Introduction to Arabic Alphabet: 18

The Arabic letter W looks like the English number 9. The round version of the number 9, that is:

But it has two different sounds. It could be a W, or it could be a Double U, or in other words, two U’s in a row, for a long uu sound. It can never be 9 U’s in a row though, even though it looks like the number 9. Only two U’s. For example it is used to write the long uu sound in suuq (market). It can also be the long or/aw sound, so it is used to write the "or" in the Arabic word for cola. Sometimes it is written as a double O in English, but really it is a double U. So this W letter is a lot like the letter Y you learned before. It is both a consonant and a long vowel.

Here is the word for and, which is we (not pronounced wii) in Arabic:


It is just the single letter W because the vowel is not written.

Because the letter W ends way below the line, it can never connect cursively to the letter after it. But it connects to the letter before it.

Before I can show you the word for cola, you need to learn a special letter combination that is written differently. That is the sound laa. That is an L followed by an Alif. You would expect laa to look like this:


But you would be wrong! The L and the Alif are never written like that. Instead they are squashed together into a single letter. With the L sort of normal while the Alif is sticking out diagonally from the corner of the L. It looks like this:

or sometimes it looks like the L is tipped over to the left, while the A following it is tipped over to the right, so they intersect near the bottom. Unfortunately, I can’t show you laa in a different font.

That is also how the word laa meaning no would be written. But it also for that combination inside any other word. Here is the word for cola:


Note that the W is like a double O here.

The time you really need to watch out for "la" is when you have the word "il" meaning "the", followed by a word that begins with a vowel. This will need to be written with the L and Alif joined together.

Can you spell this full word:

كوكا كولا

  1. This is two words, the name of an American corporation (and you have already encountered the second part of that name).
  2. This is the word for "market".
  3. Watch out for the double "l".
  4. The American spelling is "Ghana".
  5. This word is "manager" in Egyptian Arabic.
  6. This is the word for she, similar to the English "hey ya!"
  7. This is the Egyptian Arabic word for Egypt. 
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