Hamza (Arabic: ?, hamzah) (?) is a letter in the Arabic alphabet, representing the glottal stop . Hamza is not one of the 28 "full" letters and owes its existence to historical inconsistencies in the standard writing system. It is derived from the Arabic letter ?Ayn (?). In the Phoenician and Aramaic alphabets, from which the Arabic alphabet is descended, the glottal stop was expressed by alif (), continued by Alif ( ? ) in the Arabic alphabet. However, Alif was used to express both a glottal stop and also a long vowel /a:/. 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 (Arabic: ) meaning 'to prick, goad, drive' or 'to provide (a letter or word) with hamzah'.
The letter hamza (?) on its own always represents hamzat al-qa?' (? , "the hamzah which breaks, ceases or halts", i.e. the broken, cessation, halting"), that is, a phonemic glottal stop unlike the hamzat al-wa?l (? ?, "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 it can be written as an alif carrying a wa?lah sign ? (only in the Quran), it is normally indicated by a plain alif without a hamza.
some short words with two of their three-consonant roots apparent: ism ?, ibn ?, imru' (fem. ), ithn?ni (fem. ithnat?ni ?)
the imperative verbs of forms I and VII to X
the perfective aspect of verb forms VII to X and their verbal nouns
some borrowed words that start with consonant clusters such as ist?diy?
It is not pronounced following a vowel (, al-baytu l-kab?ru). This event occurs in the definite article or at the beginning of a noun following a preposition or a verb following a relative pronoun. If the definite article al- is followed by a sun letter, -l- also gives way for the next letter for l?m is assimilated.
The Hamza can be written either alone, as if it were a letter, or with a carrier, when it becomes a diacritic:
By itself, as a high Hamza (not used in Arabic language; only one isolated form, but actually used in medial and final positions where it will be non joining), after any Arabic letter (if that letter has an initial or medial form, these forms will be changed to isolated or final forms respectively):
? ?Hamza ?Al? Nabrah / Y Hamza. Joined medially and finally in Arabic, other languages written in Arabic-based script may have it initially as well (or it may take its isolated or initial shape, even in Arabic, after a non-joining letter in the same word):
The rules for writing hamza differ somewhat between languages even if the writing is based on the Arabic abjad. The following addresses Arabic specifically.
Initial hamza is always placed over (? for ?a- or ?u-) or under (? for ?i-) an alif.
Medial hamza will have a seat or be written alone:
Surrounding vowels determine the seat of the hamza with preceding long vowels and diphthongs (such as aw or ay) being ignored.
i- (?) over u- (?) over a- (?) if there are two conflicting vowels that count; on the line (?) if there are none.
As a special case, a, a and aw?a require hamza on the line, instead of over an alif as one would expect. (See III.1b below.)
Final hamza will have a seat or be written alone:
Alone on the line when preceded by a long vowel or final consonant.
Has a seat matching the final short vowel for words ending in a short vowel.
Two adjacent alifs are never allowed. If the rules call for this, replace the combination by a single alif maddah.
Logically, hamza is just like any other letter, but it may be written in different ways. It has no effect on the way other letters are written. In particular, surrounding long vowels are written just as they always are, regardless of the "seat" of the hamza--even if this results in the appearance of two consecutive w?ws or ys.
Hamza can be written in five ways: on its own ("on the line"), under an alif, or over an alif, w?w, or y, called the "seat" of the hamza. When written over y, the dots that would normally be written underneath are omitted.
When according to the rules below, a hamza with an alif seat would occur before an alif which represents the vowel ?, a single alif is instead written with the maddah symbol over it.
The rules for hamza depend on whether it occurs as the initial, middle, or final letter (not sound) in a word. (Thus, final short inflectional vowels do not count, but -an is written as alif + nunation, counts, and the hamza is considered medial.)
I. If the hamza is initial:
If the following letter is a short vowel, fat?ah (a) (as in ?afr?d) or ?ammah (u) (as in ?ul), the hamza is written over a place-holding alif; kasrah (i) (as in ?isl?m) the hamza is written under a place-holding alif and is called "hamza on a wall."
If the letter following the hamza is an alif itself: (as in ?kul) alif maddah will occur.
II. If the hamza is final:
If a short vowel precedes, the hamza is written over the letter (alif, w?w, or y) corresponding to the short vowel.
