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Modern Hebrew

Modern Hebrew

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Modern Hebrew also known as Israeli Hebrew or Modern Israeli Hebrew, is the language spoken in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and in some Jewish communities worldwide, from the early 20th century to the present.

Modern Hebrew was developed in the late 19th century and early 20th century in a process often referred to as the "Revival of the Hebrew language".

Modern Hebrew is spoken nowadays by about seven million people—most of them citizens of Israel, or Israeli immigrants living around the world, of which three million are native speakers of Modern Israeli Hebrew, two million are new immigrants, one million are Israeli Arabs and half a million are Israelis
Yerida
Yerida is a Hebrew term referring to emigration by Israeli Jews from the State of Israel. Yerida is the opposite of Aliyah , which is immigration to Israel...

 or non-Israelis who live abroad, mostly in Jewish communities around the world. In addition, Modern Hebrew is also used by about half a million Palestinians living in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 and the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

 who mostly use the language for communication with Israeli officials.

Modern Hebrew is, together with Modern Standard Arabic, the first official language of the modern state of Israel, and even before the state's establishment it was one of the official languages of the British Mandate for Palestine.

The organization which officially investigates and directs the development of the Modern Hebrew language, under the law of the State of Israel, is the Academy of the Hebrew Language
Academy of the Hebrew Language
The Academy of the Hebrew Language was established by the Israeli government in 1953 as the "supreme institution for scholarship on the Hebrew language."-History:...

.

Influences


Nowadays many families have been using Modern Hebrew as the native language for three generations. The main generational differences are in the vocabulary - a difference which is apparent in many spoken languages.

Modern Hebrew has been developing in a multi-lingual environment. Half of the Modern Israeli Hebrew speakers are not native speakers and also the Modern Hebrew native speakers usually learn at least one more foreign language. In this situation, Modern Hebrew is affected intensively by many foreign languages - through the years Modern Israeli Hebrew has borrowed many words from Aramaic, Yiddish, Ladino
Judaeo-Spanish
Judaeo-Spanish , in Israel commonly referred to as Ladino, and known locally as Judezmo, Djudeo-Espanyol, Djudezmo, Djudeo-Kasteyano, Spaniolit and other names, is a Romance language derived from Old Spanish...

, Arabic (mainly spoken Judeo-Arabic
Judeo-Arabic languages
The Judeo-Arabic languages , are a continuum of Arabic dialects spoken by Jews living or formerly living in the Arab world; the term also refers more or less to Classical Arabic written in the Hebrew script, particularly in the Middle Ages. Just as with the rest of the Arab world, Arab Jews had...

 and various Levantine Arabic
Levantine Arabic
Levantine Arabic is a broad variety of Arabic spoken in the 100 to 200 km-wide Eastern Mediterranean coastal strip...

 dialects), German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, Latin, Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

, Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and other languages.

There are also generational differences also indicate a difference in the influences of each generation - while the language of the adult Modern Israeli Hebrew speakers has a strong influence of Yiddish and Slavic languages
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

, or of Arabic and Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, the language of the young Modern Israeli Hebrew speakers has a strong influence of the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

.

According to the Academy of the Hebrew Language
Academy of the Hebrew Language
The Academy of the Hebrew Language was established by the Israeli government in 1953 as the "supreme institution for scholarship on the Hebrew language."-History:...

, in 1880s (the time of the beginning of the Zionist movement and the Hebrew revival) there were mainly three groups of Hebrew regional accents: Ashkenazi
Ashkenazi Hebrew
Ashkenazi Hebrew , is the pronunciation system for Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew favored for liturgical use by Ashkenazi Jewish practice. Its phonology was influenced by languages with which it came into contact, such as Yiddish, German, and various Slavic languages...

 (Eastern European), Sephardi (Spanish/Portuguese/Italian), and Mizrahi (Middle Eastern - largely used by Israelis of Iraqi
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Moroccan
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, Tunisian
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, Egyptian
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syrian
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Yemeni
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 heritage). Over time features of these systems of pronunciation merged, forming a Koiné language
Koine language
In linguistics, a koiné language is a standard language or dialect that has arisen as a result of contact between two mutually intelligible varieties of the same language. Since the speakers have understood one another from before the advent of the koiné, the koineization process is not as rapid...

