Re: Final letters in Hebrew and Arabic

From: Jeff Guevin (
Date: Fri Mar 09 2001 - 16:59:31 EST

Arabic letters, when alone, always appear in form 1 -- the form designed for
just such a use. There is one medial form--for letters on both sides--and
two other forms, one for when the letter is attached from the right, and one
attached from the left.

Arabic short vowels (which are like diacritics and not necessary for
writing) do nothing to the forms of most letters and would never make a
letter medial.

This seems to me to be true regardless of whether it's Classical, Modern
Standard, or Colloquial Arabic.

I'm gone for the weekend, so, see Monday!


> With regard to the recent discussion on Greek final sigmas, I have a
> couple of questions on the final forms of letters in Hebrew and Arabic,
> just for the sake of comparison.
> (1) When a letter with a final variant appears alone --- say as a numeral,
> or in discussion of the letter or phoneme --- does it under any
> circumstances appear in its final form, or is it always medial?
> (2) Do diacritics --- vowel points, cantillations, extra dots on Arabic
> letters, whatever --- ever make a final form medial?
> Instances from any typographical practice, not just the current
> mainstream, are welcome.
> --
> Nick Nicholas. TLG, UCI, USA.;
> Many among their proselytes had sold their lands and houses to increase
> the public riches of the sect --- at the expense, indeed, of their
> unfortunate children, who found themselves beggars because their
> parents had been saints. (Edward Gibbon, _Decline and Fall_.)

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