Neo-Mandaic

orthography notes

Updated 2 April, 2024

This page brings together basic information about the Mandaic script and its use for the Neo-Mandaic language. It aims to provide a brief, descriptive summary of the modern, printed orthography and typographic features, and to advise how to write Mandaic using Unicode.

The relatively small number of letters in Mandaic (especially for vowels) cover a fairly wide set of allophonic sounds. Differences in pronunciation also arise due to the dialect or accent of the speaker. Although these may be spelled out in some of the examples, it is best to assume that many of the letters described here represent more than one sound, and that the pronunciations given for the examples may differ for other speakers.

It was difficult to find word lists that show IPA pronunciations for Neo-Mandaic spellings, although there are lists of words that show IPA for transcriptions that appear to be close to transliterations. A Neo-Mandaic term with † alongside it indicates that the spelling has been guessed at, rather than copied.

Referencing this document

Richard Ishida, Neo-Mandaic Orthography Notes, 02-Apr-2024, https://r12a.github.io/scripts/mand/mid

Sample

Select part of this sample text to show a list of characters, with links to more details.
Change size:   36px

ࡊࡋ ࡁࡓ ࡀࡍࡀࡔࡀ ࡌࡉࡕࡋࡉࡓ ࡔࡀࡅࡉࡀ ࡁࡏࡒࡀࡓࡀ ࡅࡀࡂࡓࡉࡀ࡞ ࡁࡉࡍࡕࡀ ࡅࡕࡉࡓࡕࡀ ࡏࡕࡄࡉࡁࡋࡅࡍ ࡅࡋࡅࡀࡕ ࡄࡓࡀࡓࡉࡀ ࡈࡀࡁࡅࡕࡀ ࡀࡁࡓࡉࡍ ࡀࡊࡅࡀࡕ ࡖࡍࡉࡄࡅࡍ ࡀࡄࡉࡀ࡞

ࡈࡅࡁࡀࡊ ࡈࡅࡁࡀࡊ ࡍࡉࡔࡌࡀ ࡖࡍࡐࡀࡒࡕ ࡌࡉࡍࡇ ࡌࡍ ࡀࡋࡌࡀ ࡍࡐࡀࡒࡕࡇ ࡋࡒࡉࡋࡅࡌࡀ ࡅࡋࡐࡀࡂࡓࡀ ࡎࡀࡓࡉࡀ ࡖࡄࡅࡉࡕࡁࡇ ࡋࡃࡀࡅࡓࡀ ࡖࡃࡅࡓ ࡁࡉࡔ࡙ࡉࡀ ࡋࡀࡕࡓࡀ ࡖࡊࡅࡋࡇ ࡄࡀࡈࡉࡀ ࡋࡀࡋࡌࡀ ࡖࡄࡔࡅࡊࡀ ࡖࡎࡉࡍࡀ ࡒࡉࡍࡀ ࡅࡐࡋࡅࡂࡉࡀ

Source: Paragraph 1, Unicode UDHR, article 1; paragraph 2, From a Masiqta hymn (Macuch 1967: 54, no.5. lines 1-3) in Daniels.

Usage & history

2ndC – today, but with limited usage (liturgical, endangered)

Phoenician

└ Aramaic

└ Mandaic

+ Hebrew

+ Nabataean

+ Syriac

+ Palmyrene

+ Hatran

+ Elymaic

+ Pahlavi

+ Kharosthi

+ Brahmi

The Mandaic script is used for writing Neo-Mandaic, an Iraqi language spoken by about 5,500 people, and is also the script of Classical Mandaic, the liturgical language of the Mandaean religion. Persecution and war over a long period has reduced the language to a severely endangered level. There may be 200 or less first language speakers of Mandaic.

ࡀࡁࡀࡂࡀ ābāgā Mandaic alphabet

The origins of the script are not clear, but many scholars believe it to be descended from Aramaic via Parthian. Research has indicated that it has remained relatively unchanged since its initial development between the 2nd and 7th centuries CE.

