The Alphabet of Sounds

Here, each work is a condensation of the set of properties and characteristics related to a distinct sound, to a distinct letter.

Alef     ا



This letter, although often correlated with the "A" of the english alphabet, is actually considered as a consonant in Arabic.




Indeed, the distinction between vowels and consonants, although convenient and practical reveals limits related to the soundwaves itself!



The sound wave is a continuons phenomenon where no distinct segments are found, each of which corresponds to one of the sounds of speech;




The identification of a consonant involves

At least two acoustic elements separated in time: a scrambled zone due to the friction between two vocalic forms.




Thus, the distinction between vowels and consonants loses some of its phonetic clarity.






It would seem that the true acoustic unit is the syllable.






Concerning the acoustic aspect of Alef,

It can sound like the "a" of "star", or like the "a" of "Bad" in english.






From the articulatory point of view, the sound "a" always includes vibrations of the vocal cords 






and a free passage of the airno organ is an obstacle to the flow coming from the glottis.







Characteristic balance of the Alif (ا):






ا # VocalAbsence of breath, the sound is produced using laryngeal vibration, it is said voiced where vocal cords come into play in the production of the sound!




 ا #Al 'Ismât, The impediment,

It is a heaviness that affects the letter, because of its pronunciation and its articulation does not occur on the tip of the tongue or lips! 





ا #Al Shiddah,Total stop of the sound in the absence of a vowel.





ا #Depending on its consonant environment, in certain cases it may be emphatic(direction of sound towards the palate), and in other cases the sound is thinned( not directed towards the palate).




ا #The Libération,The sound is not compressed between the tongue and the palate.

Ba      ب




This letter corresponds to the sound "B" of the word "Ball" in english.





Its point of articulation corresponds to the wetinternal part of the lips by weldin and slight protrusion.






The occlusion is bilabial, the tongue is in neutral position.







The characteristics of this letter, from the point of view of its articulation and its production:





ب #VoicedAbsence of breath, the vocal cords are made available.

Indeed, vocal cords initiate the production of the ب "Ba" sound!





 ب # final letters,

The sound is articulated at the end of the phonatory and expiratory device,

here, at the lip's level! 





ب #Al Shiddah, Depleted of vowels, the airflow is completely absorbed: resulting in a total stop of the sound.







ب #Al Istifal,The sound does not go towards the palate.






ب #The Libération,The sound is not imprisoned between the tongue and the palate.






ب #In the absence of vowels, the vocalized air flow is pushed towards the lips;





The latter exerted one upon the other a pressure by simultaneous contraction provoking a strong résonance phenomenon called "Al qalqala" in Arabic.





This term literally means the shake!

Ta       ت




The letter "Ta" corresponds to the "t" of the word "trial" in english.






Dental occlusive letter(the sound is produced by a complete and momentary closure of the vocal tract).




Its articulation is done by pressing the tip of the tongue against the upper incisors, the point of articulation is called apicodental:






The occlusion of the air passage is realized at this point of the buccal canal!







Articulatory characteristic of the sound ت Ta:






ت#Unvoiced,Presence of breath; The sound is produced without the participation of the vocal cords, it is said deaf or unvoiced,the "raw" breath is enough to produce the sound "ت", Ta!




ت #Al 'Ismât, The impediment,

It is a heaviness that affects the letter, because of its pronunciation and its articulation does not occur on the tip of the tongue or lips! 




ت#Al Shiddah,Total stop of the sound when the letter carries a Soukoun(Arabic word representing a small circle placed above a letter to mean "Absence of a vowel").





ت#Al Istifal,The sound does not elevates towards the palate 






ت#The Libération,The sound is not trapped, or compressedbetween the tongue and the palate.

Tha     ث



This letter corresponds to the sound "Th" in English of the word "Thin", or the word "Cinco" in Spanish.





The sound is deaf, unvoiced; The tip of the tongue advances between the upper and lower incisors, and the air passes between the tip of the tongue and the upper incisors.





It is called apicodental or








The distinctive features of the sound ث "Tha":







ث# Unvoiced,Presence of breath during its articulation,without the participation of the vocal cords.




ث #Al 'Ismât, The impediment,

It is a heaviness that affects the letter, because of its pronunciation and its articulation does not occur on the tip of the tongue or lips!  






ث#The Release,In the absence of vowels, the sound flows completely,without retention!





ث#Al Istifal,On its articulation,the sound does not move towards the palate.





ث#The Libération.The sound flows freely, it is not compressed between the tongue and the palate.

Djiim   ج



The letter Djiim(ج) corresponds to the sound produced by the letters "Dj" in the English name "Jim" (pronounced "Djim").





Its articulation is Dorsopalatale, the back of the tongue in contact with the palate.




Thus, in this zone of contact, a narrowing of the duct is created, often making them unstable, the dorsopalatales,





although occlusive, tend to become frizzy, that is to say to terminate in a friction noise, More audible!





The distinctive features of the letter Jiim(ج),

During its articulation:





ج#Vocalized,Absense of breath,it is vocalized and called sounded,the sound is initiated by the vocal cords!




ج #Al 'Ismât, The impediment,

It is a heaviness that affects the letter, because of its pronunciation and its articulation does not occur on the tip of the tongue or lips!  




ج#Al Shiddah, When the letter carries a Soukoun(absence of vowels), there is a total stop of the sound!






ج#Al Istifal,The sound does not go towards the palate.






ج#The Libération,The sound is not imprisoned between the tongue and the palate.





In the absence of vowels, the occlusion produces a very strong vibratory resonance





due to the total absorption of the air at the point of articulation of the letter, it is the phenomenon of Al Qalqala, or the Shake!

Ha      ح


This letter, this sound is a pharyngeal, but there is no possible occlusion in the pharynx  but a constriction, due in particular to the recoil of the back of the tongue thus reducing the epiglottic duct.



