) Ayin is not a silent letter. It lives in the space between a silent breath and the !Kung
upside-down exclamation point. It has been billed as a "silent letter", like an Aleph
, which only makes the sound of whatever vowel accompanies it. But this is untrue - the Ayin is a glottal
consonant. It makes a sort of stop, which you use the back of your throat to form. Anglos
who move to Israel early enough to have any chance of pronouncing Ayin usually go through four stages:
Stage 1 - they don't understand.
Stage 2 - they learn that there is a difference, but they can't say it at all, so it sounds like an Aleph. This stage takes years to complete.
Stage 3 - they make a glottal stop that sounds a lot like Gollum with a sore throat. This stage takes decades to complete.
Stage 4 - they finally learn to do the proper back-of-throat lllllllllllll-y half-stop. People who immigrate to Israel after age fifteen have no chance in hell of ever reaching this stage.
Ayin is, hands down, the best letter in Hebrew.