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Lesson Transcript

Halla: أهلا و سهلا Everyone. Halla here.
Simon: Simon here all about lesson 2, all about the Arabic writing system.
Halla: Now, we need you to focus. This is very important and there is a lot of, well, not surprises, but let’s say new system to learn.
Simon: That’s true, Halla. Speaking of the system, Arabic uses the Arabic alphabet as its writing system. The Arabic alphabet originated from Aramaic. Although Arabic inscriptions are most common after the birth of Islam, around the 7th century, the origin of the Arabic alphabet lies deeper in time. The Nabataeans, which established the kingdom in what is modern-day Jordan from the 2nd century, were Arabs.
Halla: Yes. They wrote with a highly cursive Aramaic-derived alphabet that would eventually evolve into the Arabic alphabet. The Nabataeans endured until the year 106 CE when they were conquered by the Romans.
Simon: But Nabataean inscriptions continue to appear until the 4th century CE, coinciding with the first inscriptions in the Arabic alphabet, which is also found in Jordan.
Halla: Also, Arabic alphabet is used in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Pashto, Tulu, Malay, Xhosa and that’s in West Africa.
Simon: Mandinka, Swahili in East Africa, Balti, Brahui, Punjabi in Pakistan, Kashmiri, Sindhi in India and Pakistan, Arwi in Sri Lanka, Uyghur in China, Kazakh in China, Kyrgyz in China, Azerbaijani in Iran, Kurdish in Iran and Iraq, and the language of the former Ottoman Empire.
Halla: In order to accommodate the needs of these other languages, new letters and other symbols were added to the original alphabet. As you can see Simon, it’s extremely important and very useful to know. Also, knowing about 40% of Arabic you can survive in Arabic countries.
Simon: You’ll see it on all street signs, at the airport, train and bus stations, newspapers and guide books, and it can be used for general communication, but I was wondering about something. If you speak Arabic in one country, can you understand it in another?
Halla: More or less yes, especially if it’s written. We might use the spoken dialect to communicate, but when it comes to the written form, we most likely go with standard Arabic. If not, then we write what we say, simple and clear. The written language in each country is as different as it’s spoken. It could be very little or really different.
Simon: And that’s why all foreign students go for standard Arabic?
Halla: Yes. But if they seek to communicate with people on all levels in the Arabic-speaking world, using Arabic is much better. Best Arabic for that is the Egyptian colloquial.
Simon: Well that’s how it happened with me. I started with standard and then went for the dialect to deal with people. Otherwise, it could be a little strange.
Halla: I can only imagine. Okay, great. So Simon, let’s speak about the alphabet. First, the Arabic alphabet consists of three vowels and 28 consonants.
Simon: I had a lot of fun learning those vowels.
Halla: I bet you do. Also, Arabic alphabet consists of 28 characters.
Simon: And you form words by connecting the letters. Arabic does not have words written with separate letters, that’s why each letter has three forms – the beginning, medial, and end – plus the isolated form. That was also fun and very interesting.
Halla: We have these three forms – beginning, medial and end. Because the words in Arabic are always written connected, as you have just said, it’s never separated letters. The form doesn’t change much. Each alphabet keeps its original form or look, but with small changes to make it easier when we write it. Best think, memorize its isolated form then learn it in the other three forms. The shape and looks are really the same. Just connect it to form the words.
Simon: You know guys, if you know the Arabic alphabet, Hebrew, Amharic, Persian, Turkish, it may also be easier to understand and learn mainly because it comes from the same family or is using the same alphabet system, which will make the process of reading and writing much easier and smoother. Also, there’s a lot of common words between them, so it all connects.
Halla: Yes. So when you start learning it, keep in your mind, this is not just for one language, but a true connector to many others.
Simon: I agree with you, Halla. Well guys, that just about does it for today. Thanks for listening and see you next time on Arabic Pod 101 – All about Arabic lessons.
Halla: Thanks Simon مع السّلامة .


Please to leave a comment.
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ArabicPod101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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What do you think about the Arabic writing system? Have you learned how to write Arabics?

ArabicPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 05:54 PM
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Hi Noor,

Thank you for your cute emoticon!

Let us know if you have any questions. :wink:


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Monday at 05:25 PM
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ArabicPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 06:22 AM
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Hi Saya,

Great learning story! Be sure to check out our Alphabet series and our pronunciation series for more insight on letters!

But yeah, calligraphy and cursive writing are so hard, even for me!

Wednesday at 01:16 PM
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I have to repeatedly write in arabic from a book I checked out at the library. I followed the instructions for the flowing cursive and well I'm not quite an artistic person. I was relieved to find at the end of the book lessons on written arabic, which is slightly easier than the curly-cues.


But in order for the lettes and combinations to remain in my memory, I'm glad I learned the classical stroke order first. it's truly a beautiful alphabet and language.

ArabicPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 11:34 AM
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Hi mickel,

Thank you for posting.

We are glad to hear that you are interested in learning Arabic here with us.

You can enjoy our free resources for now!

Let us know if you have questions, please email us to: contactus@ArabicPod101.com



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Saturday at 02:29 AM
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i'm 16 years old and i'm so interested in arabic but i find it too bad that i have to pay for these wonderfull lessons with money i currently don't have...

ArabicPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 08:26 PM
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Hi Gene,

Thank you for your kind words! Try to focus on one dialect at a time, but definitely start with Standard Arabic and then proceed to dialects :)


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Thursday at 01:31 AM
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great and so helpfull.but it is a little confusing to understand standard from dialect(hope im saying dialect correctly)

ArabicPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 08:55 PM
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Hi Mars,

The best way to learn a language is in it's own country! Good luck!

maa fi: It means "there is no..". For example if you go to a shop and ask for something they don't have or ran out of, the salesperson will say :maa fi

shekel: Can you give the context where it was used? shekel can mean "way" or "shape". But it really depends on how it's used.

maujude: maujude can be the opposite of "maafi". So it can mean "there is" or "present".

Hope this helped!


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ArabicPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 08:51 PM
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Hi Cathy,

Thanks for the comment. We are actually working on a series for Arabic writing. Please stay tuned to ArabicPod101!

Thank you very much.


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