ח and כ - Transliteration and pronunciation

Gwunderi

Senior Member
German (CH) / Italian - bilingual
<<< Split off from She will ask thread. >>>

Shalom

Do you have a rule in this forum how to write in English the last letter of הולך or the first of חוזר? (I think it's the same)

Toda raba
 
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  • dotancohen

    New Member
    English - US
    Do you have a rule in this forum how to write in English the last letter of הולך or the first of חוזר? (I think it's the same)

    The letters are not the same, and neither is the pronunciation.

    Ashkanazis will pronounce both ח and כ the same, but Yemenites, Morocans, and others pronounce the כ as you have in Loch Ness, but the ח is pronounced like 'х' in Russian. It is softer, and comes from the throat rather than the mouth.

    I realise that this is an issue of contention and the truth is that I am Ashkanazi and I pronounce the two the same in colliquial speech (as כ). But if I am talking in a more professional manner or if I am talking to my children I take care to pronounce ח correctly.

    As a new member I cannot post links, but search Youtube for צליל מיתר, probably the most beautiful song that I have ever heard in any language. Eyal Golan pronounces both letters very differently in the song, and it sounds distinctively Semetic like Arabic or Amharic. Contrast this to the speech in which ח is pronounced as כ which genreally is also acompanied by very European (German, specifically) cadence.
     

    Gwunderi

    Senior Member
    German (CH) / Italian - bilingual
    The letters are not the same, and neither is the pronunciation.

    Ashkanazis will pronounce both ח and כ the same, but Yemenites, Morocans, and others pronounce the כ as you have in Loch Ness, but the ח is pronounced like 'х' in Russian. It is softer, and comes from the throat rather than the mouth.
    ...
    As a new member I cannot post links, but search Youtube for צליל מיתר, probably the most beautiful song that I have ever heard in any language. Eyal Golan pronounces both letters very differently in the song, and it sounds distinctively Semetic like Arabic or Amharic. Contrast this to the speech in which ח is pronounced as כ which genreally is also acompanied by very European (German, specifically) cadence.
    That's indeed a beatiful song, I heard it already three times (I didn't even know the name Eyal Golan!). And he has a very clear pronunciation; I understand only very few words, but you hear that the pronunciation is very clear.

    In about min. 1:50 in the video I heard, he once says "khooneza" (I don't understand the word and am not sure) - is this the כ like in Loch Ness? And in minute 2:30 - 2:50 there are a few words I'm not sure if they contain the ח (one of it sounds like "khosere").

    The author of the book I learn with is Miriam Rosengarten, which sounds very Askhanazi, but I'm not sure if in the accompagnying CD's it is her who speaks. Next time I hear them I'll pay attention if I hear a difference in the two letters.

    BTW Swiss German sounds different than "proper" German, and we have exactly the same "kh" as in "khooneza". If we want to laugh, we ask a foreigner to say "khookhikhaeshtli" (kitchen board) - even Germans have great difficulties with it, and Italians must completely pass!
     
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    OsehAlyah

    Senior Member
    English(USA), Russian
    In about min. 1:50 in the video I heard, he once says "khooneza" (I don't understand the word and am not sure) - is this the כ like in Loch Ness?
    Only heard the melody play at 1:50, no words. :(
    But here's a link to the lyrics of the song: http://shironet.mako.co.il/artist?type=lyrics&lang=1&prfid=92&wrkid=2701

    And in minute 2:30 - 2:50 there are a few words I'm not sure if they contain the ח (one of it sounds like "khosere").
    This section contains the Chorus (פזמון)
    לא אל תוותרי קבלי אותי אלייך
    כי כל יום שבא והולך הוא נצח בלעדייך
    תראי אותי כמו ילד שכואב לו
    חבקי אותי אני כבר מתמוטט פה.

    Perhaps hearing a song performed by Ishai Levy (ישי לוי) might reveal the sound of ע by those who pronounce it.
     
