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The Arabic alphabet ( ar, الْأَبْجَدِيَّة الْعَرَبِيَّة, ' or , ', ), or Arabic abjad, is the
Arabic script
Arabic script
as it is codified for writing
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
. It is written from right to left in a
cursive Cursive (also known as script, among other names) is any style of penmanship Penmanship is the technique of writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. Writin ...

cursive
style and includes 28 letters. Most letters have contextual letterforms. The Arabic script is also a
religious text Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred, or of central importance to their religious tradition. They differ from Literature, literary ...
, it is used mainly in Islamic countries, namely in Arabia, North Africa, Persia/Iran, Central Asia and the Northwestern Indian Subcontinent. The Arabic alphabet is considered an
abjad An abjad () is a type of writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to th ...

abjad
, meaning it only uses
consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of d ...
s, but it is now considered an "
impure abjad An abjad () is a type of writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject ...
". As with other impure ''abjads'', such as the
Hebrew alphabet The Hebrew alphabet ( he, wikt:אלפבית, אָלֶף־בֵּית עִבְרִי, ), known variously by scholars as the Ktav Ashuri, Jewish script, square script and block script, is an abjad script used in the writing of the Hebrew language ...

Hebrew alphabet
, scribes later devised means of indicating
vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables ...

vowel
sounds by separate vowel
diacritics A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
.


Consonants

The basic Arabic alphabet contains 28
letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, Object (philosophy ...
. Adaptations of the
Arabic script
Arabic script
for other languages added and removed some letters, as for
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
,
Ottoman Turkish Ottoman Turkish ( ota, لِسانِ عُثمانى, , ; tr, Osmanlı Türkçesi) was the standardized register (sociolinguistics), register of the Turkish language used in the Ottoman Empire (14th to 20th centuries CE). It borrowed extensively, ...
,
Central Kurdish Central Kurdish (), also called Sorani (), is a Kurdish dialect or a language that is spoken in Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُو ...

Central Kurdish
,
Urdu Urdu (; ur, , ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library Association The American Library Association (ALA) is a nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonpr ...

Urdu
,
Sindhi Sindhi may refer to: *something from, or related to Sindh Sindh (; sd, سنڌ; ur, , ;historically romanised as Sind) is one of the four provinces of Pakistan. Located in the southeast of the country, it is the home of the Sindhi and M ...

Sindhi
,
Malay Malay may refer to: Languages * Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, a major Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore ** History of the Malay language#Old Malay, the Malay language from the 4th to the 14th century ** ...
,
Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in ...

Pashto
,
Arwi Arwi (, or , lit. "the Arwi tongue"; , or ) is a written register A register is an authoritative list of one kind of information. Register or registration may refer to: Arts entertainment, and media Music * Register (music), the relati ...
and
Arabi MalayalamArabi may refer to: *Ibn Arabi (1165–1240), early medieval Muslim mystic and philosopher *Arabi (sheep) *Arabi, Iran (disambiguation), villages in Iran *Arabi, Ethiopia *Arabi, Georgia, United States *Ahmed ‘Urabi, a 19th-century Egyptian rebel ...
, all of which have additional letters as shown below. There are no distinct upper and lower case letter forms. Many letters look similar but are distinguished from one another by dots (') above or below their central part ('). These dots are an integral part of a letter, since they distinguish between letters that represent different sounds. For example, the Arabic letters ب (b), ت (t) and ث (th) have the same basic shape, but have one dot below, two dots above and three dots above, respectively. The letter ن (n) also has the same form in initial and medial forms, with one dot above, though it is somewhat different in isolated and final form. Both printed and written Arabic are
cursive Cursive (also known as script, among other names) is any style of penmanship Penmanship is the technique of writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. Writin ...

cursive
, with most of the letters within a word directly connected to the adjacent letters.


Alphabetical order

There are two main collating sequences for the Arabic alphabet: abjad and hija. The original ' order (), used for
lettering Lettering is an umbrella term In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas ...

lettering
, derives from the order of the
Phoenician alphabet The Phoenician alphabet is an alphabet (more specifically, an abjad) known in modern times from the Canaanite and Aramaic inscriptions found across the Mediterranean region. The Phoenician alphabet is also called the Early Linear script (in a ...

Phoenician alphabet
, and is therefore similar to the order of other Phoenician-derived alphabets, such as the
Hebrew alphabet The Hebrew alphabet ( he, wikt:אלפבית, אָלֶף־בֵּית עִבְרִי, ), known variously by scholars as the Ktav Ashuri, Jewish script, square script and block script, is an abjad script used in the writing of the Hebrew language ...

