Languages with non-Latin script: Palindrome

Whodunit

Senior Member
Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
There has already been some threads about palindromes dealing with languages that avail themselves of the Latin script. But studying Arabic made me wonder whether there are palindromes in languages that use another alphabet, such as Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Greek or Russian.

The only Arabic word I can remember at the moment that can be spoken backward as well as forward is أنا, meaning I, but its written form can't be inverted, because of the little hamza on the first (the very right) letter. I am, however, sure that there has to be other words taht are real palindromes.

Thanks for your ideas. :)
 
  • Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    The Arabic word for Libya, ليبيا, looks the same both from the left and from the right. However, the first and the last letter differ. :)

    Mod remark: Please do not post palindromes in European languages (they will be edited away). We have had a couple of threads devoted to them. If you wish to add something, type in "palindromes" in our search engine and choose an appropriate thread.

    Jana
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    morgoth2604 said:
    The words Aba and Ima in Hebrew are palindromes.
    If you mean father and mother in their written form (אמא and אבא), you are correct. Considering the pronunciation, "ima" would not count.

    By the way, the word "aba" reminds me of my first Hebrew sentence: aba ba (אבא בא). :)

    Thank you, Morgoth.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    elroy said:
    Whodunit, please define "real palindrome."
    By "real palindrome", I mean words that can be read backward and forward paying attention to all diacritic marks or vowel signs (as in Arabic or Hebrew, including hamza and maybe dagesh).

    Words as "2ana" or "liibiyya" are no "real palindromes", since the hamza is a problem and ليبيا is just mirrored as through a symmetric axis. The only "real palindrome" in this thread are "aba". I told you why I wouldn't count "ima". ;)
     

    morgoth2604

    Senior Member
    Israel - (Fluent Hebrew and English), Passable French, Horrid German
    That's a pretty rough definition, take into consideration that in Hebrew (and Arabic I believe) most people don't use diacritical marks.
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    morgoth2604 said:
    That's a pretty rough definition, take into consideration that in Hebrew (and Arabic I believe) most people don't use diacritical marks.
    My thoughts exactly. Whodunit's definition really narrows it down. Applied strictly even number palindromes don't measure up (they would just be visual palindromes like ليبيا ), except maybe the Hebrew number for six (feminine), שש . Not taking into account vowels it would seem to be that there could be many (visual) palindromes in Semitic languages. Regardless, I will try to think of some fitting Whodunit's definition.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    morgoth2604 said:
    That's a pretty rough definition, take into consideration that in Hebrew (and Arabic I believe) most people don't use diacritical marks.
    That's exactly what I meant. Many people don't use these diacritical marks. What I'm aiming at is that أنا (with hamza) or أَنَا (vowelized) are no "real palindrome", whereas انا (no diacritical marks) is one.

    The same works for Hebrew: שֵׁשׁ is no "real palindrome", whereas שׁשׁ or שש are such palindromes.

    Please revise my definition, if you don't like it. :)
     

    Pivra

    Senior Member
    ...
    most languages with Indic texts dont hae lots of palindromes... not that i could think of...

    one word is ... mama ... in Sanskrit means my..... but due to the little line at the end of the M... it is not fully a palindrome...
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Whodunit said:
    The same works for Hebrew: שֵׁשׁ is no "real palindrome"...
    Why not? If you think of it as being composed of three entities - the first letter, the diacritic, and the second letter, in that order - it would indeed be spelled the same way if written backwards.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    elroy said:
    Why not? If you think of it as being composed of three entities - the first letter, the diacritic, and the second letter, in that order - it would indeed be spelled the same way if written backwards.
    Ok, that's right. I must admit we could consider that such a real palindrome. But "أنا" is not. :)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I'm getting a little confused.

    Do you want words in which the diacritics are considered separately, or as part of the letter?

    Your acceptance of שֵׁשׁ would lead to me to assume that you consider the diacritics separately (at least that's what I did when I said that it could be considered a palindrome) - otherwise it would not work.

