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Hei ה

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by Isidore Demsky, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. Isidore Demsky Senior Member

    English
    I understand ה Hei is sometimes used (or was used, in Biblical Hebrew) as a vowel.

    Is (or was) it ever pronounced ee, as in pixie?
     
  2. arielipi Senior Member

    Israel
    Hebrew
    No - ה is equal in sound to h.
    It is one of the mater lectionis.
     
  3. Isidore Demsky Senior Member

    English
    H isn't a vowel, and I know it was pronounced as a vowel (in some contexts) in Biblical times.

    What I don't know is how it was pronounced (eh, ah, ee)?

    Can anyone help me?
     
  4. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    At the end of a word, when the h does not have a mapik (dot) in it, it is a mater lectionis. Therefore it can technically be any vowel possible in Biblical Hebrew, but mostly it is "a", "e" or "o". I haven't seen it with any other vowel sounds, so in fact maybe only those are possible. If the word were to end in "i" or "u" then you would have י or ו. You have to look at the nikud to be sure how to pronounce the he.
     
  5. Isidore Demsky Senior Member

    English
    Thank you.

    When you say it can be pronounced as "e," do you mean "eh" or "ee"?
     
  6. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    Those are all standard vowels for most languages. If I meant ee I would have said "the letter e", or "i".
    I would avoid writing the vowel sounds like this: ah, eh etc.
    ...because that might imply that there is a "h" sound on the end.
    So a is like bat not cake, e is like get not meet, and o is like hot not owe.
     
  7. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    English has a different set of vowels than most languages, so when discussing phonetics, it's better not to think of English at all.
     
  8. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
  9. Isidore Demsky Senior Member

    English
    So in Biblical Hebrew, is ה ever pronounced "e" as in feet?
     
  10. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    Hebrew has 5 vowels, the same as in Spanish. The vowel in "feet" is /i/, so no. If a word ends with the vowel /i/, it ends with י
     
  11. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    Ahh, but! At the start of hifil and hitpael verbs it can be /hi/. For example, lehitra'ot להתראות. In modern days the h is almost silent, but in Biblical times it was presumably pronounced clearly. Also, the vowel in feet is actually /iː/
     
  12. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    Of course any vowel could follow any consonant. The point is that ה never signify that vowel /i/. Also, it's not true that in ancient times ה (the consonant, not the mater lectionis) was always clearly pronounced. Evidence to this could be found in Bar Kokhva's writings. He wrong תשמיים and תכבלים instead of את השמיים and את הכבלים. It's exactly the same as it came to be pronounced in modern Hebrew.
     
  13. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    Bar kokhba came very late on, 2nd century ad. So it's probably the case that originally he was always pronounced clearly, and then it gradually got dropped. Also, remember that the matres lectionis were a later addition, not present originally.
     
  14. arielipi Senior Member

    Israel
    Hebrew
    א - a (a few e, and rarely i)
    ה - a/ e
    ו - o/ u
    י - i/ ay
    ע - e/ a
     
  15. triptonizer Senior Member

    Ghent - Belgium
    Nederlands - België
    @arielipi

    Do you have examples of ayn being used as a mater lectionis in Hebrew? I know it is used like that in Yiddish (and incidentally also in Mandaic Aramaic), but I don't know of any Hebrew examples?

    Our friend Demsky would benefit from reading Gesenius' treatment of Hebrew vowels signs (at least for the classical/biblical stage of the language). Accessible online here.
     
  16. arielipi Senior Member

    Israel
    Hebrew
    אמצע
    קלפטע
    תמונע
     
  17. ystab Senior Member

    Hebrew
    In אמצע the ayin is consonantal.
    קלפטע is in Yiddish.
    תמונע is a name, formed as a compound of תמונה and נע. Still, the ayin is consonantal in נע.

    Ayin is not a mater lectonis in Modern Hebrew.

    Aleph and Heh are also, in some words, mater lectonis of the vowel /o/: רֹאש, צֹאן, זֹאת, נֹאד; שלמֹה, איפֹה, שילֹה, היֹה היה
     
  18. arielipi Senior Member

    Israel
    Hebrew
    תמונע is something of the yemen (im not sure what it is exactly - its not what you said anyhow) and the ayin does act in loans as another em kria
     

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