Arabic alphabet

Arabic alphabet

Infobox Writing system
name=Arabic abjad
languages= Arabic, Persian, Kurdish, Baloch, Urdu, Pashto, Sindhi, Malay (limited usage) and others.
time=400 CE to the present
fam4=Nabataean or Syriac
unicode= [ U+0600 to U+06FF]
[ U+0750 to U+077F]
[ U+FB50 to U+FDFF]
[ U+FE70 to U+FEFF]
iso15924=Arab (#160)
sample=Arabic albayancalligraphy.svg

The Arabic alphabet is the script used for writing several languages of Asia and Africa, such as Arabic, Persian, and Urdu. After the Latin alphabet, it is the second-most widely used alphabet around the world. [cite web |url= |title=Arabic Alphabet |accessdate=2007-11-23 |publisher=Enclopaedia Britannica online]

The alphabet was first used to write texts in Arabic, most notably the "transl|ar|Qurʼan", the holy book of Islam. With the spread of Islam, it came to be used to write many other languages, even outside of the Semitic family to which Arabic belongs. Examples of non-Semitic languages written with the Arabic alphabet include Persian, Urdu, Pashto, Baloch, Malay, Balti, Brahui, Panjabi (in Pakistan), Kashmiri, Sindhi (in India and Pakistan), Uyghur (in China), Kazakh (in China), Kyrgyz (in China), Azerbaijani (in Iran), Kurdish (in Iraq and Iran) and the language of the former Ottoman Empire. In order to accommodate the needs of these other languages, new letters and other symbols were added to the original alphabet.

The Arabic script is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 basic letters. Because some of the vowels are indicated with optional symbols, it can be classified as an abjad. Just as different handwriting styles and typefaces exist in the Roman alphabet, the Arabic script has a number of different styles of calligraphy, including Naskh, Nastaʿlīq, Shahmukhi, Ruq'ah, Thuluth, Kufic, and Hijazi.


The Arabic alphabet has 28 basic letters. Adaptations of Arabic script for other languages, such as the Malay Arabic script, have additional letters. There are no distinct upper and lower case letter forms.

Both printed and written Arabic are cursive, with most of the letters directly connected to the letter that immediately follows. Each individual letter can have up to four distinct forms, based on its position within in the word. These forms are:

* Initial: at the beginning of a word; or in the middle of a word, after a non-connecting letter.
* Medial: between two connecting letters (non-connecting letters lack a medial form).
* Final: at the end of a word following a connecting letter.
* Isolated: at the end of a word following a non-connecting letter; or used independently.

Some letters look almost the same in all four forms, while others show considerable variety. In addition, some letter combinations are written as ligatures (special shapes), including "transl|ar|lām-ʼalif". [cite book |title=Writing Systems: A Linguistic Approach |author=Rogers, Henry |publisher=Blackwell Publishing |date=2005 |pages=p. 135] Many letters look similar but are distinguished from one another by dots above or below their central part, called "iʿjam". The dots are an integral part of the letter, not diacritics, because they distinguish completely different letters (and sounds). For example, the Arabic letters transliterated as "b" and "t" have the same basic shape, but "b" has one dot below, rtl- _ar. ب, and "t" has two dots above, rtl- _ar. ت.

The Arabic alphabet is an "impure" abjad. Long vowels are written, but short ones are not, so the reader must be familiar with the language to understand the missing vowels. However, in editions of the "transl|ar|Qurʼan" and in didactic works, vocalization marks are used, including the "sukūn" for vowel omission and the "šadda" for consonant gemination (consonant doubling).


There are two collating orders for the Arabic alphabet. The original "abjadī" order ( _ar. أبجدي) derives from the order of the Phoenician alphabet, and is therefore similar to the order of other Phoenician-derived alphabets, such as the Hebrew alphabet. The "abjadī" order is used for numbering. In the "transl|ar|hijāʼī" order ( _ar. هجائي), similarly-shaped letters are grouped together (see the next section). The "hijāʼī" order is used wherever lists of names and words are sorted, as in phonebooks, classroom lists, and dictionaries.

