Is arabic more like english where the words are not pronounced exactly as written? Or like spanish, where it is all predictable? راءا is spoken like “rah-eh” but shouldn’t the vowel sound be the same? I feel like I’m going crazy expecting the vowel sounds to never change, and I can’t tell it is just me or are they inconsistent?
There are some exceptions, and some letters influence the pronunciation of other letters in their environment, but the pronunciation in Arabic is rather regular and much more predictable than in English. Of course, if you don't have the written diacritics (which you usually don't) you have to guess the short vowels, because they are not written at all.
Ok, glad it is not going to be like english. What english lacks in challenging conjugations it makes up for in nonsensical spelling. Are there general rules of thumb for the letters influencing each other, or should I just not worry about this for now? I know there are so many regional dialects where the vowels shift, so I don't know how much to get hung up on getting the vowels right for MSA.