can someone explain why "at night" is written like that? i deciphered it as B i A L LL a Y L . The L with a round on top of it, followed by a double L seems so unnecessary. What is the function of the unpronounced alif? hoping someone can make sense of it for me
In Arabic we rarely change the spelling. The Alif there is part of the definite article الـ. It is a type of Alif which is called "Hamzat Wassl" (hamza of connection). This Alif is somewhat like schwa and when (b-) comes attached to it, it drops down in sound, but it's written as usual without any change in orthography.
The night: الليل
at the night: بالليل
The two "L" you see here are one belonging to "AL" the definite article, and the other one to the original word (Layl).
The first (L) if (Layl) ليل gets Shadda (or double letter: ـّ) because it is one of the "solar letters" ..... it's a set of letter that, when "AL" comes before them, they get Shadda and suck in "L". Examples:
- Sun: šams شمس; the sun: aš-šams الشّمس
- Garlic: þúm ثوم; the garlic: aþ-þúm الثّوم (þ = th as in THor).
- Button: zir زر; the button: az-zir الزّر
- Rice: ruz رز; the rice: ar-ruz الرّز