The Niqqud (sometimes referred to as Nikkud, with k instead) is the Hebrew vowels system.
Around the 7th and 8th centuries CE, when the use of Hebrew in everyday life became very limited, some pronunciation guidance was badly needed. And Niqqud was just what the doctor ordered!
The niqquds are dashes, dots and signs located on, under or inside Hebrew letters. They show us exactly what vowel we should pronounce, a, e, o, u, or something else…
Here is a list of the Hebrew vowels (also known to Israelis as the “the movements” hatnuot/התנועות) (the aleph א letter has nothing to do with the vowel, it is there just as an example, with all vowels.
Hebrew Vowels With an “A” Sound
The Patach (פַּתָּח) is like an a, but a short a.
Check my humble pronunciation here of “bat”, meaning daughter or girl in Hebrew. It’s written like this (note that patach under the first letter, ב)
And pronounced like this:
[wpaudio url=”http://www.israelhebrew.com/wp-content/uploads/patach-niqqud-hebrew-vowels.mp3″ text=”Patach Example: Bat (Audio Pronunciation – Click to play)”]
Kamatz (קָמָץ) is like an a, but an Israeli a!
Check my pronunciation here of “aval”, meaning “but” in Hebrew. It’s written like this (note the kamatz under the second letter, ב)
And pronounced like this:
[wpaudio url=”http://www.israelhebrew.com/wp-content/uploads/kamatz-niqqud-hebrew-vowels.mp3″ text=”Kamatz Example: Aval (Audio Pronunciation – Click to play)”]
Hebrew Vowels With an “E” Sound
(alternatively spelled as Tzere and Tzerei)
Tzeirei (צֵירֵי) has a relatively long e sound, like in set or rather the a sound in make (however, it’s still shorter).
Here is an example for the Tzeirei, it’s the very famous word “ken” meaning “yes” in Hebrew. Here is how it’s written:
And here is how I would pronounce it, notice theTzeirei e sound in ken.
[wpaudio url=”http://www.israelhebrew.com/wp-content/uploads/tzere-niqqud-hebrew-vowels.mp3″ text=”Tzeirei Example: Ken (Audio Pronunciation – Click to play)”]
Segol is another e sound, though not that long.
A popular example would be the Hebrew word for boy, yeled
Written this way:
And pronounced here by me: (notice the segol e sound in the first two letters, the yod and the lamed, י – ל)
[wpaudio url=”http://www.israelhebrew.com/wp-content/uploads/segol-niqqud-hebrew-vowels.mp3″ text=”Segol Example: Yeled (Audio Pronunciation – Click to play)”]
Hebrew Vowels With an “i” Sound
Hiriq – אִ
Hiriq (חִירִיק) is more like i in most English words like: instead, bid, swim, etc.
Here is an example, the word “im” in Hebrew which means “with”, it’s written this way: (notice the Hiriq under the ayin ע)
[wpaudio url=”http://www.israelhebrew.com/wp-content/uploads/hiriq-niqqud-hebrew-vowels.mp3″ text=”Hiriq Example: im (Audio Pronunciation – Click to play)”]
This page is a work in progress, however, with so many pages on my website being ever-green, I prefer spending more time on things that my readers would benefit the most from. So if you need me to pay more attention to this page and take the time (it takes hours) to complete the Niqqud/Hebrew vowels page, please let me know in a comment and I will do it much quicker, since I would know that someone is waiting.