Ayin

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Ayin
Phonemic representation ʕ
Position in alphabet 18
Numerical value

70

(no numeric value in Maltese)
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician

Ayin (also ayn, ain) is the sixteenth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician ʿayin Phoenician ayin.svg, Hebrew ʿayin ע‎, Aramaic ʿē Ayin.svg, Syriac ʿē ܥ, and Arabic ʿayn ع (where it is eighteenth in abjadi order only).[1]

The letter represents or used to represent a voiced pharyngeal fricative (/ʕ/) or a similarly articulated consonant. In some Semitic languages and dialects, the phonetic value of the letter has changed, or the phoneme has been lost altogether (thus, in Modern Hebrew it is reduced to a glottal stop or is omitted entirely).

The Phoenician letter is the origin of the Greek, Latin and Cyrillic letter O.

Origins[edit]

The letter name is derived from Proto-Semitic *ʿayn- "eye", and the Phoenician letter had the shape of a circle or oval, clearly representing an eye, perhaps ultimately (via Proto-Sinaitic) derived from the ı͗r hieroglyph 𓁹 (Gardiner D4).[2]

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Ο, Latin O, and Cyrillic О, all representing vowels.

The sound represented by ayin is common to much of the Afroasiatic language family, such as in the Egyptian language, the Cushitic languages and the Semitic languages.

Transliteration[edit]

In Semitic philology, there is a long-standing tradition of rendering Semitic ayin with Greek rough breathing the mark 〈̔〉 (e.g. ̔arab عَرَب‎). Depending on typography, this could be look similar to either an articulate single opening quotation mark 〈‘〉 (e.g. ‘arab عَرَب‎). or as a raised semi-circle open to the right 〈ʿ〉 (e.g. ʿarab عَرَب‎).[3]

This is by analogy to the transliteration of alef (glottal stop, hamza) by the Greek smooth breathing mark 〈̓〉, rendered as single closing quotation mark or as raised semi-circle open to the left. This convention has been adopted by DIN in 1982 and by ISO in 1984 for Arabic (DIN 31635, ISO 233) and Hebrew (DIN 31636, ISO 259).

The shape of the "raised semi-circle" for ayin (Unicode ʿ U+02BF) and alef (Unicode ʾ U+02BE) was adopted by the Encyclopedia of Islam (edited 1913–1938, 1954–2005, and from 2007), and from there by the International Journal of Middle East Studies.[4] This convention has since also been followed by ISO (ISO 233-2 and ISO 259-2, 1993/4) and by DIN[year needed]. An notable exception remains, ALA-LC (1991), the system used by the Library of Congress, continues to recommend modifier letter turned comma 〈ʻ〉 or left single quotation mark 〈‘〉.[clarification needed]

The symbols for the corresponding phonemes in the International Phonetic Alphabet, 〈ʕ〉 for pharyngeal fricative (ayin) and 〈ʔ〉 for glottal stop (alef) were adopted in the 1932 revision.

In anglicized Arabic or Hebrew names or in loanwords, ayin is often omitted entirely: Iraq ʿirāq عراق, Arab ʿarab عرب, Saudi saʿūdī سعودي , etc.; Afula עֲפוּלָה, Arad עֲרָד‎, etc. In Arabic, the presence of ayin in front of u can sometimes be inferred even if it is not rendered separately, as the vowel quality is shifted towards o (e.g. Oman عمان ʿUmān, Omar عمر‏ ʿUmar, etc.)

Maltese, which uses a Latin alphabet, the only Semitic language to do so in its standard form, writes the ayin as 〈〉. It is usually unvocalized in speech. The Somali Latin alphabet represents the ʿayin with the letter 〈c〉. The informal way to represent it in Arabic chat alphabet uses the digit 〈3〉 as transliteration.

Unicode[edit]

In Unicode, the recommended character for the transliteration of ayin is ʿ (U+02BF) "modifier letter left half ring" (a character in the Spacing Modifier Letters range, even though it is here not used as a modifier letter but as a full grapheme).[5] This convention has been adopted by ISO 233-2 (1993) for Arabic and ISO 259-2 (1994) for Hebrew.

