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Halla: السّلام عليكم Everyone. أهلا Simon.
Simon: Simon here all about lesson 4, basic Arabic pronunciation.
Halla: Comparatively speaking, Arabic is relatively slightly difficult language to speak.
Simon: Do you remember the basics we covered before? The Arabic alphabet consists of 28 characters. Arabic consists of simple syllables usually formed by a consonant and a vowel, short or long.
Halla: Yes, Simon. We mentioned vowels before. There are three short vowels and three long vowels in Arabic. The first short vowel is “fatHa”. That’s like a short “A” sound like curtain or jacket, and its long vowel the “A” is pronounced like a double A like in man or fan. It could be an “I” sound like train or frame. It’s very light but extended, and it could be a little bit deep like dawn. The second short vowel is “kasra”. It’s a small “E” or “I” sound found in words like pen, men, or friends. The compound sound of “ie” in friends is the same or {peel}. The long vowel that is equivalent to this one is “ya”. It’s an extended “E” sound heard in words like tree, free, meet, treat, heat and more. Third and last short vowel is “damma”, which is a small U or “oo” sound such in {colon} or potato. The equivalent long vowel for it will be giving a longer “oo” or “U” sound such as moon, raccoon, blue or chew.
Simon: Wow! That can be a little tricky {Halla}. I mean, I hear it, but it took me a few go’s to get it right when I first learned it. Here, we’re not going to go over the pronunciation of all the consonants, but if you’re interested, you can listen to our pronunciation series designed to help you master the Arabic pronunciation. Rather, we’re going to discuss some of the interesting aspects of pronunciation.
Halla: How about you tell us some unique aspects of the Arabic language?
Simon: I would definitely start with the “shadda”, a linguistic term to indicate when a letter is doubled, stressed while pronounced, but only written once with this symbol on top of it to indicate that it’s stressed.
Halla: Keep in mind, if the stress is not pronounced, it’s very much likely that you will end up saying a completely different word. For example, we have حمّام and حمّام . حمام is “bathroom”. حمام is “pigeons”.
Simon: That’s a little comic when it happens for real, and guys, if you don’t pay attention, it will. Also, there are long vowels and short vowels. Each of the three Arabic vowels has a long and short version. The long version comprises two syllables, and so, in accordance with rule one, the long version is nearly twice as long as the short one.
Halla: For example, عالم versus علم. The first one means “world” and the second means “flag”. Please listen again, علم . عالم.
Simon: And the last point I would like to introduce for now is the silent letters. In certain cases, the consonant doesn’t have any sound like “ba”, “bu”, “bi”. It will be more like “bi”. It’s known when the latter carries a small circle on top of it. It indicates that it’s silent and takes no sound at all.
Halla: In theory, written Arabic will always have these short vowels, silent or the stress symbols, but that doesn’t happen very often. The good news is you start learning how to read correct Arabic without having to depend on the short vowels.
Simon: You once told me that part of learning Arabic is by the sound. You learn how the word should sound if you pronounce it right or wrong and, in most cases, you would correct yourself before anyone else does.
Halla: Yes, Simon. I wouldn’t say it’s a high level of Arabic learners. It’s closer to intermediate, actually maybe even a high beginner. Believe me, it’s a lot of fun. Plus, one way or another, you will get used to it as newspapers, books, and even the news {tree} on TV doesn’t have these short vowels. It’s mostly written in the Koran and any written literature such as poetry, all literature scripts, handbooks and the likes.
Simon: That sounds fair enough to me, and you’re learning more skills as well.
Halla: Yes. Thanks Simon. This has been fun as usual. We will be seeing you on our next lesson everyone. Have a great day.
Simon: See you soon with another All About Arabic on Arabic Pod 101. Have a great day.
Halla: مع السّلامة