As mentioned in lesson one, Nastaliq is a cursive script. Most, but not all, of the characters in Nastaliq connect to both the preceding and the following character. This means that characters that connect on both sides have four forms, depending on the position they occupy in a word. That is to say, they have an initial form, a medial form, a final form and an independent form. Let's take a look at the second letter of the alphabet bay
, which represents the consonant b.
Final form: ـب
Medial form: ـبـ
Initial form: بـ
Isolated form: ب
Characters that only connect to the preceding character have only two forms (an independent/initial and a medial/final form)
There are ten vowels in Urdu: three short vowels and seven long vowels. The three short vowels, a , i and u are not represented by characters in the script. The other seven long vowels are represented by only three of the characters.
To help identify when one of the three short vowels is to be pronounced, there exist three small symbols that may be employed. In the same way that the characters have names, these small symbols also have names. Two of them are written above the characters and one is written below characters:
zabar (written above the character) = a
zer (written below the character) = i
pesh(written above the character) = u