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Encyclopedia > History of the Arabic alphabet
The Arabic Alphabet

History · Adaptations
Phonology · Transliteration
Diacritics · Writing of the hamza
Numerals · Numeration The Arabic alphabet is the script used for writing the Arabic language. ... The Arabic language has a standard pronunciation, which is basically the one used to recite the Quran. ... Due to the fact that the Arabic language has a number of phonemes that have no equivalent in English or other European languages, a number of different transliteration methods have been invented to represent certain Arabic characters, due to various conflicting goals: A desire to stay consistent with traditional usage... Arabic numerals (also called Hindu numerals or Indian numerals ) are the most common set of symbols used to represent numbers. ...

If certain characters in this article display badly (as empty squares, question marks, etc), see Unicode. In computing, Unicode provides an international standard which has the goal of providing the means to encode the text of every document people want to store on computers. ...


The history of the Arabic alphabet shows that this abjad has changed since it arose. It is thought that the Arabic alphabet is a derivative of the Nabataean variation (or perhaps the Syriac variation) of the Aramaic alphabet, which itself descended from the Phoenician alphabet, which among others gave rise to the Hebrew alphabet and the Greek alphabet, (and therefore the Cyrillic and Roman alphabets, etc). The Arabic alphabet is the script used for writing the Arabic language. ... An abjad is a type of writing system where there is one symbol per consonantal phoneme, sometimes also called a consonantary. ... Petra, the Nabataean capital The Nabataeans, a people of ancient Arabia, whose settlements in the time of Josephus gave the name of Nabatene to the border-land between Syria and Arabia from the Euphrates to the Red Sea. ... Syriac is an Eastern Aramaic language that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. ... Aramaic is a Semitic language with a four-thousand year history. ... Phoenician can mean: The Phoenician ancient civilization The Phoenician alphabet The Phoenician languages This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Note: This article contains special characters. ... The Greek language is written in the Greek alphabet, developed in classical times (ca 9th century B.C.) and passed down to the present. ... The Cyrillic alphabet (or azbuka, from the old name of the first letters) is an alphabet used to write six natural Slavic languages (Belarusian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Russian, Serbian, and Ukrainian) and many other languages of the former Soviet Union, Asia and Eastern Europe. ... ... An alphabet is a complete standardized set of letters — basic written symbols — each of which roughly represents a phoneme of a spoken language, either as it exists now or as it may have been in the past. ...

Contents


An innovating alphabet

The Arabic alphabet's alphabetical order is different from in the Phoenician, Hebrew, Syriac, and Greek alphabets:- The Phoenician alphabet dates from around 1000 BC and is derived from the Proto-Canaanite alphabet. ... Note: This article contains special characters. ... 11th century book in Syriac Serto. ...

(Greek waw = digamma) Image File history File links Taken from fr:Image:Comp arabe hebreu etc. ... Digamma, or Wau, (upper case , lower case ) is an obsolete letter of the Greek alphabet. ...


The old alphabetical order, as in the other alphabets shown here, is known as the Levantine or Abjadi order. If the letters are arranged by their numeric order, the Levantine order is restored:- The Levant is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in Southwest Asia south of the Taurus Mountains, bounded by the Mediterranean Sea in the west, and in the east, the north Arabian Desert and Mesopotamia. ... The Arabic alphabet is the script used for writing the Arabic language. ...

(Greek waw = digamma) Image File history File links Taken from fr:Image:Comp arabe hebreu etc2. ... Digamma, or Wau, (upper case , lower case ) is an obsolete letter of the Greek alphabet. ...


(Note: here "numeric order" means the traditional values when these letters were used as numbers. See Arabic numerals, Greek numerals and Hebrew numerals for more details)
This order is much the oldest. The first written records of the Arabic alphabet show why the order was changed. Arabic numerals (also called Hindu numerals or Indian numerals ) are the most common set of symbols used to represent numbers. ... Greek numerals are a system of representing numbers using letters of the Greek alphabet. ... The system of Hebrew numerals is a quasi-decimal alphabetic numeral system using the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. ...


