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What are some words commonly mispronounced? (Not by elision/reduction (like ה׳‎→אדְני‎) or assimilation (like תזכרו‎→תשׂכרו‎), but rather words that are pronounced wrong simply because that's how people think they should be pronounced.) I'm excluding from this request errors in stress (emphasis), as those are, alas, too numerous to list. I'm including, however, words mispronounced in a person's own dialect (הברה), though others would consider them correctly pronounced. And I mean any "Jewish" word: a word relevant to, and mispronounced in, Jewish life, be it Hebrew, Yiddish, Aramaic, or other.

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closed as not a real question by msh210 Feb 5 '12 at 16:38

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I'm not clear on exactly what you mean by "pronounced wrong simply because that's how people think they should be pronounced". Are you specifying that the mistakes have to be due to whim or that they have to be due to conviction? Does it matter if people have divergent convictions depending on context? (The first divergence that comes to mind is between colloquialism and Torah reading of the "same" word.) –  WAF Feb 21 '11 at 19:16
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@AviD, I don't know why you're saying havara Ashk'nazis is incorrect, but, in any event, yes, I mean to exclude things that are correct in havara Ashk'nazis and used therein. –  msh210 May 15 '11 at 3:46

38 Answers 38

I'll start off with two:

  • בָּתִּים (of תפלין) is commonly pronounced as if it were spelled בַּתִּים, even by those who distinguish the two.
  • נַחוּם is commonly pronounced נָחוּם by those who distinguish the two.
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Also דם, ים, and many other words containing a kamatz, which are pronounced as though they had a patach. –  Alex Feb 21 '11 at 16:36

One that I notice a lot is v'taher libeinu l'avd'cha (to your servant) instead of l'ovd'cha (to serve you).

There's also a bunch in "yeshivish dialect" that are to numerous to count (lichora, b'dieved, machmas, etc.)

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I hear a lot of Americans brought up with the Mizrachi-style havara pronounce many "o" _kamatz_es as "a". –  msh210 Feb 22 '11 at 21:56

"Rebbe" (or "Rebbi") is one. Depending on who you ask, the proper form is either רַבִּי (Ashkenazic), רִבִּי (Sephardic), or רְבִי (R' Yaakov Emden).

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In the Shabbos Davening there is often the word Shabbas which is mispronounced as Shabbos. For example באהבה וברצון שבת קדשך

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A real big one: אלוה (with a patach under the hei) - many people pronounce it: elohah, while the correct pronounciation is eloah (like noach, and not nocha).

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True. Also other words of the same mishkal, like גבוה (which they mispronounce in Lakewood for sure!). –  Alex Feb 22 '11 at 18:02
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@R'Alex, gavoah is certainly mispronounced, but I don't think it's the same mishkal as eloah.... –  msh210 Feb 22 '11 at 20:48
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Same rule is true when the word ends in 'Ayin (Yodea'). People who are careful to pronounce every syllable individually but do not pronounce an 'Ayin as a guttural will very often insert a simple glottal stop in between the Tzereh and the Patah (Yo-dey-ah instead of Yodeya'). This drives me nuts. –  Seth J Feb 25 '11 at 15:01

What about Shkoiach versus Yiyashar kochacho

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well shkoiach is meaningless –  Raffy Van der Vaart Feb 22 '11 at 22:04
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It's by assimilation/reduction, though. –  msh210 Feb 27 '11 at 19:32
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that should be "kochacha", as in "yours" not "his". But yes, I;m bugged by that one... –  AviD May 13 '11 at 0:03

Often the problem is we see a familiar-looking word and our brains assume it's the word we know, rather than sounding it out carefully as it may be slightly different. E.g. a word that looks just like "edosav" but is actually "edvosav."

The best example that I know of, though, is when the Chazzan takes the Torah back on shabbos; the congregation chimes in with "Hodo al eretz v'shamayim"; "His glory is on the earth and heavens ...". Unfortunately the word "hodo" is less common in our prayers than the word "hodu", give thanks; I usually hear about half the shul saying that. (Maybe it's just my hearing?)

Then there's the fellow who would do Psukei D'Zimra every day and say "v'yimalei ch'vodEE es kol haaretz, amen v'amen." ("may His glory fill the Earth" -- just with my instead of His.) Heh.

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Not sure if I should add another answer for this (or append to above ^^^)

Yontiff - as opposed to Yom Tov

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Yontiff is already a recognized Yiddish word (at least according to someone on wikipedia!) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yontif –  Yahu Feb 23 '11 at 1:55
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@Yahu Interesting. I always though it was a mistake. Wonder where it came from {eyes "Ask Question" button} –  yydl Feb 23 '11 at 3:46
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yydl, you are joking right? Of course it comes from a perversion of Yom Tov. So does Shaleshudos come from Seudah Shlishis. –  Yahu Feb 25 '11 at 0:00
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Yeah. But still, it's strange how words come about just because they require less effort to say –  yydl Feb 25 '11 at 1:16
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That's by assimilation/reduction. –  msh210 Feb 27 '11 at 4:33

"דּוֹר לְדוֹר יְשַׁתַּבַּח מַעֲשֶֽׂיךָ" instead of "דּוֹר לְדוֹר יְשַׁבַּח מַעֲשֶֽׂיךָ" in אַשְׁרֵי "

כִּי גָז חִישׁ וְנָּעֻֽפָה instead of "כִּי גָז חִישׁ וַנָּעֻֽפָה" in תְּפִלָּה לְמֹשֶׁה in psukei dzimra of Shabbos.

