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The Arabic Alphabet الأبجدية العربية Posted by on May 1, 2019 in Arabic Language, Language, Pronunciation, semantics

The Arabic language is one of the hardest languages to master in the world for a number of reasons, one of which is the fact that it has its own alphabet.

 

The Arabic alphabet is not like any other alphabet, for starters, it’s written from right to left. Moreover, it is almost impossible to find equivalents to most of the letters in it. For example : the Arabic س is equivalent to the English S, meaning their pronunciation is similar. But the majority of the Arabic letters do not have any equivalences or similarities like the letter ض , which is pronounced Daad, NOT dad as in father, but daad. It’s because of this particular letter that the Arabic alphabet is called the language of the daad لغة الضاد , because this letter has no equivalent (among others).

This is the English standard alphabet :

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z  ( 26 letters)

And this is the Arabic alphabet :

 (28 letters ) أ ب ت ث  ج ح خ د ذ ر ز س ش ص ض ط ظ ع غ ف ق ك ل م ن ه و ي 

 

Here are the equivalents between the English standard alphabet and the Arabic alphabet :

A : أ  as in Alaska                                             K : ك  as in Cake                                 Y : ي   as in Why

B : ب  as in Barn                                              L : ل  as in Lake                                   Z : ز  as in Zebra

C : س  as in Cinnamon                                   M : م   as in Mom

D : د  as in Doctor                                           N : ن   as in Noun

F : ف  as in Confetti                                        R : ر   as in Reality

G / J : ج  as in Gender or Jim                      S : س  as in Super

H : ه  as in Ham                                              T : ت   as in Take

I : ي  as in Confetti                                        W : و   as in Wagon

 

These are 19 English letters with Arabic equivalences, which leaves a number of  Arabic letters with  no equivalences or with an equivalence of two English letters :

ث : Th as in Think

ح : No equivalence

خ : Kh as in the name Khaled. Not Kaled, Khaled.

ذ : Th as in That

ش : Sh or Ch as in Chandelier

ص : No equivalent

ض : No equivalent

ط  : No equivalent

ظ : No equivalent

ع : No equivalent

غ : Gh as in the expression Ugh for frustration

 

 

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About the Author: Anastasia

Marhaba! My name is Anastasia, I'm Lebanese and I'm the new Arabic blogger! As the great prophet Khalil Gibran once said "You have your Lebanon and I have my Lebanon." For as long as I can remember, my country has been poorly portrayed in the Western media, so allow me to introduce to the magic, mystical, and breathtakingly beautiful land I grew up in called : LEBANON.


Comments:

  1. Robert Barker:

    It may well be a difficult language for Europeans to master but it is far from being unique in being written from right to left nor in having “its own alphabet”. This common to all the semitic language group as well as many, many asian languages. Nor is the “non-equivalence” problem unique to Arabic. Even in closely related languages, one will often have sounds that do not appear in another. For example, the vowel in German “für” doesn’t occur in English (although it does in French), and English people find it almost impossinble to pronounce the consonant in Swedish “sju”.

    • Anastasia:

      @Robert Barker As you said Robert, I am saying that Arabic has sounds and letters that Europeans and Americans can’t pronounce because the Arabic alphabet is so different from the standard one. I did not compare it to any other language.