So let's learn the first 4 letters of the Arabic alphabet: «alif» , «ba» , «ta» , «sa». Here is what they look like:
These are «separate» spellings of the letters. Let's have a closer look at each of them.
The letter «Alif»
In written form this letter is depicted as a vertical stick:
This letter is not an ordinary one compared to all the other letters of the alphabet. It serves two purposes:
1. It acts as a carrier for «hamza» (we will study what that means now)
2. It causes elongation (elongation of vowels will be explained in the coming lessons if Allah wills).
Quite often, alif is used in tandem with a special «hamza» symbol, which looks like this:
Together alif and hamza look like this:
Thus, alif acts as a carrier for «hamza». Let's see how the combination of alif with hamza + vowels is read (read from right to left):
As you can see, with «i» sound (i.e «kasrah») «hamza» is written underneath alif.
One more feature of alif is that its separate and initial forms are the same, as well as the medial and final ones are the same too. E.g:
In Arabic, there are six letters that do not connect to the letters that follow them:
Later, perhaps, you will understand why this and other letters do not connect on the left. Right now you only need to know that there are 6 letters in the alphabet that do not join the letters on the left.
Letters «ba» , «ta» , «sa»
These letters are similar to each other: in their isolated forms they all have a base in the shape of a plate and differ only in the number and location of dots.
Also, they are written similarly at the beginning, middle and end of a word and differ only in the number and location of dots.
The letter «ba»
The letter «ba» is similar to the English «b» in pronunciation but a little softer.
This is what the letter «ba» looks like in various positions:
A distinctive feature of the letter «ba» is this dot at the bottom of it, thanks to which it is unlike any other letter of the alphabet. It is a sign which helps to determine that it is the letter «ba» in front of us.
Pronunciation of the letter
It is worth noting that when we read fathah with soft letters, the articulation will be average between «a:» sound, like the word «bar» and «ɛə», like in the word «where». We do not open our mouth as wide as when pronouncing «a:», but we do not stretch the corners of the mouth as far as when pronouncing «ɛə». At the same time, in no case should the sheer «ɛə» sound come out. Practice in front of a mirror.
The letter «ta»
The letter «ta» is similar to the English «t» in pronunciation but a little softer.
This is what the letter «ta» looks like in various positions:
A distinctive characteristic of the letter «ta» are the two dots on top of the letter.
The letter «sa»
The sound of «th» in words «thank you» or «think» is extremely similar to the sound of the letter «sa» in Arabic.This letter is interdental, i.e. when it is pronounced, the tip of the tongue touches edges of the front teeth.
This is what the letter «sa» looks like in various positions:
A distinctive characteristic of the letter «sa» are the three dots on the top of the letter.
What have we learned in this lesson?
1. We have learned 4 letters of the alphabet: alif, ba, ta, sa and their spelling in different positions in the word.
2. The letter «alif» is often used with the «hamza» symbol which is written on top of alif and then vowels (i.e fathah «a», damma «u») are placed on top of hamza. In the case of «i» vowel (i.e kasrah), hamza is written below alif and then kasrah is placed below hamza.
3. There are 6 letters in the Arabic language that do not connect to the letters that follow them on the left. Their initial spellings are the same as the separate ones, and the medial forms are like the final ones.