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attitudes towards certain pronunciations of Hebrew - UniLang

attitudes towards certain pronunciations of Hebrew

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ta
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attitudes towards certain pronunciations of Hebrew

Postby ta » 2008-04-10, 5:55

I'm studying modern Hebrew, and my course uses a pronunciation which, as far as I know, is considered standard and unmarked, where ayin and aleph are not distinguished, hei is sometimes not pronounced, there is no difference between tav and tet, het and khaf, qok and kaf, and a uvular r is used.

I'm fine with the accent, but when it comes to spelling, having so many letters sounding the same is rather difficult.

Now, I lived in Lebanon for a few years, learned some Arabic, and have no problem pronouncing emphatic consonants like qof, het or tet, or pronouncing alpeh and ayin.

So, the question: if I use a pronunciation that differentiates between the letters I mentioned, what would be the reactions from Israelis? and from Jews outside of Israel? would it be perceived as nice (because it's closer to the original pronunciation), low-class or ugly (because it could be taken as arabicised), or simply quaint (because it resembles the speech of some particular group?)

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Postby NulNuk » 2008-04-10, 7:14

there is not and never was a difference between Alef and Hey, they are some thing that had left from the
times before the "Tiberian" punctuation, when "imut kria" was used.
before the "Tiberian" punctuation was invented in the 6/7 century, there was no vowels in Hebrew, and ppl used "Imut kria" letters;
Alef= A (in most cases), Hey= A, E in the end of the words (and O in some cases)
Vav= O and U, Yod= I or IE.
but, as you can see, "Imut Kria" is not perfect, and than in the 6/7 century, many kinds of punctuation systems were invented, today we use the Tiberian punctuation (nikud Tiberiany).
(Imut kria= reading confirmation).

(when hey appears in the middle of the word, it is pronounced like the H in hot, but thats a newer use).

about the rest, resh in modern Hebrew is not pronounced like in ancient Hebrew, but no one knows how it was pronounced, there are only especulations.
Tet is not an Hebrew letter, and its used for non Hebrew words (including words that entered Hebrew in biblical times),
it is speculated that it sounds different, and it was used because the words that entered Hebrew used this sound, but no one knows for sure if there is difference
between tet and tav.
there was a time when Hebrew experts thought that the Yemenite pronunciation is the right one, but today we know that they just "borrow" from Arabic,
and the right pronunciation is different.

any way, if you want to use the Yemenite pronunciation, as you suggest, ppl wont see it as weird, even if not always know what you want.
(they`ll probably just think you are a Yemenite).
the only thing, don`t use Yemenite Tzadic, this one may actually confuse ppl.
Every thing I write, wrote, or will write, its in my own opinion, for I have no other.
Release me from the duty of being polite and remind you, "I made use of my own brain".

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Postby Kuba » 2008-04-10, 7:27

NulNuk, sometimes your ignorance in linguistic matters astonishes me.
there is not and never was a difference between Alef and Hey

before the "Tiberian" punctuation was invented in the 6/7 century, there was no vowels in Hebrew

resh in modern Hebrew is not pronounced like in ancient Hebrew, but no one knows how it was pronounced, there are only especulations.

Tet is not an Hebrew letter

there was a time when Hebrew experts thought that the Yemenite pronunciation is the right one, but today we know that they just "borrow" from Arabic,
and the right pronunciation is different.

Where do you get all this misinterpretations/falsehood from???
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Postby NulNuk » 2008-04-10, 7:37

Eben Shoshan dictionary. (the most respected Hebrew dictionary).
The Hebrew department in Bar Ilan university.

and you? , from wikywhateverpedia??? :0P
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Release me from the duty of being polite and remind you, "I made use of my own brain".

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Postby Kuba » 2008-04-10, 7:41

No - rather from lectures at the department of linguistics and the department of Jewish studies at my University... Anyway as far as I know Even-Shoshan is a dictionary and not a book on language history...
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Postby NulNuk » 2008-04-10, 7:51

Eben Shoshan is a dictionary wrote by Hebrew linguistic experts,
and if you buy the complete edition (like me :0}),
than the last chapters of the book are about linguistics and have also some Hebrew history because of that.

and I do trust them more than you`r university in this case,
because they are talking about theories and speculations, showing the most accepted ones, and from what you write, it looks like they are teaching you speculations and theories like absolute true,in your university, which in this case is very wrong thing to do. >:0{
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Release me from the duty of being polite and remind you, "I made use of my own brain".