There are a number of alternative Unicode characters in use, some of which are easily confused or even considered equivalent in practice:[6]

  • ̔ (U+0314 combining reversed comma above), the character recommended to represent Greek rough breathing),
  • single opening quotation mark (U+2018),[7]
  • ʻ (U+02BB Modifier letter turned comma),
  • the grave accent ` U+0060, from its use as single opening quotation mark in ASCII environments, used for ayin in ArabTeX.

Other variants chosen[clarification needed] to represent ayin as a full grapheme (rather than a sign suggestive of an apostrophe or a diacritic):

  • a superscript c (c, or ᶜ U+1D9C MODIFIER LETTER SMALL C),
  • the IPA symbol for pharyngealization ˁ, ˤ (U+02C1 Modifier letter reversed glottal stop, U+02E4 Modifier letter small reversed glottal stop),[8] or a superscript ʕ (ʕ, U+0295 Latin letter pharyngeal voiced fricative), the IPA symbol for voiced pharyngeal fricative .

It is worth noting that the phonemes corresponding to alef and ayin Ancient Egyptian are by convention transliterated by more distinctive sign: alef is rendered by two semi-circles open to the left, stacked vertically, and ayin is rendered by a single full sized semi-circle open to the right. These characters were introduced in Unicode in version 5.1 (2008, Latin Extended-D range), ꜣ U+A723 Latin small letter Egyptologican Alef and ꜥ U+A725 Latin small letter Egyptologican Ain.

Arabic ʿayn[edit]

The Arabic letter (called ﻋﻴﻦ ʿayn) is the eighteenth letter of the alphabet. It is written in one of several ways depending on its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ع‎ ـع‎ ـعـ‎ عـ‎

Pronunciation[edit]

Arabic ʿayn is one of the most common letters in Arabic. Depending on the region, it ranges from a pharyngeal [ʕ] to an epiglottal [ʢ].[9] It is voiced, its unvoiced counterpart being ح. Due to its position as the innermost letter to emerge from the throat, al-Khalil ibn Ahmad al-Farahidi, who wrote the first Arabic dictionary, actually started writing with ʿayn as the first letter instead of the eighteenth; he viewed its origins deep down in the throat as a sign that it was the first sound, the essential sound, the voice and a representation of the self.[10]

In the Persian language and other languages using the Persian alphabet, it is pronounced as /ʔ/ (glottal stop), and rarely as /ʁ/ in some languages.

As in Hebrew, the letter originally stood for two sounds, /ʕ/ and /ʁ/. When pointing was developed, the sound /ʁ/ was distinguished with a dot on top (غ), to give the letter ghayn. In Maltese, which is written with the Latin alphabet, the digraph , called ʿajn, is used to write what was originally the same sound.

Hebrew Ayin[edit]

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

Hebrew spelling: עַיִן

ʿayin, along with Aleph, Resh, and Heth, cannot receive a dagesh.

Phonetic representation[edit]

ʿayin has traditionally been described as a voiced pharyngeal fricative ([ʕ]). However, this may be imprecise. Although a pharyngeal fricative has occasionally been observed for ʿayin in Arabic and so may occur in Hebrew as well, the sound is more commonly epiglottal ([ʢ]),[9] and may also be a pharyngealized glottal stop ([ʔˤ]).

In some historical Sephardi and Ashkenazi pronunciations, ʿayin represented a velar nasal ([ŋ]).[citation needed] Remnants can be found in the Yiddish pronunciations of some words such as /ˈjaŋkəv/ and /ˈmansə/ from Hebrew יַעֲקֹב‎ (yaʿăqōḇ, "Jacob") and מַעֲשֶׂה‎ (maʿăse, "story"), but in other cases, the nasal has disappeared and been replaced by /j/, such as /ˈmajsə/ and /ˈmajrəv/ from Hebrew מַעֲשֶׂה‎ and מַעֲרָב‎ (maʿărāḇ, "west"). In Israeli Hebrew (except for Mizrahi pronunciations), it represents a glottal stop in certain cases but is usually silent (it behaves the same as aleph). However, changes in adjoining vowels often testify to the former presence of a pharyngeal or epiglottal articulation. As well, it may be used as a shibboleth to identify the social background of a speaker, as Mizrahim and Arabs almost always use the more traditional pronunciation.

Ayin is also one of the three letters that can take a furtive patach / patach ganuv.