The sound produced is similar to a clearing of the throat, or to the sound produced when snoring, which in reality is a pharyngeal.





The letter Ha(ح) is a continuous medianconstrictive.






The articulatory characteristics

of the letter Ha(ح):






ح# UnvoicedPresence of breath, the sound produced is raw, without participation of the vocalcords 





 ح #Al 'Ismât, The impediment,

It is a heaviness that affects the letter, because of its pronunciation and its articulation does not occur on the tip of the tongue or lips!  




ح#The ReleaseTotal sound flow during its non-vowel articulation.






ح#Al Istifal,The sound does not go towards the palate.






ح#The Libération,The sound is not imprisoned between the tongue and the palate.

Khā      خ


The letter Khā (خ) is a postodorso-uvular

The posterior dorsal part of the tonguecomes into contact with the uvular part of the soft palate.



The corresponding sound is similar to the "jota" in Spanish in the word "pájaro", or to the sound "Ach" in German in the word "Ich-laut" which is translated as "above".




The Khā (خ) is a constrictive or even fricative, so called because they are characterized, during their holding, by a constriction(tightening) of the vocal tract at the point of articulation.



This tightening results in a narrowing of the passage of the air, which therefore produces a friction or friction noise when it escapes through the narrow aperture provided by the vocal tract.




The articulatory mechanism of the constrictives is comparable to that of the occlusives in that it presents three phases:


* Catastasis, which is the establishment of organs,


* Hold, more or less prolonged tension of the muscles,


* Metastasis, or displacement of organs.


However, contrary to what happens with occlusives, it is above all the constrictions that are audible;

In fact, while the occlusives are held in a closed vessel, the constrictives are held in a vessel with a narrow opening.



The air, compressed more or less strongly, emerges in a continuous manner(hence the term "continuous" opposed to that of "momentary" for the occlusives),




But with some friction, by the narrow passage of the phonatory organs at the point of articulation.




On the other hand, the métastasis is hardly audible here, because the former does not result in closure but merely narrowing, and the latter does not break any barrier.





The articulatory characteristics of

Letter Khā (خ):





خ#Presence of breath, it is Unvoiced, its production is linked to the passage of the raw air without conscious use of the vocal cords!




خ#Al 'Ismât, The impediment,

It is a heaviness that affects the letter, because of its pronunciation and its articulation does not occur on the tip of the tongue or lips




خ#The Release,Total sound flow in the absence of a vowel.






خ#Al Isti3'la,The sound does go towards the patate! 






خ#The Libération,The sound is not compressed between the tongue and the palate.

Dal        د



This sound is produced with the tip of the tongue resting on the root of the upper incisors.




The Dal(د) is similar to the "d" in the word "dust" in english

The tip of the tongue touching the articulation point(upper incisors).



There is occlusion, the lips are parted;The tip of the tongue forms the occlusion by making contact with the upper incisors, the lateral edges resting against the whole row of the upper teeth.




The articulatory characteristics of

Letter Dal(د), the sound 'D':






د# Vocal,Absence of breath and therefore action of vocal cords for vocalization.





The sound begins at the level of the vocalcords that vibrate while accompanying the occlusion achieved by the tongue at the anterior level of the palate!



د #Al 'Ismât, The impediment,

It is a heaviness that affects the letter, because of its pronunciation and its articulation does not occur on the tip of the tongue or lips!  




د#Al Shiddah, Devoided of vowel, there is total stop of the sound, and total absorption of the impulse!






د#Al Istifal,The sound does not go toward the palate.






د#The Libération,The sound is uncompressed between the tongue and the palate.





د#In the absence of vowels, the sound is completely absorbed at the point of articulation of the letter 




producing a more or less strong shake depending on the position of the letter in the word, or in the sentence it's Al Qalqala!

The great quake!

Zal          ذ




The letter Zal(ذ) is a vocal Constrictive

Continuous median.





The constrictives are characterized by a constriction,constriction of the vocal tract at the point of articulation.





Constrictive and occlusive letters can be deaf(presence of breath, as for the sound 'S' in 'race'), vocal(absence of breath, as for the sound 'z' in the word "rose" in english),




or long(as for the sound "ss"in the sentence in French:"c'est ssordide!").




Finally, the constrictives may be median, for which the phonatory air follows in a straight line the median line of the mouth, while the sides of the tongue form a barrier against the molars to prevent it from escaping laterally;



Lateralfor which the tongue bars at some point the median line of the buccal canal, the phonatory air escapes on by the sides of the tongue, unilaterally or most of the time bilaterally.



In the median class, we can distinguish continuous medians(continuous friction, for example"s")




from beat medians for which the tongue or the uvula enters at intervals(beatsin contact with the palate or with the tongue; 




The beatingmedians are also called 'vibrating'.

According to the point of articulation, it is necessary to distinguish many varieties of constrictive:




All possible points of articulation, from the lips to the vocal cords.




The letter Zal (ذ) produces the sound "th" which is found in the word "then" in English  it is produced with the tip of the tongue resting on the end of the upper incisors: it is called Apicodental.



The sound producesfriction in the channel

Apicodendal due to the continuous exhalation air flow along the medial line of the tongue.





The distinctive features of the letter Zal(ذ):





ذ# VocalAbsence of breath, sound lettervocalized, the sound is produced by the vocal cords that goes into vibration!




ذ #Al 'Ismât, The impediment,

It is a heaviness that affects the letter, because of its pronunciation and its articulation does not occur on the tip of the tongue or lips!  





ذ#The Release, Total sound flow when the letter don't carry a vowel!






ذ#Al Istifal,The sound does not go toward the palate.






ذ#The Libération,The sound is not compressed between the tongue and the palate.