, and today variation in pronunciation is less dramatic.

Classification


The vast majority of scholars see Modern Hebrew as a direct continuation of Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew, though they concede that it has acquired some European vocabulary and syntactical features, in much the same way as Modern Standard Arabic (or even more so, dialects such as Moroccan Arabic
Moroccan Arabic
Moroccan Arabic is the variety of Arabic spoken in the Arabic-speaking areas of Morocco. For official communications, the government and other public bodies use Modern Standard Arabic, as is the case in most Arabic-speaking countries. A mixture of French and Moroccan Arabic is used in business...

). Two dissenting views are as follows:
  • Paul Wexler claims that modern Hebrew is not a Semitic language at all, but a dialect of "Judaeo-Sorbian". He argues that the underlying structure of the language is Slavic
    Slavic languages
    The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

    , but "re-lexified" to absorb much of the vocabulary and inflectional system of Hebrew in much the same way as a creole
    Creole language
    A creole language, or simply a creole, is a stable natural language developed from the mixing of parent languages; creoles differ from pidgins in that they have been nativized by children as their primary language, making them have features of natural languages that are normally missing from...

    . This view forms part of a larger complex of theories, such as that Ashkenazi Jews
    Ashkenazi Jews
    Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim , are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany...

     are predominantly descended from Slavic and Turkic tribes rather than from the ancient Israelites.
  • Ghil'ad Zuckermann
    Ghil'ad Zuckermann
    Ghil'ad Zuckermann is an Israeli-Italian-British-Australian linguist, expert of language revival, contact linguistics, lexicology and the study of language, culture and identity...

     compromises between Wexler and the majority view: according to him, "Israeli" (his term for Israeli Hebrew) is a Semito-European hybrid language
    Mixed language
    A mixed language is a language that arises through the fusion of two source languages, normally in situations of thorough bilingualism, so that it is not possible to classify the resulting language as belonging to either of the language families that were its source...

    , which is the continuation not only of literary Hebrew but also of Yiddish
    Yiddish language
    Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

    , as well as Polish
    Polish language
    Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

    , Russian
    Russian language
    Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

    , German
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

    , English
    English language
    English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

    , Ladino, Arabic
    Arabic language
    Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

     and other languages spoken by Hebrew revivalists. Thus, "Yiddish is a primary contributor to Israeli Hebrew because it was the mother tongue of the vast majority of revivalists and first pioneers in Eretz Yisrael at the crucial period of the beginning of Israeli Hebrew". According to Zuckermann, although the revivalists wished to speak Hebrew, with Semitic grammar and pronunciation, they could not avoid the Ashkenazi mindset
    Mindset
    In decision theory and general systems theory, a mindset is a set of assumptions, methods or notations held by one or more people or groups of people which is so established that it creates a powerful incentive within these people or groups to continue to adopt or accept prior behaviors, choices,...

     arising from their European background. He argues that their attempt to deny their European roots
    European ethnic groups
    The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe....

    , negate diasporism
    Diaspora
    A diaspora is "the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland" or "people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location", or "people settled far from their ancestral homelands".The word has come to refer to historical mass-dispersions of...

     and avoid hybridity (as reflected in Yiddish) failed. "Had the revivalists been Arabic-speaking or Berber-speaking Jews (e.g. from Morocco), Israeli Hebrew would have been a totally different language – both genetically and typologically, much more Semitic. The impact of the founder population on Israeli Hebrew is incomparable with that of later immigrants."


So far, neither view has gained significant acceptance among mainstream linguists, and both have been criticized by some as being based less on linguistic evidence than post- or anti-Zionist political motivations. However, some linguists, for example American Yiddish scholar Dovid Katz
Dovid Katz
Dovid Katz is an American-born, Vilnius-based Judaic studies professor, Yiddish specialist, and political activist, currently living in Lithuania.-Biography:...

, have employed Zuckermann's glottonym "Israeli" and accept his notion of hybridity. Few would dispute that Hebrew has acquired some European features as a result of having been learned by immigrants as a second language at a crucial formative stage. The identity of the European substrate/adstrate has varied: in the time of the Mandate and the early State, the principal contributor was Yiddish, while today it is American English
American English
American English is a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the world's native speakers of English live in the United States....