"נְרַנְּנָה בִּישׁוּעָתֶֽךָ, וּבְשֵׁם אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ נִגְדֹּל" instead of נְרַנְּנָה בִּישׁוּעָתֶֽךָ, וּבְשֵׁם אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ נִדְגֹּל in לַמְנַצֵּֽחַ at the end of shaharis weekday.

"וְאוֹמְרִים פְּעָמִים בְּכָל יוֹם" as opposed to וְאוֹמְרִים פַּעֲמַֽיִם בְּכָל יוֹם before korbanos everyday.

וָאֲהַלְלָה instead of וַאֲהַלְלָה in אַשְׁרֵי

חַלָּמִישׁ לְמַיְינוֹ מָֽיִם instead of חַלָּמִישׁ לְמַעְיְנוֹ מָֽיִם in הלל

וָאַשַׁלֵשׁ instead of וַאַשַׁלֵשׁ in רבוֹן כל העלמים said Friday night before אשׁת חיל.

Instead of כִּי כָּל אֱלֹהֵי הָעַמִּים אֱלִילִים I hear some people constantly say כִּי כָּל אֱלֹהֵי הָעַמִּים אֱלֹהִים in hodu of psukei dzimrah!

Even worse... וַיִרְאוּ הָעָם אֶת ד instead of וַיִּירְאוּ הָעָם אֶת ד!

and for now last but certainly not least one of my all-time favorites...

Instead of וּבָרֵךְ שְׁנָתֵֽנוּ כַּשָּׁנִים הַטּוֹבוֹת one guy I hear all the time says וּבָרֵךְ שְׁנָתֵֽנוּ כַּנָּשִׁים הַטּוֹבוֹת!

I have many more and can go on and on and on...

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Retzeh in the admidah, the first uVIsfilosom is always pronounced usfilosom like the second one –  Raffy Van der Vaart Feb 23 '11 at 10:42
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Re למעינו, same thing with יֶאְשְׁמוּ (in Shabbos morning davening), and other examples where an aleph or an ayin has a sheva nach followed by a letter with sheva na. –  Alex Feb 27 '11 at 15:33

I always cringe when someone replaces the "Ve" ("and"/flip to future) before a verb with the "Va" ("and"/flip to past) they're expecting.

One example of something similar: In Havdala (words are from Esther, but ba'alei keriya are less likely to make this mistake), saying "... vesasson vayekar" instead of "... vesasson vikar."

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Isaac, check out my examples, some of which are just that. –  Yahu Feb 24 '11 at 6:21
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Or vice versa. One that throws me off if I'm not paying attention is וְיאמְרוּ בַגּויִם ה' מָלָךְ, since most times the word is וַיּאמְרוּ. –  YDK Mar 2 '11 at 0:23

"zecher lemaase bereshit" in the "magen avot" of shabbos, should be "zecher lemaase vereshit"

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See also mi.yodeya.com/questions/6958 –  msh210 Apr 24 '11 at 5:19
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Even if it doesn't change the meaning of the word still it's a wrong pronunciation. –  jutky Aug 10 '11 at 6:10

Yeshivish types are trending from a-doinoi to a-dunoi to a-deenoi.

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  • I hear what sounds like hypercorrection of the o-->oy shift in the form of people pronouncing the words אויבים or אויבינו as אובים or אובינו.

  • "Vay'hal'lu" in place of "viy'hal'lu" in "ויהללו ויברכו את שמך באמת" in the penultimate b'racha of 18.

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There is a phrase in the haftarah rani v' simchi [Zech. 3:7] וְנָתַתִּי לְךָ מַהְלְכִים, בֵּין הָעֹמְדִים הָאֵלֶּה (MAHL'CHIM) that for a couple of years in a row I have heard MEHALCHIM. Though I daven where they lein from klaf, so I don't know if that counts.

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ספר ישׁעיה פרק מ פסוּק לא וְקוֹיֵ ד' יַחֲלִיפוּ כֹחַ is often mispronounced as וְקוֹוֵי ד' יַחֲלִיפוּ כֹחַ

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Oh my gosh! I had no idea! –  WAF Apr 5 '11 at 22:19

Also words with an prefixed bes, kaf, or lamed with a patach (meaning "in the" or the like) pronounced with a sh'va (meaning "in" or the like), like nogea b'davar.

