Last updated: June 2, 2021
At least it did, a long time ago. Let us focus a bit on the history of the Arabic language.
Arabic, at a very early stage, was not only written without vowel-signs above or below letters.
Furthermore, letters were written without dots which makes reading pretty difficult – as the letters and for example might look the same in certain positions.
There are five distinct letters look which look the same when you omit the dots. This is also known as Arabic skeleton script).
Let’s try it. Can you read the following sentence without dots?
This sentence can mean a lot depending where and how you add the dots, e.g. the first word can mean:
This is how you could read the sentence:
|It was said that the elephant killed an elephant in front of the river.|
قيل إن فيل قتل فيل قبل النهر.
|This is the sentence with all the vowels.|
قِيلَ إِنَّ فِيلاً قَتَلَ فِيلاً قَبْلَ النَّهْرِ
Remark: In the 8th century, a grammarian from modern day Oman invented a writing system which we basically use in standard Arabic till today.
His name was أَبُو عَبْد الرَّحْمٰن الْخَلِيل ابن أَحْمَد الْفَراهِيدي – commonly known as al-Farahidi or al-Khalil. It is said that he started using a small س for the الشَّدّة (Shadda): ّ
Read more about Arabic and Islamic history:
- Why is Arabic called a Semitic language?
- Why does the Arabic broken plural have a crucial role in the classification of Arabic?
- Who wrote the first Arabic dictionary?
- Who are the greatest Arabic grammarians of all time from Europe?
- Who are the best Arabic grammarians of all time?
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