Friday, March 7, 2014

How to Pronounce Achashverosh Without Embarassing Yourself

(Just kidding, you'll probably still embarass yourself! Remind yourself: builds character!)

It's that time of year again...when you try to avoid saying Ahashverosh despite all the talk about Purim. I often mispronounce Jewish words, and I'm generally okay with that, but the name Ahashverosh is so long that my failure is much harder to ignore. ProTip: Call him "the King" instead.

You can find an introduction to Achashverosh at Jewish Treats: Who Was Achashverosh?

Unfortunately, no one has made a video for how to pronounce Achashvarosh, but there is one for the English name Ahasuerus, which sounds nothing like the Hebrew! I'm sorry, but that is a dinosaur; not a king.

I'm going to do my best to help you out. If you know of a recording that is easy to learn the pronounciation from, please post it in the comments!

Here is my attempt to write it phonetically:
a (short, somewhat like "ah") - CHASH - vay / vei - ROSH
The stress is lighter on the last syllable than the second one.
If you can't pronounce the "ch" sound reliably (or at all), don't worry. People often pronounce the name (lazily?) as Ahashverosh instead of Achashverosh. In fact, I didn't know it was the "ch" sound until just this year when I began working with the Hebrew text. It is an old Persian word, so tripping over it does not reflect on your Hebrew skills. This name is complicated and you may need to re-learn it every year like myself.

To hear the name Achashverosh in its natural habitat (speech, of course), check out the Purim shiurim (lectures) on Here are some ideas to get you started:
Achashveirosh: Silly Fool or Master Manipulator? by Rebecca Belizon
Did Esther Convert in the Palace of Achashverosh? Conversion and Jewish Identity in History and Halacha by Rabbi Ephraim Kanarfogel
Who is Achashverosh: A Character Analysis Through the Eyes of Chazal by Rabbi Jesse Horn (requires more comfort with Hebrew phrases)

Shabbat shalom!

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