Archaic model

The first recorded text in the Arabic alphabet was written in 512 AD. It is a trilingual dedication in Greek, Syriac and Arabic found at Zabad in Syria. This version of the Arabic alphabet used includes only 22 letters, of which only 15 are different, being used to note 28 phonemes:- Syriac is an Eastern Aramaic language that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. ... Arabic (العربية al-arabiyyah, or less formally arabi) is the largest member of the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family (classification: South Central Semitic) and is closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic. ... Zabad is the name of seven men in the Hebrew Bible. ... In oral language, a phoneme is the theoretical basic unit of sound that can be used to distinguish words or morphemes; in sign language, it is a similarly basic unit of hand shape, motion, position, or facial expression. ...

Image File history File links Taken from fr:Image:Aram nabat arabe syriaque. ...

Origins

The Arabic alphabet evolved either from the Nabataean, or (less widely believed) from the Syriac. This table shows changes undergone by the shapes of the letters from the Aramaic original to the Nabataean and Syriac forms. Arabic is placed in the middle for clarity and not to mark a time order of evolution. Petra, the Nabataean capital The Nabataeans, a people of ancient Arabia, whose settlements in the time of Josephus gave the name of Nabatene to the border-land between Syria and Arabia from the Euphrates to the Red Sea. ... Syriac is an Eastern Aramaic language that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. ...


It seems that the Nabataean alphabet became the Arabic alphabet thus:

  • In the 6th and 5th centuries BC, north-Semitic tribes immigrated and founded a kingdom centered around Petra, in what is now Jordan. These people (now named Nabataeans from the name of one of the tribes, Naba?u), spoke probably a form of Arabic.
  • In the 2nd century AD, the first known records of the Nabataean alphabet were written, in the Aramaic language (which was the language of communication and trade), but including some Arabic language features: the Nabataeans did not write the language which they spoke. They wrote in a form of the Aramaic alphabet, which continued to evolve; it separated into two forms: one intended for inscriptions (known as "monumental Nabataean") and the other, more cursive and hurriedly written and with joined letters, for writing on papyrus. This cursive form influenced the monumental form more and more and gradually changed into the Arabic alphabet.

The Treasury at Petra Petra (from petrus, rock in Greek; Arabic: البتراء, al-Bitrā) is an archaeological site in Jordan, lying in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Wadi Araba, the great valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. ... Aramaic is a Semitic language with a four-thousand year history. ... Inscriptions are words or letters written, engraved, painted, or otherwise traced on a surface and can appear in contexts both small and monumental. ... James ROCKS ...

Pre-Islamic Arabic inscriptions

A fair number of Arabian inscriptions survive from the pre-Islamic era, but, very few are in the Arabic alphabet. Some are in the Arabic language, or its closest relatives including:- The term the Middle East sometimes applies to the peninsula alone, but usually refers to the Arabian Peninsula plus the Levant, Mesopotamia, and Iran. ... Inscriptions are words or letters written, engraved, painted, or otherwise traced on a surface and can appear in contexts both small and monumental. ...   Islam? (Arabic: الإسلام al-islām) the submission to God is a monotheistic faith, one of the Abrahamic religions, and the worlds second largest religion. ... The Arabic alphabet is the script used for writing the Arabic language. ... Arabic (العربية al-arabiyyah, or less formally arabi) is the largest member of the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family (classification: South Central Semitic) and is closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic. ...

  • The Thamudic, Lihyanic, and Safaitic inscriptions in the north.
  • The Epigraphic South Arabian (Sabaean, Himyaritic, etc.) inscriptions in the south.
    • Both of these are in variants of the South Arabian musnad alphabet.
  • Nabataean inscriptions in Aramaic and Arabic.
  • Inscriptions in other languages, such as Syriac.
  • Pre-Islamic Arabic inscriptions in the Arabic alphabet: these are very few; only 5 are known for certain. These mostly do not use dots, making them sometimes difficult to interpret, as many letters are the same shape as other letters.


