| Kaph |
|Position in alphabet||
|Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician|
Kaf (also spelled kaph) is the eleventh letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Kāp , Hebrew Kāf כ, Aramaic Kāp , Syriac Kāp̄ ܟܟ, and Arabic Kāf ک/ك (in Abjadi order).
The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek kappa (Κ), Latin K, and Cyrillic К.
Origin of kaph
Kaph is thought to have been derived from a pictogram of a hand (in both modern Arabic and modern Hebrew, kaph means palm/grip).
The letter is named kāf, and it is written in several ways depending on its position in the word.
There are three variants of the letter:
- the basic form is used for the Arabic language and many other languages:
|Position in word:
- the cross-barred form, al-kāf al-mashkūlah/al-mashqūqah, is used predominantly as an alternative form of the version above in all forms of Arabic (excluding Modern Standard Arabic) and in the languages that use the Perso-Arabic script.
|Position in word:
- the long s-shaped variant form, al-kāf al-mabsūṭah, which is only used in Arabic texts and for writing Qur'an. It is used consistently in the Sindhi language for unaspirated /k/:
|Position in word:
In varieties of Arabic kāf is almost universally pronounced as the voiceless velar plosive /k/, but in rural Palestinian and Iraqi, it is pronounced as a voiceless postalveolar affricate [t͡ʃ].
In Moroccan Arabic it's pronounced as k, g or ch.
Use in literary Arabic
In literary Arabic, kāf is used as a prefix meaning "like", "as", or "as though". For example, كَطَائِر (/katˤaːʔir/), meaning "like a bird" or "as though a bird" (as in Hebrew, above). The prefix كَـ ka is one of the Arabic words for "like" or "as" (the other, مِثْل /miθl/, is unrelated). The /ka/ prefix sometimes has been added to other words to create fixed constructions. For instance, it is prefixed to ﺫَلِك /ðaːlik/ "this, that" to form the fixed word كَذَلِك /kaðaːlik/ "like so, likewise."
kāf is used as a possessive suffix for second-person singular nouns (feminine taking kāf-kasrah كِ, /ki/ and masculine kāf-fatḥah كَ /ka/); for instance, كِتَاب kitāb ("book") becomes كِتَابُكَ kitābuka ("your book", where the person spoken to is masculine) كِتَابُكِ kitābuki ("your book", where the person spoken to is feminine). At the ends of sentences and often in conversation the final vowel is suppressed, and thus كِتَابُك kitābuk ("your book"). In several varieties of vernacular Arabic, however, the kāf with no harakat is the standard second-person possessive, with the literary Arabic harakah shifted to the letter before the kāf: thus masculine "your book" in these varieties is كِتَابَك kitābak and feminine "your book" كِتَابِك kitābik.
Hebrew spelling: כָּף
The letter kaf is one of the six letters which can receive a dagesh kal. The other five are bet, gimel, daleth, pe, and tav (see Hebrew Alphabet for more about these letters).
There are two orthographic variants of this letter which alter the pronunciation:
Kaph with the dagesh
When the kaph has a "dot" in its center, known as a dagesh, it represents a voiceless velar plosive ([k]). There are various rules in Hebrew grammar that stipulate when and why a dagesh is used.
Kaph without the dagesh (chaph)
When this letter appears as כ without the dagesh ("dot") in its center it represents [χ], like the ch in German "Bach".
In modern Israeli Hebrew the letter heth is often pronounced as a [χ], but many communities have differentiated between these letters as in other Semitic languages.
Final form of kaf
If the letter is at the end of a word the symbol is drawn differently. However, it does not change the pronunciation or transliteration in any way. The name for the letter is final kaf (Kaf Sofit). Four additional Hebrew letters take final forms: tsadi, mem, nun, and pei. Kaf/khaf is the only Hebrew letter that can take a vowel in its word-final form which is pronounced after the consonant, that vowel being the qamatz.
|| Alternate Name
| Final Kaf
|| Kaf Sofit
|| ךּ |
| Final Chaf
|| Chaf Sofit
|| ך |
Significance of kaph in Hebrew
In gematria, kaph represents the number 20. Its final form represents 500, but this is rarely used, tav and qoph (400+100) being used instead.
As a prefix, kaph is a preposition:
- It can mean "like" or "as", as in literary Arabic (see below).
- In colloquial Hebrew, kaph and shin together have the meaning of "when". This is a contraction of כאשר, ka'asher (when).
| Character || כ || ך || ك || ک || ܟ |
| Unicode name || HEBREW LETTER KAF || HEBREW LETTER FINAL KAF || ARABIC LETTER KAF/CAF || ARABIC LETTER KEHEH || SYRIAC LETTER KAPH|
| Encodings || decimal || hex || decimal || hex || decimal || hex || decimal || hex || decimal || hex |
| Unicode || 1499 || U+05DB || 1498 || U+05DA || 1603 || U+0643 || 1705 || U+06A9 || 1823 || U+071F |
| UTF-8 || 215 155 || D7 9B || 215 154 || D7 9A || 217 131 || D9 83 || 218 169 || DA A9 || 220 159 || DC 9F |
| Numeric character reference || כ || כ || ך || ך || ك || ك || ک || ک || ܟ || ܟ |
| Character || ࠊ || 𐎋 || 𐡊 || 𐤊 |
| Unicode name || SAMARITAN LETTER KAAF || UGARITIC LETTER KAF || IMPERIAL ARAMAIC LETTER KAPH || PHOENICIAN LETTER KAF|
| Encodings || decimal || hex || decimal || hex || decimal || hex || decimal || hex |
| Unicode || 2058 || U+080A || 66443 || U+1038B || 67658 || U+1084A || 67850 || U+1090A |
| UTF-8 || 224 160 138 || E0 A0 8A || 240 144 142 139 || F0 90 8E 8B || 240 144 161 138 || F0 90 A1 8A || 240 144 164 138 || F0 90 A4 8A |
| UTF-16|| 2058 || 080A || 55296 57227 || D800 DF8B || 55298 56394 || D802 DC4A || 55298 56586 || D802 DD0A|
| Numeric character reference || ࠊ || ࠊ || 𐎋 || 𐎋 || 𐡊 || 𐡊 || 𐤊 || 𐤊 |
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