IPA Biblical ḥazaq: [ː] (gemination)
qal: [β]→[b], [ɣ]→[ɡ],
[ð]→[d], [x]→[k],
[ɸ]→[p], [θ]→[t]
Israeli [v]→[b], [x]~[χ]→[k], [f]→[p]
Transliteration Biblical ḥazaq: doubling of consonant
qal: none
(SBL transliteration system[1])
Israeli v→b, kh→k, f→p
Same appearance mappiq, shuruk
"Dagesh" in Hebrew. The center dot on the rightmost character (which is the letter Dalet) is a dagesh.
Other Niqqud
Shva · Hiriq · Tzere · Segol · Patach · Kamatz · Holam · Dagesh · Mappiq · Shuruk · Kubutz · Rafe · Sin/Shin Dot

The dagesh (דָּגֵשׁ‎) is a diacritic that is used in the Hebrew alphabet. It takes the form of a dot placed inside a consonant. A dagesh can either indicate a "hard" plosive version of the consonant (known as dagesh qal, literally "light dot") or that the consonant is geminated (known as dagesh ḥazaq, literally "hard dot"), although the latter is rarely used in Modern Hebrew.

The dagesh was added to the Hebrew orthography at the same time as the Masoretic system of niqqud (vowel points).

Two other diacritics with different functions, the mappiq and the shuruq, are visually identical to the dagesh but are only used with vowel letters.

The dagesh and mappiq symbols are often omitted when writing niqqud (e.g. בּ‎ is written as ב‎). In these cases, dagesh could be added to help readers resolve the ambiguity.[2] The use or omission of such marks is usually consistent throughout any given context.

Dagesh qal edit

A dagesh kal or dagesh qal (דגש קל‎, or דגש קשיין‎, also "dagesh lene", "weak/light dagesh", opposed to "strong dot") may be placed inside the consonants בbet, גgimel, דdalet, כkaf, פpe and תtav. They each had two sounds, the original "hard" plosive sound (which originally contained no dagesh pointing as it was the only pronunciation), and a "soft" fricative version produced as such for speech efficiency because of the position in which the mouth is left immediately after a vowel has been produced.

Prior to the Babylonian captivity, the soft sounds of these letters did not exist in Hebrew, but they were later differentiated in Hebrew writing as a result of the Aramaic-influenced pronunciation of Hebrew after this point in Jewish history.[citation needed] The Aramaic languages, including Jewish versions of Aramaic, have these same allophonic pronunciations of the same letters.

The letters take on their hard sounds when they have no vowel sound before them, and take their soft sounds when a vowel immediately precedes them. In Biblical-era Hebrew this was the case within a word and also across word boundaries, though in Modern Hebrew no longer across word boundaries since in Modern Hebrew the soft and hard sounds are no longer allophones of each other, but regarded as distinct phonemes.

When vowel diacritics are used, the hard sounds are indicated by a central dot called dagesh, while the soft sounds lack a dagesh. In Modern Hebrew, however, the dagesh only changes the pronunciation of בbet, כkaf, and פpe (traditional Ashkenazic pronunciation also varies the pronunciation of תtav, and some traditional Middle Eastern pronunciations carry alternate forms for דdalet).

With dagesh Without dagesh
Symbol Name Transliteration IPA Example Symbol Name Transliteration IPA Example
בּ bet b /b/ bun ב vet v /v/ van
[3]כּ ךּ kaph k /k/ kangaroo כ ך khaph kh/ch/ḵ /χ/ loch
[4]פּ ףּ pe p /p/ pass פ ף phe f/ph /f/ find

In Ashkenazi pronunciation, Tav without a dagesh is pronounced [s], while in another traditions it is assumed to have been pronounced [θ] at the time niqqud was introduced. In Modern Hebrew, it is always pronounced [t].

The letters gimmel (ג) and dalet (ד) may also contain a dagesh kal. This indicates an allophonic variation of the phonemes /ɡ/ and /d/, a variation which no longer exists in modern Hebrew pronunciation. The variations are believed to have been: גּ‎=[ɡ], ג‎=[ɣ], דּ‎=[d], ד‎=[ð]. The Hebrew spoken by the Jews of Yemen (Yemenite Hebrew) still preserves unique phonemes for these letters with and without a dagesh.[5]

When the letter he (ה‎) is the final letter of a word, it is usually silent and indicates the presence of a word-final vowel. However, when it receives a dagesh kal, the he is pronounced instead of being silent. This is the rule in historic pronunciation, but this rule is generally ignored in Modern Hebrew. Nevertheless, a non-silent word-final hey (הּ‎) can take a furtive patach.

Pronunciation edit

In Israel's general population, the pronunciation of some of the above letters has become pronounced the same as others:

Letter pronounced like Letter
(without dagesh) like ו
(without dagesh) like ח
(with dagesh) like ק
תּ, ת
(with and without dagesh) like ט

Dagesh hazaq edit

Dagesh ḥazak or dagesh ḥazaq (דגש חזק‎, "strong dot", i.e. "gemination dagesh", or דגש כפלן‎, also "dagesh forte") may be placed in almost any letter, this indicated a gemination (doubling) of that consonant in the pronunciation of pre-modern Hebrew. This gemination is not adhered to in modern Hebrew and is only used in careful pronunciation, such as reading of scriptures in a synagogue service, recitations of biblical or traditional texts or on ceremonious occasions, and then only by very precise readers.

