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An abjad (pronounced /ˈæbdʒɑːd/[1] or /ˈæbdʒæd/)[2] is a type of writing system where each symbol or glyph stands for a consonant, leaving the reader to supply the appropriate vowel. The name abjad is based on the old Arabic
Arabic
alphabet's first four letters – a, b, j, d – to replace the common terms "consonantary", "consonantal alphabet" or "syllabary" to refer to the family of scripts called West Semitic.

Contents

1 Etymology 2 Terminology 3 Origins 4 Impure abjads

4.1 Addition of vowels

5 Abjads and the structure of Semitic languages 6 Comparative chart of Abjads, extinct and extant 7 See also 8 References 9 Sources

Etymology[edit] The name "abjad" (abjad أبجد) is derived from pronouncing the first letters of the Arabic
Arabic
alphabet in order. The ordering (abjadī) of Arabic
Arabic
letters used to match that of the older Hebrew, Phoenician and Semitic alphabets: ʾ (aleph) - b - g - d. Terminology[edit] According to the formulations of Daniels,[3] abjads differ from alphabets in that only consonants, not vowels, are represented among the basic graphemes. Abjads differ from abugidas, another category defined by Daniels, in that in abjads, the vowel sound is implied by phonology, and where vowel marks exist for the system, such as nikkud for Hebrew
Hebrew
and ḥarakāt for Arabic, their use is optional and not the dominant (or literate) form. Abugidas mark the vowels (other than the "inherent" vowel) with a diacritic, a minor attachment to the letter, or a standalone glyph. Some abugidas use a special symbol to suppress the inherent vowel so that the consonant alone can be properly represented. In a syllabary, a grapheme denotes a complete syllable, that is, either a lone vowel sound or a combination of a vowel sound with one or more consonant sounds. The antagonism of abjad versus alphabet, as it was formulated by Daniels, has been rejected by other scholars because abjad is also used as a term not only for the Arabic
Arabic
numeral system but, which is most important in terms of historical grammatology, also as term for the alphabetic device (i.e. letter order) of ancient Northwest Semitic scripts in opposition to the 'south Arabian' order. This caused fatal effects on terminology in general and especially in (ancient) Semitic philology. Also, it suggests that consonantal alphabets, in opposition to, for instance, the Greek alphabet, were not yet true alphabets and not yet entirely complete, lacking something important to be a fully working script system. It has also been objected that, as a set of letters, an alphabet is not the mirror of what should be there in a language from a phonological point of view; rather, it is the data stock of what provides maximum efficiency with least effort from a semantic point of view.[4] Origins[edit]

A specimen of Proto-Sinaitic
Proto-Sinaitic
script containing a phrase which may mean 'to Baalat'. The line running from the upper left to lower right reads mt l bclt.

See also: History of the alphabet
History of the alphabet
§ Descendants of the Aramaic abjad The first abjad to gain widespread usage was the Phoenician abjad. Unlike other contemporary scripts, such as cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs, the Phoenician script consisted of only a few dozen symbols. This made the script easy to learn, and seafaring Phoenician merchants took the script wherever they went. The Phoenician abjad was a radical simplification of phonetic writing, since hieroglyphics required the writer to pick a hieroglyph starting with the same sound that the writer wanted to write in order to write phonetically, much as man'yougana (Chinese characters, or kanji, used solely for phonetic use) was used to represent Japanese phonetically before the invention of kana. Phoenician gave rise to a number of new writing systems, including the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
and Aramaic, a widely used abjad. The Greek alphabet evolved into the modern western alphabets, such as Latin and Cyrillic, while Aramaic became the ancestor of many modern abjads and abugidas of Asia. Impure abjads[edit]

Al-ʻArabiyya, meaning "Arabic": an example of the Arabic
Arabic
script, which is an impure abjad.