Hebrew alphabet
. In this order, letters are also used as numbers,
Abjad numerals The Abjad numerals, also called Hisab al-Jummal ( ar, حِسَاب ٱلْجُمَّل, ), are a decimal alphabetic numeral system/ alphanumeric code, in which the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet The Arabic alphabet ( ar, الْأَبْج ...
, and possess the same alphanumeric code/
cipher In cryptography, a cipher (or cypher) is an algorithm for performing encryption or decryption—a series of well-defined steps that can be followed as a procedure. An alternative, less common term is ''encipherment''. To encipher or encode i ...

cipher
as Hebrew
gematria Gematria (; he, גמטריא or gimatria , plural or , ''gimatriot'') is the practice of assigning a number, numerical value to a name, word or phrase according to an alphanumerical cipher. A single word can yield several values depending on the c ...
and Greek
isopsephy Isopsephy (; ''isos'' meaning "equal" and ''psephos'' meaning "pebble") or isopsephism is the practice of adding up the Greek numerals, number values of the letters in a word to form a single number. The total number is then used as a metaphorical ...
. The ' () or ' () order, used where lists of names and words are sorted, as in phonebooks, classroom lists, and dictionaries, groups letters by similarity of shape.


Abjadī

The ' order is not a simple historical continuation of the earlier north Semitic alphabetic order, since it has a position corresponding to the Aramaic letter ''
samekh Samekh (Phoenician ''sāmek'' ; Hebrew ''samekh'' , Syriac ''semkaṯ'') is the 15th of the , including the . Samekh represents a . Unlike most Semitic consonants, the pronunciation of remains constant between vowels and before voiced con ...

samekh
/semkat'' , yet no letter of the Arabic alphabet historically derives from that letter. Loss of ' was compensated for by the split of ''
shin Shin may refer to: Biology * The front part of the human leg#Structure, human leg below the knee * Shinbone, the tibia, the larger of the two bones in the leg below the knee in vertebrates Names * Shin (given name) (Katakana: シン, Hiragana: ...
'' into two independent Arabic letters, (''shīn'') and (''sīn'') which moved up to take the place of '. The six other letters that do not correspond to any north Semitic letter are placed at the end. This is commonly vocalized as follows: : '. Another vocalization is: : ' This can be vocalized as: : '


Hijā’ī

Modern dictionaries and other reference books do not use the ' order to sort alphabetically; instead, the newer ' order is used wherein letters are partially grouped together by similarity of shape. The ''hijāʾī'' order is never used as numerals. Another kind of ' order was used widely in the
Maghreb The Maghreb (; ar, المغرب, al-Maghrib, lit=the west), also known as Northwest Africa, is the western part of North Africa and the Arab world. The region includes Algeria, Libya, Mauritania (also considered part of West Africa), Morocco and ...

Maghreb
until recently when it was replaced by the
Mashriq Image:Mashreq.PNG, Map depicting the area most conservatively known as the ''Mashriq'' The Mashriq ( ar, ٱلْمَشْرِق), sometimes spelled Mashreq or Mashrek, is a term used by Arabs to refer to the eastern part of the Arab world, locat ...

Mashriq
i order.


Letter forms

The Arabic alphabet is always cursive and letters vary in shape depending on their position within a word. Letters can exhibit up to four distinct forms corresponding to an initial, medial (middle), final, or isolated position (
IMFI IMFI is an acronym for "Initial, Medial, Final, Isolated", a writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation wi ...
). While some letters show considerable variations, others remain almost identical across all four positions. Generally, letters in the same word are linked together on both sides by short horizontal lines, but six letters () can only be linked to their preceding letter. For example, (
Ararat Ararat or in Western Armenian Ararad may refer to: Personal names * Ararat ( hy, Արարատ), a common first name for Armenian males (pronounced Ararad in Western Armenian) * Ararat or Araratian, a common family name for Armenian people, Armenia ...

Ararat
) has only isolated forms because each letter cannot be connected to its following one. In addition, some letter combinations are written as ligatures (special shapes), notably ' , which is the only mandatory ligature (the un-ligated combination is considered difficult to read).


Table of basic letters

Notes * See the article ''
Romanization of Arabic The romanization of Arabic refers to the standard norms for rendering and in the in one of various systematic ways. Romanized Arabic is used for a number of different purposes, among them transcription of names and titles, Arabic language wo ...
'' for details on various transliteration schemes; however, Arabic language speakers may usually not follow a standardized scheme when transcribing names. Also names are regularly transcribed as pronounced locally, not as pronounced in Literary Arabic (if they were of Arabic origin). * Regarding pronunciation, the phonemic values given are those of Modern Standard Arabic, which is taught in schools and universities. In practice, pronunciation may vary considerably from region to region. For more details concerning the pronunciation of Arabic, consult the articles ''
Arabic phonology While many languages have numerous dialects that differ in phonology Phonology is a branch of that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also re ...
'' and ''
varieties of Arabic The varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in univer ...
''. * The names of the Arabic letters can be thought of as abstractions of an older version where they were meaningful words in the
Proto-Semitic Proto-Semitic is the hypothetical Linguistic reconstruction, reconstructed proto-language ancestral to the Semitic languages. There is no consensus regarding the location of the Proto-Semitic ''Urheimat''; scholars hypothesize that it may have o ...
language. Names of Arabic letters may have quite different names popularly. * Six letters () do not have a distinct medial form and have to be written with their final form without being connected to the next letter. Their initial form matches the isolated form. The following letter is written in its initial form, or isolated form if it is the final letter in the word. * The letter ' originated in the
Phoenician alphabet The Phoenician alphabet is an alphabet (more specifically, an abjad) known in modern times from the Canaanite and Aramaic inscriptions found across the Mediterranean region. The Phoenician alphabet is also called the Early Linear script (in a ...