Letters and letter variants

The following table provides all of the Unicode characters for Arabic, and none of the supplementary letters used for other languages. The transliteration given is the widespread DIN 31635 standard, with some common alternatives. See the article "Romanization of Arabic" for details and various other transliteration schemes.

Regarding pronunciation, the phonetic values given are those of the standard pronunciation of literary Arabic, the "Dachsprache" which is taught in universities. Actual pronunciation between the varieties of Arabic may vary widely. For more details concerning the pronunciation of Arabic, consult the article "Arabic phonology".

Primary letters

The Arabic script is cursive, and all primary letters have conditional forms for their glyphs, depending on whether they are at the beginning, middle or end of a word, so they may exhibit four distinct forms (initial, medial, final or isolated). However, six letters have only isolated or final form, and so force the following letter (if any) to take an initial or isolated form, as if there were a word break.

For compatibility with previous standards, Unicode can encode all these forms separately; however, these forms can be inferred from their joining context, using the same encoding. The table below shows this common encoding, in addition to the compatibility encodings for their normally contextual forms (Arabic texts should be encoded today using only the common encoding, but the rendering must then infer the joining types to determine the correct glyph forms, with or without ligation). There are 29 primary letters.

The names of the Arabic letters can be thought of as abstractions of an older version where they were meaningful words in the Proto-Semitic language.

Long vowels

A long "a" following a consonant other than a "hamza" is written with a short "a" sign on the consonant plus an "transl|ar|ʾalif" after it; long "i" is written as a sign for short "i" plus a Unicode|"yāʾ"; and long "u" as a sign for short "u" plus a "transl|ar|wāw". Briefly, "aʾ" = "ā", "iy" = "ī" and "uw" = "ū". Long "a" following a "hamza" may be represented by an "transl|ar|ʾalif madda" or by a free "hamza" followed by an "ʾalif".

In the table below, vowels will be placed above or below a dotted circle replacing a primary consonant letter or a "šadda" sign. For clarity in the table below, the primary letter on the left used to mark these long vowels are shown only in their isolated form. Please note that most consonants do connect to the left with "transl|ar|ʾalif", "transl|ar|wāw" and "transl|ar|yāʾ" written then with their medial or final form. Additionally, the letter "transl|ar|yāʾ" in the last row may connect to the letter on its left, and then will use a medial or initial form. Use the table of primary letters to look at their actual glyph and joining types.

ukūn and alif above

An Arabic syllable can be open (ending with a vowel) or closed (ending with a consonant).
* open: CV [consonant-vowel] (long or short vowel)
* closed: CVC (short vowel only)

When the syllable is closed, we can indicate that the consonant that closes it does not carry a vowel by marking it with a diacritic called "transl|ar|sukūn" ( rtl- _ar. ْ ) to remove any ambiguity, especially when the text is not vocalized. A normal text is composed only of series of consonants; thus, the word "transl|ar|qalb", "heart", is written "transl|ar|qlb". The "transl|ar|sukūn" indicates where not to place a vowel: "transl|ar|qlb" could, in effect, be read "qalab" (meaning "he turned around"), but written with a "sukūn" over the "transl|ar|l" and the "transl|ar|b" (rtl- _ar. قلْبْ), it can only have the form "qVlb". This is one step down from full vocalization, where the vowel "a" would also be indicated by a "transl|ar|fatḥa": rtl- _ar. قَلْبْ.

The "transl|ar|Qur’an" is traditionally written in full vocalization. Outside of the "transl|ar|Qur’an", putting a "transl|ar|sukūn" above a "transl|ar|yāʼ" — which represents IPA| [i:] —, or above a "transl|ar|wāw" — which stands for IPA| [u:] — is extremely rare, to the point that "transl|ar|yāʼ" with "sukūn" will be unambiguously read as the diphthong IPA| [ai] , and "transl|ar|wāw" with "transl|ar|sukūn" will be read IPA| [au] .

