Google+ Mommy Moments with Abby: Arabic Hour with Eric! Hubby Take-Over Time

Monday, January 30, 2012

Arabic Hour with Eric! Hubby Take-Over Time

Hello again blogosphere!  In case you don’t remember me I am the husband of the architect of this blog and I did a post on the need to teach your children languages in an increasingly global economy a while back.  My wife has asked me, once again, to provide a short blog that could provide some insight into something that may be of interest to the Mom’s out there.  I hope you enjoy.

In my last blog I mentioned that I am semi-proficient in Arabic and I thought that it may be useful for those who are interested to get an introductory course in the Arabic alphabet.  The Arabic alphabet has 28 letters and like the Roman/Latin alphabet, the letters, or derivations of them, are used in many other languages including Farsi, Urdu, Pashto, and Malay.  Unfortunately, many of the sounds will be foreign to speakers of Germanic or Latin languages, but with a little practice you will get the hang of it. 

The first letter of the Arabic alphabet is alif.  Its sound is equivalent to the “a” sound at the beginning of aloha. 

However, the sound can change if a hamza, tanwin, or maddah is placed above or below it.  The hamza above or below it would appear as seen below.
أ  or   إ 
The hamza serves to make the sound of the alif much briefer.  I have included a link here to show what I mean.  If the hamza is placed above the alif it can be pronounced as either a brief glottal stop “a” or “u” sound as is found in the sound your child makes when he/she sees something disgusting “ew”.  In order to determine whether it is an “a” or “ew” sound you have to see whether it has a fatah or a dumma above the hamza as is shown below.

َ   - Fatah    ُ  - Dumma
If it is a fatah above the hamza and alif it gives it an “a” sound and if it is a dumma it gives it an “ew” sound.  If the hamza is underneath the alif and there is a kesra (as shown below) it receives a brief “e” or “i” sound as in well…. “in”.
ِ   - Kesra

You may have noticed that the fatah and kesra look the same.  The only difference is that the fatah will always be above the letter and the kesra will always be below the letter.

There are rare cases in which you will find a fatah, kersa, or dumma with the alif without a hamza.  In those instances you will use the same sound as you would have had there been a hamza, but the length of the sound will be the same as the normal alif.

The tanwin is a doubling of the fatah or kesra that looks like what is shown below to the left alone and what is shown below to the right with the alif.

ً   or   ٍ   اً  or  اٍ

This gives the alif an “an” sound for the fatah much like is found in the word “tan” and an “in” sound for the kesra like the word “in”. 

Lastly is the maddah which can only be placed on top of the alif and essentially doubles the length of the “a” sound of the alif.

آ  - Maddah
I know this is a lot to handle, but if you read over it a few times you will start to get it and you will be on your way to learning the Arabic alphabet.

For Eric's Arabic Hour Lessons Click on the Links below:

Lesson 2


  1. This is so cool! I have wanted to learn Arabic. I hope you will keep these posts coming.

  2. @Beth, Thanks for appreciating his hard work. He has self taught himself up to this point and I can only wish I had his language abilities. I'm hoping he will keep these coming as he has time! I will make sure he see's your comment!


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