Impure abjads have characters for some vowels, optional vowel diacritics, or both. The term pure abjad refers to scripts entirely lacking in vowel indicators.[5] However, most modern abjads, such as Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic and Pahlavi, are "impure" abjads – that is, they also contain symbols for some of the vowel phonemes, although the said non-diacritic vowel letters are also used to write certain consonants, particularly approximants that sound similar to long vowels. A "pure" abjad is exemplified (perhaps) by very early forms of ancient Phoenician, though at some point (at least by the 9th century BC) it and most of the contemporary Semitic abjads had begun to overload a few of the consonant symbols with a secondary function as vowel markers, called matres lectionis.[6] This practice was at first rare and limited in scope but became increasingly common and more developed in later times. Addition of vowels[edit] Main article: Greek alphabet In the 9th century BC the Greeks adapted the Phoenician script for use in their own language. The phonetic structure of the Greek language created too many ambiguities when the vowels went unrepresented, so the script was modified. They did not need letters for the guttural sounds represented by aleph, he, heth or ayin, so these symbols were assigned vocalic values. The letters waw and yod were also adapted into vowel signs; along with he, these were already used as matres lectionis in Phoenician. The major innovation of Greek was to dedicate these symbols exclusively and unambiguously to vowel sounds that could be combined arbitrarily with consonants (as opposed to syllabaries such as Linear B
Linear B
which usually have vowel symbols but cannot combine them with consonants to form arbitrary syllables). Abugidas developed along a slightly different route. The basic consonantal symbol was considered to have an inherent "a" vowel sound. Hooks or short lines attached to various parts of the basic letter modify the vowel. In this way, the South Arabian alphabet
South Arabian alphabet
evolved into the Ge'ez alphabet
Ge'ez alphabet
between the 5th century BC and the 5th century AD. Similarly, around the 3rd century BC, the Brāhmī script
Brāhmī script
developed (from the Aramaic abjad, it has been hypothesized). The other major family of abugidas, Canadian Aboriginal syllabics, was initially developed in the 1840s by missionary and linguist James Evans for the Cree and Ojibwe languages. Evans used features of Devanagari script
Devanagari script
and Pitman shorthand
Pitman shorthand
to create his initial abugida. Later in the 19th century, other missionaries adapted Evans' system to other Canadian aboriginal languages. Canadian syllabics differ from other abugidas in that the vowel is indicated by rotation of the consonantal symbol, with each vowel having a consistent orientation. Abjads and the structure of Semitic languages[edit] The abjad form of writing is well-adapted to the morphological structure of the Semitic languages it was developed to write. This is because words in Semitic languages are formed from a root consisting of (usually) three consonants, the vowels being used to indicate inflectional or derived forms. For instance, according to Classical Arabic
Arabic
and Modern Standard Arabic, from the Arabic
Arabic
root ذ ب ح Dh-B-Ḥ (to slaughter) can be derived the forms ذَبَحَ dhabaḥa (he slaughtered), ذَبَحْتَ dhabaḥta (you (masculine singular) slaughtered), يُذَبِّحُ yudhabbiḥu (he slaughters), and مَذْبَح madhbaḥ (slaughterhouse). In most cases, the absence of full glyphs for vowels makes the common root clearer, allowing readers to guess the meaning of unfamiliar words from familiar roots (especially in conjunction with context clues) and improving word recognition[citation needed][dubious – discuss] while reading for practiced readers. Comparative chart of Abjads, extinct and extant[edit]

Name In use Cursive Direction # of letters Area of origin Used by Languages Time period (age) Influenced by Writing systems influenced

Syriac yes yes right-left 22 consonants Middle-East Church of the East, Syrian Church Aramaic, Syriac, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic ~ 100 BC[7] Aramaic Nabatean, Palmyran, Mandaic, Parthian, Pahlavi, Sogdian, Avestan and Manichean[7]

Hebrew yes only in modern Hebrew right-left 22 consonants + 5 final letters Middle-East Israelis, Some Jewish diaspora
Jewish diaspora
communities, Ancient Hebrew
Hebrew
Tribes Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Aramaic, Yiddish, Ladino > 1100 BC[citation needed] Proto-Hebrew, Early Aramaic

Arabic yes yes right-left 28 Middle-East and North Africa Over 400 million people Arabic, Bosnian, Kashmiri, Malay, Persian, Pashto, Balochi, Turkish, Urdu, others[7] ~ AD 500[7] Nabataean Aramaic

