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Hebraization of English

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The Hebraization[1] of English (or Hebraicization[2] of English) is the use of the Hebrew alphabet to transliterate English words.

For example, the English name spelled "Timothy" in the English alphabet can be Hebraized as "טימותי" in the Hebrew alphabet.

Hebraization includes any use of the Hebrew alphabet to transliterate English words. Usually it is to identify an English word in the Hebrew language. The term transliteration means using an alphabet to represent the letters and sounds of a word spelled in another alphabet, whereas the term transcription means using an alphabet to represent the sounds only. Hebraicization can do both.

The table below concisely shows the most common way in which transliteration is applied using the Modern/Israeli Hebrew pronunciation.

Also see Romanization of Hebrew for the method for going from Hebrew to a Latin or English script.

Because vowels are not consistent in English, they are in their own table at the end.

Table

Consonants

For full spelling, when a reader is likely to err in the reading of a word, the use of partial niqqud is recommended. That is, with the niqqud (the "dots" which indicate vowels or which consonant sound it is). This is especially true when writing foreign, unfamiliar, or ambiguous words, and espeially with words that take a dagesh.

Single letters
Letter Variations Hebrew English Examples IPA
a
Vowel: See table below
b none בּ (Bet) (full spelling ב) but, web b
c Hard C ק (Kuf),
כּ ךּ (Kaph) (kaph not normally used for transliterations) (full spelling כ ך)
cat, kill, skin, thick k
Soft C ס (Samekh),
שׂ (Sin) (sin not normally used for transliterations) (full spelling ש)
see, city, pass s
d none ד (Dalet) do, odd d
e
Vowel: See table below
f none פ ף (Fe) fool, enough, leaf, phone f
g Hard G ג (Gimel) go, get, beg ɡ
Soft G ג׳ (Gimel with geresh) gin, joy, edge
French soft G ז׳ (Zayin with geresh) beige, massage, pleasure, vision ʒ
h none ה (He) hen h
j Affricative J ג׳ (Gimel with geresh) joy, gin, edge
Fricative J ז׳ (Zayin with geresh) Jacques, beige, pleasure, vision ʒ
k none ק (Kuf),
כּ ךּ (Kaph) (kaph not normally used for transliterations) (full spelling כ ך)
cat, kill, skin, thick k
l none ל (Lamed) left, bell l
m none מ ם (Mem) man, tam m
n none נ ן (Nun) no, tin, know n
o
Vowel: See table below
p none פּ ףּ (Pe) (full spelling פ ף) pen, spin, tip p
q Q followed by U קְו (Kuf-Vav) (full spelling קוו) quick, quite kw
Q not followed by U ק (Kuf),
כּ ךּ (Kaph) (kaph not normally used for transliterations) (full spelling כ ך)
qwerty k
r none ר (Reish) (guttural R) (closest
to letter "r") ex. run
ʁ
s Voiceless S ס (Samekh),
שׂ (Sin) (sin not normally used for transliterations) (full spelling ש)
see, city, pass s
Voiced S (Z sound) ז (Zayin) rose, catches, monkeys, Moses,
zoo, xylophone
z
Voiceless postalveolar S (SH sound) שׁ (full spelling ש) mission ʃ
Voiced postalveolar S ז׳ (Zayin with geresh) pleasure, vision ʒ
t none ט (Tet),
ת (Tav) (tav not normally used for transliterations)
two, sting, bet t
u
Vowel: See table below
v none ו (Vav) (at beginning of a word or in the middle, when not next to a vav acting as a vowel [/o/ or /u/])
(full spelling וו: Vav is doubled in the middle of a word but not at the beginning except if initial affix letter except "and" prefix),
ב (Vet) (at end of a word or in the middle, when next to a vav acting as a vowel [/o/ or /u/])
voice, have v
w none ו (Vav) (transliterated as a 'v' sound, but often pronounced with 'w' sound though prior knowledge),
(full spelling: follows rule for Vav above)
ו׳ (Vav with geresh) (non-standard (indicates 'w' sound), and not used in general transliterations)
we w
y Consonant י (Yud) (full spelling יי: Yud is doubled in the middle of a word but not at the beginning or after affix letters) yes, yellow j
Vowel
Vowel: See table below
x Z sound ז (Zayin) xylophone z
KS sound קס (Kuf-Samekh) chicken pox, text ks
EX sound אֶקְס (Aleph with segol-Kuf with sh'va-Samekh) (full spelling אקס)
 
