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Surayt in Syriac script

1. The Syriac letters

The Syriac script consists of 22 letters, that express only consonants. Vowels are expressed with the aid of special signs, which will be discussed in Lesson Two. Each letter has a name, in which the first consonant expressses the same sound (value) as the letter itself.

The Syriac script is written from right to left. There is no division between capital letters and small letters, all are the same.

Name Sound (value) Letter
Olaf - ܐ
Beṯ b ܒ
Gomal g ܓ
Dolaḏ d ܕ
He h ܗ
Waw w ܘ
Zay z ܙ
Ḥeṯ ܚ
Ṭeṯ ܛ
Yuḏ y ܝ
Kof k ܟ
Lomaḏ l ܠ
Mim m ܡ
Nun n ܢܢ
Semkaṯ s ܣ
Ce c ܥ
Fe f ܦ
Ṣode ܨ
Qof q ܩ
Riš r ܪ
Šin š ܫ
Taw t ܬ

2. The doubled pronunciation of the letters bܒ / gܓ / dܕ / kܟ / fܦ / tܬ

In Syriac the letters - bܒ / gܓ / dܕ / kܟ / fܦ / tܬ - each have two different pronunciations depending on their position in the word. This is marked by way of a dot under the letter for the “soft” pronunciation and a dot over the letter for the “hard” pronunciation.

ܒ  ܒ̇= b bayto house ܒ݁ܰܝܬܐ
 ܒ݂= ḇ qaro (=qavro) grave ܩܰܒ̣ܪܐ
         
ܓ  ܓ̇= g gubo (a) well  ܓ̇ܘܒܐ
 ܓ̣= ḡ relo (=reġlo) foot  ܪܶܓܼܠܐ
         
ܕ  ܕ̇= d dayro monastery ܕܰ݁ܝܪܐ
 ܕ݂= ḏ io hand ܐܝܕ݂ܐ
         
ܟ  ܟ̇= k burko knee ܒܘܪܟ̇ܐ
 ܟܼ= ḵ salo (=saxlo) fool ܣܰܟܼܠܐ
         
ܦ  ܦ̇= p pardayso paradise ܦܰ݁ܪܕܰܝܣܐ
 ܦܼ= p̄ rašo (=rafšo) spade ܪܰܦܫܐ
         
ܬ  ܬ݁= t talgo snow ܬ݁ܰܠܓܐ
 ܬܼ= ṯ melo word ܡܶܠܬܼܐ

In West Syriac (kṯobonoyo), which provides the basis for our writing conventions, this rule no longer holds for Beṯ ܒ and Pe ܦ. Beṯ ܒ always expresses /b/ and Pe ܦ always expresses /f/:

 ܒ= b bayto house ܒܰܝܬܐ
qabro grave ܩܰܒܪܐ
       
 ܦ= f fardayso paradise ܦܰܪܕܰܝܣܐ
rafšo spade ܪܰܦܫܐ

Therefore in Surayt there is no marking on ܦ when it expresses /f/. If /p/ should be expressed, then ܦ will be marked with a dot over it (ܦ݁).

plan plan ܦ݁ܠܰܢ
femo mouth ܦܶܡܐ

In the same manner, Beṯ ܒ will not be marked as /b/, but in the case that it should be expressed as /v/ in Surayt, Beṯ will be marked with a dot under it ܒܼ.

bayto house ܒܰܝܬܐ
villa villa ܒ݂ܝܠܠܰܐ

What is expressed in Syraic with Ḇeṯ (ܒܼ) has merged with Waw (ܘ) in Surayt and is consequently written with Waw (ܘ).

  Syriac Surayt
gold daho ܕܰܗܒܼܐ dahwo ܕܰܗܘܐ
grab qaro ܩܰܒܼܪܐ qawro ܩܰܘܪܐ
buch kṯoo ܟܬܳܒܼܐ kṯowo ܟܬܼܳܘܐ

 In the Surayt alphabet each sound is expressed by its own separate letter, therefore all of the various sounds in the BGDKPT-letter group are treated as individual consonants. In order to avoid double marking in the Syriac script, with the exception of p ܦ, only the soft pronunciations of the BGDKPT letters will be marked with a dot (underneath).

Furthermore, Surayt has some sounds that have no equivalence in Classical Syriac. In order to express these sounds three Syriac characters have been modified and introduced to the Surayt alphabet. These are:

Čč čanṭa bag ܫ̰ܰܢܛܰܐ ܫ̰
Jj jazwe caffee pot ܔܰܙܘܶܐ ܔ
Žž žäbaše watermelon ܙ̰ܱܒܰܫܶܐ ܙ̰

For this reason, the Surayt alphabet has 9 more letters than its Syriac-Aramaic predecessor.