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Qoph               Shin               Taw
Phoenician Hebrew Aramaic Syriac Arabic
Shin ש Shin ܫ
Alphabetic
derivatives
Greek Latin Cyrillic
Σ S Ш
Phonemic representation: ʃ / s
Position in alphabet: 21
Numerical (Gematria/Abjad) value: 300
Phoenician alphabet
(ca. 1050–200 BCE)
𐤀    𐤁    𐤂    𐤃    𐤄    𐤅
𐤆    𐤇    𐤈    𐤉    𐤊    𐤋
𐤌    𐤍    𐤎    𐤏    𐤐
𐤑    𐤒    𐤓    𐤔    𐤕
Semitic abjads · Genealogy
Hebrew alphabet
(400 BCE–present)
א    ב    ג    ד    ה    ו
ז    ח    ט    י    כך
ל    מם    נן    ס    ע    פף
צץ    ק    ר    ש    ת
History · Transliteration
Niqqud · Dagesh · Gematria
Cantillation · Numeration
Syriac alphabet
(200 BCE–present)
ܐ    ܒ    ܓ    ܕ    ܗ    ܘ
ܙ    ܚ    ܛ    ܝ    ܟܟ    ܠ
ܡܡ    ܢܢ    ܣ    ܥ    ܦ
ܨ    ܩ    ܪ    ܫ    ܬ
Arabic alphabet
(400 CE–present)
ا    ب    ت    ث    ج    ح
خ    د    ذ    ر    ز    س
ش    ص    ض    ط    ظ    ع
غ    ف    ق    ك    ل
م    ن    ه    و    ي
History · Transliteration
Diacritics · Hamza ء
Numerals · Numeration

Shin (also spelled Šin (šīn) or Sheen) is the twenty-first letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician 𐤔, Aramaic/Hebrew ש, and Arabic (in abjadi order, 13th in modern order). Its sound value is a voiceless sibilant, IPA: [ʃ] or /s/.

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Sigma (Σ), Latin S, and the letter Sha in the Glagolitic and Cyrillic scripts (, Ш).

The South Arabian and Ethiopian letter Śawt is also cognate.

Contents

Origins

The Proto-Sinaitic glyph, and possibly its Proto-Canaanite descendant glyph, according to William Albright, may have been based on the hieroglyph
N6
for the uraeus in Semitic called shamash "sun", ultimately reflecting Proto-Semitic *śamš-, with a phonetic value IPA: [ʃ].

The Phoenician šin letter expressed the continuants of two Proto-Semitic phonemes, and may have been based on a pictogram of a tooth (in modern Hebrew shen). The Encyclopedia Judaica, 1972, records that it originally represented a composite bow.

The history of the letters expressing sibilants in the various Semitic alphabets is a bit complicated, due to different mergers between Proto-Semitic phonemes. As usually reconstructed, there are five Proto-Semitic phonemes that evolved into various voiceless sibilants in daughter languages, as follows:

Proto-Semitic Akkadian Arabic Canaanite Hebrew Aramaic Ge'ez
š س s Phoenician sin.svg š שׁ š שׁ š s
s s س s Phoenician samekh.svg s ס s ס s s
ص Phoenician sade.svg צ צ
ś ش š š š שׂ s שׂ s ś
ṣ́ ض ṣ ץ ע ʿ ṣ́

Hebrew Shin / Sin

Orthographic variants
Various Print Fonts Cursive
Hebrew
Rashi
Script
Serif Sans-serif Monospaced
ש ש ש Hebrew letter Shin handwriting.svg Hebrew letter Shin Rashi.png

The Hebrew /s/ version according to the reconstruction shown above is descended from Proto-Semitic *ś, a phoneme thought to correspond to a voiceless alveolar lateral fricative /ɬ/, similar to Welsh Ll in "Llandudno".

See also Hebrew phonology, Śawt.

