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definición - Waw (letter)

definición de Waw (letter) (Wikipedia)

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Waw (letter)

Phoenician Hebrew Aramaic Syriac Arabic
Waw ו Waw ܘ و
Greek Latin Cyrillic
Phonemic representation: w, v, o, u
Position in alphabet: 6
Numerical (Gematria/Abjad) value: 6

Waw (wāw, also vau or vav) is the sixth letter of the Northwest Semitic family of scripts, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic ("sixth" in abjadi order; it is 27th in modern Arabic order).

In Arabic and thus in most Semitic languages it represents the sound [w], and in some (such as Hebrew and Arabic) also the long vowel [], depending on context, Hebrew pronounced it 'vav' among most Jews.

In Hebrew, pre Israeli Hebrew also used the 'v' sound for the 'vav' the consonantal pronunciation is [v] or [β],this pronunciation is the pattern shared by all the ancient non-Semitic languages of the Middle East (with Hebrew), which borrow the Arabic alphabet such as Persian (vav) Turkish (vuv) and Urdu (vav) (in Turkish for example the Arabs got the UN to make a statement against forcing the Kurds to use the 'v' sound rather than the 'w' as a way to get Kurds to use the Arabic pronunciation of the letter. It may still be that the Turkish pronunciation is the correct sound, as Jews of all kinds and Persians of all kinds use the less evolved and more ancient lack of any 'w' sound in a single letter) [1].

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek digamma (Ϝ, whose name in Greek was probably Ϝαυ) and upsilon (Υ), and Etruscan V (V or V). The latter is the source of the Latin letter F.

Vav literally means hook/peg/spear.


  Hebrew Vav

Orthographic variants
Various Print Fonts Cursive
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
ו ו ו Hebrew letter Vav handwriting.svg Hebrew letter Vav Rashi.png

Hebrew spelling: וָו

  Pronunciation in Hebrew

Vav has three orthographic variants, each with a different phonemic value and phonetic realisation:[2]

Variant (with Niqqud) without Niqqud Name Phonemic Value Phonetic Realisation English example


as initial letter:ו

Consonantal Vav
(Hebrew: Vav Itsurit ו׳ עיצורית)
/v/ [v] vote
as middle letter:וו
as final letter:ו or יו



Vav Shruka ([väv ʃruˈkä] / ו׳ שרוקה) or
Shuruq ([ʃuˈruk] / שׁוּרוּק)
/u/ [u] glue



Vav Chaluma ([väv χäluˈmä] / ו׳ חלומה) or
Holam Male ([χo̞ˈläm maˈle̞] / חוֹלָם מָלֵא)
/o/ [] no, noh

In modern Hebrew, the frequency of the usage of vav, out of all the letters, is about 10.00%.

  Vav as consonant

Consonantal vav (ו) generally represents a voiced labiodental fricative (like the English v) in Ashkenazi, European Sephardi, Persian, Caucus, Yemen, Italian and modern Israeli Hebrew; and originally a labial-velar approximant /w/. It is pronounced like Arabic as a [w] by some Jews of Oriental (Arabic speaking) origin, in certain liturgy Yemenite Jews used the 'v' sound after the 'w' that is "wv", which shows a transition to the evolved Arabic pronunciation of a 'beth' with a vowel dot on the upper right for 'v' and a 'vav/waw' for the newer 'w' sound[3], these same evolutionary differences can be seen in European languages like Polish a linguistic 'cousin' of German and Slavic.

The large Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian Jewish worlds are known to have used the 'w' sound when dealing with their Arabic friends and in daily business life. However, they used a hybrid 'wv' De-emphasizing the 'v' sound for liturgy or Kenissah "Synagogue"[4].

In modern Israeli Hebrew, some loanwords, the pronunciation of whose source contains /w/, and their derivations, are pronounced with [w], too, e.g. ואחד – /ˈwaχad/ (but: ואדי/ˈvadi/).

