Arabic Diphthongs – Learn Arabic Free Online

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Arabic Diphthongs

Diphthongs in Arabic are a special category of vowels because, in essence, they’re monosyllabic sounds that begin with one vowel and “glide” into another vowel. A common example in English is the sound at the end of the word “toy.” Fortunately, Arabic has only two diphthong sounds used to distinguish between the yaa’ ( ) and the waaw ( ) forms of long vowels. When you come across either of these two letters, one of the first questions to ask yourself is: “Is this a long vowel or a diphthong?” There’s an easy way to determine which is which: When either the yaa’ or the waaw is a diphthong, you see a sukun (soo-koon) above the consonant. A sukun is similar to the main vowels in that it’s a little symbol (a small circle) that you place above

the consonant. However, unlike the vowels, you don’t vocalize the sukun —
it’s almost like a “silent” vowel. So when a waaw or yaa’ has a sukun over it,
you know that the sound is a diphthong! Here are some examples:
 waaw diphthongs: yawm (yah-oom; day); nawm (nah-oom; sleep); Sawt
(sah-oot; noise)
 yaa’ diphthongs: bayt (bah-yet; house); ‘ayn (ah-yen; eye); layla (lah-yelah;
night)