Friday, August 18, 2006


Unlike the other Hebrew letters, I have not been able to find a Hebrew word that the letter tet (or teth) is based on. I found some theories as to the shape it represents: wheel, spindle, urban town, basket. Klein's entry for טית says "name of the ninth letter of the Hebrew alphabet [of uncertain origin]".

(After preparing this post, I found that this site claims that Klein derives tet "from טוה (twh 794), spin, and renders teth to knot, knot together, to twist into each other, to interweave. The letter teth indeed looks like a little vortex or spiral." I don't know if the author has a different source for Klein, or perhaps is talking about a different person named Klein.)

Steinberg writes that טית (tet) in Arabic means a skin bottle, like a wineskin or a waterskin. I have not found that word mentioned in any other source, nor have I been able to find a Hebrew cognate.

Tet can switch with tav (תעה and טעה) and in the hitpael form of verbs whose root begins with tzade (הצטדק - not הצתדק). It can switch with dalet and zayin, as I've wrote about earlier. And it can also alternate with tzade (חטב and חצב).

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