For example, the letters "transl|ar|m-w-s-y-q-ā" (rtl- _ar. موسيقى with an "transl|ar|ʼalif maqṣūra" at the end of the word)will be read most naturally as the word "transl|ar|mūsīqā" (“music”). If one were to write a "transl|ar|sukūn" above the "transl|ar|wāw", the "transl|ar|yāʼ" and the "transl|ar|ʼalif", one would get rtl- _ar. موْسيْقىْ, which would be read as "transl|ar|*mawsaykāy" (note however that the final "transl|ar|ʼalif maqṣūra", because it is an "transl|ar|ʼalif", never takes a "transl|ar|sukūn"). The word, entirely vocalized, would be written rtl- _ar. مُوْسِيْقَى in the "transl|ar|Qur’an", or rtl- _ar. مُوسِيقَى elsewhere. (The Quranic spelling would have no "transl|ar|sukūn" sign above the final "transl|ar|ʼalif maqṣūra", but instead a miniature "transl|ar|ʼalif" above the preceding "transl|ar|qaf" consonant, which is a valid Unicode character but most Arabic computer fonts cannot in fact display this miniature "transl|ar|ʼalif" as of 2006.)

A "transl|ar|sukūn" is not placed on word-final consonants, even if no vowel is pronounced, because fully vocalised texts are always written as if the "transl|ar|ʼiʻrāb" vowels were in fact pronounced. For example, "transl|ar|ʼAḥmad zawǧ šarr", meaning “Ahmed is a bad husband”, for the purposes of Arabic grammar and orthography, is treated as if still pronounced with full "transl|ar|ʼiʻrāb", i.e. "transl|ar|ʼAḥmadu zawǧun šarrun" with the complete desinences.

The "transl|ar|sukūn" is also used for transliterating words into the Arabic script. The Persian word rtl- _fa. ماسک ("mâsk", from the English word "mask"), for example, might be written with a "sukūn" above the rtl- _fa. ﺱ to signify that there is no vowel sound between that letter and the rtl- _fa. ک.


There are two kinds of numerals used in Arabic writing; standard numerals (predominant in the Arab World), and Eastern Arabic numerals (used in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India). In Arabic, the former are referred to as "Indian numbers" ("transl|ar|arqām hindiyyah", rtl- _ar. أرقام هندية). Arabic (or Hindu-Arabic) numerals are also used in Europe and the rest of the Western World in a third variant, the Western Arabic numerals, even though the Arabic alphabet is not. In most of present-day North Africa, the usual western numerals are used; in medieval times, a slightly different set was used, from which Western Arabic numerals derive, via Italy. Like Arabic alphabetic characters, Arabic numerals are written from right to left, though the units are always right-most, and the highest value left-most, just as with Western "Arabic numerals". Telephone numbers are read from left to right.

*The standard form of the numeral ٢ is slightly different in Egypt.

In addition, the Arabic alphabet can be used to represent numbers (Abjad numerals). This usage is based on the "abjadī" of the alphabet. rtl- _ar. أ "transl|ar|ʼalif" is 1, _ar. ب "transl|ar|bāʼ" is 2, _ar. ج "transl|ar|ǧīm" is 3, and so on until _ar. ي "transl|ar|yāʼ" = 10, _ar. ك "transl|ar|kāf" = 20, _ar. ل "transl|ar|lām" = 30, …, _ar. ر "transl|ar|rāʼ" = 200, …, _ar. غ "transl|ar|ġayn" = 1000. This is sometimes used to produce chronograms.


The Arabic alphabet can be traced back to the Nabataean alphabet used to write the Nabataean dialect of Aramaic. The first known text in the Arabic alphabet is a late fourth-century inscription from Jabal Ramm (50 km east of Aqaba), but the first dated one is a trilingual inscription at Zebed in Syria from 512. However, the epigraphic record is extremely sparse, with only five certainly pre-Islamic Arabic inscriptions surviving, though some others may be pre-Islamic. Later, dots were added above and below the letters to differentiate them. (The Aramaic language had fewer phonemes than the Arabic, and some originally distinct Aramaic letters had become indistinguishable in shape, so that in the early writings 15 distinct letter-shapes had to do duty for 28 sounds; cf. the similarly ambiguous Pahlavi alphabet.) The first surviving document that definitely uses these dots is also the first surviving Arabic papyrus (PERF 558), dated April 643, although they did not become obligatory until much later. Important texts like the "transl|ar|Qur’an" were frequently memorized; this practice, which is still widespread among many Muslim communities today, probably arose partially from a desire to avoid the great ambiguity of the script. (see Arabic Unicode)

