The Hebrew Alefbet

 

Note that the Hebrew and Yiddish alphabet is known as the “Alefbet” because of the names of the first two letters.  These appear in the top left of the table below because Hebrew is written from right to left.

 

Note also that many of these letters have similar names and sounds to the letters of the Greek alphabet (e.g. alef = alpha, beit = beta, and so on).

 

There are 22 letters but some letters have two versions.  The version on the left is the final version used at the end of words, the one on the right is used at the beginning and in the middle of words.

 

“Kh” and “Ch” are pronounced as in the Scottish “loch”, not as in “China”.

 

In common with other early Semitic writing systems, the Alefbet does not contain vowels.  Most things written in Hebrew are written without vowels just as in Speedwriting.  However as literacy declined the Rabbis realised that aids to word recognition were needed, so a system of dots and dashes were added inside, above or below the letter to help with pronunciation.  These are called “nikkud” (points) and text containing them is called pointed text.

 

 

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

ט

ח

ז

ו

ה

ד

ג

ב

א

Teit

Cheit

Zayin

Vav

Hei

Dalet

Gimel

Beit

Alef

T

Ch

Z

V/O/U

H

D

G

B/V

Silent

 

 

15

14

14

13

13

12

11

11

10

ס

ן

נ

ם

מ

ל

ך

כ

י

Samekh

Nun

Nun

Mem

Mem

Lamed

Khaf

Kaf

Yod

S

N

N

M

M

L

K

K

Y

 

 

22

21

20

19

18

18

17

17

16

ת

ש

ר

ק

ץ

צ

ף

פ

ע

Tav

Shin

Reish

Quf

Tzadei

Tzadei

Fe

Pei

Ayia

T/S

Sh/S

R

Q

Tz

Tz

F

P/F

Silent