Phoenician alphabet
as a consonant-sign indicating a glottal stop. Today it has lost its function as a consonant, and, together with ' and ', is a ''
mater lectionis ''Matres lectionis'' (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Rom ...
'', a consonant sign standing in for a long vowel (see below), or as support for certain diacritics (' and '' ''). * Arabic currently uses a
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
sign, , called ', to denote the , written alone or with a carrier: ** alone: ** with a carrier: (above or under an '), (above a '), (above a dotless ' or '). :In academic work, the '' '' () is transliterated with the
modifier letter right half ring is a character of the Unicode Spacing Modifier Letters range, used to transliterate: * the letter aleph * the Arabic letter hamza See also

* Apostrophe * Glottal stop * Glottal stop (letter) * Half ring * Modifier letter left half ring * Spiri ...
(ʾ), while the
modifier letter left half ring The modifier letter left half ring ( ʿ ) is a character of the Unicode Spacing Modifier Letters Spacing Modifier Letters is a Unicode blockA Unicode block is one of several contiguous ranges of numeric character codes ( code points) of ...
(ʿ) transliterates the letter ''

'' (), which represents a different sound, not found in English. ::The ' has a single form, since it is never linked to a preceding or following letter. However, it is sometimes combined with a ', ', or ', and in that case the carrier behaves like an ordinary ', ', or '.


Variations


Alif


Modified letters

The following are not individual letters, but rather different contextual variants of some of the Arabic letters.


Ligatures

The use of
ligature Ligature may refer to: * Ligature (medicine), a piece of suture used to shut off a blood vessel or other anatomical structure ** Ligature (orthodontic), used in dentistry * Ligature (music), an element of musical notation used especially in the med ...
in Arabic is common. There is one compulsory ligature, that for ' ل + ' ا, which exists in two forms. All other ligatures, of which there are many, are optional. A more complex ligature that combines as many as seven distinct components is commonly used to represent the word '. The only ligature within the primary range of
Arabic script in Unicode Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...
(U+06xx) is ' + '. This is the only one compulsory for fonts and word-processing. Other ranges are for compatibility to older standards and contain other ligatures, which are optional. * ' + ' *: Note:
Unicode Unicode, formally the Unicode Standard, is an information technology Technical standard, standard for the consistent character encoding, encoding, representation, and handling of Character (computing), text expressed in most of the world's wri ...

Unicode
also has in its Presentation Form B FExx range a code for this ligature. If your browser and font are configured correctly for Arabic, the ligature displayed above should be identical to this one, U+FEFB ARABIC LIGATURE LAM WITH ALEF ISOLATED FORM: :: * U+0640 ARABIC TATWEEL + ' + ' *: Note:
Unicode Unicode, formally the Unicode Standard, is an information technology Technical standard, standard for the consistent character encoding, encoding, representation, and handling of Character (computing), text expressed in most of the world's wri ...

Unicode
also has in its Presentation Form B U+FExx range a code for this ligature. If your browser and font are configured correctly for Arabic, the ligature displayed above should be identical to this one: * U+FEFC ARABIC LIGATURE LAM WITH ALEF FINAL FORM *: Another ligature in the
Unicode Unicode, formally the Unicode Standard, is an information technology Technical standard, standard for the consistent character encoding, encoding, representation, and handling of Character (computing), text expressed in most of the world's wri ...

Unicode
Presentation Form A range U+FB50 to U+FDxx is the special code for glyph for the ligature ' ("God"), U+FDF2 ARABIC LIGATURE ALLAH ISOLATED FORM: :: This is a work-around for the shortcomings of most text processors, which are incapable of displaying the correct vowel marks for the word ' in
Koran The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text of Islam, believed by Muslims to be a revelation in Islam, revelation from God in Islam, God (''Allah''). It is widely rega ...

