The Alphabet
alt : alphabet.pdf


The Arabic alphabet and writing system has four major characteristics that distinguish it from its European counterparts.

1. Arabic is written from right to left. One consequences of this system is that books, newspapers, and magazine open and are read from right to left, rather than from left to right.

2. Letters are connected in both print and handwriting, unlike those of Latin alphabet. The individual letters ( م ع ل م ) do not form a word even though they are in the correct order. Only when they are connected they spell the word ( معلم ). However, there are some six letters that are non connective as they do not connect to the following letters in one word. (أ، و ، د ، ذ ، ر ، ز)

3. Letters have slightly different shapes depending on where they occur in a word. The letters of the alphabet vary when they are written independently, in initial, medial or final position.
a. Initial position means not connected to a previous letter
b. Medial position means the letter is connected to a preceding letter and to a following one.
c. Final position means the letter is connected to the preceding letter.

4. Arabic script consists of two separate layers of writing. The basic skeleton of a word is made up of the consonants and long vowels. Short vowels and other punctuations and grammatical markers are separated from the consonant skeleton of the word. The second layer is called vocalization. Vocalization is usually omitted in writing, and the reader recognizes words without it. Hereafter, a line of poetry written twice: once with the consonant skeleton and the second with vocalization marks ( short vowels, and nunation marks)

Here is also an example of Nizar Qabbani's hand writing where some particular vocalization marks but not all are required to make it easier and clearer for the reader to get meaning the poet intends to convey.

In the Quran, the scripture of Islam, this precision has religious significance: the extra markings on the text leave no doubt as to the exact reading intended. Thus, the text of the Quran shows full vocalization, as can be seen in the following excerpt.


The three short vowels in Arabic ( dammah ُ , fatHa and kasra ِ )are very important for semantics and syntax. They can change the meaning of the word or its grammatical function in some contexts.


Designed by Nizar T. H. Ahmad