Arabic script

For the Arabic script as used to write the Arabic language, see Arabic alphabet.
Impure Abjad (Abugida or True Alphabet in some adaptations)
Languages See below
Time period
400 AD to the present
Parent systems
Child systems
inspired the N'Ko alphabet
Direction Right-to-left
ISO 15924 Arab, 160
Unicode alias

The Arabic script is a writing system used for writing several languages of Asia and Africa, such as Arabic, dialects of Mandinka, Central Kurdish, Luri, Persian, Urdu, Pashto, and others.[1] Until the 16th century, it was even used to write some texts in Spanish.[2] It is the second-most widely used writing system in the world by the number of countries using it and the third by the number of users, after Latin and Chinese characters.[3]

The Arabic script is written from right to left in a cursive style. In most cases the letters transcribe consonants, or consonants and a few vowels, so most Arabic alphabets are abjads.

The script was first used to write texts in Arabic, most notably the Qurʼān, the holy book of Islam. With the spread of Islam, it came to be used to write languages of many language families, leading to the addition of new letters and other symbols, with some versions, such as Kurdish, Uyghur, and old Bosnian being abugidas or true alphabets. It is also the basis for the tradition of Arabic calligraphy.

Languages written with the Arabic script

Basic Arabic alphabet
Wikipedia in Arabic script of five languages
Worldwide use of the Arabic script
Countries where the Arabic script:
   is the only official script
   is the only official script, but other scripts are recognized for national or regional languages
   is official alongside other scripts
   is official at a sub-national level (China, India) or is a recognized alternative script (Malaysia)

The Arabic script has been adopted for use in a wide variety of languages besides Arabic, including Persian, Malay and Urdu which are not Semitic. Such adaptations may feature altered or new characters to represent phonemes that do not appear in Arabic phonology. For example, the Arabic language lacks a voiceless bilabial plosive (the [p] sound), so many languages add their own letter to represent [p] in the script, though the specific letter used varies from language to language. These modifications tend to fall into groups: all the Indian and Turkic languages written in the Arabic script tend to use the Persian modified letters, whereas the languages of Indonesia tend to imitate those of Jawi. The modified version of the Arabic script originally devised for use with Persian is known as the Perso-Arabic script by scholars.

In the cases of Bosnian, Kurdish, Kashmiri, and Uyghur writing systems, vowels are mandatory. The Arabic script can therefore be used in both abugida and abjad, although it is often strongly, erroneously connected to the latter.

Use of the Arabic script in West African languages, especially in the Sahel, developed with the spread of Islam. To a certain degree the style and usage tends to follow those of the Maghreb (for instance the position of the dots in the letters fāʼ and qāf). Additional diacritics have come into use to facilitate writing of sounds not represented in the Arabic language. The term ʻAjamī, which comes from the Arabic root for "foreign," has been applied to Arabic-based orthographies of African languages.

Languages currently written with the Arabic alphabet

Today Afghanistan, Iran, India, Pakistan and China are the main non-Arabic speaking states using the Arabic alphabet to write one or more official national languages, including Baluchi, Brahui, Persian, Pashto, Central Kurdish, Urdu, Sindhi, Kashmiri, Punjabi and Uyghur.

An Arabic alphabet is currently used for the following languages:

Middle East and Central Asia

East Asia

South Asia

Southeast Asia


Languages formerly written with the Arabic alphabet

Speakers of languages that were previously unwritten used Arabic script as a basis to design writing systems for their mother languages. This choice could be influenced by Arabic being their second language, the language of scripture of their faith, or the only written language they came in contact with. Additionally, since most education was once religious, choice of script was determined by the writer's religion; which meant that Muslims would use Arabic script to write whatever language they spoke. This led to Arabic script being the most widely used script during the Middle Ages.

In the 20th century, the Arabic script was generally replaced by the Latin alphabet in the Balkans, parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia, while in the Soviet Union, after a brief period of Latinisation,[32] use of Cyrillic was mandated. Turkey changed to the Latin alphabet in 1928 as part of an internal Westernizing revolution. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many of the Turkic languages of the ex-USSR attempted to follow Turkey's lead and convert to a Turkish-style Latin alphabet. However, renewed use of the Arabic alphabet has occurred to a limited extent in Tajikistan, whose language's close resemblance to Persian allows direct use of publications from Iran.[33]

Most languages of the Iranian languages family continue to use Arabic script, as well as the Indo-Aryan languages of Pakistan and of Muslim populations in India, but the Bengali language of Bangladesh is written in the Bengali alphabet.