Modern Hebrew has no standardized way to distinguish orthographically between [v] and [w].[2] The pronunciation is either determined by prior knowledge or must be derived through context.

Some non standard spellings of the sound [w] are sometimes found in modern Hebrew texts, such as word-initial double-vav, e.g. וואללה – /ˈwala/ (word-medial double-vav is both standard and common for both /w/ and /v/, see table above) or, rarely, vav with a geresh, e.g. ו׳יליאם – /ˈwiljam/.

  Vav with a dot on top

Vav can be used as a mater lectionis for an o vowel, in which case it is known as a holam male, which in pointed text is marked as vav with a dot above it. It is pronounced [] (phonemically transcribed more simply as /o/).

The distinction is normally ignored and the HEBREW POINT HOLAM (U+05B9) is used in all cases. This vowel can be denoted without the vav, as just the dot placed above and to the left of the letter it points, and is called then ḥolam ḥaser. Some inadequate typefaces don't support the distinction between the ḥolam maleוֹ/o/, the consonantal vav pointed with a ḥolam ḥaserוֺ/vo/ (compare ḥolam maleמַצּוֹת/maˈtsot/ and consonantal vav-ḥolam ḥaserמִצְוֺת/mitsˈvot/). To correctly display a consonantal vav with ḥolam ḥaser, the typeface must either support the vav with the Unicode combining character 'HEBREW POINT HOLAM HASER FOR VAV' (U+05BA, HTML Entity (decimal) ֺ) or the precomposed character ⟨⟩ (U+E801, HTML Entity (decimal) ).[5]

  • Compare between the three:
    1. The vav with the combining character HEBREW POINT HOLAM: מִצְוֹת
    2. The vav with the combining character HEBREW POINT HOLAM HASER FOR VAV: מִצְוֺת
    3. The precomposed character: מִצְת

  Vav with a dot in the middle

Vav can also be used as a mater lectionis for [u], in which case it is known as a shuruk, and in text with niqqud is marked with a dot in the middle (on the left side).

Shuruk and vav with a dagesh look identical ⟨וּ⟩ and are only distinguishable through the fact that in text with nikud, vav with a dagesh will normally be attributed a vocal point in addition, e.g. שׁוּק (/ʃuk/), "a market", (the ⟨וּ⟩ denotes a shuruk) as opposed to שִׁוֵּק (/ʃiˈvek/), "to market" (the ⟨וּ⟩ denotes a vav with dagesh and is additionally pointed with a zeire, ⟨ ֵ ⟩, denoting /e/). In the word שִׁוּוּק (/ʃiˈvuk/), "marketting", the first ⟨וּ⟩ denotes a vav with dagesh, the second a shuruk, being the vowel attributed to the first.

  Numerical value

Vav in gematria represents the number six, and when used at the beginning of Hebrew years, it means 6000 (i.e. ותשנד in numbers would be the date 6754.)

  Words written as vav

Vav at the beginning of the word has several possible meanings:

  • Vav Conjunctive (Vav Hachibur, literally "the Vav of Connection" -- chibur means "joining, or bringing together") is a vav connecting two words or parts of a sentence; it is a grammatical conjunction meaning 'and' , cognate to the Arabic. This is the most common usage.
  • Vav Consecutive (Vav Hahipuch, literally "the Vav of Reversal" -- hipuch means "inversion"), mainly biblical, commonly mistaken for the previous type of vav; it indicates consequence of actions and reverses the tense of the verb following it:
    • when placed in front of a verb in the imperfect tense, it changes the verb to the perfect tense. For example, yomar means 'he will say' and vayomar means 'he said';
    • when placed in front of a verb in the perfect, it changes the verb to the imperfect tense. For example, ahavtah means 'you loved', and ve'ahavtah means 'you will love'.

(Note: Older Hebrew did not have "tense" in a temporal sense, "perfect," and "imperfect" instead denoting aspect of completed or continuing action. Modern Hebrew verbal tenses have developed closer to their Indo-European counterparts, mostly having a temporal quality rather than denoting aspect. As a rule, Modern Hebrew does not use the "Vav Consecutive" form.)