. There has also been some influence, on vocabulary rather than structure, from Arabic, both in the form of Palestinian Arabic
Palestinian Arabic
Palestinian Arabic is a Levantine Arabic dialect subgroup spoken by Palestinians and the majority of Arab-Israelis. Rural varieties of this dialect exhibit several distinctive features; particularly the pronunciation of qaf as kaf, which distinguish them from other Arabic varieties...

 and, during the large scale immigrations of Mizrahi Jews
Mizrahi Jews
Mizrahi Jews or Mizrahiyim, , also referred to as Adot HaMizrach are Jews descended from the Jewish communities of the Middle East, North Africa and the Caucasus...

 during the 1950-60s, the Yemenite
Yemeni Arabic
Yemeni Arabic is a cluster of Arabic varieties spoken in Yemen, southwestern Saudi Arabia, and northern Somalia...

 and North African dialects. Some Russian influence may also be observed, both during the founding period and as a result of the wave of immigration from the former Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 following its collapse in 1991
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

.

Consonants


The Hebrew word for consonants is . The following table lists the Hebrew consonants and their pronunciation in IPA transcription:
Consonants
Labial
Labial consonant
Labial consonants are consonants in which one or both lips are the active articulator. This precludes linguolabials, in which the tip of the tongue reaches for the posterior side of the upper lip and which are considered coronals...

Alveolar
Alveolar consonant
Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli of the superior teeth...

Post-
alveolar
Postalveolar consonant
Postalveolar consonants are consonants articulated with the tongue near or touching the back of the alveolar ridge, further back in the mouth than the alveolar consonants, which are at the ridge itself, but not as far back as the hard palate...

Palatal
Palatal consonant
Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate...

Velar
Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

Uvular
Uvular consonant
Uvulars are consonants articulated with the back of the tongue against or near the uvula, that is, further back in the mouth than velar consonants. Uvulars may be plosives, fricatives, nasal stops, trills, or approximants, though the IPA does not provide a separate symbol for the approximant, and...

Glottal
Glottal consonant
Glottal consonants, also called laryngeal consonants, are consonants articulated with the glottis. Many phoneticians consider them, or at least the so-called fricative, to be transitional states of the glottis without a point of articulation as other consonants have; in fact, some do not consider...

Nasal
Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

m n
Plosive p   b t   d k   ɡ ʔ
Affricate
Affricate consonant
Affricates are consonants that begin as stops but release as a fricative rather than directly into the following vowel.- Samples :...

ts     tʃ   dʒ
Fricative
Fricative consonant
Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German , the final consonant of Bach; or...

f   v s   z ʃ   ʒ χ ʁ h    
Approximant
Approximant consonant
Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough or with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives, which do produce a turbulent airstream, and vowels, which produce no...

l j w

Changes in Resh pronunciation


In Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

, the classical pronunciation associated with the consonant ר rêš was flapped ɾ, and was grammatically
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

 treated as an ungeminable
Gemination
In phonetics, gemination happens when a spoken consonant is pronounced for an audibly longer period of time than a short consonant. Gemination is distinct from stress and may appear independently of it....

 phoneme of the language. In most dialects of Hebrew among the Jewish diaspora
Diaspora
A diaspora is "the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland" or "people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location", or "people settled far from their ancestral homelands".The word has come to refer to historical mass-dispersions of...

, it remained a flap or a trill r. However, in some Ashkenazi dialects as preserved among Jews in northern Europe it was a uvular rhotic, either a trill ʀ or a fricative ʁ. This was because many (but not all) native dialects of Yiddish were spoken that way, and their liturgical Hebrew carried the same pronunciation. Some Iraqi Jews also pronounce rêš as a guttural, reflecting their dialect of Arabic.

An apparently unrelated uvular rhotic is believed to have appeared in the Tiberian vocalization
Tiberian vocalization
The Tiberian vocalization is a system of diacritics devised by the Masoretes to add to the consonantal Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible; this system soon became used to vocalize other texts as well...

 of Hebrew, where it is believed to have coexisted with additional non-guttural articulations of /r/ depending on circumstances.

