Thursday 17 March 2011


An early start this morning and no time for a proper blog entry, so here’s a link to a jolly song to help you learn the Arabic alphabet (or “abjad”).


  1. I don't know. I think this song sounds prettier and is less monotonous. In fact, I wonder if I can find a techno remix of that one somewhere, hmmm...

  2. Interestingly enough each letter is sung with all three vowels:

    ʔæː ʔuː ʔiː
    bæː buː biː
    tæː tuː tiː
    θæː θuː θiː

    You can also clearly hear the effect of the "dark" letters ص, ض, ط‎, ظ, ر‎, خ, غ, ق‎ (apologies about the jumbled order there; should read Saad, Daad, Taa, Dhaa, Rayy, Khaa, Ghain, Qaaf), which change the first vowel from æː to ɑː as discussed a few weeks ago under ElBaradei.

    sæː suː siː for Seen
    sˤɑː sˤuː sˤiː for Saad.

  3. Fernando Lamadrid17 March 2011 at 17:42

    No, it was not سا سو سي, it was سَ سُ سِ emphasized so that the short vowels appear long. And the effect of the dark letters is clearly audible. And my OPEN post has been deleted (for a good reason, I know).

  4. Fernando,

    what's the difference between سا and سَ "emphasized so that the short vowel[] appear[s] long?"

  5. I noticed interesting differences in the child's pronunciation of the dark/emphatic letters. They're markedly less "dark" (and it's true, you notice it especially on the following vowel.) In some cases the saad is barely distinguishable from the siin (to my ear).

    So John, or someone else: are pharyngeals "marked" in some way that make them a little harder for kids to learn? On one hand we're taught "every kid learns his/her language easily and perfectly" and "no language is really hard for a child"; on the other hand, this seems like a bit of evidence that some things really are a bit hard for the nippers.

    (This is all by way of trying to excuse how long it took me to get those consonants right).

  6. My guess would be that the kid just has a different accent. The weakening of pharyngealization is reasonable even for native speakers, just as is the weakening of ejectives or any other features that exert extra energy.


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