SHEWA

אְ

SHORT FRONT OPEN UNROUNDED VOWEL [a]

Tiberian Hebrew vocalic shewa—vocalic shewa means it is pronounced as a vowel, as opposed to silent shewa, which merely closes a syllable—is normally pronounced as a short a-vowel in the front of the mouth just like pataḥ.

[a]

ְ

Hidayat al-Qari

The remainder of the primary letters of Hebrew are seventeen, and to these should be added yod, so they come to eighteen. When shewa is under one of these eighteen at the beginning of a word, or in the middle of a word, where it has the same status (as one at) the beginning (of a word), the shewa is pronounced as a short pataḥ when it is not accompanied by a gaʿya and as a long pataḥ when it is accompanied by a gaʿya, as in בְּרָב־עָ֥ם ‘in a multitude of people’ (Prov. 14.28), גְרֻשֹֽׁתֵיכֶם֙ ‘your evictions’ (Ezek. 45.9), דְּרָכָיו ‘his ways’, וְרֹאשׁ־עֹרֵ֣ב ‘and the head of Oreb’ (Jud. 7.25), זְכוֹר־יְהוָ֥ה ‘remember, oh Lord’ (Psa. 132.1), טְמֵאַ֣ת הַשֵּׁ֔ם ‘unclean of name’ (Ezek. 22.5), יְר֧אוּ אֶת־יְהָו֛ה ‘fear the Lord’ (Jos. 24.14), and other cases with these eighteen letters.

Translation from Khan (TPTBH II.S.6.3.1)

EXAMPLE WORDS:

וְדֶ֖רֶךְ

[vaˈðɛːʀ̟ɛχ]

יִשְׁמְר֨וּ

[jiʃmaˈʀ̟uː]

תְּמֻתֽוּן

[tʰamuːˈθuːn]

דְּבָרִ֜ים

[davɔːˈʀ̟iːim]

SHORT ASSIMILATED VOWEL [a], [ɔ], [ɛ], [e], [i], [o], [u]

Before a guttural consonant (אהחע), shewa is pronounced with the same vowel quality as that of the guttural.

[aʕa]

עַ ְ

[ɔʕɔ]

עָ ְ

[ɛʕɛ]

עֶ ְ

[eʕeː]

עֵ ְ

[iʕi]

עִ ְ

[oʕoː]

עֹ ְ

[uʕu]

עוּ/עֻ ְ

Hidayat al-Qari

This concerns the influence that it undergoes in connection with the letters ח ,ה ,א and ע. When these four letters are preceded by a letter that is not one of them and under this letter there is shewa, this shewa is pronounced as a short (vowel) with the pronunciation of the vowel that is under the four letters, unless it is appropriate for gaʿya to be combined with it.

Translation from Khan (TPTBH II.S.6.1.1)

EXAMPLE WORDS:

נְ֠חֶמְיָה

[nɛħɛmˈjɔː]

בְּחָכְמָ֛ה

[bɔħɔχˈmɔː]

צְעָקָ֔ה

[sˁɔʕɔːˈq̟ɔː]

מְעַט֩

[maˈʕaːatˁ]

לְאֻמִּ֔ים

[luʔumˈmiːim]

מְאֹרֹת֙

[moʔoːˈʀ̟oːoθ]

יְהִ֣י

[jiˈhiː]

בְּאֵֽר

[beˈʔeːeʀ̟]

SHORT FRONT CLOSED UNROUNDED VOWEL [i]

Before the consonant yodh, Tiberian Hebrew shewa is pronounced a short i‑vowel.

[i]

(-י)  ְ

Hidayat al-Qari

When shewa comes before yod, the shewa is always pronounced as ḥireq, irrespective as to what pointing the yod has, as in כִּ֣י בְֽיַד־אִשָּׁ֔ה ‘for into the hand of woman’ (Jud. 4.9), בְּיוֹם֙ הִקְרִ֣יב ‘on the day he consecrated’ (Lev. 7.35), לְֽיַבָּשָׁ֗ה ‘into dry land’ (Psa. 66.6), לְיוֹרָ֤ם ‘of Joram’ (2 Kings 8.16), and similar cases.

Translation from Khan (TPTBH II.S.6.2.1)

EXAMPLE WORDS:

מְ֝יַחֵ֗ל

[mijaːħeːel]

יִרְמְיָ֖הוּ

[jiʀ̟miˈjɔːhuː]

לְיוֹרָ֤ם

[lijoːˈʀ̟ɔːɔm]

בְּיוֹם֙

[biˈjoːom]

SOURCES AND FURTHER READING

Khan, Geoffrey. 2020. The Tiberian Pronunciation Tradition of Biblical Hebrew. Cambridge: Cambridge and Open Book Publishers. §I.2.5.

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