Thursday, March 27, 2008

Egyptian Arabic Alphabet

There's no way I can put Arabic orthography lessons on the site. The only way to learn the alphabet is to practice and memorize. But I'll give a run down of the sounds of Egyptian Arabic using words commonly found in Arabic music.

ا - alif, as in "Ah" آه which means "ow," like an expression of pain or frustration

ب - ba, as in "Bahebbak" بحبك which means "I love you"

ت - ta, as in "Tani" تاني which means "another" or "again"

ث - ta or sa, as in "Sawani" ثواني which means "seconds" from the same word as "tani." While this letter in Standard Arabic is a "tha," it has merged with the letters "ta" and "siin" now. For old and common words "ta" is more common, and from new, borrowed, or reborrowed wor.ds "sa" is more likely.

ج - giim, as in "Gameel" جميل which means "beautiful." In Egypt, it is usually pronounced as a "ga" as opposed to the Standard Arabic "ja."

ح - Ha (7a), as in "Habibi" حبيبي which means "my darling." This sound does not exist in English, but it is like a regular Ha in English only "harsher." A friend has described it to me as a "phone sex 'h'"

خ - xa (5a or kha), as in "Khudni" خدني which means "take me." This sound is like kinda the ch in Bach from german, the french 'r' in "quatre" or to an English speaker probably sounds like they are about to spit

د - daal, as in "Dunya" دنيا which can mean "the world," "the prevailing environment" or "everyone."

ذ - daal or zaal, as in "Dayeb" ذائب which means "melting" often in love. Like "tha," "dhaal" loses its standard Arabic pronunciation, becoming a "da" sound for old and common words and a "za" sound for newer, borrowed, or reborrowed words from Standard Arabic.

ر - ra, as in "Rooh" روح which means "soul." It is trilled like the Spanish r.

ز - zay, as in "Zaman" زمن which means "time" as in the 4th dimension

س - sin, as in "Sawa" سوا which means "together"

ش - shiin, as in "Shuf" شوف which means "see," "look," or "look at"

ص - Saad, as in "Sabr" صبر which means "patience." The Saad is like an English s but with more rounding of the lips to produce a deeper hiss.

ض - Daad, as in "Da3" ضاع which means "lost" or "wasted." Daad is like the English d in the same relationship as Saad is to s.

ط - Ta (6a), as in "Tayr" طير which means "bird." Ta is in the same relationship with the English T as Daad is with d

ظ - Da or Za, as in "Zalim" ظالم which means "unjust" or "oppressive." This sound is DHa in Standard Arabic, but either becomes a "Za" sound or a "Da" sound in Egyptian.

ع - Ayn (3ayn), as in "3ayni" عيني which means "my eye" (a very common term of endearment in Arabic). 3ayn has no equivalent in English and I don't know how to describe it. Just read and listen for it. For those who know linguistics, its the voiced version of ح

غ - ghayn, as in "Ghali" غالي which means "precious." It's like a ga sound only it's like you're gargling water.

ف - fa, as in "Farah" فرح which means "joy" or "happiness"

ق - qaff (9aff, 2aff), as in "Qalbi" قلبي which means "my heart." Originally this sound is like an English k only deeper in the throat, as if you were choking, but in Egypt it is usually pronounced as a glottal stop like the sound in between Uh and Oh in Uh-Oh. So "Qalbi" becomes "Albi."

ك - kaff (Chaff), as in "Keef" كيف which means "how" east of Egypt.

ل - laam, as in "Leel" ليل which means "night"

م - miim, as in "Majnun" مجنون which means "mad" or "crazy"

ن - nuun, as in "Nar" نار which means "fire"

ه - ha, as in "Hawa" هوى which is one of the many words for love "hawa"

و - waaw, as in "Waheshtini" وحشتيني which is how you tell a girl "I miss you"

ي - ya, as in "Ya habibi" يا حبيبي which means "oh my darling." To address someone like "oh" or "hey" in English, you say "ya" before the name or title you are calling them.


Anonymous said...

you are great!!!my boyfrienf is from ismailia and love arabic but it is so difficult!!!congratulations...yia ala bye

Anonymous said...

hey!it's me again i forgot to tell you that i am from grecee and live with my boyfriend zan here!probabbly i will take lessons of the arabic language the following september!zan already tayght me a few things!!i can count and tell the 7 days of the week and the 4 seasons and and and....ana esmi vasso andi iseren sana.

