|Phonemic representation||t (also θ, s)|
|Position in alphabet||22|
|Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician|
|Greek||Τ, Ϛ, Χ?|
|Cyrillic||Т, Ѿ, Х?|
Taw, tav, or taf is the twenty-second and last letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Tāw , Hebrew Tav ת, Aramaic Taw , Syriac Taw ܬ, and Arabic ت Tāʼ (22nd in abjadi order, 3rd in modern order). In Arabic, it is also gives rise to the derived letter ث Ṯāʼ. Its original sound value is /t/.
Origins of taw
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The letter is named tāʼ. It is written in several ways depending on its position in the word:
|Position in word||Isolated||Final||Medial||Initial|
Final ـَتْ (fatha, then tāʼ with a sukun on it, pronounced /at/, though diacritics are normally omitted) is used to mark feminine gender for third-person perfective/past tense verbs, while final تَ (tāʼ-fatḥa, /ta/) is used to mark past-tense second-person singular masculine verbs, final تِ (tāʼ-kasra, /ti/) to mark past-tense second-person singular feminine verbs, and final تُ (tāʼ-ḍamma, /tu/) to mark past-tense first-person singular verbs. The plural form of Arabic letter ت is tāʼāt (تاءات), a palindrome.
An alternative form called tāʼ marbūṭa (ـَة, ة) (تَاءْ مَرْبُوطَة), "bound tāʼ ") is used at the end of words to mark feminine gender for nouns and adjectives. Regular tāʼ, to distinguish it from tāʼ marbūṭa, is referred to as tāʼ maftūḥa (تَاءْ مَفْتُوحَة, "open tāʼ").
|Position in word||Isolated||Final||Medial||Initial|
In words such as رِسَالَة ('letter, message', 'epistle'), the fatha (/a/) + tāʼ marbūṭa combination (ـَة) is transliterated as -a or -ah (risāla or risālah), and pronounced as /-a/ (as if there were only a fatha). Historically, tāʼ marbūṭa was pronounced as the /t/ sound in all positions, but in coda positions the /t/ sound was dropped.
However, when a word ending with a tāʼ marbūṭa is suffixed with a grammatical case ending or any other suffix, the /t/ is clearly pronounced. For example, the word رِسَالَة ('letter, message', 'epistle') is pronounced as risāla in pausa but is pronounced risālatun in the nominative case (/un/ being the nominative case ending), risālatin in the genitive case (/in/ being the genitive case ending), and risālatan in the accusative case (/an/ being the accusative case ending). When the possessive suffix -ī ('my') is added, it becomes risālatī ('my letter') . The /t/ is also always pronounced when the word is in construct state (iḍāfa), for example in Risālat al-Ghufrān ('The Epistle of Forgiveness').
Note that the isolated and final forms of this letter combine the shape of hāʼ (ه) and the two dots of tāʼ (ت). When words containing the symbol are borrowed into other languages written in the Arabic alphabet (such as Persian), tāʼ marbūṭa usually becomes either a regular ه or a regular ت.
|Various print fonts||Cursive
Hebrew spelling: תָו
Variations on written form and pronunciation
The letter tav is one of the six letters that can receive a dagesh kal diacritic; the others are bet, gimel, dalet, kaph and pe. Bet, kaph and pe have their sound values changed in modern Hebrew from the fricative to the plosive, by adding a dagesh. In modern Hebrew, the other three do not change their pronunciation with or without a dagesh, but they have had alternate pronunciations at other times and places.
In traditional Ashkenazi pronunciation, tav represents an /s/ without the dagesh and has the plosive form when it has the dagesh. Among Yemen and some Sephardi areas, tav without a dagesh represented a voiceless dental fricative /θ/—a pronunciation hailed by the Sfath Emeth work as wholly authentic, while the tav with the dagesh is the plosive /t/. In traditional Italian pronunciation, tav without a dagesh is sometimes /d/.[clarification needed]
Tav with a geresh (ת׳) is sometimes used in order to represent the TH digraph in loanwords.
Significance of tav
Tav is the last letter of the Hebrew word emet, which means 'truth'. The midrash explains that emet is made up of the first, middle, and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph, mem, and tav: אמת). Sheqer (שקר, falsehood), on the other hand, is made up of the 19th, 20th, and 21st (and penultimate) letters.
Thus, truth is all-encompassing, while falsehood is narrow and deceiving. In Jewish mythology it was the word emet that was carved into the head of the golem which ultimately gave it life. But when the letter aleph was erased from the golem's forehead, what was left was "met"—dead. And so the golem died.
Ezekiel 9:4 depicts a vision in which the tav plays a Passover role similar to the blood on the lintel and doorposts of a Hebrew home in Egypt. In Ezekiel's vision, the Lord has his angels separate the demographic wheat from the chaff by going through Jerusalem, the capital city of ancient Israel, and inscribing a mark, a tav, "upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof."
In Ezekiel's vision, then, the Lord is counting tav-marked Israelites as worthwhile to spare, but counts the people worthy of annihilation who lack the tav and the critical attitude it signifies. In other words, looking askance at a culture marked by dire moral decline is a kind of shibboleth for loyalty and zeal for God.
Sayings with taf
"From aleph to taf" describes something from beginning to end, the Hebrew equivalent of the English "From A to Z."
In the Syriac alphabet, as in the Hebrew and Phoenician alphabets, taw (ܬܰܐܘ) or tăw (ܬܲܘ or ܬܰܘ) is the final letter in the alphabet, most commonly representing the voiceless dental stop [t̪] and fricative [θ] consonant pair, differentiated phonemically by hard and soft markings. When left as unmarked ܬ ܬ ܬ or marked with a qūššāyā dot above the letter ܬ݁ ܬ݁ ܬ݁ indicating 'hard' pronunciation, it is realized as a plosive /t/. When the phoneme is marked with a rūkkāḵā dot below the letter ܬ݂ ܬ݂ ܬ݂ indicating 'soft' pronunciation, the phone is spirantized to a fricative /θ/. Hard taw (taw qšīṯā) is Romanized as a plain t, while the soft form of the letter (taw rakkīḵtā) is transliterated as ṯ or th.
|Unicode name||HEBREW LETTER TAV||ARABIC LETTER TA'||SYRIAC LETTER TAW|
|UTF-8||215 170||D7 AA||216 170||D8 AA||220 172||DC AC|
|Numeric character reference||ת
|Unicode name||SAMARITAN LETTER TOF||UGARITIC LETTER TO||IMPERIAL ARAMAIC LETTER TAW||PHOENICIAN LETTER TAU|
|UTF-8||224 160 149||E0 A0 95||240 144 142 154||F0 90 8E 9A||240 144 161 149||F0 90 A1 95||240 144 164 149||F0 90 A4 95|
|UTF-16||2069||0815||55296 57242||D800 DF9A||55298 56405||D802 DC55||55298 56597||D802 DD15|
|Numeric character reference||ࠕ
- "Smileys Symbols ㋡ ㋛ ☺ ☹ ☻ 〠 シ ッ ツ ヅ". www.i2symbol.com. Retrieved 2021-07-22.
- Exodus 12:7,12.
- Cf. the New Testament's condemnation of lukewarmness in Revelation 3:15-16