Later still, vowel marks and the "hamza" were introduced, beginning some time in the latter half of the seventh century, preceding the first invention of Syriac and Hebrew vocalization. Initially, this was done by a system of red dots, said to have been commissioned by an Umayyad governor of Iraq, Hajjaj ibn Yusuf: a dot above = " _ar. a", a dot below = " _ar. i",a dot on the line = " _ar. u", and doubled dots indicated nunation. However, this was cumbersome and easily confusable with the letter-distinguishing dots, so about 100 years later, the modern system was adopted. The system was finalized around 786 by al-Farahidi.

Arabic printing presses

Although Napoleon Bonaparte generally is given the credit with introducing the printing press to the Arab world upon invading Egypt in 1798, and he did indeed bring printing presses and Arabic script presses, to print the French occupation's official newspaper "Al-Tanbiyyah" ("The Courier"), the process was started several centuries earlier.

Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in 1450 was followed up by Gregorio de Gregorii, a Venetian, who in 1514 published an entire prayer book in Arabic script entitled "Kitab Salat al-Sawa'i" intended for the eastern Christian communities. The script was said to be crude and almost unreadable.

Famed type designer Robert Granjon working for Cardinal Ferdinando de Medici succeeded in designing elegant Arabic typefaces and the Medici press published many Christian prayer and scholarly Arabic texts in the late sixteenth century.

The first Arabic books published using movable type in the Middle East were by the Maronite monks at the Maar Quzhayy Monastery in Mount Lebanon. They transliterated the Arabic language using Syriac script. It took a fellow goldsmith like Gutenberg to design and implement the first true Arabic script movable type printing press in the Middle East. The Greek Orthodox monk Abd Allah Zakhir set up an Arabic language printing press using movable type at the monastery of Saint John at the town of Dhour El Shuwayr in Mount Lebanon, the first homemade press in Lebanon using true Arabic script. He personally cut the type molds and did the founding of the elegant typeface. He created the first true Arabic script type in the Middle East. The first book off the press was in 1734; this press continued to be used until 1899. [ [ Arabic and the Art of Printing — A Special Section] , by Paul Lunde] [ [ A Bequest Unearthed, Phoenicia, Encyclopedia Phoeniciana] ]

Languages written with the Arabic alphabet

The Arabic script has been adopted for use in a wide variety of languages besides Arabic, including Persian, Kurdish, Malay, and Urdu, which are not Semitic. Such adaptations may feature altered or new characters to represent phonemes that do not appear in Arabic phonology. For example, the Arabic language lacks a voiceless bilabial plosive (the IPA| [p] sound), so many languages add their own letter to represent IPA| [p] in the script, though the specific letter used varies from language to language. These modifications tend to fall into groups: all the Indian and Turkic languages written in Arabic script tend to use the Persian modified letters, whereas Indonesian languages tend to imitate those of Jawi. The modified version of the Arabic script originally devised for use with Persian is known as the Perso-Arabic script by scholars.

In the case of Kurdish, vowels are mandatory, making the script an abugida rather than an abjad as it is for most languages. Kashmiri, also, writes all vowels.

Use of the Arabic script in West African languages, especially in the Sahel, developed with the penetration of Islam. To a certain degree the style and usage tends to follow those of the Maghreb (for instance the position of the dots in the letters "fāʼ" and "qāf"). Additional diacritics have come into use to facilitate writing of sounds not represented in the Arabic language. The term Ajami, which comes from the Arabic root for "foreign", has been applied to Arabic-based orthographies of African languages.

Languages currently written with the Arabic alphabet

Today Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and China are the main non-Arab states using the Arabic alphabet to write one or more official national languages, including Persian, Dari, Pashto, Urdu, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Uyghur.

