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a system of writing used by Arabs and Muslim peoples (Iranians, Afghans, Pakistanis, the Sinkiang Uighurs, and others).
Arabic script was used by the Turks in Turkey until 1929 and by some peoples of the USSR—for example, in Middle Asia, Azerbaijan, and Dagestan—until the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. It originated from the Aramaic script; the Nemarah inscription of A.D. 328 and the Zabid inscription of A.D. 512 are the oldest. Arabic script was spread by Arab conquests and by the expansion of Islam. The modern Arabic alphabet has 28 characters. (Other peoples who use the script add some of their own.) Each character has two to fourforms that are used according to whether the letter stands by itself, at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a word. The script consists mostly of consonants. Long vowels are designated by the letters waw (w), ya (y), and alif (’). The short vowels, normally not indicated in writing, can be shown by strokes placed over or under a letter. Arabic is written from right to left.