Qoph

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This article is about the letter Qoph. For the band, see Qoph (band).
Qoph
Phonemic representation kˤ, q
Position in alphabet 19
Numerical value 100
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician

Qoph or Qop (in Modern Hebrew: Qof/Kof, Arabic: qāf) is the nineteenth letter in many Semitic abjads or alphabets, including the Phoenician, Aramaic, Syriac, and Hebrew ק or the Arabic alphabet qāf 'ق' (in abjadi order). Its sound value is an emphatic [] or [q]. In Hebrew gematria, it has the numerical value of 100.

The origin of qoph is uncertain. It is usually suggested to have originally depicted either a sewing needle, specifically the eye of a needle (the Hebrew קוף means "hole"), or the back of a head and neck (qāf in Arabic meant "nape").[1] According to an older suggestion, it may also have been a picture of a monkey and its tail.[2]

Hebrew Qof[edit]

The Oxford Hebrew-English Dictionary gives the letter Qoph a transliteration value of q or k; and, when word-final, it may be transliterated as ck.

Orthographic variants
Various print fonts Cursive
Hebrew
Rashi
script
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
ק ק ק Hebrew letter Kuf handwriting.svg Hebrew letter Kuf Rashi.png

Hebrew spelling: קוֹף

Pronunciation[edit]

In modern Israeli Hebrew the letter is also called kuf. The letter represents /k/; i.e., no distinction is made between Qof and Kaph. However, many historical groups have made that distinction, with Qof being pronounced [q] by Iraqi Jews and other Mizrahim, or even as [ɡ] by Yemenite Jews under the influence of Yemeni Arabic.

Significance of Qof[edit]

Qof in gematria represents the number 100. Sarah is described in Genesis Rabba as בת ק' כבת כ' שנה לחטא, literally "At Qof years of age, she was like Kaph years of age in sin", meaning that when she was 100 years old, she was as sinless as when she was 20.

After a child says something false, one might retort: "B'Shin Qoph, Resh" (with Shin, Qoph, Resh). These letters spell sheqer, which is the Hebrew word for a lie. It would be akin to an English speaker saying "That's an L-I-E."

Arabic qāf[edit]

The letter ق is named قاف qāf and is written in several ways depending on its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ق ـق ـقـ قـ

It is usually transliterated into Latin script as q, though some scholarly works use .[3]

According to Sibawayh, author of the first book on Arabic grammar, the letter is pronounced as a voiced phoneme.[4] As noted above, Modern Standard Arabic has the voiceless uvular plosive /q/ as its standard pronunciation of the letter, but dialectical pronunciations vary as follows:

This variance has led to the confusion over the spelling of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi's name in Latin letters. In Western Arabic dialects the sound [q] is more preserved but can also be sometimes pronounced [ɡ] or as a simple [k] under Berber and French influence.

The Maghribi text renders qāf and fāʼ differently than elsewhere would:
منكم فقد ضل سواء السبيل فيما نقضهم ميثـٰـقهم لعنـٰـهم وجعلنا قلوبهم قـٰـسية يحرفون الكلم عن مواضعه ونسوا حظاً مما ذكروا به ولا تزال تطلع

Maghrebi variant[edit]

The Maghrebi style of writing qāf is different: having only a single point (dot) above; when the letter is isolated or word-final, it may sometimes become unpointed.[5]

The Maghrebi qāf
Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Form of letter: ٯ ـٯ ـڧـ ڧـ

The earliest Arabic manuscripts show qāf in several variants: pointed (above or below) or unpointed.[6] Then the prevalent convention was having a point above for fāʼ and a point below for qāf; this practice is now only preserved in manuscripts from the Maghribi,[7] with the exception of Libya, where the Mashriqi form (two dots above: ق) prevails.

Within Maghribi texts, there is no possibility of confusing it with the letter fāʼ, as it is instead written with a dot underneath (ڢ) in the Maghribi script.[8]

Persian[edit]

In Persian, the letter is pronounced [ɣ]~[ɢ].

Character encodings[edit]

Character ק ق ܩ
Unicode name HEBREW LETTER QOF ARABIC LETTER QAF SYRIAC LETTER QAPH SAMARITAN LETTER QUF
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1511 U+05E7 1602 U+0642 1833 U+0729 2066 U+0812
UTF-8 215 167 D7 A7 217 130 D9 82 220 169 DC A9 224 160 146 E0 A0 92
Numeric character reference ק ק ق ق ܩ ܩ ࠒ ࠒ
Character 𐎖 𐡒 𐤒
Unicode name UGARITIC LETTER QOPA IMPERIAL ARAMAIC LETTER QOPH PHOENICIAN LETTER QOF
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 66454 U+10396 67666 U+10852 67858 U+10912
UTF-8 240 144 142 150 F0 90 8E 96 240 144 161 146 F0 90 A1 92 240 144 164 146 F0 90 A4 92
UTF-16 55296 57238 D800 DF96 55298 56402 D802 DC52 55298 56594 D802 DD12
Numeric character reference 𐎖 𐎖 𐡒 𐡒 𐤒 𐤒

References[edit]

  1. ^ Travers Wood, Henry Craven Ord Lanchester, A Hebrew Grammar, 1913, p. 7. A. B. Davidson, Hebrew Primer and Grammar, 2000, p. 4. The meaning is doubtful. "Eye of a needle" has been suggested, and also "knot" Harvard Studies in Classical Philology vol. 45.
  2. ^ Isaac Taylor, History of the Alphabet: Semitic Alphabets, Part 1, 2003: "The old explanation, which has again been revived by Halévy, is that it denotes an 'ape,' the character Q being taken to represent an ape with its tail hanging down. It may also be referred to a Talmudic root which would signify an 'aperture' of some kind, as the 'eye of a needle,' ... Lenormant adopts the more usual explanation that the word means a 'knot'.
  3. ^ e.g., The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition
  4. ^ Kees Versteegh, The Arabic Language, pg. 131. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001. Paperback edition. ISBN 9780748614363
  5. ^ van den Boogert, N. (1989). "Some notes on Maghrebi script". Manuscript of the Middle East 4.  p. 38 shows qāf with a superscript point in all four positions.
  6. ^ Gacek, Adam (2008). The Arabic Manuscript Tradition. Brill. p. 61. ISBN 90-04-16540-1. 
  7. ^ Gacek, Adam (2009). Arabic Manuscripts: A Vademecum for Readers. Brill. p. 145. ISBN 90-04-17036-7. 
  8. ^ Muhammad Ghoniem, M S M Saifullah, cAbd ar-Rahmân Robert Squires & cAbdus Samad, Are There Scribal Errors In The Qur'ân?, see qif on a traffic sign written ڧڢ which is written elsewhere as قف, Retrieved 2011-August-27