By Carl Kenner
The Arabic letter q looks just like the English lowercase letter q. But in Arabic it looks like it is sitting down. The stem of the q bends around to the left and then up again. Kind of like the tail on the Arabic N. It is important not to confuse the q with the 9 shaped letter you just learned. To help prevent confusion, the q has two dots above it, like this:
Note that it is not just a W with two dots above it. It is also quite a different shape from the 9. And unlike the 9, the q DOES connect to the letter after it. So in the middle of a word, the q looses its tail, and will only be sitting up a little bit above the line. Or in some fonts it may be sitting on the line. Or it may just look like a ribbon shaped loop with two dots above it. Here is what q looks like in the middle of a word:
The Tahoma font goes with the loop, while another other font went with the sitting-up q (at least on my computer). I prefer the sitting-up q style.
Anyway, the q is not pronounced kw like it is in English. In Arabic q is the hard K sound, but different from the normal K. Kind of like the silly S and the sorry S distinction that Arabic also has. This would be the "sorry" K. It is the K sound in Qatar, Al Qaeda, and the Quran (sometimes written koran in English).
But in the Egyptian dialect the Q is almost silent, and it is pronounced like a glottal stop. You remember the glottal stop from before? So in Egypt they would say il ’aeda instead of al Qaeda. This is the letter at the end of suuq (market) which they say and write as soo’. Here is how to write suuq in Arabic (with a double U in the middle):