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Unwritten suffixes in Arabic?

I started the Arabic course on day one, and I'm liking it a lot so far. I do have one issue though: I can clearly hear suffixes being often spoken at the end of words, but not written. Am I wrong? I'm about 2/3 through the course, yet there has been no explanation of this. And it is not intuitive since I can't even see what is being said... Just hear an occasional "tun" or "u" sound secretly wedged between words, I assume to indicate case.

If this is all correct, I would highly recommend and greatly appreciate grammar notes attached to the lessons to validate this. I imagine that it's frustrating for many learners when Duolingo is saying things that aren't written or explained, and many others probably won't even notice that it's there since they're relying on the visual.

If it is not correct and I'm imagining these things, let me know.

July 2, 2019



Duly noted. thamk you a lot for your contribution.


You're right. Sometimes it's a problem of the text to speech system, because sometimes it adds those suffixes by accident where it shouldn't, with names for example (I verified that with a native speaker).

There supposed to be rules about those suffixes, which as far as I understand, are only added in the most formal and "correct" ways of speaking, like reading out loud a written language.

Overall, you can't rely too much on the speech synthesis of this course. They need to fix that.


You are right.


I have been confused over this matter too while doing the course. From my experience the trick with Arabic is to understand what is relevant to learn. With there being so many different dialects and formal and informal written and spoken traditions I would suggest Duolingo to be really clear with where different kinds of Arabic normally are used. That includes clarifying which word endings I should be learning and for what purpose.


I have suddenly got un and tun endings added to the words on my arabic course and this only happened when the I got the new male and female voices.. I hate it so far! Am I supposed to pronounce them or is it just for formal or written arabic. Please let me have the original nice lady speaker back.


I JUST got them too. I am around the 1-10 and At Home 2 lessons. What lesson are you on? im Curious if they just add it at a certain point in the course or if its because there was an update, because I haven't noticed anyone commenting on it in the discussions


The way I see it... The letters are pronounced differently depending on how they function in the sentence. It depends too on how formal or classical the Arabic is too. These aren't really suffixes though they do show up in the pronunciation. They can be represented my diacritics, though I haven't really seen them. There can are extra sounds when spoken on indefinite nouns that sound like un for masculine or tun for feminine, but again, this depends on dialect and level of formality and on definite nouns without the n, just the u or tu. These aren't suffixes though, as they are not represented by letters, more, they are a characteristic of the letter in how it's been used, and can be, as I said, marked by special diacritics, which aren't actually suffixes. I think it is too simplistic to say that letters are pronounced a certain way, they actually have a broader pronunciation in Arabic, like this example. I am just learning, very much a beginner. There's also a lot of elision, where words flow together. Some sounds can even be dropped. What's written and what's said often don't match. I only learned to day how to nun a noun! (or tun in the feminine.) This a is an example from the neuter. There's lots to learn, and actually, I kind of have no idea what I am talking about at this stage of my learning.



"I‘rāb (إِﻋْﺮَاب, IPA: [ʔiʕraːb]) is an Arabic term for the system of nominal, adjectival, or verbal suffixes of Classical Arabic. These suffixes are written in fully vocalized Arabic texts, notably the Qur’ān or texts written for children or Arabic learners, and they are articulated when a text is formally read aloud, but they do not survive in any spoken dialect of Arabic."

It says that they are suffixes that indicate grammatical case.


"Case endings are usually not written (with one exception) outside of the Qur'an/Bible and children's books. But you will hear newscasters pronounce them, and if you want to speak fuSHa well, it's a good idea to be familiar with the case system."

The unwritten suffixes are the case system. The course just has literally no information about it as of now. The course creators said that they were basing it primarily on MSA, which is what "newscasters" would be using. So this is definitely what we're hearing.

If the pronunciation sounds inconsistent or strange, it is not a feature of Arabic. It is a problem with Duolingo's computer generated pronunciations plus the fact that the course does not explain the unwritten case suffixes which are, despite being invisible, pronounced in MSA.


I think we need more grammar lessons that explain all this!


This is still the case and makes it quite confusing to listen. Between many words "tun" is heard. Is this what should be pronounced but is not written or is this a speech system error? An example: روزا دُكتورة tun سورِيَة tun مُمتازة


Months passing and this "tun" between words is still an issue. Are they going to fix this?


Glad I found this topic, this has been driving me nuts. Hearing "atun" or something all the time and very clearly seeing that it was not written. I also often other sounds following words that are not written.


Others gave this answer, but this page provides some additional detail. Those sounds you’re hearing are telling you the case of the words. It’s used in Modern Standard Arabic so you’d hear it in formal settings and on the news but not in any normal conversation. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ʾIʿrab


Yes, I too have been hearing a lot of sounds between words (mostly a and t sounds) and have no idea if it has to do with suffixes or if they are just stuck in there to make pronunciation easier (like between a word that ends in a vowel and a word that starts with a vowel). It is also driving me crazy because there has been no explanation of it. I even looked on the web but can't find any explanations. I'm at the end of Level 3 of the course. Can someone at Duolingo please put an explanation in the "Tips" section of the lesson when this starts appearing. I really started noticing it in the Time 1 module. THANK YOU

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