Varieties of the Arabic Script

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This page is intended to outline the varieties of the Arabic alphabet used in different languages, and to explain how these differ in usage and pronunciation from those found in Arabic. It's assumed that the reader knows at least the rudiments of the Classical Arabic writing system, including contextual forms. [continued ]

[Note: Anything blue and underlined is a link.]

Arabic Letters & Special Conjuncts
and their Sound Equivalents in English or other Western languages
Letters
(Independent Forms Only)
Arabic Names Standard
Arabic
Persian Pashto Urdu Uighur Hindi
Equivalents
to Urdu
'alif
(word-medial
or- final)
long A, close to A in father see
below
'alif
(word-initial)
glottal stop
+ short A, U or I
dummy alef  
alif-madda glottal stop + long A long A, close to A in father  
'al- definite article    
baa' B
taa' dental T
thaa' soft Th in think S  
jiim French J
(S in pleasure)
English J (the dj sound in jam)
Haa' emphatic H H H H  
Letters
(Independent Forms Only)
Arabic Names Standard
Arabic
Persian Pashto Urdu Uighur Hindi
Equivalents
to Urdu
khaa' close to Ch in German doch or X in Russian or J in Spanish
(
hear it pronounced - Real Audio required)
daal dental D
dhaal hard Th in those Z  
raa' dental R
zaay Z
siin S
shiin Sh
Saad emphatic S S  
Daad emphatic D Z
Letters
(Independent Forms Only)
Arabic Names Standard
Arabic
Persian Pashto Urdu Uighur Hindi
Equivalents
to Urdu
Taa' emphatic T dental T  
Dhaa' emphatic hard Th Z
cayn no equivalent
(hear it pronounced
- Real Audio required)
glottal stop glottal stop (word-initial)
long A,
close to the A in father
 
or lengthens preceding vowel [elsewhere]
silent

note

or silent
ghayn "gurgled" G
faa' F P F
or F in
educated register
qaaf "gulping" K same as ghayn K "gulping" K
or "gulping" K
educated register

or
kaaf K
laam dental L
miim M
nuun dental N
Letters
(Independent Forms Only)
Arabic Names Standard
Arabic
Persian Pashto Urdu Uighur Hindi
Equivalents
to Urdu
haa' H H H H (note) H
(word-fina
l in some but
not all words)

E as in café
(word-final)
short A or schwa
(word-final)
long A
taa'
marbuuTa
(word-final
)
(the word in isolation)
H
 
(when the word is
part of a phrase)

T
waaw
(consonant)
W as in wash V as in vase W as in wash sound
between V & W
see
below
waaw
(vowel)
long U sound in Italian luce
or
diphthong
in doubt
or long O in German Tod
or
diphthong
in doubt
or the vowel sound
in off

(Arabic)

or


(the others)

yaa'
(consonant)
Y as in Yugoslavia
  ezafe  
yaa'
(vowel)
long I in French vite see
below
diphthong
in eight
diphthong
in eight
or diphthong
in light
diphthong
in eight
  or diphthong
in light
or E
between
bed & café

(Peshawar)
or E as in hen
yaa'
(alif
maqSuura;
word-final only)
short A, as in soda    
hamza glottal stop  
laam-alif Laa
Persian Supplements to the Arabic Alphabet
The Persian variant of the Arabic alphabet is the foundation on which all other variants of the Arabic scripts were built. Since the Persians were the first non-Semitic people to be converted to Islam, it was they who introduced the first and most widely adopted changes to the Arabic alphabet. Therefore, it is technically more correct to say that Pashto, Urdu and others use not the Arabic script but the Perso-Arabic script.
Letters
(Independent Forms Only)
Persian Names Standard
Arabic
Persian Pashto Urdu Uighur Hindi
Equivalents
to Urdu
in foreign
words
P
chiim   Ch as in church
zhé   French J
(or S in
pleasure)
Z (Kabul) French J
(or S in pleasure)
 
French J or S in
pleasure
(Kandahar)
Dj or J in jam
(Peshawar)
gaaf in foreign
words
hard G as in go
Uniquely Pashto Letters
Uniquely Urdu Letters
Uniquely Uighur Letters

 

Last Updated on 25 April 2000

Also see

Hindi and Urdu FAQ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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