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Re: About Hebrew pronunciation

From:Emily Zilch <emily0@...>
Date:Sunday, May 30, 2004, 20:05
{ 20040530,0618 | Outo Otus }

"I know this isn't specifically to do with conlangs, but I was thinking
about creating a conlang based on Hebrew, and I decided to start
studying Hebrew. I was wondering what pronunciation do most speakers
use? The Sephardic or Ashkenazic? Also, do both the sephardic and
ashkenazic tend to omit the glottal stop, or just the ashkenazic? Also,
do sephardic speakers omit the voiced pharyngeal approximant ('ayin) in
fast / casual speech? Apart from the ashkenazic pronunciation not using
pharyngeal consonants, are there any other differences?"

AFAIK while the Sephardic is the "standard", most Jews are NOT
Sephardic and hence use Ashkenazic standards. In North American
synagogues ("tabernacles"? ha!), you will hear "Good Shabbos" & al.

Also AFAIK all modern speakers whose Hebrew dialect isn't influenced by
substrate/daily use of languages that have pharyngealised or ejective
consonants have none. I've only heard Hebrew spoken without distinctive
sounds for those series (except the "tz" of Sade, which maintains what
was originally a distinctive fricative sound even in ancient times).

My own study and use of Hebrew is somewhat ConLang... I don't pronounce
the singleton consonants as fricatives (i.e. p > f, b > v, t > T etc.),
I do pronounce doubled consonants as such and (perhaps influenced by
Syriac) I pronounce the vowels as such:

"short" a : & (normalised as [æ] = the a-e digraph for those who can't
see it)
"long" a : A: (normalised as [a])
"short" e, i : E (normalised as [e])
"long" i : i: (normalised as [i])
"long" e : e: (normalised with macron in handwritten notes or as [ee]
on computer)
"short" o, u : O (normalised as [o])
"long" u : u: (normalised as [u])
"long" o : /o:/ (normalised with macron in handwritten notes or as [oo]
in a row on computer)
initial w, y with schwa > /u:/, /i:/ respectively
initial alep with schwa > /e/, as in eloohim
other schwas: ignored & unwritten (i.e. oH, uH for words like "Noah"):
inserted as phonologically necessary (as with Syriac)

- I pronounce the emphatic consonants as such;
- 'Second' shin remains a voiceless lateral, its original form
- r is a NON-uvular flap/trill (i.e. not the Modern Hebrew form)
- MOST conlang-y forms change final mim to nun (a late Hebrew change)
and all [r] > /l/
- i don't have enough control of grammar to make intentional
preferential changes. AFAIK, anyway.

It lets me make phonological sense out of the classical Hebrew in an
admittedly idiosyncratic manner. I just offer it in case it is useful
for someone else.



John Cowan <cowan@...>
Steg Belsky <draqonfayir@...>