Help With Arabic Consonants? | Specific language questions | Forum

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Help With Arabic Consonants?
December 21, 2011
United States
New Member
Forum Posts: 2
Member Since:
December 19, 2011

I'm a native English speaker (new user, can't get signature to work). I've started learning Arabic, but can't successfully pronounce several of the consonants, specifically the emphatic consonants, the glottal stop, and the 'ayin (voiced pharyngeal fricative). In short, something like half the consonant inventory of MSA. 
Any recommendations as to how to pronounce them correctly?  

December 21, 2011
Gaius Julius

Experienced Language Hacker
Forum Posts: 230
Member Since:
November 27, 2011

I'm having trouble recognizing the terms in English and matching them with those I know in Hebrew (:

I'll give it a try:


Basically, the problematic consonants are:

ص ض ط ظ - These you need to pronounce when your tongue is touching the top of your mouth. With ض and ط, the tongue briefly leaves the top of the mouth as you pronounce it. With ظ and ص, you feel the air flowing on both sides of your tongue as you pronounce the consonant.

ء - Pronouncing the hamza is a bit like coughing. You can start by doing that, and as you become more accustomed to speaking fluently the pronunciation will change itself. This is how I've taught my students, and it is ridiculous for a while until you get it (obviously for us it is easier because it is similar to consonants in Hebrew).

ح خ - These two are hard for Americans to recognize, because the consonant doesn't exist in English. However, this is how you should distinguish: ح is clearer, and comes from the throat. It is very close to the English H. خ feels like vibrating the tongue at the top of your mouth. It is a bit similar to the way R is pronounced in French (at least the way I know it, I'm not good with French).

ع - This one is like being choked on your own words... I'm having a hard time finding the words to describe this, but if you talk to me on Skype I'll help you get it right.

ق - This consonant comes from the throat, and how deeply depends on the dialect. The literary form is pretty deep, but most urban dialects have gone so deep that is now resembles ء.


I will be glad to assist you on Skype: triumphofsteel

I'll leave my Skype on for about 3 hours so you can call.

Knows: English Hebrew Arabic German Learning: Spanish Korean Basic: French

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