More information: WikipediaEndangered Alphabets

Basic features

The Mandaic script is an alphabet. This means that it is phonetic in nature, where each letter represents a basic sound. This is unusual among scripts of semitic origin. See the table to the right for a brief overview of features for the modern Neo-Mandaic orthography.

Mandaic text runs right-to-left in horizontal lines, but numbers and embedded Latin text are read left-to-right. There is no case distinction.

Words are separated by spaces, and contain a mixture of consonants and vowels, with diacritics to indicate vowel quality, gemination, or foreign sounds.

The script is cursive, but basic letter shapes don't change radically. In some letters, the joining edge of the glyph adapts to join with an adjacent character.

The standard Mandaic alphabet consists of 24 letters, since 24 is a significant number to Mandaeans, however this is only achieved by repeating the first letter of the alphabet, [U+0840 MANDAIC LETTER HALQA], at the end, and including a ligature, [U+0857 MANDAIC LETTER KAD].

❯ consonantSummary

Mandaic has 17 basic consonant letters. Similarly to Syriac, many of the consonant letters, especially the stops, represent more than one phoneme – typically a stop and a fricative. Particular phonemes and additional sounds used in Arabic and Persian can be indicated explicitly using an affrication mark added to consonants, and one extra character.

3 more special characters represent the sounds of grammatical syllables.

Gemination is not normally marked, but can be indicated using a combining mark.

❯ basicV

Mandaic is an alphabet where vowels are written using 4 vowel letters, derived from consonants. The 4 vowel letters represent 6 phonemes, and various allophonic realisations depending on syllabic context or speaker location (see phonemesV). A seventh phoneme, ə, is unwritten.

Three of the 4 letters representing vowel sounds may represent one of two phonemes; the specific phoneme can be clarified for educational purposes using 085A.

The vowel letter, 084F, is used before 0849 and 0845 when they represent standalone vowels. Standalone vowels only occur in word-initial position.

Character index

Letters

Show

Consonants

ࡐ␣ࡁ␣ࡕ␣ࡃ␣ࡈ␣ࡊ␣ࡂ␣ࡒ␣ࡎ␣ࡆ␣ࡑ␣ࡔ␣ࡄ␣ࡌ␣ࡍ␣ࡓ␣ࡋ

Vowels

ࡉ␣ࡅ␣ࡀ␣ࡏ

Other

ࡖ␣ࡇ␣ࡗ␣ࡘ␣ـ

Combining marks

Show
࡙␣࡛␣࡚

Punctuation

Show

Other unconfirmed

،␣؛␣«␣»␣؟␣﴾␣﴿

Other

Show

To be investigated

(␣)␣,␣.␣/␣{␣}␣٠␣١␣٢␣٣␣٤␣٥␣٦␣٧␣٨␣٩␣٪␣۔␣‘␣’
Items to show in lists

Phonology

These sounds are for the Neo-Mandaic language.

Click on the sounds to reveal locations in this document where they are mentioned.

Phones in a lighter colour are non-native or allophones .

Vowel sounds

Plain vowels

i u ɪ ʊ e o ə ə ɛ ɔ æ a ɒ

There is considerable allophonic variation in Neo-Mandaic vowels. fig_vowel_allophones shows common realisations of the basic sounds listed above, based on syllable type. Note that o, e, and a are very rare in open, accented syllables.h

Open syllableiuɔea~æ
Open, accented syllableɔːoea~æ
Closed syllableɪʊ ʌɛɑ
Typical allophones based on syllable type for the primary vowels in Neo-Mandaic.h,59

Complex vowels

Häberlh,59 describes 5 diphthongs.

ɛɪ ɔɪ ɔʊ

Consonant sounds

labial dental alveolar post-
alveolar
palatal velar uvular pharyngeal glottal
stop p b t d       k ɡ q    
ejectives   ðˤ              
affricate       t͡ʃ d͡ʒ          
fricative f v θ ð s z
ʃ ʒ   ɣ χ ʁ ħ ʕ h
nasal m   n          
approximant w   l   j      
trill/flap     r    

Tone

Neo-Mandaic is not a tonal language.

