Niqqudְֱֲֳִֵֶַָֹֻּֿׁׂ Other diacritics cantillation, geresh,
Example Gen. 1:9, And God said,
"Let the waters be collected".
Letters in black, niqqud in red, cantillation in blue
Niqqud articles Shva · Hiriq · Zeire · Segol · Patach · Kamatz · Holam · Dagesh · Mappiq · Shuruk · Kubutz · Rafe · Sin/Shin Dot
In Hebrew orthography, niqqud or nikkud (Hebrew: נִקּוּד, Modern nikud Tiberian niqqûḏ ; "dotting, pointing" or Hebrew: נְקֻדּוֹת, Modern nekudot Tiberian nəquddôṯ ; "dots") is a system of diacritical signs used to represent vowels or distinguish between alternative pronunciations of letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Several such diacritical systems were developed in the Early Middle Ages. The most widespread system, and the only one still used to a significant degree today, was created by the Masoretes of Tiberias in the second half of the first millennium in the Land of Israel (see Masoretic Text, Tiberian Hebrew). Text written with niqqud is called ktiv menuqad.
Niqqud marks are small compared to consonants, so they can be added without retranscribing texts whose writers did not anticipate them.
In modern Israeli orthography niqqud is seldom used, except in specialised texts such as dictionaries, poetry, or texts for children or for new immigrants. For purposes of disambiguation, a system of spelling without niqqud, known in Hebrew as ktiv maleh (Hebrew: כתיב מלא), literally "full spelling", has developed. This was formally standardised in the Rules for Spelling without Niqqud (כללי הכתיב חסר הניקוד) enacted by the Academy of the Hebrew Language in 1996.
Among those who do not speak Hebrew, niqqud are the sometimes unnamed focus of controversy regarding the interpretation of those written with the Tetragrammaton—written as יְהֹוָה in Hebrew. The interpretation affects discussion of the authentic ancient pronunciation of the name whose other conventional English forms are "Jehovah" and "Yahweh".
This table uses the consonants ב ,ח or ש, where appropriate, to demonstrate where the niqqud is placed in relation to the consonant it is pronounced after. Any other consonants shown are actually part of the vowel. Note that there is some variation among different traditions in exactly how some vowel points are pronounced. The table below shows how most Israelis would pronounce them, but the classic Ashkenazi pronunciation, for example, differs in several respects.
- This demonstration is known to work in Internet Explorer and Mozilla browsers in at least some circumstances, but in most other Windows browsers the niqqud do not properly combine with the consonants. It works very well when "dir=rtl" is added in the HTML source. This is because, currently, the Windows text display engine does not combine the niqqud automatically. Except as noted, the vowel pointings should appear directly beneath the consonants and the accompanying "vowel letter" consonants for the mālê (long) forms appear after.
- Note concerning IPA: the transcription symbols are linked to the articles about the sounds they represent. The diacritic ˘ (breve) indicates a short vowel; the triangular colon symbol ː indicates that the vowel is long.
Symbol Type Common name Alternate names Scientific name Hebrew IPA Transliteration Comments בְ Israeli Sh'va sheva šəva שְׁוָא [e̞] or Ø ə, e, ', or nothing
In modern Hebrew, shva represents either /e/ or Ø, regardless of its traditional classification as shva naḥ (שווא נח) or shva na (שווא נע), see the following table for examples:
Pronunciation of shva in modern Hebrew Occurrences of shva denoting the vowel /e/) Occurrences of shva denoting Ø (absence of a vowel) shva naḥ* [kiˈmate̞t]
shva na שָׁדְדוּ [ʃade̞ˈdu]
*All shvas in the words "קִמַּטְתְּ" and "הִתְמוֹטַטְתְּ" are shva naḥ,
nonetheless those marked under the letter tet ("ט") are pronounced /e/ ([e̞])
Tiberian šəwâ שְׁוָא [ɐ̆]
