The Arabic letter غ (Arabic: غَيْنْ ghayn or ġayn) is the nineteenth letter of the Arabic alphabet, one of the six letters not in the twenty-two akin to the Phoenician alphabet (the others being thāʼ, khāʼ, dhāl, ḍād, ẓāʼ), it represents the sound /ɣ/ or /ʁ/. In name and shape, it is a variant of ʻayn (ع). Its numerical value is 1000 (see Abjad numerals). In the Persian language it represents [ɣ]~[ɢ] and is the twenty-second letter in the new Persian alphabet.
|Writing system||Arabic script|
|Language of origin||Arabic language|
Numerical value: 1
A voiced velar fricative /ɣ/ or a voiced uvular fricative /ʁ/ (usually reconstructed for Proto-Semitic) merged with ʻayin in most languages except for Arabic, Ugaritic, and older varieties of the Canaanite languages. Canaanite languages and Hebrew later also merged it with ʻayin, and the merger was complete in Tiberian Hebrew. The South Arabian alphabet retained a symbol for ġ, 𐩶. Biblical Hebrew, as of the 3rd century BCE, apparently still distinguished the phonemes ġ /ʁ/ and ḫ /χ/, based on transcriptions in the Septuagint. For example, Gomorrah is represented in Hebrew as עֲמֹרָה, which sounds like ‘Ămōrāh in Modern Hebrew, but the Greek transcription of Γομορραν, Gomoras, suggests that the Hebrew lemma was then still pronounced as Ġămōrāh.
The letter ghayn (غ) is sometimes used to represent the voiced velar plosive /ɡ/ in loanwords and names in Arabic; it is then often pronounced /ɡ/, not /ɣ/. Other letters, such as ج, ق, ک/ك (also گ, ݣ, ݢ, ڨ, ڠ, instead of the original Arabic letters), can be used to transcribe /ɡ/ in loanwords and names, depending on whether the local variety of Arabic in the country has the phoneme /ɡ/, which letter represents it if it does and on whether it is customary in the country to use that letter to transcribe /ɡ/. For instance, in Egypt, where ج is pronounced as [ɡ] in all situations, even in speaking Modern Standard Arabic (except in certain contexts, such as reciting the Qur'an), ج is used to transcribe foreign [ɡ] in virtually all contexts. In many cases, غ is pronounced in loanwords as expected (/ɣ/, not /ɡ/) even though the original language had /ɡ/.
When representing the sound in transliteration of Arabic into Hebrew, it is written as ע׳.
In English, the letter غ in Arabic names is usually transliterated as ‹gh›, ‹ġ›, or simply ‹g›: بغداد Baghdād 'Baghdad', or غزة Ghazzah 'Gaza', the latter of which does not render the sound [ɣ]~[ʁ] accurately. The closest equivalent sound to be known to most English-speakers is the Parisian French "r" [ʁ].
Ghayn is written in several ways depending on its position in the word:
|Position in word:||Isolated||Final||Medial||Initial|
|Unicode name||ARABIC LETTER GHAIN||ARABIC LETTER GHAIN
|ARABIC LETTER GHAIN
|ARABIC LETTER GHAIN
|ARABIC LETTER GHAIN|
|UTF-8||216 186||D8 BA||239 187 141||EF BB 8D||239 187 142||EF BB 8E||239 187 143||EF BB 8F||239 187 144||EF BB 90|
|Numeric character reference||غ