Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English 9781463210274

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Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

Table of contents :
Table of Contents
List of Symbols
Chapter I. General Approach and Techniques of Teaching Pronunciation
Chapter II. Human Speech Mechanism
Chapter III. Confusing Linguistic Disciplines and Identities
Chapter IV. Comparative Classification and Description of Arabic and English Consonant Systems
Chapter V. Comparative Classification and Description of Arabic and English Vowel Systems
Chapter VI. Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Consonantal Systems
Chapter VII. Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Vocalic Systems
Chapter VIII. Teaching Salient Prosodic Features of Arabic and English
Chapter IX. Instructional Significance of Phonetic vs. Phonological Accent Distinction
Chapter X. Orthography and Pronunciation Connection in Arabic and English
Chapter XI. Turning Swords into Ploughshares: Developing Arabic Transliteration of English to Improve Pronunciation
Appendix. Arab Learners of English & Vice Versa: Reinforcement Exercises
Glossary of Recurrent Terms

Citation preview

Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

‫أﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻟﺘﻠﻔﻆ اﻟﻤﻘﺎرن‬ ‫ﻓﻲ اﻟﻌَﺮﺑﻴﺔ واﻹﻧﻜَﻠﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬

Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

‫أﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻟﺘﻠﻔﻆ اﻟﻤﻘﺎرن‬ ‫ﻓﻲ اﻟﻌَﺮﺑﻴﺔ واﻹﻧﻜَﻠﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬



First Gorgias Press Edition, 2005. Copyright © 2005 by Gorgias Press LLC. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States of America by Gorgias Press LLC, New Jersey.

ISBN 1-59333-272-6


46 Orris Ave., Piscataway, NJ 08854 USA

Printed in the United States of America

This book is dedicated to the nation of Iraq (Beth Nahrain, Mesopotamia), the cradle of civilization, with the hope for its recovery as a democratic state.

Table of Contents List of Symbols..................................................................................................................ix Foreword.........................................................................................................................xiii Acknowledgements .......................................................................................................xvii Chapter I. General Approach and Techniques of Teaching Pronunciation................ 1 1.1 Introduction........................................................................................................................1 1.2 Multicognitive Approach to Teaching Pronunciation......................................................2 1.3 Multisensory Approach to Teaching Pronunciation ........................................................3 1.4 Techniques of Teaching Pronunciation ............................................................................4 1.6 Instructor and Learner Connection ...................................................................................6 1.7 Conclusions........................................................................................................................7 Chapter II. Human Speech Mechanism.......................................................................... 9 2.1 Introduction........................................................................................................................9 2.2 Vocal Organs .....................................................................................................................9 2.2.1 Energy Sources ................................................................................................. 10 2.2.2 Movement and Obstruction ............................................................................... 10 2.3 Phases of Speech Production ..........................................................................................16 2.3.1 Articulatory Phase............................................................................................ 16 2.3.2 Aerodynamic Phase ......................................................................................... 16 2.3.3 Acoustic Phase ................................................................................................. 17 2.4 Conclusions......................................................................................................................17 Chapter III. Confusing Linguistic Disciplines and Identities ..................................... 19 3.1 Introduction......................................................................................................................19 3.2 Phonics is not Phonetics or Phonology...........................................................................20 3.3 Different Alphabet Identities: Phonemes, Graphemes and Nomenemes......................23 3.3.1 Phonemes of Arabic and English ....................................................................... 24 Phonemes of Arabic ................................................................................... 25 3.3.1. 2 Phonemes of English ................................................................................. 27 3.3.2 Graphemes of Arabic and English ..................................................................... 31 Graphemes of Arabic ................................................................................ 31 Graphemes of English............................................................................... 31 3.3.3 Nomenemes of Arabic and English ................................................................... 31 Nomenemes of Arabic................................................................................ 32 Nomenemes of English ............................................................................. 33 3.4 Conclusions.......................................................................................................... 34 Chapter IV. Comparative Classification and Description of Arabic and English Consonant Systems ......................................................................................................... 35 4.1 Introduction......................................................................................................................35 4.2 Basic Principles for Consonant Classification and Description ....................................36 4.2.1 Phonatory Status................................................................................................ 36 4.2.2 Place of Articulation.......................................................................................... 36 4.2.3 Manner of Articulation ..................................................................................... 38 4.3 Comparison of Major Arabic and English Sound Categories .......................................40 4.3.2 Arabic and English Affricates............................................................................ 41 4.3.3 Arabic and English Fricatives............................................................................ 42 4.3.4 Arabic and English Approximants..................................................................... 43 4.4 Conclusions......................................................................................................................44 Chapter V. Comparative Classification and Description of Arabic and English Vowel Systems ................................................................................................................. 45 5.1 Introduction......................................................................................................................45

vi 5.2 Principles of Vowel Classification and Description ......................................................45 5.2.1 Tongue Position Contrasts................................................................................. 45 5.2.2 Tongue Stricture Contrasts ............................................................................... 46 5.2.3 Labial Posture Contrasts.................................................................................... 46 5.3 Comparative Arabic and English Vowel Systems .........................................................47 5.3.1 Arabic Vowel System........................................................................................ 48 5.3.2 English Vowel System ...................................................................................... 50 5.3.3 English Diphthong System .............................................................................. 50 5.4 Centripetal vs. Centrifugal Vowel Systems....................................................................50 5.5 Conclusions......................................................................................................................50 Chapter VI. Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Consonantal Systems .......................................................................................................................................... 53 6.1 Introduction......................................................................................................................53 6.2 Teaching of Plosives........................................................................................................53 6.2.1 Techniques of Teaching Arabic Emphatics ..................................................... 53 6.2.2 Techniques of Teaching Arabic Voiceless Unaspirated Uvular Plosive.......... 58 6.2.3 Techniques of Teaching English Voiceless Aspirated Bilabial Plosive .............. 61 6.3 Teaching of Affricates.....................................................................................................65 6.3.1 Techniques of Teaching Affricates .................................................................... 66 6.4 Teaching of Fricatives .....................................................................................................66 6.4.1 Techniques of Teaching Arabic Pharyngeal Fricatives / ÷/.............................. 67 6.4.2 Techniques of Teaching Arabic Uvular Fricatives / /..................................... 69 6.4.3 Techniques of Teaching English /v/ and // ...................................................... 70 6.5 Teaching of Approximants and R-Sounds .....................................................................71 6.5.1 Teaching Velar Nasal //................................................................................... 72 6.5.2 Teaching R-Sounds ........................................................................................... 73 6.6 Teaching of Consonant Clusters .....................................................................................75 6.6.1 Techniques of Teaching Consonant Clusters ..................................................... 78 6.7 Conclusions......................................................................................................................78 Chapter VII. Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Vocalic Systems .... 79 7.1 Introduction......................................................................................................................79 7.2 Problems of Arab Learners of English Vowel system...................................................79 7.2.1 Problems of Vowel Quality ............................................................................... 79 7.2.2 Problems of Vowel Quantity ............................................................................. 82 7.2.3. Problems of Vowel Dynamics .......................................................................... 82 7.3. Problems of English Learners of Arabic Vowel System ..............................................84 7.3.1 Problems of Vowel Quality ............................................................................... 84 7.3.2 Problems of Vowel Quantity ............................................................................. 85 7.3.3 Problems of Vowel Dynamics ........................................................................... 85 7.4 Techniques of Teaching Vowel Systems .......................................................................85 7.4.1 Techniques of Teaching Vowel Reduction ........................................................ 86 7.4.2 Techniques of Teaching Vowel Quantity........................................................... 88 7.5. Problems of Arab Learners of English Diphthongs ......................................................89 7.6 Conclusions......................................................................................................................90 Chapter VIII. Teaching Salient Prosodic Features of Arabic and English ............... 93 8.1 Introduction......................................................................................................................93 8.2 Pitch Movement...............................................................................................................94 8.3 Stress and Rhythm ...........................................................................................................95

vii 8.3.1 Techniques of Teaching Stress Perception, Recognition and Production in English .................................................................................................................................. 95 8.3.2 Techniques of Teaching Stress Perception, Recognition and Production in Arabic .................................................................................................................................. 98 8.4 Techniques of Teaching Rhythm....................................................................................99 8.4.1 Techniques of Teaching Rhythm in English .................................................... 100 8.4.2 Techniques of Teaching Rhythm in Arabic ................................................... 102 8.5 Teaching of Shamsiyyah (Solar) and Qamariyyah (Lunar) Sounds .......................... 104 8.6 GA and RP ‘r’s between Partial and Full Deletion ..................................................... 106 8.6.1 Why an ‘R-Gesture’ Prosody? ....................................................................... 108 8.6.2 ‘R-Gesture’: Phonetic or Phonological Accent? ............................................ 108 8.7 Conclusions................................................................................................................... 110 Chapter IX. Instructional Significance of Phonetic vs. Phonological Accent Distinction...................................................................................................................... 113 9.1 Introduction................................................................................................................... 113 9.2 Prioritizing the Teaching of Phonetic vs. Phonological Accent Contrasts ................ 113 9.2.1 Phonological vs. Phonetic Accent Problems .................................................... 114 9.2.2 More Common vs. Less Common Problems.................................................... 117 9.2.3 Easy to Remedy vs. Difficult to Remedy Problems.......................................... 117 9.3 Selective Salient Arabic-English Accent-Causing Features....................................... 118 9.3.1 Arab learners of English: Specimens of Phonological Accent.......................... 118 9.3.2 Arab learners of English: Examples of Phonetic Accent .................................. 119 9.4 Selective Salient English-Arabic Accent-Causing Features....................................... 120 9.4.1 English learners of Arabic: Specimens of Phonological Accent ....................... 120 9.4.2 English learners of Arabic: Specimens of Phonetic Accent.............................. 121 9.5 Conclusions................................................................................................................... 122 Chapter X. Orthography and Pronunciation Connection in .................................... 123 10.1 Introduction................................................................................................................. 123 10.2 Nature and Structure of Arabic Orthography............................................................ 123 10.3 Nature and Structure of English Orthography........................................................... 125 10.3.1 Phoneme-Grapheme Inconsistency in English ............................................... 125 10.3.2 Several Sounds without Specific Symbols ..................................................... 126 10.3.3 One or more Graphemes to Designate Same Sound....................................... 126 10.3.4 One or more Graphemes Designate Different Sounds.................................... 127 10.3.5 Abundance in Silent Letters........................................................................... 127 10.4 Consequences of Frequent Deletion of Arabic Diacritics ........................................ 127 10.5 Preference of Long Vowel Symbols in Arabic Transliteration ................................ 128 10.5.1 Role of Arabic Long Vowels in Shaping Orthographic Identity of Arabic Words ................................................................................................................................ 128 10.5.2 Inconsistency of Vowel Systems and the Governing Dynamics ..................... 129 10.5.3 Orthography-Based Pronunciation................................................................. 130 10.6 Absence of Arabic Orthographic Counterparts for English Vowels........................ 131 10.7 Absence of Arabic Orthographic Counterparts for English Consonants ................. 132 10.8 Conclusions................................................................................................................. 132 Chapter XI. Turning Swords into Ploughshares:....................................................... 133 11.1 Introduction................................................................................................................. 133 11.2 Comprehensive Look at English-Arabic Transliteration.......................................... 134 11.3 Some Aspects of Inconsistency ................................................................................. 135 11.4 Some Aspects of Incompatibility............................................................................... 136 11.5 Basic Matching and Mismatching between English and Arabic.............................. 136 11.5.1 Consonant Matching .................................................................................... 136

viii 11.5.2 Vowel Matching........................................................................................... 137 11.6. Familiarity with Rules and Dynamics of Pronunciation.......................................... 139 11.7 Enhancing Consistency and Compatibility of Transliteration.................................. 139 11.8 Practical Implications of SAO and AAO .................................................................. 141 11.9 Conclusions................................................................................................................. 143 Appendix. Arab Learners of English & Vice Versa: Reinforcement Exercises....... 145 12.1.1 Arab Learners of English............................................................................... 145 Vowels ................................................................................................... 145 Consonants............................................................................................. 147 Prosodics ................................................................................................ 147 12.1.2 English Learners of Arabic ............................................................................ 149 Vowels ................................................................................................... 149 Consonants............................................................................................. 150 Prosodics ................................................................................................ 151 Glossary of Recurrent Terms ...................................................................................... 153 Bibliography................................................................................................................... 163 Dictionaries ............................................................................................................. 168 Index............................................................................................................................... 169

List of Symbols The conventions and symbols of International Phonetic Association (IPA) and their acceptable substitutes have been used throughout the book. Standard Arabic alphabet letters and diacritics have also been used wherever necessary. The following is a list of the symbols and conventions used: Vowels

Phonetic Description

i  e   a  æ   o  u    d g

Close front with spread lips Close front (somewhat centralized) to close-mid with spread lips Close-mid front with unrounded lips Open-mid front with unrounded lips Open-mid central with unrounded lips Open front with unrounded lips Near-open central vowel Near-open front with unrounded lips Open back with unrounded lips Open back with rounded lips Close-mid back with rounded lips Open-mid back with rounded lips Close back with rounded lips Near-close near-back with rounded lips Open-mid back with unrounded lips Mid central (neutral) vowel (schwa) R-colored (rhotacized) mid central (schwar) R-colored (rhotacized) open-mid central


Phonetic Description

b p p d t t   k

Voiced bilabial plosive Voiceless unaspirated bilabial plosive Voiceless aspirated bilabial plosive Voiced alveolar plosive Voiceless unaspirated alveolar plosive Voiceless aspirated alveolar plosive Voiced palatal plosive Voiced velar plosive Voiceless unaspirated velar plosive


k q  ® ± v f   z s       h    l j w m n    r

Voiceless aspirated velar plosive Voiceless (unaspirated) uvular plosive Glottal stop Voiced postalveolar affricate Voiceless postalveolar affricate Voiced labiodental fricative Voiceless labiodental fricative Voiced interdental fricative Voiceless interdental fricative Voiced alveolar fricative Voiceless alveolar fricative Voiced postalveolar fricative Voiceless postalveolar fricative Voiced uvular fricative Voiceless uvular fricative Voiced pharyngeal fricative Voiceless pharyngeal fricative Voiceless glottal fricative Voiced labio-dental approximant Voiced alveolar approximant Voiced retroflex approximant Voiced alveolar lateral approximant Voiced palatal approximant Voiced labio-velar approximant Voiced bilabial nasal (approximant) Voiced alveolar nasal (approximant) Voiced velar nasal (approximant Voiced dental/alveolar tap Voiced retroflex tap Voiced dental/alveolar trill

Diphthongs in RP English au ai oi ou ei

as in as in as in as in as in


i e u

as in as in as in

Conventions / / []   _ _ –̣ C V

Phonemic transcription Phonetic transcription Vowel full length Vowel half-length Superscript indicating aspiration Superscript indicating strong stress Subscript dot under /d,t,, s/ indicates /‫ض‬, ‫ ط‬, ‫ ظ‬, ‫ ص‬/ the emphatic sounds of Arabic In syllable structure patterns, ‘C’ stands for a ‘Consonant’ and stands for a ‘Vowel’

Arabic Symbols Consonants


Phonetic Description

‫أ‬ ‫ب‬ ‫ت‬ ‫ث‬ ‫ج‬ ‫ح‬ ‫خ‬ ‫د‬ ‫ذ‬ ‫ر‬ ‫ز‬ ‫س‬ ‫ش‬ ‫ص‬ ‫ض‬ ‫ط‬

[] [b] [t] [] [®] [] [] [d] [] [r] [z] [s] [] [ṣ] [d]̣ [ṭ]

glottal stop or the long vowel [a] voiced bilabial plosive voiceless alveolar plosive voiceless interdental fricative voiced postalveolar affricate voiceless pharyngeal fricative voiceless uvular fricative voiced alveolar plosive voiced interdental fricative alveolar trill voiced alveolar fricative voiceless alveolar fricative voiceless postalveolar fricative voiceless alveolar emphatic fricative voiced alveolar emphatic plosive voiceless (unaspirated) alveolar emphatic plosive


‫ظ‬ ‫ع‬ ‫غ‬ ‫ف‬ ‫ق‬ ‫ك‬ ‫ل‬ ‫م‬ ‫ن‬ ‫ﻩ‬ ‫و‬ ‫ي‬


[̣] voiced interdental emphatic fricative [] voiced pharyngeal fricative [] voiced uvular fricative [f] voiceless labio-dental fricative [q] voiceless [unaspirated] uvular plosive [k] voiceless velar plosive [l] voiced alveolar lateral [m] bilabial nasal [n] alveolar nasal [h] voiceless glottal fricative [w] central labio-velar approximant [j] central palatal approximant Superscript on consonant indicating geminated (double) consonant.

Vowels (Letters) ‫ا‬ ‫ي‬ ‫و‬

[a] long counterpart of [a] [i] long counterpart of [i] [u] long counterpart of [u]

Vowels (Diacritics)

‫ــَــ‬ ‫ــِــ‬ ‫ــُــ‬ ‫ـــْـ‬

Superscript over consonant indicating short [a] vowel. Subscript over consonant indicating short [i] vowel. Superscript on consonant indicating short [u] vowel. Superscript on consonant indicating absence of vowel.

Foreword There are four reasons why I wrote this book. First, with globalization in today’s world, Arabic, among a few more languages, is becoming more and more international in status and use. In fact, it is becoming strategic in significance due to the increase in the population of Arabic speakers, increase in the population of Moslems whose religion is based on Arabic and, the unfortunate association of the Arabic-speaking region with major international problems ranging from unpredictability in the smooth flow of oil, Arab-Israeli conflict and religious and political radicalism. Second, I am fluent in both spoken and written Arabic; in reality, Arabic is one of my three native languages. As a citizen of Iraq, born in the multilingual city of Kirkuk in the north, I grew up speaking Modern Assyrian (Aramaic), Turkmani and Arabic all three of which linguistically functioned as my native languages except for the fact that Assyrian was my home and historical native language, whereas Arabic and Turkmani were my community languages. Third, for my teaching career, I was first prepared for Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) followed by intensive and graduate preparation in speech sciences including comparative pronunciation. Fourth, I have been teaching linguistics and phonetics, including comparative pronunciation for the last four decades at high school and university levels in Iraq, England and the United States of America. In mid 1990s, I decided to put together in writing my teaching experiences and expertise that I had accumulated throughout those long years in the form of books dealing with methods and strategies of teaching languages, in general, and pronunciation, in particular. In 2003, I published my book Techniques of Teaching Pronunciation in ESL, Bilingual and Foreign Language Classes, followed by A Linguistic Approach to the Application and Teaching of the English Alphabet. Once those two books were published, I felt ready to proceed further and embark on writing the present book which will reflect my crosslanguage experience and knowledge in comparative pronunciation with a twoway trafficking between Arabic and English. In 1977, I had produced a booklet (in Arabic) on teaching Arabic pronunciation to foreign learners, but that was too elementary to be used at more advanced levels and for more diversified purposes. The broad scope of the contents of this book, the diversified range of the problems tackled, the depth with which the contents and the problems are treated, and the extensive use of both Arabic and English symbols, terminology and texts make the book convenient to serve three different targeted groups. First, both beginner and advanced learners have materials and exercises that benefit them. Second, the systematic and structured approach will not only appeal to those learners who are linguistically trained, but also to those who are not; in fact, to the latter group the book will serve as a beginner course in linguistics and phonetics. Third, in many respects, some contents of the book go far beyond the domain of regular classroom teaching of pronunciation to appeal to others in the fields of acting, broadcasting, general communication and intelligence. The approach used throughout the book is a careful combination of some of the most recent findings in cognitive sciences with some basic principles of


modern linguistics most of which were stated in detail in chapter one of my 2003 book. Foremost of such principles is that pronunciation, especially with adults, is the function of the brain more than being the function of the speech organs. Many problems will be difficult to solve and learn without the active involvement of the brain. This is why the mechanical procedure of repeat-after-me rarely produces tangible results. In principle, the approach is a two-tier one: multicognitive, on the one hand, and multisensory on the other. Multicognitive means allowing all cognitive process of which the human brain is capable, such as thinking, comparing, analyzing, synthesizing and memorizing etc..., to function separately and jointly as needed to activate the brain. Multisensory means allowing all sensory modalities of which human physical system is capable of manipulating, such as auditory, visual and kinesthetic-proprioceptive etc., to also function separately and jointly as needed to feed the brain with the needed diversified input(s). In light of this approach, any teaching of a sound or sound phenomenon, especially to adults in second language (L2) or foreign language (FL) situations, requires engaging the brain in the process and manipulating as many senses as relevant to the process of sound internalization and retention. It also requires designing techniques and activities which will facilitate the efficient functioning of the cognitive processes and sensory modalities. Although I have been using the Multicognitive and Multisensory Approach (MMA) for the last fifteen years, it was not formally publicized until the publication of my book of 2003. MMA rejects the dominant behavioristic method of teaching known as Audiolingual, whose most popular implementational technique in teaching pronunciation is ‘repeat-after-me’, partly because it is primarily premised on a monosensory modality, namely the auditory modality and partly because it treats language learning as a mechanical habitformation process rather than a cognitive one. MMA attempts at stimulating the brain in a multisensory manner and activates many of its cognitive processes to transform the mechanical habit into a subconscious cognitive one and relieve the brain of any conscious effort in retention and retrieval. In short, in teaching pronunciation to adults, MMA aims at rendering the whole process more like child language acquisition than just mechanical learning. As for the language varieties of Arabic and English targeted here, the emphasis has been on the standard varieties of both. Obviously, even the standard varieties have some internal inconsistencies varying from region to region. In English, the General American English (GA) of the United States and the Received Pronunciation (RP) of England have been considered and used where necessary. Similarly, regional varieties of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) have also been considered and cited if pertinent. In sum, this book is an earnest attempt at applying MMA to a dual language teaching situation which provides ample learning opportunities for students involved in comparative pronunciation studies. The book comprises eleven chapters with an appendix for exercises and activities. The first three chapters outline and explain the approach and all the pedagogical and linguistic principles, concepts and constructs that define and build it up. Chapters four and


five represent a detailed survey of the different aspects of the phonetic and phonological structures and systems of Arabic and English through contrasts and comparisons. Chapters six, seven, eight and nine are devoted to the teaching of selected salient sounds and sound phenomena in the two languages with as many examples as necessary. It is worth mentioning that chapter nine specifically highlights the instructional significance of a distinction between the dichotomy of phonetic accent vs. phonological accent, a contrast that I have introduced recently. Chapters ten and eleven take the study of pronunciation one step beyond the traditional domain of pronunciation by connecting it to orthography to demonstrate how orthography and pronunciation are intimately connected and the connection should be taken into consideration seriously. Being familiar with other publications on the teaching of pronunciation available on the market, especially those dealing with Arabic and those that have a comparative orientation, this book brings forth significant aspects of pronunciation that have, hitherto, either been untouched or handled superficially or inefficiently. It is my sincere hope that the reader will benefit from the contents of the book in the form of the overall approach used and the techniques and strategies used to implement the approach. Edward Y. Odisho Northeastern Illinois University

Acknowledgements First and foremost I have to express my appreciation to tens of thousands of students who have been in my classes throughout four decades of teaching over the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. The experience of teaching the Assyrian, Arab, Kurdish and Turkmani learners of English in Iraq or listening to their cross-language learning of each other’s native language, added to the experience of teaching Arabic to a wide variety of foreign learners in Baghdad, Leeds (England) and Chicago together with long years of teaching English to scores of ethnic groups learning English in ESL and bilingual classes in the United States have all been the rich source of my passion for learning and teaching comparative pronunciation. I also would like to express my thanks to my colleagues Drs. Katherine McKnight and Nancy Kelly of the Department of Teacher Education, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago for reading the manuscript and their ensuing constructive comments. Special thanks are due to my friend Sargon Hasso for the technical advice and clever guidance I received from him in producing a text which involved major orthographic inconsistency due to the nature of the English and Arabic scripts. It goes without saying that I very much appreciate my wife’s (Wardia Shamiran) support of my academic work.

Chapter I

General Approach and Techniques of Teaching Pronunciation ‫اﻟﻄﺮﻳﻘﺔ واﻟﻮﺳﺎﺋﻞ اﻟﻌﺎﻣﺔ ﻟﺘﺪرﻳﺲ اﻟﺘﻠﻔﻆ‬ 1.1 Introduction ‫@اﻟﻤﻘﺪﻣﺔ‬ The general multicognitive and multisensory approach to teaching pronunciation was presented in detail elsewhere (Odisho, 2003b); therefore, only a sketch of it will be demonstrated here, especially with relevance to the teaching of pronunciation to Arab learners of English and English learners of Arabic. The primary principle of the approach is embodied in the fact that pronunciation, especially with adults, is the function of the brain more than being the function of the speech organs. In other words, teaching pronunciation to adults should be envisaged as a cognitive process of which the brain should become familiar. The cognitive familiarity of the brain with the targeted unfamiliar sounds means that the brain develops an impression of those sounds after which it will begin to fire the necessary instructions to the relevant vocal organs to assume the necessary articulatory and phonatory gestures and implement the accurate production. In teaching pronunciation to second language (L2) learners, one will often see that adults may experience serious difficulty in producing a new sound to which they are exposed for the first time. This is a good example of the cognitive requirement for sound production meaning that the brain may need enough exposure time to the new sound to perceive and recognize it before being able to produce it appropriately. Therefore, any instruction in pronunciation should target both the cognitive potential for perception and recognition prior to the necessary physical maneuvers of production. To illustrate the above cognitive prerequisites for correct sound production, let us consider a scenario in which native speakers of English are embarked on learning the Arabic voiceless unaspirated uvular plosive [q, ‫]ق‬. It is highly likely that only a few of them, if any, will be able to produce the sound. I have always given this sound as an example to prove to learners that the mastery of some unfamiliar and uncommon sounds may be quite difficult and often may require some orientation time to master them. Learners will often replace the [q] with either a voiceless aspirated velar plosive [k] or its unaspirated version [k] as in Spanish and Greek, among others. If after repeated modeling by the instructor, learners fail to produce a [q], then the whole situation indicates that learners are cognitively unable to perceive and recognize the sound to produce it. This is a typical condition that has been identified in Odisho (2003b) as psycholinguistic deafness. Such a condition in the teaching of pronunciation is a major focus of the approach and the techniques presented hereafter. This psycholinguistic deafness in the teaching of pronunciation cannot be remedied without a cognitive approach premised on diverse multisensory


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

techniques that enable the brain to perceive and recognize the new sounds and later experiment with their actual production.