Koran
. Because Arabic script is used to write other texts rather than Koran only, rendering ' + ' + ' as the previous ligature is considered faulty: If one of a number of fonts (Noto Naskh Arabic, mry_KacstQurn, KacstOne, DejaVu Sans, Harmattan, Scheherazade, Lateef, Iranian Sans) is installed on a computer (Iranian Sans is supported by Wikimedia web-fonts), the word will appear without diacritics. * ' + ' + ' = LILLĀH (meaning ''"to Allāh nly to God)'' *:   or   لله * ' + ' + ' + ' = ALLĀH (the Arabic word for "god") *:   or   الله * ' + ' + ' + U+0651 ARABIC SHADDA + U+0670 ARABIC LETTER SUPERSCRIPT ALEF + ' *: اللّٰه   (''DejaVu Sans'' and ''KacstOne'' don't show the added superscript Alef) An attempt to show them on the faulty fonts without automatically adding the gemination mark and the superscript alif, although may not display as desired on all browsers, is by adding the U+200d (Zero width joiner) after the first or second ' * (' +) ' + ' + U+200d ZERO WIDTH JOINER + ' *:   ‎  


Gemination

Gemination In phonetics and phonology, gemination (), or consonant lengthening (from Latin 'doubling', itself from ''Gemini (constellation), gemini'' 'twins'), is an articulation of a consonant for a longer period of time than that of a singleton consonan ...

Gemination
is the doubling of a consonant. Instead of writing the letter twice, Arabic places a ''W''-shaped sign called ', above it. Note that if a vowel occurs between the two consonants the letter will simply be written twice. The
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
only appears where the consonant at the end of one syllable is identical to the initial consonant of the following syllable. (The generic term for such
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
al signs is ').


Nunation

Nunation ( ar, تنوين ') is the addition of a final '  to a
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...

noun
or
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
. The vowel before it indicates
grammatical case Grammatical case is a term regarding a manner of categorizing s, s, s, s, and s according to their traditionally corresponding s within a given , , or . In some languages, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, s, participles, prepositions, numerals, art ...
. In written Arabic nunation is indicated by doubling the vowel
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
at the end of the word.


Vowels

Users of Arabic usually write
long vowels In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langua ...
but omit short ones, so readers must utilize their knowledge of the language in order to supply the missing vowels. However, in the education system and particularly in classes on Arabic grammar these vowels are used since they are crucial to the grammar. An Arabic sentence can have a completely different meaning by a subtle change of the vowels. This is why in an important text such as the ' the three basic vowel signs (see below) are mandated, like the ''
ḥarakāt The Arabic script has numerous diacritics, including ''i'jam'' (, '), consonant pointing, and ''tashkil'' (, '), supplementary diacritics. The latter include the () vowel marks - singular: ' (). The Arabic script is a modified abjad, where short ...
'' and all the other diacritics or other types of marks, for example the cantillation signs.


Short vowels

In the Arabic handwriting of everyday use, in general publications, and on street signs, short vowels are typically not written. On the other hand, copies of the ' cannot be endorsed by the religious institutes that review them unless the diacritics are included. Children's books, elementary school texts, and Arabic-language grammars in general will include diacritics to some degree. These are known as " vocalized" texts. Short vowels may be written with
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
s placed above or below the consonant that precedes them in the syllable, called '. All Arabic vowels, long and short, follow a consonant; in Arabic, words like "Ali" or "alif", for example, start with a consonant: ', '.


Long vowels

In the fully vocalized Arabic text found in texts such as
Quran The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious t ...

Quran
, a long ' following a consonant other than a '' '' is written with a short ' sign (') on the consonant plus an ' after it; long ' is written as a sign for short ' (') plus a ; and long ' as a sign for short ' (') plus a '. Briefly, ' = '; ' = '; and ' = '. Long ' following a ' may be represented by an ' or by a free ' followed by an ' (two consecutive 's are never allowed in Arabic). The table below shows vowels placed above or below a dotted circle replacing a primary consonant letter or a ''

'' sign. For clarity in the table, the primary letters on the left used to mark these long vowels are shown only in their isolated form. Please note that most consonants do connect to the left with ', ' and ' written then with their medial or final form. Additionally, the letter ' in the last row may connect to the letter on its left, and then will use a medial or initial form. Use the table of primary letters to look at their actual glyph and joining types. In unvocalized text (one in which the short vowels are not marked), the long vowels are represented by the vowel in question: ', ', or '. Long vowels written in the middle of a word of unvocalized text are treated like consonants with a ' (see below) in a text that has full diacritics. Here also, the table shows long vowel letters only in isolated form for clarity. Combinations and are always pronounced ' and ' respectively. The exception is the suffix in verb endings where is silent, resulting in ' or '. In addition, when transliterating names and loanwords, Arabic language speakers write out most or all the vowels as long (' with ', ' and ' with ', and ' and ' with '), meaning it approaches a true alphabet.


