Hello and welcome to the Kaleela blog where we’ve once again been focusing on the Arabic alphabet. We’ll continue our journey today with an Arabic letter that will leave you saying “Wow” - the letter و /waaw/.
The letter و /waaw/ can either be a consonant or a vowel. It depends on the presence of the diacritic symbol "ء" otherwise known as “hamza”, which looks like a small backward 2.
So, how can you tell the difference between the vowel و /waaw/ and the consonant و /waaw/?
Well, when it comes with the hamza on top, it sounds like a short “u” as in مُؤسَّسَة /mu’assasah/ “institution”.
As you can see in the example above, و /waaw/ here looks like the number 9 in English with the hamza on top of it.
و /waaw/ as a consonant often takes on the sound of “w” in English and is transliterated with a “w” as a result. وادي /waadee/, which means “valley”, is a good example.
On the other hand, when the vowel و /waaw/ falls at either the middle or end of the word without a hamza. It sounds like an “oo” in “moon” and looks like the English number “9”. An example of this is the word صورَة /Soorah/ meaning “photo”.
As mentioned earlier, the consonant letter و /waaw/ is equivalent to the letter “w” in English as in wide, down or wind. An example of this is the Arabic وَردَة /wardah/ which means “rose” and has a diacritic mark above it.
However, as a vowel, it can also be found to take on the long “u” sound of “June” and “tune” as in the Arabic word دَلو /daloo/ or “bucket”.
Like all of the other letters we’ve discussed, the shape of و /waaw/changes depending on where it falls in a word – that is, it changes shape if it comes at the beginning of the word (initial), the middle of the word (medial), or the end of the word (final).
Starting with its stand-alone shape, و /waaw/ looks like the number 9 in English.
When و /waaw/ comes at the beginning of the word, it looks like the number 9 as in وَردَة /wardah/ or “rose”.
When و /waaw/ comes in the middle of a word (or anywhere except the first or last letters) two things can happen:
First, و /waaw/ is connected only from the right side as in ضـوء /dhoo’/”light” and looks like the English number 9.
When و /waaw/ is in the medial position, it can be disconnected from both sides as it is in the Arabic فَراوِلَة /faraawilah/ which means “strawberry”.
Once again, it also takes on a shape like the number 9 in English.
When و /waaw/ comes at the end of a word, again, two things can happen:
First, و /waaw/ can fall at the end while being connected to the previous letters in the word as in دَلـو /daloo/“bucket
where it, again, takes the shape of the number 9.
If و /waaw/ falls at the end and is disconnected from the previous letters in the word as in the Arabic word for “puppy”, جَـرو /jaroo/
where it once again takes on the shape of the number 9 in English.
Speaking of all of these connections, it’s important to know that some Arabic letters can only be connected from the right side. These letters are:
Likewise, there are some Arabic letters that can be connected from both sides. They are:
The letter و /waaw/ can be connected from the right when it is preceded by letters from the second group as in ضـوء /dhoo’/”light” where dhaad falls in the second group.
Likewise, it can come disconnected from the right when preceded by letters from the first group as in the Arabic word for “puppy”, جَـرو /jaroo/ where raa’ (ر) falls into that first group.
See the table below for a summary and notice how the letters are connected or not:
So, did that Arabic letter make you say “Wow”?
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