Yiddish influence


Though an Ashkenazi Jew in Czarist Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, the Zionist
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 Eliezer ben Yehuda based his Standard Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 on the Sephardic dialect originally spoken in Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, and therefore recommended an alveolar R. But as the first waves of Jews to resettle in the Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

 were northern Ashkenazi, they came to speak Standard Hebrew with their preferred uvular articulation as found in Yiddish
Yiddish language
Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

 or modern standard German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, and it gradually became the most prestigious pronunciation for the language. The modern State of Israel has Jews whose ancestors came from all over the world, but nearly all of them today speak Hebrew with a uvular R because of its modern prestige and historical elite status.

Israeli Hebrew


Many Jewish immigrants to Israel spoke a variety of Arabic
Varieties of Arabic
The Arabic language is a Semitic language characterized by a wide number of linguistic varieties within its five regional forms. The largest divisions occur between the spoken languages of different regions. The Arabic of North Africa, for example, is often incomprehensible to an Arabic speaker...

 in their countries of origin, and pronounced the Hebrew rhotic as an alveolar trill, identical to Arabic . Under pressure to assimilate, many of them began pronouncing their Hebrew rhotic as a voiced uvular fricative, often identical to Arabic . However, in modern Sephardic and Mizrahi
Mizrahi Jews
Mizrahi Jews or Mizrahiyim, , also referred to as Adot HaMizrach are Jews descended from the Jewish communities of the Middle East, North Africa and the Caucasus...

 poetry and folk music, as well as in the standard (or "standardized") Hebrew used in the Israeli media, an alveolar rhotic is sometimes used.

Oriental speakers tend to use an alveolar trill [r] rather than the uvular trill [ʀ], preserve the pharyngeal consonants /ħ/ and (less commonly) /ʕ/ rather than merging them with /χ ʔ/, preserve gemination, and pronounce /e/ in some places where non-Oriental speakers have null (the so-called shva na). There are mixed views on the status of the two accents. On the one hand, prominent Israelis of Sephardic or Oriental origin are admired for the purity of their speech and Yemenite Jews are often employed as newsreaders. On the other hand, the speech of middle-class Ashkenazim is regarded as having a certain Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

an sophistication, and many speakers of Mizrahi
Mizrahi Jews
Mizrahi Jews or Mizrahiyim, , also referred to as Adot HaMizrach are Jews descended from the Jewish communities of the Middle East, North Africa and the Caucasus...

 origin have moved nearer to this version of Standard Hebrew, in some cases even adopting the uvular resh.

The pairs b~v, k~χ, and p~f were historically allophonic
Allophone
In phonology, an allophone is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds used to pronounce a single phoneme. For example, and are allophones for the phoneme in the English language...

, as a consequence of the phenomenon of spirantization known as begadkefat
Begadkefat
Begadkefat is the name given to a phenomenon of spirantization affecting most plosive consonants of Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic when they are preceded by a vowel and not geminated...

. In Modern Hebrew, however, all six sounds are sometimes phonemic.

This phonemic divergence might be due to a number of factors: mergers involving formerly distinct sounds (historical pronunciation w of vav merging with fricative bet
Bet (letter)
Bet, Beth, Beh, or Vet is the second letter of many Semitic abjads, including Arabic alphabet , Aramaic, Hebrew , Phoenician and Syriac...

, becoming v, historical pronunciation q of kuf
Qoph
Qoph or Qop is the nineteenth letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Syriac, Hebrew and Arabic alphabet . Its sound value is an emphatic or . The OHED gives the letter Qoph a transliteration value of Q or a K and a final transliteration value as a ck...

 merging with plosive kaf
Kaph
Kaph is the eleventh letter of many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Kaf , Arabic alphabet , Persian alphabet...

, becoming k, and historical pronunciation ħ of het
Heth
-People:* Children of Heth, a Canaanite nation in the Hebrew Bible, purportedly named after Heth, son of Canaan, son of Ham, son of Noah* figures in the Book of Mormon:** Heth , an early Jaredite** Heth a later Jaredite...

 merging with fricative kaf
Kaph
Kaph is the eleventh letter of many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Kaf , Arabic alphabet , Persian alphabet...

