Abjad

consonantal alphabetSemitic abjadsabjadsimpure abjadArabic writingconsonantalconsonantal formconsonantal textlack of vowelsonly consonants
An abjad (pronounced or ) is a type of writing system where each symbol or glyph stands for a consonant, leaving the reader to supply the appropriate vowel.wikipedia
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Writing system

scriptwriting systemsscripts
An abjad (pronounced or ) is a type of writing system where each symbol or glyph stands for a consonant, leaving the reader to supply the appropriate vowel.
Other categories include abjads, which differ from alphabets in that vowels are not indicated, and abugidas or alphasyllabaries, with each character representing a consonant–vowel pairing.

Phoenician alphabet

PhoenicianSemiticPhoenician letter
The ordering of Arabic letters used to match that of the older Hebrew, Phoenician and Semitic alphabets: '.
It is an alphabet of abjad type, consisting of 22 consonant letters only, leaving vowel sounds implicit, although certain late varieties use matres lectionis for some vowels.

Arabic

Arabic-languageArabArabic language
The name abjad is based on the old Arabic alphabet's first four letters – a, b, j, d – to replace the common terms "consonantary", "consonantal alphabet" or "syllabary" to refer to the family of scripts called West Semitic. Abjads differ from abugidas, another category defined by Daniels, in that in abjads, the vowel sound is implied by phonology, and where vowel marks exist for the system, such as nikkud for Hebrew and ḥarakāt for Arabic, their use is optional and not the dominant (or literate) form.
Arabic is written with the Arabic alphabet, which is an abjad script and is written from right to left, although the spoken varieties are sometimes written in ASCII Latin from left to right with no standardized orthography.

History of the alphabet

SemiticAlphabetSemitic alphabet
The ordering of Arabic letters used to match that of the older Hebrew, Phoenician and Semitic alphabets: '.
Some modern authors distinguish between consonantal scripts of the Semitic type, called "abjads", and "true alphabets" in the narrow sense, the distinguishing criterion being that true alphabets consistently assign letters to both consonants and vowels on an equal basis, while in an abjad each symbol usually stands for a consonant.

Abugida

abugidasalphasyllabaryalphasyllabaries
Abjads differ from abugidas, another category defined by Daniels, in that in abjads, the vowel sound is implied by phonology, and where vowel marks exist for the system, such as nikkud for Hebrew and ḥarakāt for Arabic, their use is optional and not the dominant (or literate) form.
This contrasts with a full alphabet, in which vowels have status equal to consonants, and with an abjad, in which vowel marking is absent, partial, or optional (although in less formal contexts, all three types of script may be termed alphabets).

Alphabet

alphabeticalphabetsalphabetical
According to the formulations of Daniels, abjads differ from alphabets in that only consonants, not vowels, are represented among the basic graphemes.
Peter T. Daniels, however, distinguishes an abugida or alphasyllabary, a set of graphemes that represent consonantal base letters which diacritics modify to represent vowels (as in Devanagari and other South Asian scripts), an abjad, in which letters predominantly or exclusively represent consonants (as in the original Phoenician, Hebrew or Arabic), and an "alphabet," a set of graphemes that represent both vowels and consonants.

Arabic diacritics

harakatdiacriticssukun
Abjads differ from abugidas, another category defined by Daniels, in that in abjads, the vowel sound is implied by phonology, and where vowel marks exist for the system, such as nikkud for Hebrew and ḥarakāt for Arabic, their use is optional and not the dominant (or literate) form.
The Arabic script is an impure abjad, where short consonants and long vowels are represented by letters but short vowels and consonant length are not generally indicated in writing.

Diacritic

diacriticsdiacritical markdiacritical marks
Abjads differ from abugidas, another category defined by Daniels, in that in abjads, the vowel sound is implied by phonology, and where vowel marks exist for the system, such as nikkud for Hebrew and ḥarakāt for Arabic, their use is optional and not the dominant (or literate) form. So-called impure abjads do represent vowels, either with optional diacritics, a limited number of distinct vowel glyphs, or both.
Non-pure abjads (such as Hebrew and Arabic script) and abugidas use diacritics for denoting vowels. Hebrew and Arabic also indicate consonant doubling and change with diacritics; Hebrew and Devanagari use them for foreign sounds. Devanagari and related abugidas also use a diacritical mark called a virama to mark the absence of a vowel. In addition, Devanagari uses the moon-dot chandrabindu .

Syllabary

syllabicsyllabariessyllabic script
The name abjad is based on the old Arabic alphabet's first four letters – a, b, j, d – to replace the common terms "consonantary", "consonantal alphabet" or "syllabary" to refer to the family of scripts called West Semitic.
Some scholars, e.g. Daniels, reserve the general term for analytic syllabaries and invent other terms (abugida, abjad) as necessary.

Latin alphabet

LatinRomanLatin letters
The Greek alphabet evolved into the modern western alphabets, such as Latin and Cyrillic, while Aramaic became the ancestor of many modern abjads and abugidas of Asia.
The Latin alphabet evolved from the visually similar Cumaean Greek version of the Greek alphabet, which was itself descended from the Phoenician abjad, which in turn derived from Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Aleph

alifAlefא
They did not need letters for the guttural sounds represented by aleph, he, heth or ayin, so these symbols were assigned vocalic values.
Aleph (or alef or alif) is the first letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician 'Ālep 𐤀, Hebrew 'Ālef א, Aramaic Ālap 𐡀, Syriac ʾĀlap̄ ܐ, and Arabic ا . It also appears as South Arabian 𐩱, and Ge'ez ʾÄlef አ.

