Introduction to Arabic Alphabet: 1

This should be the easiest Arabic alphabet lesson ever. OK...

Arabic Alphabet by Carl Kenner, part 1

The Egyptian Arabic word for THE is IL.

Arabic is written right to left, so the Arabic word IL is written exactly the same as in the English alphabet, only backwards.

IL = ال

With the I on the right as a vertical stroke, followed by a backwards capital L on the left. The vertical stroke letter is called Alif, and at the start of a word it can represent any vowel sound, in this case the "i" sound. But in the middle of a word it represents a long "ah" or "a" (in cat) sound, and at the end of a word it represents the "ah" sound.

Arabic is always written in cursive, but the Alif can’t connect to the letter after it (after it means on the left), because then it would look like an L. However both I and L can connect to the letter before them. Although if there is a letter before the Alif it is normally pronounced as "Ah" rather than "i". In Arabic there is no space between "il" and the word following it, they are written together as a single word, in cursive. I and L are very easily recognised in Arabic.

Outside Egypt, the word IL is pronounced AL.

The Egyptian Arabic word for son is ibn. It comes from the word bin in names like Bin Laden which also means son of.

The Egyptian Arabic word for daughter is bint. It is just bin with the feminine t ending.

The Egyptian Arabic word for a third is tilt.

Most other Arabic letters just look like a squiggly line with dots above and below. The line is caused by the fact that it is cursive, and the letters are usually joined at the bottom, and unlike I and L, most aren’t very tall.

The simplest squiggle looks like a short lowercase english letter "i", but it can have one, two, or three dots above it instead of just one.

ﺜ ﺘ ﻨ

It will be a consonant. To tell which consonant, count the number of dots.

One = N like in "one".

Two = T like in "two".

Three = TH like in "three".

You can also have a dot below the i.

Below = B like in "below".

ﺒ ﺜ ﺘ ﻨ

Sometimes the dots are slightly to the left of the i. And at the end of a word, or when it can’t connect to the next letter, it is written with a flourishy tail on the left. The tail goes to the left along the line and then curls up.

But the letter N is different from the others, because its flourishy tail goes down deeper, below the line:

ﻦ ﺖ

So, reading from right to left, what is this word:

ابن

  1. It is the Egyptian Arabic word for "son". It is the Egyptian Arabic word for "daughter". Don't forget the vowels (even though they are not written in Arabic).
  2. It is the Egyptian Arabic word for "daughter". Don't forget the vowels (even though they are not written in Arabic).
  3. It is the Egyptian Arabic word for "my son".
  4. It is the Egyptian Arabic word for "my daughter".
  5. It is one of the month names, very similar to that in English.
  6. This is something you can usually order by phone. It is spelled with a "b" instead of a "p" in the beginning.
  7. This is an article followed by a word introduced in this lesson. It has the double "aa".
  8. This is an article followed by a word for a type of food. Mind the double "a" in this word.
  9. This word denotes a financial institution.
  10. You have to write its meaning in English, and not its spelling in Arabic (in contrast to all of the other words we ask you to write).
  11. This is six letters long, the Egyptian word for "possible" or "allowed".
  12. This is three letters long.
  13. This is six letters long when transliterated.
  14. Two words, corresponding to the word "sugar" (but watch out for the double "k").
  15. This means "my name" in Arabic.
  16. This is an article and a word, synonym for "movie theatre". But watch out for the Arabic spelling.
  17. Watch out for the double "a".
  18. In the transcription, you will have a double "j".
  19. This means "my brother".
  20. This is two words, the name of an American corporation (and you have already encountered the second part of that name).
  21. This is the word for "market".
  22. Watch out for the double "l".
  23. The American spelling is "Ghana".
  24. This word is "manager" in Egyptian Arabic.
  25. This is the word for she, similar to the English "hey ya!"
  26. This is the Egyptian Arabic word for Egypt. 
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