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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone.
Welcome to The Ultimate Hebrew Pronunciation Guide.
In this lesson, you'll learn about two Hebrew diacritics.
Diacritics are markers that are used to alter the sound-value, and thus the pronunciation of a letter.
In most Modern Hebrew writing, these marks are often omitted because their pronunciations are assumed by fluent speakers. If you are *not* a fluent speaker however, then the reading and pronunciation of many words can be quite ambiguous.
חִבְּרָה "connected"
חֲבֵרָה "girlfriend"
Thankfully, markers are usually included in children's textbooks and dictionaries.
As a student of the language, you must learn the proper rules for reading these marks to avoid pronouncing words wrong. Learn and use them to aid you with pronunciation. Once you become proficient, you'll rely on them less and less, and over time, you won't need them at all. But for now, let's study up on them.
Okay. Are you ready? Let's begin.
Here's the first diacritic. דָּגֵשׁ
This diacritic is represented by a dot at the center of a letter. It has two types of classifications:
דגש חזק
which can be added to nearly every letter. And...
דגש קל
which can be added to these six letters.
From a modern pronunciation standpoint, we only need to focus on three of these letters. Listen to how each letter is pronounced without this mark.
Adding this mark will make the pronunciation sound 'hard' and abrupt.
Now compare each letter side by side, first *without*, and then with the mark..
ב בּ
כ כּ
פ פּ
Okay. Let's move on to the next diacritic. נִקּוּד
This diacritic actually consists of multiple marks, but they all perform a similar function.
You may know that all letters in Hebrew are consonants, but this doesn't mean that there is a complete lack of vowel qualities in Hebrew. We saw how the previous diacritic *modifies* the sound of a letter. This diacritic *adds* vowel sounds to a letter. We can do this by marking various dots or line segments above, below, or inside the letter.
We can add one of the 5 Hebrew vowel sounds that we studied in lesson 3. *Which* vowel sound however, depends on the mark used.
Let's take a look at all the marks that can be added to a letter, to produce an A sound.
The Alef is used in this example, but any letter can be substituted and it will still produce an A sound, so long as these marks are attached to it. In the first example, the mark is represented by a line and is written under the letter. The last example has a small T-like symbol that's also written under the letter. One thing to note though, is that the last example can sometimes be pronounced as an O, but this is rare.
Let's take a look at all the marks that can be added to produce an E sound.
The first mark is represented by two dots set out horizontally, while the second example is marked with three dots in a triangular shape, kind of like an inverted pyramid. The last example is represented by two dots set out vertically. Another thing to note is that the last example can sometimes be silent, but this will depend on the word.
Next, all the ones that will produce an I sound.
There's a dot under the first example, and then the same thing but with this letter after it. Both examples will produce an I sound.
Note that the second letter in the second example *cannot* be substituted for another letter.
Next, all the ones that will produce an O sound.
When we use this letter with this mark, it's placed above the letter. Otherwise, it's placed in the top left corner of the letter. The last example is identical to the T symbol produced in A, but as I mentioned earlier, it can sometimes be pronounced as an O.
And finally, all the ones that will produce a U sound.
We have this same letter again, but when the dot is placed *inside* the letter, it's pronounced as a U. The second example has three dots marked diagonally and is written beneath the letter. All of these examples will produce a U sound.
In this lesson, you learned about two Diacritics.
In the next lesson, we'll review everything that we've learnt in this series and test you on the material.
Are there any elusive marks similar to these two diacritics in your language? Share them in the comments.
See you in the next Ultimate Hebrew Pronunciation Guide lesson!