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When to pronounce the final tied-up taa’ (taa’ Marboutah)? Posted by on Aug 2, 2017 in Arabic Language, Grammar, Pronunciation

I recently had to explain to one of my students the reason I sometime pronounce the tied-up taa’ ـة  , which is found at the end of a word, and sometimes I don’t! This blog post will provide you with some tips so you can recognise the two often-confused forms of the bound-up taa’: the one that is pronounced and the one that is NOT – the silent one.

 

Mosque

 

What’s the problem?

The struggle that many learners of Arabic face may with this particular letter (tied-up taa’) is usually to do with the lack of distinction between the two forms this letter takes. The tied-up taa’ is either pronounced, thus written as  ة ـة  or not (silent), thus written as ه  ـه . However, many native speakers don’t pay attention to this difference and write it the same, even though they would make a clear distinction in the pronunciation, depending on the context.

When to pronounce it – ‘at’ – and when to leave it out – ‘ah/a’?

1- In everyday, spoken Arabic, the tied-up taa’ is hardly pronounced! The silent form (ah/a) is more common ـه  ه

This is mainly because inflection in often dropped in spoken/colloquial Arabic, and therefore, word endings are not marked with any inflection and so they are mostly silent.

 

So, it’s more likely that you hear :

فتاه  (Girl)

pronounced as ‘fataa’ rather than ‘fataat

even if it was in the middle of a sentence where it would usually be inflected.

However>> If for example, it (the words fataa) is used in a formal setting, e.g. news programme, it’s usually pronounced because it needs to be inflected, according to Standard Arabic rules. Depending on its function in the sentence (which determines the inflection needed), it could be pronounced as:

فتاةْ – فتاةَ – فتاةِ – فتاةُ

fataat – fataata – fataati – fataatu

 

2- The tied-up taa’ is usually silent when nothing comes after it.

So, if I ask you ‘what number is this? [Referring to five], your answer should be:

Khamsah or khamsa

and NOT

Khamsat

But if it’s followed by another word, such as:

خمسة تفاحات   (Five apples)

the tied-up taa’ in khamsa should be pronounced>> Khmsat tuffaahaat

*Exception to this rule: in colloquial Arabic, the tied-up taa’ here is silent> khamsah tuffaahaat

 

3- Finally, the tied-up taa’ is pronounced in the case of ‘Idaadah’ إضافة  or addition, when referring to a relation of possession.

 

For example,

حديقه

on its own is pronounced as ‘hadeeqah’

 

but if you add another word to it, such as ‘The neighbourhood’ – as in the park belongs to the neighbourhood or it’s the neogihbourhood’s park:

حديقة الحيّ

Here, the tied-up taa’ should be pronounced:

‘Hadeeqat  Al-hayy’

(The neightbourhood’s park)

 

 

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About the Author:Hanan Ben Nafa

I am a 3rd year, PhD candidate in Sociolinguistics at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), under the supervision of Dr. Rob Drummond. I have been in the UK since 2009 when she moved for the purpose of pursuing her studies. The title of her PhD project is: ‘Code-Switching & Social identity construction among Arabic-English bilinguals’. Apart from my main interest in Sociolinguistics, I work as a part-time translator and interpreter (social and legal) and teach Arabic, occasionally. Passionate about languages, ethnography and everyday language use by bilinguals.


Comments:

  1. Mathilde:

    Oh my god thank you that was very useful !!

  2. Amina:

    This lessons are very useful because I’m studying Arabic and your notes are clear and understanding.Alhamdulila

  3. Amina:

    Assalaamu Alaikum your lessons are clear and easy to read.Alhamdulila


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