Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Welcome to Introduction to Arabic.
My name is Alisha and I'm joined by...
Hi everyone! I'm Yafa.
In this lesson you'll learn the basics of Arabic writing.
First, let's introduce you to the Arabic alphabet.
The Arabic alphabet consists of 28 letters.
There are 3 vowels...
أ، و، ي.
the rest are consonants.
ب، ت، ث، ج، د، ر، ز، ....
and so on.
Five consonant letters are emphatic or hard versions of other letters. They're pronounced deeper in the throat.
ض، ح، ص، ظ، ق.
OK. Now that you're a little bit more familiar with the Arabic alphabet. Let's talk a little bit about the sequence that they're written in.
Just like how English orders its alphabet in 'ABC...' and so forth, there is a proper order in which Arabic letters are sequenced too.
There are actually two ways the Arabic alphabet is ordered. One is called abjad, and the other hija. For this introductory lesson, just understand that abjad is the older version, while the hija is the newer version that's commonly used in modern-day dictionaries.
So if you had to choose, try to learn the newer version.
Types of written Arabic
Just like how there are abjad and hija orders of the Arabic alphabet, there are also two different styles of writing in Arabic.
The first is Classical Arabic – the language of the Qur'an and classical literature. It differs from the other type of written Arabic in style and vocabulary, some of which is abandoned now.
The second is Modern Standard Arabic, the universal language of the Arabic-speaking world which is understood by all Arabic speakers. It's the language of the vast majority of written material and of formal TV shows, lectures, and so on.
Once again, you can think of them as the old and the newer style.
The biggest difference between these two writing styles, is that classical Arabic represents vowels, while Modern Standard Arabic mostly does not.
Let's try to draw a comparison to English to better demonstrate this point.
Take, for example, a word like "cover" in English. It's written C-O-V-E-R.
This is how you would write it in Classical Arabic.
In Modern Standard Arabic however, it's customary to omit the vowels.
So, it would be written C-V-R in Modern Standard Arabic.
In this case, the vowels are merely implied. It relies on you to fill in the gaps on your own to come up with the correct word based on context.
This makes learning Arabic more difficult in the beginning, but once you become proficient, it'll be like reading in shorthand!
Let's see what it would look like in Arabic.
Take the verb for “go” in Arabic. Classical Arabic would be written like this:
and pronounced... ذَهَبَ
Modern Standard Arabic however, would remove the vowels. So it would appear like this:
and be pronounced...
Vowelled text, appears in the Qur'an. They are also used, though with less consistency, in other religious texts, in classical poetry, in books for children and foreign learners, and occasionally in complex texts to avoid ambiguity.
Modern Standard Arabic is used everywhere else, meaning it's much more common. So most of the time, the vowels would not be written at all.
Writing Style
The writing style of Arabic may require some getting used to, because unlike English and other western languages, Arabic is written in the opposite direction: From right to left.
So, using the previous example...
ذ goes first, followed by ه, and then ب
While words are written from right to left, numerals are written from left to right instead. So please keep that in mind.
OK. Now that you know that Arabic is written from right to left, let's talk a bit about the different forms of a letter.
As you can see, Arabic is written in cursive. Unlike English, writing cursive in Arabic is not optional. It is always written this way, where letters within a word connect from one to the next.
Each letter is written differently depending on their position within a word. A letter can exhibit up to four distinct forms; initial, medial, final, or isolated.
Take the letter ب for example.
This letter is written in the 'initial' form, when it's the first letter in a word. It'll be written like this.
It'll be written in the 'medial' form, when it's wedged between two other letters.
It'll be written in the 'final' form, when it's the last letter in a word.
And when the letter stands alone, it'll be written using the 'isolated' form.
Well done! Now, let's end this lesson by recapping what we've learned.
In this lesson you learned that there are 28 letters in the Arabic alphabet; 3 of them are vowels and the rest are consonants.
Texts using Classical Arabic are vowelled, but more commonly, everyday Arabic is written using Modern Standard Arabic, which nearly always has them omitted.
You also learned that Arabic is written from right to left, and that there are four forms of a letter; the initial, medial, final, and isolated.
We've covered only the very basics of Arabic writing. If you're interested in learning more, check out our "Arabic Writing" video series.
In the next lesson, you'll be entering Arabic boot camp, where you'll learn useful beginner phrases to get you speaking Arabic right away!
See you in the next lesson. Bye!