1.2 Multicognitive Approach to Teaching Pronunciation ‫اﻟﻄﺮﻳﻘﺔ اﻟﺬهﻨﻴ ﺔ‬ ‫@اﻟﺘﻌﺪدﻳﺔ ﻟﺘﺪرﻳﺲ اﻟﺘﻠﻔﻆ‬ The cognitive approach to acquisition and/or teaching of pronunciation is an umbrella term for several cognitive processes which are typified in analysis, synthesis, association, contrast, comparison and memorization. All these processes combined reinforce the thinking process and assist learners in progressing from a conscious handling of new and unfamiliar sounds to a subconscious and automatic performance. Perhaps, the term ‘thinking consciously of sounds’ may not be readily acceptable to and plausible for some. In real classroom instruction, this means that learners have to be oriented in such a way that they have no choice but try to attentively listen to sounds, remember them, compare and contrast them with sounds already part of their psycholinguistic inventory or with versions of sounds produced by other learners (Odisho, 2003b). Is it true that learners can be geared towards conscious thinking of the processes of perception, recognition and production of unfamiliar sound? Yes, it is. This is unmistakably noticed immediately after an impressive demonstration by an instructor with the support of as many sensory modalities (auditory, visual and kinesthetic) as possible. The thinking process is easily inferred through a set of facial and bodily gestures such as the eye movements, various labial and cheek modifications jointly with other hand and bodily gestures. All these physical indices are intimately associated with the internal cognitive processes required for the production of sounds which the speaker attempts for the first time. According to this approach, pronunciation in its underlying structure is a cognitive process that is guided and governed by the brain. Consequently, instructors of pronunciation should realize that any attempt at conscious and mechanical habit formation should gradually lead– through continuous and systematic rehearsal– to cognitive habit formation. Without a deliberate attempt at the transformation of conscious physical habits into cognitive habits (Odisho, 2003b), teaching pronunciation, especially with adults, is doomed to failure. One of the reasons for the failure of the audiolingual methods in teaching pronunciation to adults was the mechanical application of its ‘repeat-after-me’ technique without checking whether those adults were really able to repeat the correct and targeted sound. With such failure, which is often the case with adults, any persistence with ‘repeat-after-me’ technique represents further inculcation of the wrong pronunciation. To render the technique successful and effective, instructors should carefully check each individual’s production of the targeted sound to ascertain its correct production. Once this checking is exhausted, instructors can proceed in the direction of a systematic application of all the available sensory and cognitive modalities to achieve a constructive transformation of a conscious and mechanical habit into a subconscious and automatic one. A subconscious and automatic habit means that the learner is able to retrieve the sound and articulate it whenever and wherever needed.

General Approach and Techniques of Teaching Pronunciation


1.3 Multisensory Approach to Teaching Pronunciation ‫اﻟﻄﺮﻳﻘﺔ اﻟﺤﻮاﺳﻴﺔ‬ ‫اﻟﺘﻌﺪدﻳﺔ ﻟﺘﺪرﻳﺲ اﻟﺘﻠﻔﻆ‬ The fact that the technique of ‘repeat-after-me’ has been so dominant in the teaching of pronunciation primarily as a leftover from the audiolingual method, certainly implies that instructors of pronunciation tend to believe, or at least give the impression, that teaching pronunciation is the responsibility of the auditory channel. In the context of a cognitive approach to teaching pronunciation, sound perception, recognition and production are interrelated processes that are facilitated by a joint contribution of the auditory, visual and kinesthetic/tactile (and proprioceptive) sensory modalities. This simply means that when teaching adults new and unfamiliar sounds, they may psycholinguistically be deaf to those sounds because their brain is unfamiliar with the acoustic images and articulatory postures of those sounds, hence, unable to perceive, recognize and, more importantly, produce them. An instructor who intends to follow a cognitive approach has no choice but to try to connect with the brain and impress it indirectly to accept the cognitive internalization of the targeted sounds. Thus, the brain has to be bombarded and stimulated with diverse auditory, visual and kinesthetic impressions that prove to be lasting in their impact. It is only in this manner that the brain will familiarize itself with the targeted sounds, retain them in the long-term memory and make them available for instantaneous retrieval. Figure 1.1, below is a schematic representation of the multisensory channels of connecting with the brain. Auditory Input

‫اﻟﻮارد‬ ‫اﻟﺴﻤﻌﻲ‬

Visual Input


Kinesthetic/ Proprioceptive Input

‫اﻟﻮارد اﻟﻤﺮﺋﻲ‬


Brain ‫اﻟﺪﻣﺎغ‬


/‫اﻟﻮارد اﻟﻠﻤﺴﻲ‬ ‫اﻟﺤﺴﻲ‬

Figure 1.1. Schematic representation of the cognitive approach to teaching pronunciation that is activated by diversified multisensory input. According to the above schematic diagram, learners have to be prepared not just to hear and produce the sounds, but also, and equally importantly, to see and feel or sense the sounds in conjunction with the concomitant sensations and physical gestures in the context of authentic speech. As a good example to demonstrate how seeing the production of sounds helps with their acquisition, let us focus on bilabial, labio-dental, interdentals and dentals sound. The articulation of all those sounds is virtually seeable, in one way or another. Any instructor who fails to manipulate


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

the visual images of the production of such sounds is disregarding some very significant clues that considerably help with the internalization of such sounds. Even in the production of long features of sound such as stress and rhythm, there are several facial and bodily gestures that are part of those prosodic features and they hardly go unnoticed. In fact, a proper and natural placement of stress cannot be executed without some bodily gestures such as hand, foot or head movements. They all should be brought to the attention of the learners. To highlight the significance of the above connection between nonverbal gestures and the mastery of sound features read the following anecdote about the way in which this writer at one time seriously struggled with the placement of stress in English and then planned to master it successfully: At the age of thirty-three, I went to England for my graduate studies and there I discovered that I had a very serious problem with stress placement that was influenced by my dominant languages, Assyrian (Modern Aramaic) and Arabic. For instance, very common words such as and , I stressed their first syllables instead of their second. Thus, they sounded as zyy rather than as yzy. Several other categories of English words such as those ending with suffixes , I very consistently stressed their final syllables instead of their initial or other anterior ones depending on how many syllables the given word comprised. I was very conscious of the fact that such misplacement of stress was worsening my overall pronunciation of English very seriously. This is why I dwelt so extensively on those word categories in Chapter Eight. I did two things to improve my ability in stress identification and placement. First, I listened very carefully to native speakers of English and carefully watched their body gestures. In one instance, I watched a news anchor on BBC television whose straight black hair moved visibly down and up his forehead often synchronized with stressed syllables, especially those that were more emphatically stressed. I rarely missed his appearances on TV. Second, once I discovered my misplacement of stress, I focused all my attention on the correct pronunciation and repeated that forcefully, and at times loudly, as many times as needed. I stopped when I felt that I had auditorily, kinesthetically and cognitively developed an acoustic image in my mind of the location of stress and the overall correct pronunciation of the targeted word. This is how I improved my performance of stress placement in English and my overall consciousness of the function of stress and rhythm in other languages. Unfortunately, at the time I was unaware of the pedagogical basis I was using as a springboard to overcome my pronunciation problems. It was only later in my life that I discovered I was implementing a cognitive approach to teaching pronunciation by transforming mechanical habits (conscious repetitions) into cognitive habits (subconscious internalizations and reflexive productions).

1.4 Techniques of Teaching Pronunciation ‫@اﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻟﺘﻠﻔﻆ‬ Certainly, the techniques will differ depending on the problematic sound and whether the sound is best tackled as an isolated sound or as a sound within a natural

General Approach and Techniques of Teaching Pronunciation


category. For instance, the emphatic sounds of Arabic constitute a highly neat category of sounds– in fact of phonemes. Thus, they should be taught as a category; however, when it comes to the teaching of the emphatic [7] it requires some treatment as an individual sound because of its specific feature of nonaspiration as opposed to the other three emphatics. Conversely, if one is dealing with Arab learners of English, the teaching of /p/ has to be dealt with as a brand new sound segment rather than as a bilabial category of sounds because /b/ is a common component of Arabic phonology, whereas /p/ has no phonological status. As a combination of the sensory modalities and cognitive modalities a set of standard techniques of teaching pronunciation has been used by the writer at least for the last decade and were outlined elsewhere (Odisho, 2003b). These techniques are procedurally, though not specifically, typical of teaching any sound, especially consonants. However, for more specific teaching of the major categories, including consonants, vowels and prosodic features, more specific techniques are indispensable. The following is an outline of the techniques involved: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6)

Cognitive Orientation = ‫اﻟﺘﻮﺟﻴﻪ اﻟﺬهﻨﻲ‬ Auditory Orientation = ‫اﻟﺘﻮﺟﻴﻪ اﻟﺴﻤﻌﻲ‬ Visual Orientation = ‫اﻟﺘﻮﺟﻴﻪ اﻟﻤﺮﺋﻲ‬ Kinesthetic/Proprioceptive Orientation= ‫اﻻﺣﺴﺎﺳﻲ‬/‫اﻟﺘﻮﺟﻴﻪ اﻟﻠﻤﺴﻲ‬ Cognitive Reinforcement and Internalization= ‫اﻟﺘﻌﺰﻳﺰ اﻟﺬهﻨﻲ و اﻻﺳﺘﻴﻌﺎب‬ Follow-up Procedures = ‫اﺟﺮاءات اﻟﻤﺘﺎﺑﻌﺔ‬

The above stages and techniques of teaching pronunciation serve as the general guidelines for teaching all or most of the problematic sounds or sound categories. In Chapter Six such procedures will be applied to a sound problem typical of Arabic and English.

1.5 Targeted Proficiency Level of Pronunciation ‫اﻟﻤﺴﺘﻮى اﻟﻤﺴﺘﻬﺪف‬ ‫@ﻟﺠﻮدة اﻟﺘﻠﻔﻆ‬ Instructors of pronunciation with a background in applied linguistics and/or phonetics are well aware of the major distinction between phonetics (the study of sounds as general physical units) and phonology (the study of sounds as units in the sound system of a given language) as linguistic disciplines. However, in a classroom situation or any other institution with focus on teaching pronunciation, those instructors should also be aware of the pedagogical and instructional requirements for the successful passing of knowledge and expertise to their learners. In teaching pronunciation, the distinction between sounds along the line of the phonetic and phonological contrast constitutes a major premise for the development of the overall pedagogical approach to the teaching/learning of pronunciation. Elsewhere, a formal distinction was made between phonological accent and phonetic accent (Odisho, 2003b). The former was identified as mispronunciations that resulted in a semantic change (change in meaning). For example if an Arab


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

learner of English were unable to pronounce a /p/, he would fail to distinguish the meaning of many pairs of English words such as vs. . By the same token, if an English learner of Arabic were unable to distinguish a plain /t ‫ ت‬/ = [t] from an emphatic one /7 ‫ ط‬/ = [7], he would fail to tell the difference in meaning between many pairs of words such َﺗﺒَﻊ‬followed, fig, decided” vs. = “printed, clay, duck”. Conversely, if the mispronunciations of given sounds or features did not trigger a change in meaning in the targeted language then such mispronunciations were treated as phonetic accent. One of the most appropriate examples to demonstrate phonetic accent between English and Arabic is the case of mispronouncing each other’s ‘r’. It will be shown in due course that Arabic has typically either a tap ‘r’ = [] or a rolled ‘r’ = [r], whereas English has predominantly an approximant ‘r’ [ , ] with or without some retroflexion. Usually, the replacement of an Arabic tap ‘r’ for an English approximant ‘r’ does not result in a change in meaning; the change is confined only to articulatory and phonetic mismatching. Of course, this comparison of ‘r’s excludes the failure of English speakers of Arabic in realizing the geminated (doubled) ‘r’ of Arabic, which in this instance amounts to phonological accent. In any teaching of pronunciation, the emphasis should be on overcoming mispronunciations that constitute phonological accent. This does not mean in any sense of the word that minimizing or eliminating phonetic accent is insignificant. In many professional areas of training such in broadcasting or intelligence gathering or dissemination, phonetic proficiency should receive greater significance. Attaining a native-like or near native-like proficiency in the pronunciation in any professional field be it teaching, broadcasting, intelligence and all modes of communication should be the ultimate target of the learner. More elaboration on the pedagogical and instructional significance of the distinction between phonetic accent and phonological accent will be presented in Chapter Nine.

1.6 Instructor and Learner Connection ‫@اﻻرﺗﺒﺎط ﺑﻴﻦ اﻟﻤُﻌﻠّﻢ و اﻟ ُﻤﺘَﻌﻠّﻢ‬ In the strict sense of the word, the teacher of pronunciation requires highly technical knowledge in the process of sound production and the underlying physical, aerodynamic and acoustic maneuvers. He/she must also be familiar with the recent cognitive orientations in the theories of language and education because teaching pronunciation is no longer treated here as a mechanical process. According to the approach adopted here, pronunciation is contextually embedded in the brain like the rest of the cognitive processes and activities. Additionally, one of the most neglected pedagogical and instructional principles, which is often inadvertently neglected or relegated to lesser significance, is whether the instructor has succeeded in establishing a two-way communication or connection between himself/herself and the learners. This simply means learners should know what the instructor is saying or doing when teaching pronunciation and vice versa. To establish this connection, the instructor should double check the following. First, instructor should make sure that learners know what the

General Approach and Techniques of Teaching Pronunciation


theme/activity under demonstration is. For instance, if the activity is about the phenomenon of aspiration or accentuation (stress placement), he/she should make sure that learners know what aspiration and non-aspiration and what stress and stress placement as phonetic phenomena are. It is never enough to read about those phonetic phenomena in a textbook or explain them orally in classroom situation; they rather be demonstrated practically through different sensory modalities as many times as necessary. Second, instructor should take the age of the learners into consideration and plan accordingly. It is beyond any doubt that children, in general, tend to be more adept in phonetic sensitivity and sound distinction than adults are. This difference between children and adults should compel the instructor to follow a somewhat different approach supported by diverse techniques in each case. Finally, the instructor should additionally conduct further direct and indirect assessments and probing activities to identify the type of pronunciation difficulties learners may have, especially those emerging as a result of L1 (first language) and L2 interference and plan accordingly.

1.7 Conclusions ‫اﺳﺘﻨﺘﺎﺟﺎت‬ The general approach to teaching pronunciation is premised on the direct involvement of the brain through as many cognitive processes as possible or its indirect involvement through the input received from various sensory channels. In short, pronunciation is primarily the function of the brain prior to being a set of physical maneuvers or exercises. Worded differently, an instructor of pronunciation, especially for adults, should aim at building up cognitive habits of articulation rather than mechanical ones. Consequently, the extremely common procedure of teaching pronunciation known as ‘repeat-after-me’ often fails to connect with adult learners and is ineffective because it does not invoke any cognitive stimulation and involvement, let alone it is a monosensory procedure, namely an auditory one.

Chapter II Human Speech Mechanism

‫ﺟﻬﺎز اﻟﻨﻄﻖ ﻋﻨﺪ اﻻﻧﺴﺎن‬ 2.1 Introduction Many non-human beings do have sound production mechanisms, but only human beings are endowed with a sophisticated speech production mechanism. A brief description of the most salient physical and linguistic aspects of the speech production mechanism is helpful for any learner of pronunciation and speech production. It is beyond any doubt that instructors who have some knowledge base in the nature of sound production and the mechanism underlying it are in a better position to detect sound problems and solve problems they encounter in classroom situations, especially involving ESL, bilingual and foreign language instruction. The description below is only a sketch of the mechanism underlying speech production, the primary vocal organs and cavities or resonance chambers that jointly transform vibrations and noise into harmonious speech. The term ‘vocal tract’ is a standard one covering the bent tube beginning with the glottis (vocal folds) and ending with the lips. For the production of nasal and nasalized sounds the nasal tract is added.

2.2 Vocal Organs ‫اﻻﻋﻀﺎء @اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ‬ There are several organs and cavities that all function in a harmonious manner to generate human speech. The vocal organs fall into several parts based on the function they serve. They briefly consist of 1) Energy Source: stands for the airstream mechanism typically represented by the action of the lungs which pump the air. 2) Movement and Obstruction: stand for any parts of the vocal organs that move and/or constitute an obstruction in the way of the airstream. 3) Resonance Chambers: stand for the cavities which essentially function to amplify the voice generated by the vocal folds or the noise generated by the articulators along the vocal tract beginning with the glottis and ending with the lips. The diagram in figure 2.1, below represents a schematic demonstration of human speech mechanism which will be briefly described in the following sections.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

Source of Energy

Different places & sizes of obstruction

Resonance Chambers




Figure 2.1. Schematic representation of speech production mechanism. 2.2.1 Energy Sources ‫ﻣﺼﺎدر اﻟﻄﺎﻗﺔ‬ @ @ Generally speaking, there are three main types of airstream mechanisms: pulmonic, velaric and glottalic, the latter two of which are beyond the domain of this book. The pulmonic airstream mechanism is initiated and controlled by the action of the lungs. There must be enough air in the lungs so that the air pressure is sufficient to initiate the airstream that generates vibration in the glottis (at vocal folds level) and noise, with different degrees of turbulence, in different locations along the vocal tract. 2.2.2 Movement and Obstruction ‫اﻟﺤﺮآﺔ واﻻﻋﺎﻗﺔ‬ Certain parts of the vocal mechanism have to move in order to initiate the targeted open approximations, strictures, constrictions and complete contacts both sustained (maintained for a short while as for fricatives) and ballistic (executed abruptly as for tap and flap ‘r’s). For instance, for the production of the labiodentals [f,v], the lower lip has to move in the direction of the upper incisors to make a narrow constriction for the air to be forced through it. Such conditions, as will be seen in due course, are convenient for the production of fricative sounds. It is worth noting that the tongue in its entirety is the most mobile vocal organ and is, therefore, involved in the production of most of the sounds in human speech per se. Movement and obstruction are processes that are complementary to each other because their functions are interrelated and, at times, overlapping. In terms of these two processes, all vocal organs along the vocal tract are divided into active and passive articulators. Simply, an active articulator is the part that moves to the targeted point to form the stricture, while the part that does not move or is not moving at the instant of sound production is called passive articulator. For instance, notice the action of the lips. Both lips do move, therefore, they both can function theoretically as active articulators. However, in the articulation of bilabial sounds [b, p], it is the lower lip that moves more visibly, thus playing the role of the active

Human Speech Mechanism


articulator, while the upper lip, which receives the action of the lower lip, functions as the passive articulator. Below are brief descriptions of the main parts of the vocal tract: •

Lips ‫اﻟﺸﻔﺘﺎن‬

Although the lower lip is more of an active articulator than the lower lip because it is more mobile, the lips can function independently and/or jointly between themselves and with other parts of the vocal tract such as the teeth. When functioning jointly, they yield bilabial sounds such [b p  ] as opposed to functioning with the teeth to yield labio-dental sounds such as [v f] and with the velum to yield a labio-velar sound such [w]. Additionally, they also play an important role in shaping the configuration of both the oral opening and the oral cavity, especially in the formation of vowels or any labialized consonants. •

Teeth ‫اﻻﺳﻨﺎن‬

The frontal teeth play two important roles. First, they function as the passive articulators, fully or partially, for the labiodental [f, v], interdental [, ] and the alveolar fricatives [s, z]. For instance, you cannot form the labiodentals properly without the upper incisors. Similarly, the alveolar fricatives lose their distinctive friction and sibilance in the absence of the teeth. Most notably, the latter condition is prevalent with old people and young children who have lost the frontal teeth; subsequently, their alveolar fricatives [s, z] resemble their interdentals [, ]. •

Tongue ‫اﻟﻠﺴﺎن‬

The tongue is the most mobile organ because it is made of a complex set of intrinsic and extrinsic muscles. It can move in different directions– upwards, downwards, forwards, backwards and sidewise. It can also assume different shapes– flattened, curled, shortened, elongated etc. Moreover, the connection of its muscles to other parts of the speech mechanism allows the tongue to play an important role in positioning and shaping other parts of the vocal tract and yielding a wide variety of articulatory configurations. It is the muscular flexibility and the rich innervation of the tongue that allows for the diversification of the places and manners of articulation of both consonants and vowels and determine their general and specific characteristics. In the comparative study of English and Arabic pronunciation, the latter distinguishes itself by having approximately one-third of its consonants [ ‫ح‬,  ‫ع‬,  ‫ خ‬, ‫ غ‬,q ‫ ق‬,7 ‫ ﻃ‬, 1 ‫ص‬, # ‫ض‬, ̣ ‫ ]ظ‬produced by the articulatory gesture of the back-root of the tongue in the direction of the uvula and pharynx. For ease of description, the tongue is divided into several sections all of which refine the specificity of the places and manners of articulation. The sections are:


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

Tongue Tip: ‫ﺳـﻠﺔ اﻟﻠﺴﺎن‬ َ‫أ‬

It is the front-most section of the tongue, which is the most mobile part of all. Since it is the nearest part to the alveolar ridge, the contact between the tip and the alveolar ridge is the most natural articulatory maneuver compared to the dorsum of the tongue moving upward in the direction of the palate or back of the tongue moving into the pharynx. The commonness of the alveolar ridge-tongue contact as a place of articulation explains the richness of this area for human sound production. •

Tongue Blade: ‫ﻧَـﺼﻞ اﻟﻠﺴﺎن‬

This section is directly next to the tip. Although the blade and alveolar/postalveolar contact is not as common as the tip-alveolar one, the area is still significant in the articulation of postalveolar affricates and fricatives such as [±, ®, •, ¥]. •

Tongue Center: ‫وﺳﻂ اﻟﻠﺴﺎن‬

It is the least well-defined section of the tongue. Some like to name this section of the tongue as the dorsum. Generally speaking, it is the section of the tongue that the faces the posterior part of the hard palate and the anterior part of the soft palate. •

Tongue Back: ‫ﻣﺆﺧﺮة اﻟﻠﺴﺎن‬

This is the section that faces the posterior part of the soft palate (velum) including the uvula. It has an active role in the articulation of velar [k  ] and uvular [  q] sounds. •

Tongue Root: ‫ﺟﺬر اﻟﻠﺴﺎن‬

It is the rear-most part of the tongue that faces the posterior wall of the pharynx and forms its mobile anterior wall. Its articulatory role is limited except in some Semitic languages typical of which is Arabic; however, it has a significant role in changing the shape of the vocal tract and the sizes of the oral and pharyngeal cavities thus having a significant impact on vowel quality determination. For those who are studying the vocal organs and tongue sections for the first time, the illustration in figure 2.2 may be helpful.

Human Speech Mechanism

Blade ‫اﻟﻨﺼﻞ‬

Center ‫وﺳـَﻂ‬



‫اﻟﻤﺆﺧﺮة‬ Tip ‫اﻻﺳﻠﺔ‬




Tongue ‫اﻟﻠﺴﺎن‬

Figure 2.2. Different sections of the tongue. •

Palate (‫اﻟﺤﻨﻚ )ﺳﻘﻒ اﻟﻔﻢ‬

The palate stands for the entire arch of the oral cavity beginning with the roots of the upper incisors forming the alveolar ridge and ending with the uvula. It is thus looked at as three sections: @ • ćAlveolar Ridge: ‫اﻟﻠﺜﺔ‬ The roots of the upper incisors create a ridge at the extreme anterior section of the arch known as the alveolar ridge. The remaining section of the arch comprises the hard palate and the soft palate the extreme posterior part of which is the uvula. •

Hard Palate: ‫اﻟﺤﻨﻚ اﻟﺼﻠﺐ‬

The hard palate is the anterior bony half of the arch of the mouth.. If the bony structure of the hard palate is not intact, as is the case with patients with cleft palate, the person will not be able to build up the needed oral pressure, thus leading to serious articulatory difficulties and distortions of sounds. •

Soft palate: (‫اﻟﺤﻨﻚ اﻟﻠﻴﻦ)اﻟﺮﺧﻮ‬

The soft palate, also known as the velum, represents the section of the roof. It is labeled soft because it has a muscular structure with no bone or cartilage. The further away one moves backwards from the soft palate, the softer it becomes.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

Uvula : ‫اﻟﻠﻬﺎة‬


The soft palate ends with the small fleshy cone-shaped pendulous tip called uvula . The velum, as a whole, functions as the valve that closes off or opens the nasal passage. Figure 2.3 represents a schematic illustration of the different sections of the palate or the roof of the oral cavity. 1

Hard Palate ‫اﻟﺤﻨﻚ اﻟﺼﻠﺐ‬


Alveolar ridge


Soft Palate Velum ‫اﻟﺤﻨﻚ اﻟﻠﻴﻦ‬

Uvula@ ‫اﻟﻠﻬﺎة‬


Figure 2.3. Different sections of the palate.

