Pronunciation of WAW

Trevor & Julie Peterson 06peterson at cua.edu
Tue Jan 22 18:30:05 EST 2002


Just out of curiosity, how do you tell your students to distinguish sin from
samekh?

Trevor Peterson
CUA/Semitics

> -----Original Message-----
> From: George Athas [mailto:gathas at hotkey.net.au]
> Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 6:26 PM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Pronunciation of WAW
>
>
> | Please keep in mind that no one knows how to pronounce that
> name, and no one
> | was allowed to pronounce that name except for one person, in
> one place, once
> | a year.
> |
> | Shoshanna
>
> OK -- but this discussion has now shifted to talking about the
> consonant waw. As Ian pointed out,
> it was originally a "w" sound, and that is born out in ancient
> transliterations from Akkadian and
> Greek. It is only in modern times that the sixth letter of the
> Hebrew alphabet gained the "v"
> sound. This shift is consistent with Ashkenazi pronunciation,
> which was under continental European
> influence in which the "w" consonant is pronounced as a "v" (cf.
> Wien = "vee-en" = "Vienna").
> Ashkenazi pronunciation has prevailed upon modern Hebrew, though
> most non-Ashkenazi speakers have
> retained the "w" sound.
>
> Thus, although the we may not know exactly how to pronounce the
> tetragrammaton, we know what sound
> the consonants made. It's more the case that we do not really
> know the vowels that were associated
> with the name -- hence the ambiguity.
>
> BTW -- I always encourage my students to pronounce waw as "w"
> because it is more authentic and
> easier for learning vocab and avoiding confusion with veth (ie,
> beth without dagesh). I also
> encourage them to pronounce `ayin, and to try to distinguish
> between kaph & qoph, samekh & sin, tet
> & taw.
>
>
> Best regards,
>
> GEORGE ATHAS
> (Sydney, Australia)
>
>
>
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