Photo Credit: Courtesy of

For those of your tutors who are helping Hebrew speakers to understand the intricacies of English spelling and pronunciation, I would offer the following observation about what I call the magic letter "H".

 In Hebrew, the softer pronunciation of certain letters is changed to a harder form by the introduction of the "dagesh" which is a dot placed in the middle of the relevant letter. A particular example is פ Fay that becomes a פּ Pay when the dagesh is introduced. In English, the letter H is the equivalent of the dagesh, although in reverse, as it softens the hard consonant that precedes it or changes the form of pronunciation. So the letter P is pronounced as an F when it is followed by an H, thus PH = F in Philosophy (twice!).

The letter G will also become an F in ‘rough’, ‘cough,’ and ‘tough’. The G will become silent in ‘bough’ and ‘plough’. An S will be changed to a sibilant Sha when followed by an H. The C becomes Che in ‘chat’ and ‘chess’. The T also changes. There are, of course, exceptions so students need to watch out for the particular effect of the letter H that is both a consonant and an aspirant and is also an alchemist (ironically a word where the alchemy does not work!).

Yoel Sheridan is the author of "From Here to Obscurity" and "Gold Ducats and Devilry Afoot".

print Email article to a friend
Rate this article 

Post a Comment

Related Articles


About the author

Yoel Sheridan

Yoel Sheridan was born and schooled in London, England. He is an FCA (Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales), and a CPA (Israel). He worked in England as Chief Finan...

Script Execution Time: 0.229 seconds-->