, becoming x), loss of consonant gemination, which formerly distinguished the stop members of the pairs from the fricatives when intervocalic, and the introduction of syllable-initial f and non-syllable-initial p and b (see Begadkefat
Begadkefat
Begadkefat is the name given to a phenomenon of spirantization affecting most plosive consonants of Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic when they are preceded by a vowel and not geminated...

).

Varieties of ayin


The letter Ayin
Ayin
' or ' is the sixteenth letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic . It is the twenty-first letter in the new Persian alphabet...

 () historically represented a voiced pharyngeal fricative
Voiced pharyngeal fricative
The voiced pharyngeal approximant or fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents it is , and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is ?\....

. Most modern Ashkenazi Jews do not differentiate between and ; however, many Mizrahi Jews distinguish these phonemes, as well as Jews from any background wishing to speak Hebrew in its pure form. Georgian
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 Jews pronounce it as qʼ. Western European Sephardim and Dutch Ashkenazim traditionally pronounce it ŋ (like ng in sing) a pronunciation which can also be found in the Italian
Italian Jews
Italian Jews can be used in a broad sense to mean all Jews living or with roots in Italy or in a narrower sense to mean the ancient community who use the Italian rite, as distinct from the communities dating from medieval or modern times who use the Sephardi or Ashkenazi rite.-Divisions:Italian...

 tradition and, historically, in south-west Germany. (The remnants of this pronunciation are found throughout the Ashkenazi world, in the name "Yankl" and "Yanki", diminutive forms of Jacob
Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

, Heb. ).

Historical sound changes


Standard (non-Oriental) Israeli Hebrew (SIH) has undergone a number of splits and mergers in its development from Biblical Hebrew.
  • BH b had two allophone
    Allophone
    In phonology, an allophone is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds used to pronounce a single phoneme. For example, and are allophones for the phoneme in the English language...

    s, b and v; the v allophone has merged with w into SIH v
  • Whereas BH w has become SIH v, the phoneme w has been re-introduced into modern Israeli Hebrew in some loanword
    Loanword
    A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

    s and their derivations
    Derivation (linguistics)
    In linguistics, derivation is the process of forming a new word on the basis of an existing word, e.g. happi-ness and un-happy from happy, or determination from determine...

     (see Hebrew Vav → Vav as consonant)
  • BH k had two allophones, k and x; the k allophone has merged with q into SIH k, while the x allophone has merged with ħ into SIH χ
  • BH t and tˤ have merged into SIH t
  • BH ʕ and ʔ have usually merged into SIH ʔ, but this distinction may also be upheld in educated speech of many Sephardim and some Ashkenazim
  • BH p had two allophones, p and f; the incorporation of loanwords into Modern Hebrew has probably resulted in a split, so that p and f are separate phonemes.

Dagesh


Hebrew also has dagesh, a phonological process of consonant strengthening that is indicated in pointed texts
Ktiv menuqad
Ktiv menuqad is text in Hebrew supplemented with niqqud diacritics. In modern Israeli orthography niqqud is seldom used, except in specialised texts such as dictionaries, poetry, or texts for children or for new immigrants....

 by a dot placed in the center of a consonant. There are two kinds of strengthenings: light (kal, known also as dagesh lene) and heavy (hazak or dagesh forte). The light version applies to the phonemes /b/ /k/ /p/ (historically, also /ɡ/, /d/ and /t/), causing them to be pronounced as stops rather than fricatives, and operates when the dagesh occurs in the beginning of a word or after a consonant (i.e. a silent shva
Shva
Shva or, in Biblical Hebrew, Sh'wa is a Hebrew niqqud vowel sign written as two vertical dots "ְ" underneath a letter. In Modern Hebrew, it indicates either the phoneme or the complete absence of a vowel , whereas in Hebrew prescriptive linguistics, four grammatical entities are differentiated:...

