Arabic Alphabet: Sounds, Names, and English Equivalents

28 Jan

A bit ago, I received a comment from a visitor who was looking for names of Arabic letters and English equivalents, which is one (well one of many) things that I did not have.

I put together a little something to that effect (really basic).  Most of my present materials assume that the teacher knows the names and sounds of the letters, so I hope this helps for those who don’t.

Letter names/English “equivalents” (if any)
(Sometimes an equivalent is given, but it may not be 100% equivalent but is what is generally designated).

The letters are in alphabetical order, so please refer to one of my (or any other) alphabet chart to correlate if you are not able to recognize the letters by sight).

Alif – short A, e, or u (depending upon which short vowel is present on it), but it is mostly commonly used as an A in alphabet charts.
Taa – t

Thaa – th sound (voiced), as in “thick”
jeem – J
haa- h (soft h sound)
khaa – no equivalent, sounds like a kh
daal – d
thaal – th sound (voiceless) as in “the”
raa – r
zaa – z
seen – s
sheen -sh
saad – s, but pronounced differently than the seen, the mouth is more rounded
daad – d but different than the daal, the mouth is more rounded
Taw – like a t but different than the taa, the mouth is more rounded when pronounced
Thaw – similar to th sound , but the mouth is more rounded
Ein – no equivalent
ghein – g (hard)
faa – f
qaaf – q
kaaf – k
laam – l
meem – m
noon – n
Haa – h but more hardy
wow- w
yaa- y

I would just rely on this for the teacher and not get into equivalents for the students. Many think that transliteration and comparing to English will serve as a crutch. However, for teachers  for whom Arabic is not their native language and who don’t have a teacher themselves, then it is probably essential in the beginning.

If you can find a book or software on tajweed, this will help more accurately with the pronunciation of sounds, in sha Allah, than what I have provided here.

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Posted by on January 28, 2011 in Arabic Alphabets


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