1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Arabic
  4. >
  5. "جار طَويل"

"جار طَويل"

Translation:a tall neighbor

July 18, 2019



The audio for طَويل sounds to me like "poweel" while I'd expect "toweel" instead. Is that just due to audio quality ?

  • 1363

Yeah I think so. Could be the speakers (to me it sounds ok). Sometimes though because we are not used to the sound of something, our brain tends to associate this sound to whatever is known in our background language (e.g. an Arab speaker, unless being focused, won't find it easy to differentiate between B and P).


But there should still be a bigger difference to the T sound. I listened to this phrase on repeat an i still hear a B/P sound

  • 1363

I'm using headphones right now and listening. I hear it as a plosive-velarized T ط


My brain hears the Duo recording as "poweel" as well (US English speaker) but I think it's because I haven't learned to differentiate this sound. When I listen to the Arabic pronunciations on Forvo, I can hear most of them as T or P.



It's a T. But in Arabic, they pronounce it with a lot of air in mouth. It's called thick T. ظ is thick Z too and ض is thick D.


Is it an aspirated one like the Chinese T in words like tā or tiào?

  • 1363

Not really. In the Arabic language-sense, aspiration is just another (H) sound attached to another consonant; At least this is how we would write it.
Anyway, to approximate the sound: Try to position your tongue to say the English (T); The tip of the tongue now is behind the upper teeth ridge. Now, just pull the tip little bit back, not much, and eventually you would have to curve the middle of the tongue downward. Now, say T while your tongue is in this new position. This move will cause the chamber of the mouth to be larger (and I think in phonetics this kind of sound is called Velar). So, it's not aspiration as much as it is velarization of the sound by making the mouth chamber bigger than usual to say the same phoneme.
If this doesn't help, I'm sure there are a lot of videos on Youtube for real speakers (and I guess this is better than description).


For those interested in Semitic cognates (vocab building): This word جار (jaar) is ancient and relates to western Aramaic mgyr, "neighbor" found in Jewish and Christian Palestinian Aramaic and Samaritan Aramaic, and Targumic. Eastern Aramaic prefers šbb from what I can tell (and very different is Hebrew שָׁכֵן). See Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon Project (CAL) online: šbb, šybbˀ and mgyr.


I don't think tall should be introduced here. The first letter is a new letter and seems out of place in this lesson given that this word only occurs once. Seems there should be a lesson that focuses on the letter similar to how 9ther letters have been introduced.


My thoughts exactly. I suspect this is a relic from a different layout of the course, where it tought the alphabet earlier and faster. Nonetheless, this is unnessecerily confusing, and should be removed from this lesson (or replaced with another adjective).


I also hear "poweel" instead of a T sound. But i appreciate everything in the previous comments. Thank you everyone for your contributions. Now i just need to find someone i can practice with conversationally!


Why it can not be 'a neighbor is tall'?

  • 1363

Nominal sentences in Arabic (i.e. sentences starting with a noun) cannot start with an indefinite subject, like "a neighbor". In this case, it must be THE neighbor is tall الجار طويل.
From this, we conclude that the phrase above جار طويل is not a full sentence (which in English would and should have the verb "to be" involved) but it is a short phrase composed of a noun (جار) and its adjective which describes it (also known as attributive adjective) which is (طويل). So, converting all this information into English we should put a noun+attributive adjective: a tall neighbor, and NOT "a neighbor is tall" - because as I've mentioned, such sentence in Arabic cannot start with an indefinite noun. Exceptions to this rule are rare and far in literature, away from the simple standard Arabic.


Is it also true for plurals? And if so, how can I generalize in Arabic? For example, Haw can I say "women are great" or "Syrians are tall"?

  • 1363

Yes. Plurals or singulars do not affect the general structure.

  • Women are great: النساء عظيمات (an-nisá'u 3aD'ímát).
  • Great women: نساء عظيمات (nisá'un 3aD'ímát).
  • THE great women: النساء العظيمات (an-nisáú-l-3aD'ímát).
  • Syrians are tall: السوريون طوال (as-súriyyún Tiwál).
  • Tall Syrians: سوريون طوال (súriyyúna Tiwál).
  • THE tall Syrians: السوريون الطوال (as-súriyyúna aT-Tiwál).

The adjective طوال (Tiwál) is the masculine plural of طويل(Tawíl).


Shukran, that is great.

So, in a way, in any generalization in Arabic there is a silent "all": "syrians are tall" == "(all) the syrians are tall". Interesting. Maybe this is the reason there is no nominating structure for indefinite singular ("a syrian is tall"), because such statement is located in a limbo between specifying ("this syrian is tall") and generalizing ("syrians are tall") - which both get the "al" prefix in Arabic.

  • 1363

Well, there is indeed a word for (all) which is كُل (kul) and you can use it as a generalizing factor: كُلُّ السوريين طِوال (kullu-l-súriyyín Tiwál). Here, we say سوريين instead of سوريون because it fell under the Genitive effect of كل so its ending must change (it's like saying all of the Syrians. (Kul) can be used as well for (every) when it is added to a singular: كلُّ سوريٍّ طويل which depending on the context can be translated as either (every Syrian IS tall) or (every tall Syrian). Nominal sentences in Arabic do not start usually with indefinite noun except in very rare and under strict rules, and maybe this is one of them or maybe the addition of (kul) does make the Genitive compound a form of definition. But as I said, the meaning of كل سوري طويل would need a context to be translated properly to either version.


What is this new letter look like when on its own? ص?

  • 1363

The sentence above has no ص. Maybe you mean this letter?


if this is the case, then its shape is the same and doesn't change. It's velar T sound (approximately)


That is the one, thanks. I couldn't find it on my keyboard, so I guessed a little around – but now I have found it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjP4fXJy18Q

  • 1363

Yes, he is close in pronunciation.
Interestingly, some people here hear this letter as "P" - I don't know if this is a brain trick or a problem with the sound system, but it definitely is not "P". It is close to what Mike in the video is saying it.


As often as i listen i hear a 'p' not even a 'b'. i must have missed learning a letter somewhere along the line, but even retracing my steps i cannot find info on this letter/ symbol. Can anyone enlighten me please?.

  • 1363

The explanation is posted in some older posts in this thread. Check it out.


From what I learn طويل means long

  • 1363

Yes, and it is used for tall as well.


Is "neighbour is tall" also an answer to this?

  • 1363

I don't think so.
that would be: الجار طويل (with subject being defined with AL, as a must)

[deactivated user]

    Hi جار، it's been a while.


    Really bad sounds


    Poleel instead of taweel ??

    • 1363

    Many people reported that they have the sound "P" instead of ط, while for me I hear it fine. So, this is probably caused by either:

    1. The audio system (I'm on PC).
    2. A brain trick to assign a known sound to a new sound that had not been identified before.

    This is just my guess.

    Learn Arabic in just 5 minutes a day. For free.