Sunday, 30 December 2007

Yemenite Hebrew Audio Clip

Ever wanted to hear Yemenite Hebrew, or the way Yemenite Jews chant the Bible? I'd heard that the tradition was ancient so I certainly did, and was delighted to finally hear some here for the first time (Gen. 1:1ff). How cool is that?!

It sounds similar to Arabic and pronounces distinctions which modern Hebrew has forgotten (e.g. taf, ghimel and dalet with dagesh). I have to say, I find it a pity that modern Hebrew has lost the tonal variety it once had (which Arabic has retained). The modern variety just sounds flat.

(Hat Tip to Dvar Akher. Read the comment section for more info)


Craig said...

That sound much better then the attempts of myself and the rest of my classmates in a first year hebrew class to try and chant a passage. Great link,


Anonymous said...

The pronunciation is a blessing!!! The Yemenite way is the correct way historically to pronounce the hebrew. The modern Hebrew is pronunciation based on the sounds of European languages. Where the gutteral sounds are absent.

Phil Sumpter said...

I'd be careful with the word "correct" ... Though I do think it is the most ancient. How close it is to the original Masoretic pronunciation I'm not sure. There are also dialectical variants within Yemenite pronunciation.

Anonymous said...

It sounds a bit weird to me. I always liked the Iraqi/Babylonian tradition better - almost the same consonants (excluding the wrong Jimmel and maybe a few others) and the vowels keep the traditional and more melodious Sephardic style.

Anonymous said...

Historically speaking, the Yemenite Hebrew was preserved far more better than the Babylonian and European Hebrew. For one thing, the Yemenite Jews formed separate areas for their own livelihood; which for thousands of years guaranteed the preservation of Yemenite Jewry in respect to heritage, culture, religion, language, etc. A fate not shared by the Europeans or Babylonian Jews. As to Phil Sumpter's comment about being careful, I think you should realize that no matter how envious you may be, it is important to note that Yemenite Hebrew, today, is more closer to the Masoretic pronunciation than any Hebrew dialect in existence.

-Shalomoh of Temon

Anonymous said...

I don't know wich one is closer to Biblical Hebrew - yemenite or babylonian - but for sure the babylonian pronunciation sounds a lot better. And I don't know about vowels, but its consonants sound a lot closer to Arabic and Aramaic than the yemenite version.

And we have to remember that yemenites had more than one Hebrew dialect (the one posted here is the san3ani - with its defective 'jimmal'.