[b-hebrew] "th" and "b"

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Fri Jun 13 11:26:17 EDT 2008

On Fri, Jun 13, 2008 at 2:54 PM, Yakov Hadash wrote:
> Hi everyone. Sorry if this question has been discussed many times or
> if everyone already knows the answer already but this is something
> I've been wondering about for YEARS and I think you guys probably
> know the answer...
> Two transliteration things I see a lot are:
> -Taf without a dagesh transliterated as "TH" as in "B'nai BriTH,"
> "Temple BeTH Shalom" - I see this most often in names of older Jewish
> organizations
> -Bet without a dagesh transliterated as "B" as in "JacoB" (for my
> name) - I see this a lot in "scholarly" and non-Jewish contexts

Masoretic pronunciation is:
taw - with dagesh: aspirated t, without: th as in thin
beth - with dagesh: (possibly aspirated) b, without: v

Yemenite (and perhaps other) communities still pronounce the th.
In Ashkenazi pronunciation, this became th > s.
The transliteration you often see is based on evolved conventions.
For example, "Jacob" is based on the Greek/Old Latin spelling which
did not have a "v" or aspiration.  On the other hand, "Beth" is based
on an attempted reconstruction of the Masoretic pronunciation as it
was understood a few generations back.  The same goes for "Bnai"
even though the "y" is silent in "bne".

Yitzhak Sapir

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