RE: Arabic aleph representation of glyphs

From: CE Whitehead (
Date: Fri Mar 05 2010 - 16:11:53 CST

  • Next message: CE Whitehead: "RE: Arabic aleph representation of glyphs"

    Hi, thanks very much. You did answer my questions. I still have one more question: would any literate Arabic speaker always type the tanween al-fatah logically after the aleph seat? (Because of course the tanween al-fatah, unlike Arabic vowel diacritics elsewhere, should precede the aleph consonant seat in a visual display and not follow it--that is, in an rtl context, it should be displayed slightly to the right of the aleph--that is how I was taught and indeed how it appears in the combined character in the Unicode extended characters, and indeed that is how it appears when I type it in following the aleph [and of course, it appears this way when I type it in before too].)


    I also added a few notes below.

    Date: Fri, 5 Mar 2010 11:14:40 -0800
    Subject: Re: Arabic aleph representation of glyphs

    > I hope I was able to answer your questions. Please see my comments below.
    On 3/4/2010 5:16 PM, CE Whitehead wrote:

    Hi! The chart you provided had two parts: first the Arabic alphabet; second, the vowel diacritics, not alone, but in the company of consonants.
    So for someone learning Arabic letters the link you sent has some use.
    (I wish I could say it helped me with unicode characters; I see that there are some combining characters represented in the Presentation Forms at the Unicode code charts, and those are what I wanted I think.
    But for anyone learning Arabic also here's a link I found where you can learn about why certain characters have different glyphs: there is also: where you can meet the characters in order, and there is a song too)
    However, what I was trying to ask about was primarily a display question perhaps.

    There are versions of the Arabic vowel diacritics associated with the indefinite case endings, which actually consist of the short vowel plus the -n sound at the end, and these come only at the end of words--and in fact, only at the end of words that are 'indefinite' or 'not determined' by the article 'al.'
    You don't have to write the diacritics in Arabic, only the consonants (so these diacritics are secondary and more like accent marks and such in Latin-1). The problem comes with the indefinite accusative however, fathatan,
    because you have to insert an unspoken/not-pronounced alef as a seat for the diacritic and the alif has to be written of course.
    (Similarly, there is a 'consonant,' the hamza it is called, which is the glottal stop, that often takes a seat; unlike the seated fathatan diacritic for the accusative indefinite -- the seated hamzas are represented in the primary characters chart at:
    You can have the hamza alone and also represented with different seats: 0621-0626 -- although one of these characters actually involves a suppressed hamza -- or whatever [the hamza is suppressed when it comes between two vowels; I think I've got this right?] for 0622 [is this right?].

    This group might actually be considered to consist of combined characters since all but 0621 include both a diacritic and a character seat for it.
    The vowel diacritics are represented here in isolation, also on this page but not with seats.
    You represent the vowel diacritic fathatan with aleph [or alternately it's written alif] elsewhere in the supplements [Presentation Forms-A] and the hamza diacritics as well [Presentation Forms-B].
    [On the main page again, see 0627 - 064A for the primary consonants if you want those; those are the characters that have to be typed, that I consider primary.])
    But of course the only time the inflectional ending needs a seat is when it is in the accusative case; otherwise it is just a diacritic at word's end!

    * * *
    Now . . . for my questions:
    (1), The logical typing order for the vowel diacritic for sure is normally first the consonant seat and then the vowel diacritic--although the vowel diacritic appears above or below the consonant and not in rtl order.
    However, at the end of the word, with the inflectional ending, you don't have alternate ways of writing the vowel and its character seat; so whether you type the vowel diacritic before or after the alif that serves as a seat, there should be only one display possibility as far as I can think (I may be wrong).
    But my browser (IE) displays the vowel-aleph combo differently depending on typing order -- and I don't think it should in this case since this diacritic is an end of word character -- someone straighten me out on this. I'm sending the attachment again (renamed because the name was confusing because I call this a double vowel diacritic because there are two slashes and not one but it's not really a doubled vowel): on the attachment, you can see the characters together and the two different typing orders.
    (Maybe typing order matters?--someone correct me.)