Aramaic (Imperial) no no right-left 22 Middle-East Archaemenid, Persian, Babylonian, and Assyrian empires Imperial Aramaic, Hebrew ~ 500 BC[7] Phoenician Late Hebrew, Nabataean, Syriac

Aramaic (Early) no no right-left 22 Middle-East Various Semitic Peoples

~ 1000-900 BC Phoenician Hebrew, Imperial Aramaic.[7]

Libyc (Ancient Berber) yes no top-bottom, right-left[7] 22 (right-left) 25 (up-down)[8] North Africa[8] Women in Tuareg Society[8] Tifinagh[8] 600 BC Maybe Punic[8] Tifinagh[8]

Nabataean no no right-left 22 Middle-East Nabataean Kingdom[8] Nabataean 200 BC[8] Aramaic Arabic

Middle Persian, (Pahlavi) no no right-left 22 Middle-East Sassanian Empire Pahlavi, Middle Persian

Aramaic Psalter, Avestan[7]

Mandaic no yes right-left 24 Iraq, Iran Ahvāz, Iran Mandaic ~ AD 200 Aramaic Neo-Mandaic

Psalter Pahlavi no yes right-left 21 Northwestern China [7] Persian Script for Paper Writing[7]

~ AD 400[9] Syriac[citation needed]

Phoenician no no right-left, Boustrophedon 22 Byblos[7] Canaanites Phoenician, Punic ~ 1000-1500 BC[7] Proto-Canaanite Alphabet[7] Punic (variant), Greek, Etruscan, Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew

Parthian no no right-left 22 Parthia (modern-day equivalent of Northeastern Iran)[7] Parthian & Sassanian periods of Persian Empire[7] Parthian ~ 200 BC[7] Aramaic

Sabaean no no system right-left, boustrophedon 29 Southern Arabia (Sheba) Southern Arabians Sabaean ~ 500 BC[7] Byblos[7] Ethiopic (Eritrea & Ethiopia)[7]

Punic no no right-left 22 Carthage (Tunisia), North Africa, Mediterranean[7] Punic Culture Punic, Neo-Punic

Phoenician[citation needed]

Proto-Sinaitic, Proto-Canaanite no no left-right 30 Egypt, Sinai, Canaan Canaanites Canaanite ~ 1900-1700 BC In conjunction with Egyptian Hieroglyphs[citation needed] Phoenician, Hebrew

Ugaritic no yes left-right 30 Ugarit (modern-day Northern Syria) Ugarites Ugaritic, Hurrian ~ 1400 BC[7] Proto-Sinaitic

South Arabian no yes (Zabūr - cursive form of the South Arabian script) Boustrophedon 29 South-Arabia (Yemen) D'mt Kingdom Amharic, Tigrinya, Tigre, Semitic, Chushitic, Nilo-Saharan[citation needed] 900 BC[citation needed] Proto-Sinaitic Ge'ez ((Ethiopia)(Eritrea))

Sogdian no no (yes in later versions) right-left, left-right(vertical) 20 parts of China (Xinjiang), Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan Buddhists, Manichaens Sogdian ~ AD 400 Syriac Old Uyghur alphabet, Yaqnabi (Tajikistan dialect) [7]

Samaritan yes (700 people) no right-left 22 Mesopotamia or Levant (Disputed) Samaritans (Nablus and Holon) Samaritan Aramaic, Samaritan Hebrew ~ 100-0 BC Paleo- Hebrew
Hebrew
Alphabet

See also[edit]

Abjad
Abjad
numerals Abugida Gematria ( Hebrew
Hebrew
system of mystical numerology) Numerology Shorthand
Shorthand
(constructed writing systems that are structurally abjads)

References[edit]

^ http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/abjad ^ "abjad". Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
(3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.) ^ Daniels & Bright 1996. ^ Lehmann 2011. ^ Daniels 2013. ^ Lipiński 1994. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Ager 2015. ^ a b c d e f g h Lo 2012. ^ Encyclopædia Iranica

Sources[edit]

Ager, Simon (2015). "Abjads / Consonant
Consonant
alphabets". 

