View Full Version : Hebrew "resh": how did it become gutteral?
10-04-2004, 08:38 AM
I have noticed that in modern Hebrew the letter "resh," usually having a "r" sound, is pronounced gutterally, like the German and French "r." How did this, as compared to a slightly trilled "r" as in Arabic, come about?
10-04-2004, 08:52 AM
Great article at this site (http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Uvular_R). Here is a snippet:
In Hebrew, the classical pronunciation of the consonant ר rêš was an alveolar flap, and was grammatically treated as an ungeminable phoneme of the language. In most dialects of Hebrew among the Jewish diaspora, it remained a flap or a trill (IPA /r/). However, the Ashkenazi dialects as preserved among Jews in northern Europe carried a uvular R, either as a trill or fricative. This was because their native dialects of Yiddish were spoken that way, and their liturgical Hebrew carried the same pronunciation.
Though an Ashkenazi Jew in Czarist Russia, the Zionist Eliezer ben Yehuda based his Standard Hebrew on the Sephardic dialect originally spoken in Spain, using an alveolar R. But as the first waves of Jews to resettle in the Holy Land were northern Ashkenazi, they came to speak Standard Hebrew with their preferred uvular articulation as from Yiddish, and it gradually became the most prestigious pronunciation for the language. The modern State of Israel has Jews whose ancestors came from all over the world, but nearly all of them today speak Hebrew with a uvular R because of its modern prestige and historical elite status.
Many Jewish immigrants to Israel spoke Arabic in their countries of origin, and pronounced Hebrew R as an alveolar trill identical to Arabic ر rā. Under pressure to integrate, many of them compensated by pronouncing their Hebrew R as Arabic غ ġayn, which is itself usually pronounced as a voiced uvular fricative.
10-04-2004, 03:51 PM
I thank you a thousand times for the information! It completely answers my question beyond satisfaction.
WRS - be-ghey-sheet ba-ghah E et-ha-shah-mah-yim veh-et-ha-ah-ghetz.
vBulletin® v3.7.3, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.