Hamza

Hamza

Hamza (Arabic: هَمْزَة hamzah) (ء‎) is a letter in the Arabic alphabet, representing the glottal stop [ʔ]. Hamza is not one of the 28 "full" letters and owes its existence to historical reform of standard writing system. It is derived from the Arabic letter ʿAyn (ع‎[citation needed] ). In the Phoenician, Hebrew and Aramaic alphabets, from which the Arabic alphabet is descended, the glottal stop was expressed by alif (𐤀), continued by Alif (ا) in the Arabic alphabet. However, Alif was used to express both a glottal stop and a long vowel /aː/. In order to indicate that a glottal stop is used, and not a mere vowel, it was added to Alif diacritically. In modern orthography, hamza may also appear on the line, under certain circumstances as though it were a full letter, independent of an Alif. Hamza is derived from the verb hamaza (هَمَزَ‎) meaning 'to prick, goad, drive' or 'to provide (a letter or word) with hamzah'.[1][citation needed] The letter hamza (ء‎) on its own is hamzat al-qaṭ‘ (هَمْزَة الْقَطْع‎, "the hamzah which breaks, ceases or halts", i.e. the broken, cessation, halting"), otherwise referred to as qaṭ‘at (قَطْعَة‎), that is, a phonemic glottal stop unlike the hamzat al-waṣl (هَمْزَة الوَصْل‎, "the hamzah which attaches, connects or joins", i.e. the attachment, connection, joining"), a non-phonemic glottal stop produced automatically only if at the beginning of an utterance, otherwise assimilated. Although the hamzat al-waṣl can be written as an alif carrying a waṣlah sign ٱ‎ (only in the Quran), it is normally indicated by a plain alif without a hamza.[2]