Nunation

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In some Semitic languages, such as Arabic, nunation (Arabic: تَنوِينtanwīn) is the addition of one of three vowel diacritics (Arabic: حَرَكَاتḥarakāt) to a noun or adjective to indicate that the word ends in an alveolar nasal without the addition of the letter nūn. The noun phrase is fully declinable and syntactically unmarked for definiteness.

Nunation - tanwīn تَنْوِين
Symbol
ـٌ


ـٍ


ـً

Transliteration
-un

-in

-an
rare case: following by the definite article "al ال"

[the nūn ن (the "n") of the tanwīn is attached to al ال in the genitive case]


ٱلـ ـٌ

ٱلـ ـٍ

ٱلـ ـً
Transliteration -u nil- -i nil- -a nil-

In Classical and Modern Standard Arabic orthography, there are three nunation diacritics, which indicate the suffixes -un (IPA: /-un/) (nominative case), -in /-in/ (genitive), and -an /an/ (accusative). The sign ـً‎ is most commonly written in combination with اalif (ـًا‎), ةً‎ (tāʾ marbūṭah تاء مربوطة) or stand-alone ءً‎ (hamza همزة). In the regional varieties of Arabic, these diacritics are usually unwritten; however, the alif, tāʾ marbūṭah or hamzah is written.

Since Arabic has no indefinite article, nouns that are nunated are often indefinite. However, many definite nouns can also be nunated: for example, in the expression أَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ الله ('ašhadu 'anna Muḥammadan rasūlu l-lāh(i) /ʔaʃhadu ʔanna muħammadan rasuːlu‿llah/ "I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God."), in which the name محمد Muḥammad, a definite noun, is nunated to مُحَمَّدًا Muḥammad-an to indicate that it is in the accusative case (because it follows ّأن.) (Names of people are treated as definite nouns in the grammars of Classical and Modern Standard Arabic.)

Nunation may also refer to the -n  ending of duals in Akkadian (until it was dropped in the Old Babylonian period).[1]

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