Here are listed the inscriptions in the Arabic alphabet, and the inscriptions in the Nabataean alphabet that show the beginnings of Arabic-like features. The Sabaeans were a people who lived in what is today Yemen in the final millennium BCE. They may be the same nation as the biblical Sheba. ... The South Arabian alphabet branched from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet in ca. ... Petra, the Nabataean capital The Nabataeans, a people of ancient Arabia, whose settlements in the time of Josephus gave the name of Nabatene to the border-land between Syria and Arabia from the Euphrates to the Red Sea. ... Aramaic is a Semitic language with a 3,000-year history. ... Syriac is an Eastern Aramaic language that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. ... The Arabic alphabet is the script used for writing the Arabic language. ...

Name Whereabouts Date Language Alphabet Text & notes
En Avdat Negev in Israel between 88AD and 150AD 4 lines Aramaic, then 2 lines Arabic Nabataean with a little letter-joining prayer of thanks to the god Obodas for saving someone's life
Umm al-Jimāl west of Hauran plateau in Syria roughly end of 3th century AD Aramaic-Nabataean Nabataean, much letter-joining # also Greek
Raqush (this is not a place-name) Mada'in Salih in Saudi Arabia 267 AD mixture of Arabic and Aramaic Nabataean, some letter-joining. Has a few diacritic dots. Last inscription in Nabataean language. Epitaph to one Raqush, including curse against grave-violaters.
an-Namāra 100km SE of Damascus 328-329 AD Arabic Nabataean, more letter-joining than previous # a long epitaph for the famous Arab poet and war-leader Imru'ul-Qays, describing his war deeds
Jabal Ramm 50 km east of Aqaba 3rd or likelier late 4th century AD 3 lines in Arabic, 1 bent line in Thamudic Arabic. Has some diacritic dots. In a temple of Allat. Boast or thanks of an energetic man who made his fortune.
Sakakah in Saudi Arabia undated Arabic Arabic, some Nabataean features, & dots short; reading unclear
Sakakah in Saudi Arabia 3rd or 4th century AD Arabic Arabic "Hama son of Garm"
Sakakah in Saudi Arabia 4th century AD Arabic Arabic "B-`-s-w son of `Abd-Imru'-al-Qais son of Mal(i)k"
Umm al-Jimāl west of Hauran plateau in Syria 4th or 5th century AD Arabic similar to Arabic # "This was set up by colleagues of 'Ulayh son of `Ubaydah, secretary of the cohort Augusta Secunda Philadelphiana; may he go mad who effaces it."
Zabad in Syria, south of Aleppo 512 AD Arabic Arabic # Also Greek and Syriac. Christian dedicatory. The Arabic says "Allah's help" & 6 names. Here, Allāh is spelt phonetically as الاه.
Jabal Usays in Syria 528 AD Arabic Arabic Record of a military expedition by one Ibrahim ibn Mughirah on behalf of the king al-Harith (presumably al-Harith ibn Jabalah (Aretas in Greek), king of the Ghassanid vassals of the Byzantines)
Harrān in Leija district, south of Damascus 568 AD Arabic Arabic # Also Greek. Christian dedicatory, in a martyrium. It records Sharahil ibn Zalim building the martyrium a year after the destruction of Khaybar.

