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Yodh (also spelled Yud or Yod) is the tenth letter of many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Yud , Syriac and Arabic (in abjadi order, 28th in modern order). Its sound value is in all languages for which it is used; in many languages, it also serves as a long vowel, representing .

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Iota (Ι), Latin I, Cyrillic І, Coptic iauda ( ) and Gothic eis ( ).

Origins

Yodh is thought to have originated with a pictograph of a hand, ultimately deriving from Proto-Semitic *yad-.
It may be related to the Egyptian hieroglyphic of an arm, a .


Hebrew Yud

Orthographic variants
Various Print Fonts Cursive

Hebrew
Rashi

Script
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
י י י

Pronunciation

In both Biblical and modern Hebrew, Yud represents a palatal approximant ( ).

Variations

Yud is a mater lectionis, like Aleph, He, and Vav. At the end of words with a vowel or when marked with a sh'va nach, it represents the formation of a diphthong, such as , , or .

Significance

In gematria, Yud represents the number ten.

As a prefix, it designates the third person singular (or plural, with a Vav as a suffix) in the future tense.

As a suffix, it indicates first person singular possessive; av (father) becomes avi (my father).

In Judaism

Two Yuds in a row designate the name of God Adonai and in pointed texts are written with the vowels of Adonai; this is done as well with the Tetragrammaton.

As Yud is the smallest letter, much kabbalistic and mystical significance is attached to it. According to the Gospel of Matthew Jesus mentioned it during the Antithesis of the Law when he says: "One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Jot, or iota, refers to the letter Yud; it was often overlooked by scribes because of its size and position as a mater lectionis. In modern Hebrew, the phrase "tip of the Yud" refers to a small and insignificant thing, and someone who "worries about the tip of a Yud" is someone who is picky and meticulous about small details.

Much kabbalistic and mystical significance is also attached to it because of its gematria value as ten, which is an important number in Judaism, and its place in the name of God. See The Mystical Significance of the Hebrew Letters - Yud

"Yod" in the hebrew language signifies iodine.

Arabic yāʼ

The letter is named yāʼ (ياء), and is written is several ways depending in its position in the word:

Yāʼ is pronounced in three ways.
  • As a consonant, it is pronounced as a palatal approximant , typically at the beginnings of words in front of short or long vowels.
  • In the middle and end of words, the yāʼ usually (though not always) becomes a long close front unrounded vowel . In this case it has no diacritic, but could be marked with a sukūn in some traditions.
  • A diphthong, . 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 in the diphthong, i.e. . In some dialects, the diphthong may be reduced to the long monophthong


As a vowel, yāʼ can serve as the "seat" of the hamza: ئ.

Yāʼ serves several functions in the Arabic language. Yāʼ with a shadda is particularly used to turn a noun into an adjective,called نسبة. For instance مصر Miṣr (Egyptmarker) → مصري Miṣriyy (Egyptian). The transformation can be more abstract; for instance, موضوع mawdū` (matter, object) → موضوعي mawdū`iyy (objective). Still other uses of this function can be a bit further from the root: إشتراك ishtirāk (cooperation) → إشتراكي ishtirākiyy (socialist); this is often used for creation of native terms for political philosophies: ḥurr (free) becomes ḥurriyy (liberal); muḥāfaẓa (guarding, preservation) becomes muḥāfaẓiyy (conservative).

A form similar to but distinguished from yāʼ is the ʾalif maqṣūra (الألف المقصورة) (broken alif), with the form ى. It indicates a final long open front unrounded vowel .

Typically, Egyptians do not use dots under final yāʼ (i.e. write the form ى where it should be ي), both in handwriting and in print, resulting in substantial confusion with ʾalif maqṣūra to those not accustomed to the practice.

Persian ye

In the Persian alphabet "Yodh" is written and pronounced a bit different from Arabic and has a different code in Unicode. Yodh in Persian is called ye; in its final form, the letter does not have dots (ی), similar to but distinguished from the Arabic ʾalif maqṣūra.


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