Nasal ‫اﻧﻔﻲ‬

@@@‫ﺣﻠﻘﻲ‬ @@@@Pharyngeal

‫@@@@@@@@@ ﺷﻔﻮي‬Labial@

@Oral ‫@@ﻓﻤﻲ‬

Vocal Folds@ ‫اوﺗﺎر ﺻﻮﺗﻴﺔ‬

Laryngeal@ ‫ﺣﻨﺠﺮي‬

Figure 2.4. Schematic representation of resonance chambers (cavities) 2.2.3 Resonance Chambers ‫@@ﺗﺠﺎوﻳﻒ )ردهﺎت( اﻟﺼﺪى‬ The chambers are cavities of different sizes and shapes that collectively contribute to amplify any voice and noise that is generated along the vocal tract. 1

Etymologically, in Latin it means ‘little grape’.

Human Speech Mechanism


Beginning with the glottis (the space between the vocal folds), the cavities arrange themselves in the following order: laryngeal, the pharyngeal, the (double-decker) oral/nasal and the less well-formed ‘labial’ cavities as demonstrated schematically in figure 2.4, above. The largest of those cavities is the oral cavity. •

Laryngeal Cavity@ ‫اﻟﺘﺠﻮﻳﻒ اﻟﺤﻨﺠﺮي‬

The larynx houses the vocal folds and is the center of voice generation through vibration. The folds, which can move in several directions and shorten or lengthen or tension and loosen themselves, determine the size of the glottis and the intensity of the frequency of the vibration. It is the degree of the opening and the intrinsic tenseness/laxness of the folds that determine the conditions of voicing and voicelessness or any other form of glottal activity. The description of the activity of the vocal folds in terms of the voicing vs. voicelessness dichotomy is a simplistic one; its activities are best described along a continuum ranging from full voicing to full voicelessness. •

Pharyngeal Cavity@@ ‫اﻟﺘﺠﻮﻳﻒ اﻟﺤﻠﻘﻲ‬

It is the section located above the larynx. Its role as a place of articulation is much less significant than the manner in which it helps with the resonance of the vibration. It also serves as the place of articulation for a few marked (less common) consonants, especially the so-called pharyngeal sounds usually marked with IPA symbols of [, ]. •

Oral Cavity@ ‫اﻟﺘﺠﻮﻳﻒ اﻟﻔﻤﻲ‬

As was mentioned earlier on, the oral cavity is the largest and, perhaps, the most acoustically convenient for sound amplification. Its size and structure coupled with the presence of the tongue in it, the oral cavity is the most convenient for sound production. From the articulatory perspective, almost all the active articulators are associated with it. Aerodynamically, it provides a wide array of conditions due to the different types of closures and strictures that can be created at different points and places along the oral cavity up to the lips. Acoustically, it constitutes a highly efficiency resonator because of its more rigid and less mucous texture. •

Nasal Cavity ‫اﻟﺘﺠﻮﻳﻒ اﻻﻧﻔﻲ‬

In contrast to the oral cavity, the nasal cavity is the poorest source of sound production. The nasal passage is simply not convenient for sound generation due to poor articulatory, aerodynamic and acoustic conditions. This explains why nasal sounds whether as consonants or vowels are very limited in human languages. In phonetic literature one can also come across the concept of a ‘labial cavity’ ‫اﻟﺘﺠﻮﻳﻒ اﻟﺸﻔﻮي‬. The reason why it is not a well-established cavity is simply


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

because it does not have a well-defined structure and shape; however, the different postures the lips can assume may qualify it for comparing and contrasting sounds, especially vowels, for which lip-position is a major parameter for their contrastive descriptions. Besides, lip protrusion and pouting does impact the acoustic quality of both vowels and consonants.

2.3 Phases of Speech Production ‫@ﻣﺮاﺣﻞ اداء اﻟﻜﻼم‬ The need for demonstrating the primary phases of human speech production is meant to explain to learners with limited knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of speech production in that speech is not confined to articulation. The full cycle of speech production in human begins and ends with cognitive phases: the conceptualization (encoding) of a blue print of the intended message and perception (decoding) of the blue print. In this introductory comparative approach to teaching pronunciation, those two phases are avoided and the focus will be on the three middle phases flanked by the two cognitive phases. Those three phases are: 1) Articulatory; 2) Aerodynamic; 3) Acoustic. Below are brief sketches of the three phases. 2.3.1 Articulatory Phase ‫اﻟﻤﺮﺣﻠﺔ اﻻداﺋﻴﺔ‬ @ This phase represents the physical gestures that active articulators take and/or assume to execute and maintain the targeted strictures. In other words, this is the phase of moving the vocal organs to narrow, constrict, obstruct or completely block the flow of airstream. All those maneuvers will result in perturbations in the airstream. In general, all the above maneuvers are captured under the most common two articulatory terms used in phonetic description, namely, place of articulation and manner of articulation. To demonstrate, in the articulation of a [b], the two lips have to come together, execute a complete closure to block the airstream completely for approximately 100ms and then suddenly release the air-pressure built up behind the bilabial closure. All those articulatory gestures are needed for the production of a stop (plosive). Unlike the [b], for the production of a [v], the lower lip has to be moved in the direction of the upper incisors, create a partial blockage (not a complete one as in [b]) that is sufficient to generate the needed pressure behind the labio-dental stricture leading to the production of a fricative sound not a stop one. 2.3.2 Aerodynamic Phase ‫اﻟﻤﺮﺣﻠﺔ اﻟﻬﻮاﺋﻴﺔ اﻟﺪﻳﻨﺎﻣﻴﺔ‬ @ The immediate result of the movement of the vocal organs in the first phase is the perturbations in air movement and the buildup of air pressure. Without a buildup of subglottal (below the vocal folds) and supraglottal (above the vocal folds) pressures, no air movement will take place and, hence, no voice or noise will be generated.

Human Speech Mechanism


With the mention of the two types of pressure– subglottal and supraglottal–, it is important for the learners to understand the dynamics that trigger vocal folds vibration. The underlying principle is known as the Bernoulli Effect according to which the high subglottal pressure forces the folds to open. With the opening, air escapes through the glottis at a high speed and causes a sudden drop in pressure in glottis that sucks the folds together again. The above activity represents once cycle of vibration whose repetition yields continued vibration. This implies that the vocal folds vibration is not an instantaneous reaction to the neuromuscular commands the brain fires; the subglottal, glottal and supraglottal aerodynamic conditions have to be convenient for the commands to be effective. 2.3.3 Acoustic Phase ‫اﻟﻤﺮﺣﻠﺔ اﻟﻔﻴﺰﻳﺎﺋﻴﺔ‬ This phase is the consequence of the above two phases. Articulators are moved and air is perturbed leading to the creation of sound waves. These waves form the acoustic phase. The air carries these waves to the ear of the listener, which are decoded as specific sounds. Sound waves can be very regular (periodic) and irregular (aperiodic). Vowels are essentially formed of periodic waves, while consonants are formed of different degrees of blending of periodic and aperiodic waves.

2.4 Conclusions Teaching pronunciation is not simply a mechanical process of asking learners to repeat after the instructor. It is a skill, as well as an art, that requires both knowledge about the underlying processes of speech production in human beings and the hands-on expertise in the methodology and techniques of teaching pronunciation It is quite common to see instructors teaching pronunciation not because they are qualified to teach it, but because they have been asked to. The two conditions that should be observed when assigning a teacher to assume the responsibility of teaching pronunciation, especially in ESL, bilingual and foreign language classes, are the knowledge base in the speech production mechanism and the real-life preparation in the methodology and techniques of teaching pronunciation.

Chapter III Confusing Linguistic Disciplines and Identities

‫اﻻﻟﺘﺒﺎس ﻓﻲ اﻻﻧﻈﻤﺔ و اﻟﻬﻮﻳﺎت اﻟﻠﻐﻮﻳﺔ اﻟﻌﻠﻤﻴﺔ‬ 3.1 Introduction This chapter will deal with some of the most common confusions in linguistic disciplines and identities that result from a traditional approach to the understanding of human language as opposed to a linguistic understanding of it. Among the linguistic disciplines of the spoken language that are confused for each other are phonics,2 phonetics and phonology. When both spoken language and its written form are jointly handled, serious confusions emerge when handling different linguistic identities such as the grapheme, phoneme and the nomeneme3 (the socalled ‘letter-name). In teaching Arabic as a native language, the traditional prescriptive approach still dominates and it reveals itself in two trends. First, the emphasis is placed on studying language as a written entity or system rather than as a spoken one. Second, as a corollary to the first point, there often arise confusions between the linguistic identities of the written and the spoken forms of Arabic. At all levels of schooling in the Arab world and at certain religious schools in the Islamic world that teach Arabic for religious purposes, instructors place more emphasis on the ‘letters of Arabic’ = ‘ ‫ ’ﺣﺮوف اﻟﻠﻐﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬than on the ‘sounds of Arabic’ = ‘‫ ‘ اﺻﻮات اﻟﻠﻐﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬and they confuse between the linguistic units in those two domains. For instance, the instructor may often say that the sound of the letter ق‬is ﻗﺎف‬. Of course, this is incorrect because ﻗﺎف‬is the name of the letter (nomeneme) rather than its sound. Its sound is represented by the first letter in the nomeneme {‫} ﻗﺎف‬the sound of which is [‫ = ق‬q], but the remaining portion of the name, i.e. the ﺎﻒ‬, has nothing to do with the sound of [‫ = ق‬q]. However, because of the plosive nature of [‫ = ق‬q], it is easier to phonetically demonstrate the sound with the help of a following vowel as in [qa, qi, qu or q, q, q] = [‫ ﻗﺎ‬, ‫ ﻗﻲ‬, ‫ ﻗﻮ‬or ‫ق‬ َ ,‫ق‬ ِ ,‫ق‬ ُ ]. In the area of vowels, the traditional term for vowels is ‘‫‘ = ’ﺣﺮوف اﻟﻌﻠّﺔ‬vowel letters’ which is restricted to only < ‫ ي‬,‫ و‬,‫>ا‬. This term excludes the short vowel sounds marked as the diacritics of < ,‫ــَـ‬ ‫ ــِـ‬,‫ > ــُـ‬and often relegates them to a secondary status in teaching pronunciation The same or similar confusions are readily attested, though to a lesser extent, in the teaching of English as a native language, especially when the traditional phonics-based ‘language arts’ approach is dominant. In the next subsections, several examples of confusions between and among letters, sounds and letter-names are cited. Foremost of such confusions is the statement that the overwhelming majority 2

It should be clarified that this study recognizes ‘phonics’ only as a discipline not as a linguistic discipline. 3 The term ‘nomeneme’ has been coined for convenience to replace ‘letter-name’. It is based on the Latin word “name” plus the suffix after the pattern of and (Odisho, 2003; 2004)


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

of the teachers of English in the elementary and high schools make in that English has five vowels and sometimes six vowels with the addition of . Such a statement, which is characteristic of phonics or traditional language arts approach, is baseless in linguistics because in all varieties of English there is a minimum range of 15-20 vowel phonemes in the form of both simple vowels and diphthongs. This chapter will handle the clarification of the above confusions in a manner that takes into consideration some basic principles of modern linguistics.

3.2 Phonics is not Phonetics or Phonology ‫ﻓﻮﻧِﻜﺲ ﻟﻴﺲ ﺑﻌﻠﻢ اﻟﺼﻮت او ﻋﻠﻢ‬ ‫@اﻟﺼﻮت اﻟﻮﻇﻴﻔﻲ‬ In any attempt to teach a language as native, second or foreign or to teach about it, there is no better alternative than the modern linguistic approach. Therefore, the linguistic approach will be considered in revealing the essential differences between the linguistic disciplines of phonetics and phonology versus the nonlinguistic tradition (practice) of phonics. This study emphatically excludes phonics from being a linguistic discipline. It is nothing but a leftover from traditional non-linguistic practices promoted through the traditional ‘Language Arts’ approach to teaching English. Phonics typically confuses the written form of language with its spoken form, consequently letters are confused with sounds and rules that are sound-based are presented to learners as letter-based ones. For instance, the rule for the use of the indefinite articles and is usually introduced as: “ is used when a word begins with a consonant and is used when the word begins with a vowel.” Such a wording for the rule is inaccurate and incomplete because it cannot account for words such and which should be preceded by an because the vowel digraph is phonetically initiated with a [j] semi-vowel or approximant which behaves as a consonant. Thus, the rule should be introduced strictly as: “ is used when a word begins with a consonant sound and is used when the word begins with a vowel sound.” Besides, phonics confuses the use of the different identities of the alphabet letters that have been identified and elaborated on elsewhere as grapheme, phoneme, and nomeneme (Odisho, 2003b; 2004). Consider for instance, the phonics approach to the identification, description and matching of English vowels as demonstrated in table 3.1. Short Vowel

Long Vowel Phonic Transcription Short Long

a a

e e

i i

o o

u u

Phonetic Transcription Short Long æ ei  i  ai  ou 


Table 3.1. Major phonetic differences between phonics-based short vs. long vowels. @

Confusing Linguistic Disciplines and Identities


Table 3.1 above, represents a set of short vs. long vowels as identified in terms of phonics against which their conversion in phonetic terms is given. The phonics matching of short vs. long vowels almost completely collapses when converted into phonetic transcription because of lack of vowel quality base for comparison in phonics as opposed to phonetics. When one looks for an answer to the drastic mismatching in phonics pairs, one discovers that its short vowels are identified on the basis of their quality and length, but its long vowels are identified on the basis of their letter-names. Quite opposite to phonics inconsistency in vowel description and matching, phonetics retains the vowel quality in its short and long vowels and only distinguishes them in length (quantity). The best example to clarify this is in the vs. pair. In phonics, this is a typical pair of short vs. vowels, whereas in phonetics the pair is a typical mismatch because in is [] and the one in is a long [i] vowel. The reason why in is treated as the long counterpart of in is simply because it is phonetically assessed on the basis of the name of the letter . For a better explanation of the faulty criterion on which phonics establishes its short vs. long matching of vowels, notice the examples in (Fox and Hull, 2002) cited in table 3.2, below to demonstrate their phonics short and long vowels. Vowel Letters a e i o u

Short Vowel Symbol ă ĕ ĭ ŏ ŭ

Key Word Apple Elephant Igloo Ox Umbrella

Vowel Letters a e i o u

Long Vowel Symbol ā ē ī ō ū

Key Word Apron Eraser Ice Overalls Unicorn

Table 3.2. The faulty criterion for matching short vs. long vowels in phonics. In order to detect the two different criteria on which phonics matching of short vs. long vowels is premised do the following. First, pronounce the vowels letters as they occur as letters in the alphabet then compare their pronunciation with the pronunciation of the short vowels as cited in the context of , you will see that the two pronunciations do not match at all. Second, pronounce the vowels letters as they occur as letters in the alphabet then compare their pronunciation with the pronunciation of the long vowels as cited in the context of , you will see that the two pronunciations do match. The reason for the matching is simply because the long vowels are identified on the basis of the letter-name (nomeneme), whereas the short are identified on the basis of their sound (phoneme). In fact, Fox and Hull do admit to the letter-name base of their phonetic assessment of the so-called long counterparts of their short vowels. They virtually state: “One set of phonemes represented by single vowel letters is those which ‘say their own name’. The key symbol for these vowels is a macron ( ¯ ).” The only conclusion here


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

is that phonics matching of short vs. long vowels violates the linguistic criteria for sound description and identification. In linguistics, the descriptive criteria (yardsticks) for comparison and contrast should be uniform. Linguistics does not allow the use of different yardsticks for the comparison or matching of the same linguistics units. What phonics does in this case is a typical example of mixing apples and oranges which is, in itself, a major difficulty for all beginner learners of English as L1 or L2. Consider other typical examples of phoneme and nomeneme confusion in phonics such as in vs. or vs. to designate phonics short vs. long . Notice, the vowels in and are phonetically transcribed as [] which is, in no way, the short counterpart of in and for two reasons. First, the vowel quality in and is long [u] which is not the phonetic long counterpart of [] as in and . Second, notice also that the vowel in and is one letter (grapheme), but two sounds (phonemes) because it is pronounced [ju] which is, in fact, a combination of a consonant (approximant) [j] followed by a long vowel [u]. Quite opposed to phonics, phonetics is a major linguistic discipline the basic units of which are sound units (phonemes) without allowing any confusion of phonemes with letters (graphemes) and/or letter-names (nomenemes). The common practice in linguistics to demonstrate the qualitative and quantitative relationship between vowels is through the use of minimal pairs and their transcription with phonetic symbols preferably those of International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) such as in table 3.3, below. Short Vowels Word Phonetic Trans. Bid [bd] Could


Long Vowels Word Phonetic Trans. Bead [bid] Cooed


Table 3.3. Shows minimal pairs that distinctly reveal the phonetic difference between relevant vowels which phonics totally conceals and confuses. Incidentally, according to phonics, the word that represents the long vowel counterpart of the vowel in would be = [baid] rather than . Obviously, this is phonetically an erroneous matching. In phonetics, words that contrast in one sound and the contrast results in a change of meaning the two sounds are known as phonemes the phonetic variants of which are known as allophones. Briefly, an allophone is a variant of a sound, whereas a phoneme is the psycholinguistic abstraction of a unit of sound under which many sounds are subsumed. Any study of sound in terms of phonemes and the manner in which they function as a system and categories or sounds within the system is called phonology

Confusing Linguistic Disciplines and Identities


‫ ﻋﻠﻢ اﻟﺼﻮت اﻟﻮﻇﻴﻔﻲ‬or the study of the sound system in a given language ‫دراﺳﺔ اﻟﻨﻈﺎم‬ ‫ اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻲ‬. It is important to point out that the sound system of a given language represents a psycholinguistic or mental construct. In other words when one says that a given language has a /p/ phoneme it simply means that this phoneme occupies a slot in the brain of the native speaker. This mental construct of the native sound system usually creates a phonetic bias against non-native sounds. Expressed differently, the gradual evolution of the phonological system of the native language seems to blunt the skills of an adult in his/her phonetic sensitivity to sounds of other languages. It is this phonological bias that often results in an accent in handling the sound systems of other languages. A significant instance of phonetic and phonological confusion by Arab learners of other foreign languages is with /p/ and /b/ sounds. Arabic is characteristically known as a ‘p’-less language; in other words, it does not have a ‘p’ sound unit or phoneme. This statement about Arabic is only phonologically true not phonetically. Phonetically, Arabic does have some ‘p’-sound variants as in English. For instance, it does have the aspirated variants as in the word اﺑﺘﺴَﻢ‬ [ptsm] “smiled” or اﺑﺘﻠﻊ‬ptl] “swallowed” and the unaspirated variant as in the Arabic rendition of the name = اﺳﺒﺎﻧﻴﺎ‬ [spanja]. Nevertheless, these variants of ‘p’ in Arabic are only phonetic variants of a ‘b’ sound that are contextually determined. Phonologically, the sound system of Arabic is void of any psycholinguistic slot for a ‘p’-sound unit. This truly explains why Arab learners of English have such a serious difficulty in mastering a ‘p’ sound. They are at a disadvantage in mastering it because ‘p’ remains psycholinguistically unrecognized in the brain of the native Arab learners of English without much cognitive and sensory training and orientation. In light of the above facts, it is feasible to say that one speaks phonetically and perceives phonologically. In other words, we produce real sounds when we speak, but when we listen to a speaker we match his/her actual sounds with the abstract entries in the psycholinguistic inventory established in the brain. This difference in the physical utterance of sounds and their abstract perception explains why a person may not be able to perceive a sound that exits phonetically in his/her speech, but is not inventoried in the brain as a phoneme.

3.3 Different Alphabet Identities: Phonemes, Graphemes and Nomenemes ‫ اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ و اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﻴﺔ و اﻻﺳﻤﻴﺔ‬:‫@اﻟﻬﻮﻳﺎت اﻟﻤﺨﺘﻠﻔﺔ ﻟﻮﺣﺪات اﻻﻟﻔﺒﺎء‬ Each alphabet within a given language represents a system of graphic communication the units of which have different specific identities which include the shapes of the letters, the sounds of the letters, the names of the letters, and the sequence of the letters (Odisho, 2004). The sequence of the letters is not much relevant in this context; therefore, the focus will be on the nature of the first three identities from the linguistic perspective with application to both Arabic and English.4 Technically, the grapheme ‫ اﻟﻮﺣﺪة اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﻴﺔ‬represents the shape of the letter,


For details on such identities, see Odisho (2004).


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

the phoneme ‫ اﻟﻮﺣﺪة اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ‬the sound of the letter and the nomeneme ‫اﻟﻮﺣﺪة اﻻﺳﻤﻴﺔ‬ represents the name of the letter ‫اﺳﻢ اﻟﺤﺮف‬. This elaboration on the linguistic identities of the alphabet units is not for theoretical purposes; indeed, those identities have applied significance as pedagogical and instructional tools of language education both orally and graphically. 3.3.1 Phonemes of Arabic and English ‫@اﻟﻮﺣﺪات اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ و اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ This identity of the alphabet characters is that of sound units. In other words, the identity deals with the phonetic value or, at times, values, of a given letter or combination of letters. When an@alphabet letter fails to stand for just one sound many discrepancies arise. Unfortunately, many alphabet systems do have those discrepancies. In such cases, sounds are represented in different ways: by assigning more than a single sound value to an existing letter, by creating a combination of letters (digraphs or trigraphs) or by adding a diacritical mark to an existing letter. For instance, in English the sounds of [] [] have no single letters to represent them; besides, both of them are represented by one digraph as in and . The sound [±] as in has many orthographic representations which cause many spelling difficulties. In the Semitic languages, vowels, especially the short ones, are designated by diacritical marks. Arabic, for instance, uses three diacritical marks as superscripts and subscripts, which are often dropped, to mark its short vowels of [], [u] and [i]. Linguistically, the study of letters (graphemes) and the rules that govern their combinations is orthography, the study of phones or sounds is phonetics and the study of phonemes is phonemics or phonology. Another important aspect of the phoneme identity of the alphabet is the confusion between the sound of the phoneme for which the given alphabet letter stands and the name of the letter (nomeneme). For instance, in English, the graphemes have the nomenemes of {ei, bee, cee}, while the phonemes they represent are different. The nomeneme {ei} may have the following phonemic representations: /æ/, /e or ei/, //, //, // and //. The nomeneme {cee} may have the phonemic values of /s/, /k/ and /±/ as in , respectively. Similarly, the alphabet letters ب‬of Arabic@carry the names of ﺑ ﺎء‬ba, ta, a>, but the sounds of [b, t, ]. As we will see in dealing with the nomenemic identity of the alphabet at different levels and domains of instruction, there are many instructors, especially those with limited or no linguistic training, who seriously confuse the phonemic and nomenemic identities of the alphabet.

Confusing Linguistic Disciplines and Identities

25 Phonemes of Arabic ‫اﻟﻮﺣﺪات اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ Compared to other languages from different families, Semitic languages, in general, have drastically different consonantal sound systems essentially for two reasons. Firstly, they heavily use places of articulation in the posterior half of the vocal tract– usually identified as the vertical dimension extending from the larynx to the uvula– to produce some significant primary articulations including the glottals [h ‫ ه‬, ‫]ﺀ‬, the pharyngeals [ ‫ ح‬,  ‫ ] ع‬and the uvulars [@ ‫خ‬, @@ ‫غ‬, q ‫] @ق‬. Secondly, they use the same region to produce some secondary articulations typically known as emphatic sounds, which in table 3.4 are represented by [‫]ظ ط ض ص‬, whereas in table 3.3 they are marked with a subscript dot under the appropriate IPA symbols in the form of [̣ 1 # 7]. As for the consonantal grapheme-phoneme consistency in Arabic, it is almost perfect except for the graphemes < ‫ >ي و ا‬which have double function of the long vowels [a u i] and the consonants أ‬for [], و‬for [w] and ي‬for [j]. All three graphemes may also serve as the base to which the diacritic of glottal stop ء‬is attached as in ئ ؤ أ‬. @ @ Altogether, Arabic has an inventory of thirty-four phonemes twenty-eight of which are consonants and six are vowels. Graphemically, those thirty-four phonemes have thirty-one symbols (core characters and diacritics) to represent them. The discrepancy is redressed by assigning a double function to < ‫>ي و ا‬. From the perspective of phoneme-grapheme consistency, the assignment of a double function to a symbol is orthographically far more convenient than the absolute absence of any specific symbol as is the case with several phonemes in English. This high level match between sounds and symbols implies a high level of phoneme-grapheme correspondence in Arabic. As detailed in Chapter Four below, the classification of consonants abides by the well-known standard three parameters of Place of Articulation, Manner of Articulation and. Voicing/voicelessness. In table 3.4 below, Arabic consonants are classified in terms of English descriptive terms and transcribed in IPA symbols. For comparison and convenience, table 3.5 represents the same consonant inventory of Arabic classified and transcribed in Arabic. It is important to draw the attention of the reader that both in English and Arabic the plosive /t/, /k/ and /p/ (only in English) are aspirated; they should be occasionally transcribed as [t] [k] and [p] to remind the learners in whose native language those sounds are unaspirated.

Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English


 

 











j l

Lateral Nasal


® 


Approxima nts



  ̣






t d 7 #

Affricate Fricative: Plain Emphatic







Plosive: Plain Emphatic



Place of Articulation




n 

Tap R-sounds: Rolled







‫ﻏﺎرﻳﺔ ﻟﺜﻮﻳﺔ‬


‫ﻋﺒﺮ اﺳﻨﺎﻧﻴﺔ‬

‫ﺷﻔﻮﻳﺔ اﺳﻨﺎﻧﻴﺔ‬

‫ﻣﺨﺎرج اﻻداء‬

‫اﺛﻨﺎ ﺷﻔﻮﻳﺔ‬

Table 3.4. Arabic consonants in IPA symbols.

