Heth

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Heth
PhoenicianHebrewAramaicSyriacArabic
HethחHethܚح‍,ح
Alphabetic
derivatives
GreekLatinCyrillic
ΗHИ,Й
Phonemic representation:ħ / χ / x
Position in alphabet:8
Numerical (Gematria/Abjad) value:8
 
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Heth
PhoenicianHebrewAramaicSyriacArabic
HethחHethܚح‍,ح
Alphabetic
derivatives
GreekLatinCyrillic
ΗHИ,Й
Phonemic representation:ħ / χ / x
Position in alphabet:8
Numerical (Gematria/Abjad) value:8

Ḥet or H̱et (also spelled Khet, Kheth, Chet, Cheth, Het, or Heth) is the reconstructed name of the eighth letter of the Proto-Canaanite alphabet, continued in descended Semitic alphabets as Phoenician Phoenician heth.png, Syriac ܚ, Hebrew ח, Arabic ح, and Berber .

Heth originally represented a voiceless fricative, either pharyngeal /ħ/, or velar /x/ (the two Proto-Semitic phonemes having merged in Canaanite). In Arabic, two corresponding letters were created for both phonemic sounds: unmodified ḥāʾ ح represents /ħ/, while ḫāʾ خ represents /x/.

In modern Israeli Hebrew, the historical phonemes of the letters Ḥet ח (/ħ/) and Khaf כ (/x/) merged, both becoming the voiceless uvular fricative ([χ]).

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Eta Η, Etruscan H 𐌇, Latin H and Cyrillic И. While H is a consonant in the Latin alphabet, the Greek and Cyrillic equivalents represent vowel sounds.

Contents

Origins

The letter shape ultimately goes back to a hieroglyph for "courtyard",

O6

(possibly named ḥasir in the Middle Bronze Age alphabets, while the name goes rather back to ḫayt, the name reconstructed for a letter derived from a hieroglyph for "thread",

V28

The corresponding South Arabian letters are ḥ and ḫ , corresponding to Ge'ez Ḥauṭ ሐ and Ḫarm ኀ.

Hebrew Ḥet

Orthographic variants
Various Print FontsCursive
Hebrew
Rashi
Script
SerifSans-serifMonospaced
חחחHebrew letter Het handwriting.svgHebrew letter Het Rashi.png

Hebrew spelling: חֵית

Pronunciation

In Modern Israeli Hebrew, the letter Ḥet usually has the sound value of a voiceless uvular fricative (/χ/), due to European influence. It was originally pronounced as a voiceless pharyngeal fricative (/ħ/) and is still among Mizrahim (especially among the older generation and popular Mizrahi singers), in accordance with oriental Jewish traditions.

The ability to pronounce the Arabic letter ḥāʾ (ح) correctly as a voiceless pharyngeal fricative /ħ/ is often used as a shibboleth to distinguish Arabic-speakers from non-Arabic-speakers; in particular, pronunciation of the letter as /x/ is seen as a hallmark of Ashkenazi Jews and Greeks.

Ḥet is one of the few Hebrew consonants that can take a vowel at the end of a word. This occurs when patach gnuva comes under the Ḥet at the end of the word. The combination is then pronounced /-aχ/ rather than /-χa/. For example: פתוח (/ˌpaˈtuaχ/), and תפוח (/ˌtaˈpuaχ/).

Variations

Ḥet, along with Aleph, Ayin, Resh, and He, cannot receive a dagesh. As pharyngeal fricatives are difficult for most English speakers to pronounce, loanwords are usually Anglicized to have /h/. Thus challah (חלה), pronounced by native Hebrew speakers as /χala/ or /ħala/ is pronounced /halə/ by most English speakers, who cannot often perceive the difference between [h] and [ħ].

Significance

In gematria, Ḥet represents the number eight.

In chat rooms and online forums, the letter Ḥet repeated denotes laughter, similar to the English LOL.

Arabic ḥāʾ

The letter is named حاء ḥāʾ and is the sixth letter of the alphabet. Its shape varies depending on its position in the word:


Position in word:IsolatedFinalMedialInitial
Glyph form:حـحـحـحـ

Pronunciation

In Arabic, the ḥāʾ is similar to the English H, but is much raspier,[1] IPA: [ħ]~[ʜ].

In Persian, it is [h], exactly as ⟨ه⟩.

See also

References

  1. ^ Bouchentouf, Amine (2006). Arabic for Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc. p. 15.