Biblical Hebrew Pronunciation

I transliterate the Hebrew words in my gemlog posts, to help those who have not studied Hebrew to be able to pronounce and remember the words. The transliterations may not always be accurate, due to some complexities of Hebrew pronunciation, and my developing understanding of it, and so they should not be considered authoritative. Earlier posts are more likely to contain errors. Most of the difficulties are related to syllabification; the various uses of the dagesh (a dot inside a letter); and the shewa (two vertical dots placed under a consonant).

- I use Mansoor's transliteration scheme, for the most part, as an underlying approach

- I usually do not transliterate multiple-word phrases

- In each post, only the first occurrence of a word form will be transliterated

- When א and ע are silent, they will be transliterated, but surrounded by parentheses or brackets

- I divide words by syllable, using the dash (-) character

Mansoor's Transliteration Scheme


† Per BHRG §, א and ע are not pronounced at the beginning of a word, and א is not pronounced at the end of a word. "In the middle of a word א and ע are pronounced as a glottal stop, made by the complete stoppage of breat in the throat, almost like the "stop" between the two instances of the letter "e" in "re-enact". Per Dr. Barrick, ע may originally have sometimes had a "g"-like glottal sound, like in the city name "Gomorrah", which is עֲמֹרָה in Hebrew.

†† The consonant ח is a sound produced by friction between the back of the tongue and the soft palate. Europeans often approximate this sound by pronouncing it like "ch" in Scottish word "loch".

Vowel Sounds

# Short Vowels

# Long Vowels

# Qamats Qaṭan vs. Qamats

This is a confusing point since the same sign has two sounds. To make the distinction, I refer to Seow's paragraph on Qāmēṣ Ḥāṭûp̄ (p.12):

In a closed syllable, ָ will always be o; elsewhere it is always ā. In addition, a méṯeḡ (see Appendix C.4) may appear with ָ to indicate that it is ā, not o.

From the appendix referenced:

A méṯeḡ "bridle" is a short vertical stroke that calls attention to a noteworthy vocalization within a word.

E.g., חָֽכְמָה.


The shewa, when not silent or a syllable marker, is represented by a superscript e (ᵉ). As such, the shewa is not a vowel, but rather represents the sound of a letter pronounced without a vowel.

The "compound shewas", displayed here with an Aleph (א), are hataph patah (אֲ), hataph segol (אֱ), and hataph qamets (אֳ), and are represented by ă, ĕ, and ŏ, respectively. These are known also as half vowels, semi-vowels, and nuanced shewas. It is my understanding that these half vowels have the same "timbre" as their full vowel counterparts, but are much briefer, though giving more emphasis than a simple shewa (Joüon-Muraoka §9 and §22).

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