Incorrect names for Arabic letters

From: Ahmad Gharbeia (
Date: Sat Mar 19 2005 - 03:42:42 CST

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    The current Unicode standard has incorrect names for fourteen of the
    basic Arabic script's twenty eight letters. With basic I refer to the
    Arabic alphabet excluding the extended set of letters modified for
    writing languages other than Arabic.
    The following table lists those letters with incorrect names and the
    final column specifies the correct Arabic name for each letter:

    0628 ARABIC LETTER BEH -> baa'
    062A  ARABIC LETTER TEH -> taa'
    062B  ARABIC LETTER THEH -> thaa'
    062D ARABIC LETTER HAH -> haa'
    062E ARABIC LETTER KHAH -> khaa'
    062F ARABIC LETTER DAL -> daal
    0630 ARABIC LETTER THAL -> dhaal
    0631 ARABIC LETTER REH -> raa'
    0632  ARABIC LETTER ZAIN -> zaai
    0637 ARABIC LETTER TAH -> taa' (different from 062A. This one should be .taa')
    0638 ARABIC LETTER ZAH -> zaa'
    0641 ARABIC LETTER FEH -> faa'
    0647 ARABIC LETTER HEH -> haa' (different than 062D, which should be ḥaa')
    064A ARABIC LETTER YEH -> yaa'

    In the above transcription notation, the double 'a' denotes a long
    vowel, and the apostrophe denotes a glottal stop. Also, since what is
    of concern here is only the ending of letters' names and not the
    precise pronunciation of the signifying phoneme of each letter, the
    above list does not attempt to change/correct the first consonant of
    the letter's name.

    While the mentioned letters' names in their current incorrect state
    reflect the colloquial pronunciation in Egypt, where I am from, they
    are not the canonical, globally understood letter names and are
    considered invalid. While the proposed corrections do not aim to
    precisely transcribe the sounds of the letters, they are simple to
    implement and would result in identifiable names of the letters.

    The Wikipedia article titled "Arabic alphabet", reachable at
    [], at the date of writing
    this message includes a table showing the correct letters' names.

    This also implies correcting the names in extended letters where the
    basic letter is combined with a diacritical mark or a derivative of it
    is included, maybe excluding the cases where the derivation has a
    distinctive name in another language which uses the modified letter.

    Finally, the order of Arabic letters as defined in the current version
    of Unicode, known as the Hegaa'i order, is a relatively newer order
    where letters are sorted according to their shape proximity, and is
    not the original Abgadi order, which matches the (ABC) ordering of all
    alphabets derived from the original Ugaritic alphabet. Although it is
    unlikely that this heritage of earlier encodings can be modified now,
    this should be noted, however.

    Ahmad Gharbeia

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