Re: marks in Modern Hebrew, Yiddish

From: John Cowan (
Date: Thu May 22 2003 - 08:45:25 EDT

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    > Can anybody fill me in on the use of 05BC dagesh, 05BF rafe, or shin/sin
    > dots 05C1, 05C2 in modern languages (Hebrew, Yiddish, etc.)

    Yiddish has changed the Hebrew abjad into an alphabet, and when diacritics
    are used, they are used invariably[*]. The alphabetic letters can be
    divided into two classes: those used everywhere, and those used only in
    words of Hebrew origin.

    In the former class, non-final /f/ is written with pe-with-rafe; final
    and non-final /p/ may be written with pe-with-dagesh, although plain pe
    is the more usual form. (Final pe is always /f/.) As for the vowels,
    /a/ is written with alef-with-patah (pronounced "pasekh" in Yiddish); /o/
    is written with alef-with-qamats, and /ai/ is written with yod-yod-patah.
    (Plain alef is silent, and normally reflects a schwa no longer pronounced,
    as in the article cognate to German "die", which is normatively spelled

    In words of Hebrew origin, Hebrew consonants continue to be used that
    otherwise are not used in Yiddish. These include: beth-with-rafe for
    /v/ (normally written vav-vav), kaf-with-dagesh for /k/ (normally
    written qof), shin-with-sin-dot for /s/ (normally written samekh),
    and tav-with-dagesh for /t/ (normally written tet). Shin dot is not used.

    [*} Since yod means /i/ or /j/, yod-yod means /ei/, vav means /u/,
    vav-vav means /v/, and yod-vav means /oi/, ambiguities can occur when
    these letters are adjacent. These can be resolved by using yod-with-hiriq
    and vav-with-holam, which are unambiguously /i/ and /u/ respectively.
    These combinations are not AFAIK normally considered part of the Yiddish
    alphabet, however.

    There are three kinds of people in the world:   John Cowan
    those who can count,                  
    and those who can't.                  

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