Structure

tbd

Alphabet

Click on the characters to find where they are mentioned in this page.

The Mandaic alphabet has 24 letters, since that number is symbolic to Mandaeans. To reach that number, the alphabet includes the ligature and the first letter is repeated at the end of the alphabet.

ࡀ␣ࡁ␣ࡂ␣ࡃ␣ࡄ␣ࡅ␣ࡆ␣ࡇ␣ࡈ␣ࡉ␣ࡊ␣ࡋ␣ࡌ␣ࡍ␣ࡎ␣ࡏ␣ࡐ␣ࡑ␣ࡒ␣ࡓ␣ࡔ␣ࡕ␣ࡖ␣ࡀ

Vowels

Vowel summary table

The following table summarises the main vowel to character assigments.

The table shows only phonemic vowels, unless indicated otherwise. These vowels represent a variety of allophones – see vrange for more information. Hyphens are used to indicate word-initial or word-final forms. The right-hand column shows where the vocalisation mark can be used in educational texts to disambiguate the vowel sound.

Simple:
ࡏࡉ␣ࡉ␣ࡏ␣ࡉࡀ␣ࡇ␣ ␣ࡏࡅ␣ࡅ
 
ࡏ␣ࡉ␣ ␣ࡏࡅ␣ࡅ
ࡉ࡚␣ ␣ࡅ࡚
 
ࡀ࡚

For additional details see vowel_mappings.

Vowel letters

The Mandaic Unicode block uses just 4 characters for vowels, however each vowel letter represents 2 phonemic vowel distinctions and a number of allophonic realisations, both in quality and vowel length (see vrange).

ࡉ␣ࡅ␣ࡀ␣ࡏ

The letters used for vowels all have their origin in consonants, but the two on the right are now used only for vowels. The two on the left, 0849 and 0845, are also used for the consonants or glides j and w, respectively.

0840 and 084F are available to use as vowels because the language dropped the glottal and pharyngeal sounds.

In addition to its use for standalone vowels (see standalone), 084F is used, according to Danielsh,512, to replace two adjacent 0849 vowels, and after consonants with a point below the line (such as 084A). It can apparently also be used instead of 0849 0840 at the end of a word to indicate that this is not the sound -ja.

Observation: Looking at text samples (such as the UDHR, for which i have no IPA transcription) it's not clear that the above covers all the uses of 084F adequately. More information is needed.

Although the script is basically alphabetic, vowel sounds are not always shown. For example, the i is not shown in ࡌࡍ mn min from

Two ligatures encoded in the Unicode block have unwritten vowel sounds, ie.

di

kḏi

Vowel ranges

fig_vowel_cloud shows how 3 of the vowel letters encompass a range of sounds, rather than representing a single, specific sound. The 6 darker phones within the circles are phonemic vowel distinctions, whereas the lighter phones are allophonic realisations. In each circled case, two primary vowel sounds are associated with a given letter. There can also be long and short versions of the primary vowels.

Sound ranges associated with vowel letters.

Observation: Need to confirm that ɛ falls within 2 circles.

Vowel disambiguation

Where needed in educational texts, 085Aw can be used to distinguish primary vowel sounds for two letters, and the length of the third.

  • e is indicated by 0849 085A, thereby distinguishing between ࡁࡉ biࡁࡉ࡚ be
  • o is indicated by 0845 085A, thereby distinguishing between ࡁࡅ buࡁࡅ࡚ bo
  • a is indicated by 0840 085A, thereby distinguishing between ࡁࡀ ࡁࡀ࡚ ba

Standalone vowels

Standalone vowels only occur in word-initial position in Neo-Mandaich,72. Two of the vowel letters are commonly preceded by in word-initial position. That letter on its own represents an e sound, however Danielsd,512 says that this usually represents a prothetic vowel before the t-prefix in passive verbs or before a monoconsonantal word.

Observation: Does 084F on its own therefore represent the vowel ə rather than one of the sounds covered by the 0849 range?

