Thursday, January 29, 2009

How to Read & Write Arabic: o4 THAA

This week we'll continue with the 't' sound and move on to the fourth letter of the Arabic alphabet; 'thaa' which is pronounced like the, ‘th’ sound in the English word 'three'.

Thaa makes the sound ‘th’ in the English word 'three', but it doesn't make the 'th' sound in the English word, 'that'.

Say the words, 'three' and, 'that' several times one after another and you'll hear a clear difference between the two. When you say the word, ‘that’ air is forced out of your mouth. With the word, ‘three’ the sound is far softer. In Arabic there is a letter each of these th sounds.

General rule; Unlike English alphabet letters, Arabic letters do not change the sound they make. No matter which letters preceed or follow, the sound always remains the same.

Now all we have to do is introduce you to the independent form of the letter 'thaa':

Thaa: Reading and Writing
The letter 'thaa' is a connector and so connects to the letter which follows it. The diagrams below show the three different positions in which you can read and write thaa. I’m sure by now you will have noticed the line structure for 'thaa' is very similar to the letters, 'baa' and, 'taa'




To help you remember the letter 'thaa';
1. think of it starting with the letters ‘th’, the sound made by the letters 'th' in the English word 'three'
2. when 'thaa' is written it has three dots above the line

Again, don’t forget: when a letter contains lines and dots the lines are always written before the dots.

Examples of the Letter 'thaa'

The following two photos show the initial letter thaa. The first one is from a road sign for al Anthar Road in Dubai

and the second one can be seen at the burial mounds at A’ali village, Bahrain:

“There are approximately 170,000 burial mounds in Bahrain, the majority dating back to the second and third centuries BC but with some as recent as 2,000 years old. Bahrain is considered to be the site of the largest prehistoric cemetery in the world, and the sheer number of burial mounds has led archaeologists to speculate that inhabitants of the Arabian mainland used the island as a pre-historic burial ground. The oldest and largest burial mounds, referred to as the ‘Royal Tombs’, are found at A’ali and measure up to 15 metres in height and 45 metres in diameter.”
Taken from

This photo below shows the sign post for a road in Bahrain suq which runs alongside the Yateem Centre, turns the corner and goes onto join Bab Al Bahrain road:

and the picture below shows another medial thaa:

Don’t worry too much about the dots and their position either over or just after the vertical line. The correct positioning is just after the vertical line but occasionally it’ll be written above, or after the line. Just as most of us write English handwritten letters are not always perfect. You must also take into account the added problem for non-native readers of Arabic, creativity within calligraphy and typography.

During the past month I searched and searched for a signpost which had the final form of the letter thaa. Half way through the month, having found nothing I involved other people in the search – and none of them could find one either ~pulls out hair~

So instead of road signs I’ve taken an everyday word which ends in the letter 'thaa': female [moo-en-eth]

The next photo shows the letter thaa in the independent position.

Following the thaa is the word ‘Bahrain'. The first letter of the word Bahrain is alif; initial and which you already know: laam (which we will do in another article) and then you’ll see a baa.

After the baa are four other letters, none of which we have done; haa, raa, eee and noon. Try not to panic or get confused. Another word of interest on this photo is the word bayt (house) spelt baa-yaa-taa (see wgaw blog archive: 19/o3). It can be seen at the top right-hand side of the sign; don’t forget to read it from right to left!

Hide and Seek
The final two pictures contain all four letters we have studied so far: alif, baa, taa and thaa.

The first line of the picture below contains 2 alifs, one baa, one taa and two thaas. See if you can find them and decide in which form they are written (choose from independent, initial, medial or final):

The second picture also contains all four letters (alif x4, baa x1, taa x1 and thaa x1). Try to find them and decide in which form they appear (independent, initial, medial or final)

Should you wish to practice writing the letter 'thaa':
1. Complete the hide and seek activity
2. Using lined paper write the letter 'thaa' in all four forms, as many times as you can; initial, medial, final and independent. Because taa is a connector you'll be able to connect 'taa' initial, followed by taa medial, and completed by taa final. A minimum of 20 repetitions is suggested, always remembering to write the lines first and then the dots.
3. Re-read wgaw blog posts, 'How to Read and Write Arabic'

1. The fourth letter of the Arabic alphabet is called thaa
2. The are four different forms of the letter thaa; independent, initial, medial and final
3. Thaa changes form depending on where it is placed in the word but the basic structure is always the same; three dots and at least one vertical line above the line.

What's Next?
This week's article completes the first section of the Arabic alphabet and was designed to build confidence in your ability to pick out and then read the first four letters.

Next week we’ll include a copy of the entire Arabic alphabet in case you want to rush ahead and learn the letters by yourself. If not, you'll have a copy of the alphabet and be able to prepare in advance for the blog updates, should you wish.


L_Oman said...

Alrighty, I'm going to follow your very easy to understand instructions and learn Arabic from them.

Yay - I'm glad I've found you! :)

wgaw said...

Glad you're finding it so easy ... it is easy to learn to read and write Arabic, it's just it always seems to be taught in such a difficult way :-(

srinivas said...

very very informative - have bookmarked your blog :)