Learn to Read Arabic from Scratch: Lesson Three
This lesson will cover: four consonants, two vowels


This consonant is pronounced exactly like  th in English three, thin, think, ether, path, etc. the name of this letter is  ثاء  thaa’ . It is non-connective, and its shapes are identical to those of ب    and   ت except it has three dots  above. It is written on the line.
The first four columns in the table below correspond to the various shapes in the table above. The last column includes all shapes. Practice reading these items. The recording goes from the column first from the right downwards.

 
θ   ث  distinct from  ð  ذ    which was introduced in lesson 2.  Read and listen to the audio and try to distinguish both sounds

Arabic raa'   راء  is a trill: a rapid succession of many flaps. This does not exist in English at all, but is best compared with Spanish rr as in carro ‘ cart’, perro ‘dog’. It is a non-connective consonant and therefore has two shapes.
Listen to the following pairs and try to imitate the sound and notice the flaps when you articulate the r.

The first two columns below correspond to the shapes of raa  ر     . The third column contains all shapes. Depending on your knowledge of the previous lessons try to read these words. You can listen to the sound and imitate it. The recording goes from the column first from the right downwards.

This consonant corresponds to the English s as in sad, see. Its Arabic name is seen     سين. Arabic     س  is dental. It is pronounced with the tongue tip raised against the upper teeth, while the English s is alveolar- pronounced slightly behind the teeth giving a slightly lower pitched s.  Seen س  is connective. Therefore, it has four shapes. The independent and the final are connected above the line while the medial and initial shapes are connected on the line.
Listen to the following pairs and try to imitate and repeat by yourself focusing on the contrast between the single seen and the doubled seen.

 
Listen to the following items and try to imitate and read noticing the various shapes and positions of seen.


This consonant is called Şaad     صاد.  The Arabic Şaad is an alveolar s. It is alveolar, which means that produced not at the teeth, like س, but further back in the mouth. It is velarized, which means that the back part of the tongue is made tense ( with some raising up toward the soft palate or velum), giving the s-sound a velar effect. Thus, Şaad  ص    sound is different from س . It sounds more emphatic of that of  Seen س.
Listen to the difference:
 
Şaad is a connective letter so it has the following shapes. Notice that when joined to the following letter, Şaad has a little kink in the line before it following letter begins. It is joined to the preceding  letter by a line coming from under it.
The different effect of plain consonants, e.g., س  and velarized consonants, e.g., ص is quite distinct. Notice how the quality of long vowel ا  aa changes in a word with ص .

 
Note that the vowel ا  aa has two pronunciations: like the vowel in English sad, sand, sag after  س   seen and , after Şaad  ص , like the vowel o  in English sod, sob, or the aw of sod, just as    س      is produced further front in the mouth than     ص .The American hears the s in sass and the s in sauce as the same, but hears the vowels in those two words as completely different. The Arab, on the contrary, hears the vowels in those two words as variations of a single vowel, namely  ا  aa, but hears the two s’s as different. He would think of or write sass as      ساس           and of sauce as       صاص    .
 
The vowels  و uu  and  ُ  u, being already back, are not made any backer be velarized consonants. However, the quality of tenseness that is found is velarized consonants is also evident in vowels. Listen, read and spot the contrast between  س  and  ص:
Thus, there are two important points about  س      and    ص   :
(1) they are pronounced differently and
(2) they markedly affect the quality of adjacent vowels. You must master the pronunciation of the two s’s, at least as important , you must produce the proper vowels when you speak and react to the vowels when you listen.
Now practice reading the following items which have Şaad in all positions and shapes. 
The short vowel  ِ    i corresponds to the vowel in English i in bit. It is always short in duration. It is called kasra and it has a grammatical function when it appears at the end of a word; it is an indicator of a genitive case. it is written under the consonant. In the case of shadda it can be written under the shadda or under the doubled consonant.
Arabic  ي    ii corresponds to the  i  in English machine or ea in beat twice as long as  ِ  kasra in duration. Listen to the difference and try to repeat with the recording.
Arabic  ي    ii  and short vowel ِ  kasra are pronounced alike as the last sound of a word: the vowel quality of ee in beet, but short.  Listen to the difference and try to repeat with the recording.
The long vowel ii is presented in the Arabic writing system by kasra followed by the letter ي. However, kasra is usually omitted in writing if ي  carries sukuun or there is no other short vowel signs above the letter ي:
By the end of this lesson you should be able to read the following words. To check your reading listen to the recording below.

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