This gives the following typical forms:

Vowel length

According to Häberlh,75, vowel length is entirely predictable in Neo-Mandaic and depends entirely upon the placement of the accent and the syllable structure. Vowels in open, accented syllables are long, and pretonic, open syllables have short vowels.

Mandaic has no regular mechanisms in the orthography to indicate vowel length.

Vowel sounds to characters

This section maps Neo-Mandaic vowel sounds to common graphemes in the Mandaic orthography. Neo-Mandaic has much allophonic variation, but few vowel letters; therefore this chart shows groups of sounds.

The columns run right to left and indicate typical word-initial, word-medial, and word-final usage. The joining forms shown are illustrative; alternative shapes may occur Click on a grapheme to find other mentions on this page (links appear at the bottom of the page). Click on the character name to see examples and for detailed descriptions of the character(s) shown.

i iː ɪ
 

0849 0840

ࡔࡀࡐࡋࡉࡀ

084F for long .

0847 exclusively as the 1st person singular marker .

0849

ࡔࡉࡕࡀ

084F is preferred after a consonant with a point below the line, ie. ࡊࡏ‍ kʿ‍, ࡍࡏ‍ nʿ‍, ࡐࡏ‍ pʿ‍, and ࡑࡏ‍ ᵴʿ‍‍‍.

084F 0849

ࡏࡉࡍࡀ†

u uː ʊ
 

0845

ࡏࡉࡄࡋࡅ†

0845

ࡀࡎࡅࡕࡀ ࡍࡉࡄࡅࡉࡋࡉࡊ

084F 0845

ࡏࡅࡕࡓࡀ

e ɛ
 

TBC

0849

ࡔࡉࡃࡕࡀ

084F 0849 where it appears alongside i.

0849 085A in educational texts to indicate that the sound is e rather than i.

ࡔࡉ࡚ࡃࡕࡀ

084F

ࡏࡕࡌࡀࡋ

oː o ʌ
 

Does not occurh,72

0845

ࡉࡅࡌࡀ

0845 085A in educational texts to indicate that the sound is o rather than u.

ࡉࡅ࡚ࡌࡀ

084F 0845

ࡏࡅࡓࡅࡐࡕࡀ

ɔː ɔ
 

0840

ࡋࡉࡁ࡛ࡀ

0840

ࡊࡋࡀࡕࡀ

0840

ࡀࡄࡀ†

aː a æ ɑ
 

0840

ࡉࡀࡄࡓࡀ

0840

ࡑࡅࡁࡀࡄ

0840 085A in educational text to indicate a short a.

ࡑࡅࡁࡀ࡚ࡄ

0840

ࡀࡌࡀࡉ

Consonants

Consonant summary table

The following table summarises the main consonant to character assigments.

The right-hand column lists sounds that only occur in words from other languages, principally Arabic or Persian.

Stops
ࡐ␣ࡁ␣ࡕ␣ࡃ␣ࡈ␣ࡊ␣ࡂ␣ࡒ
 
Affricate
Fricatives
ࡐ␣ࡁ␣ࡕ␣ࡎ␣ࡆ␣ࡑ␣ࡔ␣ࡊ␣ࡂ␣ࡄ
ࡃ␣ࡈ␣ࡑ␣ࡄ␣ࡘ
Nasals
ࡌ␣ࡍ
 
Other
ࡅ␣ࡓ␣ࡋ␣ࡉ
 
Specials
ࡖ␣ࡇ␣ࡗ
 

For additional details see consonant_mappings.

Basic consonants

The Mandaic block has 17 basic, native consonants. Whereas the table just above takes you from sounds to letters, the following simply lists the basic consonant letters.

ࡐ␣ࡁ␣ࡕ␣ࡃ␣ࡈ␣ࡊ␣ࡂ␣ࡒ␣ ␣ࡎ␣ࡆ␣ࡑ␣ࡔ␣ࡄ␣ ␣ࡌ␣ࡍ␣ ␣ࡓ␣ࡋ

Special characters

ࡖ␣ࡇ␣ࡗ

[U+0847 MANDAIC LETTER IT] only appears at the end of personal names or at the end of words to indicate the third person singular suffix.

