Pe (letter)

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This article is about the letter found in some Semitic alphabets. For the Cyrillic letter, see Pe (Cyrillic). For the Persian letter, see Pe (Persian letter).
peh
Phonemic representation p, f (was ɸ), w
Position in alphabet 17
Numerical value 80
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician

Pe is the seventeenth letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Pei פ and Persian, Arabic fāʼ ف (in abjadi order). (look below)

The original sound value is a voiceless bilabial plosive: /p/; it retains this value in most Semitic languages except for Arabic, which having lost /p/ now uses it to render a voiceless labiodental fricative /f/.

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Pi (Π), Latin P, and Cyrillic П.

Origins[edit]

Pe is usually assumed to come from a pictogram of a mouth (in Hebrew pe; in Arabic, fam).

Hebrew Pe[edit]

The Hebrew spelling is "פֵּא".

Orthographic variants
position in word Various Print Fonts Cursive Hebrew Rashi
Script
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
non final פ פ פ Hebrew letter Pe handwriting.svg Hebrew letter Pe-nonfinal Rashi.png
final ף ף ף Hebrew letter Pe-final handwriting.svg Hebrew letter Pe-final Rashi.png

Variations on written form/pronunciation[edit]

The letter Pe is one of the six letters which can receive a Dagesh Kal. The six are Bet, Gimel, Daleth, Kaph, Pe, and Tav.

There are two orthographic variants of this letter which indicate a different pronunciation:

Name Symbol IPA Transliteration as in the English word
Pe פּ /p/ p pan
Fe פ /f/ f fan

Pe with the dagesh[edit]

When the Pe has a "dot" in its center, known as a dagesh, it represents a voiceless bilabial plosive, /p/. There are various rules in Hebrew grammar that stipulate when and why a dagesh is used.

Fe[edit]

When Pe appears as פ without the dagesh ("dot") in its center then it usually represents a voiceless labiodental fricative /f/.

Final form of Pe/Fe[edit]

At the end of words, the letter's written form changes to a Pe/Fe Sophit (Final Pe/Fe):

  • ף This does not alter the pronunciation (see above).

When a word in modern Hebrew borrowed from another language ends in /p/, a pe with a dagesh at the end of the word is used instead of the final form, as a word almost never ends with a letter containing a Dagesh, except for very few biblical exceptions. A Pe sofit is virtually non-existent in Hebrew and is not used in standard Yiddish orthography.

Significance[edit]

In gematria, Pe represents the number 80. Its final form represents 800 but this is rarely used, Tav written twice (400+400) being used instead.

Arabic fāʼ[edit]

The letter is named ﻓﺎء fāʾ. It is written is several ways depending in its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ف ـف ـفـ فـ

Arabic variants[edit]

Normally, the letter fāʼ renders /f/ sound, but may also be used some names and loanwords where it can render /v/, might be arabized as /f/ in accordance to its spelling (as in يُونِيلِفِر (Unilever)). It may be used interchangeably with the modified letter - ve (with 3 dots above) in this case.

In the process of developing from Proto-Semitic, Proto-Semitic /p/ became Arabic /f/, and this is reflected in the use of the letter representing /p/ in other Semitic languages for /f/ in Arabic.

Examples on usage in Modern Standard Arabic:

Fāʾ-fatḥah (فَـ /fa/) is a multi-function prefix most commonly equivalent to "so" or "so that." For example: نَكْتُب naktub ("we write") → فَنَكْتُب fanaktub ("so we write").

The Maghribi style of writing fa’ is different. It is written with a dot underneath like this (ڢ). Once the prevalent style, it is now only used in Maghribi countries for writing Qur'an, with the exception of Libya which adopted the Mashriqi form.

See also qāf for the Maghribi style of writing that letter fa’ which avoids confusions with the very different letter qāf which has a similar-looking shape (only in initial position).

The unrelated letter pe پ is used in Persian.

For more details, see also Pe (Persian letter).
Code point Isolated Final Medial Initial Unicode character name (or descriptive synonyms used in the JoiningType and JoiningGroup datatables)
U+0641 ف ـف ـفـ فـ ARABIC LETTER FEH
U+06A1 ڡ ـڡ ـڡـ ڡـ ARABIC LETTER DOTLESS FEH
U+06A2 ڢ ـڢ ـڢـ ڢـ ARABIC LETTER FEH WITH DOT MOVED BELOW = MAGHRIBI FEH
U+06A3 ڣ ـڣ ـڣـ ڣـ ARABIC LETTER FEH WITH DOT BELOW
U+06A4 ڤ ـڤ ـڤـ ڤـ ARABIC LETTER FEH WITH 3 DOTS ABOVE = VEH
U+06A5 ڥ ـڥ ـڥـ ڥـ ARABIC LETTER FEH WITH 3 DOTS BELOW = MAGHRIBI VEH
U+06A6 ڦ ـڦ ـڦـ ڦـ ARABIC LETTER FEH WITH 4 DOTS ABOVE = PEHEH
U+0760 ݠ ـݠ ـݠـ ݠـ ARABIC LETTER FEH WITH 2 DOTS BELOW
U+0761 ݡ ـݡ ـݡـ ݡـ ARABIC LETTER FEH WITH 3 DOTS POINTING UPWARDS BELOW
U+08A4 ـࢤ ـࢤـ ࢤـ ARABIC LETTER FEH WITH DOT BELOW AND THREE DOTS ABOVE

Character encodings[edit]

Character פ ף ف ܦ
Unicode name HEBREW LETTER PE HEBERW LETTER FINAL PE ARABIC LETTER FEH SYRIAC LETTER PE SAMARITAN LETTER FI
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1508 U+05E4 1507 U+05E3 1601 U+0641 1830 U+0726 2064 U+0810
UTF-8 215 164 D7 A4 215 163 D7 A3 217 129 D9 81 220 166 DC A6 224 160 144 E0 A0 90
Numeric character reference פ פ ף ף ف ف ܦ ܦ ࠐ ࠐ
Character 𐎔 𐡐 𐤐
Unicode name UGARITIC LETTER PU IMPERIAL ARAMAIC LETTER PE PHOENICIAN LETTER PE
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 66452 U+10394 67664 U+10850 67856 U+10910
UTF-8 240 144 142 148 F0 90 8E 94 240 144 161 144 F0 90 A1 90 240 144 164 144 F0 90 A4 90
UTF-16 55296 57236 D800 DF94 55298 56400 D802 DC50 55298 56592 D802 DD10
Numeric character reference 𐎔 𐎔 𐡐 𐡐 𐤐 𐤐

References[edit]