Diphthongs

The
diphthongs A diphthong ( or ; from Greek: , ''diphthongos'', literally "double sound" or "double tone"; from ''δίς'' "twice" and ''φθόγγος'' "sound"), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel A vowel is a Sylla ...
and are represented in vocalized text as follows:


Vowel omission

An Arabic
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

syllable
can be open (ending with a vowel) or closed (ending with a consonant): * open: CV onsonant-vowel(long or short vowel) * closed: CVC (short vowel only) A normal text is composed only of a series of consonants plus vowel-lengthening letters; thus, the word ''qalb'', "heart", is written ''qlb'', and the word ''qalaba'' "he turned around", is also written ''qlb''. To write ''qalaba'' without this ambiguity, we could indicate that the ''l'' is followed by a short ''a'' by writing a ''fatḥah'' above it. To write ''qalb'', we would instead indicate that the ''l'' is followed by no vowel by marking it with a
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
called ''sukūn'' (), like this: . This is one step down from full vocalization, where the vowel after the ''q'' would also be indicated by a ''fatḥah'': . The ''
Qurʾān The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text Religious texts are texts related to a religious tradition. They differ from literary texts by being a compilation or di ...
'' is traditionally written in full vocalization. The long ''i'' sound in some editions of the ''Qur’ān'' is written with a ''kasrah'' followed by a diacritic-less ''y'', and long ''u'' by a ''ḍammah'' followed by a bare ''w''. In others, these ''y'' and ''w'' carry a ''sukūn''. Outside of the ''Qur’ān'', the latter convention is extremely rare, to the point that ''y'' with ''sukūn'' will be unambiguously read as the
diphthong A diphthong ( ; , ), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of spe ...
, and ''w'' with ''sukūn'' will be read . For example, the letters ' can be read like English ''meel'' or ''mail'', or (theoretically) also like ''mayyal'' or ''mayil''. But if a ''sukūn'' is added on the ''y'' then the ''m'' cannot have a ''sukūn'' (because two letters in a row cannot be ''sukūn''ated), cannot have a ''ḍammah'' (because there is never an ''uy'' sound in Arabic unless there is another vowel after the ''y''), and cannot have a ''kasrah'' (because ''kasrah'' before ''sukūn''ated ''y'' is never found outside the ''Qur’ān''), so it ''must'' have a ''fatḥah'' and the only possible pronunciation is (meaning mile, or even e-mail). By the same token, m-y-t with a ''sukūn'' over the ''y'' can be ''mayt'' but not ''mayyit'' or ''meet'', and m-w-t with a ''sukūn'' on the ''w'' can only be ''mawt'', not ''moot'' (''iw'' is impossible when the ''w'' closes the syllable). Vowel marks are always written as if the '' i‘rāb'' vowels were in fact pronounced, even when they must be skipped in actual pronunciation. So, when writing the name ''Aḥmad'', it is optional to place a ''sukūn'' on the ''ḥ'', but a ''sukūn'' is forbidden on the ''d'', because it would carry a ''ḍammah'' if any other word followed, as in ''Aḥmadu zawjī'' "Ahmad is my husband". Another example: the sentence that in correct literary Arabic must be pronounced ''Aḥmadu zawjun shirrīr'' "Ahmad is a wicked husband", is usually mispronounced (due to influence from vernacular Arabic varieties) as ''Aḥmad zawj shirrīr''. Yet, for the purposes of Arabic grammar and orthography, is treated as if it were not mispronounced and as if yet another word followed it, i.e., if adding any vowel marks, they must be added as if the pronunciation were ''Aḥmadu zawjun sharrīrun'' with a ''tanwīn'' 'un' at the end. So, it is correct to add an ''un'' ''tanwīn'' sign on the final ''r'', but actually pronouncing it would be a hypercorrection. Also, it is never correct to write a ''sukūn'' on that ''r'', even though in actual pronunciation it is (and in correct Arabic MUST be) ''sukūn''ed. Of course, if the correct ''i‘rāb'' is a ''sukūn'', it may be optionally written. ٰٰ The ''sukūn'' is also used for transliterating words into the Arabic script. The Persian word (''mâsk'', from the English word "mask"), for example, might be written with a ''sukūn'' above the to signify that there is no vowel sound between that letter and the .


Additional letters


Regional variations

Some letters take a traditionally different form in specific regions:


Non-native letters to Standard Arabic

Some modified letters are used to represent non-native sounds of Modern Standard Arabic. These letters are used in transliterated names, loanwords and dialectal words. # is considered a native phoneme/allophone in some dialects, e.g. Kuwaiti and Iraqi dialects. # is considered a native phoneme in Levantine and North African dialects and as an allophone in others. # is considered a native phoneme/allophone in most modern Arabic dialects.


Used in languages other than Arabic


Numerals

There are two main kinds of numerals used along with Arabic text;
Western Arabic numerals Arabic numerals are the ten digits: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. The term often implies a decimal number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and ...
and
Eastern Arabic numerals The Eastern Arabic numerals, also called Arabic–Hindu numerals, are the symbols used to represent numerical digits in conjunction with the Arabic alphabet The Arabic alphabet ( ar, الْأَبْجَدِيَّة الْعَرَبِيَّ ...

