alef, ayin

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Thu Jan 24 05:55:35 EST 2002

Welcome back to the list, Ian! Our discussions have been rather tame in
your absence, or at least lurking.

`ayin, as I understand it doesn't involve the glottis but actually the
pharnyx, which is the top part of the throat behind the tongue. This can
be nearly closed by pulling back the root of the tongue. We westerners
are not used to doing this in speech, but we do when we cough. So the
closest we can easily make to an `ayin is a light cough.

Peter Kirk

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at]
> Sent: 24 January 2002 01:46
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: alef, ayin
> >I was taught that Alef and ayin should be thaught of as silent until
> get
> >fluent. Where can I hear them pronounced on the WEB?
> The alef is a "sound" that English speakers use a lot. Contradict
> by saying
> a-a, and between these two "a" is an alef, ie a closure of the glottis
> your
> throat). Pick up something heavy and the first thing you usually do is
> close your glottis. Normally, when you start a communication
> with a vowel, you put a glottal closure in front unconsciously. "Are
> ready?", should start with the glottis
> closed, ie you make an alef.
> An ayin is similar to an alef, but with force to break the closure of
> glottis.
> I don't know if hearing them detached from a linguistic act will help
> much.
> Ian
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