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The Arabic letter غ (Arabic: غينghayn 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.

Ghayn
غ
Usage
Writing systemArabic script
TypeAbjad
Language of originArabic language
Alphabetical position4
History
Development
  • غ
Other

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 this 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. (example: Gomorrah is represented in Hebrew as עֲמֹרָה, which sounds like ‘Ămōrāh in Modern Hebrew; however, the Greek transcription of Γομορραν, Gomoras, suggests that at this point in time the Hebrew lemma was still pronounced as Ġămōrāh)

The letter ghayn (غ) is sometimes used to represent the voiced velar plosive /ɡ/ in loan words and names in Arabic and 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 loan words 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 when 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 loan words as expected—/ɣ/, not /ɡ/—even though the original language had /ɡ/.

When representing this 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›, e.g. بغداد Baghdād 'Baghdad', or غزة Ghazzah 'Gaza', the latter of which does not render the sound [ɣ]~[ʁ] accurately. The closest equivalent sound known to most English speakers is the Parisian French "r" [ʁ].

Ghayn is written is several ways depending in its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
(Help)
غ ـغ ـغـ غـ
Proto-Semitic Akkadian Arabic Canaanite Hebrew Aramaic South Arabian Geʻez
ġ - غ gh Phoenician ayin.png ġ, ʻ ע ʻ ע ʻ Himjar ghajn.PNG ġ ʻ

Character encodingsEdit

Character غ
Unicode name ARABIC LETTER GHAIN ARABIC LETTER GHAIN
ISOLATED FORM
ARABIC LETTER GHAIN
FINAL FORM
ARABIC LETTER GHAIN
INITIAL FORM
ARABIC LETTER GHAIN
MEDIAL FORM
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 1594 U+063A 65229 U+FECD 65230 U+FECE 65231 U+FECF 65232 U+FED0
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 غ ﻍ ﻍ ﻎ ﻎ ﻏ ﻏ ﻐ ﻐ

See alsoEdit

  • Arabic phonology
  • Ghayn, the corresponding letter in the Cyrillic orthographies for several Central Asian languages