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How Is the Arabic Alphabet Structured

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The demand for Arabic language speakers in the United States continues to surge. Becoming fluent in the Arabic alphabet and language can give you an upper hand when searching for a job. You will also understand the Arabic religion and culture more deeply.

Today, the internet has made it possible for many people to become excellent Arabic speakers. With online Arab academies, it’s easier to learn the alphabet’s origin, characteristics, and structure.

Various Arabic dialects influence communication among Arabic speakers in different ways. Knowing how to structure the Arabic Alphabet (Arabic letters) will help you understand the Arabic language and dialects.

To learn more about how dialect influences communication, let’s talk about the structuring of the Arabic alphabet.

The Overview

Historians believe that the Arabic language is as old as 512 CE. The language is believed to have originated from the Arabian Peninsula.

Initially, semi-nomadic Nabatean tribes used to do stone writings. Known as the Nabatean script, these written texts still resonate with the writings used in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).

The past Arabic script was quite complex compared to modern Arabic writings. Various modern changes were made to simplify the language, including non-Arabic sounds in the alphabet.

The Arabic alphabet is unique and different from the English alphabet. Unlike other alphabets, the Arabic language follows the Abjad system. Each letter in the Abjad system does not stand for a vowel but rather a consonant.

Instead of having vowel letter symbols, Arabic language speakers use specific marks to come up with the vowel sounds. Here are other things that differentiate the Arabic alphabet from the English alphabet:

  • The Arabic alphabet has 28 letters
  • Arabic letters are written from right to left when written
  • The position of Arabic letters in a word determines their shape

Writing Arabic letters utilizes cursive or script form. Cursive makes it easy for the writer to connect the letters. As a result, the written Arabic word or sentence flows smoothly.

Consonant Variations

Understanding the Arabic consonants will help you know how the Arabic sounds are produced. The pronunciation of some of the Arabic letters varies with the Arabic dialects. Two things determine the classification of the Arabic consonants:

  • The method or manner of articulating the consonants
  • The organs used to articulate the consonants

Both Arabic and English alphabets have some common consonants. The major difference in the consonants falls in their articulation. For example, the letter ‘t’ is dental in Arabic and alveolar in English.

To understand the Arabic consonants better, you must understand their various articulators. Here are the most active articulators to know about:

  • The tip of your tongue must touch your upper front teeth
  • Consonants are articulated by your uvula and the back of your tongue
  • Your tongue must touch your alveolar ridge to articulate some consonants
  • Some consonants are articulated by the lower and upper lips touching
  • Other common articulators of Arabic consonants are velar, glottal, and pharyngeal

Arabic alphabet learners should also learn about the methods/manners of Arabic consonant articulation. One of the articulation manners is known as a stop. Stop consonants block the air flowing through the mouth rather than through the nose.

Nasal stops and oral stops (plosives) are the two types of stops. Other common manners of Arabic consonant articulation are:

  • Laterals
  • Approximants
  • Fricatives
  • Affricates

Arabic Vowels

Unlike the English alphabet, Arabic has fewer vowels, which are either long or short. The major short Arabic vowels are fatha, kasra, and damma. Letters ‘a, I, and I represent short Arabic vowels.

A diagonal stroke (vowel mark) on top of the consonant indicates fatha /a/. A miniature (apostrophe-like shape) above the consonant shows the damma vowel /u/. Unlike the fatha vowel, the kasra vowel /i/ has the vowel mark below the consonant.

The long Arabic vowels are ‘aa, ii, and uu.’ Common Arabic letters used to write the vowels are alef, ya, and waw.

The difference between short and long Arabic vowels comes in their pronunciation. For example, long vowels sound the same as the Arabic letters when pronounced. Short vowels make Arabic letters sound different.

Learn the Arabic Alphabet Today

Learning the Arabic alphabet is the first step to becoming an excellent Arabic speaker. Though this alphabet has a unique structure, any language learner can master it with time and practice. Each letter will begin to feel and sound natural as you become familiar with the others.

Learning this alphabet can be much easier if you choose the right online school. Online courses allow you to learn at your own pace and at a rate that is flexible with your schedule. They also enable you to collaborate with native speakers and learn the language in a more authentic setting than your local circumstances may allow. Look for an institution offering the best Arabic online courses for your training and get started today!

Read also: Fictional Writing: “How To” For brand new Writers

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