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Three letters in the Arabic and Hebrew alphabets pose special problems:  alef / alif/hamza;   ayin / ayn;  and shva/schwa   
von tomaquinaten (US/DE), Last modified: 2013-08-11, 10:03  like dislike  Spam?  
This thread is the promised follow-up to #719885.

Various transcription systems prescribe special characters for these three letters when they are used in scholarly or official texts. CONFUSION, however, often arises because for all three of these letters, the ordinary “straight” apostrophe, <'> (Unicode 0027) is often used in place of the proper transcription sign simply to indicate that a syllable break intervenes
 between two vowels or between a closed vowel and a following consonant, i.e. as substitutes for alef / hamza and ayin / ayn
 between two consonants, i.e. as a substitute for the Hebrew shva /schwa.

1. Hebrew alef / Arabic alif/hamza
The normative transcription of these letters is the modifier letter right half ring, <ʾ> (Unicode 02BE), but for the sake of convenience or typographical clarity, some transcription systems  use <’> (right single quotation mark, Unicode 2018) or <ʼ> (modifier letter apostrophe, i.e. left-turned apostrophe, Unicode 02BC) or  even the modifier letter prime, <ʹ> (Unicode 02B9).
      IN PRACTICE, for a variety of reasons that need not be explained here, the letters alef / alif/hamza are ALMOST NEVER transliterated at the beginning or at the end of a word, BUT ONLY WHEN they appear as a syllable break in the middle of a term, e.g. when they close a syllable before another consonant,  as in “Mu’minid dynasty” or separate two vowels, as in “Yisra’el”, the Hebrew name for Israel, and “Isrā’īl” its Arab equivalent. To my knowledge, we have no examples of terms with this sign at present in

2. Hebrew ayin / Arabic ayn
The normative transcription of these letters is <ʿ> (modifier letter left half ring,  Unicode 02BF), but again for the sake of convenience or typographical clarity, some transcription systems use <‘> (left single quotation mark,  Unicode 2018) or <ʻ> (modifier letter turned comma,  Unicode 02BB) or even <ˋ> (modifier letter grave accent,  Unicode 02CB).
    IN PRACTICE, these letters occur more often in words that are likely to be entered into, since it is often transliterated both at the beginning and in the middle of terms. At present, to my knowledge, we have only two such entries in, namely the above cited:
Mutazila [often: Muʿtazila, Muʿtazilah]   =  Mutazila {f} [häufig: Muʿtazila]
And the above cited: Al Qaida
SYNO  Base | Qaeda | al-Qa'ida | al-Qaeda  ...
Note that here the simple apostrophe has been used instead of one of the correct transcription signs.

3. Hebrew shva / schwa (Hebrew: שְׁוָא)
         [See Wikipedia(EN): Shva and Wikipedia(EN): Schwa ]
The modern Hebrew letter shva or in classical Hebrew sh'wa  is a sign written as two vertical dots "ְ" underneath a letter in so-called “pointed” text.  However,  Modern Hebrew is normally written without such so-called “vowel points”, which have been used in Biblical and rabbinical texts since the Middle Ages..
Sometimes the schwa is used to indicate the complete absence of a vowel, i.e. the so-called  “quiescent  schwa” or “shva nah” <Ø>.
Often, however, it is used to indicate a very short neutral vowel sound rather like the <a> in “about”,  the <e> in “taken”, the <i> in pencil etc. In this  use it is called the “mobile schwa” or the “shva na”. A strict phonetic rendering of this sound is difficult, because its pronunciation often depends on the following or preceding consonant.
Depending on what transcription system is used, this vocalized schwa can be rendered as :
 <e>  (Latin small letter <e>, Unicode 0065)
 <ĕ>  (Latin small letter <e> with breve, Unicode 0115)
 < ͤ >  (superscript small letter <e>, Unicode 0364),
 <ə> (Latin small letter schwa, Unicode 0259, often as superscript)
 <'>  ( ordinary “straight” apostrophe,  Unicode 0027),
 or nothing at all.
The  use of <ə> is problematical, because this sound is not used in modern Hebrew, and may not have been used in classical Hebrew either.
The wide-spread use of the apostrophe in non-scholarly writing is misleading, since  the apostrophe is often used for other purposes, among them as a substitute for alef  / alif/hamza and for ayin / ayn.
    AT PRESENT, to my knowledge, we have only one entry in in which one of the special characters is used for the vocalized  shva / schwa, namely: B'nai
Bene Israel [a native Jewish community in India]   =   Beni {pl} Israel [auch Benai Israel, B'nai Israel, Bani Israel]
Note that the simple apostrophe has been used here.
However, one could also add this spelling variant to the entry: Shema
Shema (Yisrael) [שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל‎]   =   Schma (Jisrael) {n},
since the spellings “Sh'ma Yisrael” (German: “Sch'ma Jisrael / Schᵉma Jisrael”) are often used.
Danke, tom, für deine, denke ich, klaren Ausführungen.   #720071
von rabend (DE/FR), 2013-08-11, 15:36  like dislike  Spam?  

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