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Postby NulNuk » 2008-04-10, 8:05

btw, just to make it clear, even though today we know the Yemenite pronunciation,
its not the right Hebrew pronunciation, as some speculated in the past,
it is accepted, that the Yemenite pronunciation is probably the closer to the ancient Hebrew pronunciation,
though some speculate that actually the Iraqi pronunciation is the closer one today.

but today, because some things in the Yemenite pronunciation, it is accepted that they borrowed from Yemenite Arabic,
just as the rest of Hebrew speakers borrowed from local languages around the world.
Last edited by NulNuk on 2008-04-10, 8:07, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Kuba » 2008-04-10, 8:05

No, they are not teaching it as absolute truth - but YOU are talking about Even-Shoshans reconstructions and theories as if THEY were absolute truth...
And you are mixing up stuff: saying that Hebrew had no vowels befor the Tiberian Niqqud system, tsk tsk. 1) there were other punctuation systems in use, too, and 2) Hebrew did not write its vowels (except by matres lectionis), but it had vowels for sure. Otherways the whole nonconcatenative grammar would be pointless. ;)
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Postby NulNuk » 2008-04-10, 8:11

I did not say it had no vowels, I wrote it had no punctuation, on the contrary, I wrote it used "Imut Kria" for the vowels.

and the other punctuation systems in Hebrew are also from around the same time as the Tiberian system used today.

and I`m not talking about Eben shoshan as absolute, but rather more respected, which is not the same.

(and Eben Shoshan make no reconstructions, the Hebrew academy those that, Eben Shoshan actually those what the Hebrew academy should do, they only study the language, and document it).
Every thing I write, wrote, or will write, its in my own opinion, for I have no other.
Release me from the duty of being polite and remind you, "I made use of my own brain".

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Re: attitudes towards certain pronunciations of Hebrew

Postby Kuba » 2008-04-10, 8:25

Returning to the question:
ta wrote:So, the question: if I use a pronunciation that differentiates between the letters I mentioned, what would be the reactions from Israelis? and from Jews outside of Israel? would it be perceived as nice (because it's closer to the original pronunciation), low-class or ugly (because it could be taken as arabicised), or simply quaint (because it resembles the speech of some particular group?)

You are from China, arn't you, ta? If this is the case I don't think most Israelis would assign usual sociolinguistic assumptions to your speech (like "He's a Yemenite" or similar ones). I think they simply would be flaggerbastered - it would be like someone from Nigeria speaking fluent Viennese in Berlin or a Japanese person speaking fluent Skanish in Stockholm... ;)
Last edited by Kuba on 2008-04-10, 8:34, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ta » 2008-04-10, 8:29

Yes, let's bring this back to the original question: I'm not interested in what was historical and what not, and what was right and not. How Hebrew was pronounced in the past is of no relevance, what is relevant is THE PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES OF ISRAELIS AND OF JEWS OUTSIDE ISRAEL to a pronunciation that distinguishes ayin, het, hey, khaf, qof, kaf, tav and tet.

And, by the way, no, I'm not Asian, but Mexican, with a mixed heritage that would let me pass for Mediterranean or Eastern European.

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Postby NulNuk » 2008-04-10, 8:37

Kuba just answered that on hes last post.

the pronunciation you are suggesting to use is either the Yemenite or the Iraqi,
they are legitimate pronunciations, even if used only by those groups, so you can use them, no problem.
(maybe a bit weird to see a Chinese using it, but no more than that).
Every thing I write, wrote, or will write, its in my own opinion, for I have no other.
Release me from the duty of being polite and remind you, "I made use of my own brain".

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Postby Babelfish » 2008-04-11, 14:51

I'm not sure it would be exactly as Kuba has written, since this would not only be fluent Hebrew but also with a more exact pronunciation which is hardly used today. Het and Ayin are still often pronounced distinctively by "eastern" Isrealis (those whose families came from Arabic countries) and of course Arab Israelis; the same goes for the 'r' sound - you can use the Arabic sound (it's the same sound in Russian BTW). The other emphatic consonants are rarely heard, at least from my own experience. This would be considered Arabic accent, probably.
If you can pass for a Mediterranean then people might just think you're an "eastern" Jew yourself :wink:

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Postby ta » 2008-04-15, 9:00

Thanks for the explanation, Babelfish. It's useful to have the opinion of someone using the language in Israel.

What about vowels next to het? does the a in maHar (tomorrow) sound any darker or different from the a in makhar (he sold) with people who differentiate between het and khaf?

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Postby MiOB » 2008-04-15, 9:41

You know, I must say that "darker" is a new and colorful way of describing it. :P Though, I could not fully understand what you were trying to ask.

Well, as for your question:
Basically, there is indeed a definite distinction between the pronunciation of Het and Khaf; Het being a voiceless pharyngeal (produced where the section of the throat connects with the nose and mouth.) fricative, and Khaf being a voiceless velar (produced with the tongue up or near the soft palate - just like German "ch", as it is mostly known as.) fricative.

