This article is about the Semitic letter. For the band, see Qoph (band)
The origin of the glyph shape of qōp
() is uncertain. It is usually suggested to have originally depicted either a sewing needle
, specifically the eye of a needle (Hebrew קוף
and Aramaic קופא
both refer to the eye of a needle), or the back of a head and neck (qāf
in Arabic meant "nape
According to an older suggestion, it may also have been a picture of a monkey and its tail (the Hebrew קוף
Besides Aramaic Qop
, which gave rise to the letter in the Semitic abjads used in classical antiquity, Phoenician qōp
is also the origin of the Latin letter Q
and Greek Ϙ
) and Φ
The Oxford Hebrew-English Dictionary
transliterates the letter Qoph (קוֹף
) as q
; and, when word-final, it may be transliterated as ck
. The English spellings of Biblical names (as derived from Latin
via Biblical Greek
) containing this letter may represent it as c
, e.g. Cain
for Hebrew Qayin
, or Kenan
(Genesis 4:1, 5:9).
Qoph is consistently transliterated into classical Greek with the unaspirated〈κ〉/k/, while Kaph (both its allophones) is transliterated with the aspirated〈χ〉/kʰ/. Thus Quph was unaspirated /k/ where Kaph was /kʰ/, this distinction is no longer present. Further we know that Qoph is one of the emphatic consonants through comparison with other semitic languages, and most likely was ejective /kʼ/. In Arabic the emphatics are pharyngealised and this causes a preference for back vowels, this is not shown in Hebrew orthography. Though the gutturals show a preference for certain vowels, Hebrew emphatics do not in Tiberian Hebrew (the Hebrew dialect recorded with vowels) and therefore were most likely not pharyngealised, but ejective. Pharyngealisation being a result of Arabisation
Qof in gematria
represents the number 100. Sarah
is described in Genesis Rabba
as בת ק' כבת כ' שנה לחטא
, literally "At Qof years of age, she was like Kaph
years of age in sin", meaning that when she was 100 years old, she was as sinless as when she was 20.
The main pronunciations of written ⟨ق⟩ in Arabic dialects.
The Arabic letter ق is named قاف qāf. It is written in several ways depending in its position in the word:
It is usually transliterated into Latin script as q
, though some scholarly works use ḳ
The three main pronunciations:
- [q]: in most of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, Southern and Western Yemen and parts of Oman, Northern Iraq, parts of the Levant (especially the Alawite and Druze dialects). In fact, it is so characteristic of the Alawites and the Druze that Levantines invented a verb "yqaqi" /jqæqi/ that means "speaking with a /q/". However, most other dialects of Arabic will use this pronunciation in learned words that are borrowed from Standard Arabic into the respective dialect or when Arabs speak Modern Standard Arabic.
- [ɡ]: in most of the Arabian Peninsula, Northern and Eastern Yemen and parts of Oman, Southern Iraq, some parts of the Levant (within Jordan), Upper Egypt (Ṣaʿīd), Sudan, Libya, Mauritania and to lesser extent in some parts of Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco but it is also used partially across those countries in some words.
- [ʔ]: in most of the Levant and Egypt, as well as some North African towns such as Tlemcen and Fez.
- [ɢ]: In Sudanese and some forms of Yemeni, even in loanwords from Modern Standard Arabic or when speaking Modern Standard Arabic.
- [k]: In rural Palestinian it is often pronounced as a voiceless velar plosive [k], even in loanwords from Modern Standard Arabic or when speaking Modern Standard Arabic.
- [d͡z]: In some positions in Najdi, though this pronunciation is fading in favor of [ɡ].
- [d͡ʒ]: Optionally in Iraqi and in Gulf Arabic, it is sometimes pronounced as a voiced postalveolar affricate [d͡ʒ], even in loanwords from Modern Standard Arabic or when speaking Modern Standard Arabic.
- [ɣ] ~ [ʁ]: in Sudanese and some Yemeni dialects (Yafi'i), and sometimes in Gulf Arabic by Persian influence, even in loanwords from Modern Standard Arabic or when speaking Modern Standard Arabic.