חֱ Israeli Reduced segol hataf segol ḥataf seggol חֲטַף סֶגּוֹל [e̞] e – Tiberian ḥăṭep̄ səḡôl חֲטֶף סְגוֹל [ɛ̆] ĕ ‒ חֲ Israeli Reduced patach hataf patah ḥataf pátaḥ חֲטַף פַּתַח [a] a – Tiberian ḥăṭep̄ páṯaḥ חֲטֶף פַּתַח [ɐ̆] ă – חֳ Israeli Reduced kamatz hataf kamats ḥataf qamaẓ חֲטַף קָמָץ [o̞] o – Tiberian ḥăṭep̄ qāmeṣ חֲטֶף קָמֶץ [ɔ̆] ŏ – בִ Israeli Hiriq hiriq ḥiriq חִירִיק [i] i Usually promoted to Hiriq Malei in Israeli writing for the sake of disambiguation. Tiberian ḥîreq חִירֶק [i] or [iː]) i or í – בִי Israeli Hiriq malei hiriq yod ḥiriq male חִירִיק מָלֵא [i] i – Tiberian ḥîreq mālê חִירֶק מָלֵא [iː] î – בֵ Israeli Zeire tsere, tzeirei ẓere צֵירֵי [e̞] e – Tiberian ṣērê צֵרֵי [eː] ē – בֵי, בֵה, בֵא Israeli Zeire malei tsere yod, tzeirei yod ẓere male צֵירֵי מָלֵא [e̞] e More commonly ei (IPA [ei]). Tiberian ṣērê mālê צֵרֵי מָלֵא [eː] ê – בֶ Israeli Segol segol seggol סֶגּוֹל [e̞] e – Tiberian səḡôl סְגוֹל [ɛ] or [ɛː] e or é – בֶי, בֶה, בֶא Israeli Segol malei segol yod seggol male סֶגּוֹל מָלֵא [e̞] e With succeeding yod, it is more commonly ei (IPA [e̞i]) Tiberian səḡôl mālê סְגוֹל מָלֵא [ɛː] ệ – בַ Israeli Patach patah pátaḥ פַּתַח [a] a A patach on a letters ח, ע, ה at the end of a word is sounded before the letter, and not behind. Thus, נֹחַ (Noah) is pronounced /ˈno.ax/. This only occurs at the ends of words and only with patach and ח, ע, and הּ (that is, ה with a dot (mappiq) in it). This is sometimes called a patach g'nuvah, or "stolen" patach (more formally, "furtive patach"), since the sound "steals" an imaginary epenthetic consonant to make the extra syllable. Tiberian páṯaḥ פַּתַח [ɐ] or [ɐː] a or á – בַה, בַא Israeli Patach malei patah yod pátaḥ male פַּתַח מָלֵא [a] a – Tiberian páṯaḥ mālê פַּתַח מָלֵא [ɐː] ậ – בָ Israeli Kamatz gadol kamats qamaẓ gadol קָמַץ גָּדוֹל [a] a – Tiberian qāmeṣ gāḏôl קָמֶץ גָּדוֹל [ɔː] ā – בָה, בָא Israeli Kamatz malei kamats he qamaẓ male קָמַץ מָלֵא [a] a comm Tiberian qāmeṣ mālê קָמֶץ מָלֵא [ɔː] â – בָ Israeli Kamatz katan kamats hatuf qamaẓ qatan קָמַץ קָטָן [o̞] o Usually promoted to Holam Malei in Israeli writing for the sake of disambiguation. Also, not to be confused with Hataf Kamatz. Tiberian qāmeṣ qāṭān קָמֶץ קָטָן [ɔ] – בֹ Israeli Holam holam ḥolam חוֹלָם [o̞] o Usually promoted to Holam Malei in Israeli writing for the sake of disambiguation. The holam is written above the consonant on the left corner, or slightly to the left of (i.e., after) it at the top. Tiberian ḥōlem חֹלֶם oː ō comm בוֹ, בֹה, בֹא Israeli Holam malei holam male ḥolam male חוֹלַם מָלֵא [o̞] o The holam is written in the normal position relative to the main consonant (above and slightly to the left), which places it directly over the vav. Tiberian ḥōlem mālê חֹלֶם מָלֵא [oː] ô – בֻ Israeli Kubutz kubuts qubbuẓ קֻבּוּץ [u] u Usually promoted to Shuruk in Israeli writing for the sake of disambiguation. Tiberian [u] or [uː] u or ú בוּ, בוּה, בוּא Israeli Shuruk shuruk šuruq שׁוּרוּק [u] u The shuruk is written after the consonant it applies to (the consonant after which the vowel /u/ is pronounced). The dot in the shuruk is identical to a dagesh, thus shuruq and vav with a dagesh are indistinguishable. (see below). Tiberian šûreq שׁוּרֶק [uː] û – בּ Israeli Dagesh dagesh dageš דָּגֵשׁ varied varied Not a vowel, "dagesh" refers to two distinct grammatical entities:
- "dagesh kal", which designates the plosive (as opposed to fricative) variant of any of the letters בגדכפת (in earlier forms of Hebrew this distinction was allophonic; in Israeli Hebrew ג, ד and ת with or without dagesh kal are acoustically and phonologically indistinguishable, whereas plosive and fricative variants of ב, כ and פ are sometimes allophonic and sometimes distinct phonemes (e.g. אִפֵּר /iˈper/ applied make up vs. אִפֵר /iˈfer/ tipped ash),
- "dagesh hazak", which designates gemination (prolonged pronunciation) of consonants, but which, although represented in most cases when transliterated according to standards of the Academy of the Hebrew Language, is acoustically and phonologically non existent in Modern Hebrew (except occasionally in dramatic or comical recitations, in some loanwords—such as a few Arabic profanities—and pronunciations exaggerated for the sake of disambiguation).
