why is the letter tav transliterated as "th" sometimes?

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SteveMiller
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why is the letter tav transliterated as "th" sometimes?

Post by SteveMiller »

This is a question from one of my students in a class that I am assistant teaching.
Why is the letter tav with a sheva vowel transliterated as "th" in "hithpael"?
It is still pronounced as just "t".
Thanks.
Sincerely yours,
Steve Miller
Detroit
http://www.voiceInWilderness.info
Honesty is the best policy. - George Washington (1732-99)
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Jason Hare
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Re: why is the letter tav transliterated as "th" sometimes?

Post by Jason Hare »

In traditional Hebrew teaching, the fricatives are written with h. By that, ב is bh (as opposed to בּ b), ג is gh (as opposed to גּ g), ד is dh (as opposed to דּ d), כ is kh (as opposed to כּ k), פ is ph (as opposed to פּ p), and ת is th (as opposed to תּ t). This is due to the begedkefet letters being thought of as having two different sounds, and it was certainly that way historically.

Today, only three of these letters are related to as doubles, as you know. Gimel is g in all situations, dalet is d in all situations, and tav is t in all situations. This is how they are pronounced in Israel and in almost all Jewish communities.

I'm given to understand that Yemenite Jews (only when pronouncing Hebrew in religious situations) maintain the double sounds for all of these letters.

I don't see why anyone who isn't Yemenite should continue to pronounce ת as th, but you will find people sometimes who do it (and often pronounce vav as a w, too). Even Yemenites who live in Israel use the standard pronunciation for communication. They use their traditional pronunciation only in "community" situations (when praying or reading the Bible as a community, as taught by the mori).
Jason Hare
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ralph
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Re: why is the letter tav transliterated as "th" sometimes?

Post by ralph »

SteveMiller wrote: Wed Feb 24, 2021 9:41 am This is a question from one of my students in a class that I am assistant teaching.
Why is the letter tav with a sheva vowel transliterated as "th" in "hithpael"?
It is still pronounced as just "t".
Thanks.
Nothing to do with a shva mark! (And by the way, calling a shva a vowel is questionable! A silent shva is iirc not a vowel, and a vocal shva is iirc considered maybe a half vowel).

It's to do with a dagesh. For example you have Bet and Vet..

Look at the letters BGDKFT

They can be written with a dagesh or without.

In ancient hebrew academics believe that they'd have done all 6 as soft or hard.

BGDKFT..

Dalet without dagesh would be pronounced TH as in THe.

Tav without dagesh would be pronounced TH as in baTH.

You can write a word according to the sound, e.g. Father would be Av (That's transcription)

Or, you can write it according to the letter making sure that no two letters are written the same. So Father would be Abh (That's transliteration)

b for bet. bh for bet without dagesh.

dh for dalet without dagesh.

th for tav without dagesh.

Jewish people that learnt hebrew in school and follow that convention / or, simply, jewish society generally, tends to write words as they sound e.g. Chanukah. (which makes it easy to sound out words correctly, though it makes it easy to forget whether a word is spelt with e.g. a Chaf or a Chet). So a word like Shechinah is easy to pronounce..

But in the academic world they tend to prefer transliteration So dh for talet, th for tav without dot. So they'd write e.g. Shekhinah (note the Kh rather than ch). Perhaps not as intuitive to pronounce immediately,but does make clear whether it's a Chaf or a Chet. And they may even use scientific transliteration.. which has all sorts of latin looking characters. They also use "w" for the 6th letter, that is because a)in ancient hebrew it's believed that it was a w. And b)the letter doesn't get mixed up with bet -b-, or bet without dagesh. bh.
Ralph Zak
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SteveMiller
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Re: why is the letter tav transliterated as "th" sometimes?

Post by SteveMiller »

Thanks Jason and Ralph! That was great.
Sincerely yours,
Steve Miller
Detroit
http://www.voiceInWilderness.info
Honesty is the best policy. - George Washington (1732-99)
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