Xmas eks
z none ז (Zayin) zoo z
Multiple letters
Letters Variations Hebrew English Examples IPA
ng none נג (Nun-Gimel), ringer, sing, drink ŋ
ch Normal CH צ׳ (Tsadi with geresh) chair, nature, teach
K sound כ ך (Chaph) (transliterated as an /x/ sound (like German CH below), because a 'ch'
making a 'k' sound is from the Greek letter Chi which also makes the /x/ sound.)
,
ק (Kuf) (indicates 'k' sound, only used for a direct transliteration)
chaos, character, psychology k
German CH ח (Het),
כ ך (Chaph) (chaph not normally used for transliterations)
Scottish loch, chanukah x
th Voiceless
dental fricative
ת (Tav) (transliterated as a 't' sound),
ת׳ (Tav with geresh) (more accurate (indicates 'th' sound), but not used in general transliterations)
thing, teeth θ
Voiced
dental fricative
ד (Dalet) (transliterated as a 'd' sound),
ד׳ (Dalet with geresh) (more accurate (indicates 'th' sound), but not used in general transliterations)
this, breathe, father ð
sh none שׁ (Shin) (full spelling ש) she, sure, emotion, leash,
schmaltz
ʃ
ts none צ ץ (Tsadi),
תס (Tav-Samekh) (tav-samekh not normally used for transliterations)
תשׂ (Tav-Sin) (tav-sin not normally used for transliterations) (full spelling תש)
tsunami, tsar, pizza ts

Final letters

Five letters in Hebrew, Nun, Mem, Tsadi, Pe/Fe, and Kaf, all have final or sofit (Hebrew: סוֹפִית sofit) forms. That means, that the letters' appearances change when they are at the end of words from כ, פ, צ, מ, נ to ך, ף, ץ, ם, ן respectively. Final forms are used in transliteration when appropriate, with the exception of foreign words ending in a [p] sound, which retain the non-final form of פ, such as "קטשופ" ("ketchup").

Vowels and diphthongs

Since vowels are not consistent in English, they are more difficult to transliterate into other languages. Sometimes they are just transcribed by the actual English letter, and other times by its actual pronunciation (which also varies). For the most accurate transliteration, below is a table describing the different vowel sounds and their corresponding letters.

Hebrew has only 5 vowels sounds, with lack of discrimination in Hebrew between long and short vowels. In comparison, English which has 12 vowel sounds (5 long, 7 short). As a result, words such as sit/seat (/sɪt/ and /siːt/), hat/hut (/hæt/ and /hʌt/), and cop/cope (/kɒp/ and /koʊp/) are transliterated as the Hebrew vowels /i/, /a/ and /o/. The English pronunciation can be known through prior context.

Vowels will sometimes be put into Hebrew by their letters, and not by their sounds, even though it is less accurate phonetically. For example, any sort of "a" sound written with the letter "o", (ex. mom, monitor, soft), will often be transliterated as an "o" vowel, that is, with a vav (ו). The same is the case for an -or ending (pronounced -er), it will also often be transliterated with a vav as well. If the word with the "a" sound (such as a or ah), as in "ta ta", or "spa", it will be treated as an "a".

For full spelling, the niqqudot (the "dots") is simply omitted, if partial vowelling is desired, especially for letters like Vav, then the niqqudot is retained.

The picture of the "O" represents whatever Hebrew letter is used.

