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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.
דָּגֵשׁ
נִקּוּד
Diacritics are markers that are used to alter the sound-value, and thus the pronunciation of a letter.
ב
בּ
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.
Dagesh
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.
ב
כ
פ
Adding this mark will make the pronunciation sound 'hard' and abrupt.
בּ
כּ
פּ
Now compare each letter side by side, first *without*, and then with the mark..
ב בּ
כ כּ
פ פּ
Niqqud
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.
אַ
אָ
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.
אֵ
אֶ
לְ
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.
אִ
אִי
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.
וֹ
אֹ
אָ
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.
וּ
אֻ
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.
דָּגֵשׁ
נִקּוּד
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!

24 Comments

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😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
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Are there any elusive marks similar to these two diacritics in your language?

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Monday at 05:40 AM
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Hi Matthew Like,


Thanks for posting your question!


Yes, the dots on the letter ש that mark if it should be read as "sin" or "shin" are a part of the nikkud system, and they are most often absent from Hebrew texts... 😅


This is part of what makes Hebrew reading a little challenging, and why it's so important to have a wide vocabulary to develop a 'sense' for it... 😄 Sure, this takes time. In the meanwhile, please feel free to post your questions whenever in doubt 👍


Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Matthew Like
Friday at 10:29 AM
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Are the dots about the letter ש not used regularly in Hebrew like the Dagesh?

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 08:54 PM
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Hi Flora,


Thanks for posting and for sharing this!


Very interesting! this might also make Hebrew pronunciation easier for Portuguese speakers, very good...!


Enjoy learning Hebrew and please feel free to post in case you have any questions! 👍


Best,


Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Flora
Friday at 02:40 AM
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In my native Portuguese, we use a lot of accents to differentiate sounds! So things like "à" and "á", "é" and "ê" and also "ó" and "õ" all have different sounds and come up a lot. We also use "ç" in Portuguese still!

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 08:51 PM
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Hi Arthur Liu,


Thanks for posting this question!


This is actually a big mystery... Since Hebrew is a very old language and its pronunciation changed a lot over the last few thousands of years, some things went loss... the dalet nowadays sounds exactly identical with/without a dagesh, and we can only speculate how it used to sound in the old days... THe same goes actually for the letters "gimel" and "tav" which pronunciations don't change anymore with or without a dagesh...


I hope that helps :)


Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Arthur Liu
Wednesday at 11:43 AM
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The dalet in the word "dagesh" itself seems to have a dagesh. What does dagesh do to dalet?

HebrewPod101.com
Monday at 01:14 AM
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Hi Naim,


Thanks for posting!


I hope you've managed to find the missing information.. Please let us know may if you have any question or difficulty - we will be happy to assist 👍


Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Naim
Tuesday at 06:35 PM
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Hi, My name is Naim and I couldn't see the exact characters for " Dagesh and Niqqud ". And I am not talking about the letters that they are being used with. I haven't checked the next lesson , yet it seems we need to know more about "

(small dots) and ( T shaped small signs) "

HebrewPod101.com
Saturday at 12:26 AM
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Hi Abhishek,


Thanks for commenting on this! Very interesting 👍

You forgot to mention only one thing - what is actually your native language?!😅


Enjoy learning Hebrew!

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Abhishek
Saturday at 06:23 PM
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In my native we have , ಬ(b) and ಭ (bha like in khet). ದ (d like dalet) and ಧ (dha like in khet).

We have 13 vowels and 25 consonants.

ಕ್( k without any vowel like kaph ). To add vowel "a" we need to, ಕ್(k)+ಅ(a)=ಕ (ka) it is pronounced in short time and to make it long, ಕ್(k)+ಆ(aa longer)=ಕಾ(kaa)


Is it same in Hebrew , like battak gives short sound and khamats gives long sound. For example in word אבא, if we use vowel battak it it pronounced short and if we use khamats it is pronounced longer.