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    tFighterPilot

    Senior Member
    Israel - Hebrew
    In about min. 1:50 in the video I heard, he once says "khooneza"
    That's actually the end of the word Holekh ("walks" or in this case "passes") the entirety of the word Hoo ("he" or in this case "is") and the beginning of Netsaḥ (eternity). The whole sentence is "Because every day that comes and passes is eternity without you"
     

    arielipi

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    genghis khan is the source of why i prefer kh and ch.
    also to hear the ayin, listen to amir benayun
    << links removed >>
     
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    Gwunderi

    Senior Member
    German (CH) / Italian - bilingual
    That's actually the end of the word Holekh ("walks" or in this case "passes") the entirety of the word Hoo ("he" or in this case "is") and the beginning of Netsaḥ (eternity). The whole sentence is "Because every day that comes and passes is eternity without you"
    Now I hear the "holekh" too, that's exactly the passage I mean. But I didn't know נצח yet ("eternity").

    This section contains the Chorus (פזמון)
    לא אל תוותרי קבלי אותי אלייך
    כי כל יום שבא והולך הוא נצח בלעדייך
    תראי אותי כמו ילד שכואב לו
    חבקי אותי אני כבר מתמוטט פה.
    So in the Chorus I know understand only this sentence
    כי כל יום שבא והולך הוא נצח בלעדייך

    I already understood ... כי כל יום שבא והולך הוא, and now I also know נצח, and בלעדייך I think is a compound with "bli", this "without you" probably (and now confirmed by Google translator).

    That's very romantic, so when I'll understand the whole song it will become even more beautiful. :)
    Only heard the melody play at 1:50, no words. :(

    Here is where I heard it btw: <<link removed>>

    תודה רבה
     
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    Gwunderi

    Senior Member
    German (CH) / Italian - bilingual
    Perhaps hearing a song performed by Ishai Levy (ישי לוי) might reveal the sound of ע by those who pronounce it.
    I heard now a few songs of him, and I must say, I simply love them.

    The first I heard was אבא, and when he sings עכשיו אני I clearly hear the difference, the a in עכשיו is rather something between the a in אני and the o in אוכל. I think I pronounce it correctly now (although I should pass a test by a native speaker to be really sure).

    I also love this song2 (like most of him). Here the melody sounds a bit Russian, but than also contains passages which sound more Oriental or Arabic, a strange mix.

    And I also clearly hear the difference betweeen כ and ח. I pronounced both the same way like in הולך, but (as in this sketch song3) the ח in חזרתי is much softer, or also in חיים; more like an aspirated "h"? With this sound I have more difficulties than with ע (as dotancohen seemingly has?), but "somehow" I now got it too.

    Thank you very much!

    I see now that I can't post links:
    2) I think the title is "די לך" of the album את?
    3) It's the song where he repeatedly begins with: ... אמרתי לך כבר אלף פעם שאני אדם
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    If you look carefully, [x] (Latin X) is not the same as [χ] (Greek Chi). The former is the voiceless velar fricative, the latter is the voiceless uvular fricative.
    I did look carefully and on my screen I see 4 times a small x and not [x] and [χ]. It may be a problem of my browser.

    Anyway, [χ] is the modern day outcome of the merger of [x] and [ħ] and thus not relevant to this discussion which is obviously about the pre-merger sounds.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    I did look carefully and on my screen I see 4 times a small x and not [x] and [χ]. It may be a problem of my browser.

    Anyway, [χ] is the modern day outcome of the merger of [x] and [ħ] and thus not relevant to this discussion which is obviously about the pre-merger sounds.

    Why? The letter כ with a dot was always used in Judeo-Arabic for خ, which is uvular [χ], rather than using ח with a dot. This suggests that the Hebrew כ had the same sound.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    The Khaph sound is an allophonic realization of /k/ in Aramaic from where it entered Hebrew. It has nothing to do with the Semitic ḫ which at that time had already merged into ḥ in both Aramaic and Hebrew. There is no reason to believe that Khaph was anything but a spirantized [k] in Mishnaic Hebrew.

    If the original Semitic ḫ was [x], [χ] or free or dialectal variation of the two cannot be determined and also in Arabic خ varies between [x] and [χ] from dialect to dialect.
     
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    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    The Khaph sound is an allophonic realization of /k/ in Aramaic from where it entered Hebrew. It has nothing to do with the Semitic ḫ which at that time had already merged into ḥ in both Aramaic and Hebrew. There is no reason to believe that Khaph was anything but a spirantized [k] in Mishnaic Hebrew.

