1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Arabic
  4. >
  5. Sounds without written letter…


Sounds without written letters?

When I listen to the lessons, they always sound like their adding more letters than their showing. instead of just "Karii mutarjim" I hear "Karii on mutarjim". I can't find an explanation as to why and I don't know how to say it.

December 12, 2019



The robovoices are sketchy in all the languages I've studied here, but they seem to be especially misleading in Arabic.

This is one I wonder about: the extra syllable at the end of many words ending in taa marbuta (ة‎). For example, I think that the sentence سامية المحامية ذكية should be pronounced Samia almuhamia dhakiya, but it gets pronounced Samiatil almuhamiata dhakiyatan.

Am I mistaken? When I listen to it in slow speed the individual words sound correct, but in regular speed they have an extra syllable. Is this intentional? Is it for elision? Is it a particular dialect?


Definitely noticed. It makes it hard to use regular spread because of all the sounds messing with the words


Replying to you because you mentioned the taa marbuta. The taa marbuta becomes a t sound when pronounced before an "al". To give compairson, in some languages, such as French, we can see silent letters at the end of a word become pronounced when they are placed before a word beginning with a vowel (e.g. est has a silent t, but before a vowel, the t is pronounced).

Also, depending on the diacritics at the end of the word, that could be cause for the "extra sounds". Karii on could be Karii with the diacritic for the oon sound. The diacritics used at the end of the words are all dependant on some grammar rules, so for me they seem arbitrary but eventually they can help you recognize information about the sentence, such as who is actioning a verb and what is the verb being actioned on. This is more formal arabic and to my understanding in normal conversation it's not as widely used, as opposed to formal texts such as the Qu'ran.

Hope this helps!


That makes sense. C'est moi sounds different than c'est un homme. Similarly, I guess that سامية المحامية would sound different than سامية alone (Samiat vs Samia).

The duolingo Arabic sentences make liberal use of diacritics, but to be honest they're very small. I wear glasses but my prescription is almost two years old. I can barely see most of them.

Also, based on the aldamen post below I learned that arabic has case inflections. I am most familiar with this from German, but I am aware that Latin has this as well (English too, until about a thousand years ago.) In German, nouns can be in the genetive, nominative, dative, or accusative case. I wonder if all four cases are possible in Arabic, and whether duolingo talks about it later in the course.


You say "all four," but Russian has 6 cases. :) I think that Latvian has 7, but I'm not sure.


I'm primarily concerned with Arabic here. I don't know how many cases Latin or Old English had. Four just seemed like a reasonable first guess, but I readily admit that I'm guessing. I am aware that Klingon has five--although many Klingonists are uncomfortable using terminology that Marc Okrand doesn't use--but I have no knowledge of Slavic languages. I'll take your word that Russian has six.

Edit: According to Arabic Learning Resources (launched in 2007), Arabic has three noun cases. They are nominative (marked by و above the last letter), genitive (marked by kasra below the last letter), and accusative (marked by fatha above the end of a word). This will definitely help to understand some of the sounds that we are hearing.


I would love to hear someone weigh in on this.


I’m sure more knowledgeable people will clarify, but my understanding is that basically the voiceover doesn’t match what’s written due to subjective preference. Both instances are correct and mean the same thing. Think of it as if an English course displays “Whom were you talking to”, but the voice says “Who were you talking to” and vice versa. Or “I will not go” vs “I won’t go”, etc.


The sounds at the end of words are case endings, depending on the function of the word in the sentence (nominative, accusative or genitive) and definiteness.

You can find explanations from RuwaydaAtH: intro, nominative, and genitive
and from TJ_Q8 accusative

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