Pronunciation of WAW

Randall Buth ButhFam at
Wed Jan 23 03:49:39 EST 2002

shalom Haverim
>Ashkenazi pronunciation has prevailed upon modern Hebrew, though most 
>non-Ashkenazi speakers have
>retained the "w" sound.

Actually, non-Ashkenazi speakers have vav today, along with their Het and
`ayin (the minority Israeli mizraHi dialect). It is their reading tradition
synagogue that retains 'w'.

>BTW -- I always encourage my students to pronounce waw as "w" 
This is interesting advice from a Greek speaker, [were 'w' dropped out of 
the language in pre-Attic times and both veta (before 1st century) and 'eu'

 became consonantal fricatives close to spanish 'v' (by Evsevius' time).] 
I would only recommend 'w' if one wanted it for Sefardic synagogue 

>because it is more authentic and
>easier for learning vocab and avoiding confusion with veth (ie, beth
without >dagesh). 

Vocabulary is best learned in an real communication context. It sticks much

better and allows a student to reach fluency where vocab and morphology 
are automatic and non-conscious.

>I also
>encourage them to pronounce `ayin, and to try to distinguish between kaph
>& qoph, samekh & sin, tet
>& taw.

I can only recommend that someone serious in Hebrew learns it fluently,
from someone who speaks it fluently. I don't know any for the above 
suggestion. On the other hand, a very nice compromise is the mizraHi
It is also used in the courses through  It is a real

dialect, and mixes seamlessly with majority Israeli Hebrew for those who 
would become fluent and work in the whole language.


Randall Buth, PhD
Director, Biblical Language Center
and Lecturer, Biblical Hebrew
Rothberg International School
Hebrew University


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