He (letter)

He is the fifth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Hebrewה, Aramaic Hē , Syriacܗ, and Arabic Hāʾ ه. Its sound value is a voiceless glottal fricative ([h]).

← Dalet
He
Phoenician
Hebrew
ה
Aramaic
Syriac
ܗ
Arabic
ه
Phonemic representationh
Position in alphabet5
Numerical value5
Alphabetic derivatives of the Phoenician
GreekΕ
LatinE, Ɛ
CyrillicE, Є, Э, Ҩ

The proto-Canaanite letter gave rise to the Greek Epsilon Ε ε, Etruscan 𐌄, Latin E, Ë and Ɛ, and Cyrillic Е, Ё, Є, Э, and Ҩ. He, like all Phoenician letters, represented a consonant, but the Latin, Greek and Cyrillic equivalents have all come to represent vowel sounds.

Origins

In Proto-Northwest Semitic there were still three voiceless fricatives: uvular IPA: [χ], glottal h IPA: [h], and pharyngeal IPA: [ħ]. In the Wadi el-Hol script, these appear to be expressed by derivatives of the following Egyptian hieroglyphs

ḫayt "thread",

hillul "jubilation", compare South Arabian h, , , Ge'ez , , , and

ḥasir "court".

In the Phoenician alphabet, ḫayt and ḥasir are merged into Heth "fence", while hillul is replaced by He "window".

Arabic hāʾ

The letter is named hāʾ. It is written in several ways depending on its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
(Help)
ه ـه ـهـ هـ

Hāʾ is used as a suffix (with the harakat dictated by ʾIʿrab) indicating possession, indicating that the noun marked with the suffix belongs to a specific masculine possessor; for example, كِتَاب kitāb ("book") becomes كِتَابُهُ kitābuhu ('his book') with the addition of final hāʾ; the possessor is implied in the suffix. A longer example, هُوَ يَقْرَأُ كِتَابَهُ, (huwa yaqraʼu kitābahu, "he reads his book") more clearly indicates the possessor. Hāʾ is also used as the Arabic abbreviation for dates following the Islamic era AH.

The hāʾ suffix appended to a verb represents a masculine object (e.g. يَقْرَأُهُ, yaqraʾuhu, 'he reads it').

The feminine form of this construction is in both cases ـهَا -hā.

In Nastaʿlīq the letter has a variant, gol he, with its own particular shapes. As Urdu and other languages of Pakistan are usually written in Nastaʿlīq, they normally employ this variant, which is given an independent code point (U+06C1) for compatibility:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Naskh glyph form:
(Help)
ہ ـہ ـہـ ہـ
Nastaʿlīq glyph form: ہ ــــہ ــــہــــ ہــــ

For aspiration and breathy voice Urdu and other languages of Pakistan use the medial (in Nastaliq script) or initial (in Naskh script) form of hāʾ, called in Urdu do cashmī he ('two-eyed he'):

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Naskh glyph form:
(Help)
ھ ـھ ـھـ ھـ
Nastaʿlīq glyph form: ھ ــــھ ــــھــــ ھــــ

Several Turkic languages of Central Asia like Uyghur as well as Kurdish also use this letter for fricative /h/.

Arabic ae

Many Turkic languages of Central Asia like Uyghur as well as Kurdish use the modification of the letter for front vowels /æ/ or /ɛ/. This has its own code point (U+06D5). To distinguish it from Arabic hāʾ /h/ the letter lacks its initial and medial forms: [ـ]

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form:
(Help)
ە ـە ـە ە

Hebrew Hei

Orthographic variants
Various print fonts Cursive
Hebrew
Rashi
script
SerifSans-serifMonospaced
ה ה ה

Hebrew spelling: הֵא

Pronunciation

In modern Hebrew, the letter represents a voiced glottal fricative /ɦ/, and may also be dropped, although this pronunciation is seen as substandard.

Also, in many variant Hebrew pronunciations the letter may represent a glottal stop. In word-final position, Hei is used to indicate an a-vowel, usually that of qamatz ( ָ ), and in this sense functions like Aleph, Vav, and Yud as a mater lectionis, indicating the presence of a long vowel.

Hei, along with Aleph, Ayin, Reish, and Khet, cannot receive a dagesh. Nonetheless, it does receive a marking identical to the dagesh, to form Hei-mappiq (הּ). Although indistinguishable for most modern speakers or readers of Hebrew, the mapiq is placed in a word-final Hei to indicate that the letter is not merely a mater lectionis but the consonant should be aspirated in that position. It is generally used in Hebrew to indicate the third-person feminine singular genitive marker. Today, such a pronunciation only occurs in religious contexts and even then often only by careful readers of the scriptures.

Significance of Hei

In gematria, Hei symbolizes the number five, and when used at the beginning of Hebrew years, it means 5000 (i.e. התשנ״ד in numbers would be the date 5754).

Attached to words, Hei may have three possible meanings:

  • A preposition meaning the definite article "the", or the relative pronouns "that", or "who" (as in "a boy who reads"). For example, yeled, a boy; hayeled, the boy.
  • A prefix indicating that the sentence is a question. (For example, Yadata, You knew; Hayadata?, Did you know?)
  • A suffix after place names indicating movement towards the given noun. (For example, Yerushalayim, Jerusalem; Yerushalaymah, towards Jerusalem.)

In modern Hebrew the frequency of the usage of hei, out of all the letters, is 8.18%.

Hei, representing five in gematria, is often found on amulets, symbolizing the five fingers of a hand, a very common talismanic symbol.

In Judaism

Hei is often used to represent the name of God as an abbreviation for Hashem, which means The Name and is a way of saying God without actually saying the name of God. In print, Hashem is usually written as Hei with a geresh: ה׳.

Syriac Heh

Heh
Madnḫaya Heh
Serṭo Heh
Esṭrangela Heh

In the Syriac alphabet, the fifth letter is ܗ — Heh (ܗܹܐ). It is pronounced as an [h]. At the end of a word with a point above it, it represents the third-person feminine singular suffix. Without the point, it stands for the masculine equivalent. Standing alone with a horizontal line above it, it is the abbreviation for either hānoh (ܗܵܢܘܿ), meaning 'this is' or 'that is', or halelûya (ܗܵܠܹܠܘܼܝܵܐ). As a numeral, He represents the number five.

Character encodings

Character information
Previewהهܗ
Unicode nameHEBREW LETTER HEARABIC LETTER HEHSYRIAC LETTER HESAMARITAN LETTER IYMANDAIC LETTER AHETHIOPIC SYLLABLE HA
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode1492U+05D41607U+06471815U+07172052U+08042116U+08444608U+1200
UTF-8215 148D7 94217 135D9 87220 151DC 97224 160 132E0 A0 84224 161 132E0 A1 84225 136 128E1 88 80
Numeric character referenceההههܗܗࠄࠄࡄࡄሀሀ
Character information
Preview𐎅𐡄𐡤𐢇𐣤𐤄𐩠𐪀𐿤
Unicode nameUGARITIC LETTER HOIMPERIAL ARAMAIC LETTER HEPALMYRENE LETTER HENABATAEAN LETTER HEHATRAN LETTER HEPHOENICIAN LETTER HEOLD SOUTH ARABIAN LETTER HEOLD NORTH ARABIAN LETTER HEHELYMAIC LETTER HE
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode66437U+1038567652U+1084467684U+1086467719U+1088767812U+108E467844U+1090468192U+10A6068224U+10A8069604U+10FE4
UTF-8240 144 142 133F0 90 8E 85240 144 161 132F0 90 A1 84240 144 161 164F0 90 A1 A4240 144 162 135F0 90 A2 87240 144 163 164F0 90 A3 A4240 144 164 132F0 90 A4 84240 144 169 160F0 90 A9 A0240 144 170 128F0 90 AA 80240 144 191 164F0 90 BF A4
UTF-1655296 57221D800 DF8555298 56388D802 DC4455298 56420D802 DC6455298 56455D802 DC8755298 56548D802 DCE455298 56580D802 DD0455298 56928D802 DE6055298 56960D802 DE8055299 57316D803 DFE4
Numeric character reference𐎅𐎅𐡄𐡄𐡤𐡤𐢇𐢇𐣤𐣤𐤄𐤄𐩠𐩠𐪀𐪀𐿤𐿤
Character information
Preview𐫆𐭄𐭤𐮄𐼏𐼳𐾵
Unicode nameMANICHAEAN LETTER HEINSCRIPTIONAL PARTHIAN LETTER HEINSCRIPTIONAL PAHLAVI LETTER HEPSALTER PAHLAVI LETTER HEOLD SOGDIAN LETTER HESOGDIAN LETTER HECHORASMIAN LETTER HE
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode68294U+10AC668420U+10B4468452U+10B6468484U+10B8469391U+10F0F69427U+10F3369557U+10FB5
UTF-8240 144 171 134F0 90 AB 86240 144 173 132F0 90 AD 84240 144 173 164F0 90 AD A4240 144 174 132F0 90 AE 84240 144 188 143F0 90 BC 8F240 144 188 179F0 90 BC B3240 144 190 181F0 90 BE B5
UTF-1655298 57030D802 DEC655298 57156D802 DF4455298 57188D802 DF6455298 57220D802 DF8455299 57103D803 DF0F55299 57139D803 DF3355299 57269D803 DFB5
Numeric character reference𐫆𐫆𐭄𐭄𐭤𐭤𐮄𐮄𐼏𐼏𐼳𐼳𐾵𐾵
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