Anonymous said...


I am studying dictatorships in London. I have to learn arabic for my study of Egypt. I wanted to pass regard for a rather keen piece of work. And wanted to ask you if you could let me in on the best way to grasp grammer through the blog


Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

I´ve just returned from Alexandrie.
I´ve tried to pick up some words of arab from malak (6 years), she´s
was a very good teacher because she didn´t stop talking although she knew i couldn´t understand her.
And now I find your site, and you make it so much easier and more fun, thanks Debbie, amsterdam

Defunto feliz said...

Hey, Chris!!!!I am Liz, from Brazil. How can I say you "Thank you" ? I am very happy, because I like too much Arabic and you make me understand somethings about that, seems more easy to learn. Thanks again ! See ya.

P.S. excuse me for my English, I am just learning yet.

Anonymous said...

hi chris
I'm hadi, I'm very glad to see your blog it's so useful. i start learning fram now!

thank you

Anonymous said...

hi chris
I'm hadi, your blog is great. I start learning from now!

thank you

Buggy said...

This is wonderful!! My boyfriend is Egyptian and I really want to learn Arabic...and not just that EGYPTIAN Arabic! thanks!

Anonymous said...

hi, i want a tattoo in egyptian you know how to translate english into egyptian arabic? if so can you translate "trust no one but God/allah" for me?

thank you =p

Anonymous said...

ahlan azayak! Chris i was wondering if you are originaly arab or muslim, iam muslim turkish american i have studyed arabic for two years and find this a nice, practical resource its fun and effective!!! cool stuff man!
ahsant habibi.

Anonymous said...


i was wondering, what is the word for 'trust' in egyptian arabic?
also what it looks like.



Anonymous said...

Hey Chris!
Your blog is really wonderful :)
It feels happy that there are people who are interested in your culture (oh & I hope that you don't become interested in Salafism/political-fundamentalist-Islamization).

I hope that you understand Standard Arabic as well to read this funny blog [it's not mine]

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend is Egyptian and lives in Cairo, I'm american and am trying to learn egyptian arabic to be able to talk with his family and others while in Cairo and when I move. This blog is fantastic! I was already picking it up quickly, but with the help of your blog, it is much easier. Shokran!

Criss Freitas said...

Hi Chris
thank you. you are great.
i loved your blog. it´s very interesting.
I wanted to ask to you something: how can i translat egyptian arabic sentence on net? I´m looking for a way to do that...
another question: why egyptian arabic word has number and word on the names sometimes? exeample: 7eta (seven)and name.
I never found a site that translat it to me...
how can I translate many sentences equals to that?

Anonymous said...

My I know how to say "I miss you" to a man not a girl

Anonymous said...

could you teach me how to say I miss you to a man?

Anonymous said...

Oh My GOd this is a great site ..Im super new to this ....I have hard time understanding the 7a 6a the alphabet ...please help...

Anonymous said...

Very nice and enjoyable. When I studied Fus7a, we used different books, but I think they could still learn a thing or two from your descriptions of the alphabet. - On the other side, maybe you want to consider adding that the Arabic "gh" sound is actually close to French (e.g., "rose") or German (e.g., "Rose") "r." Even people who don't speak those languages often have a rough idea how it sounds.

Masreya said...

first of al mashallah that u have made this site cause it is great!!!
Nice to see people that are interested in my language..
Though i spotted a few things, that should be different.
Rouh can also be used as 'Go'
and Majnoun is used in other arabic country's because we use jeem as the G for Gameel.. so it's magnoun
and wahastiny is to be used both feminine and masculine.. Excuse me for my english hehe

Anyway your the best!!
ma3a salama agouya

somesome said...

i dont know much ..
but what i know is
5= خ
i think thats about it.

Jessica said...

wow thanx so much my bf lives in egypt this will be a big help

Unknown said...

it would be great if there were any sounds of these words coz' it's kinda hard to imagine how it's pronounced...

Anonymous said...

hey chris :) im from turkey and my bf is egyptian and i want to learn some basic things to talk with him :) ur blog is great.. keep it up :) shokran!

Anonymous said...

thank you soooo much my friend

Rain_Drops said...

trust means "theqa" with th of theory ثقة
the sentence "Trust no1 but God" would be better translated into standard, even if u

talk Egyptian say it in the standard form, it would be لا تثق بأحد سوى الله

Anonymous said...

