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from the sefer yetzirah it seems that there is both a hard and soft letter reish (see 4th perek, aryeh kaplan edition). How do you pronounce the soft reish?

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I've never opened Sefer Y'tzira, but note that there are seventeen reshin d'gushos in Tanach. I haven't checked any of them to determine whether it has a dagesh lene or a dagesh forte. –  msh210 May 14 '12 at 15:39
    
@msh210 IIRC They all seem like degeshim fortiim. –  Double AA May 14 '12 at 15:41
    
@msh210 kaplan lists 14 used in 10 discrete words, my question is how exactly are those letters properly pronounced. ps. you should totally open a sefer y'tzira, it's awesome. –  Identitytheft-Dave May 14 '12 at 15:42
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@DoubleAA not being a linguist i'm taking kaplan's word that the hard one is what we currently use, not the soft one. –  Identitytheft-Dave May 14 '12 at 16:08
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@Identitytheft-Dave - Almost all instances of the reish are supposed to be soft. R' Kaplan actually says that he thinks the fricative reish that is used (at least by Israelis) is appropriate for the soft reish. As per DoubleAA, R' Kaplan stated that the hard reish is unknown. –  Fred May 15 '12 at 0:57
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

In the Hebrew dialect of Habbani Jews (type of Temanim), we maintain a double pronunciation of resh, as well as a few other sounds I'm not aware of other dialects having.

The main pronunciation of resh is a regular rolled r, like exists in Arabic and Spanish. The soft resh is much like an English r, but more emphatic, as if you were about to roll it but stopped short. You can still hear this sound in some old Arabic music. The fact that this sound existed in earlier Arabic I'm sure is along the lines of more than 50% of root words in Arabic come from Hebrew - not the other way around.

Interestingly, in Habbanit our hard gimel is neither j nor g, but a kind of clicking g sound. (Soft gimel is "gh") Samekh is best described as the s sound after the k in "Mexico" (since x is truly k-s), with the tongue positioned lower than in a regular s sound. Quf is a guttural "g" sound, not as intense as the Iraqi version. Everything else is the same as normative Temani dialect.

This stuff fascinates me. ^_^

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Also, I think pronouncing Hebrew with the most authentic and original pronunciation is important for spiritual aspects as brought in Sefer Yetzira. Even if it means you think Iraqi or another Temani is more authentic than Habbanit (I won't be offended). But in actuality, Iraqi and Temani dialects are almost the exact same, only with minor differences. And I believe they are the root of the Ashkenazi dialect, where waw became vav, thaw became sav, etc (a double pronunciation of tav not being maintained by many Sepharadim). –  Aman May 14 '12 at 18:41
    
+1, but if you could use IPA symbols it'd help a lot: personally (though I may be alone) I have no idea what you mean by "gh" or "clicking g", nor really what you mean by "much like an English r, but more emphatic, as if you were about to roll it but stopped short". –  msh210 May 14 '12 at 18:42
    
Can you clarify which Reish's get which pronunciation, as most Tanach texts do not seem to differentiate? –  In Search of EMeTh May 14 '12 at 18:47
    
Make a normal g sound, move is SLIGHTLY forward towards your teeth, and emphasize it to the point that it clicks. Ethiopians, who speak Semitic languages, have this sound as well. "Gh" is "ghayin" in Arabic, as in "Baghdad", it sounds almost like the French r. English r is as in American English, or West Country England English. Move your tongue forward more to emphasize the sound, and that is basically it. –  Aman May 14 '12 at 18:47
    
@InSearchofEMeTh, there is very rarely a resh dgusha in the Tanakh, although I remember seeing one in Shir HaShirim. My Rav tells me his father knew when you would use it, and it was much more often, but I personally don't know. I wish I did. –  Aman May 14 '12 at 18:49
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