Vowels
Letter Hebrew English Examples IPA IPA after trans.
a 8 Qamaz (letter with kamatz), 7 Patah (letter with patah),
אַ/אָ (Alef with kamatz or patach) (Not part of ordinary Hebrew spelling but sometimes used in transliterations)
run, enough a/ʌ a
Note for below: This sound (æ) (ex. hat) does not exist in Hebrew.
As a result, it is always transliterated as if it were an (a) sound (ex. hut).
mat, hat æ
8 Qamaz (letter with kamatz), 7 Patah (letter with patah),
אַ/אָ (Alef with kamatz or patach) (Not part of ordinary Hebrew spelling but sometimes used in transliterations)
Note for below: These sounds (ɑ/ɒ) (ex. pawn) do not exist in Hebrew.
As a result, it is transliterated as if it were an (a) sound (ex. pun).
spa, pawn, caught ɑː/ɒː
8 Qamaz (letter with kamatz), 7 Patah (letter with patah),
אַ/אָ (Alef with kamatz or patach) (Not part of ordinary Hebrew spelling but sometimes used in transliterations)
e 6 Segol (letter with segol), 5 Zeire (letter with zeire) (more ambiguous) bed, lead, said e e
i י4 Hiriq (Yud preceded by letter with hirik), 4 Hiriq (letter with hirik) (not used in full spelling) city, see, ski, leaf i
Note for below: This sound (ɪ) (ex. mitt) does not exist in Hebrew.
As a result, it is always transliterated as if it were an (i) sound (ex. meet).
skid, mitt ɪ
י4 Hiriq (Yud preceded by letter with hirik), 4 Hiriq (letter with hirik) (not used in full spelling)
o וֹ (Vav with holam),סׁ (succeeding letter with cholom) (not used in full spelling) no, tow, moan, toll o/əʊ o
Note for below: These sounds (ɑ/ɒ) (ex. cop) do not exist in Modern Hebrew.
As a result, it is transliterated as if it were an (o) sound (ex. cope).
mop, hot, bought ɑː/ɒ/ɔː
וֹ (Vav with holam),סׁ (succeeding letter with cholom) (not used in full spelling)
וּ (Vav with shuruk), 25px (letter with kubutz) (not used in full spelling) tube, soon, through u
Note for below: This sound (ʊ) (ex. look) does not exist in Hebrew.
As a result, it is always transliterated as if it were an (u) sound (ex. luke).
look, put, book ʊ
וּ (Vav with shuruk), 25px (letter with kubutz) (not used in full spelling)
Diphthongs
ei יי (Yud-Yud) (used specifically in transliterations), י6 Segol (letter with segol-Yud) (not normally used for transliterations),
5 Zeire (letter with zeire) (not normally used for transliterations, also more ambiguous and used only in certain words)
day, pain, table, frame ej ej
ai יי (Yud-Yud) (used specifically in transliterations), י8 Qamaz (letter with kamatz-Yud) (not normally used for transliterations),
י7 Patah (letter with patah-Yud) (not normally used for transliterations)
fine, why aj aj
oi וֹי (Vav with holam male-Yud) loin, boy oj oj
ui וּי (Vav with shuruk-Yud) Foreign to English phonology
ex. Spanish: muy bien!
uj uj
ao או (Alef-Vav) town, mouse, pout
yu יוּ (Yud-Vav with shuruk) cute, beauty , circular ju ju
Hiatus
ui וּאִי (Vav with shuruk-Alef-Yud with hirik-Yud) chop suey, phooey uːiː u.i

At the beginning or end of a word

The following are special cases for vowels at the beginning or end of a word. The reason "O", "U", or "I" sound at the beginning of a word is different is because here these vowels have no consonants before them. Therefore, Vav and Yud by themselves would be assumed to be their consonant versions ("V" and "Y" respectively) and not their vowel versions.

If these same sounds (that is, vowels with no consonants before it) are made in the middle of a word, the same thing is done as shown below (or looking up, replace the "O" with the aleph).

For full spelling, the niqqudot (the "dots") are simply omitted.

At the beginning of a word
Letter Hebrew English Examples IPA IPA after trans.
o
אוֹ (Aleph-Vav with holam)

עוֹ (Ayin-Vav with holam) (not normally used for transliterations)
open o o
u אוּ (Aleph-Vav with shuruk)

עוּ (Ayin-Vav with shuruk) (not normally used for transliterations)
Uma u/ʊ u
i/ee אִי (Aleph with hiriq-Yud)

עִי (Ayin with hiriq-Yud) (not normally used for transliterations)
Note: The subsequent yud in both the Aleph-Yud and Ayin-Yud above is only necessary in full spelling.
into, eel ɪ/i i
ei/ai איי (Aleph-Yud-Yud)
 
ice, ace ej/aj ej/aj
a אָ (Aleph with kamatz),

אַ (Aleph with patach)

עָ/עַ (Ayin with kamatz or patach) (not normally used for transliterations)
Albert a a
e אֶ (Aleph with segol)

עֶ (Ayin with segol) (not normally used for transliterations)
 
Edward e e
At the end of a word
a ה8 Qamaz (Letter with kamatz-He),
ה7 Patah (Letter with patach-He)
א or ע (Aleph or Ayin) (not normally used for transliterations)
cola a a
e ה6 Segol (Letter with segol-He) meh e e


References

  1. Random House Unabridged Dictionary: Hebraize
  2. Random House Unabridged Dictionary: Hebraicize

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