    In that case, it's going to be hard to come up with a palindrome because any word ending with a diacritic would not work, because no word can begin with a diacritic (which would be the case when switched).

    For example, I thought of قَلِقَ (qaliqa - he worried), which would work - vowels and all - but only if the diacritics are considered part of the letter. Otherwise it would not work.

    So which is it? :)
     

    Jhorer Brishti

    Senior Member
    United States/Bangladesh English/Bengali
    Pivra said:
    most languages with Indic texts dont hae lots of palindromes... not that i could think of...

    one word is ... mama ... in Sanskrit means my..... but due to the little line at the end of the M... it is not fully a palindrome...
    Pivra, I'm intrigued. What little line? Only the vowels have different forms when placed between consonants so I fail to see how it wouldn't be a palindrome(bearing in mind that I don't really know Sanskrit). Does it have a "diacritical mark" like anuswar, visarga, khandya ta, chandra-bindu, etc.?
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    elroy said:
    I'm getting a little confused.

    Do you want words in which the diacritics are considered separately, or as part of the letter?

    Your acceptance of שֵׁשׁ would lead to me to assume that you consider the diacritics separately (at least that's what I did when I said that it could be considered a palindrome) - otherwise it would not work.

    In that case, it's going to be hard to come up with a palindrome because any word ending with a diacritic would not work, because no word can begin with a diacritic (which would be the case when switched).

    For example, I thought of قَلِقَ (qaliqa - he worried), which would work - vowels and all - but only if the diacritics are considered part of the letter. Otherwise it would not work.

    So which is it? :)
    Ok, I can see your confusion. Words like قَلِقَ are not such "real/proper palindromes", because the sound doesn't work, although reagrding the letters it would be acceptable.

    Another Arabic example is شاش (shaash - gauze) with or without diacritics. If the sound doesn't work, the diacritics don't work either. "Real pralindromes" only work if the sound and the letters are "palindromes in accordance".

    Hope it's more understandable now. :)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Whodunit said:
    Ok, I can see your confusion. Words like قَلِقَ are not such "real/proper palindromes", because the sound doesn't work, huh? :confused: although reagrding the letters it would be acceptable.

    Another Arabic example is شاش (shaash - gauze) with or without diacritics. If the sound doesn't work, the diacritics don't work either. "Real pralindromes" only work if the sound and the letters are "palindromes in accordance".

    Hope it's more understandable now. :)
    Unfortunately, it's not.

    Are you saying the word has to have long vowels, so that the diacritics coincide with them?

    Please also see my confusion above. I'm afraid you're gonna have to do a little bit more explaining. :)
     

    amikama

    a mi modo
    עברית
    Whodunit - I must agree with morgoth and Josh Adkins: your definition for "real palindromes" in Hebrew is far too strict. Taking in account the nikkud, sounds etc. would yield only very, very few palindromes, most of them "boring" (i.e. trivial).

    Traditionally, palindromes in Hebrew ignore nikkud and don't even distinguish between the letters כמנפצ and their final forms ךםןףץ (thus נתן Nathan, for example, is legitimate). As far as I know, this definition goes back to as far as the 10th-11th century (maybe even earlier).

    Abraham Ibn Ezra (1089-1164) composed three famous palindromes in Hebrew:

    ?אבי אל חי שמך, למה מלך משיח לא יבא
    (My Father, Alive Lord is your name, why won't King Messiah come?)

    .דעו מאביכם כי לא בוש אבוש, שוב אשוב אליכם כי בא מועד
    (Know from your father that I won't be ashamed, I will return to you because time has come.)

