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Learning Arabic -- Joining Letters - Forming Words


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( بسم الله الرحمـٰنِ الرحيم )


Learning Arabic -- Joining Letters - Forming Words



In the lessons that have passed, we learned how to read Arabic script. In this one lesson, we will learn how to scribe words ourselves using the Arabic alphabet, Arabic vowel symbols, and other symbols which we have studied. There are two parts to this lesson; the general case which deals with normal letters, and the specific case which deals with letters which require further discussion.


The General Case: Firstly, it is important to note that all the letters in the alphabet do not have a small or capital form; they exist in one form. In English, we indicate the begin of a new sentence with capital letters, but in Arabic, the reader must understand when one sentence has finished and another has started. Furthermore, there is no punctuation in this language. The period, comma, colon, semi-colon, quotation, exclamation mark, question mark, and all other punctuation that exists in the English language is not considered in Arabic script. All of these grammatical purposes are fulfilled using other methods that involve the positioning of words and the inclusion of particles. Therefore, in order to learn how to write Arabic text, all we need to focus on is the letters.


When forming words in Arabic, letters are joined with one another. Each word is a combination of letters which are attached to each other. Spaces are placed between the words in order to differentiate between them. This style is comparable to that of cursive script in the English language where there are no spaces between letters, there are spaces only between words.


Although this is the general situation, there are several instances where, if a word is small enough, it is attached to the following or preceding word. Also, some words are broken down because they contain letters which do not allow connections to be made to their end. As for the former, this is only apparent when we study the meanings of the words. As for the latter where words are broken down due to letters that do not allow connection, one might assume that the current word has ended and the next word has started when in fact it is the same word. To avoid this confusion, we will learn about these types of letters.


Each letter of the alphabet looks different when it stands alone as a letter, when it is the first letter of a connected set of letters, when it is somewhere in the middle of a connection, and when it appears at the end of a set of connected letters. The table below describes each situation for all of the letters. Notice the letters that do not allow connections at their end. When we see these letters, we must be careful whether to assume that the word has ended or not. They are 6 letters (*). Remember, Arabic is written the way it sounds; there are only a handful of situations in the language where there are silent letters. These silent letters are denoted by being empty of all symbols.




The Specific Case: In the specific case we deal with three letters; the 'hamza' and the two letters that are extensions of existing letters. As for the 'hamza', it is not always written in the same way; it abides by the following rule:


If the 'hamza' is in the beginning of a word, it will be written atop or beneath an 'alif'. If it is maftooh or madhmoom, the 'hamza' will be written over the 'alif', and if it is maksoor, the 'hamza' will be written beneath the 'alif'. If the 'hamza' is in the middle of a word, it will be written on atop or beneath the long vowel appropriate to its short vowel. In the case that the 'hamza' is saakin, it will be written atop or beneath the long vowel appropriate to the short vowel on the preceding letter. Finally, if the 'hamza' is at the end of a word, it will be written by itself.




There are two letters in the Arabic language which are extensions of the existing letters. The first is the extension of the 'taa'. This letter occurs only at the end of words and it is used as an indication that a noun is feminine. The second extension is from the 'alif'. This letter also occurs only at the end of words. It is a non-dotted 'yaa' and is used to indicate femininity in nouns and base-letters in verbs.


The extension of the 'taa', if it is connected to a letter which allows connection, is called a 'taa marboota'. If it is part of a word whose last letter does not allow connection, it is called a 'taa mudawwana'. The extension of the 'alif' is known simply as the 'alif maksoora'.






We now understand how to join letters to make words and we have become acquainted with the details regarding Arabic script. Given each set of letters below, attach them in the given order to form a word.



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