For most letters the dagesh is written within the glyph, near the middle if possible, but the exact position varies from letter to letter (some letters do not have an open area in the middle, and in these cases it is written usually beside the letter, as with yod).
The guttural consonants (אהחע) and resh (ר) are not marked with a dagesh, although the letter he (ה) (and rarely א) may appear with a mappiq (which is written the same way as dagesh) at the end of a word to indicate that the letter does not signify a vowel but is consonantal.
To the resulting form, there can still be added a niqqud diacritic designating a vowel.
Tiberian dāḡēš דָּגֵשׁ בֿ Israeli Rafe rafe Not used in Hebrew. Still occasionally seen in Yiddish (actually more often as the spelling becomes more standardized, embracing YIVO rules) to distinguish פּ /p/ from פֿ /f/ (note that this letter is always pronounced [f] when in the final position, with the exception of loanwords—שׁוֹפּ—, foreign names—פִילִיפּ— and some slang—חָרַפּ). Some ancient manuscripts have a dagesh or a rafe on nearly every letter. It is also used to indicate that a letter like ה or א is silent. In the particularly strange case of the Ten Commandments, which have two different traditions for their Cantillations which many texts write together, there are cases of a single letter with both a dagesh and a rafe, if it is hard in one reading and soft in the other. Tiberian Niqqud, but not a vowel. Used as an "anti-dagesh", to show that a בגדכפת letter is soft and not hard, or (sometimes) that a consonant is single and not double, or that a letter like ה or א is completely silent שׁ Israeli Shin dot shin dot šin dot שִׁי"ן, שִׁי״ן יְמָנִית or יְמִינִית, "right Shin" [ʃ] š/sh Niqqud, but not a vowel (except when inadequate typefaces merge the holam of a letter before the shin with the shin dot). The dot for shin is written over the right (first) branch of the letter. It is usually transcribed "sh". Tiberian שׂ Israeli Sin dot sin dot śin dot שִׂי"ן, שִׁי״ן שְׂמָאלִית, "left Sin" [s] ś/s Niqqud, but not a vowel (except when inadequate typefaces merge the holam of the sin with the sin dot). The dot for sin is written over the left (third) branch of the letter Tiberian Some linguistic evidence indicates that it was originally IPA [ɬ], though poetry and acrostics show that it has been pronounced /s/ since quite ancient times).
For the Hebrew letters there is a standardized Hebrew keyboard. But when it comes to niqqud, different computer systems and programs provide for adding the signs in different ways.
Using the Hebrew keyboard layout in Microsoft Windows the typist can enter niqqud by pressing CapsLock, putting the cursor after the consonant letter and then pressing Shift and one of the following keys. In GTK+ Linux systems niqqud can be entered by pressing ctrl+shift+u followed by the appropriate 4 digit Unicode.
Using the Hebrew keyboard layout in Mac OS X, the typist can enter niqqud by pressing the Option key together with a number on the top row of the keyboard. Other combinations like sofit and hataf can also be entered by pressing either the Shift key and a number, or by pressing the Shift key, Option key, and a number at the same time.
Niqqud input Input (Windows) Key (Windows) Input
Unicode Type Result ~ 0 05B0 Sh'va  1 3 05B1 Reduced Segol  2 1 05B2 Reduced Patach  3 2 05B3 Reduced Kamatz  4 4 05B4 Hiriq  5 5 05B5 Zeire  6 9 05B6 Segol  7 6 05B7 Patach  Niqqud input Input (Windows) Key (Windows) Input
Unicode Type Result 8 7 05B8 Kamatz  9 A 05C2 Sin dot (left)  0 M 05C1 Shin dot (right)  – = 05B9 Holam  =  , 05BC Dagesh or Mappiq  U 05BC Shuruk  \ 8 05BB Kubutz 
-  The letter "O" represents whatever Hebrew letter is used.
-  For sin-dot and shin-dot, the letter "ש" (sin/shin) is used since they can only be used with that letter.
-  The dagesh, mappiq, and shuruk are different; however, they look the same and (hence) are input the same way (all 3 of them.)
-  For shuruk, the letter "ו" (vav) is used since it can only be used with that letter.
- The Arabic equivalent, harakat.
- Hebrew diacritics
- Q're perpetuum
- Hebrew spelling
- Tiberian Hebrew
- The Academy Grammar Committee; ed. Ronit Gadish, Einat Gonen, Barak Dan (2006) (in Hebrew). Leshonenu La′am. Academy Decisions: Grammar. Jerusalem: The Academy of the Hebrew Language. ISSN 0024-1091.
- Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, especially §7, §8, §9
- Netzer, Nisan (1976) (in Hebrew). Haniqqud halakha lema′ase. Israel: Massada.
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