    פרשנו: רעבתן שבדבש נתבער ונשרף
    (We explained: a glutton which is in the honey was burned and incinerated.)
    The last palindrome is remarkable for the fact that it can be arranged in a "magic square":
    פ ר ש נ ו
    ר ע ב ת נ
    ש ב ד ב ש
    נ ת ב ע ר
    ו נ ש ר פ​
     

    Pivra

    Senior Member
    ...
    Jhorer Brishti said:
    Pivra, I'm intrigued. What little line? Only the vowels have different forms when placed between consonants so I fail to see how it wouldn't be a palindrome(bearing in mind that I don't really know Sanskrit). Does it have a "diacritical mark" like anuswar, visarga, khandya ta, chandra-bindu, etc.?
    its a show verticle line that goes at the end of the alphabet.... i dont know how to call it .. its like a... thing that would prevent alphabets from joining together but make them read as if they were joint ( this case ... if the next word starts with A).... but if its not.... M... usually turns into the dot thingy (in thai the ลํ .<yes... the dot above the alphabet>.. is read as -ng not -m) i forgot how to call it...:( this is a line of Pali text written using Thai alphabets..

    ปมาทํ มจฺจุณํ ปาทํ ฯ อปมาทํ อมาตํ ปาทํ ive chosen this as an example cuz all words ends in that dot thingy... all of them use the genitive and something case... which i dont remember.... but it read:

    pamadang maccunang padang ;apamadang amatang padang

    .... kinda get what "little line" im talking about now??:p
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    elroy said:
    Unfortunately, it's not.

    Are you saying the word has to have long vowels, so that the diacritics coincide with them?

    Please also see my confusion above. I'm afraid you're gonna have to do a little bit more explaining. :)
    Ok, once again. :)

    I don't care about final or "modified letters" (letters in the middle of a word), but about the sound. Your example "qaliqa" doesn't work, since it reads "aqilaq" backward. My example "shaash", however, works. It can be read backward as well as forward.

    And please forget about the vowel thing. If the sound doesn't work as palindrom, the vowels can't work either. To illustrate more, I need to go back to English: "radar" can be read backward as well as forward, so it as palindrome. Were it written in Arabic script, it would work: رادار. You don't need to pay attention to any vowels, just consider the script and the sound. ;)

    Were the word "radara" (taken it were a verb in Arabic), it wouldn't work, although I'd write it رادار as well. It cannot count as palindrome, since the sounds of pronouncing it backward and forward would differ. ;)

    Still not clear? :)
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    Whodunit said:
    Ok, once again. :)

    I don't care about final or "modified letters" (letters in the middle of a word), but about the sound. Your example "qaliqa" doesn't work, since it reads "aqilaq" backward. My example "shaash", however, works. It can be read backward as well as forward.

    And please forget about the vowel thing. If the sound doesn't work as palindrom, the vowels can't work either. To illustrate more, I need to go back to English: "radar" can be read backward as well as forward, so it as palindrome. Were it written in Arabic script, it would work: رادار. You don't need to pay attention to any vowels, just consider the script and the sound. ;)

    Were the word "radara" (taken it were a verb in Arabic), it wouldn't work, although I'd write it رادار as well. It cannot count as palindrome, since the sounds of pronouncing it backward and forward would differ. ;)

    Still not clear? :)
    If you take the vowel thing into account then, actually, radar would not work because the two 'a's in the respective syllables are pronounced differently. The first syllable rhymes with 'day' (a dipthong) and the second rhymes with 'car' (long 'a'). In Arabic رايدار or ريَدار. So backwards it would would sound like radyar (first 'a' long, second 'a' dipthong). The only word I can think of offhand that fulfills both visual and pronunciation requirements is tenet. Palindromes are really just visual (i.e. the placing of the letters) -- something that can be read front and back and say the same thing like the examples in Amikama's post (those are brilliant by the way). So, the Arabic word قلق would be a palindrome as you could read it both ways.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Whodunit said:
    Ok, once again. :)

    I don't care about final or "modified letters" (letters in the middle of a word), but about the sound. Your example "qaliqa" doesn't work, since it reads "aqilaq" backward. My example "shaash", however, works. It can be read backward as well as forward.
    Ok, so you are considering the final diacritic the first sound of the word read backwards. Which confirms my earlier suspicion that any word that fits your description is not allowed to have a final vowel sound.

