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Arabic Letters Which Are similar in Shape But Different in Meaning

Arabic Letters Which Are similar in Shape But Different in Meaning

The Arabic letters – About The language of (ض)

It’s obvious for the students of the Arabic language that there are many letters which look like each other and very similar in the shape but totally different in meaning, pronunciation, and usage. Those letters in Arabic alphabets are many and even Arabic native language people which are not well educated can be confused when writing it but in the other hand it means a lot for people who are well known to the Arabic and they consider it as one of the powerful points of Arabic language as it gives you more ability to explain yourself in Arabic easily.

Also its very important for the lawyers as they can use some of this letters to change the meaning of the word and use it against courts and so on. also its very important to know such differences and this letters because it changes the meaning totally which may be used in contracts so you have to pay attention for such letters while using the Arabic language. Especially, in official papers or contracts. In the upcoming words, I am going to explain the difference between those letters and I will provide some examples for each case.

Arabic letters

Arabic Letters

Arabic Letters Case Study

On the beginning, we will talk about letters ح , خ. These two letters are almost the same in shape but there is a small difference, a “dot”. These two letters are totally different in the pronunciation and also in the meaning. For the letter ح, it meets the pronunciation of the letter “H” while the letter خ meets the pronunciation of the letters “KH”. As an example the two Arabic words “ حمار and “ خمار. Those two words used the common letters except the first two letters which we are talking about. However, they are totally different in meaning as the first word “حمار” means “donkey” and the other word “خمار” means “scarf”. So it’s obvious here the big difference between the two letters which may look like the same to many people

Another example of this letters is ع,غ. These two letters are also very similar in shape, they have only one minor difference in the shape while the meaning is totally different. And also the pronunciation is different for the letter ع its meet the pronunciation of the two letters “aa” as it has no direct similar letter in English and  for the other letter غ it looks like the pronunciation of the letter “R” in French language and it meets the letter “G” in English during direct translations. as an example for this case the two Arabic words “”عناء and “غناء”.  Those two words have the common letters except the first two letters which we are talking about. However, they are totally different in meaning as the first word “ عناء means “ pain” or “suffering” on the other hand the other word “غناء” means “singing”. So, as you see it’s completely different and very confusing for the new students.

Another similar case also for the similar letters, the two letters ص , ض. these two letters are also in the same situation. as they have the same shape and the difference only is one “dot”. While the meaning and the pronunciation is totally different. As you can see, the letter ص meets the pronunciation of the letter “S” in the same time the letter ض that is almost the same only the dot is the difference and this letter ض meets the pronunciation of the letter “D” in English. As an example for using in Arabic, you can see the two words “ صريح” and “ضريح” while the words are similar at the shape except for the dot in the second word but they are completely different. even one is an adjective and the other is a noun as you see the first word “صريح” is an adjective which means “explicit” or “honest” .but  the second word “ضريح” is a noun which means “tomb” or “grave” so as mentioned above its clear that just small dot can change the meaning.

Another case in our topic is the two letters ر,ز which are very similar in the shape but have minor difference in one dot. it’s easy to differentiate between them in the pronunciation as the letter”ر” has the same pronunciation of the English letter “R” while the other letter which is “ز” has the same pronunciation of the last letter of English alphabet “Z”. So for example, you can see the two Arabic words “رمان” and “زمان”. Those two words are totally different in the meaning and also in the pronunciation .as you can see the first word “رمان” means “pomegranate “which is a type of fruits. However, the other word “زمان” means “time”.

A detailed description of Arabic Alphabets can be found here.


Interesting article, you may like: Dialects of Arabic – Which One Should you Learn?


Secrets About the Arabic Language

As mentioned in the above topic it will be clear that the Arabic language has its own secrets. it is a deep language, you should consider that when you are studying it. The mentioned examples are not all of the similar words. There are more and more cases where you can see some similar shapes of the letters and they have a different meaning and different pronunciation just moving one dot add or remove, and the whole word may be the whole sentence will be completely changed or even damaged. So the next time when you use the Arabic language in official papers and contracts you have to pay attention to that part as it may be used by someone to cheat on the others. In the other hand this availability of the letters and the way of the pronunciation, make the Arabic language richer and has more flexibility for the Arabic people who are using the Arabic language as a native and original language.

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