Cursive Nabataean writing changed into Arabic writing, likeliest between the dates of the an-Namāra inscription and the Jabal Ramm inscription. Most writing would have been on perishable materials, such as papyrus. As it was cursive, it was liable to change. The epigraphic record is extremely sparse, with only five certainly pre-Islamic Arabic inscriptions surviving, though some others may be pre-Islamic. Ruins in the Negev desert The Negev (Hebrew נֶגֶב, Tiberian Hebrew Néḡeḇ; Arabic النقب an-Naqab) is the desert region of southern Israel. ... The Hauran refers to the southern region of modern-day Syria. ... An epitaph (literally: on the grave in ancient Greek) is text honoring the dead, most commonly inscribed on a tombstone or plaque. ... This article needs to be wikified. ... Damascus by night, pictured from Jabal Qasioun; the green spots are minarets Damascus (Arabic officially دمشق Dimashq, colloquially ash-Sham الشام) is the capital city of Syria and is the oldest inhabited city in the world. ... An epitaph (literally: on the grave in ancient Greek) is text honoring the dead, most commonly inscribed on a tombstone or plaque. ... Aqaba (Arabic: العقبة al-Ê»Aqabah) is a coastal town with a population of 62,773 (1994) in the far south of Jordan (29. ... Mentioned in the Quran, (Sura 53:19), Allat (also al-Lat) was the Arab tribal god of the Thaqif who lived in the city of Taif. ... The Hauran refers to the southern region of modern-day Syria. ... A cohort (from the Latin Cohors, plural cohortes, a military-type unit, as the infantry batallions constituting a Roman legion) is a fairly large group of rather homogenous individuals : original Roman Cohortes military cohort Originally it was a sub-unit of a Roman legion, consisting of 600 men (infantry), itself... Philadelphia usually refers to the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States of America. ... Old Town Aleppo viewed from the Citadel Aleppo is also the name of two townships in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. ... Syriac is an Eastern Aramaic language that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. ... The word Allah is the Arabic term for God. It is ultimately derived (according to most etymologists) from Proto-Semitic ʾil-, as is Hebrew El. ... The Ghassanids were Arab Christians that emigrated in 250 CE from Yemen to the Hauran, in southern Syria. ... The Byzantine Empire is the term conventionally used to describe the Greek-speaking Roman Empire during the Middle Ages, centred at its capital in Constantinople. ... Damascus by night, pictured from Jabal Qasioun; the green spots are minarets Damascus (Arabic officially دمشق Dimashq, colloquially ash-Sham الشام) is the capital city of Syria and is the oldest inhabited city in the world. ... As a noun, Christian is an appellation and moniker deriving from the appellation Christ, which many people associate exclusively with Jesus of Nazareth. ... Dedication (Lat. ... In literature, an epigraph is a quotation that is placed at the start of a work or section that expresses in some succinct way an aspect or theme of what is to follow. ... A fairly substantial number of Arabian inscriptions survive from the pre-Islamic era; however, very few are in the Arabic alphabet. ...


See http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Inscriptions/ for copies of these inscriptions (note: Islamic point of view on that web site.)
See http://home.student.uva.nl/rogier.visser/ac/nabatean.html for pictures (without transcriptions or translations) of the inscriptions marked # in the table. Islam ( Arabic al-islām الإسلام,  listen?) the submission to God is a monotheistic faith and the worlds second-largest religion. ... Wikipedia policy is that all articles should be written from a neutral point of view: without bias, representing all views fairly. ...


The Nabataean alphabet was designed to write 22 phonemes, but Arabic has 28 phonemes; thus, when used to write the Arabic language, 6 of its letters must each represent two phonemes:
d also represented ð,
H also represented kh %,
T also represented Z,
ayin also represented gh %,
S also represented D,
t also represented þ.
: In the cases marked %, the choice was influenced by etymology, as Common Semitic kh and gh became Hebrew H and ayin respectively. In oral language, a phoneme is the theoretical basic unit of sound that can be used to distinguish words or morphemes; in sign language, it is a similarly basic unit of hand shape, motion, position, or facial expression. ... In historical linguistics, etymology is the study of the origins of words. ... Ayin is the sixteenth letter in many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Hebrew, and Aramaic. ...


As cursive Nabataean writing evolved into Arabic writing, the writing became largely joined-up. Some the letters became the same shape as other letters, producing more ambiguities, as in the table at http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Arabe_arch.png .
There the Arabic letters are listed in the traditional Levantine order but are written in their current forms, for simplicity. The letters which are the same shape have coloured backgrounds. The second value of the letters that represent more than one phoneme is after a comma. In these tables, ğ is j as in English "June".
In the Arabic language, the g sound seems to have changed into j in fairly late pre-Islamic times, and seems not to have happened in those tribes who invaded Egypt and settled there. In oral language, a phoneme is the theoretical basic unit of sound that can be used to distinguish words or morphemes; in sign language, it is a similarly basic unit of hand shape, motion, position, or facial expression. ...


When a letter was at the end of a word, it often developed an end loop, and as a result many Arabic letters have two or more shapes.
b and n and t became the same.
y became the same as b and n and t except at the ends of words.
j and H became the same.
z and r became the same.
s and sh became the same.


After all this, there were only 17 letters which are different in shape. One letter-shape represented 5 phonemes (b t th n and sometimes y), one represented 3 phonemes (j H kh), and 4 each represented 2 phonemes. Compare the Hebrew alphabet, as in the table at http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Hebreu_hist_arabe.png .