The Arabic alphabet is currently used for:

Middle East and Central Asia

* Kurdish in Northern Iraq, Northwest Iran, and Northeast Syria. (In Turkey, the Latin alphabet is used for Kurdish);
* Official language Persian and regional languages including Azeri, Kurdish and Baluchi in Iran;
* Official languages Dari (which differs to a degree from Persian) and Pashto and all regional languages including Uzbek in Afghanistan;
* Tajik also differs only to a minor degree from Persian, and while in Tajikistan the usual Tajik alphabet is an extended Cyrillic alphabet, there is also some use of Arabic-alphabet Persian books from Iran; in the southwestern region of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China Arabic script is the official one (like for Uyghur in the rest of Xinjiang);
* Garshuni (or Karshuni) originated in the seventh century AD, when Arabic was becoming the dominant spoken language in the Fertile Crescent, but Arabic script was not yet fully developed and widely read. There is evidence that writing Arabic in Garshuni influenced the style of modern Arabic script. After this initial period, Garshuni writing has continued to the present day among some Syriac Christian communities in the Arabic-speaking regions of the Levant and Mesopotamia.
* Uyghur changed to Roman script in 1969 and back to a simplified, fully voweled, Arabic script in 1983;
* Kazakh is written in Arabic in Pakistan, Iran, China, and Afghanistan; and
* Kyrgyz is written in Arabic by the 150,000 in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China.

East Asia

*The Chinese language is written by some Hui in the Arabic-derived Xiao'erjing alphabet.

outh Asia

* Official language Urdu and regional languages including Punjabi (where the script is known as Shahmukhi), Sindhi, Kashmiri, and Balochi in Pakistan;
* Urdu and Kashmiri in India. Urdu is one of several official languages in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh; see List of national languages of India. Kashmiri also uses Sharada script;
* The Arwi language known as Arabic-Tamil uses the Arabic script together with the addition of 13 letters. It is mainly used in Sri Lanka and the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu for religious purposes.
* Malayalam language represented by Arabic script variant is known as Arabi Malayalam.The script has particular alphabets to represent the peculiar sounds of Malayalam.This script is mainly used in Madrassas of South Indian state of Kerala to teach Malayalam.
* The Thaana script used to write the Dhivehi language in the Maldives has vowels derived from the vowel diacritics of the Arabic script. Some of the consonants are borrowed from Arabic numerals.

outheast Asia

* Malay in the Arabic script known as Jawi is co-official in Brunei, and used for religious purposes in Malaysia, Indonesia, Southern Thailand, Singapore, and predominantly Muslim areas of the Philippines.


* Bedawi or Beja, mainly in northeastern Sudan;
* Comorian (Comorian) in the Comoros, currently side by side with the Latin alphabet (neither is official);
* Hausa, for many purposes, especially religious (known as Ajami);
* Mandinka, widely but unofficially (known as Ajami), (another non-Latin alphabet used is N'Ko);
* Fula, especially the Pular of Guinea (known as Ajami);
* Wolof (at "zaouia" schools), known as "Wolofal".
* Tamazight and other Berber languages were traditionally written in Arabic in the Maghreb. There is now a competing 'revival' of neo-Tifinagh.

Languages formerly written with the Arabic alphabet

Speakers of languages that were previously unwritten used Arabic script as a basis to design writing systems for their mother languages. This choice could be influenced by Arabic being their second language, the language of scripture of their faith, or the only written language they came in contact with. Additionally, since most education was once religious, choice of script was determined by the writer's religion; which meant that Muslims would use Arabic script to write whatever language they spoke. This led to Arabic script being the most widely used script during the Middle Ages. See also Languages of Muslim countries.

In the 20th century, the Arabic script was generally replaced by the Latin alphabet in the Balkans, parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia,while in the Soviet Union, after a brief period of Latinization, [ [ Alphabet Transitions — The Latin Script: A New Chronology — Symbol of a New Azerbaijan] , by Tamam Bayatly] use of the Cyrillic alphabet was mandated. Turkey changed to the Latin alphabet in 1928 as part of an internal Westernizing revolution. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many of the Turkic languages of the ex-USSR attempted to follow Turkey's lead and convert to a Turkish-style Latin alphabet. However, renewed use of the Arabic alphabet has occurred to a limited extent in Tajikistan, whose language's close resemblance to Persian allows direct use of publications from Iran. [ [ Tajik Language: Farsi or Not Farsi?] by Sukhail Siddikzoda, reporter, Tajikistan.]