[U+0856 MANDAIC LETTER DUSHENNA] is a letter of the alphabet, but it has a morphemic function, being used to write the relative pronoun and genitive exponent ḏ-, eg. ࡖࡍࡐࡀࡒࡕ ḏnpāqt dinpaqt who left youࡖࡎࡉࡍࡀ ḏsinā disina of hatred

[U+0857 MANDAIC LETTER KAD] is used to write the word kḏ when, as, likeIt was derived from a digraph of ࡊࡖ [U+084A MANDAIC LETTER AK + U+0856 MANDAIC LETTER DUSHENNA].

Repertoire extension

Neo-Mandaic is heavily influenced by Arabic and Persian languages, and they can bring additional sounds into the text via loan words or dialectal variations. Mostly, the non-native sounds are written using ordinary Mandaic letters, but diacritics can be used to point out particular pronunciations (see Cdisambuators).

One special character was added to the repertoire. It is borrowed from ع [U+0639 ARABIC LETTER AIN] to represent the Arabic sound ʕ.

Consonant disambiguators

Educational texts may include diacritics to disambiguate the sounds of various consonants, including sounds typically used only in loan words. 0859 indicates the following sounds:

ࡔ࡙␣ࡐ࡙␣ࡕ࡙␣ࡃ࡙␣ࡈ࡙␣ࡑ࡙␣ࡂ࡙␣ࡊ࡙␣ࡄ࡙

Also, although gemination is not usually marked, 085B can be used to indicate gemination of a consonant (referred to by native writers as 'hard' pronunciation).

ࡋࡉࡁ࡛ࡀ

Consonant clusters

Häberlh,729 provides some detailed information about rules for consonant clusters.

Consonant length

Gemination occurs in Neo-Mandaic words, but is not usually marked.

In educational texts 085B can be used to indicate gemination of a consonant (referred to by native writers as 'hard' pronunciation).

ࡋࡉࡁ࡛ࡀ

Geminated is pronounced χt.h,728

Consonant sounds to characters

This section maps Neo-Mandaic vowel sounds to common graphemes in the Mandaic orthography.

The right-hand column shows the various joining forms for each letter.

Click on a grapheme to find other mentions on this page (links appear at the bottom of the page). Click on the character name to see examples and for detailed descriptions of the character(s) shown. Sounds listed as 'infrequent' are allophones, or sounds used for foreign words, etc.

Stops

p
 

0850

ࡐࡀࡂࡓࡀ

085008500850

b
 

0841

ࡁࡀࡁࡉࡋ

084108410841

t
 

0855

ࡕࡉࡁࡉࡋ

085508550855

 

0848

084808480848

d
 

0843

ࡃࡓࡀࡔࡀ

084308430843

k
 

084A

ࡊࡀࡄࡍࡀ

084A084A084A

ɡ
 

0842

ࡂࡀࡐࡀ

084208420842

q
 

0852

ࡒࡀࡌࡉࡕ

085208520852

Affricate

t͡ʃ
 

0854

0854 0859 in educational texts.

08540854

d͡ʒ
 

0854

0854 0859 in educational texts.

08540854

Fricatives

f
 

0850

0850 0859 in educational texts.

ࡑࡅࡐ࡙ࡓࡀ†

085008500850

v
 

0841

ࡂࡅࡁࡓࡀ†

084108410841

 
 

0845

ࡆࡀࡓࡅࡀࡍ

084508450845

θ
 

0855

0855 0859 in educational texts.

085508550855

ð
 

0843

0843 0859 in educational texts.

084308430843

ðˤ
 

0848

0848 0859 in educational texts.

084808480848

s
 

084E

ࡎࡉࡍࡀࡉ

084E084E084E

z
 

0846

ࡆࡉࡃࡒࡀ

08460846

 

0851

ࡍࡀࡑࡅࡓࡀࡉࡀ

085108510851

ʃ
 

0854

ࡔࡅࡁࡀ

08540854

ʒ
 

0851

0851 0859 in educational texts.