The following letters, the gutturals, almost never have a dagesh: aleph א‎, he ה‎, chet ח‎, ayin ע‎, resh ר‎. (A few instances of resh with dagesh are masoretically recorded in the Hebrew Bible, as well as a few cases of aleph with a dagesh, such as in Leviticus 23:17.)

The presence of a dagesh ḥazak or consonant-doubling in a word may be entirely morphological, or, as is often the case, is a lengthening to compensate for a deleted consonant. A dagesh ḥazak may be placed in letters for one of the following reasons:

  • The letter follows the definite article, the word "the". For example, שָׁמָיִםshamayim "heaven(s)" in Gen 1:8 is הַשָּׁמַיִםHashshamayim "the heaven(s)" in Gen 1:1. This is because the definite article was originally a stand-alone particle הַלhal, but at some early stage in ancient Hebrew it contracted into a prefix הַ‎ 'ha-', and the loss of the ל‎ 'l' was compensated for by doubling the following letter.[6] In this situation where the following letter is a guttural, the vowel in 'ha-' becomes long to compensate for the inability to double the next letter - otherwise, this vowel is almost always short. This also happens in words taking the prefix לַ‎ 'la-', since it is a prefix created by the contraction of לְ‎ 'le-' + הַ‎ 'ha-'. Occasionally, the letter following a He which is used to indicate a question may also receive a dagesh, e.g. Num 13:20 הַשְּׁמֵנָה הִואHashshemena hi? - "whether it is fat".
  • The letter follows the prefix מִ‎ 'mi-' where this prefix is an abbreviation for the word min, meaning "from". For example, the phrase "from your hand", if spelled as two words, would be מִן יָדֶךָmin yadekha. In Gen. 4:11, however, it occurs as one word: מִיָּדֶךָmiyyadekha. This prefix mostly replaces the usage of the particle מִןmin in modern Hebrew.
  • The letter follows the prefix שֶׁ‎ 'she-' in modern Hebrew, which is a prefixed contraction of the relative pronoun אֲשֶׁרasher, where the first letter is dropped and the last letter disappears and doubles the next letter. This prefix is rare in Biblical texts, but mostly replaces the use of אֲשֶׁרasher in Modern Hebrew.
  • It marks the doubling of a letter that is caused by a weak letter losing its vowel. In these situations, the weak letter disappears, and the following letter is doubled to compensate for it. For example, compare Ex. 6:7 לָקַחְתִּיlakachti with Num 23:28, where the first letter of the root ל‎ has been elided: וַיִּקַּחvayyikkach. Lamed only behaves as a weak letter in this particular root word, but never anywhere else.
  • If the letter follows a vav consecutive imperfect (sometimes referred to as vav conversive, or vav ha'hipuch), which, in Biblical Hebrew, switches a verb between perfect and imperfect. For example, compare Judges 7:4 יֵלֵךְyelekh "let him go" with Deu. 31:1 וַיֵּלֶךvayyelekh "he went". A possible reason for this doubling is that the וַ‎ 'va-' prefix could be the remains of an auxiliary verb הָוַיַhawaya (the ancient form of the verb הָיָהhayah, "to be") being contracted into a prefix, losing the initial 'ha', and the final 'ya' syllable disappearing and doubling the next letter.
  • In some of the binyan verbal stems, where the Piel, Pual and Hitpa'el stems themselves cause doubling in the second root letter of a verb. For example:
    • Ex. 15:9 אֲחַלֵּקachallek "I shall divide", Piel Stem, first person future tense
    • in the phrase הָלֵּלוּ יַהּhallelu yah "praise the LORD", where hallelu is in Piel Stem, masculine plural Imperative form
    • Gen. 47:31 וַיִּתְחַזֵּקvayyitchazzek, "he strengthened himself", Hitpael stem

Rafe edit

In Masoretic manuscripts the opposite of a dagesh would be indicated by a rafe, a small line on top of the letter. This is no longer found in Hebrew, but may still sometimes be seen in Yiddish and Ladino.

Unicode encodings edit

In computer typography there are two ways to use a dagesh with Hebrew text. Here are Unicode examples:

  • Combining characters:
    • bet + dagesh: בּ בּ = U+05D1 U+05BC
    • kaf + dagesh: כּ כּ = U+05DB U+05BC
    • pe + dagesh: פּ פּ = U+05E4 U+05BC
  • Precomposed characters:
    • bet with dagesh: בּ בּ = U+FB31
    • kaf with dagesh: כּ כּ = U+FB3B
    • pe with dagesh: פּ פּ = U+FB44

Some fonts, character sets, encodings, and operating systems may support neither, one, or both methods.

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ Resources for New Testament Exegesis – Transliteration Standards of The SBL Handbook of Style
  2. ^ "הכתיב המלא" [The Complete Spelling] (in Hebrew). Archived from the original on 10 December 2023. Retrieved 10 December 2023.
  3. ^ "ךּ" is rare but exists, e.g. last word in Deuteronomy 7 1 (דברים פרק ז׳ פסוק א׳) in the word "מִמֶּךָּ" – see here
  4. ^ "ףּ" is rare but exists, e.g. second word in Proverbs 30 6 (משלי פרק ל׳ פסוק ו׳) in the word "תּוֹסְףְּ" – see here
  5. ^ "Vocalization of Hebrew Alphabet". Archived from the original on 2015-04-28. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  6. ^ Weingreen, J. (1963-03-26). A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew. OUP Oxford. pp. 23 (§16). ISBN 978-0-19-815422-8.

Further reading edit

External links edit