Click to view table of contents
►II.13. ORTHOGRAPHIC IRREGULARITIES
The Arabic writing in use today has few orthographic irregularities that should be noted.
►II.13.A. THE PREFIX hā–
Arabic has a demonstrative element hȃ هَاْ which means “ecce, behold, here is/are.” This word is called the “hȃʔ of drawing attention” هَاْءُ التَّنْبِيْهِ . When this word is prefixed to certain demonstrative elements it is written without the vowel-denoting ʔalif.
|This (masc. sing.)||hā-ðȃ||هَذا|
►II.13.B. THE PREFIX ðā–
The demonstrative ðȃ ذَاْ “this” is written without the vowel-denoting ʔalif when prefixed to the far demonstrative element li–. The far demonstrative element li– is found only as a prefix. It is called the “lȃm of distance” لامُ البُعْدِ .
►II.13.C. THE DEMONSTRATIVE ʔula⋅y
The plural demonstrative ʔula⋅y أُولى “these” has an unnecessary wȃw و .
|Those of||ʔulȗ (subject case)||أُولُوْا|
|ʔulȋ (object case)||أُولِيْ|
Note that the word ʔulȃ-ʔi-ka أُولَئِكَ lacks a vowel-denoting ʔalif after the lȃm.
The wȃw in ʔula⋅y أُولى disappears when hȃ is prefixed:
۞ SIDE NOTE
It is probable that the wȃw in ʔulȃ أُولَىْ originally represented a long vowel *ʔȗlay. The length of this vowel was compensatory, because the original form of the demonstrative was probably *ʔullay (c.f. Hebrew ʔēlleh אֵלֶּה “these” < *ʔillay אִלַּי*; Biblical Aramaic ʔillēn אִלֵּן “these;” Tigre ʔəlli “this;” Assyrian allû “that;” Babylonian ullû “that”).
►II.13.D. THE CONJUNCTION lākin
The conjunction lākin لَكِنْ “but” is etymologically composed of lȃ لا “not” and *kin كِنْ “so.” The written form of lākin لَكِنْ lacks a vowel-denoting ʔalif.
►II.13.E. THE MASCULINE PLURAL ATTACHED SUBJECT PRONOUN
The masculine plural attached subject pronoun –ȗ ــُوْا has a silent vowel-denoting ʔalif. This is called the “distinguishing ʔalif” الْأَلِفُ الْفَاْرِقَةُ because (according to popular belief) it serves to distinguish the wȃw of the masculine plural attached subject pronoun from other wȃw’s at the end of words.
In modern Arabic the “distinguishing ʔalif” is added only to verbs. However, in the Qurʔȃn it is added also to construct nominative masculine sound plural substantives (e.g. banȗ بَنُوْا “sons [of]”). The ligature ــوا appears irregularly in the word ʔ·ar-ribȃ الْرِّبَوا “usury.”
In my opinion, it is possible that the ligature ــوا originally represented the sound –o < –aw (for more information see the side note in §II.21.A.h.γ.).
►II.13.H. THE PERSONAL NAME ʕAmruṋ
The male personal name ʕAmruṋ عَمْرٌو has a silent wȃw. It is said that this wȃw served to distinguish this name from the similarly-looking name ʕUmaru عُمَرُ .
►II.13.I. THE PERSONAL NAME Dȃwūdu
The male personal name Dȃwūdu دَاْوُدُ “David” lacks a vowel-denoting wȃw. An old linguistic joke says that ʕAmruṋ عَمْرٌو stole the wȃw from Dȃwūdu دَاْوُدُ .