Qoph - Wikipedia
This article is about the Semitic letter. For the band, see Qoph (band).
Qoph (Phoenician Qōp ) is the nineteenth letter of the Semitic abjads. Aramaic Qop is derived from the Phoenician letter, and derivations from Aramaic include Hebrew Qof ק‎, Syriac Qōp̄ ܩ and Arabic Qāf ق‎.
Phonemic representationq, g, ʔ, k
Position in alphabet19
Numerical value100
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician
GreekϘ (Ϟ), Φ
CyrillicҀ, Ф
This article contains special characters. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols.
Its original sound value was a West Semiticemphatic stop, presumably [] . In Hebrew gematria, it has the numerical value of 100.
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").[1] According to an older suggestion, it may also have been a picture of a monkey and its tail (the Hebrew קוף‎ means "monkey").[2]
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 (qoppa) and Φ (phi).[3]
Hebrew Qof
The Oxford Hebrew-English Dictionary transliterates the letter Qoph (קוֹף‎) as q or k; 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 or k, e.g. Cain for Hebrew Qayin, or Kenan for Qena'an (Genesis 4:1, 5:9).
Orthographic variants
Various print fonts
In modern Israeli Hebrew the letter is also calledkuf. The letter represents /k/; i.e., no distinction is made between Qof and Kaph.
However, many historical groups have made that distinction, with Qof being pronounced [q] by Iraqi Jews and other Mizrahim, or even as [ɡ] by Yemenite Jews under the influence of Yemeni Arabic.
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.[4]
Arabic qāf
The main pronunciations of written ⟨ق⟩ in Arabic dialects.
The Arabic letter ق‎ is named قافqāf. It is written in several ways depending in its position in the word:
Position in word:IsolatedFinalMedialInitial
Glyph form:
It is usually transliterated into Latin script as q, though some scholarly works use .[5]
According to Sibawayh, author of the first book on Arabic grammar, the letter is pronounced voiced (maǧhūr),[6] although some scholars argue, that Sibawayh's term maǧhūr implies lack of aspiration rather than voice.[7] As noted above, Modern Standard Arabic has the voiceless uvular plosive /q/ as its standard pronunciation of the letter, but dialectical pronunciations vary as follows:
The three main pronunciations:
Other pronunciations:
Marginal Pronunciations:
Velar gāf
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 Jīmج⟩ 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 where ⟨ج⟩ 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:
Language / DialectsPronunciation of the letters
Parts of Southern Arabia1[g][q]
Most of the Arabian Peninsula[d͡ʒ]2[g]
Modern Standard Arabic[d͡ʒ][q]
  1. Western and southern Yemen and parts of Oman.
  2. [ʒ] can be an allophone in some dialects.
The Maghribi text renders qāf and fāʼ differently than elsewhere would
Maghrebi variant
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.[11]
The Maghrebi qāf
Position in word:IsolatedFinalMedialInitial
Form of letter:ڧ
The earliest Arabic manuscripts show qāf in several variants: pointed (above or below) or unpointed.[12] 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,[13] with the exception of Libya and Algeria, where the Mashriqi form (two dots above: ق‎) prevails.
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.[14]
Character information
UTF-8215 167D7 A7217 130D9 82220 169DC A9224 160 146E0 A0 92
Numeric character referenceקקققܩܩࠒࠒ

Character information
UTF-8240 144 142 150F0 90 8E 96240 144 161 146F0 90 A1 92240 144 164 146F0 90 A4 92
UTF-1655296 57238D800 DF9655298 56402D802 DC5255298 56594D802 DD12
Numeric character reference𐎖𐎖𐡒𐡒𐤒𐤒
  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ 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'.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Rabbi Ari Kahn. "A deeper look at the life of Sarah". aish.com. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  5. ^ e.g., The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition
  6. ^ Kees Versteegh, The Arabic Language, pg. 131. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001. Paperback edition. ISBN 9780748614363
  7. ^ Al-Jallad, Ahmad (2020). A Manual of the Historical Grammar of Arabic (Draft). p. 47.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Bruce Ingham (1 January 1994). Najdi Arabic: Central Arabian. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 90-272-3801-4.
  10. ^ Lewis jr. (2013), p. 5.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Gacek, Adam (2008). The Arabic Manuscript Tradition. Brill. p. 61. ISBN 90-04-16540-1.
  13. ^ Gacek, Adam (2009). Arabic Manuscripts: A Vademecum for Readers. Brill. p. 145. ISBN 90-04-17036-7.
  14. ^ 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
External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Qoph (letter).
Last edited on 24 May 2021, at 17:42
Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0 unless otherwise noted.
Privacy policy
Terms of Use
HomeRandomNearbyLog inSettingsDonateAbout WikipediaDisclaimers