Lesson 7: Ooh! Is it Over Yet?
The two letters we are learning today are very straightforward, but the vowels not so much. I expect you will memorize the letters almost immediately and then have time to really focus on the OO and OH vowel.
Lamed: Lightning Bolt
The letter MEM has a small hump that is probably more a hill than a mountain, but we can still remember it as Mountain MEM. The letter MEM makes a “m” sound like mom.
OH Vowel #1
OH Vowel #2
OOH Vowel #1
OOH Vowel #2
OH and OO Vowels Explained
The OH vowel is a dot that is OHVER the letter. The OO vowel is a dot in the middle. How do you remember that OO is in the middle? Your stomach is in the middle of your body and if you have a stomach ache, you would moan and groan and say “OO my stomach hurts.” The OH vowel sounds like open and the OO vowel sounds like oops.
While the rest of the vowels in Hebrew are found below the letter, the OH and OO vowels are above or next to the letter associated with it.
Keeping these basic principles in mind, let’s expand upon this.
OH Vowel (sounds like over):
The OH vowel is written in two different ways.
1. A dot over and slightly diagonally to the left of any letter.
Ex. לֹ מֹ
2. A dot directly over what looks like the letter VAV. You’ll notice that OH and the letter VAV look the same. However, if theres a dot over the letter VAV, it’s really an OH and no longer makes the VAV sound. This particular vowel is always directly next to the letter it is associated with.
Ex. (LOH) לוֹ (MOH) מוֹ
(OH) וֹ (VOH) ווֹ
OO Vowel (sounds like oops):
There are also two ways to write the OO vowel.
- A dot in the middle of what looks like the letter VAV. Just like with the OH vowel above, this becomes an OO vowel with no “v” sound whatsoever. It will also be located directly next to the letter it is associated with.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples:
(VOO) ווּ (OO) וּ
(LOO) לוּּ (MOO) מוּ
Keep in mind, that while letters like BET, KAF, PAY, TAV, etc. have a dot in the middle of the letter, these dots are for “decoration” and are NOT OO vowels. The dots in these letters are there for grammar purposes, but that is not something we are going to concern ourselves with in these lessons.
2. There is also a rare OO vowel that is three diagonal dots underneath a letter. There is nothing tricky about this particular OO vowel except that you see it so few times in the siddur and the Torah that you constantly forget what it is!
(LOO)לֻ (MOO) מֻ
While reading this lesson, did you ask yourself what happens if you have a word with the letter SIN and an OH vowel? Is it possible to have two dots next to each other like that? NO. You would actually combine the two dots into one and if there is no other vowel associated with SIN, then you would assume that the syllable would be pronounced “so”.
Here are a few examples:
(SEEL) שִׂל (SOHL)שׂל