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1.4  Hebrew Guttural Letters

Hebrew Consonants -

The Hebrew Guttural Letters

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The guttural letters Aleph, Hey, Chet, Ayin and Resh, are created in the throat. Because of the movement of the tongue and throat necessary to pronounce these letters, the normal flow of speech is interrupted whenever these gutturals are spoken.

AlephHeyChetAyinResh
Cantor

Grammatical Peculiarities (Advanced Information)

These letters have the following peculiarities:

  • Aleph is pronounced more or less like a pause, as in the the opening syllable of the word “o-clock”.
  • Hey is the sound of a huff of breath.
  • Chet sounds like the German “ch” as in Bach.
  • Ayin is pronounced in the back of the throat -- almost as if you were clearing your throat.
  • Resh is also pronounced in the back of the throat, a little lower down than Ayin.
  • They will never take a dagesh forte (dot inside of them). You will learn more about “dotted letters” in Unit Three.
  • The gutturals prefer A-Type vowels beneath them (more on this in Unit Two).
  • The gutturals receive a composite sheva (chateph forms) beneath them rather than a vocal sheva (however, they can (and do) take a sheva nach, or silent sheva). Yes, this is confusing -- but it should become clear after you finish Units 2-3.
  • The gutturals affect the conjugation of verbs by “weakening” the shoresh (root) of the word.  This will become clearer much later -- after Unit 10.
     

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Please do not be concerned if these concepts seem unclear to you at this point.  I list them here mainly for reference for your later studies.

Return to Unit One

 

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