‫د ت‬ ‫ضط‬




‫ﻣﺮآﺒﺔ‬ ‫ف‬



‫رﺧﻮة‬ ‫ﻣﺘﺪاﻧﻴﺔ‬

‫ﻣﻄﺒﻘﺔ‬ ‫ﻣﺮآﺰﻳﺔ‬


‫راﺋﻴﺔ‬ ‫ﻣﻜﺮرة‬

‫@ز س‬ @ ‫ص‬



‫غ خ‬

‫ي‬ ‫ل‬

‫ﺟﺎﻧﺒﻴﺔ‬ ‫اﻧﻔﻴﺔ‬

‫ذ ث‬ @ ‫ظ‬


‫ن‬ ‫ر‬ ‫ّر‬

Table 3.5. Arabic consonants in their original Arabic symbols.



Confusing Linguistic Disciplines and Identities


As for the vowel system, Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) has six vowels three of which are marked by the core characters < ‫> و ي ا‬, designating the long vowels with the diacritics < ‫ > ـ ُـ ـ ِـ ـ َـ‬designating their short counterparts as demonstrated in table 3.6, below. Vowel

Arabic Symbol


a or 


2 3

a i or 


4 5 6


‫ﻻم‬ ‫زِر‬

Phonetic Meaning Form (neg.) particle lm letter-name of (L) lam button zr






u or  u


‫زُر‬ ‫زور‬

zur zur

visit (imper.) falsehood


Arabic Word ‫ﻟَﻢ‬

Table 3.6. Arabic vowels in IPA and traditional Arabic symbols. Notice the narrow transcription of Arabic vowel ‫ ـَـ‬as []. An important fact about this vowel is its overall pronunciation in that it is a very short and somewhat centralized vowel very much unlike the English [æ] as in which tends to be relatively longer, more front and less centralized. The Arabic system is, thus, a simple three-vowel system the units of which are doubled by the application of quality (length). The short vs. long vowels of Arabic may have slightly different variants in MSA Arabic and Colloquial Arabic as indicate in table 3.6. As a corollary to the restricted vowel quality in Arabic, its diphthongs (a diphthong being a combination of two vowels that glide from one to the other) are also limited in number. In fact, some linguists treat the so-called diphthongs as combinations of simple vowels and semi-vowels (i.e., abutting vowels and semivowels) rather than as blended clusters of vocalic elements. The idea that Arabic diphthongs represent combinations is based on the assumption that Arabic /au/and /ai/ are in reality [a+u] and [a+j] as in@أو‬and أﻳﻦ‬, respectively 3.3.1. 2 Phonemes of English ‫@اﻟﻮﺣﺪات اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ The phonemes of English are not based on the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. There is a wide gap between the letter graphemes of English and its phonemes. To envisage the width of the gap consider the status of vowel letters and vowel phonemes. English has five vowel letters, but twelve simple vowel sounds and a range of three to eight diphthongs depending on the targeted variety of English (i.e., British or American). As will be shown below, Standard British English, the so-called Received Pronunciation (RP), has more diphthongs than General American English (GA). The transcription of the vowels is made with close adherence to IPA; however, the specifics of the transcription will depend on the theoretical perspective through which the differences among the units of the vowel system are perceived


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

qualitatively and quantitatively. For instance, is the difference between the vowels of and restricted only to quality or quantity or is it a combination of both quality and quantity. If the difference is thought to be only qualitative, the transcription appears as [dd] vs. [did]; if the difference is exclusively quantitative, the transcription appears as [did] vs. [did]; if, however, the difference is a combination of both, transcription is rendered as [dd] vs. [did] with the change in the vowel symbol indicating quality and the length mark [] indicating quantity. The last approach to the representation of the English vowels is adopted in this book. Table 3.7 below, displays the vowels in British English (Received Pronunciation) in IPA transcription together with appropriate key words in a context which best exemplify the vowels. No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

IPA Symbol  i  æ   o or   u  



Word Context Hit Heat Head Hat Heart hall hot hood who’d hut had (unstressed) herd



13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

a a  e  i o u

Word Context high5 how hoist hate hair here show tour

Table 3.7. Vowel phonemes of RP English. For a vowel chart of simple English vowels see the diagram in Fig. 3.1 below:


Diphthongs #13, 14 and 15 are typical of General American English, while diphthongs #16 [ei] and 18 [o] tend to be monophthongized or slightly diphthongized and transcribed as [e] and [o], respectively.

Confusing Linguistic Disciplines and Identities



u 

o    æ

 

Figure 3.1. Vowel diagram of basic simple vowels in British English As for the grapheme and phoneme status of English consonants, there are twenty-one core consonant characters, but twenty-four consonantal phonemes. Obviously, several of the phonemes do not have specific characters designated to represent them; therefore, they are represented by a combination of two or more characters (digraphs and trigraphs). There are certain digraphs which tend to be a standard part of the English orthography, such as . Unfortunately, many phonemes of English, both vowels and consonants, have multiple orthographic representations which result in serious grapheme-phoneme discrepancy. For instance, as mentioned earlier on, the sound [] is represented by no less than 14 orthographic formations. English consonants are first listed below in table 3.8 and then are tabulated in table 3.9 according to the three parameters mentioned above. No 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

IPA Phonics Symbol Symbol b b d d f f   h h ® j k k l l m m n n p p  r

Word Context bill dill fill got hot jill kill love met net pat rat

No. 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

IPA Symbols s t v w j z ±     

Phonics Symbols s t v w y z ch n sh th TH or th zh

Word Context sat tat veal wheel yes zebra chick ring shoe theme these pleasure

Table 3.8. Consonants of English in IPA and Phonics transcriptions.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

Table 3.9 represents the consonants of English in terms of the three parameters of Place of Articulation, Manner of Articulation and Phonatory status. For convenience, table 3.9 is converted into Arabic for comparison as in table 3.10.







k  ±






Lateral Nasal






t d

Affricate Fricative


p b








Place of Articulation



Table 3.9. Chart of the English consonants mapped according to their voicing/ voicelessness, place of articulation and manner of articulation. Glottal


‫ﮔ ﮐ‬ ‫ج چ‬


‫ﭪ ﻒ‬




‫ز ﺲ‬




‫ژ ش‬ ‫ﺮ‬

‫ه‬ ‫ي‬



Lateral Nasal


‫ﺪ ﺖ‬




‫ﺐ ﭗ‬







Place of Articulation




Table 3.10. Chart of the English consonants in Arabic symbols.

Confusing Linguistic Disciplines and Identities


3.3.2 Graphemes of Arabic and English ‫@اﻟﻮﺣﺪات اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﻴﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ و اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ Grapheme is the second identity of the alphabet characters; it stands for the shape of the character and its formation. Traditionally, this is the most popular identity of the alphabet, which is commonly known as letters. The grapheme is the visual identity of the alphabet characters. It is an important element in the process of reading. In fact, the matching of graphemes and phonemes is traditionally one of the first steps in the process of mastering the skill of reading. A comprehensive knowledge about the grapheme identity of the alphabet and its role in language acquisition is of extreme significance across all language skills, especially, the literacy skills of reading and writing. In the following sub-sections, a brief view of the Arabic and English alphabets will be introduced with more details coming in Chapters Ten and Eleven. Graphemes of Arabic ‫اﻟﻮﺣﺪات اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﻴﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ Arabic and English have two radically different approaches to the creation of the needed graphemes from the basic symbols available. Largely, Arabic distinctly relies on diacritics, especially dots, in creating consonants; for vowels, however, it uses non-dot diacritics. As was noticed earlier on, almost 50% of the alphabet characters are distinguished from the core characters by one, two or three dots. In fact, even in non-Arabic languages, such as Farsi, Urdu, Afghani etc, that have adopted the Arabic alphabet this trend is very strong. For instance, Farsi has modified the Arabic basic letters of ﻜ ﻒ ج ﺐ ز‬into ﮔ ڤ چ پ ژ‬to designate sounds specific to Farsi. Graphemes of English ‫@اﻟﻮﺣﺪات اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﻴﺔ اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ Quite unlike Arabic, because English is almost completely without diacritics, it axiomatically implies that it has no option other than assigning the same character more than one sound or combining two characters (rarely three) in the form of digraphs some of the most frequently used are: . 3.3.3 Nomenemes of Arabic and English ‫اﺳﻤﺎء اﻟﺤﺮوف@اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ و اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ The ‘nomeneme’ is the term used here for letter-name. Because Arabic has several diacritics, which stand for specific sounds (phonemes), the term nomeneme is broadened to include those diacritics. Although, generally speaking, nomenemes tend to contain the sound for which the grapheme stands, this is not always so as will be demonstrated. It is, therefore, essential to emphasize the fact that nomenemes are not the sounds (phonemes); they are the names of sounds. The nomeneme identity is of great significance in developing a pedagogically healthy approach to teaching language skills and sub-skills, especially spelling and, to a certain extent, pronunciation. In relating the nomeneme to spelling, it is incumbent on the investigator to redefine spelling and recognize at least two forms of it to be identified as graphic spelling and oral


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

spelling (Odisho, 2004). The former stands for the sequential shaping of the graphemes as they occur in a word, whereas the latter stands for the sequential naming of letters as arranged in a word. Thus, oral spelling is primarily the function of stating the nomenemes. Without an efficient mastery of the nomenemes of a language, especially in L2 learning situations, oral spelling may be fraught with difficulty and hesitation. As for the teaching of pronunciation, though essentially a function of the phonemic identity, the mastery of the nomenemes is of great help since they give a hint of the sound of the phoneme. Nomenemes of Arabic ‫اﺳﻤﺎء اﻟﺤﺮوف اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ A look at table 3.11, below,

‫ زاء‬or ‫زاي‬



za or zaj sin

‫ش‬ ‫ص‬ ‫ض‬ ‫ط‬

‫ﺷﻴﻦ‬ ‫ﺻﺎد‬ ‫ﺿﺎد‬ ‫ﻃﺎء‬

in 1d #d 7



IPA Transcr.

‫ﺑﺎء‬ ‫ﺗﺎء‬ ‫ﺛﺎء‬ ‫ﺟﻴﻢ‬ ‫ﺣﺎء‬ ‫ﺧﺎء‬ ‫دال‬ ‫ذال‬ ‫راء‬

Arabic Nomen.

‫ب‬ ‫ت‬ ‫ث‬ ‫ج‬ ‫ح‬ ‫خ‬ ‫د‬ ‫ذ‬ ‫ر‬


‫ أﻟﻒ‬or ‫هﻤﺰﻩ‬


IPA Transcr.

Arabic Nomen.


alf or@ hamza ba ta a ®im a a dal al ra


a 





b t  ®   d  r or  z

‫ع‬ ‫غ‬ ‫ف‬ ‫ق‬ ‫ك‬ ‫ل‬ ‫م‬ ‫ن‬ ‫ه‬

‫ﻋﻴﻦ‬ ‫ﻏﻴﻦ‬ ‫ﻓﺎء‬ ‫ﻗﺎف‬ ‫آﺎف‬ ‫ﻻم‬ ‫ﻣﻴﻢ‬ ‫ﻧﻮن‬ ‫هﺎء‬

ajn ajn fa qaf kaf lam mim nun ha

  f q k l m n h








w or u j or i

 1 # 7

Diacritics ‫ــَـ‬ ‫ــُـ‬ ‫ــِـ‬

‫ﻓَﺘﺤﻪ‬ ‫ﺿﻤّﻪ‬ َ ‫آَﺴﺮﻩ‬

fata #mm kasra

  

Table 3.11. Nomenemes and sounds of Arabic letters and diacritics

Confusing Linguistic Disciplines and Identities


indicates that the nomenemes of Arabic core letters are all in monosyllabic form except for the first one. Unlike the core letters, the nomenemes of the diacritics are exclusively bisyllabic. Interestingly, the first sound of each nomeneme of the core letters represents the sound (phoneme) for which the letter stands. Conversely, this phoneme-nomeneme association is almost exclusively missing in the case of diacritics. Nomenemes of English ‫@ اﺳﻤﺎء اﻟﺤﺮوف اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ @ In English, the nomenemes of consonants are usually– but not necessarily– coined in the form of a monosyllable containing the sound of the letter plus a preceding or following vowel element as in the nomeneme {e+l} = [+l] for the grapheme and the nomeneme {b+ee} = [b+i] for the grapheme . This pattern of coinage is highly consistent except in a few cases such as {double u} for and {aitch} for . The nomenemes of the vowels are formed based on lengthening one variety of the sound of the vowel grapheme. For instance, of all the six phonemic sounds of the grapheme (i.e., /æ/, /e or ei/, //, //, // and //), it is only /e or ei/ that is selected to stand for its nomeneme. Because there has been no standardized and formal way of transcribing the English nomenemes an attempt was made (Odisho, 2004) to transcribe them in both traditional English alphabet and IPA as reflected in table 3.12, below. Letter Nomeneme A B C D E F G H I J K L M

a bee cee dee e ef ee aitch i jay kay el em

Phonetic Letter Transcription N ei O bi P si Q di R i S f T ®i U ei± V ai W ®ei X kei Y l Z m

Nomeneme en o pee qu r es tee u vee double u eks wy zee; zed

Phonetic Transcription n ou pi kju r or  s ti ju vi dblju ks wai zi; zd

Table 3.12. Nomenemes of English transcribed in traditional English alphabet and IPA.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

3.4 Conclusions Each alphabet–with or without diacritics– within a given language represents an orthographic system or a system of visual communication with specific characteristics. These characteristics include the number of symbols it uses; the status of those symbols as autonomous core letters or diacritics attached to the core letters in the form of superscripts, subscripts or even inscripts; and the extent to which there is a match or mismatch between the symbols and the sounds. Each orthographic system is made up of segmental units with specific identities. As for the more specific identities of the minimal units of an alphabet system, they include the shapes of the letters or diacritics (graphemes), the sounds of the letters or diacritics (phonemes) and the names of the letters and diacritics (nomenemes).

Chapter IV Comparative Classification and Description of

Arabic and English Consonant Systems ‫اﻟﺘﺼﻨﻴﻒ و اﻟﻮﺻﻒ اﻟﻤﻘﺎرن ﻟﻨﻈﺎم اﻟﺼﻮاﻣﺖ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻲ و اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰي‬ 4.1 Introduction Although the consonantal systems of Arabic and English are drastically different in certain respects, they are, nevertheless, similar in other respects. For instance, Arabic is distinctly different from English, especially for the presence of its back-of-the-tract sounds. It has the uvular sounds [  q], the pharyngeal sounds [ ‫ح‬,@  ‫ ] @@ع‬as well as its emphatic sounds [7 ‫ @ط‬,@ # ‫ @ض‬,@ 1 ‫ @ص‬,  ̣‫ ] ظ‬that render the overall sound system of Arabic and its pronunciation immensely unlike English; besides, those sounds collectively determine the nature of the articulatory setting of Arabic and gives it its overall distinctive acoustic impression. For English learners of Arabic, the failure to master those sounds constitutes the most significant source of both phonetic and phonological difficulties. Except for the ‘r’s, most of the remaining sounds in table 4.1 below are, more or less, identical or quite similar to those of English.

b p t d k  *

t d k *  ® ± f * 

j ch f v Th

® ± f v 

13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

IPA Symbols

b p t d k  *

English Symbols

IPA Symbols


IPA Symbols

English Symbols

‫ب‬ * ‫ت‬ ‫د‬ ‫ك‬ *6 ‫ء‬ ‫ج‬ * ‫ف‬ * ‫ث‬


Arabic Symbols

IPA Symbols

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Arabic Symbols


‫ذ‬ ‫ز‬ ‫س‬ ‫ش‬ * ‫و‬ ‫ي‬ ‫ل‬ ‫م‬ ‫ن‬ * ‫ر‬

 z s  *


 z s   w j l m n  

w j l m n * r or 

z s sh * w y l m n n r

Table 4.1. Extent of similarity between Arabic and English sounds. 6

Asterisks indicate absence of sounds and/or standardized symbols representing them.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

The only serious mismatch from the English perspective is the absence of a few of its sounds in Arabic and the slight phonetic difference with others. @ For instance, English sounds [p,v, , ±,  ,  ] have no counterparts in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA); however, [, ±, ] may exist in some major Arabic dialects which renders their acquisition by native Arab learners of English somewhat easier. The most problematic of all those sounds is /p/ = [p]. As will be seen in due course, the absence of this sound in Arabic does not only create one the most striking examples of phonetic and phonological mispronunciation, it, in fact, amounts to the most striking pronunciation distortion of English by native speakers of Arabic. In the next subsections, the consonants of Arabic will be dealt with in categories of manner of articulation in the following order: plosives, affricates, fricatives, approximants and r-sounds.

4.2 Basic Principles for Consonant Classification and Description (‫@اﻻﺳﺲ اﻟﺮﺋﻴﺴﻴﺔ ﻟﺘﺼﻨﻴﻒ و وﺻﻒ اﻟﺼﻮاﻣﺖ)اﻟﺴﻮاآﻦ‬ The common three-label description (identification) of consonants is based on the three parameters of phonatory status, place of articulation, and manner of articulation which respectively identify whether the sound is voiced or voiceless, where the sound is produced and how the sound is produced. Each of the three parameters will be explained briefly in the following subsections. 4.2.1 Phonatory Status ‫اﻟﻮﺿﻊ اﻟﺬﺑﺬﺑﻲ‬ This parameter is called ‘phonation’ for convenience and it simply classifies sounds into ‘voiced’@‫ ﻣﺠﻬ ﻮر‬versus ‘voiceless’@‫ﻣﻬﻤ ﻮس‬. Voiced sounds are the ones which are accompanied with vocal folds vibration, whereas voiceless are the ones without vibration. Generally speaking, a sound has either to be voiced or voiceless or at least partially voiced or partially voiceless. Phonatory status is one of the most universal and comprehensive phonetic parameters for sound classification and identification. All languages have several minimal pairs of sounds the distinction of which is based on the presence versus absence of voicing such as: [b v  d z ®    ] vs. [p f  t s ± k  ], respectively. 4.2.2 Place of Articulation ‫ﻣﺨﺮج اﻻداء‬ The place of articulation simply indicates where along the vocal tract a stricture, constriction or obstruction is created. Places of articulation represent a continuum that begins with the lips and ends with the glottis. As shown schematically in figure 4.1, below, some of the places of articulation tend to have a, more or less, horizontal position whereas others tend to have a vertical position.

Comparative Classification and Description of Arabic and English Consonant Systems 37

Horizontal dimension








Vertical Dimension


Figure 4.1. Horizontal and vertical places of articulation The above horizontal and vertical parameters combine in yielding several wellidentified places of articulation. Some of the most common and standard places of articulation are ones below. The examples of sounds given against each place of articulation are applicable to English and Arabic. Obviously, almost each articulatory location has more than the examples cited. • Bilabial = ‫ اﺛﻨﺎ ﺷﻔﻮي‬. Two lips come together and produce sounds such as: [b p]. • Labio-dental = ‫ ﺷﻔﻮي اﺳ ﻨﺎﻧﻲ‬. Lower lip approaches the upper teeth and produces sounds such as [f v]. • Inter-dental = ‫ ﻋﺒ ﺮ اﺳ ﻨﺎﻧﻲ‬. Lower and upper teeth are brought near each other with the tip of the tongue placed at or past the biting edge of the upper teeth and produce sounds such as: [ ]. • Alveolar = ‫ ﻟﺜ ﻮي‬. Tongue tip or blade interacts with the alveolar ridge forming different degrees of contacts. This location is one of the most universal places of articulation and it, hence, yields the greatest number of sounds in many languages such [t,d, s, z, l, r, n,] etc. • Post-alveolar = ‫ ﺧﻠ ﻒ ﻟﺜ ﻮي‬. This not a rich place for sound production; however, there are a few common sounds that belong to the location. These sounds are the result of the tongue blade and/or its anterior part approaching the posterior part of the alveolar ridge and the anterior two-thirds of the hard palate to


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

produce the affricates [±] and [®] and the fricatives [•] and [¥]. • Palatal = ‫ ﻏ ﺎري‬. Middle of the tongue usually approaches the highest section of the hard palate to produce sounds such as the approximant [j] and the palatal plosives [ c ch ] which are typical of languages such as Turkish, Hungarian (Magyar), Greek, Farsi and (Aramaic) Modern Assyrian. • Velar = ‫ ﻃَﺒﻘ ﻲ‬. Back of the tongue approaches the soft palate (velum) and produce sounds such as: [k   x ]. Beyond the velar place of articulation, only few languages manipulate the remaining portion of the vocal tract especially for the production of consonants. Foremost among the few languages that manipulate the back of the vocal tract are the Semitic languages, especially Arabic. • Uvular = ‫ @َﻟ َﻬ ﻮي‬. Back-root of the tongue is withdrawn backward and upward to approach the uvula. As indicated above, this is not a very common place of articulation, but it is characteristic of the Semitic languages. Typical sounds here are the uvulars [, , q]. • Pharyngeal =‫ ﺣﻠﻘ ﻲ‬. Root of the tongue is pushed back into the pharynx to be near its posterior wall to create the necessary narrowing. In phonetic training, the most commonly practiced sounds are the voiceless and voiced pharyngeal fricatives [, ]. Like the uvulars, the pharyngeals are characteristic of the Semitic languages. Modern Aramaic and Modern Hebrew either have lost those pharyngeals or have replaced them by other sounds. • Glottal (laryngeal) = ‫ ﺣﻨﺠ ﺮي‬. As a place of articulation, this is a very rare location. Of the most well known sounds produced in this location are the voiceless glottal fricative [h] and the glottal stop [], the latter of which is commonly used in Arabic both standard and dialectal. 4.2.3 Manner of Articulation ‫َﻧﻤَﻂ اﻻداء‬ This parameter stands for how the airflow along the vocal tract is obstructed or what type of obstruction is created for the air to flow through. However, this definition may be too simple to cover all of the different ways in which obstructions or modifications of airflow are effected. A schematic representation of each manner of articulation of some of the most common manners of articulation is demonstrated in figure 4.2, below. Notice that even vowels are accommodated within this schematic diagram of the different manners of articulation as the sounds with the most open approximation.

Comparative Classification and Description of Arabic and English Consonant Systems 39


‫ اﻟﺸﺪﻳﺪة‬Stops/Plosives



‫ اﻟﻤﺮآّﺒﺔ‬Affricates



‫ اﻻﺣﺘﻜﺎآﻴﺔ‬Fricatives




‫ اﻟﻤﺘﺪاﻧﻴﺔ‬Approximants


‫ ﺟﻤﻴﻊ اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ‬All vowels

Figure 4.2. Schematic representation of the manner of articulation for the major categories of sounds (consonants and vowels). .(‫ ﺗﻤﺜﻴﻞ ﺗﺨﻄﻴﻄﻲ ﻻﻧﻤﺎط اﻻداء ﻟﻜﻞ اﻻﺻﻮات ) اﻟﺼﻮاﻣﺖ و اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ‬. 4.2 ‫ﺷﻜﻞ‬ Concerning figure 4.2, several points are noteworthy. The five manners of articulation: stop, affricate, fricative, approximant, vowel, which are based on the nature of the stricture, are arranged in terms of the size of the stricture and the degree of obstruction of the airstream. Stop/plosive represents maximum stricture (hence maximum obstruction) while approximants and vowels represent minimum stricture. The size of the stricture is determined by the degree to which the active and passive articulators are brought together for a relatively sustained stricture. Some of the sounds that do not fit into the above schematic diagrams are the tap, flap and trill ‘r’s which will be dealt with elsewhere. The active articulator stands for any part of the vocal tract that moves in the direction of another part, whereas the passive articulator stands for either the part that does not move or is stationary at the instant of articulation. The straight line in each category of manner of articulation represents the passive articulator and the bent line (except in the case of plosives which do not have a bent line because the contact is sealed and airflow is completely obstructed) represents the active articulator. The different patterns of interaction between the two articulators determine the articulatory manner of its production. The most common manners of articulation are the following: • Stop or Plosive = (‫ اﻟﺸ ﺪﻳﺪة )اﻻﻧﻔﺠﺎرﻳ ﺔ‬: These are sounds with a complete contact between the active and passive articulators and the contact is sustained for a short time– usually about 100 ms. The contact is released suddenly leading to a plosion which explains its label as ‘plosive’. Its label as ‘stop’ is associated with the complete stoppage of airflow.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

Affricate = ‫ اﻟﻤﺮآّﺒ ﺔ‬: These are sounds that are initiated with a complete contact, but ended with gradual release of the contact unlike the plosives which have a sudden release. Occasionally, in teaching learners to master these affricates it is helpful to describe them as two sounds: a ‘stop’ that is coalesced into a ‘fricative’.

Fricative = ‫ اﻻﺣﺘﻜﺎآﻴ ﺔ‬: These are sounds that do not actually have a real contact; they simply have a narrow stricture or a close approximation between the articulators allowing the airstream to force itself through a narrow opening causing perceptible noise or friction.

Approximant = ‫ اﻟﻤُﺘﺪاﻧﻴ ﺔ‬: These sounds are the result of wide opening or the socalled open approximation, which allows the airstream to flow freely without causing any friction. Traditionally, such sounds were known as semivowel and frictionless continuant and glides and liquids [j, w, l, ]. In Odisho (1988b), the approximants were presented to include the nasals in addition to glides and liquids. This broader description of approximants is applied in this study.