    > Yes, logical typing order does affect the visual display. Generally, Tanween Al-FATH (what you called fathatan) would be > the last thing typed in a word. If you type it before the Alef, the renderer would super impose it on the previous letter not > the Alef.


    me] Yes, normally for me the diacritic would be typed after the consonant seat; I guess I sometimes type tanween al-fath before the consonant seat because in this case the diacritic (tanween al-fath) should appear to be slighlty preceding--that is to the right of in an rtl context--the aleph seat. However, from what you say my typing the characters in this order is an error (and would mess up line-breaking). (Thus are you saying that any literate Arabic speaker would always type the tanween al-fath last? Also it is my understanding that the tanween character is only used at the end of a word, as an inflectional ending that indicates a noun or adjective is indefinite, and belonging to a particular case; thus it would be bizarre to associate the tanween al-fath with a character that preceded the aleph.)

    * * *
    (2), Also, further down in my attached page, the tah-marbutah is an end-of-word character, and I expected it to turn into an ordinary tah when I added an inflectional ending since in Arabic an ordinary tah must precede the inflectional ending; but the character remained a tah-marbutah; you can add inflectional endings to it and so I am wondering: shouldn't it display like an ordinary tah when there is an inflectional ending afterwards? (Do you code it as in someway an allo-glyph of tah?)

    > As you stated, Tah-Marbutah is an end-of-word character, and is a different letter from the Tah. Tanween vowels (what > you call inflectional ending) would super impose on it the same way they would on the Alef for Tanween Fateh. But, you

    > do not need to add an Alef for Tanween Al-Fateh when a word (normally a noun) ends with Tah-Marbutah.

    Displaying it like tah before an inflectional ending would look Arabic. (Someone is going to argue with me and say that I should have typed a tah and not a tah-marbutah anyway before the inflectional ending but I would first type the word, then the tah-marbuta, then perhaps later add in my voweling.)

    > Again, Tah Marbutah letter and Tah letter are two different letters. Maybe you are confusing it with the Ha letter. Ha at

    > the end of the word would look like the Tah marbutah but without the two dots above. When you add a letter after the

    > Ha, the Ha would connect to it. In Arabic, however, you would never find a word that ends with a Ha and at the same

    > time have a Tanween ending. When Ha connects to a name, it makes it a definite name (similar to adding AL). Definite

    > names wound not accept Tanween as an ending.


    My mistake; sorry! But for some reason I have harbored a view that tah-marbutah is an alternate form of tah, which appears at the end of a feminine noun or an adjective in the feminine, but before the inflectional/tanween ending -- because (according to the Arabic I learned; hope I learned right) tah-marbutah is pronounced like a tah once the inflectional ending is added (I just looked this up and this is the reason for the name tah-marbutah but there is no association with tah or ha; and I suppose that the inflectional endings are often dropped in speaking so that the tah-marbutah is not pronounced as a tah often: I don't pronounce correctly anyway). My mistake again in saying I would still need the aleph seat for the tanween al-fath.

    Thanks again for your info.
    C. E. Whitehead

    > Date: Thu, 4 Mar 2010 18:56:41 +0100
    > From:
    > To:
    > CC:
    > Subject: Re: Arabic aleph representation of glyphs
    > Dear CE Whitehead:
    > Your messages are confusing and I don't really understand
    > what you mean and what you want.
    > But have a look at
    > Perhaps this page will help you understanding the Arabic script
    > in Unicode.

    064B 0627

    0627 064B


    ABOVE: the aleph with the double (for an indeterminate ending) fatah diacritic, varying logical order; followed by the presentation form.
    BELOW: the tah marbuta connected to a following aleph with double fatah diacritic, varying logical order for the aleph and fatah diacritic.
    0629 064B 0627

    0629 0627 064B

    Note: as you can see, everything displays as it should regardless of when/where you type the vowel diacritic logically--except the change in logical order should not, in my opinion, change the display appearance in any wayl; also if you have any problems with the display all you need to do is add a meta tag stating the document character set; I think it's o.k. though as it's actually encoded ansi and I put in numbers of course. In any case, you may wish to check this display in different browsers--I'm not sure what's making the two orderings display differently--something about the unicode characters or something to do with the browser implementation? Thanks.
    Below: Character Input Order Sometimes Does Matter; It Suppresses Display Altogether
    darrasa 'to teach'

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Mar 05 2010 - 16:15:58 CST