The Arabic Alphabet


 

The Arabic Alphabet

red:
sound of the letter
in English

blue:
name of the letter
in Arabic

REMEMBER:Arabic
is read from RIGHT TO LEFT, so the order of the alphabet is
alif,
baa, taa, thaa, jeem, Haa, khaa, dal, thal, etc
.

Explanation
follows at the bottom for letters
: H, kh,
S, D, T, TH, ‘, gh, q, which do not occur in English. The r is
rolled like in Russian and Spanish.

NOTE:
Arabic letters generally exist in groups of similar looking letters.
It is the dots above and below that differentiate them!

There
are only 30 letters in Arabic, and no upper or lower case!

 

 

 

no
equivalent in English:
H, kh, S, D, T,
TH, ‘, gh, q

no
eqivalent in Arabic:
v, p, ch, ng, and
about 10 of the 17 English vowel sounds. When Arabs translate English
into Arabic, they write v as f, p as b, ch
as sh or tsh, ng as n, and they don’t
even try to represent the English vowels in their language. But to be
fair, English uses the Roman alphabet whose a, e, i,
o, u, and y can’t even properly represent all
the English vowel sounds! Example: f
ather,
h
at,
C
anada,
d
ate, etc.

vowels:
short a, i, u; they are not written. long
vowels aa, ee, oo are written as
alif,
yaa, wow
respectively, quite similar to English which expresses long ee as stud
y
or long o/oo as windo
w
or ne
w.

 


Explanation
of letters:

 

Technically alif
is less a letter
than it is a vowel holder and a vowel lengthener for
aa.
As such, this letter can have the three sounds
a,
i, u
when written at the beginning of a word. In the middle or end of a
word, it generally sounds like
aa (father).
In Arabic there are two letters which sound like t
to the English ear. The letter Taa
is an emphatic t which generally means it has a stronger,
heavier pronunciation than a regular t. To pronounce it, press
your tongue down in the bottom of your mouth and say talk.
.
This is the ch sound in German doch or
Scottish loch and similar to the Spanish g in gente.
This is an emphatic th as in this. To
pronounce it, press your tongue down into the bottom of your mouth
and say the al
l
as a single word connecting the th sound and all.
.
This is an emphatic h. It is much heavier and
forceful than a regular soft English h. It’s close to the same
noise one makes when one breathes onto one’s sunglasses for cleaning.
This sound has no equivalent in English and is known
as the strangled vomit sound as it is simply the constriction
of the throat muscles that one uses while vomiting. It must be heard
to be mimicked, but in many cases the English ear can’t even hear it.
.
This is an emphatic s. To pronounce it, hold
your tongue down in the bottom of your mouth and say psalm.
This sound is very close to the French r in Paris
or rue, although it is generally written as gh when
translated into English although this bears NO resemblance to English gh
whatsoever. It is written as gh as to not confuse it with the
regular r that Arabic also has.
.
This is the emphatic d. To pronounce it, press
your tongue down into the bottom of your mouth and say do
ck.
This grammatical letter has two pronunciations, ah
and t. It is only written at the end
of a word, and is pronounced t
when in a possessive grammar construction and
ah
when it’s not in the possessive case. You only know by learning the
possessive case in Arabic grammar. Pronouncing it as
ah
will get you by though.

 

This letter is written as q
when translated into English although this has no bearing on the
pronunciation of the letter itself. To make this sound, pronounce a k
but generate it far back in your throat, almost as if you are going
to gargle.
.
This letter is phonetically known as a glottal stop, a
sound made by NOT saying anything. It is the sound a Scottish person
pronounces when he/she says butter and omits the tt and
actually says bu
h’er,
or water as wah’er. American English has this sound as
well: it’s the sound NOT said between the words the aw
ful.
An American/English speaker will almost always pause ever so
slightly between the e in the and the a in awful.
That is a glottal stop.

 


 

Arabic is a cursive-only
script, which is to say that Arabic cannot be written with
unconnected, separated letters as English usually is (i.e. block
letters/non-cursive), therefore all letters must be connected
together in general. This is the only aspect of Arabic that makes it
look complicated. Fortunately, it isn’t. Just keep your eye open for
the core part of the letter, and the dots!

The following
is what Arabic letters look like, read from RIGHT TO LEFT, when they
stand on their own, appear as the first letter of a word, appear as
the middle letter, or appear as the last letter in a word. Remember,
cursive English is just like Arabic in that the shapes of letters
change somewhat from that of stand-alone block letter upper
case/lower case equivalents.

 

Note:
don’t be deterred by what appears to be a
large number of letters to be learned. In practice, the only
difference between the shapes in the stand-alone, beginning,
middle,
and final positions is the omission of the
“flourish” which is the swoopy little curved part of the
letter either to the left or to the bottom. Keep your eye on the
upper and/or right part of the letter AND the dots, and you’ll be fine!

Note:
it’s very important to remember
which part of the letter falls above, on, or below the center line of writing.

 

REMEMBER:
read
from RIGHT to LEFT.

 

Glottal
stop:
unless
you want to actually learn Arabic inside and out, don’t worry much
about the various spellings with the glottal stop, as they trouble
even native Arabic speakers!

Note:
the letters a,
d, th,
r, z,
and
w are never
connected to the following letter on the left. The following letter
would be written in its beginning form.
=
walad (boy).
Remember, short vowels are not written in Arabic. Another example:
=
shareek
(partner). The short vowel
a
is not written but the long
ee
is written as a
y.
Yet another example:
=
daanyaal (Daniel).
Not that the
d
and the
aa are
not connected to the following letters on the left.

 


Try
to read these English words written in Arabic!

 

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11. 12.

 

ANSWERS

 

1.
i n t r n t = internet
2.
l
y m w n aa d ah
= lemonade
3.
k t sh b = ketchup
4.
k
y l w m t r
= kilometer
5.
t
l f w n
= telephone
6.
t
l f z y w n
= television
7.
a
m r y k aa
= America
(amreekaa)
8.
u
s t r aa l y aa
= Australia
9.
b
r y T aa n y aa
= Britain
10.
w
sh n T n
= Washington
11.
n
y w y w r k
= New
York
12.
l
w s a n j l s
= Los
Angeles

 


 

So
now you can read a little Arabic!

And
lastly, this is what a computer keyboard looks like in Arabic. The
letters in
red
are the [shift] functions and represent
the various forms of the letter
alif +
hamza and l
+
alif + hamza,
plus the other vowels and diacritical and/or grammatical marks
usually reserved for children’s books, classical works, or the Quran.
Modern Standard Arabic omits these symbols as the reader is expected
to already know them.

 

Good
luck learning Arabic!