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In Hebrew orthography, niqqud or nikud (Hebrew: נִקּוּד, Modern: nīqqūd, Tiberian: nīqqūḏ, "dotting, pointing" or Hebrew: נְקֻדּוֹת, Modern: nəqudōt, Tiberian: nequdōṯ, "dots") is a system of diacritical signs used to represent vowels or distinguish between alternative pronunciations of letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Several such diacritical systems were developed in the Early Middle Ages. The most widespread system, and the only one still used to a significant degree today, was created by the Masoretes of Tiberias in the second half of the first millennium AD in the Land of Israel (see Masoretic Text, Tiberian Hebrew). Text written with niqqud is called ktiv menuqad.

Table info: ...
Other diacritics cantillation, geresh,
Gen. 1:9, "And God said,
Let the waters be collected".
Letters in black, niqqud in red,
cantillation in blue
Niqqud articles
Shva · Hiriq · Zeire · Segol · Patach · Kamatz · Holam · Dagesh · Mappiq · Shuruk · Kubutz · Rafe · Sin/Shin Dot

Niqqud marks are small compared to the letters, so they can be added without retranscribing texts whose writers did not anticipate them.

In modern Israeli orthography niqqud is seldom used, except in specialised texts such as dictionaries, poetry, or texts for children or for new immigrants to Israel.[2] For purposes of disambiguation, a system of spelling without niqqud, known in Hebrew as ktiv maleh (כְּתִיב מָלֵא, literally "full spelling") has developed. This was formally standardised in the Rules for Spelling without Niqqud (כְּלָלֵי הַכְּתִיב חֲסַר הַנִּקּוּד) enacted by the Academy of the Hebrew Language in 1996,[3] and updated in 2017.[4]

One reason for the lesser use of niqqud is that it no longer reflects the current pronunciation. In modern Hebrew, tzere is pronounced the same as segol, although they were distinct in Tiberian Hebrew, and pataḥ the same as qamatz. To the younger generation of native Hebrew speakers, these distinctions seem arbitrary and meaningless; on the other hand, Hebrew language purists have rejected out of hand the idea of changing the basics of niqqud and fitting them to the current pronunciation – with the result that in practice niqqud is increasingly going out of use.[5]

According to Ghil'ad Zuckermann, the lack of nikúd in what he calls "Israeli" (Modern Hebrew) often results in "mispronunciations".[6]:49 For example, the Israeli lexical item מתאבנים is often pronounced as mitabním (literally "becoming fossilized (masculine plural)") instead of metaavním "appetizers", the latter deriving from תאבון teavón "appetite", whereas the former deriving from אבן éven "stone".[6]:49 Another example is the toponym מעלה אדומים, which is often pronounced as maalé edomím instead of maalé adumím, the latter appearing in the Hebrew Bible (Joshua 15:7 and 18:17).[6]:49 The hypercorrect yotvetá is used instead of yotváta for the toponym יטבתה, mentioned in Deuteronomy 10:7.[6]:49 The surname of American actress Farrah Fawcett (פארה פוסט) is often pronounced fost instead of fóset by many Israelis.[6]:49