Most languages of the Iranian languages family continue to use Arabic script, as well as the Indo-Aryan languages of Pakistan and of Muslim populations in India, but the Bengali language of Bangladesh is written in the Bengali alphabet.


* Afrikaans (as it was first written among the "Cape Malays", see Arabic Afrikaans);
* Berber in North Africa, particularly Tachelhit in Morocco (still being considered, along with Tifinagh and Latin for Tamazight);
* Harari, by the Harari people of the Harari Region in Ethiopia. Now uses the Ge'ez alphabet.
* For the West African languages mentioned above - Hausa, Fula, Mandinka, and Wolof - the Latin alphabet has officially replaced Arabic transcriptions for use in literacy and education;
* Malagasy in Madagascar (script known as Sorabe);
* Nubian;
* Swahili (has used the Latin alphabet since the 19th century);
* Somali (see Wadaad's writing) has used only the Latin alphabet since 1972;
* Songhay in West Africa, particularly in Timbuktu;
* Yoruba in West Africa (this was probably limited, but still notable)


* Albanian;
* Azeri in Azerbaijan (now written in the Latin alphabet and Cyrillic alphabet scripts in Azerbaijan);
* Bosnian (only for literary purposes; currently written in the Latin alphabet);
*Serbo-Croatian (only for literary purposes, mostly in Bosnia; currently written in the Latin alphabet);
* Polish (among ethnic Tatars);
* Belarusian (among ethnic Tatars; see Belarusian Arabic alphabet);
* Mozarabic, Aragonese, Portuguese, and Spanish, when the Muslims ruled the Iberian peninsula (see "Aljamiado");
* Romanian in certain areas of Transylvania (until the 17th century a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire)Fact|date=September 2008.

Central Asia and Russian Federation

* Bashkir (officially for some years from the October Revolution of 1917 until 1928, changed to Latin, now uses the Cyrillic script);
* Chaghatai across Central Asia;
* Chechen (sporadically from the adoption of Islam; officially from 1917 until 1928); [ [ Chechen Writing] ]
* Kazakh in Kazakhstan (until 1930s, changed to Latin, now uses the Cyrillic script);
* Kyrgyz in Kyrgyzstan (until 1930s, changed to Latin, now uses the Cyrillic script);
* Tatar before 1928 (changed to Latin Janalif), reformed in 1880s ("iske imlâ"), 1918 ("yaña imlâ" — with the omission of some letters);
* Chinese and Dungan, among the Hui people (script known as Xiao'erjing);
* Turkmen in Turkmenistan (changed to Latin in 1929, then to the Cyrillic script, then back to Latin in 1991);
* Uzbek in Uzbekistan (changed to Latin, now uses the Cyrillic script);
* All the Muslim peoples of the USSR between 1918-1928 (many also earlier), including Bashkir, Chechen, Kazakh, Tajik etc. After 1928 their script became Latin, then later Cyrillic.

outheast Asia

* Malay in Malaysia and Indonesia; Maguindanaon and Tausug in the Philippines.

outh Asia

* Arwi, a hybrid Arabic and Tamil dialect that was used extensively by the Muslim minority of Tamil Nadu state of India and the Moors of Sri Lanka.

Middle East

* Turkish in the Ottoman Empire was written in Arabic script until Mustafa Kemal Atatürk declared the change to Roman script in 1928. This form of Turkish is now known as Ottoman Turkish and is held by many to be a different language, due to its much higher percentage of Persian and Arabic loanwords (Ottoman Turkish alphabet);
* Kurdish (Kurmanji dialect) in Turkey and Syria was written in Arabic script until 1932, when a modified Kurdish Latin alphabet was introduced by Jaladat Ali Badirkhan in Syria.

Computers and the Arabic alphabet

The Arabic alphabet can be encoded using several character sets, including ISO-8859-6 and Unicode, in the latter thanks to the "Arabic segment", entries U+0600 to U+06FF. However, neither of these sets indicate the form each character should take in context. It is left to the rendering engine to select the proper glyph to display for each character.