(An analogy can be the Roman alphabet uppercase letters I and J: in the German Fraktur font they look the same but are officially different letters.) Fig. ...


Early Islamic changes

In the 7th century AD, the Arabic alphabet is attested in its classical form.
See PERF 558 for the first surviving Islamic Arabic writing. PERF 558 is the oldest surviving Arabic papyrus, and the oldest dated Arabic inscription from the Islamic era, dating from 22 AH (AD 642) and found in Heracleopolis in Egypt. ...


In the 7th century AD, probably in the early years of Islam while writing down the Qur'an, it was realized that deciding by context in each case did not solve all the various ambiguities that resulted when reading Arabic text, and a proper cure was needed. Writings in the Nabataean and Syriac alphabets already had sporadic examples of dots being used to distinguish letters which had become identical, for example as in the table at http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:D_r_nabat_syriaque.png .
By analogy of this, a system of dots was added to the Arabic alphabet to make enough different letters for Classical Arabic's 28 phonemes. Sometimes the resulting new letters were put in alphabetical order after their un-dotted originals, and sometimes at the end.   Islam? (Arabic: الإسلام al-islām) the submission to God is a monotheistic faith, one of the Abrahamic religions, and the worlds second largest religion. ... The Quran (Arabic: al-qurān literally the recitation; also called Al Qurān Al KarÄ«m or The Noble Quran; or transliterated Quran, Koran, and less commonly Alcoran) is the holy book of Islam. ... ConTEXT is a freeware text editor directed at programmers. ... Classical Arabic is the form of the Arabic language used in the Quran as well as in numerous literary texts from the same period. ...


The first surviving document that definitely uses these dots is also the first surviving Arabic papyrus (PERF 558), dated April 643 AD. The dots did not become obligatory until much later. Important texts like the Qur'an were frequently memorized; this practice, which survives even today, probably arose partially to avoid the great ambiguity of the script, as well as the scarcity of books in times when printing was unheard-of and every copy of every book had to be written by hand. James ROCKS ... PERF 558 is the oldest surviving Arabic papyrus, and the oldest dated Arabic inscription from the Islamic era, dating from 22 AH (AD 642) and found in Heracleopolis in Egypt. ... April is the fourth month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and one of four with the length of 30 days. ... Events Rothari, King of the Lombards, issues the Lombard law code. ... The Quran (Arabic: al-qurān literally the recitation; also called Al Qurān Al Karīm or The Noble Quran; or transliterated Quran, Koran, and less commonly Alcoran) is the holy book of Islam. ... For computer memory, see computer storage. ... The folder of newspaper web offset printing press Printing is an industrial process for mass production of texts and images, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. ...


The alphabet then had 28 letters, and so could be used to write the numbers 1 to 10, then 20 to 100, then 200 to 900, then 1000 (see Arabic Numerals). In this numerical order, the new letters were put at the end of the alphabet. This produced this order: alif (1), b (2), j (3), d (4), h (5), w (6), z (7), H (8), T (9), y (10), k (20), l (30), m (40), n (50), s (60), ayn (70), f (80), S (90), q (100), r (200), sh (300), t (400), sh (500), kh (600), dh (700), D (800), Z (900), gh (1000). Arabic numerals (also called Hindu numerals or Indian numerals ) are the most common set of symbols used to represent numbers. ...


The lack of vowel signs in Arabic writing created more ambiguities: for example, in Classical Arabic ktb could be kataba = "he wrote" or kutiba = "it was written". Later, vowel signs and hamzas were added, beginning some time in the last half of the sixth century, at about the same time as the first invention of Syriac and Hebrew vocalization. Initially, this was done by a system of red dots, said to have been commissioned by an Umayyad governor of Iraq, Hajjaj ibn Yusuf: a dot above = a, a dot below = i, a dot on the line = u, and doubled dots gave tanwin. However, this was cumbersome and easily confusable with the letter-distinguishing dots, so about 100 years later, the modern system was adopted. The system was finalized around 786 by al-Farahidi. Classical Arabic is the form of the Arabic language used in the Quran as well as in numerous literary texts from the same period. ... The glottal stop or voiceless glottal plosive is a type of consonantal sound, used in many spoken languages. ... (5th century — 6th century — 7th century — other centuries) Events The first academy of the east the Academy of Gundeshapur founded in Persia by the Persian Shah Khosrau I. Irish colonists and invaders, the Scots, began migrating to Caledonia (later known as Scotland) Glendalough monastery, Wicklow Ireland founded by St. ... In animals, vocalization is a means of communication generated in many cases by their primitive versions of vocal chords. ... The Courtyard of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, one of the grandest architectural legacies of the Umayyads. ... ... Events A council is organized in Constantinople, but disturbed by soldiers Beatus of Liébana, Spanish monk, publishes his Births Emperor Saga of Japan Emperor Junna of Japan Deaths Other 786 is the total value of the letters of Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim. In Arabic there are two methods...