). The heavy dagesh occurs after vowels and applies to all consonants except gutturals and /r/, originally causing them to be pronounced as geminate (doubled) consonants; it also selects the stop allophone of /b/, /k/, /p/, etc. (In Modern Hebrew, gemination has disappeared, and hence the heavy dagesh has a phonological effect only on /b/ /k/ /p/, affecting them the same as the light dagesh.) Traditional Hebrew grammar distinguishes two sub-categories of the heavy dagesh according to their historical origin: structural heavy (hazak tavniti) and complementing heavy (hazak mashlim). Structural heavy dagesh corresponds to consonant doubling that was inherited from Proto-Semitic, and occurs in certain verb conjugations and noun patterns (mishkalim and binyanim; see Modern Hebrew grammar
Modern Hebrew grammar
Modern Hebrew grammar is the grammar of the Modern Hebrew language. It is partly analytical, expressing such forms as dative, ablative, and accusative using prepositional particles rather than morphological cases. However, inflection plays a decisive role in the formation of the verbs, the...

). Complementing heavy dagesh corresponds to consonant doubling that arose within Hebrew as a result of consonant assimilation
Assimilation (linguistics)
Assimilation is a common phonological process by which the sound of the ending of one word blends into the sound of the beginning of the following word. This occurs when the parts of the mouth and vocal cords start to form the beginning sounds of the next word before the last sound has been...

, most commonly of an /n/ to a following consonant (e.g. Biblical Hebrew /ʔatˈtaː/ "you (m. sg.)" vs. Classical Arabic
Classical Arabic
Classical Arabic , also known as Qur'anic or Koranic Arabic, is the form of the Arabic language used in literary texts from Umayyad and Abbasid times . It is based on the Medieval dialects of Arab tribes...

 /ˈʔanta/).

Vowels




The Hebrew word for vowel
Vowel
In phonetics, a vowel is a sound in spoken language, such as English ah! or oh! , pronounced with an open vocal tract so that there is no build-up of air pressure at any point above the glottis. This contrasts with consonants, such as English sh! , where there is a constriction or closure at some...

s is (תְּנוּעוֹת). The orthographic
Orthography
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...

 representations for these vowels are called Niqqud. Israeli Hebrew has 5 vowel phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

s, represented by the following Niqqud-signs:
phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

pronunciation in
Modern Hebrew
approximate pronunciation
in English
orthographic
Orthography
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...

 representation
"long" *"short" *"very short" / "interrupted" *
/a/ ä (as in "spa") ( ָ ) ( ַ ) ( ֲ )
/e/ (as in "bed") ( ֵי ) or ( ֵ ) ( ֶ ) ( ֱ ), sometimes ( ְ )
/i/ i (as in "ski") ( ִי ) ( ִ )  
/o/ (as in "more") ( וֹ ) or ( ֹ ) ( ָ ) ( ֳ )
/u/ u (as in "flu" but with no diphthongization) ( ֻ )  
* The severalfold orthographic representation of each phoneme attests to the broader phonemic range of vowels in earlier forms of Hebrew. Some linguists still regard the Hebrew grammatical entity of Shva na—marked as Shva
Shva
Shva or, in Biblical Hebrew, Sh'wa is a Hebrew niqqud vowel sign written as two vertical dots "ְ" underneath a letter. In Modern Hebrew, it indicates either the phoneme or the complete absence of a vowel , whereas in Hebrew prescriptive linguistics, four grammatical entities are differentiated:...

 (ְ)—as representing a sixth phoneme, /ə/. However, the phonetic realisation of any Shva in modern Hebrew is never a Schwa
Schwa
In linguistics, specifically phonetics and phonology, schwa can mean the following:*An unstressed and toneless neutral vowel sound in some languages, often but not necessarily a mid-central vowel...

 (the mid central vowel denoted as ə) or any vowel otherwise phonetically distinguishable from the other phonemes, but is rather always either identical to those of the phoneme /e/ or is mute, therefore there is no consensus in this matter.


In Biblical Hebrew, each vowel had three forms: short, long and interrupted . However, there is no audible distinction between the three in modern Israeli Hebrew, except that is often pronounced [eɪ] as in Ashkenazi Hebrew
Ashkenazi Hebrew
Ashkenazi Hebrew , is the pronunciation system for Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew favored for liturgical use by Ashkenazi Jewish practice. Its phonology was influenced by languages with which it came into contact, such as Yiddish, German, and various Slavic languages...

.