Occasionally, in applying the manner-of-articulation parameter, some more refined specifics are inevitable for the sake of descriptive accuracy. For example, if a /p/ sound is aspirated and the aspiration is a phonologically significant feature, a four-label description as voiceless aspirated bilabial plosive will be required to signal the difference between /p/ and the voiceless unaspirated bilabial plosive/p/. Even if aspiration is not phonologically relevant, it may be a feature worthy of emphasizing and bringing it to the attention of the learners to avoid, or at least minimize, the phonetic accent and improve the overall accuracy of pronunciation. Such cases are typical with English and Arab learners of languages such as Greek or Spanish in which the plosives /p, t , k / tends to be unaspirated, whereas the English and Arabic ones tend to be aspirated. Although an attempt will be made to adhere, as much as possible, to the above three parameters, occasional detailed descriptions or the addition of another parameter will not be excluded.

4.3 Comparison of Major Arabic and English Sound Categories ‫@ﻣﻘﺎرﻧﺔ اﻟﻤﺠﻤﻮﻋﺎت اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ اﻟﺮﺋﻴﺴﻴﺔ ﻓﻲ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ و اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ In the following subsections, comparisons will be conducted between the major categories of sounds with different manners of articulation. 4.3.1 Arabic and English Plosives ‫@اﻻﺻﻮات اﻟﺸﺪﻳﺪة اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ واﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ Arabic has eight plosive [b, d, t, k, #, 7 , q, ] and English has six [p, b, t, d, k, ]. Missing among the English plosives are the equivalents of the

Comparative Classification and Description of Arabic and English Consonant Systems 41

Arabic emphatics [# ‫ ﺾ‬, 7 ‫]ﻄ‬, the uvular [q ‫ ]ﻖ‬and the glottal stop [ ‫ ]ﺀ‬although the last one does exist in some non-standard dialects of English such as the Cockney dialect of London. Conversely, missing in Arabic are the English plosives [p, ], the former of which is a major cause of mispronunciation. A summary of all plosives in Arabic and English and their IPA symbols and descriptions is in table 4.2. Plosives

Arabic IPA Symbols * 7

Phonetic Description

Bilabial ‫ب‬




t 8



‫د‬ ‫ض‬

d #



Voiceless Aspirated Voiceless unaspirated emphatic Voiced Voiced Emphatic Voiceless Aspirated


Velar Uvular

* ‫ق‬




Voiceless unaspirated Voiceless (unaspirated)

English/ Phonetic IPA Description Voiceless p Aspirated Voiced b t

Voiceless aspirated

* d *



Voiceless Aspirated Voiced

 * *

Table 4.2. Comparison of Arabic and English plosives. 4.3.2 Arabic and English Affricates ‫اﻻﺻﻮات اﻟﻤﺮآﺒﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ و اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ This is a very restricted comparison since MSA has only one affricate, a voiced post-alveolar one [®], while English has two post-alveolar affricates, a voiceless post-alveolar affricate [±] and voiced post-alveolar affricate [®]. In spite of the absence of [±] in SA, some of its main dialects –such as Iraqi Arabic– do have the sound which makes the transition of the Iraqi Arab learners to this sound of English almost without difficulty. In fact, the Farsi rendition of the Arabic alphabet has created the symbol چ‬to stand for [±]. Table 4.3 is a schematic summary of the above information on the affricates. 7

Asterisks indicate absence of sounds. For a phonetic transcription of aspirated sounds using Arabic symbols, the following are suggested: ﺖ‬and ﻚ‬



Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

Affricate PostAlveolar

Arabic IPA Symbols ‫ج‬ ® (‫)چ‬



Phonetic Description Voiced Voiceless

English/ Phonetic IPA Description Voiced ® ±


Table 4.3. Comparison of Arabic and English affricates. 4.3.3 Arabic and English Fricatives ‫@اﻻﺻﻮات اﻻﺣﺘﻜﺎآﻴﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ و اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ Both Arabic and English are relatively rich in fricative sounds; however, Arabic has two less common (marked) fricatives, the uvulars [ ‫ خ‬,  ‫ ]غ‬and two rare (highly marked) fricatives, the pharyngeals [ ‫ ح‬,  ‫ ]ع‬located in the posterior (back) half of the vocal tract. In fact, the pharyngeal fricatives are some of the rarest sounds produced by the pulmonic (lungs) airstream mechanism. They are some of the most challenging sounds used in the articulatory training of students specializing in speech sciences. Unlike, Arabic, English has most of its fricatives in the anterior (front) half of the vocal tract and all of its fricatives are highly common (unmarked). A summary of all fricatives in Arabic and English and their IPA symbols and descriptions is in table 4.4. A quick look at table 4.4 below, clearly shows the blank cells in English indicating the absence of back-of-the tract fricatives [   ] which constitutes one of the most difficult block of Arabic sounds for any foreign learner of Arabic. As for the Arab learners of English fricatives, there is hardly any difficulty except for [] as in and . Fortunately, Arabic has the interdental fricatives [ ]; therefore, these fricatives, which are the source of one of the most readily detectable phonetic and phonological mispronunciation of English by foreigners, are not problematic for Arab learners of English. Foreign learners of English, whose phonology does not contain the pair [ ], tend to replacing the pair either by the pair [t d], as in Polish and Turkish, or the pair [s z], as in French and Japanese, depending on the phonology of the native language.


Exists only in dialects

Comparative Classification and Description of Arabic and English Consonant Systems 43

Fricatives LabioDental InterDental

Arabic IPA Phonetic Symbols Description * ‫ف‬























Voiceless Emphatic


Alveolar * PostAlveolar

English/ Phonetic IPA Description Voiced v

Voiced Voiceless









Pharyngeal ‫ع‬








Voiceless (unaspirated)





Table 4.4. Comparison of Arabic and English fricatives 4.3.4 Arabic and English Approximants ‫اﻻﺻﻮات اﻟﻤﺘﺪاﻧﻴﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ و اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰي‬ There are three differences between the approximants of Arabic and English. First, English has the nasal [], which is absent in Arabic. Second, the ‘tap’ or ‘rolled’ nature of ‘r’s in Arabic excludes them from being approximants; they fall into a special category of sounds named technically as ‘unsustained’ and for convenience as ‘R-sounds’ (Odisho, 2003b). Third, the approximant nature of English ‘r’, as opposed to the tap and rolled Arabic ‘r’s, creates a distinct problem in the form of a phonetic accent for Arab learners of English. A summary of all fricatives in Arabic and English and their IPA symbols and descriptions is in table 4.5, below. Since all approximants are voiced, this feature is not marked in the table.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English







er ‫م‬m





(‫( )و‬w)




Palatal Arabic













Central ‫ و‬w w







Table 4.5. Comparison of Arabic and English approximants

4.4 Conclusions An accurate description and categorization of consonants is helpful in perceiving, recognizing and producing sounds across languages. The above comparisons of Arabic and English sounds highlight some major differences between the two languages as well as major similarities. Teachers who do not possess a sophisticated training and expertise in phonetic sciences and the intricacies of pronunciation may be vulnerable to unintended negligence or inadvertent confusion of phonetic phenomena. Such teachers will certainly fail to instruct the learners properly in the cross-language art of pronunciation. I have repeatedly come across students of native English background majoring in Spanish who are still unable to produce typical unaspirated Spanish [ptk] or a Spanish tap ‘r’ [] and trilled ‘r’ [r]. Simply, teachers who are unable to pronounce unfamiliar sounds of other languages are not expected to be able to teach them. In other words, they are not qualified to handle some intricacies of cross-language pronunciation.

Chapter V Comparative Classification and Description of Arabic and

English Vowel Systems ‫اﻟﺘﺼﻨﻴﻒ و اﻟﻮﺻﻒ اﻟﻤﻘﺎرن ﻟﻨﻈﺎم اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻲ و اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰي‬ @

5.1 Introduction A global perspective for vowel description rests on two phonetic parameters or attributes which are vowel quality and vowel quantity. Quality stands for the overall articulatory, acoustic or impressionistic timbre or coloring of a given vowel which is determined by the combination of phonetic variables such as location of the vowel in the vocal tract, size of the stricture, shape of the lips, role of the nasal passage, tenseness or laxness of the overall articulatory musculature etc. For instance, the vowels [  æ  i a o] are all qualitatively different. Quantity is a much less complicated concept; it simply stands for the length of the vowel as short vs. long. In comparative pronunciation studies the concept of half-long vowels turns out to be equally valid and practical as is the case of Spanish and English vowels. Thus, in some languages, such as Arabic, vowel quality is very limited; in fact only three qualities of [a, i, u]. Consequently, in order to increase the number of vowels the parameter of quantity (length) is activated to double the number of vowels through short vs. long contrasts. A more comprehensive approach to the description and classification of vowels is premised on a combination of several other factors which yield the three primary classificatory parameters. These three parameters are: tongue position (yielding front, back and center vowels), tongue height (yielding high, low and mid vowels) and lip position (yielding rounded and unrounded). For more specific descriptions we may need the parameter of tense (long) vs. lax (short).

5.2 Principles of Vowel Classification and Description ‫اﺳﺲ وﺻﻒ‬ ‫اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ‬ In the following subsections, some of the most common parameters creating vowel contrasts and description will be briefly introduced. 5.2.1 Tongue Position Contrasts ‫اﻟﺘﻀﺎد اﻟﻤﺒﻨﻲ ﻋﻠﻰ ﻣﻮﻗﻊ اﻟﻠﺴﺎن‬ The location or position of the tongue during vowel production refers to the place of the primary stricture that is formed by the overall tongue body assuming a position in relation to the vocal tract. In other words, if the bulk of the tongue is positioned in the posterior part of the oral cavity, the vowel is named as a back vowel (Fig. 5.1/a). Conversely, if the bulk of the tongue is positioned in the center or


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

in the anterior part of the oral cavity then the vowels are known as central or back, respectively (Fig. 5.1/b/c). In sum, the primary three locations of the tongue in relation to the overall vocal tract will result in the features of front, center and back as for the English vowels / i,  /, /  / and / o, u /, respectively. 5.2.2 Tongue Stricture Contrasts ‫@@@اﻟﺘﻀﺎد اﻟﻤﺒﻨﻲ ﻋﻠﻰ ﺗﻀﻴﻴﻖ ﻓﺘﺤﺔ اﻟﻠﺴﺎن‬ This parameter is based on the degree of tongue nearness or distance from the targeted area of the vocal tract. In other words, it stands for the width or narrowness of the stricture that is formed because of the proximity of the tongue to the upper wall of the oral cavity (palate) and the posterior wall of the pharynx as indicated by the solid and dotted lines of the schematic diagrams in figure 5.1, below. In describing those different degrees of proximity, two systems have developed. First, the one that uses four degrees of proximity: close, half-close, halfopen and open, which has been an IPA convention and more popular in Britain than in the United States. Second, the one that uses three points: high, mid and low, which is more common in the United States. Recently, IPA has adopted the following labels: close, close-mid, open-mid and open (1999), which seems to be a blending of the two descriptive systems. 5.2.3 Labial Posture Contrasts ‫@ اﻟﺘﻀﺎد اﻟﻤﺒﻨﻲ ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﺸﻜﻞ اﻟﺸﻔﻮي‬ This will account for the overall lip configuration in terms of the degree of rounding or spreading. A more general description will be in terms of the features rounded vs. unrounded; most linguists prefer the three-feature description of spread, neutral and rounded.

Comparative Classification and Description of Arabic and English Vowel Systems


5.1/a Back Vowel

5.1/b Central Vowel

5.1/c Front Vowel Figure 5.1a/b/c. Tongue locations and tongue strictures. Dotted lines indicate a wider stricture

5.3 Comparative Arabic and English Vowel Systems ‫ﻧﻈ ﺎم اﻟﺼ ﻮاﺋﺖ‬ ‫اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ و اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ اﻟﻤﻘﺎرن‬ @

Based on the above parameters of vowel description, Arabic and English have two extremely different systems not only in the number of contrastive vowels that each system has, but also in the dynamics that govern the two systems. The latter aspect of the difference between the two languages plays an extremely important role in creating serious difficulties in the way of mastering each other’s system. The difficulties are not exclusively confined to the qualitative and quantitative differences in vowels systems; the dynamics that govern those differences are equally important as the source of difficulty. It is those dynamics that create the intimate connection between vowel systems and syllable structures thus determining the overall stress placement rules and resulting rhythmic patterns.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

5.3.1 Arabic Vowel System ‫ﻧﻈﺎم اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻲ‬ @ Arabic, like English, is the native language of a large population inhabiting a very large area. Consequently, Arabic has a wide range of different regional, social and ethnic dialects. Some familiarity with a few most salient linguistic characteristics of the dialects is important for any learner of Arabic because even the so-called MSA is regionally influenced by those dialects. In fact, one can easily distinguish among different standard varieties of Arabic such as Iraqi Standard Arabic, Egyptian Standard Arabic and Lebanese Standard Arabic etc. These standard varieties are not only different in segmental (consonants and vowels) pronunciation, but also in the overall rhythm and melody. One typical deviation of the dialects away from MSA is the enhancement of the basic three vowel-quality system into a five vowel-quality one by adding the mid vowels of [e] and [ο] as in Fig. 5.2/a and 5.2/b, below




u o

e a


Fig. 5.2/a. Typical three-vowel system of MSA.

Fig.5.2/bTypical five-vowel system of major Arabic dialects

These two vowels seem to have emerged as an outcome of internal vowel dynamics specifically in the form of mutual interaction between two adjacent vowels or two components of a diphthong leading to a vocalic contraction and the emergence of new vowels as demonstrated in Fig. 5.3.a/b, below. i



u o

e a

Fig. 5.3/a


Fig. 5.3/b

Figure 5.3/a/b. New vowels emerging due to diphthong contractions.

Comparative Classification and Description of Arabic and English Vowel Systems


The three simple vowels of Arabic as shown in figure 5.3/a usually combine in producing the diphthongs [ai] and [au]. Figure 5.3/b shows the monophthongization tendency which leads to a contraction between the two components of the Arabic ‘diphthongs’. The contraction in the first diphthong breeds a vowel quality that is exactly half-way between the [a]  [i] dimension, while the contraction in the second diphthong breeds another vowel quality that is exactly half-way between [a]  [u] dimension. It is in this manner that most of the instances of [e] and [o] vowels emerged in Arabic. In fact, this manner of vowel creation, due to vowel contraction in diphthongs is a common phonetic phenomenon for vowel enhancement in many languages. See Odisho (1988b) for Neo-Aramaic. Word Meaning SA in IPA ‫ﺑَﻴﺖ‬ house bajt ‫ﺑَﻴﻦ‬ between bain

DA in IPA bet ben




























o or o 10





Table 5.1. Vowel contraction in Arabic and creation of mid vowels [e] and [o]. The words in table 5.1, above, give some examples from the Arabic dialect of Baghdad in which the non-SA vowels [e, o] appear. Thus, the above enhancement of vowel quality, through this characteristic of the Arabic dialects, does, somewhat, help Arab learners of English in handling more English vowels. Nevertheless, the system remains restricted in quality compared to English. Essentially, it is a simple triangular system of maximally differentiated vowels of /i,u,a/. As a corollary to the restricted vowel quality in Arabic, its diphthongs are also limited in number. This is why some linguists are reluctant to accept the existence of diphthongs in Arabic. More elaboration on this aspect is forthcoming when a comparative discussion of the diphthongs is conducted.


[o ] is the pronunciation in the Eastern Arabic dialects, while [o] is typical of Western Arabic dialects.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

5.3.2 English Vowel System ‫ﻧﻈﺎم اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰي‬ The two major varieties of English are the British English (the so-called Received Pronunciation usually abbreviated as RP) and the American English (known as General American English usually abbreviated as GAE). Both are rich in vowels, both simple and diphthongs. They have a range of 11-12 simple vowels which are: / i /, /  /, / e /, /  /, / æ /, /  /, /  /, / o/, /  /, / u /, /  /, and /  / as in . 5.3.3 English Diphthong System ‫@ﻧﻈﺎم اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻟﻤﺮآﺒﺔ اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰي‬ As for the diphthongal differences between the two varieties of English, they are also relatively important because the differences enhance the overall vocalic variation. The dynamics that determine the variation are part of the overall phonetic and phonological divergence over the years between RP and GA. For a demonstration of those diphthongs see Chapter Three.

5.4 Centripetal vs. Centrifugal Vowel Systems ‫ﻧﻈﺎم اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻟﺘﻤﺮآﺰي و‬ ‫@ﻧﻈﺎم اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻟﺘﻨﺎﻓﺮي‬

@ @ In a major study of the nature of vowel systems, it was concluded that languages develop vowel systems that place themselves along a continuum one the extreme end of which is occupied by a centrifugal vowel systems and the other extreme by a centripetal vowel systems with other systems falling in between the two extremes (Odisho, 1992; Odisho, 2003b). Thus, English has a system that tolerates a wide variety of vowels ranging from very lax (short) to very tense (long). Such a vowel system is best labeled as centripetal, wherein the vowels have a strong tendency to move to the center of the vowel area where schwa is located. By contrast, the Spanish vowel system, in which the vowels are located near the periphery of the vowel area and resist any movement to the center, is best labeled as centrifugal. This type of vowel system is usually without a schwa vowel. In comparison with the English and Spanish vowel systems, the Arabic system, with three vowel qualities that are doubled by length with minimum change in quality fits somewhere half-way between the Spanish centrifugal system and the English centripetal one. These major underlying differences between different vowel systems have immense impact on the nature of stress placement, vowel quality and quantity change and overall rhythm system. Any study of comparative pronunciation without giving ample consideration to these significant phonetic and phonological features will be a very deficient and highly ineffective.

5.5 Conclusions@ Vowels, in general, are more difficult to describe particularly in terms of their place and manner of articulation simply because vowels, as opposed to consonants, are neither contact sounds nor close approximation ones. In other words,

Comparative Classification and Description of Arabic and English Vowel Systems


the description of vowels is more based on the overall tongue configuration than on a well-defined localized contact or approximation. This nature of vowels makes their learning and teaching, in general, somewhat more challenging than that of consonants. The instructor may have difficulty in manipulating the visual and kinesthetic modalities of instruction, which entails the need for more auditory and perceptual techniques in addition to the visual techniques such as those of lip positions and shapes that are typically helpful.

Chapter VI

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Consonantal Systems ‫ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻟﺴﻤﺎت اﻟﻤﻤﻴﺰة ﻟﻨﻈﺎم اﻟﺼﻮاﻣﺖ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻲ و اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰي‬ 6.1 Introduction The individual consonants or consonant categories of Arabic selected for teaching will abide by the sequence of their presentation in Chapter Four: plosives, affricates, fricatives, approximants and trills or taps. Certainly, not all sounds of the above categories are considered because several of them are not at all problematic. Besides, where necessary, some adjustments will be made to produce a more comprehensive approach for teaching. For instance, the four Arabic emphatics will be taught as one group regardless of the fact that two of them are plosives [7 #] and the other two fricatives [1 ̣]. The reason for clustering them together is that the overall approach to teaching them tends to be the same. It should also be pointed out that a detailed application of the sensory and cognitive modalities and techniques of teaching will only be applied to selective categories of consonants, vowels or other prosodic features.

6.2 Teaching of Plosives ‫ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻻﺻﻮات اﻟﺸﺪﻳﺪة‬ The following subsections will handle some techniques of comparative teaching of plosives that are difficult for either English learners of Arabic or vice versa. 6.2.1 Techniques of Teaching Arabic Emphatics ‫ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻻﺻﻮات اﻟﻤﻔﺨﻤﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ @ The emphatic sounds are typical of the Semitic languages especially Arabic which has four of them [̣ ‫ظ‬, 1 ‫ص‬, # ‫ ض‬, 7 ‫]ط‬. The overall production of such sounds involves the superimposition of a secondary tongue backing feature on the overall primary front articulatory configurations of the plain sounds of [ ‫ذ‬, s ‫س‬, d ‫د‬, t ‫]ت‬. The resulting complex articulatory configuration renders their pronunciation difficult and their teaching to FL or L2 learners even more so. In an early attempt at teaching the Arabic emphatics to foreign learners of Arabic it was made clear that their teaching is more manageable to learners whose languages have [a] and [] or [æ] and [] vowel contrasts together with the plain sounds /t d  s/ the latter being the phonetic base from which the Arabic emphatics are modified (Odisho, 1981). This requirement puts the native speakers of English in a favorable position. When /t d  s/, in English and Arabic, are followed by /æ or a/ vowel they


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

are phonetically almost identical in both languages. When /d  s/ are followed by // vowel, they are very similar to the Arabic emphatics because // vowel is pharyngeal in terms of the location of its relevant stricture (Fant, 1968) which is the lowest and most back vowel location without pharyngeal friction; in fact, pharyngealization may be considered as the superimposition of this vowel quality (Ladefoged, 1982: 211). Because Arabic emphatics are typically pharyngealized consonants, therefore, the pronunciation of plain /d  s/ followed by // vowel renders them highly pharyngealized and much like the Arabic emphatics. In light of the articulatory nature of vowel //, or any other language-specific vowel that is near to it in quality such as //, one can easily use this vowel quality to generate sounds that are back, low and pharyngealized much similar to Arabic emphatics. Thus, English words , , , and , which contain // vowel, are more similar to Arabic words with emphatics such as: < ‫ ﺻﻚ‬, ‫ﺿﻢ‬, ‫ ﺿﻞ‬, ‫ﺻﺐ‬, ‫ > ﺻﺪ‬than to words such ﺳﺪ‬which contain the plain counterparts of the above Arabic emphatics. Notice that the emphatic ط‬is excluded from the rest because it is an unaspirated sound and it cannot be directly created by placing the aspirated English [t] next to an [] or [] vowel. Doing this will produce an aspirated emphatic [7] which is very much unlike Arabic ط‬. Consequently, for the latter sound one needs to train learners to produce a deaspiration maneuver. If the learner comes from a language background in which an unaspirated [t] is distinctive, then one has to place it next to the recommended vowels, [a] vs. []. In the absence of a distinctive unaspirated [t], as is the case in English, one may resort to the typical consonant cluster of [s+t] as in and proceed further in training. This type of English clusters are very helpful because the /t/ tends to be naturally deaspirated in English. Plain ‫ﺐ‬ ّ ‫ﺳ‬ َ ‫ف‬ َ ‫ﺳ َﺮ‬ َ ‫ﺳَﺒ َﺮ‬ َ ‫ل‬ ّ ‫َذ‬ ‫ذَﻟﻴﻞ‬ ‫ذَرف‬ ‫ب‬ َ ‫ﺗﺎ‬ ‫ﺗﻴﻦ‬ ‫َﺗﺒَﻊ‬ ‫ل‬ ّ ‫َد‬ ‫دَم‬ ‫ب‬ ّ ‫َد‬

Meaning swore spent (lavishly) measured humiliated submissive shedding (tears) repented fig followed symbolized blood crept

Emphatic Meaning ‫ﺐ‬ ّ ‫ﺻ‬ َ poured ‫ف‬ َ ‫ﺻ َﺮ‬ َ spent (money) ‫ﺻَﺒ َﺮ‬ َ bore (patiently) ‫ﻞ‬ ّ‫ﻇ‬ َ remained ‫ﻇَﻠﻴﻞ‬ shady ‫ﻇَﺮف‬ condition ‫ب‬ َ ‫ﻃﺎ‬ enjoyed ‫ﻃﻴﻦ‬ clay ‫ﻃﺒَﻊ‬ َ printed ‫ﻞ‬ ّ‫ﺿ‬ َ went astray ‫ﺿَﻢ‬ embraced ‫ﺐ‬ ّ ‫ﺿ‬ َ tightened

Table 6.1. Arabic plain and emphatic minimal pairs.

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Consonantal Systems


The failure to master the emphatic consonants of Arabic is the main source of serious phonological and phonetic accent. Phonologically, without a reasonable mastery of such consonant contrasts, the learner will not be able to distinguish the meaning of thousands of Arabic words. Phonetically, the learner will have a distinct overall foreign accent. Table 6.1 above contains examples of minimal pairs in Arabic which are distinguished on the basis of presence or absence of emphasis. In training learners on distinguishing such minimal pairs and recognizing the phonetic differences, it is advisable to begin with /s/ vs. /1/, /d/ vs. /#/ and // vs. /̣/ prior to introducing the learners to /t/ = [t] vs. /7/ = [7] since the last pair involves two features– presence of emphasis and the absence of aspiration. The training should begin with the instructor selecting some typical minimal pairs such as those in table 6.1 above, transcribe them accurately as in table 6.2 then follow the three-phase standard procedure of sound acquisition: perception, recognition and production (see Odisho, 2003b for this procedure). Because the above three-phase standard procedure will be repeatedly used in this book, a brief clarification of the terminology is invaluable. Perception is used to denote the condition of feeling and sensing the presence of a given sound; recognition includes the condition of perception as well as the condition of being able to distinguish the given sound from others and, perhaps, identify the difference(s) in comparative/contrastive situations. As for production, it satisfies the above two conditions of perception and recognition in addition to the ability to retrieve the sound and reproduce it at will with different acceptable degrees of proficiency and accuracy (Odisho, 2003b). Plain ‫ﺳَﺐ‬ ‫ﺳَﺒ َﺮ‬ َ ‫ذَﻟﻴﻞ‬ ‫ذَرف‬ ‫ل‬ ّ ‫َد‬ ‫دَم‬ ‫ﺗﻴﻦ‬ ‫َﺗﺒَﻊ‬

Transcription [sb] 11 [sb] [lil] [f] [dll] [dm] [tin] [tb]

Emphatic ‫ﺻَﺐ‬ ‫ﺻَﺒ َﺮ‬ َ ‫ﻇَﻠﻴﻞ‬ ‫ﻇَﺮف‬ ‫ﻞ‬ ّ‫ﺿ‬ َ ‫ﺿَﻢ‬ ‫ﻃﻴﻦ‬ ‫ﻃﺒَﻊ‬ َ

Transcription [1b] or [1b] 12 [1b] or [1b] [̣ll] or [̣ll] [̣̣f] or [̣f] [#ll] or [#ll] [#m] or [#m] [7n] [7b] or [7b]

Table 6.2. Phonetic rendition of plain and emphatic pairs. 11

In training, instructor and learner should be very careful about the retention of the quality of vowel [] and its shortness much unlike its mid-long pronunciation of Standard English [æ]. Notice the retention of the distinctive vowel quality throughout the plain and emphatic examples. This is so because it is characteristic of Arabic that when the emphatic sounds occur within a word they render the whole word completely or predominantly emphatic throughout. In other words, “emphasis” is a feature of the word. 12 Instructor and learner should be very careful about the retention of the quality of vowel [], but its quantity (length) should be kept as short as possible quite unlike its mid-long (or long) pronunciation of Standard English [].


