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Confusion with Descrip. 1

Let me preface this by saying that I am a native English speaker, but incredibly excited at the opportunity to learn Arabic.

I am currently on the Descrip. 1 lessons, and have encountered some confusion centered specifically around the parts with 'ki3aa', 'ba3ii', et cetera. Can someone please help me understand why there are numbers with these letters?

July 16, 2019




"3a'yn". That letter is called "3" because it does not exist in English but it looks like a flipped 3.

This sound exists in other languages too: Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac...

July 16, 2019


When internet started to be spread over, there were problems in typing and displaying Arabic text (and hence communicating), thus people invented a way to type sounds unavailable in English using numbers; Numbers that look like them. I've stated before in this forum that this is confusing for non-Arabs, but well, I guess no good substitute for the time being (I've created my own system but it's impractical as well). Things you will encounter:
.3 = ع
.7 = ح
.2 = ء

and maybe "9" for (ص) - some people invented more and some don't use many. It's quite not a stable system but we are able to read it in general; Like we know what a person means by such a character either by the context of the word or by resemblance of the letter and so on. It is not a standard thing, nor officially used any where, only in the cyber world.


Here they are not numbers, but the duo's transcription for the letter "ain" because the letter ain seems to be a reverse 3.


they waited until lesson 10 of the DuoLingo course to explain it.

10.) Phrases

3 = ع Today, you’ll hear a sound that we don’t have in English: ع ! Pronouncing ع can be a bit tricky at first. Some people compare its sound to the sound you make when you yawn, some say it’s the sound you make when you hurt yourself and it hurts real bad — some even say it sounds like a duck. You can try this: get close to a mirror, open your mouth wide and fog up the mirror with your breath. You should feel how tight your throat gets when you do this. Now, while doing this, say the vowel a as in cat. That’s about the right sound. Because this letter, when it’s not connected to another letter, looks like a reversed 3, we’ll write it as a 3 in English letters. For example, we write the word عَرَبِيّ as 3arabiyy.

There is an article on wikipedia about this letter/sound also:


Here is a good video on Arabic alphabet. I have it cued up for غ and ع where he demonstrates the proper sound https://youtu.be/Qwdyx9kAPlU?t=1149


I guess you have to know how to make this sound, since you are learning 2 languages that have that sound :0 Nice "tutorial"!


Thank you so much for the information, everyone!

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