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Title: Ġayn  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Hebrew alphabet, Ğ, Scrabble letter distributions, A Is for Allah
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Not to be confused with Ғ (Ghayn), a Cyrillic letter.

The Arabic letter غ (Arabic: غينghayn or ġayn) is the nineteenth letter of the Arabic alphabet, one of the six letters not in the twenty-two akin to the Phoenician alphabet (the others being thāʼ, khāʼ, dhāl, ḍād, ẓāʼ). It is the twenty-second letter in the new Persian alphabet. It represents the sound // or //. In Persian language it represents ]~]. In name and shape, it is a variant of ʻayn (ع). Its numerical value is 1000 (see Abjad numerals).

A .

The letter ghayn (غ) is sometimes used to represent the voiced velar plosive /ɡ/ in loan words and names in Arabic and is then often pronounced /ɡ/, not /ɣ/, such as the word for Bulgaria (بلغاريا). Other letters, such as ج, ق, ك (also گ, ݣ, ݢ, ڨ, instead of the original Arabic letters), can be used to transcribe // in loan words and names, depending on whether the local variety of Arabic in the country has the phoneme //, which letter represents it if it does, and on whether it is customary in the country to use that letter to transcribe //. For instance, in Egypt, where ج is pronounced as ] in all situations, even when speaking Modern Standard Arabic (except in certain contexts, such as reciting the Qur'an), ج is used to transcribe foreign ] in virtually all contexts. In many cases غ is pronounced in loan words as expected—//, not //—even though the original language had //.

When representing this sound in transliteration of Arabic into Hebrew, it is written as ע׳.

In English, the letter غ in Arabic names is usually transliterated as ‹gh›, ‹ġ›, or simply ‹g›, e.g. بغداد Baghdād 'Baghdad', or غزة Ghazzah 'Gaza', the latter of which does not render the sound ]~] accurately. The closest equivalent sound known to most English speakers is the Parisian French "r" ].

Ghayn is written is several ways depending in its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: غ ـغ ـغـ غـ
Proto-Semitic Akkadian Arabic Canaanite Hebrew Aramaic South Arabian Geʻez
ġ - غ gh ġ, ʻ ע ʻ ע ʻ ġ ʻ

Origins of ghayn

Ghayn is believed to have come from the following hieroglyph


that depicts two twisted fibers. This coincidentally superficially resembles the IPA symbol [ɣ] upside down. [ɣ] is conventionally used for the sound of ghayn.

Character encodings


See also

  • Arabic phonology
  • Ghayn, the corresponding letter in the Cyrillic orthographies for several Central Asian languages

External links

  • Ancient Hebrew Alphabet - Chart
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