When new signs were added to the Arabic alphabet, they took the alphabetical order value of the letter which were an alternative for: tā' marbūta took the value of ordinary t, and not of h.. In the same way, the many diacritics do not have any value: for example, a doubled consonant indicated by shadda, does not count as two letters. Ù‘ shadda marks the gemination (doubling) of a consonant. ...


Some features of the Arabic alphabet arose because of differences between Qur'anic spelling (which followed the Makkan dialect pronunciation used by Muhammad and his first followers) and the standard Classical Arabic. These include:- The Quran (Arabic: al-qurān literally the recitation; also called Al Qurān Al KarÄ«m or The Noble Quran; or transliterated Quran, Koran, and less commonly Alcoran) is the holy book of Islam. ... Mecca or Makkah (in full: Makkah al-Mukkaramah; Arabic مكة المكرمة) is revered as the holiest site of Islam, and a pilgrimage to it is required of all Muslims who can afford to go. ... Muhammad is a common Muslim male name. ... Classical Arabic is the form of the Arabic language used in the Quran as well as in numerous literary texts from the same period. ...

  • tā' marbūta: This arose because the -at- ending of feminine nouns was often pronounced as -ah and written as h. To avoid altering Quranic spelling, the dots of t were written over the h.
  • y used to spell ā at the ends of some words: This arose because ā arising from contraction where single y dropped out between vowels, was in some dialects pronounced at the ends of words with the tongue further forward than for other ā vowels, and as a result in the Qu'ran it was written as y.
  • ā not written as alif in some words: The Arabic spelling of Allāh was decided before the Arabs started using alif to spell ā. In other cases (for example the first ā in hāðā = "this"), it may be that the Makkan dialect pronounced those vowels short.
  • hamza: Originally alif spelt the glottal stop. But Makkans did not pronounce the glottal stop, but replaced it by w or y or nothing, or lengthened an adjacent vowel, or between vowels dropped the glottal stop and contracted the vowels; and the Qur'an was written following Makkan pronunciation. The Arabic grammarians invented the hamza diacritic sign and used it to mark the glottal stop. hamza is Arabic for "hook".

Sandhi is a cover term for a wide variety of phonological processes that occur at morpheme or word boundaries. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with أ. (Discuss) Alif is the first letter of the arabic alphabet. ... The word Allah is the Arabic term for God. It is ultimately derived (according to most etymologists) from Proto-Semitic ʾil-, as is Hebrew El. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with أ. (Discuss) Alif is the first letter of the arabic alphabet. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with أ. (Discuss) Alif is the first letter of the arabic alphabet. ... The glottal stop or voiceless glottal plosive is a type of consonantal sound, used in many spoken languages. ... The glottal stop or voiceless glottal plosive is a type of consonantal sound, used in many spoken languages. ... A diacritical mark or diacritic, sometimes called an accent mark, is a mark added to a letter to alter a words pronunciation or to distinguish between similar words. ...

Reorganization of the alphabet

Less than a century later, Arab grammarians reorganized the alphabet, for reasons of teaching, putting letters next to other letters which were nearly the same shape. This produced a new order which was not the same as the numeric order, which became less important because it was being competed with by the Indian numerals and sometimes by the Greek numerals. India has produced many numeral systems. ... Greek numerals are a system of representing numbers using letters of the Greek alphabet. ...


