The Arabic Alphabet الأبجدية

28 Sep

YAY!! Learning the Alphabet الأبجدية!!

Learning a language with a new alphabet and characters requires the speaker to know how to learn to read (for many its something you haven’t really learned in awhile) and transliteration is usually pretty helpful in the first few weeks or months of learning and getting familiar with the language.

Transliteration is the process of phonetically sounding out the sounds the Arabic letters make in the language you already know. Not all English words are phonetic (like dogz or write) but we know the rules and we can understand it in our own terms. Luckily, and this is one of the myths of the difficulty of Arabic, Arabic is a very phonetic language, and typically words sound is how their spelled in Arabic script. Until you have the alphabet down, you will probably need to use transliteration. Once you do have the alphabet down, transliteration becomes a crutch. Leave it behind in your notes of how to pronounce baa ب and you will learn how to really read Arabic.

English                                  Transliteration                           Arabic

Ex. Hello                              assalamu alaykum                    السلام عليكم


There are 4 Positions for each letter to be in: Independent Position, Initial Position, Medial Position, and Final Position. This is because Arabic is a cursive written language and a letter can appear at multiple spots in a word.


There is also variation in handwriting vs. print, and these variations can be very different. So I will do my best to put both the print and handwriting forms while introducing the alphabet, and anywhere else while learning these basics. The ‘Alif Baa‘ textbook sited in the last post is your best source to practice handwritten vs. print script.

REMEMBER: Arabic is read from Left Right 

Sounds and Pronunciation

Frontal Sounds: These are sounds that are produced in the front of the mouth. Think of the English letters like ‘K’ and ‘B’ they are very easily produced and take no effort from the throat

Deep Sounds: These are sounds that are produced deep in the throat and are often (but not always) associated with unvoiced sounds, like the letters ج ح خ

Emphatic Letters: These letters are also pronounced deep in the throat, but they deepen the sounds of surrounding vowels as well.

Voiced Letters: Fully produced sounds

Unvoiced Letters: Letters that only being but don’t really end, until they merge into the next letter like ح

This sound is not like the voiced H in happy, but unvoiced H has no English equivalent its like fogging a glass



Click on the chart below to open in a new window!


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