Author Topic: Persian alphabet kaf and Arabic alphabet kaf  (Read 1012 times)

Offline giselberga

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Persian alphabet kaf and Arabic alphabet kaf
« on: June 05, 2018, 11:03:28 AM »
Why is different between Persian kaf(ک) and Arabic kaf(ك)?

Persian kaf
‎ک

Arabic kaf
‎ك

Arabic kaf and Persian kaf probounce /k/
But isolated letter ‘kaf’ is different
Why is isolated letter ‘kaf’ different in Persian scripts and Arabic scripts?
« Last Edit: June 05, 2018, 11:40:44 AM by giselberga »

Offline Daniel

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Re: Persian alphabet kaf and Arabic alphabet kaf
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2018, 02:32:12 PM »
Is it? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_alphabet
Different examples given there use both variants.

The simplest answer is that this is just different, like a different choice of fonts. Compare American "z" and European "ƶ" in handwriting (or 7 vs. 7̵also).

While most extra marks in the Arabic script serve some purpose (for example, distinguishing B vs. T, etc.) that particular mark on K doesn't really have any purpose, so why not remove it?

Asking "why" in Linguistics does not usually lead to informative answers. "Because it happened" is the only real answer. Just different traditions.

The only guess I would have here is that maybe to avoid confusion (or increase parallelism) with the additional letter گ (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%DA%AF) the extra shape on K was removed.
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Offline panini

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Re: Persian alphabet kaf and Arabic alphabet kaf
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2018, 10:15:21 PM »
I think the answer is that al-kāf al-mashkūlah (ک) is historically more original and ك is derived. ك involves a more significant contextual change whereas ک is largely invariant. ک also more closely resembles earlier Semitic letters. I suggest looking for old documents in the various languages. Notice that ل (l) and ك are very similar, so the development of that thing (I don't know what it is called) probably helps distinguish k and l.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Persian alphabet kaf and Arabic alphabet kaf
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2018, 11:50:24 PM »
That makes a lot of sense. But do you know if the timeline of adopting the Arabic script in Persia matches up with the changes in kāf in Arabic?
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Offline panini

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Re: Persian alphabet kaf and Arabic alphabet kaf
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2018, 07:31:15 AM »
That's above my pay grade or, as they say, it's an empirical question. One would have to study ancient manuscripts.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Persian alphabet kaf and Arabic alphabet kaf
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2018, 11:33:00 AM »
I'm not sure either, but let's see--

Wikipedia says the Arabic script was adopted around the 9th century (so ~1200 years ago)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_alphabet

So the question is just whether the extra symbol was added in Arabic before or after that point--

This page shows the history and variation but doesn't give a timeline:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaph

Based on a quick search, I'm not finding information about the date when the Arabic letter changed. The adoption of the script in Persia is nearly as old as the Qur'an itself though, so it's entirely possible that you're right about this, panini, assuming the earlier form was used consistently in the Qur'an.
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Offline panini

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Re: Persian alphabet kaf and Arabic alphabet kaf
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2018, 05:39:50 PM »
Well, a bit more circumstantial evidence in support... I located a work on writing, Faulmann's Illustrirte Geschichte der Schrift, which covers Kufic script, the original calligraphic style used for transmitting the Qur'an. P. 416 gives the 4 forms of the various letters, and you can see that ك has essentially the single form as it does in Persian. Also p. 39 of this article on Maghribi script (likewise archaic but not as archaic) has more uniform shapes to kaf.

Back to Illustrirte Geschichte, p. 420 discusses the features of Naskh, which is closer to Ruq`a that we encounter nowadays, and says that "k is more distinguished from l with an 'inscribed' ء", etc. indicating that kaf was elaborated in this script.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Persian alphabet kaf and Arabic alphabet kaf
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2018, 06:21:09 PM »
That makes sense then! Interesting.
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