    Josh Adkins said:
    If you take the vowel thing into account then, actually, radar would not work because the two 'a's in the respective syllables are pronounced differently. The first syllable rhymes with 'day' (a dipthong) and the second rhymes with 'car' (long 'a'). In Arabic رايدار or ريَدار. So backwards it would would sound like radyar (first 'a' long, second 'a' dipthong). The only word I can think of offhand that fulfills both visual and pronunciation requirements is tenet. Palindromes are really just visual (i.e. the placing of the letters) -- something that can be read front and back and say the same thing like the examples in Amikama's post (those are brilliant by the way). So, the Arabic word قلق would be a palindrome as you could read it both ways.
    Yes, but I think his point is that when you write "radar" backwards it still looks the same so you would read it the same. Essentially, the new first "a" gets the pronunciation of the old first "a," and vice versa.

    What's problematic about Whodunit's request is that he expects us to include the diacritics as separate entities; coming up with a palindrome with those parameters is quite a tall order.

    I agree about Amikama's palindromes - they're amazing.
     
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    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Okay, I must admit that my definition was a bit random and quite difficult to understand. So, I will let you be more free, so that I can get more palindromes. Let's include words like "qaliqa" if it is written in the non-vowelized way. And yes, I was wrong about the "a" in radar, which made things even more confusing. ;)

    Palindromes until now:
    • (ليبيا) - liibiyya
    • אמא - ima
    • אבא - aba
    • .אבא בא aba ba.
    • שש shesh
    • انا - ana
    • قَلِقَ - qaliqa
    • شاش - shaash
    • ?אבי אל חי שמך, למה מלך משיח לא יבא
    • .דעו מאביכם כי לא בוש אבוש, שוב אשוב אליכם כי בא מועד
    • .פרשנו: רעבתן שבדבש נתבער ונשרף
    Hehe, I don't want to transcribe the last three ones, because there'd be endlessly many mistakes if I did it. ;)
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    Whodunit said:
    Ok, once again. :)

    I don't care about final or "modified letters" (letters in the middle of a word), but about the sound. Your example "qaliqa" doesn't work, since it reads "aqilaq" backward. My example "shaash", however, works. It can be read backward as well as forward.
    I've still been trying to hash this out in my brain.

    Just food for thought:
    Consider, that since vowels in Arabic and Hebrew are different than in English, palindrome structure might be different also in those languages. Remember, each letter takes its own vowel and that vowel is pronounced after the letter. A vowel diacritic can not start a word. Further, Arabic words can not start with a vowel or vowel sound. There is an initial hamza on words that appear to start with a vowel. So in order for qaliqa قلق to be pronounced as 'aqilaq' backwards it would have to be spelled قـلـقا and thus backwards it would be أَقلق where hamza would have to carry the kasra. But as it is the qailqa would still be pronounced qaliqa backwards because wach letter still takes its vowel. so the ق would have it fatha, the ل its kasra, and the second ق its fatha. Here's an illustration of what I mean:

    Let's suppose we color the letters for clarity sake, so that we can see the movement of the letters:

    قـَــلِــقَ

    Now, lets separate the letters out:

    قَ - لِ - قَ

    so we have 'qa' and 'li' and 'qa'.
    And then switch them around:

    قَ - لِ - قَ

    We still have 'qa' and 'li' and 'qa'
    Let's reconnect them:

    قَـــلِــقَ

    It still reads qaliqa.

    I hope that makes sense.
    Definitely a confusing subject matter.
     

    apmoy70

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Greek palindromes (they are Byzantine Greek):

    «Ἀθλήσας ἤδη πώλῳ πηδήσας ἦλθα» athlésas édē pṓlō̩ pēdḗsas êltha = Having done with my exercise I jumped on a foal and came
    «Νοσῶ· σύ, ὃς εἶ ἴαμα, Ἰησοῦ, σῶσον» nosô sý ós eî íama iésoû sôson = I'm ill; O Jesus who art remedy, save me
    «Νίψον ἀνομήματα, μὴ μόναν ὄψιν» níp͡son anomḗmata mḗ mónan óp͡sin = Wash the transgressions, not only the face
     
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