Monday, October 6, 2014

How to Pronounce Sukkot

Succot, Sukkot, Succos... but for some reason, you never see it written Sukkos. 

Don't rely on the "How to pronounce Sukkot" video on YouTube. It's a computer voice with a British accent that is actually trying to say Sukkos. Don't bother with this other computer-generated-Brit sound file either and for the same reason.

Accented Syllable
There is actually not an accented syllable difference between Hebrew and Americans using Sephardi pronunciation: SuKOT. When you get into American Ashkenazi-speak, the accented syllable changes: SUKkus.

A minor difference you may have noticed above: I only included one K in the Sephardi pronunciation. You don't hear Suk-KOT, instead you hear Su-KOT. The Ashkenazi Americans have a K sound in both syllables: SUK-kus. 

Hebrew Vowels
The U is pronounced "oo" as in "suit." The O is pronounced as a long O sound, like "coat."

American Ashkenazi Vowels
The U is pronounced "uh" like book. The second syllable is not pronounced like "us" the word, but it's very close. I can't think of an English word, but there is the Yiddish word shtus (silliness, nonsense, stupidity, junk/crap as a value judgment). Maybe this vowel sound doesn't exist in English...

But whatever you do, don't pronounce it "suck-it." That's one of my favorite "Oh no, what did I say?!" moments ever, and this time, it wasn't me!


  1. On many calendars it's spelled Succoth, and I grew up (with no Jews around) thinking it was pronounced SUCK-ith. Worst. Ever.

  2. Thanks for trying to clear up the problem but since when does the "oo" in the English word "book" sound like "uh"?
    I assume you are trying to make a distinction between the "oo" in a word like "loop" and the "oo" in book but I don't think "uh" is accurate or helpful. Normally I wouldn't say anything but the pronunciation of Sukkot is already confusing enough. I'm 50 years old and from a Jewish family and I don't think I've ever heard a definitive pronunciation of Sukkot from anyone, ever.