Eastern Arabic numerals
. In most of present-day North Africa, the usual Western Arabic numerals are used. Like Western Arabic numerals, in Eastern Arabic numerals, the units are always right-most, and the highest value left-most.


Letters as numerals

In addition, the Arabic alphabet can be used to represent numbers (
Abjad numerals The Abjad numerals, also called Hisab al-Jummal ( ar, حِسَاب ٱلْجُمَّل, ), are a decimal alphabetic numeral system/ alphanumeric code, in which the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet The Arabic alphabet ( ar, الْأَبْج ...
). This usage is based on the ' order of the alphabet. ' is 1, ' is 2, ' is 3, and so on until ' = 10, ' = 20, ' = 30, ..., ' = 200, ..., ' = 1000. This is sometimes used to produce
chronogram A chronogram is a sentence or inscription in which specific letters, interpreted as numerals, stand for a particular date when rearranged. The word, meaning "time writing", derives from the Greek words ''chronos'' (χρόνος "time") and ''g ...
s.


History

The Arabic alphabet can be traced back to the Nabataean alphabet used to write
Nabataean The Nabataeans, also Nabateans (; Nabataean Aramaic Nabataean Aramaic was the Western Aramaic The Western Aramaic languages represent a specific group of Aramaic languages, once spoken widely throughout the ancient Levant The Levant ...
. The first known text in the Arabic alphabet is a late 4th-century inscription from ' (50 km east of ') in
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; tr. ') is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of Asia. It is entirely a part of the Greater Middle East. It in ...

Jordan
, but the first dated one is a trilingual inscription at Zebed in
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
from 512. However, the
epigraphic Epigraphy () is the study of inscriptions, or epigraphs, as writing; it is the science of identifying graphemes, clarifying their meanings, classifying their uses according to dates and cultural contexts, and drawing conclusions about the writin ...
record is extremely sparse, with only five certainly
pre-Islamic Arabic inscriptions The history of the Arabic alphabet concerns the origins and the evolution of the Arabic script. It is thought that the Arabic alphabet is a derivative of the Nabataean alphabet, Nabataean variation of the Aramaic alphabet, which descended from the ...
surviving, though some others may be pre-Islamic. Later, dots were added above and below the letters to differentiate them. (The Aramaic language had fewer phonemes than the Arabic, and some originally distinct Aramaic letters had become indistinguishable in shape, so that in the early writings 15 distinct letter-shapes had to do duty for 28 sounds; cf. the similarly ambiguous Pahlavi alphabet.) The first surviving document that definitely uses these dots is also the first surviving Arabic
papyrus Papyrus ( ) is a material similar to thick paper that was used in ancient times as a writing surface. It was made from the pith of the papyrus plant, ''Cyperus papyrus'', a wetland sedge. ''Papyrus'' (plural: ''papyri'') can also refer to a do ...

papyrus
(
PERF 558 PERF 558 is the oldest surviving Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcont ...
), dated April 643, although they did not become obligatory until much later. Important texts were and still are frequently memorized, especially in Qurʾan memorization. Later still, vowel marks and the ' were introduced, beginning some time in the latter half of the 7th century, preceding the first invention of
SyriacSyriac may refer to: *Syriac language, a dialect of Middle Aramaic * Syriac alphabet ** Syriac (Unicode block) ** Syriac Supplement * Neo-Aramaic languages also known as Syriac in most native vernaculars * Syriac Christianity, the churches using Syr ...
and Hebrew vocalization. Initially, this was done by a system of red dots, said to have been commissioned in the
Umayyad The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. The caliphate was ruled by the ...
era by
Abu al-Aswad al-Du'ali Abu or ABU may refer to: Places * Abu (volcano) is the name of a group of shield volcanoes located on the coast of Japan on the southwest end of the island of Honshū. It is primarily based in the city of Hagi, Yamaguchi, Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefect ...
a dot above = ', a dot below = ', a dot on the line = ', and doubled dots indicated
nunation Nunation ( ar, تَنوِين, ' ), in some Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinenta ...
. 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 '.


Arabic printing presses

Although
Napoleon Bonaparte Napoleon Bonaparte ; co, Napulione Buonaparte. (born Napoleone di Buonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) r ...

Napoleon Bonaparte
generally receives credit for introducing the printing press to
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...

Egypt
during his invasion of that country in 1798, and though he did indeed bring printing presses and presses to print the French occupation's official newspaper ''Al-Tanbiyyah'' ("The Courier"), printing in the Arabic language started several centuries earlier. In 1514, following
Gutenberg Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (; – February 3, 1468) was a German goldsmith A goldsmith is a Metalworking, metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals. Nowadays they mainly specialize in jewe ...

