Arabic Writing

This document describes the arabic alphabet, and how it can be written using roman letters.

Please remember that Egyptian Arabic is an oral language. When people are asked to write it, some write in Modern Standard Arabic and then pronounce it the Egyptian way, others write it as an Egyptian would say it. As a result, there may some variation in the way things are spelt. For example, many verbs end in alif-layena aY ى, but many people write it as a regular alif aaa اَ.

Arabic script

There are 28 basic letters in Egyptian arabic, and about a dozen modifiers.

اب ن د ذ ج ح خ ر ز س ش ص ض ط ظ ع غف ق ك ل م ن ه و ي

Writing goes from right to left, and the majority of arabic letters join onto the following letter and so there are therefore four forms of each letter: solitary, initial, middle and final. For the six letters that do not join left ( aaa اَ,  dd د,  zdh ذ,  rr ر,  zz ز,  ww و ), there are just two forms- solitary and final.

positionnormal letternon-joining letter

The three short vowels aa َ, ii ِ and uu ُ and shadda ّ, which doubles the length of a consonant, are collectively called tashkeeltashkyl تـَشكيل or vowellization. Tashkyl is not normally used in written arabic apart from in the Quran. If they are used, they are written above a consonant but pronounced after it: for the convenience of non-arabic readers, I have included the tashkyl, but written it after the consonant.

See the Arabic Alphabet section for full information about each arabic letter, including the european letters used.