Di Yidishe Oysyes – The Yiddish Letters

Information taken from Uriel Weinreich’s Modern Eng.-Yid. Yid.-Eng. Dictionary
by Philip “Fishl “ Kutner


PAGE NUMBERS are the pages in which Yiddish words begin with that letter.

NUMBER OF PAGES shows those starting with that letter. Alef is the most frequent and more than the next two combined. The reason is that words starting with a vowel, other than an ayin, start with a shtumer alef.

SPECIAL are letters unusual in that they are found only in words of Hebrew origin, or they have a final form different than at the beginning or middle of the word.

PRONUNCIATION is a form a mouth takes in pronunciation: guttural, uses the soft palate and back of the tongue; labial, sounded by closing or partially closing the lips; palatal, uses the front of the tongue; lingual, uses the tongue and other mouth parts; and dental, uses the tip of the tongue near or touches the top front teeth.

DIPHTHONG is used in transliteration when two Roman letters are required in representing one Yiddish letter. Der Bay uses the YIVO Standard Orthography (spelling). There is no letter c which has the k or s sound. khof and khes are spelled kh. Tsadik is spelled ts and shin as sh.

VOWELS are pronounced eh, and not in combination. In addition to a shtumer (silent) alef at the beginning of a word there are the patekh alef with the sound ah and the komets alef pronounces aw. Vov is written as a u pronounced oo and when combined with a yud is oy. At the beginning of a word a yud is used as a consonant. In the middle it is a short i as in it. Two yuds are a long a as in ate. Two yuds and a patekh are a long i as in ice.

Letter Page Numbers # of Pages Special Pronunciation Diphthong
Alef Pg 3-78  76 Vowel Gutteral
Beys 79-108 30 Labial
Veys No words 0 Hebrew
Giml 109-130 22 Palatal
Daled 131-146 16 Lingual
Hey 147-161 15 Gutteral
Vov 162-174 13 Vowel Labials 
Zayen 175-182 8 Dental
Khes 183-189 7 Hebrew Gutteral Diphthong
Tes 190-202 13 Lingual
Yud 203-209 7 Vowel Palatal
Kof 210-214 5
Khof 215-217 3 Final Palatal Diphthong
Lamed 218-229 12 Lingual
Mem 230-257 28 Final Labials 
Nun 258-268 11 Final Lingual
Samekh 269-279 11 Dental
Ayin 280-289 10 Vowel Gutteral
Pey 290-307 18 Labials 
Fey 308-338 31 Final Labials 
Tsadik 339-355 17 Final Dental Diphthong
Kuf 356-381 26 Palatal
Reysh 382-392 11 Dental
Shin 393-416 24 Dental Diphthong
Sin 417-417 1 Hebrew
Tof 418-420 3 Hebrew Lingual
Sof No words 0 Hebrew

Last Updated on 4/7/2016


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