Gutenberg
's invention of the printing press in 1450, Gregorio de Gregorii, a Venetian, published an entire prayer-book in Arabic script; it was entitled '' Kitab Salat al-Sawa'i'' and was intended for eastern Christian communities. Between 1580 and 1586, type designer
Robert Granjon Robert Granjon (1513-November 16, 1589/March 1590) was a French type designer and printer. He worked in Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, wi ...
designed Arabic typefaces for Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici, and the Medici press published many Christian prayer and scholarly Arabic texts in the late 16th century.
Maronite The Maronites ( ar, الموارنة; syr, ܡܖ̈ܘܢܝܐ) are an ethnoreligious Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christ ...
monks at the Maar Quzhayy Monastery in
Mount Lebanon Mount Lebanon ( ar, جَبَل لُبْنَان, ''jabal lubnān'', ; syr, ܛܘܪ ܠܒܢܢ, ', , french: Mont Liban) is a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain syste ...
published the first Arabic books to use movable type in the Middle East. The monks transliterated the Arabic language using
SyriacSyriac may refer to: *Syriac language, a dialect of Middle Aramaic * Syriac alphabet ** Syriac (Unicode block) ** Syriac Supplement * Neo-Aramaic languages also known as Syriac in most native vernaculars * Syriac Christianity, the churches using Syr ...

Syriac
script. A goldsmith (like Gutenberg) designed and implemented an Arabic-script movable-type printing-press in the Middle East. The
Greek Orthodox The name Greek Orthodox Church ( Greek: Ἑλληνορθόδοξη Ἐκκλησία, ''Ellinorthódoxi Ekklisía'', ), or Greek Orthodoxy, is a term referring to the body of several churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox ...
monk Abd Allah Zakhir set up an
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an ink Ink is a gel, sol, or solution Image:SaltInWaterSolutionLiquid.jpg, Making a saline water solution by dissolving Salt, table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) in water ...
using
movable type Movable type (US English; moveable type in British English) is the system and technology Technology ("science of craft", from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''techne'', "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and , ''wikt:-logia, -logia'') is the sum of a ...
at the monastery of Saint John at the town of
Dhour El Shuwayr Dhour El Choueir ( ar, ضهور الشوير) is a mountain town in Lebanon ('dhour' meaning 'summit, top f a mountain) located in the Matn District. It lies slightly north of the main Beirut - Damascus highway, overlooking the city of Beirut ...
in Mount Lebanon, the first homemade press in Lebanon using Arabic script. He personally cut the type molds and did the founding of the typeface. The first book came off his press in 1734; this press continued in use until 1899.


Computers

The Arabic alphabet can be encoded using several
character set Character encoding is the process of assigning numbers to Graphics, graphical character (computing), characters, especially the written characters of Language, human language, allowing them to be Data storage, stored, Data communication, transmit ...
s, including
ISO-8859-6 ISO/IEC 8859-6:1999, ''Information technology — 8-bit single-byte coded graphic character sets — Part 6: Latin/Arabic alphabet'', is part of the ISO/IEC 8859 ISO/IEC 8859 is a joint International Organization for Standardization, ISO and Int ...
,
Windows-1256 Windows-1256 is a code page In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardw ...
and
Unicode Unicode, formally the Unicode Standard, is an information technology Technical standard, standard for the consistent character encoding, encoding, representation, and handling of Character (computing), text expressed in most of the world's wri ...

Unicode
(see links in Infobox above), latter thanks to the "Arabic segment", entries U+0600 to U+06FF. However, none of the sets indicates the form that each character should take in context. It is left to the rendering engine to select the proper
glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that are stored in the type case shown below it Typography is the art and technique of typesetting, arr ...
to display for each character. Each letter has a position-independent encoding in
Unicode Unicode, formally the Unicode Standard, is an information technology Technical standard, standard for the consistent character encoding, encoding, representation, and handling of Character (computing), text expressed in most of the world's wri ...

Unicode
, and the rendering software can infer the correct glyph form (initial, medial, final or isolated) from its joining context. That is the current recommendation. However, for compatibility with previous standards, the initial, medial, final and isolated forms can also be encoded separately.


Unicode

As of
Unicode Unicode, formally the Unicode Standard, is an information technology Technical standard, standard for the consistent character encoding, encoding, representation, and handling of Character (computing), text expressed in most of the world's wri ...

