Dagesh lené

Dagesh forté

Gutteral letters and the Dagesh


Lené or Forté


A point (dot) within a consonant is either a dagesh forté, dagesh lené, or a mappiq.
Dagesh lené
  • is only found in בג"ד כפ"ת letters.
  • is a guide to pronunciation, indicating whether these letters are to be pronounce with a hard or a soft sound
  • (b,v; k,ch; p,f are the only distinctions made in Modern Hebrew).
Dagesh forté
  • Stands in for a missing letter + a silent sh'va.
  • May be found in any consonant
  • Letters with a dagesh forté are said to be "doubled".
  • Letters that change sound with a lené will also change sound with a forté.
Gutteral letters cannot take a dagesh - Therefore they cannot be doubled.

א ע ר and compensatory lengthening
  • In situations where these letters would normally take a dagesh (and would therefore enable the preceding syllable to close), they reject the doubling.
  • The preceding short vowel, therefore, is left in an open unaccented syllable.
  • Since open syllables prefer long vowels, the preceding vowel will lengthen.
ה ח and being doubled by implication
  • In situations where these letters would normally take a dagesh they behave as if a dagesh is present even though the dagesh will never appear.
  • Therefore, even though the syllable might look like it is open, it is considered to be "doubled by implication"
  • The short vowel under the preceding consonant will remain unchanged.
Every consonant takes a vowel or sheva
  • except the last letter in a word
  • except: א when it is quiescent
All syllables begin with a consonant
  • Every syllable contains one (and only one) full vowel.
  • The number of syllables is determined by the number of full vowels
  • Seeming exception is וּ at the beginning of word.
Open syllables end with a vowel
Closed syllables end with a consonant (+ silent sh'va)
Open syllables like long vowels
Closed syllables like short vowels
If the syllable is accented -
the rules
reverse to open-short; closed-long
The addition of prefixes and suffixes (among other things) can affect the long/short vowel rules.
א -
always quiescent at end of syllable
ה -
quiesces only when stands at the end of a word
Dagesh lené
  • is found at the start of a syllable (including the beginning of a word)
  • is never preceded by a vowel.
Dagesh forté
  • is always preceded by a vowel.
Not בג"ד כפ"ת?
must be forté
Preceded by a vowel?
must be forté
Preceded by a sh'va?
must be lené.

The sh'va must be silent. If the sh'va was vocal, the consonant with the dagesh would not be starting a syllable so no lené would be present. A forté could not follow a vocal sh'va either, because that would put the silent sh'va of the dagesh immediately after the vocal sh'va - creating a syllable without any vowel at all. And every syllable must have a vowel.
A mappiq is a point placed in a ה found at the end of a word. The mappiq indicates that the ה is to be pronounced and understood as a "strong gutteral" - a consonant able to close a syllable.