Daniels, Peter T. (2013). "The Arabic
Arabic
Writing system". In Owens, Jonathan. The Oxford Handbook of Arabic
Arabic
Linguistics. Oxford University Press. p. 415.  Daniels, Peter T. & Bright, William, eds. (1996). The World's Writing Systems. OUP. p. 4. ISBN 978-0195079937. 

Lehmann, Reinhard G. (2011). "Ch 2 27-30-22-26. How Many Letters Needs an Alphabet? The Case of Semitic". In de Voogt, Alex & Quack, Joachim Friedrich. The idea of writing: Writing across borders. Leiden: Brill. pp. 11–52. ISBN 978-9004215450. 

Lipiński, Edward (1994). Studies in Aramaic Inscriptions and Onomastics II. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters Publishers. pp. 29–30. ISBN 9068316109.  Lo, Lawrence (2012). "Berber". 

Wright, W. (1967). A Grammar of the Arabic
Arabic
Language [transl. from the German of Caspari]. 1 (3rd ed.). CUP. p. 28. ISBN 978-0521094559. 

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Numerals

Aramaic

Hatran

Arabic Pitman shorthand Hebrew

Ashuri Cursive Rashi Solitreo

Tifinagh Manichaean Nabataean Old North Arabian Pahlavi Pegon Phoenician

Paleo-Hebrew

Proto-Sinaitic Psalter Punic Samaritan South Arabian

Zabur Musnad

Sogdian Syriac

ʾEsṭrangēlā Serṭā Maḏnḥāyā

Teeline Shorthand Ugaritic

Abugidas

Brahmic

Northern

Asamiya (Ôxômiya) Bānglā Bhaikshuki Bhujinmol Brāhmī Devanāgarī Dogri Gujarati Gupta Gurmukhī Kaithi Kalinga Khojki Khotanese Khudawadi Laṇḍā Lepcha Limbu Mahajani Meitei Mayek Modi Multani Nāgarī Nandinagari Odia 'Phags-pa Newar Ranjana Sharada Saurashtra Siddhaṃ Soyombo Sylheti Nagari Takri Tibetan

Uchen Umê

Tirhuta Tocharian Zanabazar Square Zhang-Zhung

Drusha Marchen Marchung Pungs-chen Pungs-chung

Southern

Ahom Balinese Batak Baybayin Bhattiprolu Buhid Burmese Chakma Cham Grantha Goykanadi Hanunó'o Javanese Kadamba Kannada Karen Kawi Khmer Kulitan Lanna Lao Leke Lontara Malayalam Maldivian

Dhives Akuru Eveyla Akuru Thaana

Mon Old Makassarese Old Sundanese Pallava Pyu Rejang Rencong Sinhala Sundanese Tagbanwa Tai Le Tai Tham Tai Viet Tamil Telugu Thai Tigalari Vatteluttu

Kolezhuthu Malayanma

Visayan

Others

Boyd's syllabic shorthand Canadian syllabics

Blackfoot Déné syllabics

Fox I Ge'ez Gunjala Gondi Japanese Braille Jenticha Kayah Li Kharosthi Mandombe Masaram Gondi Meroitic Miao Mwangwego Sorang Sompeng Pahawh Hmong Thomas Natural Shorthand

Alphabets

Linear

Abkhaz Adlam Armenian Avestan Avoiuli Bassa Vah Borama Carian Caucasian Albanian Coorgi–Cox alphabet Coptic Cyrillic Deseret Duployan shorthand

Chinook writing

Early Cyrillic Eclectic shorthand Elbasan Etruscan Evenki Fox II Fraser Gabelsberger shorthand Garay Georgian

Asomtavruli Nuskhuri Mkhedruli

Glagolitic Gothic Gregg shorthand Greek Greco-Iberian alphabet Hangul Hanifi IPA Kaddare Latin

Beneventan Blackletter Carolingian minuscule Fraktur Gaelic Insular Kurrent Merovingian Sigla Sütterlin Tironian notes Visigothic

Luo Lycian Lydian Manchu Mandaic Medefaidrin Molodtsov Mongolian Mru Neo-Tifinagh New Tai Lue N'Ko Ogham Oirat Ol Chiki Old Hungarian Old Italic Old Permic Orkhon Old Uyghur Osage Osmanya Pau Cin Hau Runic