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Sin and Shin Dot

Sin and Shin dot
שׁ, שׂ
IPA s, ʃ
Transliteration s, sh
English example sought, shot
Sin Dot Example
יִשְׂרָאֵל
The word Israel in Hebrew, Yisrael. The upper left hand dot on the Sin is a Sin dot.
Shin Dot Example
יֵשׁ
The Hebrew word yesh, there is. The upper right hand dot on the Shin is a Shin dot.
Other Niqqud
Shva · Hiriq · Zeire · Segol · Patach · Kamatz · Holam · Dagesh · Mappiq · Shuruk · Kubutz · Rafe · Sin/Shin Dot

The Hebrew letter represents two different phonemes: an alveolar sibilant, /s/ like English a palato-alveolar sibilant, /ʃ/ like English shoe. The two are distinguished by a dot above the left-hand side of the letter for /s/ and above the right-hand side for /ʃ/.

Name Symbol IPA Transliteration Example
Sin dot (left) שׂ /s/ s sour
Shin dot (right) שׁ /ʃ/ sh shop

Unicode encoding

Glyph Unicode Name
ׁ U+05C1 SHIN DOT
ׂ U+05C2 SIN DOT

Significance

In gematria, Shin represents the number 300.

Shin, as a prefix, bears the same meaning as the relative pronouns "that", "which" and "who" in English. In colloquial Hebrew, Kaph and Shin together have the meaning of "when". This is a contraction of כּאשר, ka'asher (as, when).

Shin is also one of the seven letters which receive a special crown (called a tagin) when written in a Sefer Torah. See Gimmel, Ayin, Teth, Nun, Zayin, and Tzadi.

According to Judges 12:6, the tribe of Ephraim could not differentiate between Shin and Sin; when the Gileadites were at war with the Ephraimites, they would ask suspected Ephraimites to say the word shibolet; an Ephraimite would say sibolet and thus be exposed. From this episode we get the English word Shibboleth.

In Judaism

Shin also stands for the word Shaddai, a name for God. Because of this, a kohen (priest) forms the letter Shin with his hands as he recites the Priestly Blessing. In the mid 1960s, actor Leonard Nimoy used a single-handed version of this gesture to create the Vulcan Hand Salute for his character, Mr. Spock, on Star Trek.

In Jewish tradition the letter Shin is inscribed on the Mezuzah, a vessel which houses a scroll of parchment with Biblical text written on it. The text contained in the Mezuzah is the Shema Yisrael prayer, which calls the Israelites to love their God with all their heart, soul and strength. The mezuzah is situated upon all the doorframes in a home or establishment. Sometimes the whole word Shaddai will be written.

The Shema Yisrael prayer also commands the Israelites to write God's commandments on their hearts (Deut. 6:6); the shape of the letter Shin mimics the structure of the human heart: the lower, larger left ventricle (which supplies the full body) and the smaller right ventricle (which supplies the lungs) are positioned like the lines of the letter Shin.

A religious significance has been applied to the fact that there are three valleys which comprise the city of Jerusalem's geography: the Valley of Ben Hinnom, Tyropoeon Valley, and Kidron Valley, and that these valleys converge to also form the shape of the letter shin, and that the Temple in Jerusalem is located where the dagesh (horizontal line) is. This is seen as a fulfillment of passages such as Deuteronomy 16:2 that instructs Jews to celebrate the Pasach at "the place the LORD will choose as a dwelling for his Name" (NIV).

In the Sefer Yetzirah the letter Shin is King over Fire, Formed Heaven in the Universe, Hot in the Year, and the Head in the Soul.

Sayings with Shin

The Shin-Bet was an old acronym for the Israeli Department of Internal General Security.

A Shin-Shin Clash is Israeli military parlance for a battle between two tank divisions (tank in Hebrew is shiryon).

Sh'at haShin (The Shin Hour) is the last possible moment for any action, usually military. Corresponds to the English expression the eleventh hour.

Arabic šīn/sīn

In the Arabic alphabet, šīn is at the original (21st) position in Abjadi order. A letter variant sīn takes the place of Samekh at 15th position.

sīn represents /s/. It is the 12th letter of the modern alphabet order and is written thus:

Position in word: Isolated Initial Medial Final
Form of letter: س سـ ـسـ ـس

šīn represents /ʃ/, and is the 13th letter of the modern alphabet order and is written thus:

Position in word: Isolated Initial Medial Final
Form of letter: ش شـ ـشـ ـش

References

See also

The Northwest Semitic abjad
ʾ b g d h w z y k l m n s ʿ p q r š t
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 200 300 400
historyPhoenicianAramaicHebrewSyriacArabic

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