Shva



The Niqqud sign "Shva
Shva
Shva or, in Biblical Hebrew, Sh'wa is a Hebrew niqqud vowel sign written as two vertical dots "ְ" underneath a letter. In Modern Hebrew, it indicates either the phoneme or the complete absence of a vowel , whereas in Hebrew prescriptive linguistics, four grammatical entities are differentiated:...

" represents four grammatical entities: resting (nach / ), moving (na / ), floating (merahef / ) and "bleating" or "bellowing" (ga'ya / ). In earlier forms of Hebrew, these entities were phonologically and phonetically distinguishable. However, in Modern Hebrew these distinctions are not observed. For example, the (first) Shva Nach in the word (fem. you crumpled) is pronounced e̞ ([kiˈmäte̞t]) even though it should be mute, whereas the Shva Na in (time), which theoretically should be pronounced, is usually mute ([zmän]). Sometimes the shva is pronounced like a tsere when accented, as in the prefix "ve" meaning "and".

Stress


Hebrew has two frequent kinds of lexical stress, on the last syllable and on the penultimate syllable (the one preceding the last, ; מלעיל), of which the first is more frequent. Contrary to the prescribed standard
Linguistic prescription
In linguistics, prescription denotes normative practices on such aspects of language use as spelling, grammar, pronunciation, and syntax. It includes judgments on what usages are socially proper and politically correct...

, some words exhibit a stress on the antepenultimate syllable or even further back. This occurs often in loanwords, e.g. /poˈlitika/, "politics", and sometimes in native colloquial compounds, e.g. /ˈeχʃehu/, "somehow"; /ˈefoʃehu/, "somewhere". Colloquial stress is also often shifted from the last syllable to the penultimate, contrary to the prescribed standard, e.g. , normative stress /koˈvaʕ/, colloquial stress /ˈkovaʕ/ "hat"; normative stress /ʃoˈvaχ/, colloquial stress /ˈʃovaχ/, "dovecote
Dovecote
A dovecote or dovecot is a structure intended to house pigeons or doves. Dovecotes may be square or circular free-standing structures or built into the end of a house or barn. They generally contain pigeonholes for the birds to nest. Pigeons and doves were an important food source historically in...

". This is also common in the colloquial pronunciation of many personal names, for example normative stress /daˈvid/, colloquial stress /ˈdavid/, "David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

".

Specific rules correlate the location or absence of stress in a syllable with the written representation of vowel length
Vowel length
In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived duration of a vowel sound. Often the chroneme, or the "longness", acts like a consonant, and may etymologically be one, such as in Australian English. While not distinctive in most dialects of English, vowel length is an important phonemic factor in...

 and whether or not the syllable ends with a vowel
Vowel
In phonetics, a vowel is a sound in spoken language, such as English ah! or oh! , pronounced with an open vocal tract so that there is no build-up of air pressure at any point above the glottis. This contrasts with consonants, such as English sh! , where there is a constriction or closure at some...

 or a consonant
Consonant
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the tongue; , pronounced in the throat; and ,...

. Since spoken Israeli Hebrew does not distinguish between long and short vowels, these rules are not evident in speech. They usually cannot be inferred from written text either, since usually vowel diacritics are omitted. The result is that nowadays stress has phonemic value, as the following table illustrates: acoustically, the following word pairs differ only in the location of the stress; orthographically they differ also in the written representation of the length of the vowels, however if vowel diacritics are omitted (as is usually the case in Modern Israeli Hebrew) they are written identically:
common spelling
(Ktiv Hasar Niqqud)
-stressed -stressed
spelling with
vowel diacritics
pronunciation translation spelling with
vowel diacritics
pronunciation translation
/ˈjeled/ boy /jeˈled/ will give birth
/ˈoχel/ food /oˈχel/ eating (masculine
singular participle)
/ˈbokeʁ/ morning /boˈkeʁ/ cowboy


Little ambiguity exists, however, due to context and syntactic features; compare e.g. the English word "conduct" in its nominal and verbal forms.