It is not well known when the pronunciation of Qāf ⟨ق
⟩ as a velar [ɡ] occurred or the probability of it being connected to the pronunciation of Jīm
⟩ as an affricate [d͡ʒ], but in most of the Arabian peninsula
(Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE and parts of Yemen and Oman) which is the homeland of the Arabic language, the ⟨ج
⟩ represents a [d͡ʒ] and ⟨ق
⟩ represents a [ɡ], except in western and southern Yemen
and parts of Oman
⟩ represents a [ɡ] and ⟨ق
⟩ represents a [q], which shows a strong correlation between the palatalization of ⟨ج
⟩ to [d͡ʒ] and the pronunciation of the ⟨ق
⟩ as a [ɡ] as shown in the table below:
- Western and southern Yemen and parts of Oman.
- [ʒ] can be an allophone in some dialects.
The Maghribi text renders qāf and fāʼ differently than elsewhere would
The Maghrebi style
of writing qāf
is different: having only a single point (dot) above; when the letter is isolated or word-final, it may sometimes become unpointed.
The Maghrebi qāf
The earliest Arabic manuscripts show qāf
in several variants: pointed (above or below) or unpointed.
Then the prevalent convention was having a point above for qāf
and a point below for fāʼ
; this practice is now only preserved in manuscripts from the Maghribi,
with the exception of Libya and Algeria, where the Mashriqi
form (two dots above: ق
Within Maghribi texts, there is no possibility of confusing it with the letter fāʼ
, as it is instead written with a dot underneath (ڢ
) in the Maghribi script.
- ^ Travers Wood, Henry Craven Ord Lanchester, A Hebrew Grammar, 1913, p. 7. A. B. Davidson, Hebrew Primer and Grammar, 2000, p. 4. The meaning is doubtful. "Eye of a needle" has been suggested, and also "knot" Harvard Studies in Classical Philology vol. 45.
- ^ Isaac Taylor, History of the Alphabet: Semitic Alphabets, Part 1, 2003: "The old explanation, which has again been revived by Halévy, is that it denotes an 'ape,' the character Q being taken to represent an ape with its tail hanging down. It may also be referred to a Talmudic root which would signify an 'aperture' of some kind, as the 'eye of a needle,' ... Lenormant adopts the more usual explanation that the word means a 'knot'.
- ^ Qop may have been assigned the sound value /kʷʰ/ in early Greek; as this was allophonic with /pʰ/ in certain contexts and certain dialects, the letter qoppa continued as the letter phi. C. Brixhe, "History of the Alpbabet", in Christidēs, Arapopoulou, & Chritē, eds., 2007, A History of Ancient Greek.
- ^ Rabbi Ari Kahn. "A deeper look at the life of Sarah". aish.com. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
- ^ e.g., The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition
- ^ Kees Versteegh, The Arabic Language, pg. 131. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001. Paperback edition. ISBN 9780748614363
- ^ Al-Jallad, Ahmad (2020). A Manual of the Historical Grammar of Arabic (Draft). p. 47.
- ^ This variance has led to the confusion over the spelling of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi's name in Latin letters. In Western Arabic dialects the sound [q] is more preserved but can also be sometimes pronounced [ɡ] or as a simple [k] under Berber and French influence.
- ^ Bruce Ingham (1 January 1994). Najdi Arabic: Central Arabian. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 90-272-3801-4.
- ^ van den Boogert, N. (1989). "Some notes on Maghrebi script" (PDF). Manuscript of the Middle East. 4. p. 38 shows qāf with a superscript point in all four positions.
- ^ Gacek, Adam (2008). The Arabic Manuscript Tradition. Brill. p. 61. ISBN 90-04-16540-1.
- ^ Gacek, Adam (2009). Arabic Manuscripts: A Vademecum for Readers. Brill. p. 145. ISBN 90-04-17036-7.
- ^ Muhammad Ghoniem, M S M Saifullah, cAbd ar-Rahmân Robert Squires & cAbdus Samad, Are There Scribal Errors In The Qur'ân?, see qif on a traffic sign written ڧڢ which is written elsewhere as قف, Retrieved 2011-August-27
Last edited on 24 May 2021, at 17:42
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