Fat-hatan on final Alef in Arabic

In orthography of the Arabic language‭, ‬there is a condition where a noun ending with‭ ‬“fat-hatan tanween”‭ (‬double fat-ha nunation‭) ‬will have an Alef added to the end to support such tanween‭, ‬with a few exceptions where Alef would not‭ ‬be needed‭. ‬

The tanween can be placed over the Alef‭, ‬but a more preferable and common practice is to place the tanween over the letter preceding the Alef‭, ‬which would be the actual final letter of the word before adding the supporting Alef‭, ‬or alternately‭, ‬to the right of the Alef instead of above it‭. ‬The first case has been common in the past half a century due to its simple implementation with the typewriter‭, ‬then with the computer keyboards‭, ‬while the second case was the more common practice since the earliest examples of Qurans where vowel marks are indicated in the text from the 9th century to the beginning of the 20th century‭. ‬

I am adding a feature to an Arabic typeface to allow users to place the tanween to the right of the Alef as in the second case above‭, ‬and I am writing this inquiry to see if you know of any other language written in the Arabic script that uses this writing‭ ‬convention‭? ‬

Please see attached image where I show the first case on the right side of the image with marks colored black and placed over the Alef‭. ‬In the center I show the second case where the marks are colored red and placed over the preceding letter‭. ‬And on the left‭, ‬I show my preferred placement colored green‭, ‬just to the right of the Alef‭. ‬Please note‭, ‬that although I titled the green position as‭ ‬“correct‭,‬”‭ ‬all three options are actually acceptable and attested historically‭.‬



  • Bahman EslamiBahman Eslami Posts: 37
    edited March 21
    "Fathatan tanween” is being used in Persian occasionally and in the default position as you've shown in black color. I would find the red position very confusing. I'm not sure about the green position either until I see it in text, but if that works, it would be an interesting solution to prevent the diacritic from exceeding the acsender.
  • Yes Bahman‭, ‬I’ve seen fat-hatan tanween used in Persian on words borrowed from Arabic such‭ ‬‘masalan’‭,‬’‭ ‬“tab’an‭,‬”‭ ‬“ihtimalan‭,‬”‭ ‬“mustaqiman‭,‬”‭ ‬“zimnan‭,‬”‭ ‬and so on‭. ‬I can understand that the Red example would be confusing to anyone who is not familiar with this trandition‭. ‬Thanks‭ ‬for the comment‭.‬

  • Khaled HosnyKhaled Hosny Posts: 128
    edited March 22
    In the last line, from the two reds I’d choose the right one as it shows more clearly that the tanween is placed over the letter before the alef and also because I find the word stretch rather unpleasant.

    I find the green placement the most pleasant, except may be for the last line where I prefer the right red one.

    As I side note, I personally never place the tanween over the alef because I find it ugly and illogical since the alef in not the letter the tanwin is being applied too, and also because words like حبَّاً (that should be حبًّا) are plain wrong IMO.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,026
    How are these sequences encoded? I presume it is desirable to have a consistent encoding, since putting the tanwin on different letters depending on how you want it to display means different spellings for the same word.
  • Khaled HosnyKhaled Hosny Posts: 128
    The use of different spelling is already the case, some people will spell it سببًا and  others سبباً based on what school of thought they subscribe too :)

    That is not very dissimilar from how some English words are spelled differently in different regions or even whether to place the comma inside or outside the quote.

    It is not even the only common spelling difference in Arabic; some editors will insist مسئول be spelled this way, while others will never accept any spelling other than مسؤول. Not to mention the whole dots under final/isolated ي business (which reminds me, we do have initial/medial/final/isolated letter shapes in Arabic, that is not merely an implementation details, or how comes that many Arabic letters used in variously orthographies have different dot placement based on these categories, regardless of what actual sub variant the letter would take based on its neighbors).
  • I like the green ones. And I think even Persians would benefit from the divergence.
  • Thank you Khalid for your input. Do you, or any other members, know if this feature is used in any other languages?
  • Khaled HosnyKhaled Hosny Posts: 128
    I don’t know about the usage of this in other languages, unfortunately.
  • John, as Khaled mentioned, the user decides to type the mark on the Alef or on the previous letter. I am adding a Stylistic Set that will reposition the mark so it sits next to the Alef as in the green example. This way, the actual input can be consistent, and one can apply the SS if the shifted position is desired. 
  • Khaled, I am sorry I let the computer "correct" the spelling of your name in the previous post!
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