    If the original Semitic ḥ was [x], [χ] or free or dialectal variation of the two cannot be determined and also in Arabic خ varies between [x] and [χ] from dialect to dialect.

    You are making no sense to me.

    The original Semitic ḥ was not [x] or [χ]. Spirantized /k/ does not necessarily mean it has the exact same place of articulation, and I never said it had anything to do with Semitic ḫ. The ideal pronunciation of Arabic خ is [χ], even if some dialects have [x]. And the Arabic speaking Jews saw more in common between the خ and the khaf than between the خ and the ח, leading them to choose כ rather than the more logical ח as the base letter to represent خ.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    The original Semitic ḥ was not [x] or [χ]
    Of course not, that was a typing mistake which I have now corrected. I obviously meant ḫ.

    Spirantized /k/ does not necessarily mean it has the exact same place of articulation
    Unless there is positive evidence to the contrary it does. There should be a phonological reason for the spirantized [k] to move further back. Many languages have developed a spirantized [k] and it being further back than the original sound is not something that usually occurs. Influence by a residue of ḫ could be such a reason but that didn't exist, neither in Aramaic nor in Hebrew of that period. Also modern Aramaic (Syriac) has Khaph=[x] and not [χ].
    And the Arabic speaking Jews saw more in common between the خ and the khaf than between the خ and the ח
    That is a matter of course, independently of whether Khaph was [x] or [χ] or anything in between.
     
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    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Of course not, that was a typing mistake which I have now corrected. I obviously meant ḫ.
    Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    Unless there is positive evidence to the contrary it does.
    Unless there is any kind of evidence, you can't make any assumptions at all. All the spirantized letters are today (by those who preserve the distinction in Hebrew or Aramaic) articulated in a different place from the corresponding plosive: [ b] (bilabial) vs [v] (labiodental), [g] (velar) vs [ʁ] (uvular), [d] (alveolar) vs [ð] (interdental), [k] (velar) vs [χ] (uvular), [p] (bilabial) vs [f] (labiodental), [t] (alveolar) vs [θ] (interdental). This is not as surprising as it might seem and happens in numerous languages that underwent spirantization of plosives. There is no rule that says spirantization must preserve the place of articulation.

    That is a matter of course, independently of whether Khaph was [x] or [χ] or anything in between.
    It's a clue, even if it's not conclusive evidence.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Sorry for the misunderstanding.
    I have to apologize. I was my mistake.:)
    [ b] (bilabial) vs [v] (labiodental), ..., [d] (alveolar) vs [ð] (interdental), ..., [p] (bilabial) vs [f] (labiodental), [t] (alveolar) vs [θ] (interdental)
    All of these outcomes are regular, in the sense that they often occur in languages that have undergone plosive spirantization. Spirantized g = [ʁ] and spirantized k = [χ] are very unlikely outcomes except as a result of a merger with or influence by other guttural fricatives. I wonder what language/dialect you had in mind when you postulated spirantized g = [ʁ].
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    I have to apologize. I was my mistake.:)
    All of these outcomes are regular, in the sense that they often occur in languages that have undergone plosive spirantization. Spirantized g = [ʁ] and spirantized k = [χ] are very unlikely outcomes except as a result of a merger with or influence by other guttural fricatives. I wonder what language/dialect you had in mind when you postulated spirantized g = [ʁ].

    What I find with [ʁ] is that this sound is often transcribed as [ɣ] even when it is really uvular. I guess it's a more convenient transcription. Likewise for [x]. I don't why you're surprised. Most dialects of Dutch have g=[ʁ~χ]. Even in many dialects of German, ch=[χ]. In some dialects of English, /k/ is sometimes pronounced [χ].
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Most dialects of Dutch have g=[ʁ~χ]. Even in many dialects of German, ch=[χ].
    I don't agree. Southern dialect even palatalize <g>. ch=[χ] occurs regularly only in Swiss German. In other dialects, ch is [x~χ] with [χ] as relative rare realization. Maybe you hear those sounds as uvular because they often trilled. This does not necessarily mean it is uvular. The most typical realizations are velar or post-velar.

