Origin of kaph
Kaph is thought to be derived from a pictogram of a hand (in both modern Arabic
and modern Hebrew
כף means palm/grip) though in arabic the a in the name of the letter (كاف) is pronounced longer than the a in the word meaning palm (كَف).
Hebrew spelling: כַּףְ
There are two orthographic variants of this letter that alter the pronunciation:
Kaf with the dagesh
Kaf without the dagesh (khaf)
When this letter appears as כ
("dot") in its center it represents [χ
], like the ch
in German "Bach".
In modern Israeli Hebrew
the letter heth
is often pronounced as a [χ
], but many communities (particularly those of Mizrahi and Sephardi origins, as well as immigrants to Israel from Arab countries and Arab Israelis) have differentiated between these letters as in other Semitic languages.
Final form of kaf
If the letter is at the end of a word the symbol is drawn differently. However, it does not change the pronunciation or transliteration
in any way. The name for the letter is final kaf
). Four additional Hebrew letters take final forms: tsadi
, and pei
. Kaf/khaf is the only Hebrew letter that can take a vowel in its word-final form, which is pronounced after the consonant, that vowel being the qamatz
Significance of kaph in Hebrew
, kaph represents the number 20. Its final form represents 500, but this is rarely used, tav
(400+100) being used instead.
- It can mean "like" or "as", as in literary Arabic (see below).
- In colloquial Hebrew, kaph and shin together have the meaning of "when". This is a contraction of כַּאֲשֶׁר, ka'asher (when).
The letter is named kāf, and it is written in several ways depending on its position in the word.
There are three variants of the letter:
the basic form is used for the Arabic language and many other languages:
the cross-barred form, notably 'al-kāf al-mashkūlah/al-mashqūqah
is used predominantly as an alternative form of the version above in all forms of Arabic and in the languages that use the Perso-Arabic script
the long s-shaped variant form, al-kāf al-mabsūṭah
which is used in Arabic texts and for writing the Qur'an. It has a particular use in the Sindhi language
of Pakistan, where it represents the unaspirated /k/, in contrast to the aspirated
/kʰ/, which is written using the "normal" kāf ک
Use in literary Arabic
In Literary Arabic
is used as a prefix meaning "like"
, or "as though"
. For example, كَطَائِر
(/katˤaːʔir/), meaning "like a bird" or "as though a bird" (as in Hebrew, above). The prefix كَـ
is one of the Arabic words for "like" or "as" (the other, مِثْل
/miθl/, is unrelated). The /ka/ prefix sometimes has been added to other words to create fixed constructions. For instance, it is prefixed to ذٰلِك
/ðaːlik/ "this, that" to form the fixed word كَذٰلِك
/kaðaːlik/ "like so, likewise."
is used as a possessive
suffix for second-person singular nouns (feminine taking kāf-kasrah كِ
, /ki/ and masculine kāf-fatḥah كَ
/ka/); for instance, كِتَاب
("book") becomes كِتَابُكَ
("your book", where the person spoken to is masculine) كِتَابُكِ
("your book", where the person spoken to is feminine). At the ends of sentences and often in conversation the final vowel is suppressed, and thus كِتَابُك
("your book"). In several varieties of vernacular Arabic, however, the kāf
with no harakat
is the standard second-person possessive, with the literary Arabic harakah shifted to the letter before
: thus masculine "your book" in these varieties is كِتَابَك
and feminine "your book" كِتَابِك
- ^ Transliteration Rules, Encyclopedia Judaica.
- ^ Gacek, Adam (2008). The Arabic manuscript tradition: a glossary of technical terms and bibliography: supplement. Leiden: Brill. p. 43. ISBN 9004165401.
- ^ Gacek, Adam (2008). The Arabic manuscript tradition: a glossary of technical terms and bibliography: supplement. Leiden: Brill. p. 8. ISBN 9004165401.
Last edited on 14 May 2021, at 19:09
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