Beginning Arabic: The Alphabet

I’ve been working on a python-based program to teach travelers a few handy phrases to use in country. The project has gotten me interested in the process of learning languages. There are a variety of learn-fast programs out there, each with their good points and bad points. There’s the more traditional, pronunciation and grammar intensive Berlitz method, the important phrases Pimsleur Technique, and the ‘learn like a child’ Rosetta Stone method. Which is best?

I learned a reasonable amount of Spanish using a combination of the Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone method, so I thought I’d try that with a more difficult language, Arabic. I’d taken an Adult-Ed course in Arabic a few years ago, and learned practically nothing but the alphabet. But in Arabic, the alphabet is really complex, so I figured it would be best to start by memorizing that before giving Pimsleur and Rosetta a try.

So, here’s the alphabet.

Alef أ Ba’a ب Ta’a ت Tha’a ث Jeem ج Ha’a ح Kha’a خ Dal د Thal ذ Ra’a ر Zai ز Seen س Sheen ش Sa’ad ص Da’ad ض Ta’a ط Tha’a ظ Ain ع Ghain غ Fa’a ف Qa’af ق Kaf ك Lam ل Meem م Noon ن Ha’a هـ Waw و Ya’a ي

Learning the alphabet is just the start. The appearance of the letters change according to their position in word. A Ba’a at the beginning of the word is different from a Ba’a in the Middle, or at the end. And we haven’t even gotten started on the vowels or lack thereof.

And also remember that Arabic words are read from right to left.

But for now, there’s just the letters of the alphabet to deal with. If you’re interested in Arabic, here are a few helpful cheat sheets I downloaded from a great language site found online, The Camel’s Nose.

A nice video that helps with pronunciation (embedding disabled)

Here’s the Arabic Alphabet song:

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About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
This entry was posted in middle east. Bookmark the permalink.

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