Kaph
PhoenicianKaph
Hebrew
כ
AramaicKaph
Syriac
ܟ
Arabic
ك
Phonemic representationk (x)
Position in alphabet11
Numerical value20
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician
GreekΚ
LatinK
CyrillicК

Kaph (also spelled kaf) is the eleventh letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician kāp 𐤊, Hebrew kāp̄ כ, Aramaic kāp 𐡊, Syriac kāp̄ ܟ, and Arabic kāf ك (in abjadi order).

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek kappa (Κ), Latin K, and Cyrillic К.

Origin

Kaph is thought to be derived from a pictogram of a hand (in both modern Arabic and modern Hebrew, kaph כף means "palm" or "grip"), though in Arabic the a in the name of the letter (كاف) is pronounced longer than the a in the word meaning "palm" (كَف).

D46

Hebrew kaf

Orthographic variants
Various print fonts Cursive
Hebrew
Rashi
script
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
כ כ כ

Hebrew spelling: כַּףְ

Hebrew pronunciation

Main article: Modern Hebrew phonology

The letter kaf is one of the six letters that can receive a dagesh kal. The other five are bet, gimel, daleth, pe, and tav (see Hebrew alphabet for more about these letters).

There are two orthographic variants of this letter that alter the pronunciation:

Name Symbol IPA Transliteration[1] Example
Kaf כּ [k] k kangaroo
Khaf כ [χ] or [x] ḵ, ch, or kh loch

Kaf with the dagesh

When the kaph has a "dot" in its center, known as a dagesh, it represents a voiceless velar plosive (/k/). There are various rules in Hebrew grammar that stipulate when and why a dagesh is used.

Kaf without the dagesh (khaf)

When this letter appears as כwithout the dagesh ("dot") in its center it represents [χ], like the ch in German "Bach".

In modern Israeli Hebrew the letter heth is also often pronounced as a [χ]. However, Mizrahi Jews and Israeli Arabs have differentiated between these letters as in other Semitic languages.

Final form of kaf

Orthographic variants
Various Print Fonts Cursive
Hebrew
Rashi
script
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
ך ך ך

If the letter is at the end of a word the symbol is drawn differently. However, it does not change the pronunciation or transliteration in any way. The name for the letter is final kaf (kaf sofit). Four additional Hebrew letters take final forms: mem, nun, pei and tsadi. Kaf/khaf is the only Hebrew letter that can take a vowel in its word-final form, which is pronounced after the consonant, that vowel being the qamatz.

Name Alternate name Symbol
Final kaf Kaf sofit ךּ
Final khaf Khaf sofit ך

Significance of kaph in Hebrew

In gematria, kaph represents the number 20. Its final form represents 500, but this is rarely used, tav and qoph (400+100) being used instead.

As a prefix, kaph is a preposition:

Arabic kāf

The letter is named kāf, and it is written in several ways depending on its position in the word.

There are three variants of the letter:

Position in word Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
(Help)
ك ـك ـكـ كـ
Position in word Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
(Help)
ک ـک ـکـ کـ
Position in word Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
(Help)
ڪ ـڪ ـڪـ ڪـ

In varieties of Arabic kāf is almost universally pronounced as the voiceless velar plosive /k/, but in rural Palestinian and Iraqi, it is pronounced as a voiceless postalveolar affricate [t͡ʃ].

As an affix

Prefix

In Arabic, kāf, when used as a prefix كَـ ka, functions as a comparative preposition (أداة التشبيه, such as مِثْل /miθl/ or شَبَه /ʃabah/)[4] and can carry the meaning of English words "like", "as", or "as though" . For example, كَطَائِر (/katˤaːʔir/), means "like a bird" or "as though a bird" (as in Hebrew, above) and attached to ذٰلِك /ðaːlik/ "this, that" forms the fixed expression كَذٰلِك /kaðaːlik/ "like so, likewise."

Possessive suffix

When adjoined at the end of a word, kāf is used as a possessive suffix for second-person singular nouns (feminine taking kāf-kasrah كِ, /ki/ and masculine kāf-fatḥah كَ /ka/); for instance, كِتَاب kitāb ("book") becomes كِتَابُكَ kitābuka ("your book", where the person spoken to is masculine) كِتَابُكِ kitābuki ("your book", where the person spoken to is feminine). At the ends of sentences and often in conversation the final vowel is suppressed, and thus كِتَابُك kitābuk ("your book"). In several varieties of vernacular Arabic, however, the kāf with no harakat is the standard second-person possessive, with the literary Arabic harakah shifted to the letter before the kāf: thus masculine "your book" in these varieties is كِتَابَك kitābak and feminine "your book" كِتَابِك kitābik.

Character encodings

Character information
Preview כ ך
Unicode name HEBREW LETTER KAF HEBREW LETTER KAF WITH DAGESH HEBREW LETTER FINAL KAF HEBREW LETTER FINAL KAF WITH DAGESH
Encodings decimal hex dec hex dec hex dec hex
Unicode 1499 U+05DB 64315 U+FB3B 1498 U+05DA 64314 U+FB3A
UTF-8 215 155 D7 9B 239 172 187 EF AC BB 215 154 D7 9A 239 172 186 EF AC BA
Numeric character reference כ כ כּ כּ ך ך ךּ ךּ
Character information
Preview ك
Unicode name ARABIC LETTER KAF ARABIC LETTER KAF INITIAL FORM ARABIC LETTER KAF MEDIAL FORM ARABIC LETTER KAF FINAL FORM
Encodings decimal hex dec hex dec hex dec hex
Unicode 1603 U+0643 65243 U+FEDB 65244 U+FEDC 65242 U+FEDA
UTF-8 217 131 D9 83 239 187 155 EF BB 9B 239 187 156 EF BB 9C 239 187 154 EF BB 9A
Numeric character reference ك ك ﻛ ﻛ ﻜ ﻜ ﻚ ﻚ
Character information
Preview 𐤊 𐡊 ܟ
Unicode name PHOENICIAN LETTER KAF IMPERIAL ARAMAIC LETTER KAPH SYRIAC LETTER KAPH
Encodings decimal hex dec hex dec hex
Unicode 67850 U+1090A 67658 U+1084A 1823 U+071F
UTF-8 240 144 164 138 F0 90 A4 8A 240 144 161 138 F0 90 A1 8A 220 159 DC 9F
UTF-16 55298 56586 D802 DD0A 55298 56394 D802 DC4A 1823 071F
Numeric character reference 𐤊 𐤊 𐡊 𐡊 ܟ ܟ

See also

References

  1. ^ Transliteration Rules, Encyclopedia Judaica.
  2. ^ Gacek, Adam (2008). The Arabic manuscript tradition: a glossary of technical terms and bibliography: supplement. Leiden: Brill. p. 43. ISBN 978-9004165403.
  3. ^ Gacek, Adam (2008). The Arabic manuscript tradition: a glossary of technical terms and bibliography: supplement. Leiden: Brill. p. 8. ISBN 978-9004165403.
  4. ^ الهاشمي, أحمد (1905). "علم البيان: في التشبيه". جواهر البلاغة: في المعاني والبيان والبديع (in Arabic).