Thursday, February 16, 2017

Many who fear God

(יח:כא)
וְאַתָּה תֶחֱזֶה מִכָּל-הָעָם אַנְשֵׁי-חַיִל יִרְאֵי אֱלהִים
One should be very careful with the above bolded word. The proper pronunciation is "yir-AI," with specific emphasis on the חיריק under the יו"ד and the separation of the first and second syllables. It is very easy to mispronounce this word as if it were יְרֵא - a lazy חיריק can easily turn into a שוא and the צירי under the אל"ף can easily be mistakenly placed under the רי"ש. This mistake will change the word from plural to singular. [Although perhaps one might suggest that it is clear from אנשי חיל that we are referring to a plural entity.]

I have been asked on a number of occasions if there is a difference in the exact pronunciation of a חיריק חסר and a חיריק מלא. I believe that "by the rules" there likely should be a subtle difference in the strength of the "ee" sound if there is no יו"ד. However, I usually suggest that it is far too risky to try to differentiate. I have a separate blurb about how we tend to pronounce a שוא two different ways, depending on the context and it should probably be one or the other. But my real point here is that if you try to soften a חיריק it will get too close to a שוא and the above point is a perfect example of why that is not worth the risk and better to pronounce all חיריקs the same.

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