|Phonemic representation||d͡ʒ, ʒ, ɡ, ɟ, ɣ|
|Position in alphabet||3|
Gimel is the third letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Gīml , Hebrew ˈGimel ג, Aramaic Gāmal , Syriac Gāmal ܓ, and Arabic ǧīm ج (in alphabetical order; fifth in spelling order). Its sound-value in the original Phoenician and in all derived alphabets, save Arabic, is a voiced velar plosive [ɡ]; in Modern Standard Arabic, it represents either a /d͡ʒ/ or /ʒ/ for most Arabic speakers except in Lower Egypt, the southern parts of Yemen and some parts of Oman where it is pronounced as a voiced velar plosive [ɡ], see below and also Persian Gaf گ.
In its unattested Proto-Canaanite form, the letter may have been named after a weapon that was either a staff sling or a throwing stick, ultimately deriving from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph based on the hieroglyph below:
The Arabic letter ج is named جيم ǧīm. It is written is several ways depending in its position in the word:
|Position in word:||Isolated||Final||Medial||Initial|
In most Modern Standard Arabic (Literary Arabic) registers, the standard pronunciation is a affricate [d͡ʒ], which is also the only acceptable value to recite the Qur'an. Less often, it is pronounced as a fricative [ʒ], except in Lower Egypt. Differences in pronunciation occur because speakers of Modern Standard Arabic pronounce words in accordance to their spoken variety of Arabic. In such varieties, cognate words will have consistent differences in pronunciation of thie letter:
- [d͡ʒ]: In most of the Arabian Peninsula, Algeria, Iraq, some parts of the Levant. However, in Algeria and the Arabian Peninsula, it may be softened to [ʒ] in some environments.
- [ʒ]: In most of the Levant and Northwestern Africa.
- [ɟ]: In some regions of Sudan, Yemen and Sindh, another common reconstruction of the Classical Arabic pronunciation.
- [g]: In Egypt and Yemen (mostly Tihama), as in Hebrew and the other Semitic languages. This pronunciation also exists colloquially in Northwestern Africa in words that contain grooved alveolar sounds (/s/, /z/) but not to pronounce Literary Arabic.
- [j]: In the Arabian Peninsula in the most colloquial speech but [d͡ʒ] or sometimes [ʒ] to pronounce Literary Arabic.
Egyptians always use the letter to represent [ɡ] as well as in names and loanwords, such as جولف "golf". However, it may be used in Egypt to transcribe /ʒ/~/d͡ʒ/ (normally pronounced [ʒ]). The opposite is also lowed for other Arabic-speakers.
In Perso-Arabic script, it is called jīm.
In Egypt, if there is a need to transcribe /ʒ/ or /d͡ʒ/, both are approximated into [ʒ] by using چ. In Persian, Urdu, Sindhi, Ottoman Turkish and other languages using Perso-Arabic script, چ represents the affricate /t͡ʃ/.
|Position in word:||Isolated||Final||Medial||Initial|
|Various print fonts||Cursive
Hebrew spelling: גִּימֵל
Bertrand Russell posits that the letter's form is a conventionalized image of a camel. The letter may be the shape of the walking animal's head, neck, and forelegs. Barry B. Powell, a specialist in the history of writing, states "It is hard to imagine how gimel = "camel" can be derived from the picture of a camel (it may show his hump, or his head and neck!)".
Gimel is one of the six letters which can receive a dagesh. The two functions of dagesh are distinguished as either qal (light) or hazaq (strong). The six letters are bet, gimel, daled, kaph, pe, and taf. Three of them (bet, kaph, and pe) have their sound value changed in modern Hebrew from the fricative to the plosive by adding a dagesh. The other three represent the same pronunciation in modern Hebrew, but have had alternate pronunciations at other times and places. They are essentially pronounced in the fricative as ג gh غ, dh ذ and th ث. In the Temani pronunciation, gimel represents /ɡ/, /ʒ/, or /d͡ʒ/ when with a dagesh, and /ɣ/ without a dagesh. In modern Hebrew, the combination ג׳ (gimel followed by a geresh) is used in loanwords and foreign names to denote [d͡ʒ].
In gematria, gimel represents the number three.
It is written like a vav with a yud as a "foot", and it resembles a person in motion; symbolically, a rich man running after a poor man to give him charity, as in the Hebrew alphabet gimel directly precedes dalet, which signifies a poor or lowly man, from the Hebrew word dal (b. Shabbat, 104a).
The word gimel is related to gemul, which means 'justified repayment', or the giving of reward and punishment.
In Modern Hebrew, the frequency of usage of gimel, out of all the letters, is 1.26%.
In the Syriac alphabet, the third letter is ܓ — Gamal in eastern pronunciation, Gomal in western pronunciation (ܓܵܡܵܠ). It is one of six letters that represent two associated sounds (the others are Bet, Dalet, Kaph, Pe and Taw). When Gamal/Gomal has a hard pronunciation (qûššāyâ ) it represents [ɡ], like "goat". When Gamal/Gomal has a soft pronunciation (rûkkāḵâ ) it traditionally represents [ɣ] (ܓ��ܵܡܵܠ), or Ghamal/Ghomal. The letter, renamed Jamal/Jomal, is written with a tilde/tie either below or within it to represent the borrowed phoneme [d͡ʒ] (ܓ̰ܡܵܠ), which is used in Garshuni and some Neo-Aramaic languages to write loan and foreign words from Arabic or Persian.
The dialect of Eastern Africa often utilizes the gimel sofit when the gimel ends a word. The letter is a traditional gimel with an add-on curve on the bottom.
|Unicode name||HEBREW LETTER GIMEL||ARABIC LETTER JEEM||ARABIC LETTER GAF||SYRIAC LETTER GAMAL||SAMARITAN LETTER GAMAN||GIMEL SYMBOL|
|UTF-8||215 146||D7 92||216 172||D8 AC||218 175||DA AF||220 147||DC 93||224 160 130||E0 A0 82||226 132 183||E2 84 B7|
|Numeric character reference||ג||ג||ج||ج||گ||گ||ܓ||ܓ||ࠂ||ࠂ||ℷ||ℷ|
|Unicode name||UGARITIC LETTER GAMLA||IMPERIAL ARAMAIC LETTER GIMEL||PHOENICIAN LETTER GAML|
|UTF-8||240 144 142 130||F0 90 8E 82||240 144 161 130||F0 90 A1 82||240 144 164 130||F0 90 A4 82|
|UTF-16||55296 57218||D800 DF82||55298 56386||D802 DC42||55298 56578||D802 DD02|
|Numeric character reference||𐎂||𐎂||𐡂||𐡂||𐤂||𐤂|
The serif form of the Hebrew letter gimel is occasionally used for the gimel function in mathematics.
- Russell, Bertrand (1972). A history of western philosophy (60th print. ed.). New York: Touchstone book. ISBN 9780671314002.
- Stan Tenen - Meru Foundation. "Meru Foundation Research: Letter Portrait: Gimel". meru.org.
- Powell, Barry B. (27 March 2009). Writing: Theory and History of the Technology of Civilization. Wiley Blackwell. p. 182. ISBN 978-1405162562.
- Ginzburgh, Yitzchak; Trugman, Avraham Arieh; Wisnefsky, Moshe Yaakov (1991). The Alef-beit: Jewish Thought Revealed Through the Hebrew Letters. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 42,389. ISBN 9780876685181.
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