Pragmatically, however, there is hardly any difference in everyday speech; In fact, most Israelis produce neither of the above, but a totally different consonantal sound - voiceless uvular fricative, for both vowels.
There is, however, ethnic groups who have their own distinct pronunciation, such as Yemenite Israelis, U.S.S.R. Israelis and more.

If that was not what you were asking about, then I apologize in advance for wearying you through all the text, which you might have already known by yourself. :P Perhaps you were trying to ask whether vowels change (say, from /a/ to /e/) when preceding Het or Khaf? (Such as "Ha'haruv" to "He'haruv")

Perhaps you could think of a different way of asking it. :)

Omri :D

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Postby ta » 2008-04-16, 5:15

yeah, I think I wasn't very clear.

In Arabic, vowels change according to the consonants surrounding them. So, for example, the a's in a word like maHar (with het) would sound sort of like the "a" in car or fast (think British pronunciation), while the a's in makhar (with khaf) would sound more like the a in cat.

So, do Israeli's who use Het also use different vowel qualities? or do the a's in maHar and makhar sound the same even by speakers who pronounce the het different?

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Postby MiOB » 2008-04-16, 11:59

OK, I got you now. :D

Well, Hebrew "officially" has only one low vowel - /a/. (open front un-rounded vowel.) Therefore, even when taking into account different pronunciations of Hebrew by ethnic groups, age groups or any other characteristic - all should be pronouncing it as /a/.
It could be, however, that people indeed audibly pronounce different low vowels without even knowing they do, if by being influenced by their own native language (Arabic, mostly, which has a much richer "vowel storeroom"), or people who just speak incorrectly - I know teenagers who do. :? :haha:

Also, back in the times, Patah was used to distinguish between short /a/ and long /a/. I seriously doubt that it is the same way nowadays, in any ethnic group.

I hope I answered to the point this time. :P

Omri :D

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Postby ta » 2008-04-18, 1:19

toda raba Omri, you've totally answered my question.

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Hebrew pronunciation

Postby 0stsee » 2008-05-07, 16:23

Babelfish wrote:I'm not sure it would be exactly as Kuba has written, since this would not only be fluent Hebrew but also with a more exact pronunciation which is hardly used today. Het and Ayin are still often pronounced distinctively by "eastern" Isrealis (those whose families came from Arabic countries) and of course Arab Israelis; the same goes for the 'r' sound - you can use the Arabic sound (it's the same sound in Russian BTW). The other emphatic consonants are rarely heard, at least from my own experience. This would be considered Arabic accent, probably.
If you can pass for a Mediterranean then people might just think you're an "eastern" Jew yourself :wink:

Thanks, Babelfish!
I'd like to stick to the easiest pronunciation of Hebrew.
Now, are you saying most Israelis nowadays pronounce het (do you mean hé or xet?) and ayin the same? :?:
Which one is the "standard" pronunciation of R? In the audio clip my Israeli friend showed me, the speaker has an R similar to Russian, which according to your post, is not standard. Yet he told me that that's the pronunciation newscasters use. :?
What I mean with the vocalization or dropping or R is like in England English, where "park the car there" sounds like "paak the caa theh". Do some native speakers drop or vocalize their R's when speaking Hebrew?
Ini tandatanganku.

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Re: Hebrew pronunciation

Postby Babelfish » 2008-05-09, 14:52

0stsee wrote:Now, are you saying most Israelis nowadays pronounce het (do you mean hé or xet?) and ayin the same? :?:

Oh no, no! I hope I haven't confused you :oops: I meant that many Israelis (not sure if most) pronounce xet (ח) just like khaf (כ) without dagesh, a velar fricative, and ayin like alef, that is - barely pronounced (the actual glottal stop isn't often heard); but Jews from Arabic countries often pronounce pharyngeal ח and ע, distinct from כ and א respectively.
0stsee wrote:Which one is the "standard" pronunciation of R? In the audio clip my Israeli friend showed me, the speaker has an R similar to Russian, which according to your post, is not standard. Yet he told me that that's the pronunciation newscasters use. :?
What I mean with the vocalization or dropping or R is like in England English, where "park the car there" sounds like "paak the caa theh". Do some native speakers drop or vocalize their R's when speaking Hebrew?

Oh, I wouldn't know... Maybe the uvular trill (IPA 'R') could be called "standard". The Arabic/Russian R-sound would also be understood and accepted. Frankly, even the English R would be understood (we've got enough Americans Jews trying to speak Hebrew ;) ) but no native Hebrew speaker uses it.


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