I recently refreshed my Hebrew reading and started studying Biblical Hebrew in order to enhance my davening, and study of Torah and Jewish music. It is within this context that I asked the below question yesterday (which was flagged as off-topic):

I have a question about the Sephardic pronunciation of the tsere vowel.

I learned that it is pronounced as "ei" or "ay" as in the English "hay", however, I think I may have also read somewhere that it is also sometimes pronounced as the "e" in "bed", in which case it would have the same sound as a segol.

Now I am learning the names of the hebrew letters, and according to the book I have, several of the names are spelled in hebrew using a tsere.

For instance ב is written בֵּית and ה is written as הֵא. At the same time in English my book writes that ב is "Bet" and ה is "He"; and in a different book ה is "Hey". (I have the same question for ח, ט, מ, פ, and ר as they all use a tsere in hebrew).

So my question is, which sound is the correct pronunciation for ב ,ה, and the other letters mentioned? For ב is the "e" in Bet pronounced "ay" as in hay (which would sound the same as "bait"), or "e" as in "bed"?

It is very confusing because, for instance, ג is written in English as Gimel, but the "e" here has to be like the "e" as in "bed" because it is written in hebrew with a seghol (גִּמֶּל).

Thanks for your help.

closed as off-topic by rosends, sabbahillel, Double AA Nov 13 '17 at 12:50

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about Judaism within the scope defined in the help center. Note that not all questions about the Hebrew language, about history or news of the Jewish people, about Jewish individuals, or about the State of Israel are necessarily about Judaism." – rosends, sabbahillel, Double AA
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • There are three main camps I know of: the tsere is pronounced e, unless it is followed by a yud, in which it is pronounced ey, it is always pronounced e, and it is always pronounced ey. – ezra Nov 13 '17 at 19:35

The most likely correct pronunciation (see שפת אמת שפתי כהן by R' Bentzion Cohen) is an elongated e as in the word air (British pronunciation) However following one's tradition is also acceptable. So, an Ashkenazi may pronounce it as ey and Sephardim may pronounce as e if they wish.

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