letter names

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Tue Dec 18 06:43:02 EST 2001

Some of it depends on the pronunciation system used in the class. I learned BH 
using the academic pronunciation, where we were encouraged (for pedagogical 
reasons) to make our khets a little rougher than spirantized kaphs. Later, in 
a different program, I switched to Modern Hebrew pronunciation, where they 
basically come out the same. In between, I actually did learn and use for a 
while the reconstructed Masoretic pronunciation used in Jouon, which although 
it seemed like a waste at the time, has come in handy now that I'm basically 
supposed to use that system in Aramaic class. In that system, you do make a 
distinction--khet is said with a pharyngeal constriction, while spirantized 
kaph is further forward, on the soft palate. Of course, by this point we don't 
worry too much about how letters are named. We pretty much stick with the 
Modern Hebrew way of pronouncing the names. When I took Syriac, I never really 
did learn all of the names for the letters. I already knew Hebrew, and the 
prof. kept slipping into Arabic, so I figured it wasn't that important for the 
class and gave up on trying to keep them all straight.

Trevor Peterson

>===== Original Message From Mathias van den Bossche <m.vdb at free.fr> =====
>En réponse à Christian Hoffmann <christian.hoffmann at wsl.ch>:
>> Dear haverim,
>> Not so long we discussed the choice of qatal as the paradigmatic stem for
>> Hebrew verb grammar. We went through all the possible combinations,
>> sorting out unwanted consonants, like
>> aleph, he, waw, khet,
>Just a side question :
>Although the Israelis of European origin do not distinguish
>khaf from het, Hebrew speakers of biblical times certainly did.
>Is it a widespread use in the academic community to call "khet"
>the letter whose name was pronounced something like [He:t] with
>"pharyngal h", or is there an alternative widespread name like
>"hhet" or "h.et" or anything else ? It is a precision which can
>have a strong teaching impact, isn't it ?
>Thanks in advance
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