Kamats Katan

Kamats Katan: The "A" that sounds like "O"

It's time to let the cat out of the bag: although most of Hebrew is pronounced as it's written, there's one exception: a special case of the vowel Kamats — as in — that has an "O" sound like .


Luckily it doesn't happen very often (and Israelis often write it with a — see the sidebar) but the rules are a bit hard to remember. The easiest thing to remember is that it never happens on an unstressed syllable if a word is longer than one syllable. Stress in Hebrew is usually on the last syllable, so it won't be there.

But for the most part, it's most practical to memorize the common cases. You'll notice that most of them are old Biblical words.

(kol) - All! As in "I want ALL the jelly beans!"

(chochmah) - Wisdom!

(korban) - Means offering - in the sense of the food offerings that were brought to the temple in ancient Israel.

(bechol) - With all or in all. As in "with all my heart" or "in all the things you do."

We'll see some more in the next page when we look at extra short vowels.

Don't worry, we're almost done!