Is alif a consonant or a vowel?

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Ebsis
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Is alif a consonant or a vowel?

Postby Ebsis » 2018-11-27, 18:46

I've read that all the Arabic letters are consonants. I know that both "waaw" and "yaa" work as consonants and long vowels as well. "alif" works as a long vowel too, I'm sure about that, but WHY as a consonant?!!!!!!!!
As far as I know:
1) "alif" represents only as a long vowel
2) it doesn't take any short vowels such as fatHa, kasra, or Damma, and it only accept sukuun as do the rest of the long vowels.
3) An arabic word never begins with the letter "alif"
4) People always mix up Hamza ( Hamzatul qat؟ and Hamzatul waSl) with "alif".
What I mean is when a word starts with one of these ( ا، أ، إ), they think it's nothing but "alif" as if Hamza is a decoration.
So, why do you think "alif" is a consonant? Could you please give me some examples?
Thanks in advance 😀

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Ser
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Re: Is alif a consonant or a vowel?

Postby Ser » 2018-11-27, 21:37

Ebsis wrote:I've read that all the Arabic letters are consonants. I know that both "waaw" and "yaa" work as consonants and long vowels as well. "alif" works as a long vowel too, I'm sure about that, but WHY as a consonant?!!!!!!!!
As far as I know:
1) "alif" represents only as a long vowel
2) it doesn't take any short vowels such as fatHa, kasra, or Damma, and it only accept sukuun as do the rest of the long vowels.
3) An arabic word never begins with the letter "alif"
4) People always mix up Hamza ( Hamzatul qat؟ and Hamzatul waSl) with "alif".
What I mean is when a word starts with one of these ( ا، أ، إ), they think it's nothing but "alif" as if Hamza is a decoration.
So, why do you think "alif" is a consonant? Could you please give me some examples?
Thanks in advance 😀

When discussing an informally-defined category such as "consonant" or "vowel" in ordinary language, some real-world things will fit the category better than others.

"Alif" definitely fits the category of "vowel" as it often represents a long /a:/ sound, but you're asking whether it fits the category of "consonant". Who knows? This is ultimately an argument about how to formally define the word "consonant", and different people will think of different definitions. You might just be using a different definition than other people.

I'd say it kind of does as it can be a seat letter for hamza (and hamza is often omitted at the beginning of words, sometimes even in other places as well, leaving the alif alone!), besides the fact that it's a full ancient letter before the invention of tashkiil (the vowel marks, the gemination mark or shadda, sukuun, the sign for alif waSla, and tanwiin).

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Re: Is alif a consonant or a vowel?

Postby SomehowGeekyPolyglot » 2018-11-27, 22:25

Ebsis wrote:As far as I know:
1) "alif" represents only as a long vowel
2) it doesn't take any short vowels such as fatHa, kasra, or Damma, and it only accept sukuun as do the rest of the long vowels.

An Alif that acts as a long vowel only can carry a سكون. This is because with any other harakah (including تنوين), it wouldn't be a Long Vowel Alif anyway :).

[Except for the combination of تنوين الفتحة followed by an Alif when it is being read as a Long Vowel Alif.]

3) An arabic word never begins with the letter "alif"

It never begins with an Alif that neither carries همزة الوصل nor همزة القطع.

Because an Alif carrying none of them could only be a long vocal Alif. But such a letter always is preceeded by a fathah. So it is impossible for an Arabic word to start with a Solo Alif (i.e. without any hamzah).

But همزة الوصل isn't always being written.

4) People always mix up Hamza ( Hamzatul qat؟ and Hamzatul waSl) with "alif".

Yes people do put this and that into the same category, because there are only two possibilities for a word starting with an Alif. I.e. this or that hamzah.

What I mean is when a word starts with one of these ( ا، أ، إ), they think it's nothing but "alif" as if Hamza is a decoration.

Some people really have this perception. Maybe because they put Alif, Waw, and Ya' all into the same category. But the Alif is "special", because unlike the Waw and the Ya', it never appears alone. It always either carries a hamzah (همزة الوصل أو همزة القطع), or comes after a fathah when being used as a long vowel.


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