In Hebrew loanwords in Greek and Latin, ʿayin is sometimes reflected as /g/, since the biblical phonemes /ʕ/ (or "ʿ") and /ʁ/ (represented by "g") were both represented in Hebrew writing by the letter ʿayin (see Ġain). Gomorrah is from the original /ʁamora/ (modern ʿAmora) and Gaza from the original /ʁazza/ (ʿaza) (although Gaza is Ghaza in Arabic).

In Yiddish, the ʿayin is used to write the vowel e when it is not part of the diphthong ey.

Significance[edit]

In gematria, ʿayin represents the number 70.

ʿayin is also one of the seven letters which receive special crowns (called tagin) when written in a sefer Torah.

Because the sound is difficult for most non-Arabs to pronounce, it is often used as a shibboleth by Arabic speakers; other sounds, such as Ḥā and Ḍād are also used.[citation needed]

Character encodings[edit]

Character ע ܥ
Unicode name HEBREW LETTER AYIN HEBREW LETTER
ALTERNATIVE AYIN
SYRIAC LETTER E SAMARITAN LETTER IN
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1506 U+05E2 64288 U+FB20 1829 U+0725 2063 U+080F
UTF-8 215 162 D7 A2 239 172 160 EF AC A0 220 165 DC A5 224 160 143 E0 A0 8F
Numeric character reference ע ע ﬠ ﬠ ܥ ܥ ࠏ ࠏ
Character ع ݝ ݟ ڠ ݞ
Unicode name ARABIC LETTER AIN ARABIC SMALL HIGH AIN ARABIC LETTER AIN
WITH TWO DOTS
ABOVE
ARABIC LETTER AIN
WITH TWO DOTS
VERTICALLY ABOVE
ARABIC LETTER AIN
WITH THREE DOTS
ABOVE
ARABIC LETTER AIN
WITH THREE DOTS
POINTING DOWNWARDS ABOVE
ARABIC LETTER AIN
WITH THREE DOTS
BELOW
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1593 U+0639 2262 U+08D6 1885 U+075D 1887 U+075F 1696 U+06A0 1886 U+075E 2227 U+08B3
UTF-8 216 185 D8 B9 224 163 150 E0 A3 96 221 157 DD 9D 221 159 DD 9F 218 160 DA A0 221 158 DD 9E 224 162 179 E0 A2 B3
Numeric character reference ع ع ࣖ ࣖ ݝ ݝ ݟ ݟ ڠ ڠ ݞ ݞ ࢳ ࢳ
Character
Unicode name MODIFIER LETTER AIN MODIFIER LETTER SMALL AIN LATIN CAPITAL LETTER
EGYPTOLOGICAL AIN
LATIN SMALL LETTER
EGYPTOLOGICAL AIN
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 7461 U+1D25 7516 U+1D5C 42788 U+A724 42789 U+A725
UTF-8 225 180 165 E1 B4 A5 225 181 156 E1 B5 9C 234 156 164 EA 9C A4 234 156 165 EA 9C A5
Numeric character reference ᴥ ᴥ ᵜ ᵜ Ꜥ Ꜥ ꜥ ꜥ
Character 𐎓 𐡏 𐤏
Unicode name UGARITIC
LETTER AIN
IMPERIAL ARAMAIC
LETTER AYIN
PHOENICIAN
LETTER AIN
COPTIC CAPITAL LETTER
OLD COPTIC AIN
COPTIC SMALL LETTER
OLD COPTIC AIN
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 66451 U+10393 67663 U+1084F 67855 U+1090F 11444 U+2CB4 11445 U+2CB5
UTF-8 240 144 142 147 F0 90 8E 93 240 144 161 143 F0 90 A1 8F 240 144 164 143 F0 90 A4 8F 226 178 180 E2 B2 B4 226 178 181 E2 B2 B5
UTF-16 55296 57235 D800 DF93 55298 56399 D802 DC4F 55298 56591 D802 DD0F 11444 2CB4 11445 2CB5
Numeric character reference 𐎓 𐎓 𐡏 𐡏 𐤏 𐤏 Ⲵ Ⲵ ⲵ ⲵ
Character 𐭏 𐭥 𐮅
Unicode name INSCRIPTIONAL PARTHIAN
LETTER AYIN
INSCRIPTIONAL PAHLAVI
LETTER WAW-AYIN-RESH
PSALTER PAHLAVI LETTER
WAW-AYIN-RESH
GEORGIAN LETTER AIN
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 68431 U+10B4F 68453 U+10B65 68485 U+10B85 4346 U+10FA
UTF-8 240 144 173 143 F0 90 AD 8F 240 144 173 165 F0 90 AD A5 240 144 174 133 F0 90 AE 85 225 131 186 E1 83 BA
UTF-16 55298 57167 D802 DF4F 55298 57189 D802 DF65 55298 57221 D802 DF85 4346 10FA
Numeric character reference 𐭏 𐭏 𐭥 𐭥 𐮅 𐮅 ჺ ჺ
Character 𐫙 𐢗 𐪒 𐡰
Unicode name MANICHAEAN LETTER AYIN MANDAIC LETTER AIN NABATAEAN LETTER AYIN OLD NORTH ARABIAN LETTER AIN PALMYRENE LETTER AYIN
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 68313 U+10AD9 2136 U+0858 67735 U+10897 68242 U+10A92 67696 U+10870
UTF-8 240 144 171 153 F0 90 AB 99 224 161 152 E0 A1 98 240 144 162 151 F0 90 A2 97 240 144 170 146 F0 90 AA 92 240 144 161 176 F0 90 A1 B0
UTF-16 55298 57049 D802 DED9 2136 0858 55298 56471 D802 DC97 55298 56978 D802 DE92 55298 56432 D802 DC70
Numeric character reference 𐫙 𐫙 ࡘ ࡘ 𐢗 𐢗 𐪒 𐪒 𐡰 𐡰

