An Introduction to Arabic: Lesson 1

We will be learning some Arabic in this course. In this website, there is an excellent Arabic alphabet course by Carl Kenner. It is recommended to learn the Arabic writing. However, we will use the Arabic writing and the romanized form. The pronunciation rules are:

a = a as in fat

b = b as in bed

d = d as dean

ee = ee as in feel (long vowel, there is no short e as in set)

f = f as in food

g = g as in go

h = h as in hat

i = i as in sit

j = j as in jump

k = k as in kick

l = l as in lion

m = m as in moon

n = n as in nun

oo = oo as in tooth (long vowel, there is no short o as in knock)

r = r as in rabbit (the Arabic r is more like the Spanish r, in phonetics it’s called trilled or rolled r)

s = s as in sand

t = t as in take (it is more like the Spanish or the Japanese t)

u = u as in dull

w = w as in wasp

y = y as in yard

z = z as in zigzag

Other sounds exists in English or other Western languages:

th = th as in thin

TH = th as in the or there

kh = as ch in Bach (this sound does not exist in English, but it is similar to the ch in German.)

gh = as the French or the German r

sh = sh as in shark

Soft letters are written in lowercase, and hard letters in uppercase:

S = as s in sun not in sand! there is a difference from an Arabic perspective. The easiest way to say it is to make the vowels before and after it lower-pitched and deeper.

D = as d in dark not in deal. The easiest way to say it is to make the vowels before and after it lower-pitched and deeper.

T = as in t in tough or Tokyo not in teeth. The easiest way to say it is to make the vowels before and after it lower-pitched and deeper.

’ = represents the glottal stop. We make this sound when speaking English; we just don’t have a symbol for it in our alphabet. Think of the dash in uh-oh, or the Cockney way of saying British as Bri-ish.

double consonants = gemination like the k in back kick or the l in solely. E.g. shadda is pronnounced shad-da not shada.

For p and v there are no corresponding sounds in Arabic. But there are some sounds in Arabic that do not exist in English or Western languages. We will use numbers to represent them:

3 = ع ’ayin. It is a little like the sound a doctor asks to hear when looking down your throat!

7 = ح Haa. It uses a little more friction, but sounds a little like blowing warm air on your cold hands or very fine sandpaper.

Sometimes you will be presented with words like this:

The Arabic for duck is battah بطة. (pronounced but-tuh)

Imagine a duck eating butter.

What you do is to imagine this picture in your mind’s eye as vividly as you can for about ten seconds before moving on to the next word.

If you do not spend enough time picturing the image in your mind’s eye it will not stick in your memory as well as it should.

Whenever you are being asked how to write text you have to translate the text written on the button and write it down in. After that you can click on the

button to view the correct version and check yours. If the question is in English write the answer in the romanized form of Arabic. That’s it, let’s begin.

The Arabic word for rice is ruz رز.

Imagine Diana Ross eating rice.

In Arabic, you have to define every noun with al or el except the indefinite.

To explain this I will give you some examples:

In English, we can say "rice is white." That means rice in general (any rice) is white. But in Arabic we must define a noun like rice. So we say el ruz. If we say just ruz it means some rice.

The Arabic for I want is urid أريد.

So if you want some rice you would say urid ruz أريد رز.

The Arabic word for rice is maa ماء.

Imagine a thirsty sheep crying: maa... maa...

So how would you say I want some water in Arabic?

?I want some water|urid maa

The Arabic word for car or a car is sayyara سيارة.

Imagine a car full of soy bottles in an arrow shape!

?The car|el sayyara

?I want a car|urid sayyara

?I want the car|urid el sayyara

The Arabic word for white is abyaD أبيض.

Imagine Bryan White singing Abide With Me.

The verb to be (am, is, are, was, were, etc.) is not necessary in Arabic.

So rice is white is el ruz abyaD الرز أبيض.

The Arabic word for delicious is laTHeeTH لذيذ. Remember: TH = th as in the or there. th = th as in thin.

?rice is delicious|el ruz laTHeTH

Now you have learned 7 words in Arabic, and for grammar, you have learned how to say X is X.

Let’s add 3 additional words:

There is a grammatical gender system in Arabic. Usually words ending in -a are feminine.

The Arabic word for fish is el samak السمك. We are talking about fish in general.

Imagine you smack a fish.

The Arabic word for a fish is samaka سمكة. The singular fish in Arabic is feminine.

If we are talking about a particular fish we say el samaka السمكة.

The Arabic word for big or large is kabeer كبير.

Imagine a big cap with ear drawn on it.

?fish is delicious|el samak laTHeeTH

To say the fish is big we say el samaka kabeera السمكة كبيرة because it’s feminine.

?the car is big|el sayyara kabeera

The Arabic word for small is Sagheer صغير. Remember: Capital S = hard s like as in sun not as in sand.

?the fish is small|el samaka Sagheera

Now you have learned 10 new words in Arabic.

Let’s do some exercises:

?the car is small|el sayyara Sagheera

?I want some fish|urid samak

?I want a fish|urid samaka

?rice is delicious|el ruz laTHeeTH

?I want some water|urid maa