In this page, we will learn how to use Nikud. But before that, let’s look at the background information of this vowel system.
Hebrew Vowels are run by a system based on small lines and dots put in different positions and places around Hebrew letters. This means that in the Hebrew language, to breath after a consonant does not require adding letters written on lines like consonants. In actual fact, we find all the European vowels in Hebrew [a], [e], [o], [u] written in the form of special markings that are added on or below the consonant.
These vowels are based on an ancient system studied in the Jewish Bible called “Nikud Taberni” meaning; “the method of vowels.”
There are many forms of nikud for each given vowel sound.
Hebrew has five distinct vowel sounds:
as in (cat)
as in (bed)
as in (bed)
as in (eep)
as in (toot)
as in (bog)
N.B: [bo] or [do] is pronounced like (dog), not like (doe) or (do.)
We will use the Letter “א” (alef) to carry the vowel.
Cholam chaser or Maleh א
It sounds like the letter “o” – Over – Robe – [oʊ]
Example: It sounds like “o”
This vowel is used only on a consonant:
It sounds like “o” in English.
When we use a Cholam Maleh, the consonant e.g. “” operates as a vowel letter.
Shin and Sin
1- Shin – שׁ
When using this vowel, the letter “ש” is pronounced as “sh”.
2- Sin – שׂ
When using this vowel, the letter “ש” is pronounced as “s”.
“u” like [oo]
This vowel is used only on the letter “ו” (vav). It sounds like “u” in English. [oo] – [u:] – Food, Blue
When we use the Shuruk, the letter “ו” operates as a vowel letter (like in Arabic [w – و ].
“The Shuruk is the letter Vav with a dot in the middle and to the left of it. The dot is identical to the grammatically different signs Dagesh and Mappiq, but in a fully vocalized text it is practically impossible to confuse them: Shuruk itself is a vowel sign, so if the letter before the Waw doesn’t have its own vowel sign, then the Waw with the dot is a Shuruk and otherwise it is a Waw with a Dagesh or a Mappiq. Furthermore, the Mappiq only appears at the end of the word and only in the letter He (ה) in modern Hebrew and in the Bible it sometimes appears in Aleph (א) and only in some Bible manuscripts it appears in the letter Waw, for example in the word גֵּוּ (‘torso’) [ɡev]. Compare for example Waw with Dagesh in מְגֻוָּן [məɡuvˈvan] ‘varied’ (without niqqud: מגוון) as opposed to Shuruk in מִגּוּן [miɡˈɡun] ‘protection’ (without niqqud: מיגון); see also orthographic variants of Waw.” wikipedia
Dagesh – in Hebrew it means “emphasis” التضعيف
The dot is in the middle of the consonant.
– תּ – –
The Dagesh either is used for emphasis (to double the sound) or to alter the sound (make it thicker).
With nikud, you use a dot in the middle of the letter to signify emphasis. There are only six letters that can use this emphasis, although some of these letters no longer have differences in pronunciation between the emphasized and non-emphasized forms in modern Hebrew – for example, “ג”, “ד” and “ת” can use emphasis but are pronounced the same with or without emphasis.
For letters that do change their pronunciation, the emphasis makes the “plosive” version of the consonant (which is the one you make with your lips or throat that you can’t sustain e.g. “b”, for example, you can make the noise vvvvvvvv but not bbbbbbbb).
פּ – p (without Dagesh we read it “f”)
כּ – k (without Dagesh we read it “ch” – like in “Bach”)
בּ – b (without Dagesh we read it “v”)
A little rule – when the letters “ב” , “ג” , “ד” , “כ” ,“פ” and “ת” come at the beginning of a word, they will be always emphasized. If the come at the middle or end, they usually won’t be.
Chirik or Hireq [אִ]
It is a dot under the consonant. We pronounce it in two different ways:
1-Short as [i]; e.g. שִ – Shi – וִ – Vi – רִ – Ri
2-Long as [ee]. [i:] – see – heat
Shva or shewa [אְ]
[é] as in telephone / OR / silent
It is the semi-column [:] under the consonant. We pronounce it in two different ways:
1-A vocal Shewa pronounced as [é] as in telephone.
This is usually found at the beginning of words; e.g. שְ – She – מְ – Me – רְ – Re –
2- A Shewa is silent when it is preceded such as ketah, segol and Qubutts.
Tsira and Segol
1- Tsira – [אֵ]
[ey] or [ay]
It is two dots underneath the letter and it’s pronounced as [ey] or [ay] like in (bay)
To hear the vowel pronounced, go to youtube, and type three times the letter W followed by a DOT then type the word YOUTUBE and COM, then insert the extension: /watch?v=bMXi6Kr9wjE
Segol – אֶ
It is pronounced like the French letter “è” or “ê” – [ɛ]
Kamatz and Hatuf
1-Kamatz – אָ
There a few ways to pronounce Kamatz. [a:h] – [ah] – [o]
a- Kamatz Hatuf
This is a long [ah] sound like in (army) or (father)
This sound may be found in slightly different variations, and depending on the type of words, may also sound differently.
b- Kamatz Patach – אַ
This is a shorter [ah] sound like in (mother)
c- Qamets Hatuf
d- Qamatz Qatan /O:/
[o:] like in all
The way Qamatz Qatan is written can vary:
We have the following example:
Kubutz אֻ Or Qibbuts
It sounds like the letter “u” in boo.
The Chataf is two dots that look like the Shva which are placed next to another vowel, and has the effect of shortening the vowel.
We use the Chataf with the Segol, Patach and Kamatz (you can also use it with Chirik, but we won’t teach you about it because it used very rarely).
1- Chataf Patach – אֲ
2- Chataf Segol
short [a] metallic
3- Chataf Kamats – אֳ
The Chataf Kamatz is pronounced as “o” commit
UTUBE + .com/watch?v=bMXi6Kr9wjE&t=372s