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

6.2.1/A Perception Phase ‫ﻣﺮﺣﻠﺔ اﻻﺣﺴﺎس‬ The primary perceptual distinction between plain words and their emphatic counterparts is an overall frontal pronunciation versus a back one. In plain pieces all vowels– short and long varieties– tend to be of [i], [u] and [a or æ] qualities, while the vowels in emphatic pieces tend to be of [], [ ] and [ or ] qualities. As for capturing the most perceptible difference between the plain and emphatic consonants, it is helpful to demonstrate the difference through contrasting the so-called ‘clear-l’ or palatalized [l], as in the word [lid], with the ‘dark-l’ or velarized [l], as in the word [dil]. The following steps are recommended. a) It is better to initiate the perceptual training with monosyllables containing those two varieties of and then increase the number of syllables to make them seem like bisyllabic words such as [l] vs. [l] or [l] vs. [l] and [ll] vs. [ll]. b) After some practice with syllables with ‘clear-l’ vs. ‘dark-l’, one may move to monosyllabic and bisyllabic structures containing the emphatics [d ‫ ]د‬vs. [# ‫]ض‬, [s ‫ ]س‬vs. [1 ‫ ]ص‬and [ ‫ ]ذ‬vs. [̣ ‫ ]ظ‬such as in: [d] vs. [#] [s] vs. [1] [] vs. [̣] c) The last pair to be handled should be the [t ‫ ]ت ه‬vs. [ 7 ‫ ]ط‬because as it was pointed out earlier on, it involves two features– aspiration vs. nonaspiration and plain vs. emphatic. With this pair, especially in languages in which aspiration vs. nonaspiration is unfamiliar and irrelevant, it is practical to begin teaching the learners how to master this emphatic according to the following steps.1) Deaspirate an aspirated [t] and transform it to an unaspirated one 2) Pronounce it three times in a syllable with [] vowel following. 3) Replace the [] vowel in the syllable with [] and pronounce it three times. The pronunciation in step 3 is expected to be quite similar to the targeted Arabic emphatic [‫]ﻄ‬. 4) Try to produce an authentic Arabic [‫]ﻄ‬. Notice the following graphic visualization of the four steps:

Step #1: [t = ‫ ] ﺖه‬J [t = ‫]ت‬ Step #2: [t ] [t ] [t ] Step #3: [t ] [t ] [t ] Step #4: [7 = ‫[]ﻃﺎ‬7 = ‫[]ﻃﺎ‬7 = ‫]ﻃﺎ‬

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Consonantal Systems


If the learner cannot manage an authentic Arabic [‫]ﻄ‬, it suffices if he/she is able to reach step #3 because at this stage the sound becomes a quite satisfactory demonstration since this rendition distinguishes itself from a [t] in two major features: the absence of aspiration and the presence of the backing gesture (pharyngealization) due to the influence of []. d) Once learners have been exposed to the phonetic features of plain and emphatic pairs, there should be a shift to authentic words beginning with monosyllabic ones and progressing to bisyllabic and multisyllabic ones as in table 6.3 below. Monosyllabic Plain Emphatic

Bisyllabic Plain Emphatic

Multisyllabic Plain Emphatic

[sb] “swearing” [dm] “blood”

[sbb] “swore” [dmmi] “my blood”

[sbbh] “swore at her” [dmmun] “our blood”

[1b] “pouring” [#m] “inclusion”

[1bb] “poured” [#mm] “my inclusion”

[1bbh] “poured for her” [#mmn] “our inclusion”

Table 6.3. Monosyllabic and multisyllabic plain and emphatic pairs 6.2.1/B Recognition Phase ‫ﻣﺮﺣﻠﺔ اﻟﺘﻤﻴﻴﺰ‬ @ a) Prepare a list of monosyllabic plain and emphatic pairs as in table 6.2 above. Label the list of plain items as #A and that of emphatic items as #B. b) Model the pronunciation of the items in both lists as distinctly as possible. c) Select items from either list, pronounce the particular item and then ask the learners to identify the list to which it belongs. d) Number the items in each list as #1, #2, #3, #4, etc, pronounce the items and ask learners to identify the list and the specific item number, such as A5, B3, B5 or A2 etc. e) Conduct item recognition first as a group effort and then as voluntary individual effort and finally as arbitrary individual effort. 6.2.1/C Production Phase ‫ﻣﺮﺣﻠﺔ اﻻﻧﺘﺎج‬ a) Return to plain/emphatic pairs and model their pronunciation. b) Ask learners to repeat the modeled pairs after you as a group. c) Model the pronunciation of selected pairs and ask individual learners to volunteer for production after you. Let the production be immediately after modeling


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

without any time gap or delay which helps the learner to retain the targeted sound momentarily in the short-term memory for instant reproduction. d) If you feel some learners need a refreshment of memory, you should afford them the opportunity to internalize the production of the plain and emphatic pairs. 6.2.2 Techniques of Teaching Arabic Voiceless Unaspirated Uvular Plosive /q/ ‫اﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ ﺻﻮت اﻟﻘﺎف اﻟﻠﻬﻮي اﻟﻤﻬﻤﻮس ﻏﻴﺮ اﻟﻤﻨﻔﻮح‬ The Arabic /q/ plosive, which in classical phonetic studies is traditionally clustered with the so-called guttural Arabic sounds, is a fairly complex sound to be so generally labeled as a guttural sound. Historically, even the great Arab grammarian Sibawaihi, who a millennium ago successfully identified and classified most of the sounds of Arabic in terms of voicing and voicelessness, failed to identify the phonetic nature of this sound. He assigned it to the voiced category of sounds, while it is a voiceless sound. The only phonetic feature of [q] that misled Sibawaihi seems to be its ‘unaspirated’ nature (Odisho, 1988a). Other phoneticians have described [q] in phonetic terms that are more applicable to a voiceless unaspirated velar plosive [k] (Fudge, 1970). In this latter instance, the author failed to identify the ‘uvular’ place of articulation of [q]; instead, it was implicitly identified as a ‘velar’ (Odisho, 1977a). Based on the vulnerability of [q] to misidentification, it is of paramount significance to highlight the ‘unaspirated’ and ‘uvular’ features of this sound in its overall phonetic label as a ‘voiceless unaspirated uvular plosive’. In fact, the absence or presence of such features in the language of the learner will determine which feature(s) of [q] should be emphasized. For instance, English has a voiceless velar plosive [k], therefore the instructor has to attract the attention of the learner to two-feature difference: velar place of articulation and the aspirated nature of [k] vs. the uvular place of articulation and the unaspirated nature of [q]. Unlike English, because Spanish has a voiceless unaspirated velar plosive [k], only the uvular place of articulation of [q] should be emphasized since the latter sound is also unaspirated. Below are some suggested strategies for the teaching of [q] in terms of the three phases of perception, recognition and production. 6.2.2/A Perception Due to the difficulty in the perceptual identification of [q], it is quite helpful to compare and contrast it with [k], the voiceless aspirated velar plosive and [k]13 the voiceless unaspirated velar plosive. The learner has to be alerted to the fact that perception of an unfamiliar sound is both a physical and mental (cognitive) process. 13

As typically pronounced in Spanish and Greek, among other languages.

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Consonantal Systems


One may hear the sound physically, but not perceive it mentally. The following steps should be considered. a) Model the pronunciation of CV (consonant + vowel) syllables including the sounds of [ka], [ka] and [qa]. The sequence of those three sounds is important because one will begin with a voiceless aspirated velar plosive [k] and move to a voiceless unaspirated velar plosive [k]. The unaspirated nature of [k] brings it perceptually much nearer to [q] since both of them are unaspirated. The only difference between the latter two sounds is the shift in place of articulation from velar to uvular. b) Focus the attention of the learners on the unaspirated nature of both [k] and [q] vs. the aspirated nature of [k]. The technique to help them realize the difference is placing the palm of the hand as near as possible in front of one’s mouth and pronounce each of the following syllables several times [ka], [ka] and [qa]. With the first syllable, the pronouncer should feel a slight puff of air touching his palm, a sensation that should be missing with both [ka] and [qa]. c) To distinguish between [ka or k] and [qa or q], train the learners to practice the movement of the tongue from a velar position for [k] somewhat backwards to a uvular position for [q]. Without the mastery of such shift in place, the two sounds will not be distinguishable. Notice the schematic representation of the place of articulation of [k] and [q] in figure 6.1, below. Velar contact for /k/

Uvular contact for /q/

Figure 6.1. Velar vs. uvular contacts for /k/ and /q/ d) Select some minimal pairs from Arabic (Table 6.4) and model their pronunciation. If the instructor feels that he/she does not have a native-like mastery of the sound, then he/she should give the opportunity to a native speaker or a phonetician who is capable of native or native-like production of those words.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

Words Transcription With [k] ‫آَﺪ‬ [kd]

Meaning Words Transcription With [q] toil ‫ﻗَﺪ‬ [qd]

‫َآ ّﺮ‬ ‫آَﻠﺐ‬ ‫ﺲ‬ َ ‫َآَﺒ‬ ‫َآَﺒ َﺮ‬ ‫ﻞ‬ َ ‫َآّﺒ‬

attacked dog pressed grew shackled

[krr] [klb] [kbs] [kb] [kbbl]

‫َﻗ ّﺮ‬ ‫ﻗَﻠﺐ‬ ‫ﺲ‬ َ ‫َﻗَﺒ‬ ‫َﻗَﺒ َﺮ‬ ‫ﻞ‬ َ ‫َﻗّﺒ‬


already (particle) settled [qrr] heart [qlb] [qbs] derived [qb] buried [qbbl] kissed

Table 6.4. Minimal pairs with [k] and [q] sounds. 6.2.2/B Recognition a) Model the pronunciation of CV syllables such as [ka], [ka] and [qa]. b) Assign numbers to the above syllable as #1, #2 and #3, model their pronunciation in random fashion and ask learners to identify each syllable by its number. c) Once again, model the pronunciation of the above syllables and ask learners to attempt their pronunciation introspectively (silently). This latter maneuver may help them in capturing some of the sensations and articulatory changes with each sound. d) Select some minimal pairs from Arabic (Table 6.4) and model their pronunciation. Then number each item in the pair as #1 and #2, pronounce them randomly and ask learners to identify them as #1 or #2. With the above procedures completed, it is time to move to the production phase. 6.2.2/C Production a) Prior to asking the learners to produce syllables or words including the sounds of [k] and [q], model their pronunciation just to refresh the memory of the learners and reacquaint them with the previous acoustic images of [ka] and [qa]. The aim here is to afford the learners some sort of cognitive orientation on their way to actual production. b) Select some minimal pairs from table 6.4 produce them and ask learners to produce them after you as a group. c) Ask for volunteers to produce after your modeling.

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Consonantal Systems


d) Identify individual students to produce after your modeling. In case a given student fails to produce them at the first, second or third attempt, stop insisting and move to another learner. You can always return to the learner who failed and have a second or third attempt. Creating a time gap between a failed attempt and the next attempt, gives the learner some time to mentally (cognitively) interact with himself/herself and be more ready for a fresh attempt. 6.2.3 Techniques of Teaching English Voiceless Aspirated Bilabial Plosive /p/ ‫اﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ ﺻﻮت اﻠﭙاءاﻟﺸﻔﻮي اﻟﺸﺪﻳﺪ اﻟﻤﻬﻤﻮس و اﻟﻤﻨﻔﻮح‬ This sound happens to be a source of a major problem for Arab learners of English. The problematic nature of this sound is attributed to two reasons. First, Arabic does not have this sound as part of its phonology; in other words, it is phonologically irrelevant though phonetically the sound may occur in certain contexts such as when followed by an aspirated sound as in ‫[ اﺑﺘﺪاء‬iptida]. Such phonetic instances of [p] are helpful for training the learners as will be demonstrated in due course. Second, English has hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of words whose meaning is distinguished or triggered by contrasts of /b/ and /p/. Thus, the failure of an Arab learner of English to master the pronunciation of /p/ results in confusing the meaning of thousands of words. Words such can become . In fact, at times, the phenomenon known as over-compensation according to which the fear of mispronouncing a given sound leads the speaker to reverse the pronunciation of the relevant two sounds. Once this over-compensation kicks in, the situation worsens because the learner/speaker/speller reverses the pronunciation of /b/ and /p/, thus pronouncing or writing a where a

is needed and vice versa. I have come across many Arab students who pronounce or write as and as . In one instance, in the Iraqi city of Basrah, a traffic officer had ordered the sign to be engraved on a concrete pole which was, unfortunately, spelled as . In English, /p/ is a voiceless aspirated sound [p]. A common and less technical description of aspiration and non-aspiration is in the form of the presence or absence of a puff-of-air after the release of the sound. This puff-of-air is an important feature in teaching the phenomenon through more than one sensory modality: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. However, since the approach to teaching pronunciation, as presented in Odisho (2003b), is premised on the cognitive orientation of the learners prior to their perceptual and articulatory orientation, the general sketch for training assumes the format below. Cognitive Orientation: Prepare the learners mentally to recognize the existence of the problem and its seriousness because it leads to serious phonetic accent (mispronunciation without a change in meaning) and phonological accent


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

(mispronunciation coupled with a change in meaning). The preparation requires the following specific steps: 1) Put the learners at ease and tell them that there is no problem in pronunciation that is insurmountable. Tell them that they have to be ready to let you know about the difficulty they are facing. 2) The articulation of aspirated vs. unaspirated sounds does not have direct visual features that the instructor can manipulate to establish the cognitive recognition of the differences between them. Thus, it may take longer to internalize the difference mentally. However, there is an indirect, but very visually recognizable difference between the two articulations as in the visual orientation below. 3) If you are teaching phonetic articulation of aspiration through isolated sounds not words, do several productions of aspirated sounds vs. unaspirated ones. It is better to do that with the three most common plosive sounds followed by a vowel as in: [pa]

vs. [pa];

[ta] vs. [ta];


vs. [ka]

Auditory Orientation: Go back to the above contrasts of aspirated and unaspirated sounds; demonstrate them again with somewhat more emphatic and exaggerated articulation with the hope that learners will at least be able to perceive the difference. After the initial demonstration, number each item of the pair as #1 and #2 then produce each item and ask learners to identify the word as #1 or #2. You may need to go one step further in training them by comparing the triplets of sounds such as voiced unaspirated, voiceless unaspirated and voiceless aspirated as listed below, Voiced Voiceless Voiceless Unaspirated Unaspirated Aspirated [ba] [da] [a]

[pa] [ta] [ka]

[pa] [ta] [ka]

Perceptual and articulatory training on these triplets is very important because many learners may experience difficulty in differentiating the voiced from the voiceless unaspirated. If some learners still experience some difficulty in perceiving and recognizing the difference between the sounds, then go to the next step. Yet one more helpful technique of enabling the Arab learners of English to familiarize themselves with the pronunciation of /p/ is to cite some

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Consonantal Systems


examples of Arabic /b/ which in the context of a following voiceless aspirated alveolar plosive [t] is realized as [p] as in the following examples.@ ‫اﺑﺘﻜَﺮ‬ ‫اﺑﺘﺪأ‬ ‫اﺑﺘ ّﺰ‬

[iptk] [iptd] [iptzz]

“innovated” “started” “embezzled”

Visual Orientation: Take a flimsy paper and place it just under your nose pressing on it with your left index. Pronounce a typically aspirated sound e.g., [pa] and do the same with an unaspirated sound [pa]. Direct the attention of the learners to the fluttering movement of the paper with the aspirated articulation and the absence of the movement with the unaspirated articulation. This fluttering movement is the direct result of a tangible puffof-air that accompanies the production of aspiration and its absence with nonaspiration. Put the learners in pairs facing each other, give all of them pieces of flimsy paper and ask each member of the pair to perform the articulations to the best of his/her ability. Reverse the turns between the learners. Watch for those who managed to produce acceptable articulations. If there are such learners, ask them to come to the front and demonstrate the two articulations. Keep doing this for some time, bearing in mind not to overdo it and not to persist with those learners who are unable to produce acceptable demonstrations. Usually, it is far more constructive to stop the exercise, distance the learners from the practice and return to it next day. This distancing of the unsuccessful learners from the initial experience of recognition and production of the difference, gives them some time to cognitively interact with their initial experience and come back next time with a more determined mind. In teaching /p/ to Arab learners of English, it may also be relevant to bring to the attention of the instructor the need to highlight the orthographic difference between /b/ and /p/ by transcribing them in large and bold forms and in both upper and lower cases as in figure 6.2/a below.

B vs. P b vs. p Figure 6.2/a. Graphemic difference between /b/ and /p/. If the instructor is familiar with Arabic orthographic and is aware that in Farsi orthography, which is based on Arabic, there is a special grapheme for


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

/p/ it is recommended that he/she transcribe the Arabic letter ﺐ‬b] and the Farsi letter پ‬p] in large and bold forms as figure 6.2/b below.

‫ = ﺐ‬b vs. ‫ = پ‬p Figure 6.2/b Figure 6.2/a/b. Graphemic (visual) distinction between /b/, /p/ in Arabic orthography to reinforce cognitive perception of the phonetic difference. The visual (graphemic) distinction between the two sounds reinforces the cognitive perception of the difference because the learner is confronted with a situation where two sounds are involved rather than one. Kinesthetic/Proprioceptive Orientation: It is true that in working with these sounds there is not much that learners can readily sense kinesthetically and proprioceptively. However, there are some tips that can be helpful. First, some feedback may come from the placement of the fingers in front of the lips. The puff-of-air with aspiration may be easily felt. Second, learners may also get some sensory feedback from monitoring the tenseness of the vocal tract; in general, there is slightly more muscular tightness with the production of the unaspirated sounds. For instance, it is quite likely to sense some tightness (tenseness) in the lips. However, for all the unaspirated sounds, there is some sense of slightly more tension in the musculature of throat and mouth. Third, the instructor may direct the learners to place their hands tightly on their ears while pronouncing syllables such as [pa, ta, ka] as opposed to [pa, ta, ka]. Although both classes of sounds are voiceless, the following vowel in each syllable makes a considerable difference in their perception and recognition. Members of the aspirated class are perceived both auditorily and proprioceptively as flat sounds with delayed initiation of voice and resonance in the vowel section of the syllable. With the second class, there is a much earlier and far more tangible perception of resonance since in unaspirated sounds the voice onset in the vowel is initiated instantly with the release of the plosive. Cognitive Reinforcement and Internalization: Certainly, some learners will master the pronunciation of aspirated and unaspirated sounds faster than others will. There is no doubt that a combination of careful auditory practice coupled with the visual reinforcement (flimsy paper experiment) and the finger sensing of the presence and absence of the puff-of-air should all play a role in mastering the pronunciation.

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Consonantal Systems


6.3 Teaching of Affricates ‫ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻻﺻﻮات اﻟﻤﺮآﺒﺔ‬ English has two standardized and phonologically relevant affricates /±/, a voiceless post-alveolar, and /®/, a voiced post-alveolar, whereas MSA has only one affricate /®/ whose overall articulatory realization is unstable because of the influence of the regional and local dialects of Arabic. MSA /®/ is more phonetically stable in the Eastern dialects of Arabic such as of Iraq and the Gulf, whereas it is readily vulnerable to change in the Western dialects of Arabic such as of Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. In Egypt, /®/ is often realized as [], while in Lebanon and Syria it is realized as [¥]. Based on the above information, Arab learners of English from an Eastern Arabic background hardly encounter any difficulty in the pronunciation of English /®/. Conversely, those learners with Western Arabic dialects do encounter serious difficulty. Speakers of Egyptian Arabic tend to replace English /®/ with [], whereas speakers of Lebanese or Syrian Arabic replace it with [¥]. At times, especially in the case of the Lebanese and Syrians, the perception, recognition and production of English /®/ can become a serious pronunciation problem. To demonstrate this, the author remembers how a friend from Syria who was a doctoral candidate in English literature in England pronounced the word = [®®] as [¥¥]. He was politely told that the pronunciation of is not [¥¥], but [®®]. He, in turn, said, “I did not say [¥¥]”. I said, “[¥¥].” It was brought to his attention, once again, that he was still saying [¥¥]. At this stage, he turned to the friends around him and yelled angrily, “I am saying [¥¥] not [¥¥].” This anecdote always reminds the author of how difficult the pronunciation of English /®/ can be for some Arab learners. In this instance, the individual was a highly educated person with a high proficiency in English, yet /®/ proved to be a quite challenging sound to master. The individual in this instance did not only experience difficulty in the pronunciation of /®/, but he also had serious difficulty in the perception and the recognition of the sound. It is, therefore, quite axiomatic that if a learner fails to perceive a given sound, he/she will have difficulty in recognizing it. The failure in both of them will often result in mispronunciation. Word Meaning ‫آَﻢ‬ ‫آَﻠﺐ‬ ‫آﺎن‬ ‫آَﻒ‬ ‫آَﺒﻴﺮ‬

Standard Dialect Pronunciation Pronunciation how much [km] [±m] how many dog [klb] [±lb] was [kn] [±n] palm [kf] [±f] big [kbir] [±bir]

Table 6.5. Words in Eastern Arabic dialects in which [k] is replaced by [±].


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

As for [±], which does not exist in MSA, the success or failure in pronouncing it depends, once again, on the dialect background of the learner. In Eastern Arabic dialects, the phoneme /k/ = [k] is occasionally replaced by [±] as in the words of table 6.5, above. This trend in Eastern Arabic dialects makes it much easier for its speakers to master the pronunciation of English /±/. As for the speakers of Western Arabic dialects, English /±/ is traditionally replaced by a voiceless post-alveolar fricative []. Thus, one expects the speakers of Western dialects to pronounce the = [±] in words such as , and with []. 6.3.1 Techniques of Teaching Affricates ‫اﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻻﺻﻮات اﻟﻤﺮآﺒﺔ‬ Generally speaking, two techniques are recommended here to teach the affricates. The two are based on the following phonetic principles. First, the fact that from the articulatory perspective, affricates impress the speaker as plosives (stops) coalesced with a following fricatives– [t] + [] for /±/ and [d] + [] for /®/– their phonetic structure should be taken into consideration in training the learners. Second, since [±] is often confused with [] and [®] with [], the orientation of learners on comparing and contrasting the targeted sounds with their unwanted substitutes should be emphasized through exercises. In assessing the above two principles, it is better to allow the learners to practice on the distinction of the two post-alveolar fricatives [] and []. Since [] is a far more familiar/common (unmarked) sound, the attention should be focused on []. To achieve this, create some monosyllabic structures such as [a] vs. [a], [a] vs. [a] and even [a] vs. [a]. In implementing those exercises, the instructor has to follow the perception, recognition and production phases in 6.2.2 above. Once the instructor notices that learners are able to recognize and pronounce the [], it is time to create similar syllabic structures for [±] vs. [®] and complete the procedure through the three phases of perception, recognition and production.