Vocabulary


Modern Israeli Hebrew has borrowed many words from Aramaic, Yiddish, Ladino
Judaeo-Spanish
Judaeo-Spanish , in Israel commonly referred to as Ladino, and known locally as Judezmo, Djudeo-Espanyol, Djudezmo, Djudeo-Kasteyano, Spaniolit and other names, is a Romance language derived from Old Spanish...

, Arabic (spoken Arabic, mainly Judeo Arabic
Judeo-Arabic languages
The Judeo-Arabic languages , are a continuum of Arabic dialects spoken by Jews living or formerly living in the Arab world; the term also refers more or less to Classical Arabic written in the Hebrew script, particularly in the Middle Ages. Just as with the rest of the Arab world, Arab Jews had...

 and Palestinian Arabic
Palestinian Arabic
Palestinian Arabic is a Levantine Arabic dialect subgroup spoken by Palestinians and the majority of Arab-Israelis. Rural varieties of this dialect exhibit several distinctive features; particularly the pronunciation of qaf as kaf, which distinguish them from other Arabic varieties...

), German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, Latin, Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

, Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and other languages. Some typical examples are:
loanword|derivatives|origin
HebrewIPAmeaningHebrewIPAmeaninglanguagespellingmeaning
ביי /baj/ goodbye   English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

bye
אגזוז /eɡˈzoz/ exhaust
system
Exhaust system
An exhaust system is usually tubing used to guide reaction exhaust gases away from a controlled combustion inside an engine or stove. The entire system conveys burnt gases from the engine and includes one or more exhaust pipes...

  exhaust
system
דיג׳יי /ˈdidʒej/ DJ
Disc jockey
A disc jockey, also known as DJ, is a person who selects and plays recorded music for an audience. Originally, "disc" referred to phonograph records, not the later Compact Discs. Today, the term includes all forms of music playback, no matter the medium.There are several types of disc jockeys...

לדג׳ה /ledaˈdʒe/ to DJ to DJ
ואללה /ˈwala/ really!?   Arabic والله really!?
כיף /kef/ fun לכייף /lekaˈjef/ to have funLoanwords in Hebrew from Arabic كيف pleasure
חפיף /χaˈfif/ lightly להתחפף /lehitχaˈfef/ to scrammorfix dictionary خَفِيف lightly
אבא /ˈaba/ daddy   Aramaic אבא the father
לאלתר /lealˈtar/ immediately לאלתר /lealˈter/ to improvize על אתר right here
חלטורה /χalˈtura/ shoddy job לחלטר /leχalˈter/ to do shoddy work Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

халтура shoddy workLoanwords in Hebrew from Russian
בלגן /balaˈɡan/ mess לבלגן /levalˈɡen/ to make a mess балаган chaos
תכל׳ס /ˈtaχles/ directly   Yiddish תכלית goal
חרופ /χrop/ deep sleep לחרופ /laχˈrop/ to sleep deeply חְרוֹפּ sleep
שפכטל /ˈʃpaχtel/ putty knife
Putty knife
A putty knife is a specialized tool used when glazing single glazed windows, to work putty around the edges of each pane of glass. An experienced glazer will apply the putty by hand, and then smooth it with the knife...

  German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

Spachtel putty knife
גומי /ˈɡumi/ rubber
Rubber
Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, is an elastomer that was originally derived from latex, a milky colloid produced by some plants. The plants would be ‘tapped’, that is, an incision made into the bark of the tree and the sticky, milk colored latex sap collected and refined...

גומיה /ɡumiˈja/ rubber band Gummi rubber
גזוז /ɡaˈzoz/ carbonated
beverage
  Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...


from
French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

gazozLoanwords in Hebrew from Turkish
from
eau gazeuse
carbonated
beverage
פוסטמה /pusˈtema/ stupid woman   Ladino
Ladino
Ladino may refer to:*Ladino is the name used primarily in Israel for Judaeo-Spanish, a Sephardic language, primarily spoken among Sephardic Jews, or for the written form used in religious texts and translations; compare to Ashkenazic Jews' language, Yiddish*Ladino is also used for the variety of...

  inflamed woundLoanwords in Hebrew from Ladino
אדריכל /adriˈχal/ architect
Architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

אדריכלות /adriχaˈlut/ architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

Akkadian erad-ekaly temple servantLoanwords in Hebrew from Akkadian

Sources: