Arabic diacritics

Arabic script has numerous diacritics, which include consonant pointing known as iʻjām (إِعْجَام), and supplementary diacritics known as tashkīl (تَشْكِيل). The latter include the vowel marks termed ḥarakāt (حَرَكَات; singular: حَرَكَة, ḥarakah).

Early written Arabic used only rasm (in black). Later, Arabic added i‘jām diacritics (examples in red) so that letters such as these five ـيـ ,ـنـ ,ـثـ ,ـتـ ,ـبـ (b, t, th, n, y) could be distinguished. Ḥarakāt diacritics (examples in blue)—which is used in the Qur'an but not in most written Arabic—indicate short vowels, long consonants, and some other vocalizations.

The Arabic script is a modified abjad, where short consonants and long vowels are represented by letters but short vowels and consonant length are not generally indicated in writing. Tashkīl is optional to represent missing vowels and consonant length. Modern Arabic is always written with the i‘jām—consonant pointing, but only religious texts, children's books and works for learners are written with the full tashkīl—vowel guides and consonant length. It is however not uncommon for authors to add diacritics to a word or letter when the grammatical case or the meaning is deemed otherwise ambiguous. In addition, classical works and historic documents rendered to the general public are often rendered with the full tashkīl, to compensate for the gap in understanding resulting from stylistic changes over the centuries.

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