6.4 Teaching of Fricatives ‫ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻻﺻﻮات اﻻﺣﺘﻜﺎآﻴﺔ‬ As presented in table 4.4 above, both Arabic and English are rich in fricatives; they share several of them, but differ in others. The major difference between the two systems is primarily confined to the so-called ‘back’ or ‘guttural’ fricatives represented by the uvulars [ ] and the pharyngeal [ ], which are, especially the latter pair, problematic for many foreign learners of Arabic. They are problematic for three main reasons. First, [ ] are relatively marked (uncommon) sounds and [ ] are even more marked. Their markedness renders them difficult to master by the non-native speakers. Second, all four fricatives are very common sounds in Arabic and form hundreds of minimal pairs. Third, those hundreds of minimal pairs include some of the most frequently used words in Arabic. For

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Consonantal Systems


instance, the names of six of the ten cardinal numerals include one of those four fricatives as demonstrated in table 6.6 below. Numeral/ Numeral/ Pronunciation Transcription English Arabic 1 ١ ‫واﺣﺪ‬ »wa˘Id 4 ٤ ‫ارﺑﻌﺔ‬ »/aRba÷a 5
















Table 6.6. Examples of basic Arabic numerals with difficult fricative sounds. Fortunately, the interdental fricatives [ ], which are the source of a major phonological problem for many learners of English, do exist in Arabic and are, therefore, rarely the source of difficulty except occasionally for the speakers of Western Arabic dialects such as the Egyptians who replace them with [s z], respectively. Although [ ] are not very common in English, their occurrence is associated with words that are, indeed, of high frequent circulation as in . Thus when, an Egyptian learner of English fails to master these two fricatives, serious phonetic and phonological problems ensue. Of English fricatives, Arabic does not have the voiced labiodental fricative [v] and the voiced postalveolar fricative []. As for [], it is especially problematic for speakers of Eastern dialects and is usually replaced with [®]; therefore, it is relevant to refer to some helpful hints recommended for the teaching of affricates. 6.4.1 Techniques of Teaching Arabic Pharyngeal Fricatives / ÷/ ‫اﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ‬ ‫اﻻﺻﻮات اﻟﺤﻠﻘﻴﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ These two fricatives are located at the extreme end of the vocal tract and there is not much that is visually noticeable about them. Consequently, prior to any attempt at teaching them through the usual perception, recognition and production phases, the instructor has to train learners to execute a tongue-backing maneuver which is the prerequisite for almost all sounds located in the rear half of the vocal tract. This maneuver is, more or less, similar to the posture the vocal tract assumes when getting ready to execute coughing. Instructor should demonstrate this posture to the learners and ask them to practice it. This initial exercise aims at conveying to learners the message that the pharyngeal sounds are unfamiliar and they, therefore, require an unfamiliar articulatory gesture. In fact, this exercise should be considered as part of the cognitive orientation of the learners. After this initial exposure to the articulatory nature of the pharyngeal fricatives, the instructor begins the systematic training in the format of perception, recognition and production. To execute this


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

format one needs creating syllabic structures of CV patterns involving [] and [÷] as opposed to the same syllabic structures involving the nearest Arabic sound with which they are confused, namely [h] and [/], respectively, as in the following examples: [a] vs. [a] and [ha] vs. [a]. The phonetic contrast becomes more significant when embedded in minimal pairs as in table 6.7, below. 6.4.1/A Perception a) Since foreign learners easily confuse [] and [÷] with [h] and [/], respectively, you should model the following pairs of sounds: [/a = ‫ ]ء‬vs. [÷a = ‫]ع‬ and [ha = ‫ ]هـ‬vs. [a = ‫]ح‬. b) Model syllabic structures with [] vs. [÷] as many times as needed and preferably with vowel [a] since learners can watch the mouth of the instructor and the overall articulatory posture. c) Model Arabic words with [h = ‫ ]هـ‬vs. [ = ‫ ]ح‬and [/ = ‫ ]ء‬vs. [÷ = ‫]ع‬, as in table 6.7, to highlight the difference in pronunciation as well as meaning (i.e., the semantic difference triggered by phonological contrast between the sounds. Word Pronunciation ‫أن‬ n ‫أم‬ m ‫ل‬ َ ‫ﺳﺄ‬ sl ‫أﻻ‬ la ‫هﺎء‬


‫َهﺬَر‬ ‫هَﻞ‬

hr hl

‫ن‬ َ ‫هﺎ‬


Meaning if (conj.) or asked don’t you? inter. هـ‬ lettername idle talk interrogative particle became easy

Vs. Vs. Vs.

Word Pronunciation ‫ﻋَﻦ‬ n ‫ﻋَﻢ‬ m ‫ﻞ‬ َ ‫ﺳ َﻌ‬ َ sl ‫ﻋﻠﻰ‬ la

Meaning about uncle coughed on





‫ﺣﺬَر‬ َ ‫ﺣَﻞ‬

r l

ح‬ lettername caution solution

‫ن‬ َ ‫ﺣﺎ‬


drew near

Table 6.7. Minimal pairs with [] vs. [] and [h] vs. [] 6.4.1/B Recognition a) Number the syllables with [h] vs. [] and [/] vs. [÷] each as #1 and #2. Model each syllable of each pair and ask learners to identify it as # 1 or #2. b) Number the syllables with [] vs. [÷] each as # 1 and #2. Model each syllable of the pair and ask learners to identify it as #1 or #2.

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Consonantal Systems


c) Select minimal pairs of words from table 6.7, number them as #1 and #2, model them and ask learners to identify them as #1 or #2. 6.4.1/C Production a) Bring to the attention of the learners, the fact that the production phase requires even more focused attention than the perception and recognition phases. b) Ask them to watch your face carefully when modeling the syllables and words. c) Follow the steps in “c” and “d’ of subsection 6.2.1/C above. 6.4.2 Techniques of Teaching Arabic Uvular Fricatives / / ‫اﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻻﺻﻮات‬ ‫اﻟﻠﻬﻮﻳﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ As with the teaching of the pharyngeal fricatives, the introduction of // and // also requires some practice on the backing gesture. The overall exercises and techniques needed for the pharyngeal fricatives are applicable here. The instructor has to prepare the needed structures in the form of syllables and words. [ ] are problematic sounds for the same three reasons given for [ ] in § 6.4, above. The first step in teaching them to learners of Arabic is to make it clear that they are different from the velar sounds of [kH] and [g], respectively. This implies the need to compare and contrast syllables with [kH] vs. [X] and [g] vs. [“]. This substitution of velars for uvulars is very noticeable among English learners of Arabic. To verify this substitution historically, some Arabic and foreign loan words as in table 6.8, below, etymologically have a [X = ‫ ]خ‬sound in them which is orthographically transcribed as ; however, since for a native speaker of English, has no phonetic value, it is simply reduced to a [k] sound. English Form

Arabic/ Foreign Form ‫ﺧَﻤﺴﻴﻦ‬ ‫ﺧﺎن‬ ‫ﺧﻴّﺎم‬

or ‫ﺧَﻠﻴﻔﺔ‬



Arabic English Pronunciation Pronunciation msin an jjam

kæmsin kn kam



dewi aki

kdiv kk

Table 6.8. Loanwords in English with original // sound, but /k/ realization.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

The instructor needs minimal pairs of Arabic in which the presence of [] or [] triggers the difference in meaning. The examples in table 6.9 below represent some common words in Arabic. [ = ‫]خ‬ d = ‫ﺧَﺪ‬ “cheek” # [#] = ‫ﺧَﺾ‬ “shaking” d = ‫ﺧ َﺪ َر‬ َ “became numb

[“ = ‫]غ‬ d = ‫ﻏَﺪ‬ “tomorrow” # [#]= ‫ﻏَﺾ‬ “tender” d = ‫ﻏ َﺪ َر‬ َ “betrayed”

Table 6.9. Minimal pairs with // vs. // 6.4.3 Techniques of Teaching English /v/ and // ‫اﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻻﺻﻮات‬ In teaching the English /v/ and //, the manner of articulation is not a problem since Arabic does have the voiceless counterparts of these two fricatives, namely [f] and [], respectively. Thus, the emphasis has to be on the voiced nature of these two fricatives. To achieve this end, the instructor has to follow the two procedures below. a) Develop phonetic exercises in the form of monosyllabic structures of [fa] vs. [va] and [a] vs. [a] and follow the three phases of perception, recognition and production. b) Shift to examples of English words in the form minimal pairs for /f/ vs. /v/ as in table 6.10 below. /f/ Words fan face feel fail fee focal

/v/ Words van vase veal veil vee vocal

Table 6.10. Minimal pairs with /f/ and /v/. As for [] vs. [], the absence of minimal pairs leaves you with two options

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Consonantal Systems


both of which are phonetic exercises in nature. First, syllabic structures in the form of [a] vs. [a]; second, English words in which a [] is transformed into a [] or vice versa to impress learners with the phonetic difference. For instance, = [ip] is to be pronounced as *[ip]14 and learners are made to distinguish them as #1 and #2. In fact, the exercise may be expanded to involve [], [], [±] and [®] for better distinction as in the context of [ip] vs. [ip] * and [±ip] vs. [®ip] .

6.5 Teaching of Approximants and R-Sounds ‫ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻻﺻﻮات اﻟﻤﺘﺪاﻧﻴﺔ و‬ ‫اﻻﺻﻮات اﻟﺮّاﺋﻴﺔ‬ The differences between these two categories of sounds in both English and Arabic are very limited and they are in essence only phonetic differences except for velar nasal // which does not have a counterpart in Arabic. The rest of the phonetic differences are confined to ‘l’ and ‘r’ sounds. With regard to ‘l’, in English it has two variant pronunciations commonly known as ‘dark-l’ and ‘clear-l’, the former tends to be velarized and the latter palatalized. These two English variants of ‘l’ do occur in Arabic also, but the difference is in their distribution– the contexts in which those variants occur. Some writers have attempted to highlight the difference between the two ‘l’s in Arabic and recognize the difference as phonological (phonemic) rather than just phonetic. It is true that one can argue the status of the difference as phonological, but from the instructional perspective the difference is very limited in the instances of phonological contrasts in MSA; besides, certain contrasts may be distinctive in one Arabic dialect, but disappear in the other. For instance, in Iraqi Arabic, the contrast of ‘dark-l’ (emphatic) vs. ‘clear-l’ as in [l] “uncle” vs. [al] “mole” is extant, but the contrast disappears in Syrian, Lebanese and Egyptian dialects. As for the ‘r’ sounds, although the phonetic differences between the English and Arabic ‘r’s are clear and easily distinguishable, they remain mostly phonetic and only a source of phonetic accent. The only phonological significance arises when in Arabic the ‘r’ is geminated as in the examples in table 6.11, below. Single ‘r’ َﺑ َﺮد‬

IPA Transcription [bd]


“filed “or “felt cold [®d] “took stock”

َد َرس‬

[ds] [®t]

“studied” “ran” (f.) “flowed (f)

Double ‘r’ َﺑ ّﺮد‬

IPA Transcription [bd]

Meaning “made cold”

[®d] “stripped” or “deprived” َد ّرس‬ds] “taught” [®t] “pulled” (f.)

Table 6.11. Phonologically significant Single vs. Geminated Arabic ‘r’s. 14

The asterisk implies that the example is contrived or artificial.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

Writers on Arabic are divided over identifying the phonetic nature of Arabic ‘r’. Some writers (Tritton, 1970; Al-Ani, 1970; Wickens, 1980) label Arabic ‘r’ as a trill (rolled), while others label it as a flap (tap) (Abboud et al, 1983; Thackstone, 1994). Unfortunately, even in the description of Arabic phonology in the Handbook of the International Phonetic Association (Thelwall and Sa’adeddin, 1999), ‘r’ is classified as ‘rolled’ and cited in the context of the word رَوﻋﺔ‬splendor”. Speakers of Arabic rarely pronounce this word with a rolled-r except when articulated somewhat forcefully and cogently for emphasis or dramatic effect such as being on stage or delivering a speech before an audience. Careful listening to ‘r’ in Arabic will only identify it as a tap. Additionally, a careful spectrographic production of ‘r’ in natural contexts with normal articulation reveals a single 2030ms gap which typically represents a tap [] (Odisho, 1979b). Consequently, the phonetic nature of ‘r’ in Arabic should predominantly be labeled as a tap (or flap) []. This does not mean that a rolled or trilled ‘r’ [r] is not attested in Arabic; in fact, ‘r’ tends to have a rolled variant especially in final positions as well as a stylistic variant (phonologically insignificant) of [] due to a somewhat emphatic (forceful) articulation or an exaggerated one. However, it is important not to confuse this trilled contextual or stylistic variant of ‘r’ with the geminated (doubled) one because the latter is phonologically significant (it results in a change of meaning) like any germination of consonants in Arabic. Hence the mastery of a geminated ‘r’ becomes significant and it should be phonetically transcribed as [] to differentiate it from a trill [r]. No doubt, they tend to be phonetically very similar, but phonologically (functionally) they are different. The examples in table 6.11, above, demonstrate the semantic difference between single vs. geminated ‘r’s. In English, there are two main variant pronunciations for ‘r’ as attested in GA and RP. The predominant ‘r’s in both are of approximant nature’ except for the fact that phonetically the ‘r’ in the former is more distinctly retroflex than the one in the latter. However, it is worthwhile bringing to the attention of the reader the contextual rules of ‘r’ pronunciation in the two varieties. General speaking, all English dialectal varieties are classified into ‘r-dialects’ and ‘r-less-dialects’. GA is an ‘r-dialect’ meaning that the ‘r’ is pronounced in all linguistic contexts, while RP is an ‘r-less-dialect’ meaning that the ‘r’ is not pronounced except in certain linguistic contexts. The rule for the positional pronunciation of ‘r’ in RP is very simple; ‘r’ is pronounced in a pre-vowel position in a word and across word boundary as in: and , respectively; elsewhere it is not pronounced. For more details on the differences between the ‘r’s in Arabic and English and their impact on the overall pronunciation of those languages, refer to § 8.5. 6.5.1 Teaching Velar Nasal // ‫ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻟﺼﻮت اﻻﻧﻔﻲ اﻟﻄﺒﻘﻲ‬ The failure of Arab learner of English to pronounce [] may lead to semantic confusion such as in the minimal pairs in table 6.12, below.

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Consonantal Systems

Words with /n/ sin pin kin bin tin ton

Transcription Words with // sing /sn/ ping /pn/ king /kn/ bing /bn/ ting /tn/ tongue /tn/


Transcription /s/ /p/ /k/ /b/ /t/ /t/

Table 6.12. Minimal pairs with /n/ vs. //. Fortunately, because Arabs tend to over pronounce // as [], the chances of confusing minimal pairs such as those in table 6.12 are considerably lessened. Consequently, in training learners to properly pronounce //, the instructions should be to pronounce the [n+ ] in a gentle and mellow manner. In more specific phonetic terms, the learner has to be instructed to place the tongue in the articulatory position and posture of a [k] or [] and then attempt to pronounce a prolonged or sustained [n]. The resulting sound will, undoubtedly, be a []. 6.5.2 Teaching R-Sounds ‫ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻻﺻﻮات اﻟﺮّاﺋﻴﺔ‬ A comparative teaching of English and Arabic ‘r’s will involve four phonetically different articulations. Arabic has a tap [] and a rolled (trilled) [r]. The former is produced by directing the tip of the tongue towards the alveolar ridge and touching it once in a swift (ballistic) manner as in figure 6.3, below, in which the dotted line represents the rapid retreat of tongue tip. It is because of this type of maneuver the sound is called a tap. The rolled one follows the same maneuver of the tap ‘r’ except for the fact that the tapping is repeated at least twice as in figure 6.4. Alveolar Ridge

Passive Articulator Tongue Tip

Active Articulator

Figure 6.3. A ballistic gesture of tongue tip in the direction of alveolar ridge typical of a tap []. The dotted line indicates the retreat of tongue tip.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English Alveolar Ridge Passive Articulator Tongue Tip

Active Articulator

Figure 6.4. Ballistic gestures of tongue tip in the direction of alveolar ridge to execute a minimum of two taps typical of a trill. Both Arabic ‘r’s are very much unlike the approximant RP and GA ‘r’s. In the production of such approximants, the tongue is raised and directed towards a postalveolar region with some tilt backwards (retroflexion gesture) as in figure 6.5. The tongue is momentarily held there to create an open approximation through which air flows gently without causing any friction (turbulence noise)

Open approximation Passive Articulator

Tongue tip tilted Active Articulator

Figure 6.5. Typical articulatory gesture for a retroflex approximant ‘r’ [] No doubt, all those articulatory gestures of a tap, a trill and a retroflexion can be very difficult for many learners and their mastery may take much longer that expected. It is, therefore, quite necessary to prepare the learners, both psychologically and cognitively, by bringing to their attention the fact that human languages have different types of ‘r’. Revealing this fact about the articulatory nature of “r’-sounds, gears the learners into a mode of more focused attention without which difficult articulations can not be recognized, internalized and produced. Since all ‘r’s are produced in the anterior part of the oral cavity, the articulatory gestures for their production can be relatively monitored by learners. Therefore, the instructor should ask them to watch his mouth and the movement of tongue tip. For a tap [], the instructor should slowly demonstrate the performance of a contact between tongue-tip and alveolar ridge. This gesture is simply to help learners notice the place of contact. Next, the instructor performs a ballistic contact of tongue tip and alveolar ridge similar to a ‘hit-and-run’ gesture. As for the rolled [r], the ballistic tap gesture has to be performed at least twice. In the initial stage of

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Consonantal Systems


learning, learners should be encouraged to produce as many repeated taps as they can. In other words, producing repeated taps should be one way of performing an acceptable trill of tongue tip. As for the production of a retroflex ‘r’, the instructor should first focus on training learners to master a tongue retroflexion gesture which may be very helpful in mastering additional retroflex sounds besides the regular retroflex ‘r’ in other languages, such as in Hindi and Urdu. In these two languages, the retroflexion gesture produces a large category of distinctive sounds; in fact, retroflexion in such languages amounts to a major prosodic feature that distinctly colors their overall speech production. After the exposure to the retroflexion gesture, the instructor performs a retroflex approximant (prolonged tongue retroflexion) typical of GA ‘r’ and reminds learners that the prolongation of this sound produces an acoustic impression that is perceptually very similar to the sound a dog generates when in an angry mood ready to bark or attack. Obviously, all the above maneuvers and exercises require the creation of appropriate exercises using the appropriate syllabic structures and words following the standard procedures of perception, recognition and production phases. Inasmuch as Arab learners of English are concerned, the difference between the two ‘r’s of GA and RP makes ‘r’ pronunciation in the former more manageable for them. Obviously, this is attributed to two factors. First, the retention of ‘r’ or at least its partial retention in the form of rhotacization of the preceding vowel in GA is more compatible with ‘r’ pronunciation in Arabic. Second, the full or partial retention of ‘r’ seems to restrain the diphthongization and/or neutralization of vowels two conditions which are consistent with Arabic since its phonology is severely restricted in diphthongs and does not encourage vowel neutralization.

6.6 Teaching of Consonant Clusters (‫ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻟﺘﻘﺎء اﻟﺴﻮاآﻦ )اﻟﺼﻮاﻣﺖ‬ Consonant clusters or the so-called consonant blends should be distinguished from consonants that occur juxtaposed to each other. The former is a combination that should structurally belong to one syllable and is pronounced as one intact piece. The latter is a combination that is spread over two syllables. Take the word which has a combination of two consonants, but it is not a cluster because the belongs to the first syllable and belongs to the second. Compare the of with the of in which the is one intact combination and belongs to one syllable. The of is linguistically termed ‘abutting consonants’ as opposed to of which is a consonant cluster proper. This phonetic differentiation is quite important in training students in areas pertinent to pronunciation because the difference will stress the point that clusters, not abutting consonants, are the real source of trouble (Odisho 1979a; 2003). The problem of consonant clusters is an important one in the comparative study of English with other languages, especially those that are not rich in clusters. Japanese is one of the most typical languages that is almost consonant cluster-free. Arabic is also a language that has relatively few clusters compared to English. Consequently, Arab learners of English do exhibit problems with consonant clusters.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

Interestingly, different speakers of different varieties of MSA handle consonant clusters or abutting consonants differently. For instance, Egyptian learners of English, like their Iraqi counterparts, split consonant clusters by inserting a vowel element such as in transforming the monosyllabic = [fst] into a bisyllabic pattern in the form of ‘fi-rist’, but unlike Iraqis, Egyptians may insert a vocalic element between two consonants which do not form a cluster, but only abut in across word boundary. For instance, utterances such as the name and the statement are often rendered by Egyptians roughly as [®®tmsn] and [a dontno], respectively, with the short vowel [] inserted at word boundary between [®] and [t] in the first example and [t] and [n] in the second one. Of all those examples, one thing is distinctly clear– the breaking up of a cluster by inserting a vowel is not the only source of mispronunciation; rather the worst mispronunciation results from the ensuing syllabic restructuring of the given word which amounts to an overall interference with rhythm. Regardless of the differences in the handling of English consonant clusters throughout the Arab World, it may be beneficial to cite some examples of consonant cluster breaking (avoidance or reduction) demonstrated by Iraqi speakers of Arabic. Examples in table 6.13 show some initial two-element clusters which are broken up by adding an initial vowel and restructuring the word syllabic makeup. To present the change in a systematic way, the symbols , and the dot are used to indicate consonants, vowels and syllable divisions, respectively. Word English Rendition Trap tæp black blæk sport spt clear drink

kli dk

Syllabic Arabic Structure Rendition CCVC tRap CCVC blak CCVC sp(b)Rt CCV CCVCC

klir dRnk


Table 6.13. Rendition of initial two-element English clusters by Iraqi speakers of Arabic A humorous but authentic anecdote pertinent to the breaking up of wordinitial clusters and the subsequently semantic confusion is associated with the deposed dictator Saddam Hussein after he invaded Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait in Iraqi Arabic is either pronounced [kwet] or [kwet]. After the invasion, a foreign journalist interviewed Saddam Hussein with the presence of his interpreter because his English was well known to be of very low proficiency due to his poor education. During the interview, the journalist made a statement which I do not recall exactly, but it was lexically and grammatically as follows: “We should not

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Consonantal Systems


equate this situation with that of the West Bank.” Saddam jumped ahead of his interpreter and said: “Tell him (the journalist), I did not mention Kuwait.” Obviously, there was no mention of Kuwait in the statement of the journalist, but Saddam mistook the word = [kwet] for his own pronunciation of the name of Kuwait = [kwet]. The interpreter had no choice but to translate his master’s extraneous interjection because he did not want to lose his life after the interview. The journalist was bewildered at the translation and Saddam did not know what happened. Examples in table 6.14 show the manner in which initial three-element clusters are handled Iraqis. Word street

English Rendition stit

Syllabic Structure CCCVC

Arabic Rendition stRit

Syllabic Structure CVC.CAC

structure stk± CCCVC.CV stRk±r CVC.CVC.CAC strong CCCVC CVC.CVCC st stRng struggle stgl CCCVCC stRg()l CVC.CV.C(V)C Table 6.14. Rendition of initial three-element English clusters by Iraqi speakers of Arabic It is evident from the above examples that the strategy in breaking up the three-element cluster is somewhat different. Unlike the two-element clusters, which receive the vowel in the beginning of the cluster, here the vowel is epenthetic and inserted inside the cluster to break it up into two pieces each of which becomes part of an autonomous syllable. Yet, a different kind of breakup of English clusters is displayed with clusters that occur medially such as the examples in table 6.15 below. Word instruct

English Rendition nstkt

Syllabic Structure VC.CCCVCC

Arabic Rendition nstRkt15

Syllabic Structure VC.CAC.CVCC

abstract extra

æbstækt kst


bstakt ekstR







Table 6.15. Rendition of medial three-element clusters or two-element clusters plus an abutting consonant by Iraqi speakers of Arabic


Any final cluster, such as [kt], may also be split in the form of [kt].


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

6.6.1 Techniques of Teaching Consonant Clusters ‫@اﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻟﺘﻘﺎء اﻟﺴﻮاآﻦ‬ Teaching consonant cluster is in reality teaching syllable structure and syllable size both of which are so important in the overall mastery of the pronunciation of the consonantal and vocalic combinations as well as the overall rendition of rhythm in the targeted language. In other words, clusters are part of the suprasegmental features (prosodics) and they should be so treated from the practical and functional point of view. It is only for convenience that they are lumped together with the teaching of consonants and consonantal systems. Often, a learner may be able to pronounce the elements of a cluster in isolation, but not in a joint formation of a cluster proper; therefore, learners need to be mentally prepared for a major shift in articulation. In teaching consonant clusters, the same cognitive and sensory procedures have to be followed. Cognitively, both the instructor and the learner must be aware of the existence of clusters as complex consonantal entities that require additional perceptual attention and conscious articulatory focus. Instructor selects some common cluster pronunciation problems of Arab learners of English such as the ones in tables 6.13 through 6.15 above and models them quite carefully and thoroughly. Instructor also demonstrates the incorrect renditions of the clusters and attracts the attention of learners to the difference in pronunciation. The cognitive orientation should be followed by a multisensory input and feedback as necessary to reinforce the intact nature of a cluster and the avoidance of inserting a vowel that breaks up the cluster and disturbs the admissible syllabic structure of the words in which the clusters are embedded.

6.7 Conclusions In the above comparative teaching of pronunciation, the focus has been on the most salient consonantal features. There may be other marginal problems or student-specific problems which should be confronted whenever they arise. Certainly, not all the problems tackled are equally serious and difficult for all learners; therefore, individual differences should be taken into consideration. Also certainly, the techniques used here do not exhaust the large inventory of techniques that individual instructors may develop in the course of their instruction. If a general comparative assessment of consonantal difficulty is made between English and Arabic, then it is the latter language that will be the source of greater difficulty, especially because of its back-of-the-tract sounds typified by the pharyngeals, uvulars and emphatics.

Chapter VII

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Vocalic Systems ‫ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻟﺴﻤﺎت اﻟﻤﻤﻴﺰة ﻟﻨﻈﺎم اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻲ و اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰي‬ 7.1 Introduction It was demonstrated in Chapter Five that the vowel systems of Arabic and English are drastically different in quality and quantity and perhaps more importantly in the dynamics that impact and modify both quality and quantity within the overall system and even determine the rhythm type of each language. If one were to make a general statement as to the relative difficulty of each vowel or consonant system to learners of the other language, then English learners would encounter more difficulty with the Arabic consonantal system, whereas Arab learners would encounter more difficulty with the English vowel system. Undoubtedly, the above statement should, in no way, imply that Arab learners do not have difficulties with English consonants or that English learners do not have difficulties with Arabic vowels. The following sections will demonstrate some of the most relevant difficulties facing each group of learners and some of the techniques to enable them focus on those difficulties and overcome them.

