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NUN:

Fourteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The name signifies "fish," and perhaps indicates the original shape of the letter (see Alphabet). The "nun" has two forms, one (נ) for the beginning or middle of a word and one (ן) for the end. It is a liquid lingual letter, but its pronunciation is greatly helped by the nose, and therefore in certain cases it is now pronounced with the nasal sound of the French "n." It interchanges with the other liquids ל and ר. It is one of the servile letters, being used as a prefix to form the first person plural of the imperfect in all conjugations, and to form the "nif'al." When followed by "shewa" it is, if initial and radical, regularly dropped (so in the imperative and infinitive of many verbs); if at the end of a syllable, it is generally assimilated to the following consonant. Its numerical value is fifty. On the "inverted" nuns see Jew. Encyc. viii. 368.

T. M. Sel.
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