Unicode
13.0, the is contained in the following blocks: *
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...
(0600–06FF, 255 characters) * Arabic Supplement (0750–077F, 48 characters) * Arabic Extended-A (08A0–08FF, 84 characters) *
Arabic Presentation Forms-A Arabic Presentation Forms-A is a Unicode blockA Unicode block is one of several contiguous ranges of numeric character codes ( code points) of the Unicode Unicode is an information technology Technical standard, standard for the consistent char ...
(FB50–FDFF, 611 characters) * Arabic Presentation Forms-B (FE70–FEFF, 141 characters) * Rumi Numeral Symbols (10E60–10E7F, 31 characters) * Indic Siyaq Numbers (Unicode block), Indic Siyaq Numbers (1EC70–1ECBF, 68 characters) * Ottoman Siyaq Numbers (Unicode block), Ottoman Siyaq Numbers (1ED00–1ED4F, 61 characters) * Arabic Mathematical Alphabetic Symbols (1EE00—1EEFF, 143 characters) The basic Arabic range encodes the standard letters and diacritics but does not encode contextual forms (U+0621-U+0652 being directly based on ISO 8859-6). It also includes the most common diacritics and Arabic-Indic digits. U+06D6 to U+06ED encode Qur'anic annotation signs such as "end of ''ayah''" ۝ۖ and "start of ''Rub El Hizb, rub el hizb''" ۞. The Arabic supplement range encodes letter variants mostly used for writing African (non-Arabic) languages. The Arabic Extended-A range encodes additional Qur'anic annotations and letter variants used for various non-Arabic languages. The Arabic Presentation Forms-A range encodes contextual forms and ligatures of letter variants needed for Persian, Urdu, Sindhi and Central Asian languages. The Arabic Presentation Forms-B range encodes spacing forms of Arabic diacritics, and more contextual letter forms. The Arabic Mathematical Alphabetical Symbols block encodes characters used in Arabic mathematical expressions. See also the notes of the section on #Modified letters, modified letters.


Keyboards

Keyboards designed for different nations have different layouts so proficiency in one style of keyboard, such as Iraq's, does not transfer to proficiency in another, such as Saudi Arabia's. Differences can include the location of non-alphabetic characters. All Arabic keyboards allow typing Roman characters, e.g., for the URL in a web browser. Thus, each Arabic keyboard has both Arabic and Roman characters marked on the keys. Usually the Roman characters of an Arabic keyboard conform to the QWERTY layout, but in North Africa, where French language, French is the most common language typed using the Roman characters, the Arabic keyboards are AZERTY. To encode a particular written form of a character, there are extra code points provided in Unicode which can be used to express the exact written form desired. The range ''Arabic presentation forms A'' (U+FB50 to U+FDFF) contain ligatures while the range ''Arabic presentation forms B'' (U+FE70 to U+FEFF) contains the positional variants. These effects are better achieved in Unicode by using the ''zero-width joiner'' and ''zero-width non-joiner, non-joiner'', as these presentation forms are deprecated in Unicode, and should generally only be used within the internals of text-rendering software, when using Unicode as an intermediate form for conversion between character encodings, or for backwards compatibility with implementations that rely on the hard-coding of glyph forms. Finally, the Unicode encoding of Arabic is in ''logical order'', that is, the characters are entered, and stored in computer memory, in the order that they are written and pronounced without worrying about the direction in which they will be displayed on paper or on the screen. Again, it is left to the rendering engine to present the characters in the correct direction, using Unicode's bi-directional text features. In this regard, if the Arabic words on this page are written left to right, it is an indication that the Unicode rendering engine used to display them is out of date. There are competing online tools, e.g
Yamli editor
which allow entry of Arabic letters without having Arabic support installed on a PC, and without knowledge of the layout of the Arabic keyboard.


Handwriting recognition

The first software program of its kind in the world that identifies Arabic handwriting in real time was developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University (BGU). The prototype enables the user to write Arabic words by hand on an electronic screen, which then analyzes the text and translates it into printed Arabic letters in a thousandth of a second. The error rate is less than three percent, according to Dr. Jihad El-Sana, from BGU's department of computer sciences, who developed the system along with master's degree student Fadi Biadsy.Israel 21c
/ref>


See also

*
Abjad numerals The Abjad numerals, also called Hisab al-Jummal ( ar, حِسَاب ٱلْجُمَّل, ), are a decimal alphabetic numeral system/ alphanumeric code, in which the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet The Arabic alphabet ( ar, الْأَبْج ...
* Ancient South Arabian script * Algerian braille * Arabic braille * Arabic calligraphy * Arabic Chat Alphabet * Arabic diacritics * Arabic letter frequency * Arabic Mathematical Alphabetic Symbols * Arabic numerals *
Arabic phonology While many languages have numerous dialects that differ in phonology Phonology is a branch of that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also re ...
* – about other languages written in Arabic script * Arabic Unicode * ArabTeX – provides Arabic support for TeX and LaTeX * Kufic * Modern Arabic mathematical notation * Persian alphabet, Perso-Arabic script * Rasm *
Romanization of Arabic The romanization of Arabic refers to the standard norms for rendering and in the in one of various systematic ways. Romanized Arabic is used for a number of different purposes, among them transcription of names and titles, Arabic language wo ...


References


External links

* * ---- ''This article contains major sections of text from the very detailed article :fr:Alphabet arabe, Arabic alphabet from the French Wikipedia, which has been partially translated into English. Further translation of that page, and its incorporation into the text here, are welcomed.'' {{DEFAULTSORT:Arabic Alphabet Arabic alphabet, Arabic orthography