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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TJ_Q8

Sounds Names in Arabic

Hello all! Have a little time here so I thought why not having a break a bit from that Astronomy series, and I thought of posting something a bit quick here.
Do/did you know that in Arabic many sounds have a specific name? This is so true specifically for animals, and probably it was a reflection for how ancient Arabs received sounds from their environment and their trial to put that into spoken words for every day use. There are specific sounds that are well-known to the average Arab, but trust me, many of these might not be known to an average person. Anyway, I think English also has the same property regarding some animals and some sounds, but there might be some sounds names that are too general, like "squeaking" for example. In Arabic though, some sounds names are shared between various animals or between animals and objects, but some can be quite specific to one animal alone (and that sound name is used figuratively for people as in English as well, e.g. "roaring").
I thought of doing a table but I realized it is a bit of "work" so I'll avoid that and post the words as a list. The sound source comes first, then the sound name in Arabic followed by a transliteration guide. Finally, I'll place any remarks if any.

Sounds' Names

  • Lion: زَئير (za'ír).
  • Cow: خُوار (xuwár).
  • Snake: فَحيح (faħíħ).
  • Mosquito: طَنين (ŧanín). Can be used for other insects as well including flies and bees
  • Wolf: عُواء (3uwá').
  • Fly: أَزيز (azíz) do not confuse this with the name عزيز which is typically written as Aziz in English.
  • Horse: صَهيل (cahíl).
  • Donkey: نَهيق (nahíq).
  • Pigeon: هَديل (hadíl).
  • Frog: نَقيق (naqíq).
  • Little birds: زَقْزَقَة (zaqzaqah).
  • Cat: مُواء (muwá').
  • Dog: نُباح (nubáħ).
  • Rooster: صِياح (ciyáħ).
  • Hen: نَقْنَقَة (naqnaqah).
  • Crow: نَعيق (na3íq). Also نَعيب (na3íb)
  • Bulbul: تَغْريد (tağríd). Also شَدْوْ (šadw)
  • Owl: نَعيق (na3íq).
  • Ewe: ثُغاء (þuğá').
  • She-Camel: حَنين (ħanín).
  • Camel: رُغاء (ruğá'). Also هَرْهَرَة (harharah)
  • Hoopoe: هَدْهَدَة (hadhadah). Also قَرْقَرَة (qarqarah)

In addition to animals, there are sounds related to non-living or materialistic objects as well:

  • Bullets: أّزيز (azíz). Same word for the sound of flies
  • Airplane: أَزيز (azíz).
  • Patient: أَنين (anín). The sighs of a patient or injured person
  • Trees: حَفيف (ħafíf). Also used for any type of leaves like money or papers
  • Fire: زَفير (zafír). This word is also the name for exhaling air out of the lungs, and probably used specifically for the fire of smithing
  • Thunder: هَزيم (hazím). Also زَمْجَرة (zamjarah) and this word is also used for the shouts of an angry person
  • Pen/cil: صرير (carír).
  • Door: صَرير (carír).
  • Sword: صَليل (calíl).
  • Sleeper: غَطيط (ğaŧíŧ).
  • Sea: هَدير (hadír).
  • Water: خَرير (xarír).

These are some of the sounds I could get and many of them can be repetitive. Some of them can even be used for animals as well as non-living objects, as you can see for the sound for "fly" and "airplane" or "bullets". This, as I believe, depends highly on the nature of the sounds rather than its origin. Another example of such coinciding sound names (but not shown here) is the sound of the pen or pencil, which is the same as that of the door, and also the sound given to the mouse (and probably every rodent).
These sounds can also be used as verbs of course, just like in English where "to bark" is used for dogs mainly and "to meow" is used for cats. Arabic might take this further, like for example ينعق الغراب (yan3aqu al-ğuráb): the crow squeaks (or, what do you call the crow's sound in English?).

Edit: A crow caws - Thanks kaet :)

August 24, 2019

12 Comments

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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kaet
  • 116

This is a great list - thank you so much! In English we call these onomatopaeic words, meaning words that sound like what they represent.

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kaet
  • 116

Crows caw in English.

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TJ_Q8

thanks for the info!

There had been some weird and hard to say names on the list I had so I tried to avoid these as well. There is even a sound for ants!

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aldamen

Since you posted Wars and Camels I have been wondering what a She-Camel is. I found references on google about a she-camel in the quran, but your proverb was from pre-islam times.

Now I see this she-camel is even making a special sound.

What is so special about this she-camel that it makes a different sound and is considered something different than a normal camel in that proverb (No she-camel for me in it nor a camel)?

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TJ_Q8

I didn't understand your question exactly, but a she-camel is the female of a camel. In the same manner that there is a lion and a lioness in English, as well as sheep and ewe, there is a camel and a she-camel (I'm not sure if there is a special name for the feminine form of the camel, so I use she-camel).

In Quran, there is one special story of a she-camel, which was a miracle given by God to a prophet named SáliH (صالح); a prophet sent to the tribe or town of Thamud ثَمود. It was supposed to be a miracle to the people so they believe in God and His prophet SáliH, and a condition or covenant was made with the people of the town that they can milk her as they like one day, and the other day the she-camel should not be touched and left to pasture and drink from the water in the town or village while water should not be touched by the people on that day. This went on for some time until a man (in agreement with his folks) broke the covenant and killed the she-camel (and its young camel), and they went to SáliH bragging about their deeds and asking him to reveal the punishment that he promised to fall from God on that town. At the moment the prophet Sálih told thme to enjoy 3 days of peace before the punishment is to strike down, and he told his followers then to pack and leave the town with him which they did. Three days later, the village was destroyed. According to the quranic verses, the punishment was a loud scream as mentioned in some verses and an earthquake in some other places, so scholars believe that it was a combination of both.

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elke405873

Thanks for this. Is it possible, that you can tell this surah it is, please?

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TJ_Q8

The story is actually mentioned in several places in Quran. Here are some of them (Surah/Verse):

  • 7:73
  • 11:61
  • 26:141
August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elke405873

Vielen Dank.

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elke405873

A question, because I could not find a translation for repent. What does it mean? 11:61 ..., so ask forgiveness of Him and then repent to Him.

August 24, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elke405873

Thank you. I wish you a nice smooth start into the week.

August 25, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TJ_Q8

Repent is like to stop doing the wrong thing again and behave well.

August 25, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sphispal

Great List!!!!

August 25, 2019
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