Wednesday 26 January 2022

Unicode Trivia U+0840

Codepoint: U+0840 "MANDAIC LETTER HALQA"
Block: U+0840..085F "Mandaic"

The Mandaic alphabet contains 22 letters (in the same order as the Aramaic alphabet) and one digraph:

The alphabet is "rounded up" to a symbolic count of 24 letters by repeating the first letter, U+0840 "MANDAIC LETTER HALQA". It is unusual for a Semitic script in being a true alphabet with letters for both consonants and vowels:

  1. U+0840 "Halqa" = a [vowel]
  2. U+0841 "Ab" = ba
  3. U+0842 "Ag" = ga
  4. U+0843 "Ad" = da
  5. U+0844 "Ah" = ha
  6. U+0845 "Ushenna" = wa [vowel]
  7. U+0846 "Az" = za
  8. U+0847 "It" = eh
  9. U+0848 "Att" = ṭa
  10. U+0849 "Aksa" = ya [vowel]
  11. U+084A "Ak" = ka
  12. U+084B "Al" = la
  13. U+084C "Am" = ma
  14. U+084D "An" = na
  15. U+084E "As" = sa
  16. U+084F "In" = e [vowel]
  17. U+0850 "Ap" = pa
  18. U+0851 "Asz" = ṣa
  19. U+0852 "Aq" = qa
  20. U+0853 "Ar" = ra
  21. U+0854 "Ash" = ša
  22. U+0855 "At" = ta
  23. U+0856 "Dushenna" = ḏ

The eighteenth letter was renamed from "Ass" to "Asz" as part of the original proposal, presumably to stop the giggling at the back of the classroom.

The Classical Mandaic language is still used by Mandaean priests in liturgical rites. It is estimated that there are about 5,500 native speakers. Neo-Mandaic is a modern evolution of Mandaic but generally unwritten. Only a few hundred Mandaeans, located mainly in Iran, speak Neo-Mandaic as a first language.

One of the unintended consequences of the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the diaspora of over 60,000 Iraqi Mandaeans. Today, Sweden has the largest community of any country.

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