Nun (letter)

Nun
Phonemic representation n
Position in alphabet 14
Numerical value 50
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician

Nun is the fourteenth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Nūn , Hebrew Nun נ, Aramaic Nun , Syriac Nūn ܢܢ, and Arabic Nūn ن (in abjadi order). It is the third letter in Thaana (ނ), pronounced as "noonu".
Its sound value is [n].

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek nu (Ν), Etruscan , Latin N, and Cyrillic Н.

Origins

Nun is believed to be derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph of a snake (the Hebrew word for snake, nachash begins with a Nun and snake in Aramaic is nun) or eel. Some have hypothesized a hieroglyph of fish in water as its origin (in Arabic, nūn means large fish or whale). The Phoenician letter was named nūn "fish", but the glyph has been suggested to descend from a hypothetical Proto-Canaanite naḥš "snake", based on the name in Ethiopic, ultimately from a hieroglyph representing a snake,

(see Middle Bronze Age alphabets). Naḥš in modern Arabic literally means "bad luck". The cognate letter in Ge'ez and descended Semitic languages of Ethiopia is nehas, which also means "brass".

Arabic nūn

The letter is named nūn, and is written is several ways depending in its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ن ـن ـنـ نـ

Some examples on its uses in Modern Standard Arabic:

Nūn is used as a suffix indicating present-tense plural feminine nouns; for example هِيَ تَكْتُب hiya taktub ("she writes") becomes هُنَّ تَكْتَبْنَ hunna taktabna ("they [feminine] write").

Nūn is also used as the prefix for first-person plural imperfective/present tense verbs. Thus هُوَ يَكْتُب huwwa yaktub ("he writes") → نَحْنُ نَكْتُب naḥnu naktub ("we write").

The Arabic letter nūn became associated with the spray-painting of nūn for Nasrani (i.e. "Nazarene", an Arabic term for Christians used by Muslims) on the gateposts of Christian houses in Isis-held areas of Iraq.[1]

Saraiki nūn

It is retroflex nasal consonantal sound symbol, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɳ, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is n`. Like all the retroflex consonants, the IPA symbol is formed by adding a rightward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of an en (the letter used for the corresponding alveolar consonant). It is similar to ɲ, the letter for the palatal nasal, which has a leftward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the left stem, and to ŋ, the letter for the velar nasal, which has a leftward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the right stem. Saraiki uses the letter ⟨ݨ⟩ for /ɳ/. It is a compound of nūn and rre (⟨ڑ⟩). For example:

کݨ مݨ، چھݨ چھݨ، ونڄݨ۔

Social media campaign (2014)

After the fall of Mosul, ISIL demanded Assyrian Christians in the city to convert to Islam, pay tribute, or face execution.[2] ISIL begun marking homes of Christian residents with the letter nūn for Nassarah ("Christian").[3][4] Thousands of Christians, Yazidis (the latter whom were given only the choice of conversion or death) and other, mostly Shi'a, Muslims (whom ISIL consider to be apostates) abandoned their homes and land.

In response to the persecution of Christians and Yazidis by ISIL, an international social media campaign was launched to raise global awareness of the plight of religious minorities in Mosul, making use of the letter ن (nun)the mark that ISIL troops spray painted on properties owned by Christians.[5] Some Christians changed their profile pictures on Facebook and Twitter to pictures of the letter ن as a symbol of support.[6] The letter ن, in relation to this social media campaign, is being called the "Mark of the Nazarene" from naṣrānī (نصراني; plural naṣārā نصارى), a normative Arabic term disparagingly used by ISIL to brand Christians.[6]

The word naṣārā comes from Classical Arabic. The more common term used to refer to Christians in Modern Standard Arabic is masihi (مسيحي, plural مسيحيون), whereas the Quranic naṣārā may now be used to mean foreigners of European origin regardless of religion.[7]

Hebrew Nun

Orthographic variants
position
in
word
Various print fonts Cursive
Hebrew
Rashi
script
SerifSans-serifMonospaced
non final נ נ נ
final ן ן ן

Hebrew spelling: נוּן

Pronunciation

Nun represents an alveolar nasal, (IPA: /n/), like the English letter N.

Variations

Nun, like Kaph, Mem, Pe, and Tzadi, has a final form, used at the end of words. Its shape changes from נ to ן. There are also nine instances of an inverted nun (׆) in the Tanakh.

Significance

In gematria, Nun represents the number 50. Its final form represents 700 but this is rarely used, Tav and Shin (400+300) being used instead.

As in Arabic, nun as an abbreviation can stand for neqevah, feminine. In medieval Rabbinic writings, Nun Sophit (Final Nun) stood for "Son of" (Hebrew ben or ibn).

Nun is also one of the seven letters which receive a special crown (called a tagin) when written in a Sefer Torah. See Shin, Ayin, Teth, Gimmel, Zayin, and Tzadi.

In the game of dreidel, a rolled Nun passes play to the next player with no other action.

Character encodings

Characterנןنܢ
Unicode nameHEBREW LETTER NUNHEBREW LETTER FINAL NUNARABIC LETTER NUNSYRIAC LETTER NUNSAMARITAN LETTER NUN
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode1504U+05E01503U+05DF1606U+06461826U+07222061U+080D
UTF-8215 160D7 A0215 159D7 9F217 134D9 86220 162DC A2224 160 141E0 A0 8D
Numeric character referenceננןןننܢܢࠍࠍ
Character𐎐𐡍𐤍
Unicode nameUGARITIC LETTER NUNIMPERIAL ARAMAIC LETTER NUNPHOENICIAN LETTER NUN
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode66448U+1039067661U+1084D67853U+1090D
UTF-8240 144 142 144F0 90 8E 90240 144 161 141F0 90 A1 8D240 144 164 141F0 90 A4 8D
UTF-1655296 57232D800 DF9055298 56397D802 DC4D55298 56589D802 DD0D
Numeric character reference𐎐𐎐𐡍𐡍𐤍𐤍

See also

Notes

  1. Euronews 22 July 2014 "Over the weekend, while the world’s gaze was on Gaza and Syria, the situation of Christians in northern Iraq took a sharp turn for the worse, with thousands forced to flee their homes. ... In Mosul, IS militants marked with a spray-painted ن (the Arabic letter for “N”) all Christian property to be seized after the ultimatum."
  2. "BBC News - Iraqi Christians flee after Isis issue Mosul ultimatum". BBC News. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  3. "Iraqi Christians flee after Isis issue Mosul ultimatum". BBC News. August 7, 2014. Archived from the original on July 24, 2014. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
  4. Loveluck, Louisa (August 7, 2014). "Christians flee Iraq's Mosul after Islamists tell them: convert, pay or die". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on July 30, 2014. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
  5. "A Christian Genocide Symbolized by One Letter". National Review Online.
  6. 1 2 "#ن: How an Arabic letter was reclaimed to support Iraq's persecuted Christians". euronews.
  7. "2 [English] "Nasara, ISIS, and Darija" استخدام "نصارى" بالدارجة". mazyanbizaf.com.
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