Writing and Pronouncing the Hamza (ء): A Guide for the Perplexed

One of the most tricky aspects of Arabic writing is the hamza (هَمْزَة), the character which represents the glottal stop. The hamza is not an independent letter; sometimes it is written “on the line” (ء), and sometimes it “sits” on the letters ‘alif (أ or إ), waaw (ؤ), or yaa’ without the dots (ئ). And sometimes it is not written at all! When unwritten, it is sometimes pronounced and sometimes not. Continue reading Writing and Pronouncing the Hamza (ء): A Guide for the Perplexed

The Arabic Alphabet: A Guide to the Phonology and Orthography of MSA and Lebanese Arabic

Learn the Arabic alphabet as well as the phonemes (sounds) and orthography (writing conventions) of the Arabic language. This covers everything you need to know to get started with reading and pronouncing Arabic correctly, as well as understanding the differences between Lebanese Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic pronunciation. Continue reading The Arabic Alphabet: A Guide to the Phonology and Orthography of MSA and Lebanese Arabic

Mashrou’ Leila: Lil Watan (لِلْوَطَن)

Mashrou’ Leila’s “Lil Watan”, from their third album Raasuk (2013), describes an environment where patriotism is exploited, apathy and despair are cultivated, freedoms are surrendered in the name of national salvation, and challenges to the decrepit political order are met with claims of conspiracy and accusations of treason. Meanwhile the citizenry is distracted from its miserable circumstances with an invitation to “Come dance with me a bit.” Continue reading Mashrou’ Leila: Lil Watan (لِلْوَطَن)

tfaDDal / تفضل

“tfaDDal / تفَضَّل” (in Modern Standard Arabic: “tafaDDal / تَفَضَّل”) is a common Arabic imperative, literally meaning “Be kind” or “Be generous”. It is essentially an invitation for someone to take something or do something (the idea being that it is an act of kindness to accept the invitation). Learn how to use this word in various situations. Continue reading tfaDDal / تفضل