[b-hebrew] Help with Sheva

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Mon Oct 29 06:41:54 EDT 2007

On 10/29/07, Fernando Perez wrote:
> How does one pronounce the Sheva?
> Is it pronounced as e when? And silent in the first syllable?
> When does one pronounce it with a ?

The schewa is an originally Tiberian symbol of vocalization indicating
a dependent consonant.  The vocalized pronunciation of the consonant
is either tied to the preceding (in which case it essentially forms the end
of a syllable, and has no vocalization in itself) or the following consonant
(when the rules are slightly complex).

Modern pronunciation uses an "e" sound almost exclusively.  But the
Tiberians did not so read their Bible.  When they wrote a schewa they
had a different intention in mind.

They had two sounds that are similar to an "e" -- seghol and tsere.
Both could be long.  seghol could also be short.  tsere was not in itself
ever short, mainly because short tsere's became seghol very near the
time when the Massoretes recorded the pronunciation.

The hataf-seghol is one example when one would pronounce a seghol for
the schewa.  The hataf-seghol is one example of a schewa, really.

The other case is when the schewa precedes a guttural that has a
tsere or seghol.  Thus, the word "well" is pronounced [be?e:r], with a
short e before the aleph.

For a more complete discussion, see my post here:

Yitzhak Sapir

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