Tuesday, April 28

Lesson 1: Quick Script Lesson!

As-salaamu alaykum w rahmatullah w barakato
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
Peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you

If you already know how to read the Arabic alphabet, then you can skip the first section. If not, you don't need to do this since everything will be transliterated - but here's a quick run through of the Arabic writing system. Voice clips will be added soon.

The Arabic Writing System

  • 28 Letter Alphabet
  • Written from Right - Left (the opposite from English)
  • Only consonants and LONG vowels are written
  • Double letters are only written once
  • Short vowels are sometimes written using small diacritical signs above and below letters, but they are often missed out so you need to learn to spell and read without them.
Since short vowels are not written, Arabic words are written somewhat like text-message/IM language in English. For example, the word 'mudarris' (teacher) is written with the Arabic letters م (m) د (d) ر (r) and س (s) - so that it looks like 'mdrs' مدرس.

The Alphabet

a → ا
b → ب
t → ت
th → ث
j, g → ج
ح → 7
kh → خ
d → د
dh → ذ
r → ر
z → ز
s → س
sh → ش
ṣ → ص
ḍ → ض
ṭ → ط
ẓ → ظ
3 → ع
gh → غ
f → ف
q → ق
k → ك
l → ل
m → م
n → ن
h → ه
w, oo, ow → و
y, ay, ee → ي


Alif is the letter A and does not connect to letters after it. It can be recognized easily in a word and represents a long A sound in the middle of a word, or any short vowel sound at the beginning of a word. Ba, ta, tha (pronounced as t or s in Egypt), ya and nun all take the same shape when starting a word, or in the middle of a word. The only difference between them is the number and position of the dots. At the end of words, the letters can be recognised by their dots, number of dots and they retain their original shape. Ya can be written without dots, and is pronounced 'aa' in this case, called alif maqsura. However, in Egypt, ya is usually written without dots regardless of it's pronunciation.

For example;
ابن - ibn - son
بنت - bint - daughter, girl
انا - ana - me, I
باب - baab - door
ثالث - taalit - third


Wa, ra, zaay, daal and dhaal (pronounced as z in Egypt) do not connect to letters which follow them. They keep their original shape. Mim, kaaf, laam, haa, and ta marbuta keep their own distinct shapes.
Ta marbuta ة is a special letter. Ta marbuta literally means "tied ta" and takes the shape of ha ه with the dots of ta ت. When another word follows a word ending in ة , the ta is pronounced "t" but in other circumstances it is pronounced "a".

For example;
النيل - an-neel - The Nile
كلب - kalb - dog
ذهب - zahab - gold
هرم - haram - pyramid
كوكا كولا - koka kola - Coke


3ayn (like a voiced fricative 'a'), ghayn (like a 'r' rolled in the back of the throat, like French 'r'), 7 (strong H), kh (like Scottish loCH or German baCH), geem, seen, sheen, faa and qaf (qaf is pronounced like a glottal stop - written with a 2 - in Egypt).

For example;
قلم - alam - pen
مستشفى - mustashfa - hospital
فندق - fundu2 - hotel
شغل - shughl - work
احسن - a7san - better
جامع - gaami3 - mosque
خلاص - khalas - enough!


Saad, Daad, Taa and Zaa are dark letters. They change the sound of the vowels after them. When you hear somebody saying them, you will know what I mean. The letters are deeper. Hamza ء is a glottal stop, like the invisible sound you make before saying the word "arm" or "absolutely". We write hamza with a 2.

For example;
مصر - maSr - Egypt
فضة - faDDa - silver
طالب - Talib - student

Things to do

  • Add Arabic 101 (Egyptian) to your keyboard layouts.
    You can do this by going to control panel (in classic view) > regional and language options > details in Windows XP. In Vista go to Control Panel (classic view) > regional and langage options > keyboards and languages.

Things to remember

  • 'el' means 'the'. When the first letter of a word is made by touching (or nearly touching) the front of the roof of your mouth, then the 'l' of 'el' turns into whatever letter that is. For example, el neel (the nile) becomes en-neel.
  • Dark letters such as ط ظ ص ض and ر change the sound of vowels which follow them.

Sunday, April 26

Welcome - Ahlan w Sahlan!

Welcome to this new blog, to help you learn Masry/Egyptian!

Etkalam zayy el masriyeen! is Egyptian for "Speak Like an Egyptian", the name of this blog aimed at introducing Egyptian Arabic. Join in if you want to learn Egyptian and if you have any questions or requests for lessons or vocabulary, feel free to ask!