085108510851

χ
 

084A

084A 0859 in educational texts.

084A084A084A

ʁ
 

0842

0842 0859 in educational texts.

084208420842

ħ
 

0844

0844 0859 in educational texts.

084408440844

ʕ
 

0858

085808580858

h
 

0844

ࡄࡉࡉࡀ

084408440844

Nasals

m
 

084C

ࡌࡀࡍࡀ

084C084C084C

n
 

084D

ࡍࡉࡔࡉࡌࡕࡀ

084D084D084D

Other

w
 

0845

ࡌࡀࡑࡁࡅࡕࡀ

084508450845

r
 

0853

ࡓࡁࡉࡀ

085308530853

l
 

084B

ࡋࡉࡁ࡛ࡀ

084B084B084B

j
 

0849

ࡉࡀࡄࡓࡀ

08490849

Numbers

The Unicode Mandaic block has no native digits. How numbers are represented in Mandaic text is TBD.

Text direction

Mandaic text runs right to left in horizontal lines.

Show default bidi_class properties for characters in the Mandaic orthography described here.

Glyph shaping & positioning

Experiment with examples using the Mandaic character app.

Cursive text

Mandaic is cursive, ie. letters in a word are joined up. Fonts need to produce the appropriate joining form for a code point, according to its visual context.

The cursive treatment doesn't produce significant variations of the essential part of a rendered character (unlike Arabic). In some letters, the joining edge of the glyph adapts to join with an adjacent character. Two examples show how strokes away from the baseline are typically shortened to create joining shapes.

ࡊ ࡊࡅ ࡕ ࡅࡕ
Two examples of small tweaks to glyphs when joining.

Other small adaptations may occur between certain adjacent characters, such as kl, wt and mn.d,512

Cursive joining forms

The cursive treatment produces only minor changes to glyph shapes in most cases. fig_joining_forms and fig_right_joining_forms show all the basic shapes in Mandaic and what their joining forms look like.

isolatedright-joineddual-joinleft-joinedMandaic letters
ـࡐ ـࡐـ ࡐـ
ـࡁ ـࡁـ ࡁـ
ـࡕ ـࡕـ ࡕـ
ـࡃ ـࡃـ ࡃـ
ـࡈ ـࡈـ ࡈـ
ـࡊ ـࡊـ ࡊـ
ـࡂ ـࡂـ ࡂـ
ـࡒ ـࡒـ ࡒـ
ـࡎ ـࡎـ ࡎـ
ـࡑ ـࡑـ ࡑـ
ـࡄ ـࡄـ ࡄـ
ـࡌ ـࡌـ ࡌـ
ـࡍ ـࡍـ ࡍـ
ـࡓ ـࡓـ ࡓـ
ـࡋ ـࡋـ ࡋـ
ـࡅ ـࡅـ ࡅـ
ـࡏ ـࡏـ ࡏـ
Joining forms for shapes that join on both sides.
isolatedright-joined Mandaic letters
ـࡆ
ـࡔ
ـࡉ
ـࡀ
ـࡖ
ـࡇ
ـࡘ
ـࡗ
Joining forms for shapes that join on the right only.

Unicode 13 changed the joining properties of 0858 and 0857. Previously they didn't join on either side. Now they join to the right. It is actually possible to find examples of the former that do join, and other examples (sometimes in the same paragraph) that do not join. To prevent joining, 200C should be used.aas

Observation: Although that isn't obvious from the font used in the table, because the line isn't continuous, you can see the behaviour in a sequence such as ࡍࡘ, where the left-hand stroke of the initial letter is shortened.

Context-based shaping & positioning

In addition to the cursive shaping described just above, the position of diacritics may vary according to whether or not the glyph of the base character extends below the baseline. The diacritic also needs to be positioned horizontally underneath the character in the appropriate place. Several such variations are shown here:

ࡕ࡙ࡌ࡙ࡋ࡙ࡍ࡙ ࡐ࡛ࡑ࡛ࡒ࡛ࡆ࡛
Diacritic placement varying horizontally and vertically.