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...and occasionally the opposite, like kav'yachol. –  msh210 Mar 6 '11 at 4:49

Also l'y'rushalayim (instead of lirushalayim) and similar: prefixed vav, kaf, lamed, or bes followed by a yod with a sh'va pronounced as two sh'vas rather than as a chirik.

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There is another issue is with shva nah, it is commonly incorrectly pronounced in Shma.

Like "behol levovho uvhol nafsheho uvhol meodeho" instead of "uv*e*hol nafsheno uv*e*hol meodeho"

Also it sohuld be "sh*e*ma" instead of "shma"

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jutky, whether it is uvchol or uv'chol is a machlokes and either are acceptable. As for the rest, they're usually pronounced incorrectly by those who move the shva as well, as most who do so create a new syllable. Which way is better, I do not know. Btw, many people use an "h" to transliterate a "ches" which is a throat letter, but I have not seen it done for a "chaf" which is a palate letter. –  YDK Mar 6 '11 at 23:53

Has anybody else noticed that many people attempting to sound "Israeli" or "Sephardi" often pronounce a Kametz as a Pata*h even when it is supposed to be pronounced as a Kametz Katon?

Worst examples are: "Kal" instead of "Kol" - I mean, come on, couldn't they at least pronounce it like Ashkenazim and say "Kawl"?

"Karban" instead of "Korban" - I have not heard many people make this mistake, but I have heard it a handful of times. It makes me cringe.

"Le'Avdecha" instead of "Le'Ovdecha". :(

"Kadshecha" instead of "Kodshecha". This one actually makes me want to cry.

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Perhaps it's my imagination, but I seem to hear people singing v'nahapoch hu (instead of v'nahafoch hu).

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It's not your imagination. It is either their inebriation or their ignorance! –  Yahu Mar 21 '11 at 3:20

Many, many kids when singing birkat hamazon out loud:

"umeitiv lakol umeichin mazon le'echol b'riotav ..."

G-d feeds us so He can then eat us up?

Instead of:

"umeitiv lakol umeichin mazon l'chol b'riotav ..."

The problem is the standard "benching tune" tends to push this one.

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bruchta, when people should say baruch ata H'

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The names of some letters of the alef-beis are commonly mispronounced, at least by Ashkenazim:

ב - with final /z/ rather than /s/
ד - with final /d/ rather than /s/
צ - with final /k/ rather than nothing (the proper name of the letter is "tzadi")
ת - with final /f/ rather than /v/

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I have a strong suspicion (though no certainty) מחמת is actually מֵחֲמַת (mechamas), in which case it's widely mispronounced. Can anyone confirm or contradict me?

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עֲרָכִין‎ (the מסכת‎'s name).

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Often adopted by kids, or others who sing birkas hamazon emphatically. . .

Hashem y'varech es amo bashalom

as the last line, instead of

Hashem y'varech es amo vashalom

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See also mi.yodeya.com/questions/6095 –  msh210 Apr 24 '11 at 5:19

Bitya Bat Par'o instead of the common mistake of Batya.

Da-ni-yel instead of da-ni-el

ברוך הוא אלוהינו שבראנו לכבודו should be pronounce sheb'ra'anu (that He created us) and not she'baranu (that we created)

and a biggie. people say Ha'shem (with segol) instead of Ha'sheim (with a tzerei) causing a subtle but fundamental difference in connotation between it sounding like a personification of a person's name (Hashem said this and Hashem did that) versus the way it should be taken, a non-physical third-person entity: THE NAME.

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@DanielMokhtar, Welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for these excellent additions to this list! –  Isaac Moses May 11 '11 at 17:20
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Interesting points. But I don't understand the last one. What is the difference in meaning between "Hashem" and "Hasheim" (especially considering some don't differentiate in pronunciation between segol and tzere)? –  WAF May 11 '11 at 17:24
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@Zvi yes in my tanach as well. with a tzerei under the 'yud'. –  Daniel Mokhtar May 17 '11 at 20:06

The second pasuk in Sh'ma: ואהבת את ה' אל-היך... V'a-hav-ta should be pronounced mil'ra, not the almost universal "V'a-hav-ta". This is serious, because it actually changes the meaning - it should mean "and you shall love Hashem your G-d", whereas the mispronunciation renders it "and you loved Hashem your G-d". Reference: Rabbi Phil Chernofsky of Torah Tidbits.

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I recognize the reason for the downvote, but given the importance of the placement of the emphasis, I'm giving it back an upvote. –  Seth J May 12 '11 at 20:13

It drives me crazy when feminine nouns ending in a "saf" are pluralized into male form e.g. "tallis" => "talleisim" (should be "tallisos"), "shabbos" => "shabbosim" (shabbasos), "machlokes" => "machlokesim" (machlokos), and of course the most ironic "ta'us" = "ta'usim" (ta'uyos)!

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Re talis see aishdas.org/avodah/vol07/v07n039.shtml#14 –  msh210 May 12 '11 at 16:07

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