  Syriac Waw

Syriac Eastern waw.svg Madnḫaya Waw
Syriac Estrangela waw.svg Serṭo Waw
Syriac Serta waw.svg Esṭrangela Waw

Syriac letter shapes Waw.PNG

In the Syriac alphabet, the sixth letter is ܘ — Waw ܘܐܘ, it is pronounced as a [w]. When used as a mater lectionis, a Waw with a dot above the letter is an [o] vowel, and a Waw with a dot under the letter is an [u] vowel. It's alphabetic-numeral is 6.

  Arabic wāw

The letter و is named واو wāw and is written is several ways depending in its position in the word:

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: و ـو ـو و

Wāw is used to represent three distinct phonetic features:

  • A consonant, pronounced as a voiced labial-velar approximant /w/, which is the case whenever it is at the beginnings of words, but normally occurs also in the middle or end.
  • A long /uː/. The preceding consonant could either have no diacritic or a short-wāw-vowel mark, damma, to aid in the pronunciation by hinting to the following long vowel.
  • A diphthong, /aw/. In this case it has no diacritic, but could be marked with a sukun in some traditions. The preceding consonant could either have no diacritic or have fatḥa sign, hinting to the first vowel /a/ in the diphthong. In some dialects, the diphthong may be reduced to the long monophthong /oː/. It is also commonly used for the latter phoneme to transcribe names or loanwords.

As a vowel, wāw can serve as the carrier of a hamza: ؤ.

Wāw serves several functions in Arabic. Perhaps foremost among them is that it is the primary conjunction in Arabic, equivalent to "and"; it is usually prefixed to other conjunctions, such as ولكن wa-lakin, meaning "but". Another function is the "oath", by preceding a noun of great significantly valued by the speaker. It is often literally translatable to "By..." or "I swear to...", and is often used in the Qur'an in this way, and also in the generally fixed construction والله wallah ("By Allah!" or "I swear to God!").


In Persian it is known as vāv, it is pronounced as [u] like Arabic but pronounced [v] at the same time instead of [w], identical to Sepharadi Hebrew and Turkish.

  Derived letters

With an additional triple dot diacritic above waw, the letter then named ve is used to represent distinctively the consonant /v/ in some languages like Uyghur.

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ۋ ـۋ ـۋ ۋ

/o/ for the Arabic-based Sorani Kurdish, /v/ in Kazakh, /ø/ for Uyghur.

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ۆ ـۆ ـۆ ۆ

/ʉː/ for Kurdish and also in other languages with a similar vowel.

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ۈ ـۈ ـۈ ۈ

Used in Kurdish for ?

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ۊ ـۊ ـۊ ۊ

In Jawi script: Used for /v/.

Position in word: Isolated Final Medial Initial
Glyph form: ۏ ـۏ ـۏ ۏ

  Other letters

See Arabic script in Unicode


  1. ^ ^ Karakaş, Saniye; Diyarbakır Branch of the Contemporary Lawyers Association (March 2004). "Submission to the Sub-Commission on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: Working Group of Minorities; Tenth Session, Agenda Item 3 (a)" (MS Word). United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Archived from the original on 2007-06-28. Retrieved 2006-11-07. "Kurds have been officially allowed since September 2003 to take Kurdish names, but cannot use the letters x, w, or q, which are common in Kurdish but do not exist in Turkey's due to the ancientness of the Turkish language and the modernity of Arabic. Those letters, however, are used in Turkey in the names of companies, TV and radio channels, and trademarks. For example Turkish Army has company under the name of AXA OYAK and there is SHOW TV television channel in Turkey."
  2. ^ a b Announcements of the Academy of the Hebrew Language
  3. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2xNTzlFSk0 note this song is in a uniquely indigenous Yemenite Hebrew dialect most Jews would have to study to understand.
  4. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKfqJjh2ns&feature=related
  5. ^ List of fonts that support U+05BA at fileformat.info


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