The Arabic grammarians of North Africa changed the new letters, which explains the differences between the alphabets of the East and the Maghrib. Maghrib is an Arabic term for of the setting sun; from the root ghuroob (to set; to be hidden). It is also used in a manner similar to the metaphorical use of to be eclipsed, which is used in the English language. ...


Adapting the Arabic alphabet for other languages

When the Arabic alphabet spread to countries which used other languages, extra letters had to be invented to spell non-Arabic sounds. Usually the alteration was 3 dots above or below:-

  • Persian and Urdu: p : b with 3 dots below.
  • Persian and Urdu: ch : j with 3 dots below.
  • Persian and Urdu: g : k with a double top.
  • Persian: zh : z with 3 dots above.
  • in Egypt: g: j. That is because Egyptian Arabic has g where other Arabic dialects have j.
  • in Egypt: j: j with 3 dots below, same as Persian and Urdu ch.
  • in Egypt: ch: written as t-sh.
  • Urdu: retroflex sounds: as the corresponding dentals but with a small sign like a Roman b letter above. (This problem in adapting a Semitic alphabet to write Indian languages also arose long before this: see Brahmi.
  • In South-East Asia: ng as in "sing": kh with 3 dots above; or gh with 3 dots above.

Persian (فارسی / پارسی), (local name in Iran/Persia, Afghanistan and Tajikistan: ‘Fârsi’), ‘Pârsi’ (older local name, but still used by some speakers), Tajik (a Central Asian dialect) or Dari (another local name in Tajikistan and Afghanistan), is a language spoken in Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, western Pakistan, Bahrain, and elsewhere. ... Urdu(اردو) is an Indo-European language which originated in India, most likely in the vicinity of Delhi, from whence it spread to the rest of the subcontinent. ... Persian (فارسی / پارسی), (local name in Iran/Persia, Afghanistan and Tajikistan: ‘Fârsi’), ‘Pârsi’ (older local name, but still used by some speakers), Tajik (a Central Asian dialect) or Dari (another local name in Tajikistan and Afghanistan), is a language spoken in Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, western Pakistan, Bahrain, and elsewhere. ... Urdu(اردو) is an Indo-European language which originated in India, most likely in the vicinity of Delhi, from whence it spread to the rest of the subcontinent. ... Persian (فارسی / پارسی), (local name in Iran/Persia, Afghanistan and Tajikistan: ‘Fârsi’), ‘Pârsi’ (older local name, but still used by some speakers), Tajik (a Central Asian dialect) or Dari (another local name in Tajikistan and Afghanistan), is a language spoken in Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, western Pakistan, Bahrain, and elsewhere. ... Urdu(اردو) is an Indo-European language which originated in India, most likely in the vicinity of Delhi, from whence it spread to the rest of the subcontinent. ... Persian (فارسی / پارسی), (local name in Iran/Persia, Afghanistan and Tajikistan: ‘Fârsi’), ‘Pârsi’ (older local name, but still used by some speakers), Tajik (a Central Asian dialect) or Dari (another local name in Tajikistan and Afghanistan), is a language spoken in Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, western Pakistan, Bahrain, and elsewhere. ... Urdu(اردو) is an Indo-European language which originated in India, most likely in the vicinity of Delhi, from whence it spread to the rest of the subcontinent. ... Retroflex consonants are articulated with the tip of the tongue curled up and back so the bottom of the tip touches the roof of the mouth. ... BrāhmÄ« refers to the pre-modern members of the Brahmic family of scripts, attested from the 3rd century BC. The best known and earliest dated inscriptions in Brahmi are the rock-cut edicts of Ashoka. ...

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Arabic alphabet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3228 words)
The Arabic script is cursive, and all primary letters have conditional forms for their glyphs, depending on whether they are at the beginning, middle or end of a word, so they may exhibit 4 distinct forms (initial, medial, final or isolated).
The first known text in the Arabic alphabet is a late fourth-century inscription from Jabal Ram (50 km east of Aqaba), but the first dated one is a trilingual inscription at Zebed in Syria from 512.
In the 20th century, Arabic script was generally replaced by the Latin alphabet in the Balkans,Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, while in the Soviet Union, after a brief period of Latinization, [1] use of the Cyrillic alphabet was mandated.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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