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Heth (letter)

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Title: Heth (letter)  
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Subject: Abjad, Aramaic alphabet, Hebrew numerals, Akkadian language, Syriac language, Israeli new shekel, Voiceless pharyngeal fricative, Pharyngeal consonant, Zayin, Kaph
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Heth (letter)

For other uses, see Heth (disambiguation).

Ḥet or H̱et (also spelled Khet, Kheth, Chet, Cheth, Het, or Heth) is the eighth letter of many Semitic Berber . It is usually represented in the Latin alphabet by .

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 vowel sounds.


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 Ge'ez Ḥauṭ ሐ and Ḫarm ኀ.

Hebrew Ḥet

Orthographic variants
Various Print Fonts Cursive
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
ח ח ח

Hebrew spelling: חֵית


In Modern Israeli Hebrew, the letter Ḥet usually has the sound value of a voiceless uvular fricative (/χ/), as in Ashkenazi Hebrew. In other phonologies, it is 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 // 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/).


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 ] and ].

,===Significance=== In gematria, Ḥet represents the number eight.

In chat rooms, online forums, and social networking the letter Ḥet repeated (חחחחחחחחחח) 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: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ح ـح ـحـ حـ


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

In Persian, it is ], exactly as ⟨ه⟩.

Character encodings

See also


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