Central Asia and Caucasus

Southeast Asia

Middle East

Special letters

Most Common Non-Classical Arabic Consonant Phonemes/Graphemes
Language Family Austron. Dravid Turkic Indic (Indo-European) Iranian (Indo-European) Arabic (Semitic)
Language/Script Jawi Arwi Uyghur Sindhi Punjabi Urdu Persian Balochi Kurdish Pashto Iraqi Khaleeji Hejazi Egyptian Algerian Tunisian Moroccan
/p/ ڤ ڣ پ پ
/g/ ݢ گ ګ گ[37] ق ج ڨ ڭ
/t͡ʃ/ چ Ø چ چ تش ڜ
/ʒ/ Ø ژ Ø ژ Ø چ Ø ج
/v/ ۏ و ۋ و Ø ڤ Ø ڤ ڥ
/ŋ/ ڠ ڭ ڱ ں ن Ø Ø
/ɳ/ Ø ڹ Ø ڻ Ø ڼ Ø
/ɲ/ ڽ ݧ Ø Ø Ø
Writing systems
Alphabet #Chars Languages Region Derived from Comment
Arabic alphabet 28 Arabic North Africa, West Asia Aramaic alphabet, Syriac alphabet, Nabataean alphabet
Ajami script 33 Hausa language, Swahili West Africa Arabic Abjad
Arebica 30 Bosnian Southeastern Europe Perso-Arabic latest stage with full vowel marking
Arwi alphabet 41 Tamil Southern India, Sri Lanka Perso-Arabic
Belarusian Arabic alphabet 32 Belarusian Eastern Europe Perso-Arabic 15th/16th century
Berber Arabic alphabet(s) various Berber languages North Africa Arabic
Chagatai alphabet(s) 32 Chagatai Central Asia Perso-Arabic
Galal alphabet 32 Somali Horn of Africa Arabic
Jawi script 40 Malay and others Malaysia Perso-Arabic
Kashmiri alphabet 44 Kashmiri South Asia Perso-Arabic
Kazakh Arabic alphabet 35 Kazakh Central Asia, China Perso-Arabic/Chagatai since 11th century, now official only in China
Khowar alphabet 60 Khowar South Asia Perso-Arabic
Kyrgyz Arabic alphabet 33 Kyrgyz Perso-Arabic now official only in China
Nasta'liq script Urdu and others Perso-Arabic
Pashto alphabet 45 Pashto Afghanistan and Pakistan Perso-Arabic
Pegon alphabet 35 Javanese, Sundanese Indonesia Perso-Arabic
Persian alphabet 32 Persian Iran Arabic
Saraiki alphabet 45 Saraiki Pakistan Perso-Arabic
Shahmukhi script 37 Punjabi Pakistan Perso-Arabic
Sindhi alphabet 64 Sindhi Pakistan Perso-Arabic
Sorabe alphabet 33 Malagasy Madagascar Arabic
Soranî alphabet 33 Central Kurdish Perso-Arabic Vowels are mandatory, i.e. abugida
İske imlâ alphabet 35 Tatar Perso-Arabic/Chagatai before 1920
Ottoman Turkish alphabet 32 Ottoman Turkish Ottoman Empire Perso-Arabic Official until 1928
Urdu alphabet 58 Urdu South Asia Perso-Arabic
Uyghur Arabic alphabet 32 Uyghur China, Central Asia Perso-Arabic/Chagatai Vowels are mandatory, i.e. abugida
Wolofal script 28 Wolof West Africa Arabic
Xiao'erjing 36 Sinitic languages China, Central Asia Perso-Arabic
Yaña imlâ alphabet 29 Tatar Perso-Arabic/Chagatai 1920–1927


As of Unicode 9.0, the following ranges encode Arabic characters:

See also


  1. Mahinnaz Mirdehghan. 2010. Persian, Urdu, and Pashto: A comparative orthographic analysis. Writing Systems Research Vol. 2, No. 1, 9–23.
  2. "Exposición Virtual. Biblioteca Nacional de España". Retrieved 2012-04-06.
  3. "Arabic Alphabet". Encyclopaedia Britannica online. Archived from the original on 26 April 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-16.
  4. "Sayad Zahoor Shah Hashmii".
  5. Language Protection Academy
  6. "Dictionary of the Bakhtiari dialect of Chahar-lang".
  7. Bakhtiari Language Video
  8. "Ethnologue". Ethnologue.
  9. "Pakistan should mind all of its languages!".
  10. "Ethnologue". Ethnologue.
  11. "Ethnologue". Ethnologue.
  12. Khadim. "Balti to English".
  13. "The Bible in Brahui". Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  15. "ScriptSource".
  16. "Rohingya Language Book A-Z". Scribd.
  17. "written with Arabic script".
  18. urangCam. "Bông Sứ".
  19. Zribi, I., Boujelbane, R., Masmoudi, A., Ellouze, M., Belguith, L., & Habash, N. (2014). A Conventional Orthography for Tunisian Arabic. In Proceedings of the Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC), Reykjavík, Iceland.
  20. Brustad, K. (2000). The syntax of spoken Arabic: A comparative study of Moroccan, Egyptian, Syrian, and Kuwaiti dialects. Georgetown University Press.
  21. "The Coptic Studies' Corner".
  22. "--The Cradle of Nubian Civilisation--".
  23. language lessons
  24. "ScriptSource".
  25. "ScriptSource".
  26. "Lost Language — Bostonia Summer 2009".
  27. "ScriptSource".
  28. "ScriptSource".
  29. Ibn Sayyid manuscript
  30. Muhammad Arabic letter
  31. "Charno Letter". Muslims In America. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  32. Alphabet Transitions – The Latin Script: A New Chronology – Symbol of a New Azerbaijan, by Tamam Bayatly
  33. Tajik Language: Farsi or Not Farsi? Archived June 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. by Sukhail Siddikzoda, reporter, Tajikistan.
  34. Archived December 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  35. p. 20, Samuel Noel Kramer. 1986. In the World of Sumer: An Autobiography. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.
  36. J. Blau. 2000. Hebrew written in Arabic characters: An instance of radical change in tradition. (In Hebrew, with English summary). In Heritage and Innovation in Judaeo-Arabic Culture: Proceedings of the Sixth Conference of the Society For Judaeo-Arabic Studies, p. 27-31. Ramat Gan.
  37. For Khaleeji: page 67

External links

Media related to Arabic script at Wikimedia Commons

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/19/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.