|Phonemic representation||kˤ, q, g|
|Position in alphabet||19|
|Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician|
Qoph or Qop is the nineteenth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Qōp , Hebrew Qof ק, Aramaic Qop , Syriac Qōp̄ ܩ, and Arabic Qāf ق (in abjadi order). Its sound value is an emphatic [kˤ] 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"). According to an older suggestion, it may also have been a picture of a monkey and its tail.
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. The normal English spellings of Biblical names containing this letter may represent it as C or K, e.g. Cain for Hebrew Qayin, or Kenan for Qenan (Genesis 4:1, 5:9).
|Various print fonts||Cursive
Hebrew spelling: קוֹף
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
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."
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|
It is usually transliterated into Latin script as q, though some scholarly works use ḳ.
According to Sibawayh, author of the first book on Arabic grammar, the letter is pronounced as a voiced phoneme. 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:
- In Egyptian Arabic, as well as Levantine Arabic and forms of Algerian Arabic and Moroccan Arabic from around Tlemcen and Fes respectively, the letter is often pronounced as a glottal stop [ʔ] but is approximated to [k] or preserved in several Modern Standard Arabic loanwords.
- In Sa'idi Arabic (of Southern Egypt), in rural Jordan and Maghrebi, in Gulf Arabic, in Libyan Arabic and some forms of Yemeni and Sa'idi Arabic, it is frequently pronounced as a voiced velar plosive [ɡ].
- In Sudanese Arabic and some forms of Yemeni Arabic and Sa'idi Arabic, it is pronounced as a voiced uvular plosive [ɢ].
- In rural Palestinian Arabic it is often pronounced as a voiceless velar plosive [k].
- In Iraqi and optionally in Gulf Arabic, it is sometimes pronounced as a voiced postalveolar affricate [d͡ʒ].
- In all variants of Northwest African and in Druze dialects, it retains its MSA pronunciation [q].
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.
|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. 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, with the exception of Libya and Algeria, where the Mashriqi form (two dots above: ق) prevails.
|Unicode name||HEBREW LETTER QOF||ARABIC LETTER QAF||SYRIAC LETTER QAPH||SAMARITAN LETTER QUF|
|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|
|Unicode name||UGARITIC LETTER QOPA||IMPERIAL ARAMAIC LETTER QOPH||PHOENICIAN LETTER QOF|
|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|
- 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.
- 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'.
- e.g., The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition
- Kees Versteegh, The Arabic Language, pg. 131. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001. Paperback edition. ISBN 9780748614363
- van den Boogert, N. (1989). "Some notes on Maghrebi script" (PDF). Manuscript of the Middle East 4. p. 38 shows qāf with a superscript point in all four positions.
- Gacek, Adam (2008). The Arabic Manuscript Tradition. Brill. p. 61. ISBN 90-04-16540-1.
- Gacek, Adam (2009). Arabic Manuscripts: A Vademecum for Readers. Brill. p. 145. ISBN 90-04-17036-7.
- 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
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