7.2 Problems of Arab Learners of English Vowel system ‫ﻣﺸﺎآﻞ اﻟﻌﺮب‬ ‫اﻟﻤﺘﻌﻠﻤﻴﻦ ﻟﻨﻈﺎم اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻻﻨﮔﻠﻳﺰي‬ The nature of the problems facing Arab learners of the English vowel system is, overall, typical of a transition of speakers of non-centripetal vowel system (limited vowel quality, no schwa and no vowel reduction) to a centripetal vowel system (Odisho, 1992; 2003b). Such learners of English are usually pressed for enhancement and diversification of their vowel quality range alongside the mastery of schwa production and vowel reduction. Therefore, the best approach to tackle the problems of such learners of English vowel system is to handle the problems in terms of quality, quantity and dynamics. 7.2.1 Problems of Vowel Quality ‫ﻣﺸﺎآﻞ اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻟﻨﻮﻋﻴﺔ‬ As demonstrated in figure 7.1a/b below, the basic quality range in MSA is very narrow and limited to the triangular vowel formation of [i u a]. The range is potentially augmented by including the qualities of /e/ = [] and /o/ = [o] vowels which are frequently attested in Dialectal Arabic (DA).


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English









Figure 7.1/a. Basic triangular vowel quality. Figure 7.1/b. Augmented vowel quality However, in using the dialect-bound Arabic vowels /e, o/ as materials for mastering vowel qualities in English, it should be brought to the attention of learners that those two Arabic vowels are always attested as long whereas in English they tend to be often short. The difference in length often lures Arab learners of English to grant length to the short vowels of words such and pronounce them as [bd, hn, hd, tn] instead of [bd, hn, hd, tn]. It is highly likely that the Egyptians will replace the [] vowel quality in those words with [e] vowel quality, thus rendering them as [bed, hen, hed, ten]. This difference in length should be brought to the attention of Arab learners and they should be trained accordingly. In fact, the limited range of Arabic vowel qualities is further potentially augmented– at least phonetically– under the contextual influence of the emphatic sounds of [7 ‫ ط‬, # ‫ ض‬, 1 ‫ ص‬, ̣ ‫] ظ‬. In the context of such sounds, an Arabic ‘fata’(short /a/ = []) becomes identical with [], while an ‘alf’ (long /a/) becomes identical with []. Thus, one can say that [] is approximately an emphatic ‘fata’ and [] is approximately an emphatic ‘alf’. In other words, the resulting two sounds are readily identifiable with English vowels // as in and as in /palm/, respectively. Nevertheless, the phonetic similarity of the last two vowels to the two English vowel phonemes, does not always guarantee that Arab learners will manage those two vowels; however, the presence of the phonetic variants of the two English vowels in Arabic does often facilitate their learning. Let us take some words from English in which the vowel is // such as in and . If Arab learners of English fail to pronounce those words with [] vowel– which is highly likely–, their pronunciation would be phonetically inaccurate and they would sound as if they are the Arabic words < ‫ ﺳَﺪ‬,‫> ﺳَﺐ‬, when they really should sound like ﺻَﺐ‬. After all this matching, near-matching and approximation of vowel quality in English and Arabic, there still remain some major difficulties facing the Arabs, foremost of which are those associated with the schwa [], the diphthongs– especially of RP– and the overall dynamics of vowel reduction. Before turning the

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Vocalic Systems


attention to the teaching of those difficulties, let us create a matching and approximation chart of English and Arabic simple vowels as in table 7.1. In this instance, RP simple vowels are taken into consideration. Eng. Vowel i   or e

seen Sin Bet





Arab. Vowel (‫ـﻴ )ﻳﺎء‬ (‫ــِـ )آَﺴﺮة‬


o or 


u  

fool full bird


‫ﺳﻴﻦ‬ ‫ﺳِﻦ‬

Equivalent Equivalent No direct equivalent; only similar in quality to









‫و‬ ‫ـُــ‬

colloquial rendition of ي‬in ﺑَﻴﺖ‬ “house”. Caveat! Arabic counterpart is usually longer. Equivalent to Classical Arabic version of ا‬in both quality and quantity; however, dialectinfluenced version of ا‬acquires [a] quality. Arabic fata is equivalent to short [a] or [] which has no counterpart in English No direct equivalent; only ا‬in the context of an emphatic sound has the same quality and

quantity of English []. ‫ ﺻﻮت‬No direct equivalent; only similar in quality and quantity to the colloquial و‬as in ﺻﻮت‬voice” in which و‬is in the context of an emphatic. ‫ آﻮن‬No direct equivalent; only similar in quality to the colloquial rendition of و‬as in آﻮن‬ “universe”. Caveat! Arabic counterpart is usually longer. Identical ‫ﻓﻮل‬ ‫ﻓُﻞ‬ Identical Non-existent. It may be replaced by [e] as in Arabic ي‬in the colloquial rendition of

ﺑﻴﺖ‬house” 



No direct equivalent; only ـَــ‬fata> in

the context of an emphatic is identical in quality and quantity to []. 



Table 7.1. Matching and approximation chart of English and Arabic simple vowels


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

7.2.2 Problems of Vowel Quantity (‫ﻣﺸﺎآﻞ اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻟﻜﻤﻴﺔ )اﻟﻄﻮل‬ Because the Arabic vowel system does have a length parameter, Arab learners of English do not usually encounter serious problems related to vowel quantity. Certainly, there are some quantitative mismatches between Arabic and English, which are, fortunately, often of a phonetic nature rather than of a phonological one as is the case with some languages such as Spanish. In Spanish, the absence of short vs. long contrasts renders thousands of English minimal pairs such as vs. , vs. and vs. totally indistinguishable. Luckily, no such quantity-based semantic confusions face Arab learners. Phonetically, however, Arab learners, for instance, tend to lengthen the short RP //, as in and short /o/ as in . This is because of the emergence of the two long or longish contracted vowels of [] or [e], as in اﻧﺘﻮﻧﻲ ﺟﻴﺒﺴﻮن‬and pronounced as [æntoni ibso n ]. It is distinctly clear that in the English pronunciation of the name there are no long vowels, whereas in its Arabic rendition there emerge four long vowels which, in turn, bring about a major shift in the rhythmic structure of the name. This type of asymmetrical vowel length change between the two languages in their rendition of the same unit– and subsequent rhythm change– will be one of the major causes of inaccuracy in the pronunciation of English by Arabs. Consequently, because of this vowel change and its direct impact on the phenomena of stress placement and overall rhythm type, the problem will be explained in more detail whenever those phenomena are tackled. 7.2.3. Problems of Vowel Dynamics ‫ﻣﺸﺎآﻞ دﻳﻨﺎﻣﻴﺔ اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ‬ In Arabic, a long vowel in a word tends to be a powerful focal point that captures the stress. This strong stress placement rule causes two major problems for Arab learners of English. First, many word patterns in English, which contain a long syllable but does not carry the primary stress, are highly vulnerable to stress shift. In the Arabic rendition of such word patterns, stress is reassigned to the long (or the

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Vocalic Systems


syllable with the long vowel or a diphthong) thus causing a major mispronunciation that even permeates the overall rhythm. Words patterns such as , or are highly recurrently mispronounced as , or . This pattern of mispronunciation of English amounts to a very salient feature that is readily detectable in the accent of the Arab learners of English. Second, the manner in which English words are transliterated in Arabic manifest a strong tendency to transform the short vowels of English into long ones, which, in turn, cause a shift in stress placement leading to the same mispronunciation identified in the first point above. The overall dynamics of vowel quality and quantity change in English that is associated with stress placement leads to extensive vowel reduction often in the form of a schwa which is unequivocally the most frequently used vowel in English. This vowel reduction tendency is very limited in Arabic and it tends to be more noticeable in the length (quantity) of the vowel rather than its quality. Because of this discrepancy in vowel dynamics of Arabic and English and the interference of orthography and transliteration two of the next chapters will be devoted to cover such significant aspects of Arabic-English cross-language pronunciation problems. At this stage, it suffices to cite some examples to illustrate the nature of such problems. For instance, in the above Arabic transliteration and pronunciation of , the conversion of the four short vowels into long ones and the concomitant stress shift renders the overall pronunciation of the name longer, more stretched out and over-articulated. It becomes a type of articulation that I, caricateurishly, call an alligator pronunciation to indicate figuratively slower but over-articulated vowels as opposed to an overall Chinese pronunciation of English, which I call a sqirrelish pronunciation, to indicate a much faster but less exaggerated vowel movements which may sound under-articulations. Perhaps the group of English words that most characteristically demonstrates the dynamics of vowel qualtity change is a group of approximately fifty words that appear in two forms known as strong form and weak form. For instance, the strong form of is /ænd/, but it has at least three other weak forms such /nd/, /n/ and /n/16. The strong form is habitually of minimum circulation since it has to occur in an emphatic form. It is the weak forms of that are of more frequent recurrence. The often-schwa-based weak forms of those fifty words and the weak syllables of other words collectively govern the overall rendition of English vowel system and its general rhythm type. The weak/strong forms of this group of words amounts to a major area which should receive serious attention in the teaching of English pronunciation to Arabs. Table 7.2 demonstrates the usual strong and weak form of some of the most frequently used words.


The so-called syllabic ‘n’.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English


Stressed (Strong) Form a ei an æn been bin ; bn can kæn for f; f had hæd shall æl some sm the i would wd

Unstressed (Weak) Form  n ; n bn kn ; kn f ; fd hd ; d ; d l; l sm ; sm  (V.) ;  (C.) wd ; d ; d

Table 7.2. Weak and strong forms of some of the common words in English.

7.3. Problems of English Learners of Arabic Vowel System ‫ﻣﺸﺎآﻞ‬ ‫اﻻﻨﮔﻠﻳﺰ اﻟﻤﺘﻌﻠﻤﻴﻦ ﻟﻨﻈﺎم اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻲ‬ In general, the problems English learners of the Arabic vowel system face are dictated by the nature of the transition from an extreme centripetal vowel system (highly diversified quality, dominant schwa vowel and pervasive vowel reduction) to a non-centripetal system (with no schwa and much restricted vowel quality and vowel quality reduction). Hence, the best approach to tackle the problems of such learners of Arabic vowel system is to handle them in terms of quality, quantity and dynamics. 7.3.1 Problems of Vowel Quality English learners of Arabic bring with them a broad range of vowel quality which is almost twice as broad as that of Arabic. Consequently, the first thing they have to do is to learn how to restrain their strong inclination toward vowel quality diversity. For instance, they have to eliminate the use of a schwa as well as any tendency in the direction of schwaization and vowel reduction. Equally importantly, they have to maintain the vowel quality predominant in Arabic. Virtually, they should not attempt to render the Arabic word patterns such as َآَﺘﺐ‬/kataba/, َد َرس‬/daasa/ and ﺳَﺄل‬/saala/ as /katb/, /das/ and /sal/, respectively, or to replace the Arabic short /a/ = [] with English [æ] which is different in quality and tends to be longer. Yet one more shift in vowel quality is the tendency of replacing some long vowels of Arabic by English diphthongs which is especially common in RP English. For instance, Arabic words with a long vowel in pre-‘r’ position of a syllable such as in ﺳَﻔﻴﺮ‬/safi/, ﺳَﻤﻴﺮ‬/sami/ and آَﺒﻴﺮ‬/kabi/ are

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Vocalic Systems


pronounced as /sfi/, ﺳَﻤﻴﺮ‬/smi/ and آَﺒﻴﺮ‬/kbi/, respectively. 7.3.2 Problems of Vowel Quantity The problem of length (quantity) is not as serious as that of quality because both languages do have the ‘length’ feature as part of their vowel systems; however, an aspect of length that should be taken into consideration by English learners of Arabic vowels is embedded in the general phenomenon of vowel reduction. The pervasive tendency by English learners of other languages in the direction of schwaization and vowel reduction implies both quality reduction as well as quantity reduction. Subsequently, any training in restraining the urge of English learners of Arabic for schwa imposition should simultaneously imply restraining the learners from vowel length reduction or even vowel lengthening. 7.3.3 Problems of Vowel Dynamics As explained earlier on, the dynamics of vowel quality and quantity change is the most influential factor that shapes the English vowel system to the extent that it even permeates and, in turn, shapes its rhythm type. This association of the dynamics of vowel qualtity with the overall vowel system and rhythm type is best exemplified in English. The dynamics often dictate how and to what extent English learners of other languages alter the vowel systems and rhythm types of those targeted languages. A good example of English learners imposing their dynamics on Arabic is typically demonstrated through the replacement of Arabic [a or ], so dominant in triliteral roots such as َآ َﺘﺐ‬/ktb/17, َد َرس‬ /ds/ and ﺳَﺄل‬/sl/, by schwas. It is typical of Arabic to retain the quality of all three // vowels throughout the verb (though the initial stressed vowels tends to be slightly more prominent). Conversely, under the robust influence of schwaization (propensity toward schwas) in English, a word pattern in Arabic of the /ktb/ type tends to be automatically rendered by English learners of Arabic as /kætb/ thus changing the overall rhythm of the verb.

7.4 Techniques of Teaching Vowel Systems ‫@ @@اﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻧﻈﻤﺔ اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ‬ In any comparative teaching of pronunciation it is far more efficient to look at the two systems involved and then plan teaching the most comprehensive characteristics of each system and them proceed to the specifics. It has already been pointed out that the vowel systems of English and Arabic are drastically different in quality, quantity and the ensuing vowel dynamics, especially of the intimate connection of accentuation (stress) and vowel reduction. The overall approach and the necessary techniques will be presented in terms of vowel quantity and quality and the dynamics that govern them.


Phonetically, the Arabic short /a/ sounds as [] and is so transcribed.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

7.4.1 Techniques of Teaching Vowel Reduction ‫ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﺧﺘﺰال اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ‬ Vowel reduction is achieved as a result of joint quality and quantity change. Quantitatively, a vowel becomes shorter in length, whereas qualitatively it moves in the direction of a neutral vowel, typically a schwa []; however, short vowels such as [] and [] have also common occurrence in unstressed syllables. In other words, when vowel reduction is effected, vowels tend to become shorter and they also tend to lose the distinctness of their quality. For instance, the vowels [], [] and [æ] as in , and are all reduced to [] in unstressed (unaccentuated) contexts. Typically, a schwa [] is the most reduced and obscure vowel. Teaching vowel quality and vowel reduction are some of the most challenging tasks an instructor encounters. The standard three-stage procedure of perception, recognition and production is inevitable in this regard. In preparing the learners for perceiving the differences in vowel quality, conduct a demonstration of CV type of nonsensical syllables with the following vowel qualities: [] as in English word in the form of [m m m ] [a] as in Arabic name in the form of [ma ma ma] The pattern of three repetitions is helpful because it allows the syllables to impress the memory better. Begin the practice in the following manner: First, change the stress from the first syllable through the third without the slightest change in vowel quality and without the reduction of any one of them to schwa as demonstrated below: m


















Second, do the same but this time reducing the unstressed vowels to schwas as demonstrated below: m ma

m m

m m

m m

m ma

m m

m m

m m

m ma

Third, shift from nonsensical syllables to real words that involve typical schwas as opposed to non-reduced vowels such as in and . Fourth, model the pronunciation of [svæn] and compare it to a simulated pronunciation of it in Arabic e.g., [svan]. It is perfectly acceptable to slightly

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Vocalic Systems


over-accentuate (exaggerate) the differences between the two pronunciations to attract the attention of the learners to them. Fifth, reinforce the auditory channel with the visual one, transcribe the English pronunciation of phonetically and portray the syllabic structure of the word to highlight the stressed syllable. One can do this with color, boldface type or even with non-verbal gestures such taking a short step for an unstressed syllable and a long one for the stressed one as demonstrated below: [s



[ s









Next move into the recognition stage and do the following: First, number [svæ n] and [svan] as #1 and #2, model them several times and ask learners to identify them as #1 or #2. Second, add other words such as . Pronounce with its two schwas and its unreduced [æ] vowel and compare it with its traditional Arabic rendition as [knd] as demonstrated below. English /kænd/

Arabic vs.


Third, number /kænd/ and /knd/ and #1 and #2 and produce random instances of them and ask learners to identify them as #1 or #2. With the third stage of production proceed as following: First, identify learners whom you assume will succeed in production in order to set a good example of successful performance. Second, any attempt at production by learners should be instantaneously after the instructor. This lack of any interference between the modeling and the production gives the learners the opportunity to briefly retain the modeling in the memory and reproduce it successfully.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

Third, as a rule of thumb, if a given learner fails to recognize and produce the targeted pronunciations, the instructor should not persist. Any persistence after repeated failures will put the learner at a psychologically demanding situation which will breed more failure. Instructor should cease the practice with the given learner to create virtually a physical and psycholinguistic break and resume practice at another hour or day and start afresh. Fourth, it is up to the instructor to assess the effectiveness of his procedures and the efficiency of learning and decide whether further drilling in perception, recognition and production activities is needed. 7.4.2 Techniques of Teaching Vowel Quantity Before proceeding further with the teaching of vowel quantity, instructor should ascertain that learners know what quantity difference between vowels is. Luckily, Arab learners of English do not face a serious length problem simply because length is phonologically relevant in Arabic. Thus, English minimal pairs such as = /sk/ vs. = /sik/ and = /kn/ vs. = /kin/ are easily distinguished by Arabs unlike Hispanics who often fail to produce the difference and render both vs. and and almost the same. It was only recently, I asked one of my Latino colleagues about his cold. He said what sounded to me as: “I am O.K., but my ‘chicks’ still hurt me.” Of course, he meant ‘cheeks’. Nonetheless, Arabs do cause themselves serious pronunciation problems related to vowel length in an indirect way through the influence of their transliteration of English words whose short vowels are frequently rendered long as will be demonstrated in the next chapters. English learners, in turn, should not have trouble with length in Arabic; however, due to the difference in the dynamics of vowel change between the two languages and the strong inclination of English toward vowel reduction in unstressed positions, many Arabic vowels are reduced in quality (which often implies length). The already cited triliteral roots of Arabic, which English learners often reduce from /ktb/ to /kætb/ serve as good examples. The exercise below will focus on curbing the tendency of Arabs to transform short English vowels into long ones. Obviously, this occurs often in transliterating English proper names and other geographic and commercial etc… names. First, select some names such as /bl klntn/, which is often transcribed as ﺑﻴ ﻞ آﻠﻴﻨﺘ ﻮن‬and pronounced as [bil klinton], and repeat its correct pronunciation. Second, transcribe in Arabic as accurately as possible, e.g. < ‫ﺑِﻞ‬ ‫>آﻠِﻨﺘِﻦ‬. Model the inaccurate and the accurate versions of the pronunciation. Reproduce the two pronunciations emphasizing the difference in both vowel length and the shift in stress positions.

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Vocalic Systems


Third, drop the inaccurate version and emphasize the correct one. Model it as many times as necessary with emphasis on the location of stress and the shortness of vowels. Fourth, proceed with the activities of recognition and production as outlined elsewhere for other sounds.

7.5. Problems of Arab Learners of English Diphthongs ‫ﻣﺸﺎآﻞ اﻟﻌﺮب‬ ‫اﻟﻤﺘﻌﻠﻤﻴﻦ ﻟﻠﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻟﻤﺮآﺒﺔ اﻻﻨﮔﻠﻳﺰﻳﺔ‬ As stated earlier on, RP English is very rich in diphthongs. There are at least eight well recognized diphthongs with a highly diversified variety of vowel components. Unlike English, Arabic has a limited number of diphthongs or diphthong-like vocalic elements. Hence, Arab learners of English face difficulty in their pronunciation of diphthongs. In the absence of equivalents, the difficulty often reveals itself in a tendency by Arab learners to replace the diphthong with a long simple vowel based on the first element of the diphthong or replace the final element of the English diphthong with its most relevant semi-vowel counterpart as demonstrated in table 7.3, below.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

RP Example Arabic Diphthong Equivalent or Approximation high a ajor j how a a hoist  oj hate e e hair  e here i i show o o tour u u

Table 7.3. RP English diphthongs and their traditional rendition in Arabic Based on the approximations in table 7.3, the common pronunciation of English = /bon/, for example, will be [bon] in Arabic. Even though there are no more than two Arabic diphthongs, which may be treated as English equivalents, one can find vocalic materials in Arabic that can be phonetically used as a starting point in mastering the English diphthongs. For instance, the teaching of the RP diphthong /i/ as in = /hi/ may be approached through the vocalic elements in the Arabic pronoun = [hija]. The only instruction needed by the learner is to render the second syllable


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

[ja] as mellow and mild as possible. Following this line of approximation to English diphthongs of phonetic materials available in Arabic, one may suggest the materials in table 7.4 as a reasonable guide for training Arabs in the mastery of English diphthongs. RP Example Arabic Equivalent or Diph.. Approximate 1 a high Equivalent = ai 2 a


Equivalent = a

3  4 e

hoist hey

No equivalent Approximate

5  6 i

hair here

No equivalent

7 o 8 u

show tour

No equivalent

Approximate = ij

Approximate = uj

Example ‫< ﺳَﻴﻒ‬sword> [sif] or sjf ‫< هَﻮن‬ease> [hn] or [hwn] ‫هﻴﻲ‬ ﬞ 18 [hej] or [hei] ‫ﻲ‬ َ ‫ [hj] or [h] ‫< ُه َﻮ‬he>@ @@[hw]

Table 7.4. Arabic phonetic materials for learning RP English diphthongs Undoubtedly, not all Arabs will be learning RP; in fact, the number of those Arabs learning GA is gradually increasing. Therefore, since RP has more diphthongs than GA and since the ‘r’ is pronounced in the latter, Arab learners feel less distanced from GA’s rendition of diphthongs and ‘r’ because Arabic, much like GA, has less diphthongs and its ‘r’ is pronounced.

7.6 Conclusions There are considerable differences between the vowel systems in Arabic and English. The differences, as demonstrated, involve both quality and quantity, but more importantly, they involve the dynamics that govern the two vowel systems. In fact, it is the dynamics that practically augment the quality and quantity differences and broaden the gap between the two systems. Generally speaking, Arabs face greater difficulty in mastering the English vowel system– more so with RP system than with GA system. Interestingly, in the case of Arabs, their attempt at mastering the English sound system is further complicated through the transliteration 18

Interjection used in Iraq and other Middle East countries; most likely it is a borrowing from English.

Teaching Salient Features of Arabic and English Vocalic Systems


(orthographic rendition) of English in which many of the short and very short vowels are transcribed with Arabic long vowel letters ي ﻮ ا‬instead of the short diacritics and subsequently pronounced, as long vowels.

Chapter VIII

Teaching Salient Prosodic Features of Arabic and English ‫ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻟﺴﻤﺎت اﻟﻤﻤﻴﺰة ﻟﻼﺻﻮات اﻟﻄﻮﻳﻠﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ و اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ 8.1 Introduction The term ‘prosodic features’ is used in its broadest sense to include any feature that is longer than a segment. Thus, besides rhythm and intonation, other features such as ‘consonant cluster formation or reduction’, ‘emphaticness’ (socalled tafxiim ‫‘ )ﺗﻔﺨﻴﻢ‬r-coloring’, as in GA, and ‘r-deletion’ as in RP will be treated as prosodic features. Most languages, especially those that do not belong to two radically different language families, do share some similarities in prosodic features. This similarity is, generally speaking, attributed to some universal trends in human languages per se. For instance, a falling pitch pattern in intonation languages, in general, has the general purpose of expressing a sense of completeness, whereas a rising pitch pattern implies a sense of incompleteness as if further information is expected from the speaker or a response is necessary on the part of the listener. Because of such similarities and because this study is restricted to comparative pronunciation, not every aspect of prosodic features will be covered; rather, the focus will be on the most striking differences that seriously interfere in learning and teaching of Arabic and English comparative pronunciation. In the domain of intonation, there are not many striking mismatches between English and Arabic. One of the frequently recurrent digressions Arab learners of English demonstrate is the use of a rising pitch instead of a falling pitch for the socalled ‘wh-questions’ and also for ‘tag-question’ which signal confirmation rather than a genuine question. This aspect of difference has been dealt with in Odisho, 2003b. It is certainly unavoidable to acquaint Arab learners of English with the basic pitch movements in human language in order to be able to move forward for a better understanding of the nature of intonation. It is in the general domain of English rhythm, including stress placement, stress shift related to vowel dynamics and the concomitant vowel reduction that Arab learners encounter most serious divergence leading to significant mispronunciation. As for the aspect of the English consonantal system that also impacts the prosodic features is the presence of scores of consonant cluster formations with which Arab learners experience serious difficulty. They also have to manage the pronunciation of the typical English , whether of GA or of RP and the associated features of ‘r-coloring’ or ‘r-deletion’ not because of phonological mismatch as much as because of phonetic deviation. However, it should be emphasized that even though ‘r’ mismatching is essentially of a phonetic nature, it does result in a noticeable difference in the overall pronunciation of English by Arabs and other foreign speakers whose ‘r’s tend to be taps, flaps or trills.. As for the English learners of Arabic, foremost of the Arabic prosodic features they have to master is to restrain their domineering urge for vowel reduction


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

and the resulting fundamental rhythm change. In the consonantal system, they not only have to master the emphatics, pharyngeals and uvulars of Arabic, but also to demonstrate the features of emphaticness that run throughout the whole word or most of it. For instance, the word for is ﻃﺎﺋِﺮﻩ‬7]. In the proper pronunciation of the word, the features of emphaticness caused by the initial sound ط‬7] radiate throughout the whole word. However, in the case of Arab learners of English or any other foreign language, a clarification is in order. In the traditional approach to the study and teaching of Arabic by the natives, prosodic features, especially rhythm and intonation, are rarely tackled; in fact, they are often skipped unrecognized as a major component of language, in general, and pronunciation, in particular. Even the Arab grammarians, who had excelled in segmental phonetics and phonology, rarely, if ever, dealt with the prosodic features of Arabic. It is only during the last five decades that prosodic features of Arabic began to receive more and more attention due to the efforts of some international and modern Arab linguists who highlighted the significance of these features and studied them. Consequently, any teaching of prosodic features to Arab learners of foreign languages should begin with the very basic concepts and principles of pitch, pitch direction, intonation, stress, stress placement and rhythm. