Ghain, ghayn, or (ﻍ) is one of the six letters in the Arabic alphabet not in the twenty-two akin to the Phoenician alphabet (the others being , , , , ). It is the twenty second alphabet in new Persian alphabet. It represents the voiced velar fricative (/ɣ/). In name and shape, it is a variant of .

A voiced uvular fricative /ʁ/ (usually reconstructed for Proto-Semitic) merged with Ayin in most languages except for Arabic, Ugaritic and older varieties of the Canaanite languages. Canaanite languages and Hebrew later also merged it with Ayin, and this merger was complete in Tiberian Hebrew. The South Arabian alphabet retained a symbol for , .

The letter (ﻍ) is sometimes used to represent the voiced velar plosive /g/ in loan words in Arabic, such as the word for Bulgaria (بلغاريا), where in some cases in alteration with kaf ك is used as in "English". This is the mode of arabisation in dialects in which the letter gim ج is pronounced as voiced postalveolar affricate [ʤ], and in dialects where it is promounced as [ʒ], but not in those that sound it as a voiced velar plosive [ɡ] in which gim is used instead.

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

Proto-Semitic Akkadian Arabic Canaanite Hebrew Aramaic South Arabian Ge'ez
ġ - غ ġ ġ, ʻ ע ʻ ע ʻ ġ ʻ

Origins of Ghain

Ghain is believed to have come from the following hieroglyph


that depicts two twisted fibers. This coincidentally superficially resembles the IPA symbol [ɣ] upside down. [ɣ] is conventionally used for the sound of ghain.

See also

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

External links

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