The DAGESH is a diacritic used in the Hebrew alphabet. It was added to the Hebrew orthography at the same time as the Masoretic system of NIKUDIM (vowel points). It takes the form of a dot placed inside a Hebrew letter and has the effect of modifying the sound in one of two ways.

DAGESH is a symbol is often omitted in writing. This DAGESH is called DAGESH KAL - light DAGESH. There is another DAGESH called DAGESH CHAZAK - strong DAGESH which we will learn later.

Dagesh KAL frequently also referred to as "weak DAGESH," or "light DAGESH" may be placed inside the consonants BET, GIMEL, DALET, KAF, PE AND, TAV. Historically, each had two sounds: one hard (plosive consonant), and one soft (fricative consonant), depending on the position of the letter and other factors. When vowel diacritics are used, the hard sounds are indicated by a central dot called DAGESH, while the soft sounds lack a dagesh.

In Modern Hebrew, however, the DAGESH only changes the pronunciation of BET, KAF, AND PE. We are concentrating on Modern Hebrew.

With a DAGESH, the BET is pronounced as a bi-labial, like our letter B. Without the DAGESH, the VET is pronounced as a labio-dental, like our letter V.

A kamats or a patach placed under the bet gives the sound "ba".

AV - The Hebrew word for "father".
Bet is handwritten like this:

Return To The Hebrew Alphabet Index Page

Return To The Site Index Page