This site works better with JavaScript enabled!

Arabic Index for Herbs and Spices


This index con­tains names for all spices in various languages using the Arabic alphabet. Currently, Arabic, Persian and Urdu are included; lesser support is found for Kashmiri (I collected these names at local markets, so be careful about spelling mistakes), and two more languages (Kurdish and Pashto) are in a kind of β state. In the future, this index may also be augmented by languages which were written in Arabic characters in the past (Turkish, Azeri, Malay) or for which the Arabic alphabet is used only regionally (Punjabi, Sindhi, Dogri, Uzbek, Uighur), but such data is difficult to collect.

Arabic letters take on up to four different shapes: Isolated, initial, medial and final. Often, there are systematic relationshsips beween those different forms. Moreover, many letters share a common base form which is differentiated by additional signs (usually dots) below or above the letter. The right hand side table shows Arabic letters in all four forms plus their name in Unicode and the transliteration used here. From left to right, the order of the letters is isolated, final, medial, initial; yet not all browsers will render the letters correctly.

Writing in Arabic letters usually omits vowels, at least in part. Arabic language has only three vowel qualities (A,U,I); long vowels are written medially as alef ا, waw و and yeh ي, respectively, but the last two letters can also represent w and y. Word-initial short vowels are written by alef without further distinction. The letter ain ع denotes a glottal stop followed by an unspecified short vowel. The sign teh marbuta ة, when used word-finally, usually means a short vowel. There is no clear distinction between simple vowels and diphthongs in writing.

The Arabic alphabet has been adapted to countless languages of North Africa, West Asia and Central Asia. Most of those belong to the Indo–European and Altaic language families and show many structural differences to Arabic. Thus, the Arabic alphabet had to be modified significantly to write those languages.

Due to the dominant influence of Arabic as Sacred Language of Islâm, all letters used for Arabic are also found in the adapted Arabic alphabets, even if some letters are only used for Arabic loanwords. Most languages need additional letters which are inserted in the original list at appropriate places. In several cases, original Arabic letters are replaced by slightly different forms which have been assigned independent code points in the Unicode standard.

The transliteration used here is close to the common scientific romanization of Arabic and also tries to follow the Unicode names of the characters. The various special characters had to be represented by adding unusual diacritics.

The language marked ‘xxx’ in the list below is spoken in Northern Kashmir, or more exactly the region between Dras and Kargil. Its self-designation Posto might point to a relation with the Pashto language of Afghanistan, although the writing system, the phonology and the spice names themselves suggest a classification into the Dardic branch. In any case, this language is different from the Shina language predominant in that region.

Unicode Encoded Validate using the WDG validator Validate using the VALIDOME validator