References[edit]

  1. ^ comes eighteenth in the hijaʾi order of Arabic and twenty‐first in the Persian alphabet.
  2. ^ Simons, F., "Proto-Sinaitic – Progenitor of the Alphabet" Rosetta 9 (2011), 16–40 (here: 38–40). See also: Goldwasser, Orly (Mar–Apr 2010). "How the Alphabet Was Born from Hieroglyphs". Biblical Archaeology Review. Washington, DC: Biblical Archaeology Society. 36 (1), following William F. Albright, The Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions and their Decipherment (1966), "Schematic Table of Proto-Sinaitic Characters" (fig. 1).
  3. ^ sometimes rendered as the Greek diacritic in a serif font (as 〈̔〉), e.g. Carl Brockelmann's Grundriss Der Vergleichenden Grammatik der semitischen Sprachen, 1908; Friedrich Delitzsch , Paul Haupt (eds.), Beiträge zur assyriologie und semitischen sprachwissenschaft (1890) (1968 reprint); sometimes rendered as a semi-circle open to the right with constant line thickness (as 〈ʿ〉), e.g. Theodor Nöldeke, Beiträge zur semitischen Sprachwissenschaft (1904).
  4. ^ "MES Transliteration System" (assets.cambridge.org/MES/MES_ifc.pdf).
  5. ^ Both characters U+02BE "modifier letter right half ring" and U+02BF "modifier letter left half ring" have been present since Unicode version 1.0.0 (1991). The relevant code chart specifies the purpose of U+02BF as "transliteration of Arabic ain (voiced pharyngeal fricative); transliteration of Hebrew ayin".
  6. ^ "Various small, raised hook- or comma-shaped characters are often substituted for a glottal stop—for instance, U+02BC modifier letter apostrophe, U+02BB modifier letter turned comma, U+02C0 modifier letter glottal stop, or U+02BE modifier letter right half ring. U+02BB, in particular, is used in Hawaiian orthography as the okina." The Unicode Standard Version 7.0: chapter 7.1 "Latin", p. 294.
  7. ^ recommended by the Library of Congress (loc.gov), deprecated by The European Register of Microform Masters
  8. ^ deprecated by The European Register of Microform Masters.
  9. ^ a b Ladefoged, Peter & Ian Maddieson (1996). The sounds of the world’s languages. Oxford: Blackwells. ISBN 0-631-19814-8
  10. ^ Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych, The Mute Immortals Speak: Pre-Islamic Poetry and the Poetics of Ritual, pg. 178. Cornell Studies in Political Economy. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1993. ISBN 9780801427640

External links[edit]