As of Unicode 5.0, the following ranges encode Arabic characters:
* (0600–06FF)
* (0750–077F)
* (FB50–FDFF)
* (FE70–FEFF)

The basic Arabic range encodes the standard letters and diacritics, but does not encode contextual forms (U+0621–U+0652 being directly based on ISO 8859-6); and also includes the most common diacritics and Arabic-Indic digits. U+06D6 to U+06ED encode Qur'anic annotation signs such as "end of "ayah" unicode|۝ۖ and "start of "rub el hizb" unicode|۞. The Arabic Supplement range encodes letter variants mostly used for writing African (non-Arabic) languages. The Arabic Presentation Forms-A range encodes contextual forms and ligatures of letter variants needed for Persian, Urdu, Sindhi and Central Asian languages. The Arabic Presentation Forms-B range encodes spacing forms of Arabic diacritics, and more contextual letter forms.

See also the notes of the section on modified letters.

Arabic keyboard

Keyboards designed for different nations have different layouts so that proficiency in one style of keyboard such as Iraq's does not transfer to proficiency in another keyboard such as Saudi Arabia's. Differences can include the location of non-alphabetic characters such as '<' as well as the location of vowel marks and possibly others.

All Arabic keyboards allow typing Roman characters, e.g. for URL in a web browser. Thus, each Arabic keyboard has both Arabic and Roman characters marked on the keys. Usually the Roman characters of an Arabic keyboard conform to the QWERTY layout, but in North Africa, where French is the most common language typed using the Roman characters, the Arabic keyboards are AZERTY.

When one wants to encode a particular written form of a character, there are extra code points provided in Unicode which can be used to express the exact written form desired. The range "Arabic presentation forms A" (U+FB50 to U+FDFF) contain ligatures while the range "Arabic presentation forms B" (U+FE70 to U+FEFF) contains the positional variants. These effects are better achieved in Unicode by using the "zero width joiner" and "non-joiner", as these presentation forms are deprecated in Unicode, and should generally only be used within the internals of text-rendering software, when using Unicode as an intermediate form for conversion between character encodings, or for backwards compatibility with implementations that rely on the hard-coding of glyph forms.

Finally, the Unicode encoding of Arabic is in "logical order", that is, the characters are entered, and stored in computer memory, in the order that they are written and pronounced without worrying about the direction in which they will be displayed on paper or on the screen. Again, it is left to the rendering engine to present the characters in the correct direction, using Unicode's bi-directional text features. In this regard, if the Arabic words on this page are written left to right, it is an indication that the Unicode rendering engine used to display them is out-of-date. [For more information about encoding Arabic, consult the Unicode manual available at [ The Unicode website] ] [See also [ MULTILINGUAL COMPUTING WITH ARABIC AND ARABIC TRANSLITERATION Arabicizing Windows Applications to Read and Write Arabic & Solutions for the Transliteration Quagmire Faced by Arabic-Script Languages] and [ A PowerPoint Tutorial (with screen shots and an English voice-over) on how to add Arabic to the Windows Operating System] .]

Handwriting recognition

The first software program of its kind in the world that identifies Arabic handwriting in real time has been developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion UniversityFact|date=March 2008.

The prototype enables the user to write Arabic words by hand on an electronic screen, which then analyzes the text and translates it into printed Arabic letters in a thousandth of a second. The error rate is less than three percent, according to Dr. Jihad El-Sana, from BGU's department of computer sciences, who developed the system along with master's degree student Fadi Biadsy. [ [ Israel 21c] ]

See also

*Arabic calligraphy - considered an art form in its own right
*Arabic numerals
*Arabic Unicode
*Romanization of Arabic
*Arabic Chat Alphabet
*ArabTeX - provides Arabic support for TeX and LaTeX
*Harakat (vowel pointing)
*Iʿjam (consonant pointing)
*Rasm (unpointed consonants)
*South Arabian alphabet


