Thursday, July 9, 2009

How to Read & Write Arabic 18: Ayn

The last few posts in the, 'How to Read and Write Arabic' series have looked at some difficult letters for non-native Arabic speakers, Saad, Daad, TTaa and DHaa.

This week nothing much changes because the next letter of the Arabic alphabet also has no equivalent sound in English; Ayn.

For me 'Ayn' was probably one of the hardest letters to learn in the Arabic alphabet.  Not only does it have no equivalent sound in English, or any other European language for that matter, it has four quite distinctly different formats when it's written.  I'm just glad it isn't/wasn't the first letter of the alphabet; what a nightmare it would be if this was the first letter to learn!

Writing Ayn
Because Ayn is a connector you'll already know there will be four different forms of the letter (inital, medial, final and independent) which are shown below. The pencil lines with numbers indicate the order in which you should write the letter, whilst the red highlights indicate previous letters (on the right hand side) and the letters which follow Ayn (on the left hand side):





Making the Sound of Ayn
Ayn sounds just like it's written in English - ayn. However, it needs some attitude adding to it.  The sound for this letter should come from deep in your throat, from that area around your Adam's apple. Apparently the scientific phonological term for the sound is, 'pharyngal voiced fricative', or to you and me that constricting sound you make when you gag.

Put your fingers on your Adam's apple and now gargle and make the sound of a large truck. It feels pretty daft, but you should feel your Adam's apple vibrate. Now control the large truck sound and change it in to an 'Ayn' sound.

As with the other letters which have no equivalent sound in English, it's strongly suggested you have the sound you're making checked with a native Arabic speaker - it's definately going to take some time to get Ayn right, but hopefully not too long.

To make this a wee bit more user-friendly you'll find some photos of Ayn below:

To start the word, or following a non-connector

When Ayn appears in the middle of a word

When Ayn is the last letter in a word

In this case, Budaiya, one of the suburbs of Manama in Bahrain

and in this case, Adfa or PAY


Hide & Seek

See if you can find the letter Ayn in each of the photos below:

What's Next?
I look forward to you joining me for the next letter of the Arabic alphabet; GHayn, a letter very similar to Ayn, but with a dot on top.


trancepass said...

interesting, nice way to learn to write letter ayn. Like it.

Puça said...

Interesting. I'm learning arabic and I take pics to traffic signs to in rder I can read them.

Anonymous said...

Your posts on the letters are very helpful. :D