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Hebrew Language/pronunciation - vowels


I am trying to learn biblical Hebrew so as to understand torah.  The book I'm studying gives the student words to pronounce, but for this word I am stumped!  Since I've no hebrew font, I'll write the word letters left to right:  Chet with an underline, Yod with a dot both inside the yod and on the line underneath it, another yod  (without a vowel), a final mem.  It may or may not be a Hebrew word, but I'm trying to figure out how to break up the word into syllables just for the practice.

Thank you SO MUCH!!  pat in NM

The Ch in chet is pronounced the way you pronounce the 'ch' in Loch Ness. The 'underline' (known as Pattach) indicates a long vowel with the sound of 'ah'. Combine the two and you get "chah".

The yod is the equivalent of the English Y. The dot inside breaks it in two, turning it to the equivalent of YY. The first Y goes to the previous syllable, making it "Chahy".

The lower dot (Chirik) gives the letter above it the sound of 'ee', as in Lee. The second yod is silent.

So we get two syllables: Chahy and Yeem. They form the word chahyeem (generally written in English as Chaim) which means Life.


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What I don't do: NO NAME TRANSLATIONS. For that, try

What I do: I'll help you understand Hebrew phrases or single words, as well as answer questions about Jewish customs and practices.

You may also try the Gooogle English-Hebrew translator, at


I am a columnist for a Hebrew-language newspaper, and a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

D.Med MBA BA in the US, Grade school and high school in Israel

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