External links

* [ The Arabic Alphabet] showing the different glyphs for each letter and its code position in Unicode
* [ Alphabet, with sound, just click on a letter]
* [ Arabic Alphabet Table] pronunciation of the letters, and instructions to write them.
* [ Arabic Alphabet] with sound and lessons
* [ Arabic writing and calligraphy]
* [ Article about Arabic alphabet]
* [ Arabic alphabet and calligraphy]
* [ (freeware) to learn the characters]
* [ Guide to the use of Arabic in Windows, major word processors and web browsers]
* [ Learn the Arabic Script Online]
* [ Free Arabic Reading and Language Course (with sound)]
* [ Arabic Alphabet Quiz] Choose the "Arabic" link.
* [ Babel Arabic Writing Explanation]
* [ Site on Scripts and Writing Systems] : A long list of links to sites dealing with issues of scripts.
* [ Arabic alphabet stroke directions]

Online Arabic keyboards

* [ The fastest way to type Arabic without an Arabic keyboard] Real time transliteration engine.
* [ Arabic keyboard ] to type Arabic characters on computers which do not have a keyboard for typing the Arabic alphabet.
* [ Arabic Keyboard adapted to QWERTY] (ISLAM-91)
* [ clavier arabe en ligne LEXILOGOS] (French)
* [ Write and send Arabic emails]
* [ Arabic Keyboard لوحة المفاتيح العربية]
* [ eiktub: a web-based Arabic transliteration editor] ----"This article contains major sections of text from the very detailed article Arabic alphabet from the French Wikipedia, which has been partially translated into English. Further translation of that page, and its incorporation into the text here, are welcomed."

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  • Arabic alphabet — Script used to write Arabic and a number of other languages whose speakers have been influenced by Arab and Islamic culture. The 28 character Arabic alphabet developed from a script used to write Nabataean Aramaic. Because Arabic had different… …   Universalium

  • Arabic alphabet — noun the alphabet of 28 characters derived from Aramaic and used for writing Arabic languages (and borrowed for writing Urdu) • Hypernyms: ↑alphabet, ↑unicameral script * * * noun Usage: usually capitalized 1st A : the alphabet of 28 letters… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Arabic alphabet — noun Date: 1820 an alphabet of 28 letters derived from the Aramaic alphabet which is used for writing Arabic and also with adaptations for other languages of the Islamic world …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Arabic alphabet — /ærəbɪk ˈælfəbɛt/ (say aruhbik alfuhbet) noun an alphabet with 28 letters, some of these being similar in form and therefore distinguished by additional dots above and below, and with individual letters having different forms depending on whether …   Australian English dictionary

  • History of the Arabic alphabet — The history of the Arabic alphabet shows that this abjad has changed since it arose. It is thought that the Arabic alphabet is a derivative of the Nabataean variation (or perhaps the Syriac variation) of the Aramaic alphabet, which descended from …   Wikipedia

  • Belarusian Arabic alphabet — The Belarusian Arabic alphabet was based on the Arabic script and was developed in the 16th century (possibly 15th). It consisted of twenty eight graphemes, including several additions to represent Belarusian sounds not found in Arabic.The… …   Wikipedia

  • Arabic language — Arabic redirects here. For other uses, see Arabic (disambiguation). For the literary standard, see Modern Standard Arabic. For vernaculars, see varieties of Arabic. For others, see Arabic languages. Arabic العربية/عربي/عربى al ʿarabiyyah/ʿarabī …   Wikipedia

  • ARABIC LANGUAGE — ARABIC LANGUAGE. According to the generally accepted division of the semitic languages , Arabic (also called, more appropriately, North Arabic) belongs to the southwest Semitic branch, although some scholars affiliate it with central Semitic. The …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Arabic grammar — Arabic is a Semitic language. See Arabic language for more information on the language in general. This article describes the grammar of Classical Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic. History The identity of the oldest Arabic grammarian is disputed …   Wikipedia

  • Arabic literature — (Arabic: الأدب العربي Al Adab Al Arabi ) is the writing produced, both prose and poetry, by speakers (not necessarily native speakers) of the Arabic language. It does not usually include works written using the Arabic alphabet but not in the… …   Wikipedia

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