From Academic Kids

This article concerns the vowel marks of written Arabic.
For political and social movements in Arabic-speaking countries, see Arab politics.

In Arabic orthography, harakat are the diacritic marks used to represent vowel sounds. (The most concrete meaning of harakat is "movements", e.g. in the context of the motion of machinery.) Written Arabic uses an abjad rather than a (true, , and the vowels are often left out; and the vowel sounds associated by default with each letter (each of which can function as a consonant, or as a consonant plus that default vowel) are the principal means of representing the vowels when letters are combined to represent words. For vowel sounds, the first letter "aleph" is used for the strong "A" sound as in "car".

  • A small accent-acute shaped diacritic called a fatHa, when above a letter, represents a harder // sound, such as in "cat". fatHa means opening, and refers to the opening of the mouth when producing the // sound.
    • A fatHa may be lengthened by following it with an alif.
  • The same shape below a letter is called a kasra and makes an "ih" sound as in "big."
    • A kasra may be lengthened by following it with the letter "yeh", resulting in a long /i/ sound as in the English word "bead."
  • A damma (a loop like a small letter "waw" ) is placed above a letter to represent an "uh" sound as in "sugar."
    • A damma may be lengthened if it is followed by the letter "waw".
  • A sukuun is a circle above a letter and indicates that the letter does not have a vowel (necessary to write CVCC word patterns, which are common in Arabic).
  • A sukuun may also be used to indicate diphthongs. Above a "yeh", it indicates the /ay/ diphthong. Above a "waw", it indicates the /au/ diphthong.
  • Gemination (consonant doubling) is phonemic in Arabic and is indicated in the script with a diacritic called a shadda, which is shaped like a small w, which is the beginning part of the letter "shiin". It is written above the consonant that is doubled.
  • A letter "yeh" at the end of the word, with a dotted-kasra beneath it makes an "ee" ending.
  • A hamza (indicating the glottal stop) must accompany a vowel at the beginning of a word that begins "with a vowel". "alef" , which usually only functions to lengthen a fatHa in the middle of a word, may carry any vowel sound at the beginning of a word.
  • A madda signals a long vowel sound.

See also


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