This is a great blog. I am learning arabic and more egyptian dialect because I am from Venezuela and my husband is egyptian, we use to talk in english but now I am learning many things and your blog has been so useful.
Salam alaykoum

Frank Kim said...

I want to thank you for these great lessons, since I have an intense passion for learning languages, and I'm sure I'll give these a try some day. Anyways, this is just a suggestion, nothing more, so by no means feel obligated to put in extra time and effort into this, but I think a good way to phonetically represent the sounds in a standard, well organised way would be by using IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). That, plus the transliteration, plus the word in Arabic script, plus the translation = tremendous resource. It's not that big of a deal though! Thanks for sharing the language!

Chris Gratien said...

thanks for the comment. in fact I considered using IPA but decided it would not be accessible for the likely audience of the blog. learning IPA might be easier than the Arabic alphabet, but it still requires some work

Anonymous said...

I visited Egypt last year and made a friend. He speaks English and I want to learn arabic. My first visit to your blog. Hoping to learn a thing or two so I can talk with my friend.

Noah said...

Thank you for the work you have done to establish this resource.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, I'm in love with an Egyptian woman and this will be very helpful!

Camperella said...

Hi Everyone,I am Esra and Turkish.My bf is Eygptian and now I am taking an Arbic lessons.I have to thank to Admind for this usefull phrases and for the blog.That's really helpful.
Now I am going to share with you guys all I have got.Let's start with I miss you..

here are a few ways to say "I miss you/her" in Arabic, because of the different dialects.

The first way to say it is like the ones posted above (but here with better pronunciation and the correct spelling):

إشتقت إليك - Eshtaaqtu Elayy-ka - girl saying to guy (q is pronounced very heavy, like a 'k' but coming from the bottom of your throat) (The first and second "E" of both words is like the first "i" in 'inside') (the 'u' at the end of the word is like the 'ou' in 'you') (the "yy" is emphasis on the 'y'. I wanted to spell it that way instead of using an "i" because you would be able to pronounce it more properly). This actually doesn't translate to "i miss you" but is used in that sense. This phrase actually translates to "I'm longing for you" (to male). guy saying to girl: Eshtaaqtu Elayyki.

Anonymous said...

hey chris!

im currently studying in alexandria so im hoping to pick up some arabic to actually speak without sounding like a total foreigner! haha thank god for your site!

Anonymous said...

hello all

i am from Israel and have been learning the eastern dialect in the past years.

naturally as a speaker of Hebrew, Arabic is easier for me.

it is a great language to study, with great music. i have found that music is the most fun and better ways to study it, as it provides you with the chance to here and pronounce the language.
i strongly recommend the use of the "olive tree dictionary" published by Minerva.

it is mainly a dictionary of the eastern and Palestinian dialects, as such it covers a great deal of both eastern and Egyptian dialects, as the Palestinian one is a transition dialect.

it is the best colloquial dictionary i have seen so far.

good luck

Unknown said...

Hey! I know this is a long time ago but I was just wondering, American to American, how this all went. I'm a guy and I was thinking of doing the same for my Egyptian girlfriend and your experience would be very valuable to hear. Thank you!!!

Britney said...

I am very excited to stumble upon this site. I just returned from a backpacking tour of the Middle East (Jordan, Egypt and Oman) and while in Egypt I met a man and we fell for each other, catch is that he doesn't speak English and I have only just started to learn Modern Standard Arabic over the last four months. I realized it wasn't of much use because he is from a village and speaks a very specific dialect.

I am determined to learn to speak with him while he is on the other side of the world trying to learn English, I am very happy to begin learning from you site (along with a mix of other things to get the call rolling).

Thank you for what you do.

Anonymous said...

hello to name is efi..i am a lucky greek woman who is in love with a great man from,i try to learn some things to make him a surprise..i hope your site will help me cause now i am very confused..i want to ask you,if i have a promblem is there anyone who could help me?maybe an email..sorry for asking but i wanted too much so i am not shy..i hope i can do it,isa!!!

Unknown said...

hi i need to see egiption movies in egiption subtitile and english subtitle, how i can translate english text into egiption text.

Unknown said...

TEL:0FFICE 00902163724685

Anonymous said...

What does Zack Zack mean in Egypt,please