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.
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.
|ܒ݂= ḇ||qaḇro (=qavro)||grave||ܩܰܒ̣ܪܐ|
|ܓ||ܓ݁= g||gubo||(a) well||ܓ݁ܘܒܐ|
|ܓ݂= ḡ||reḡlo (=reġlo)||foot||ܪܶܓ݂ܠܐ|
|ܟ݂= ḵ||saḵlo (=saxlo)||fool||ܣܰܟ݂ܠܐ|
|ܦ݂= p̄||rap̄šo (=rafšo)||spade||ܪܰܦܫܐ|
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/:
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).
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 ܒ݂.
What is expressed in Syriac with Ḇeṯ (ܒ݂) has merged with Waw (ܘ) in Surayt and is consequently written with Waw (ܘ).
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:
For this reason, the Surayt alphabet has 9 more letters than its Syriac-Aramaic predecessor.