The Hebrew letter Ayin (ע) was traditionally a voiced pharyngeal fricative, but has mutated to a glottal stop in Modern Hebrew, merging it with the letter Aleph (א).

How can I learn the pharyngeal pronunciation of this letter if my native language does not include the sound? I do recognize that merging the sound with Aleph is standard in Israel today and that pronouncing it differently would give my speech a marked quality, but I'm interested in learning the sound from a historical or linguistic perspective.

To be clear, I'm not asking a usage question. I'm aware that using a pharyngeal ע to order a cab in Tel Aviv would get me strange looks.

  • 1
    Aleph and ayin are not even glottal stops in modern Hebrew, fyi. They just become a vowel for the most part. Just look at the word עברית. No glottal stop - just vowel sound. Anyway, to learn the ancient sound you just need to practice with an Arabic speaker or a Yemeni Israeli who still speaks the old way. I wish modern Hebrew retained the ancient pronunciation. Would sound much better in my opinion.
    – AML
    Feb 13, 2020 at 0:27

1 Answer 1


What is your native language? If it helps you, Ayin is rather close to Russian "ы", but more to the throat and shorter. Start with the phoneme /ɨ/ (more rear or upper than i) and try to pronounce it even shorter and more rear. You can also listen to songs of Arik Einstein - he pronounces ayin.

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