couple of northern accents). Normally, the first of the two sounds is pronounced like the 'schwa'-sound mentioned by you (namely just a short 'e'). Only the second one usually comes about like those '�' in Rumanian - but I already hear my fellow citizens with northern accents protesting... ;-) I've recorded many sound samples demonstrating Rumanian pronunciation - if you'd like to get an idea of those schwas mentioned, have a look here: [1] --.aulun.