Sunday, June 29, 2014

How to Pronounce the Word Amen Jewishly

Entering the Jewish synagogue, one word in particular might seem familiar: Amen. In the Hebrew world of the shul, it can be really exciting to hear a word you already know! You might already know Shabbat, shalom, and a few other words, but Amen is downright familiar to the average American.

But don’t go around saying “A-men” because that’ll peg you as a n00b immediately. Judaism has a different pronunciation of Amen than you are probably used to. 

Say it with me: “Ah-main” (spelled for the average American English speaker). You may see it written in transliteration as Amein, but don’t confuse that with the German pronunciation of “mein.” And don't be misled by the "How to Pronounce Amen" video on YouTube. Often, I find their videos useful in Jewish contexts, but not for this word. 

This one easy tweak to your vocabulary can make you fit in a lot faster! And you won’t feel like an idiot by learning it the hard way. Of course, most people wouldn't be as hard on you as you will be on yourself. Small changes, big embarrassment feelings avoided.

4 comments:

  1. I love when old pray books ohymen, using the yiddish pronunciation. When I use it, it always makes people around me smile

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  2. Personally, I read the male' vowels as longer versions of themselves, and not as a diphthong (although it seems to me like the former applies to some dialects, while the latter applies to others)...

    I don't know how to easily enter symbols that would let me distinguish between segol and tzere in transliteration, but I feel like "amein" would lead many to pronounce the tzere as [in International Phonetic Alphabet] /ej/ when tzere male is (again, the phonology that I taught myself with, along with the phonology of Israeli Hebrew) /e:/ ... but it definitely seems to be more like /amejn/ in Ashkenazi Hebrew.

    Ah, I feel really stupid after I ramble about vowels :D... .--.

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  3. Many English-speaking folk pronounce the word quite differently, depending upon where their grandfathers came from.

    It could be, as you say, "Ah-main"; But just as frequent, is "oo-mine",
    and much less frequently you'll also hear "oo-main".

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  4. The word has Aleph in Hebrew
    Aleph is Ah

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