Hebrew spelling of "mitzvah"

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by MuttQuad, Feb 26, 2014.

  1. MuttQuad

    MuttQuad Senior Member

    New York, NY
    English - AmE
    [h=1]פורטל בני / בנות מצווה - בר / בת מצווה[/h]Elsewhere, in answer to a poster, a link was provided to an Israeli site devoted to bnei mitzvot. Wherever the word for "mitzvah" appeared, as per above, it was spelled with a double-vov.

    I always thought, and believe I have always seen the word spelled as
    [h=1]מצוה[/h]Could someone please explain. Many thanks.
  2. ystab Senior Member

    There are several standards for spelling in Hebrew: with Niqqud, Ktiv Haser and Ktiv Male (the last two are without Niqqud).
    1. With Niqqud the word is written like that - מִצְוָה.
    2. Ktiv Haser is identical to the standard with Niqqud, except that it lacks the diacritic vowels - it is obsolete and may result in ambiguity. The word מצוה is written in Ktiv Haser.
    3. Ktiv Male is the standard used in most texts, as native Hebrew speakers do not use Niqqud in reading and writing after the first or second grade. This standard simplifies reading by using more matres lectionis, and it often doubles consonantal Vav and Yod, in order to differentiate the consonantal Vav and Yod from the matres lectionis. Under this standard, a consonantal Vav in the middle of a word is doubled (with exceptions, but I won't address them now). Therefore, מצווה is the Ktiv Male version of the word.

    See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ktiv_hasar_niqqud
  3. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    If it's not too much trouble, I would like to know what exceptions you are referring to.
  4. MuttQuad

    MuttQuad Senior Member

    New York, NY
    English - AmE
    That's interesting. I take that this makes all the siddurim, haggadahs, and other Hebrew materials used and taught in America obsolete -- unless they are written unvoweled. Does this practice also apply to various forms of the word such as "v'tzivanu" and "mitzvosov"?

    I don't know Latin. What is "matres lectiones"?
  5. k8an Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia.
    English - Australian
    They are usually written with vowels.
  6. arielipi Senior Member

    I disagree entirely, i never write מצוה with two vav for bar mitzvah and such;
    double vav is used when we want to give the sound 'w' or when theres a 'v' sound after an '-u' vowel
  7. origumi Senior Member

    The letters א-ה-ו-י when used to assist in reading rather than serve as consonants. These are not vowels as in European languages, see for example the discussion in a neighbor thread about realization of mater lectionis א as a, o, i (and I guess there are examples of u, e).
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014
  8. MuttQuad

    MuttQuad Senior Member

    New York, NY
    English - AmE
    Thanks to all, especially arielibpi and origumi. I feel that the usual spelling I see of mitzvah with a single vav is confirmed as normal, and I understand mater lectionis to be the use of certain letters, such as aleph, as "holders" for a vowel sound while having no sound of their own, as in a word such as "asher."

    It was over 50 years ago that I was taught to read and write Hebrew, but I still have faith in what I learned from my old Hebrew teachers.

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