Otherwise, the hamza is written on the line (as in shay? "thing").
III. If the hamza is medial:
If a long vowel or diphthong precedes, the seat of the hamza is determined mostly by what follows:
If i or u follows, the hamza is written over y or w?w, accordingly.
Otherwise, the hamza would be written on the line. If a y precedes, however, that would conflict with the stroke joining the y to the following letter, so the hamza is written over y. (as in )
Otherwise, both preceding and following vowels have an effect on the hamza.
If there is only one vowel (or two of the same kind), that vowel determines the seat (alif, w?w, or y).
If there are two conflicting vowels, i takes precedence over u, u over a so mi?ah 'hundred' is written , with hamza over the y.
Alif-maddah occurs if appropriate.
Not surprisingly, the complexity of the rules causes some disagreement.
Barron's 201 Arabic Verbs follows the rules exactly (but the sequence does not occur; see below).
John Mace's Teach Yourself Arabic Verbs and Essential Grammar presents alternative forms in almost all cases when hamza is followed by a long ?. The motivation appears to be to avoid two w?ws in a row. Generally, the choice is between the form following the rules here or an alternative form using hamza over y in all cases. Example forms are masl (, [adj: responsible, in charge, accountable]; [noun: official, functionary]), yajna (?, verb: ja "to come"), yashna (?, verb: sha "to will, to want, to intend, to wish"). Exceptions:
In the sequence (yasna, , verb: saww? "to act badly, be bad") the alternatives are hamza on the line, or hamza over y, when the rules here would call for hamza over w?w. Perhaps, the resulting sequence of three w?ws would be especially repugnant.
In the sequence yaqrana (, verb: qara?a "to read, to recite, to review/ study") the alternative form has hamza over alif, not y.
The forms yab?una (, verb: ba?u?a "to be or become slow, late or backward, "to come late", "to move slowly") and yabu (?, verb: "move to the back", "to return to come back", "to repent") have no alternative form. (Note yaqrana with the same sequence of vowels.)
Haywood and Nahmad's A new Arabic Grammar of the Written Language does not write the paradigms out in full, but in general agrees with John Mace's book, including the alternative forms and sometimes lists a third alternative with the entire sequence written as a single hamza over w?w instead of as two letters.
Al-Kit?b f? Ta?allum... presents paradigms with hamza written the same way throughout, regardless of the rules above. Thus yabdana with hamza only over alif, yajna with hamza only over y,yaqrana with hamza only over alif, but that is not allowed in any of the previous three books. (It appears to be an overgeneralization on the part of the al-Kit?b writers.)
The letter ? (?) stands here for any consonant.
Note: The table shows only potential combinations and their graphic representations according to the spelling rules; not every possible combination exists in Arabic.
^ abArabic writing has tried to avoid two consecutive w?ws, however, in Modern Arabic this rule is less applicable, thus modern rus "heads" corresponds to in the Quran.
Hamza in other Arabic-based scripts
In Urdu script, hamza does not occur at the initial position over alif since alif is not used as a glottal stop in Urdu. In the middle position, if hamza is surrounded by vowels, it indicates a diphthong between the two vowels. In the middle position, if hamza is surrounded by only one vowel, it takes the sound of that vowel. In the final position hamza is silent or produces a glottal sound, as in Arabic.
In Urdu, hamza usually represents a diphthong between two vowels. It rarely acts like the Arabic hamza except in a few loanwords from Arabic.
Hamza is also added at the last letter of the first word of ez?fe compound to represent -e- if the first word ends with yeh or with he or over bari yeh if it is added at the end of the first word of the ez?fe compound.
Hamza is always written on the line in the middle position unless in waw if that letter is preceded by a non-joiner letter; then, it is seated above waw. Hamza is also seated when written above bari yeh. In the final form, Hamza is written in its full form. In ez?fe, hamza is seated above he, yeh or bari yeh of the first word to represent the -e- of ez?fe compound.
In the Uyghur Arabic alphabet the hamza is not a distinct letter and is not generally used to denote the glottal stop, but rather to indicate vowels. The hamza is only depicted with vowels in their initial or isolated forms, and only then when the vowel starts a word. It is also occasionally used when a word has two vowels in a row.
There are different ways to represent hamza in Latin transliteration: