a) pronunciation and transliteration
b) installing Hebrew script on your computer
c) the hebrew alphabet
d) learning the alphabet while singing
e) vocalization – nikud
f) soft and hard consonants: v/b, ch/k, f/ps and sh
g) full and defective spelling

The vocalization (nikud) is generally not used in modern printed Hebrew. It appears only rarely, namely when a word without nikud could be misunderstood, or in order to clarify the pronunciation of foreign names. It is also used in children’s books.
As everything written in this course is transliterated, it can be read also by beginners. So you can cope without learning all the nuances of the nikud.

nikud means setting of dots (from: nekuda – dot). It has the following effects:

  • nikud vocalizes Hebrew consonants on the line with the vowels a, e, i, o, u.
  • as dagesh (stress), i.e. a dot in the center of a letter, it changes a soft consonant into a hard one: from vetbet (v/b), from chafkaf (ch/k), from fepe (f/p).
  • a dot over the vav turns it into an o, a dot at its left side makes it an u.
  • a dot on the left dent of the shin turns it into a sin

When a word begins with a vowel (eg ani – I) the vowel-carrier is mostly an alef, rarely an ayin.

vowelspronounciationHebrew name
אְe short as in the French article „le“, often muteshva
אֶe long as in „fair“segol
אֵay (as in “rain”), today mostly pronounced as a long e ,
therefore transliterated as e
אִ i as in „meet“ or short as in „hit“chirik
אַ אָa as in „father“, or short as in „tough”kamaz, patach
אֻ u as in „mood“, or short as in „put“kubuz
וּu - vav with a point left, pronounced as ushuruk
וֹo - vav with a point on top
as in “for”, or short as in “ton”
אֹo - alef with a point - or only a point without vav - above the line between two consonants

tzere, segol and shva (where shva is not mute) are transliterated as e. This simplification corresponds largely with today’s actual pronunciation. Look for instance at the vowel e in le-akoto Acre, ha-shenthe tooth, eretz+yisra’elthe land Israel. There is hardly a difference in the pronunciation of the e, even though it is rendered with a different vowel in every one of these three applications.