Arabic Alphabet Quiz

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9 Questions

What is the total number of letters in the Arabic alphabet?


What is the purpose of diacritics in the Arabic script?

To indicate vowels

Which of the following languages does not have additional letters added or removed from the Arabic script?


What is the difference between abjad and hija collating sequences?

The order of the letters

What is the purpose of ḥarakāt in Arabic script?

To indicate vowels

How are long vowels represented in unvocalized Arabic text?

With an ʾalif

What is the sukūn used for in Arabic script?

To indicate consonants

What is the origin of the Arabic alphabet?

Nabataean alphabet

What is the name of the first software program that identifies Arabic handwriting in real-time?

BGU Arabic Writer

Study Notes

Arabic is written right to left, in a cursive style and includes 28 letters, with most letters having contextual letterforms. The Arabic alphabet only uses consonants, but means of indicating vowel sounds were later devised by scribes through separate vowel diacritics. Adaptations of the Arabic script for other languages added and removed some letters, as for example Persian, Ottoman Turkish, Kurdish, Urdu, Sindhi, Azerbaijani (in Iran), Malay, Pashto, Punjabi, Uyghur, Arwi and Arabi Malayalam, all of which have additional letters. Both printed and written Arabic are cursive, with most of the letters within a word directly connected to the adjacent letters. There are two main collating sequences for the Arabic alphabet: abjad and hija. Letters can exhibit up to four distinct forms corresponding to an initial, medial (middle), final, or isolated position (IMFI). Short vowels may be written with diacritics placed above or below the consonant that precedes them in the syllable, called ḥarakāt. In the fully vocalized Arabic text found in texts such as Quran, a long ā following a consonant other than a hamzah is written with a short a sign (fatḥah) on the consonant plus an ʾalif after it. In unvocalized text (one in which the short vowels are not marked), the long vowels are represented by the vowel in question: ʾalif ṭawīlah/maqṣūrah, wāw, or yāʾ. The diphthongs /aj/ and /aw/ are represented in vocalized text as follows:. Arabic syllables can be open (ending with a vowel) or closed (ending with a consonant).Overview of the Arabic Alphabet

  • The Arabic alphabet is traditionally written in full vocalization.
  • The long i sound in some editions of the Qur’an is written with a kasrah followed by a diacritic-less y, and long u by a ḍammah followed by a bare w.
  • Outside of the Qur’an, the latter convention is extremely rare, to the point that y with sukūn will be unambiguously read as the diphthong /aj/, and w with sukūn will be read /aw/.
  • Vowel marks are always written as if the i‘rāb vowels were in fact pronounced, even when they must be skipped in actual pronunciation.
  • Another example: the sentence that in correct literary Arabic must be pronounced Aḥmadu zawjun shirrīr "Ahmad is a wicked husband", is usually mispronounced (due to influence from vernacular Arabic varieties) as Aḥmad zawj shirrīr.
  • The sukūn is also used for transliterating words into the Arabic script.
  • Some letters take a traditionally different form in specific regions.
  • Some modified letters are used to represent non-native sounds of Modern Standard Arabic.
  • The Arabic alphabet can be used to represent numbers (Abjad numerals).
  • The Arabic alphabet can be traced back to the Nabataean alphabet used to write Nabataean.
  • The first known text in the Arabic alphabet is a late 4th-century inscription from Jabal Ramm (50 km east of ‘Aqabah) in Jordan.
  • The Arabic alphabet can be encoded using several character sets, including ISO-8859-6, Windows-1256, and Unicode.
  • The first software program of its kind in the world that identifies Arabic handwriting in real-time was developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University (BGU).

Test your knowledge of the Arabic alphabet with this quiz! From the number of letters to their contextual forms, from vowel diacritics to collating sequences, this quiz covers all the essential aspects of the Arabic script. Whether you're a beginner or an expert, challenge yourself with questions on the history, usage, and encoding of the Arabic alphabet. Take this quiz to see how much you know about this cursive and captivating writing system.

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