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Hanukkah Words Pronounced!

It's that time of year again when we celebrate the Jewish festival of lights! No matter how you spell it, Chanukah is here! And with it comes a whole lot of fun and exciting new words!

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One thing I'm always reminded of when Jewish holidays come around are the Hebrew or Yiddish words and phrases associated with the celebration. More specifically, I'm always interested to hear how people pronounce these specialized terms in different regions around the world.

Because of the fact that Hebrew and English don't share an alphabet, we are forced to rely on transliterations and interpretations of words and sounds which only adds to the confusion. Frankly, the ways of standardized Hebrew to English transliteration leave much to be desired. Just look at how crazy people get trying to justify the spelling of Hanukkah!

I choose to make video and audio resources for this reason. I think you should hear sounds and make connections on your own. And if you don't have the ability to hear and repeat, the pronunciations can still be acquired by making a proper connection or relationship.

And I'm happy to share any techniques or even tricks that help bring in a new perspective.

Spellings can be inconsistent from language to language and even among dialects.

For example, a letter like T is likely different than another language's T, as it is in the case of English and Hebrew. You may not realize, but English pronounces T in several different ways:

Today (aspirated), Stop (not aspirated) Heat (muted), Water (flap T), Mountain (glottalized), Twenty (optional), Christmas (silent).

It's clear that orthographic representations are only effective if a student understands the unique sound that is being depicted and doesn't assume that it's identical to their native language.

I digress.

The irony is that I also attempt to use transliteration in this post (and in the video)!

I mean, I'm not against it. I just want others to know that there's information missing and it behooves any student to consistently check how spellings are actually produced out loud.

So, this video introduces and explains some common Hanukkah related vocabulary. It's lighthearted and aimed at a general audience so that anyone can use these terms to learn more about the traditions and terminology of Judaism and specifically this festive holiday!

Of course there are many variations of these pronunciations throughout the Jewish world, but you'll find the Modern Hebrew pronunciations are reflected in this video.

Here's the list of words mentioned in the video with Hebrew translation and my very own phonetic transliteration ;)

Hanukkah – חנוכה – KHA-noo-kah Menorah – מנורה – kha-noo-kee-YAH Shamash – שמש – sha-MAHSH Latkes – לביבות – le-vee-VOHT Donuts – סופגניות – soof-gah-NYOHT Dreidel – סביבון – se-vee-VOHN

A great miracle happened there – נס גדול היה שם – NESS gah-DOHL ha-YAH SHAHM A great miracle happened here – נס גדול היה פה – NESS gah-DOHL ha-YAH POH

Happy Hanukkah – חג חנוכה שמח – KHAG KHAnookah sah-MAY-akh

Visit for more information about private pronunciation coaching in Hebrew and for more videos on the topic!

Don't forget about the other videos on this channel that will help you build confidence when speaking Hebrew. There's a whole playlist right here!

Our first online course is coming soon with in-depth explanations on all things Hebrew speaking that really all skill levels can benefit from. Sign up here to learn more!

Happy Hanukkah!

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