Because it's so simple to learn to read and write the Arabic script I'll be posting a blog entry, every Saturday, until all the letters (and a few additional points) have been explained.
The aim of the series is to:
1. help blog visitors decipher what is written in Arabic
2. prove it's (almost) the easiest thing in the world to learn to read Arabic, if it's explained clearly and simply.
I'll be using road signs and public notices throughout the series to explain each of the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet. In this first blog posting we'll introduce you to the first letter of the alphabet, ALIF and a few basic rules.
Key Rule 1: Arabic is written from right to left and from top to bottom.
The first letter of the Arabic alphabet is called alif [aa-lif] and is written vertically, from top to bottom, like this:
Although alif connects with the letter before it, it never ever connects with the letter following it, which leads us on to,
Key Rule 2. Six letters in the Arabic alphabet never connect with the following letter. Alif is the first of these six letters.
Alif is the name of the letter, but not the way it is pronounced when it occurs in a word (a bit like the English letter 'A' [aye] being pronounced 'agh' in 'cat'). When the letter alif forms part of a word it is pronounced, 'aaah', like the 'a' in father or car.
Key Rule 3. There are three 'long vowels' in the Arabic alphabet, of which alif is one. The word 'long' here simply means the length of time it takes to pronounce the letter. As a general guide; make the sound last twice as long as you would for the 'a' in father.
Beginning, Middle or End?
Key Rule 4: All Arabic letters change their form slightly depending on the location in the word (beginning, the middle or the end). As a consequence alif does not always look exactly the same; very similar but not exactly the same. Think a-A, b-B, c-C, d-D, e-E, etc. etc.
Only when alif appears at the beginning of a word does it look exactly the same as the example above. When an alif appears in the middle, or at the end of a word it will look like the example below:
NB; alif is written from bottom to top when it appears in the middle or at the end of a word.
Examples of the Letter Alif:
The following examples show the letter alif standing alone and not connected to any letter. In the examples shown, it's because it occurs at the beginning of the word and can not connect to the following letter. Don't forget to read from right to left!
pull [as-hab] and Saudi Arabia [as-sow-dee-a]:
The following example shows alif connected to the preceeding letter. Remember, alif is never connected to the letter which follows it:
3.Two Alifs in one Word
Some words contain more than one alif, both connected and unconnected:
Summary of the Key Rules
1. Arabic writing always starts at the top of the right hand side of the page and is written from right to left
2. There are 28 letters in the Arabic alphabet
3. There are three vowels in the Arabic alphabet
4. All Arabic letters change their form slightly depending on where they occur in the word (beginning, middle or end)
5. Six letters never connect to the letter which follows. There is always a break in the written word after these letters.