    Anyhow, since we agree, as far as I can see, that the difference between [x] and [χ] is small in comparison to [ħ] and that languages that have an opposition between /x/ and /ħ/ and /χ/ and /ħ/ would have no difficulty identifying the respective phonemes, there is no need to resolve this difference in opinion for the purpose of this discussion.
     
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    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    I don't agree. Southern dialect even palatalize <g>. ch=[χ] occurs regularly only in Swiss German. In other dialects, ch is [x~χ] with [χ] as relative rare realization. Maybe you hear those sounds as uvular because they often trilled. This does not necessarily mean it is uvular. The most typical realizations are velar or post-velar.

    I know that Flemish has a palatalized [ʝ], but other dialects still have [ʁ~χ]. And for German, I was in fact referring to Swiss, but I didn't want to exclude any others that might happen to have [χ] as well.

    Anyhow, since we agree, as far as I can see, that the difference between [x] and [χ] is small in comparison to [ħ] and that languages that have an opposition between /x/ and /ħ/ and /χ/ and /ħ/ would have no difficulty identifying the respective phonemes, there is no need to resolve this difference in opinion for the purpose of this discussion.

    That's a good point.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    So from listening to Biblical recordings in Hebrew, am I correct to surmise that -- depending on background or preference -- het is read uniformly as either [ḥ] or [x], but there is no reading tradition today that pronounces it as [ḥ] in some words and [x] in others? (i.e. we are dealing with one single phoneme with two different modes of pronunciation, rather than two distinct phonemes that are pronounced the same way?)
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    That's a rather complicated question. It may have happened in Babylonia, or it may have happened in Germany. We don't really know for sure.

    But it was a merger that only appeared in Ashkenazi pronunciation, until Modern Israel where it spread to other groups of Jews.

    But it is comparable to the same exact merger that took place in many dialects of Northeastern Neo-Aramaic, and for that reason it is possible to suspect that the Ashkenazi merger may have roots in Babylonia.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    But it was a merger that only appeared in Ashkenazi pronunciation, until Modern Israel where it spread to other groups of Jews.
    Does that mean 19th century Sephardi pronunciation did not have that merger. Not even Netherlandic Sephardi? I find that hard to believe.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Does that mean 19th century Sephardi pronunciation did not have that merger. Not even Netherlandic Sephardi? I find that hard to believe.

    Oh right I forgot that the Dutch Sephardim say "ch" instead of "h".

    It could have spread there earlier. It could have happened independently. Or it could have similar Babylonian origins.
     
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    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    My understanding is that even Yemenite Jews pronounce het uniformly with a [ḥ] and there is no Hebrew text that distinguishes orthographically between hets that were originally [ḥ] and hets that were originally [x]. So it would not have happened in Europe.

    Now if my understanding is incorrect and there are in fact Bibles that indicate the distinction that would be cool.

    But the fact that no effort is made to mark this distinction orthographically leads me to believe the merger is quite old. My question is how old, though (before the first millennium BC or after)?
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Here's what you misunderstood:

    First, /ḥ/ and Proto-Semitic /*x/ merged in all varieties of Hebrew.

    Then, /k/ spirantized to /x/ in some circumstances.

    Later, /ḥ/ merged with the new /x/ in some pronunciation traditions.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Thanks, Drink

    Here's what you misunderstood:

    First, /ḥ/ and Proto-Semitic /*x/ merged in all varieties of Hebrew.

    Yes, which is the merger I'm asking about. Are you saying they merged into /ḥ/ or into /x/, or both (i.e. there were two dialects)? And if so, when did the merger happen exactly?

    Then, /k/ spirantized to /x/ in some circumstances.

    Later, /ḥ/ merged with the new /x/ in some pronunciation traditions.

    Ok that's interesting but this 'merger' would not appear in the written text would it? (you would still have hets and spirantized kefs represented by different characters)
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Yes, which is the merger I'm asking about. Are you saying they merged into /ḥ/ or into /x/, or both (i.e. there were two dialects)? And if so, when did the merger happen exactly?

    There is no evidence of it anything other than it merging to /ḥ/ universally. However, it is not impossible that some pronunciations merged the other way without leaving much a of a trace, though I'd say it is doubtful that that played a part in the development of the pronunciation in Babylonia.