The 3 combining marks found in Neo-Mandaic are normally only used for educational texts.

Graphemes

Grapheme clusters

As just mentioned, Neo-Mandaic normally uses no combining marks. When they are used, it is typically in educational texts.

Graphemes in Neo-Mandaic therefore consist of single letters or letters with a combining mark. This means that text can be segmented into typographic units using grapheme clusters.

Phrase, sentence, and section delimiters are described in phrase.

Punctuation & inline features

Word boundaries

Words are separated by spaces.

Phrase & section boundaries

࡞␣.

Mandaic uses sentence punctuation sparselye. [U+085E MANDAIC PUNCTUATION] is used to start and end text sections. Everson describes a smaller version of this symbol that is used like a comma.e There is no Unicode character for the smaller version.

The smaller size is also used in colophons (historical lay text added to religious text).d,512

The translation of the UDHR uses ASCII full stop at the end of a sentence.

Observation: The keyboard at MandeanNetwork.com suggests that writers of Mandaic use Arabic punctuation, such as the following, in addition to western punctuation such as colon, full stop, etc. This is TBC.

،␣؛␣؟

Bracketed text

See type samples.

Mandaic uses ornate parentheses, such as the following (the shape may vary).

﴾␣﴿

Quotations & citations

Observation: The keyboard at MandeanNetwork.com suggests that writers of Mandaic use the following. This is TBC.

«␣»

Line & paragraph layout

Line breaking

Lines usually break between words.

Show (default) line-breaking properties for characters in the modern Mandaic orthography.

Text alignment & justification

When text is fully justified the baseline may be stretched, as in Arabic. The Unicode Standard saysu that ـ [U+0640 ARABIC TATWEEL] may be used to achieve that effect, however this is not a good solution in text where the line width varies, eg. in a web browser whose window can be stretched. (The reason being that as the paragraphs reflow words will wrap into different positions on the line.)

The following reflect justification practices observed in the (handwritten) text Das Johannesbuch der Mandäer.

The whole document is justified on both sides of the text. In many cases the final word is stretched internally to make the line fit the width of the available space. Only rarely are words earlier in the line stretched.

Lines where justification is achieved by stretching the last word internally.

A difference from Arabic is that many lines are stretched to the end of the available space by a trailing baseline extension. The choice of internal vs trailing extension appears to be related to the character at the end of the word.

Lines where justification is achieved by extending the baseline from the last character in a word to the end of the line.

On a good number of lines, final letters in a word appear to be squeezed onto the line by writing them above the preceding part of the line. A short example can be seen in fig_justification_hr.

Another notable feature is the use of a 'rule' such as ࡎـــــࡀ U+084E MANDAIC LETTER AS + baseline extension + U+0840 MANDAIC LETTER HALQA, where the baseline extension can cause the combination to span all or a large part of the line. In some cases, the letter or may appear at the midpoint of the rule. If this combination doesn't fill a whole line, it appears at the end of a line and is long enough to fill the remaining space.

A rule drawn across a whole line.
A rule drawn from the end of the text to the end of the line.

Further research is needed to ascertain whether these justification techniques are generally applicable to Mandaic text, rather than unique to this document.

Daniels saysd that 0847 can sometimes be 'manipulated calligraphically in an otherwise pedestrian manuscript in order to fill out a line'.

Baselines, line height, etc.

Mandaic uses the so-called 'alphabetic' baseline, which is the same as for Latin and many other scripts.

A few Mandaic characters have glyphs that rise above the main height, and a few more that descend below the baseline. Diacritics are attached below the letters.

To give an approximate idea, fig_baselines compares Latin and Mandaic glyphs from the Noto font. Many Mandaic letters are less high than the Latin x-height, however some extend well below the Latin descenders, especially when they have combining marks attached. A few character glyphs reach the Latin cap-height.

Hhqxࡌࡍࡋࡉࡘࡁ࡛ࡀ࡚ࡈࡑ࡙ࡂࡗ
Font metrics for Latin text compared with Mandaic glyphs in the Noto Serif Mandaic font.

Page & book layout

Online resources

References