Anglo-Saxon Cipher Dalecarlian Elder Futhark Younger Futhark Gothic Marcomannic Medieval Staveless

Sidetic Shavian Somali Tifinagh Vagindra Visible Speech Vithkuqi Wancho Zaghawa

Non-linear

Braille Maritime flags Morse code New York Point Semaphore line Flag semaphore Moon type

Ideograms/Pictograms

Adinkra Aztec Blissymbol Dongba Ersu Shaba Emoji IConji Isotype Kaidā Míkmaq Mixtec New Epoch Notation Painting Nsibidi Ojibwe Hieroglyphs Siglas poveiras Testerian Yerkish Zapotec

Logograms

Chinese family of scripts

Chinese Characters

Simplified Traditional Oracle bone script Bronze Script Seal Script

large small bird-worm

Hanja Idu Kanji Chữ nôm Zhuang

Chinese-influenced

Jurchen Khitan large script Sui Tangut

Cuneiform

Akkadian Assyrian Elamite Hittite Luwian Sumerian

Other logo-syllabic

Anatolian Bagam Cretan Isthmian Maya Proto-Elamite Yi (Classical)

Logo-consonantal

Demotic Hieratic Hieroglyphs

Numerals

Hindu-Arabic Abjad Attic (Greek) Muisca Roman

Semi-syllabaries

Full

Celtiberian Northeastern Iberian Southeastern Iberian Khom

Redundant

Espanca Pahawh Hmong Khitan small script Southwest Paleohispanic Zhuyin fuhao

Somacheirograms

ASLwrite SignWriting si5s Stokoe Notation

Syllabaries

Afaka Bamum Bété Byblos Cherokee Cypriot Cypro-Minoan Ditema tsa Dinoko Eskayan Geba Great Lakes Algonquian syllabics Iban Japanese

Hiragana Katakana Man'yōgana Hentaigana Sogana Jindai moji

Kikakui Kpelle Linear B Linear Elamite Lisu Loma Nüshu Nwagu Aneke script Old Persian Cuneiform Vai Woleai Yi (Modern) Yugtun

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 ⠃⠗⠁⠊⠇⠇⠑

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Braille
Braille
scripts

French-ordered scripts (see for more)

Albanian Amharic Arabic Armenian Azerbaijani Belarusian Bharati

Devanagari
Devanagari
(Hindi  / Marathi  / Nepali) Bengali Punjabi Sinhalese Tamil Urdu etc.

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(obsolete)

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American Braille
Braille
(obsolete)

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Luxembourgish Kanji Gardner–Salinas braille codes (GS8)

Symbols in braille

Braille
Braille
music Canadian currency marks Computer Braille
Braille
Code Gardner–Salinas braille codes (GS8/GS6) International Phonetic Alphabet
Alphabet
(IPA) Nemeth braille code

Braille
Braille
technology

Braille
Braille
e-book Braille
Braille
embosser Braille
Braille
translator Braille
Braille
watch Mountbatten Brailler Optical braille recognition Perforation Perkins Brailler Refreshable braille display Slate and stylus Braigo

Persons

Louis Braille Charles Barbier Valentin Haüy Thakur Vishva Narain Singh Sabriye Tenberken William Bell Wait

Organisations

Braille
Braille
Institute of America Braille
Braille
Without Borders Japan Braille
Braille
Library National Braille
Braille
Association Blindness organizations Schools for the blind American Printing House for the Blind

Other tactile alphabets

Decapoint Moon type New York Point Night writing Vibratese

Related topics

Accessible publishing Braille
Braille
literacy RoboBraille

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Internet slang
Internet slang
dialects

3arabizi Alay (Indonesia) Denglisch Doge Fingilish (Persian) Greeklish Gyaru-moji (Japan) Jejemon (Philippines) Leet
Leet
("1337") Lolspeak / LOLspeak / Kitteh Martian language (Chinese) Miguxês (Portuguese) Padonkaffsky jargon
Padonkaffsky jargon
(Russian) Translit Volapuk

See also English internet slang (at Wiktio

.