    Ok that's interesting but this 'merger' would not appear in the written text would it? (you would still have hets and spirantized kefs represented by different characters)

    No it is not written at all in Hebrew. At least not directly. There is indirect evidence of it from scribal errors and transcriptions.

    Interestingly, in the Jewish literary variety of Northeastern Neo-Aramaic (attested around the 17th century), this merger was in fact reflected in the writing. For example, the infinitive of "to open" was pthākha, written פתאכא. While ח was reserved for Hebrew words, Arabic borrowings, and the few words in which the /ḥ/ sound survived.

    In Christian literary varieties, however, the etymological distinction is maintained to this day, even in dialects that merge them, in which case they have difficulty distinguishing in writing the exceptions in which they pronounce it /ḥ/.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    There are three distinct shifts:
    1. Phonemic merger of ḥ and x to ḥ with the corresponding merger for their voiced counterpart, which completely removed the sound x, both phonemic and allophonic.
    2. Allophonic spirantization k>x, which recreated the sound albeit only allophonically.
    3. Merger of ḥ and to x.
    Shift 1. happend some time in Biblical time. When es not clear since neither ḥ and x nor ɣ and ʕ were ever distinguished in spelling. In the Canaanite language for which the alphabet was invented obviously underwent the mergers earlier.

    Shift 2. happened in the late 2nd Temple period under Aramaic influence.

    Shift 3. must have happened after that.

    All the differences between modern varieties are only about 3. Some varieties have undone 3 of 6 allophonic shitfs that happened with 2 but none affect the k>x shift.
     
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    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    There are three distinct shifts:
    1. Phonemic merger of ḥ and x to ḥ with the corresponding merger for their voiced counterpart, which completely removed the sound x, both phonemic and allophonic.
    2. Allophonic spirantization k>x, which recreated the sound albeit only allophonically.
    3. Merger of ḥ and to x.
    Shift 1. Happend some time in Biblical time. When es not clear since neither ḥ and x nor ɣ and ʕ were ever distinguished in spelling. In the Canaanite language for which the alphabet was invented obviously underwent the mergers earlier.

    Very interesting. So if we were to read a non-Hebrew Canaanite text (e.g. in Punic or Moabite), we should read all the hets as [ḥ]?

    Shift 2. happened in the late 2nd Temple period under Aramaic influence.

    Again interesting how such a relatively late development was incorporated so thoroughly into the standard language, but I suppose that's because it was the period when the Bible itself was being complied and given its definitive form? EDIT: Sorry I just noticed you said *late* period.
     

    Ihsiin

    Senior Member
    English
    Again interesting how such a relatively late development was incorporated so thoroughly into the standard language, but I suppose that's because it was the period when the Bible itself was being complied and given its definitive form? EDIT: Sorry I just noticed you said *late* period.

    I think there was a time when all practitioners of Judaism would have been native speakers of Aramaic (actually I'm not 100% sure about this in the case of Yemen, please correct me if I'm wrong) - that is to saw, those who used Hebrew for liturgical purposes would have spoken Aramaic in their day-to-day lives. As all pronunciation conventions of Hebrew come via the native languages of those who used them, it is not surprising that features of Aramaic are present in all current pronunciation traditions of Hebrew.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    I do not know if that is correct.

    It is quite certain in Mishnaic times, Hebrew was still evolving the way a natural language evolves, rather than a literary language. So some people at that time still spoke Hebrew as a native language.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I do not know if that is correct.

    It is quite certain in Mishnaic times, Hebrew was still evolving the way a natural language evolves, rather than a literary language. So some people at that time still spoke Hebrew as a native language.
    In early Mishnaic times. But by the end of the second Tempel period it unlikely it was still a language spoken naturally in daily life and Hebrew pronunciation was dominated by Aramaic in a similar way as ecclesiastical Latin is dominated by Italian.
     

    tFighterPilot

    Senior Member
    Israel - Hebrew
    I'd like to add that the merger probably happened after the Septuagint (bible translation to Greek) was written in the 3rd century BC, since we do see a distinction between Rachel (Ραχήλ רחל) and Isaac (Ισαάκ יצחק). There were also two kinds of ע ('ayin and ghayin) as evident by the difference between Gaza (Γάζα עזה) and Azazel (Aζαζέλ עזאזל)
     
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