He (letter)

HeHeiHeh
They did not need letters for the guttural sounds represented by aleph, he, heth or ayin, so these symbols were assigned vocalic values.
He is the fifth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Hē, Hebrew Hē, Aramaic Hē, Syriac Hē ܗ, and Arabic ه . Its sound value is a voiceless glottal fricative.

Aramaic alphabet

AramaicAramaic scriptImperial Aramaic
Phoenician gave rise to a number of new writing systems, including the Greek alphabet and Aramaic, a widely used abjad. In this way, the South Arabian alphabet evolved into the Ge'ez alphabet between the 5th century BC and the 5th century AD. Similarly, around the 3rd century BC, the Brāhmī script developed (from the Aramaic abjad, it has been hypothesized). However, most modern abjads, such as Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Pahlavi, are "impure" abjadsthat is, they also contain symbols for some of the vowel phonemes, although the said non-diacritic vowel letters are also used to write certain consonants, particularly approximants that sound similar to long vowels.
Writing systems (like the Aramaic one) that indicate consonants but do not indicate most vowels other than by means of matres lectionis or added diacritical signs, have been called abjads by Peter T. Daniels to distinguish them from alphabets, such as the Greek alphabet, which represent vowels more systematically.

Vowel

vowelsvowel heightV
An abjad (pronounced or ) is a type of writing system where each symbol or glyph stands for a consonant, leaving the reader to supply the appropriate vowel.
Technically, these are called abjads rather than alphabets.

Heth

Hetחchet
They did not need letters for the guttural sounds represented by aleph, he, heth or ayin, so these symbols were assigned vocalic values.
or H̱et (also spelled Khet, Kheth, Chet, Cheth, Het, or Heth) is the eighth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Ḥēt, Hebrew Ḥēth, Aramaic Ḥēth, Syriac Ḥēṯ ܚ, and Arabic Ḥā' ح.

Ayin

عʿayinʿayn
They did not need letters for the guttural sounds represented by aleph, he, heth or ayin, so these symbols were assigned vocalic values.
Ayin (also ayn or ain; transliterated ) is the sixteenth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac ܥ, and Arabic ع (where it is sixteenth in abjadi order only).

Waw (letter)

wawvavו
The letters waw and yod were also adapted into vowel signs; along with he, these were already used as matres lectionis in Phoenician.
Waw/Vav ( "hook") is the sixth letter of the Semitic abjads, including

Yodh

Yudyodي
The letters waw and yod were also adapted into vowel signs; along with he, these were already used as matres lectionis in Phoenician.
Yodh (also spelled yud, yod, jod, or jodh) is the tenth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Yōd, Hebrew Yōd י, Aramaic Yodh, Syriac Yōḏ ܝ, and Arabic ي (first in abjadi order, but last in modern order).

Cuneiform

cuneiform scriptcuneiform writingcuneiform inscriptions
Unlike other contemporary scripts, such as cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs, the Phoenician script consisted of only a few dozen symbols.
Ugaritic was written using the Ugaritic alphabet, a standard Semitic style alphabet (an abjad) written using the cuneiform method.

Greek alphabet

GreekGreek lettersGreek letter
Phoenician gave rise to a number of new writing systems, including the Greek alphabet and Aramaic, a widely used abjad.
The use of both vowels and consonants makes Greek the first alphabet in the narrow sense, as distinguished from the abjads used in Semitic languages, which have letters only for consonants.

Ge'ez script

Ge'ezEthiopicAmharic
In this way, the South Arabian alphabet evolved into the Ge'ez alphabet between the 5th century BC and the 5th century AD. Similarly, around the 3rd century BC, the Brāhmī script developed (from the Aramaic abjad, it has been hypothesized).
It originated as an abjad (consonant-only alphabet) and was first used to write Ge'ez, now the liturgical language of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and Beta Israel, the Jewish community in Ethiopia.

Syriac alphabet

SyriacestrangelaEstrangelo
The Syriac alphabet is a writing system primarily used to write the Syriac language since the 1st century AD. It is one of the Semitic abjads descending from the Aramaic alphabet through the Palmyrene alphabet, and it shares similarities with the Phoenician, Hebrew, Arabic and the traditional Mongolian scripts.

Hebrew alphabet

HebrewHebrew scriptHebrew letters
The ordering of Arabic letters used to match that of the older Hebrew, Phoenician and Semitic alphabets: '. However, most modern abjads, such as Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Pahlavi, are "impure" abjadsthat is, they also contain symbols for some of the vowel phonemes, although the said non-diacritic vowel letters are also used to write certain consonants, particularly approximants that sound similar to long vowels.
The Hebrew alphabet, known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, and block script''', is an abjad script used in the writing of the Hebrew language.

Pahlavi scripts

PahlaviPahlavi writing systemMiddle Persian
However, most modern abjads, such as Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Pahlavi, are "impure" abjadsthat is, they also contain symbols for some of the vowel phonemes, although the said non-diacritic vowel letters are also used to write certain consonants, particularly approximants that sound similar to long vowels.
It is essentially a typical abjad, where, in general, only long vowels are marked with matres lectionis (although short /i/ and /u/ are sometimes expressed so as well), and vowel-initial words are marked with an aleph.

Brahmi script

BrahmiBrāhmīBrahmi inscriptions
In this way, the South Arabian alphabet evolved into the Ge'ez alphabet between the 5th century BC and the 5th century AD. Similarly, around the 3rd century BC, the Brāhmī script developed (from the Aramaic abjad, it has been hypothesized).
Justeson and Stephens proposed that this inherent vowel system in Brahmi and Kharoṣṭhī developed by transmission of a Semitic abjad through the recitation of its letter values.