Saturday, January 17, 2009

How to Read & Write Arabic: o2 BAA

Last Saturday we introduced the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, alif, along with a couple of basic rules {see wgaw blog archive: o8/o3}. Today we’ll look at the second letter of the alphabet, ‘baa’ ~could this possibly make an alif-baa, or alphabet?~ and revise some of what we did last week.

Key Rule 1. In Arabic, letters are connected when handwritten and also when they're printed. This does not occur in English, e.g. this blog post (printed) doesn't have connected letters.

The second letter of the Arabic alphabet is called baa and is pronounced in exactly the same way as the English letter ‘B’. When it stands alone or by itself, we call it an ‘independent’ letter and it is written like this:

Baa: Reading and Writing
As we said last week, all Arabic letters change their form slightly depending on where they occur in a word (think; a-A, b-B, c-C, d-D, e-E, f-F, etc.). This means baa often looks slightly different from the letter shown above.

However, you shouldn’t worry too much about this as the general form is always the same; one dot (below the line you write on) and at least one vertical line (above the line you write on).

Key Rule 2. Letters can occur in three different positions; at the beginning of a word (when it is called the 'initial'), in the middle (termed the 'medial'), or at the end of a word (when it is known as the 'final').

Each letter also has an 'independent' form but this is only used when the letter occurs completely by itself e.g. writing a list or completing a crossword puzzle.

In the boxes below you'll find examples of how the letter 'baa' is written in each of these positions, with the arrows indicating the order and direction your pen should move.

Key Rule 3. Always draw the lines of the letter first, then the dots

Initial, used when baa starts a word;

Medial form, used when baa occurs in the middle of a word (the black colour indicates the previous letter);

Final form, used when baa is the last letter in a word (the black colour indicates the previous letter);

Connected or not Connected?
Last week we introduced the concept that six letters in the Arabic alphabet never connect with the letter which follows them (alif being the first one of the six). These letters are known as 'non connectors'.

Baa is one of the 22 'connecting' letters and will always connect to the letter which follows it.However, if baa occurs after a non-connector and it
a. falls in the middle of a word; it's written in its 'initial' format
b. occurs at the end of a word; it'll take the 'independent' format (because it can not connect to the letter before it and there is no letter to follow).

We/you can now join the letter baa with the letter alif and write two words; bab [baab] meaning door and baba [baa-baa] meaning father.

a. baab - door
In the word baab we write three letters:
1. baa; in the initial form because it starts the word
2. alif; in the connected form because it follows the letter baa
3. baa; in the independent form because it follows alif (alif never connects with the following letter) and completes the word.

Bab al Bahrain (literally: door of Bahrain, or, The Gateway to Bahrain)

b. baa-baa – father
The example below is very stylized, but the green circled part spells baba. FYI, the other part of the writing spells habbas [hah-bas] and together they form the name of a restaurant [ba-ba hah-bas]

For the word 'baa-baa' we write four letters:
1. baa; in the initial form
2. alif; in the medial or connected form
3. baa; in the initial form (because it follows alif a non-connector)
4. alif; in the connected form

Picuture Examples of the Letter baa




In the picture above there are two baas. The circled baa is in the final format and immediately following this is another baa. The second baa is located at the beginning of a new word and so is written in the initial format.

1. The second letter of the Arabic alphabet is called 'baa'
2. The are four different forms of the letter 'baa'; independent, initial, medial and final
3. Baa changes its form depending on its location in the word, but the basic structure is always the same; one dot below the line and at least one vertical line above the line
4. When writing always draw the lines first and then fill in the dots. Do not stop writing to add a dot to a word. Finish the word, then return to the beginning of the word and go through it again, adding dots in the relevant location(s)
5. Arabic letters are connected whenever they are written; both in the handwritten and printed format.

1. Find three additional examples of the letter baa in the photos above.
2. Using lined paper practice writing the words, baba (father) and bab (door) as many times as you can. A mininum of 20 repetitions is suggested, remembering to write the lines first of the word first and then the dots.

What's Next?
On Saturday 24th Janauary 2009 the third letter of the Arabic alphabet, 'taa' will be explained.

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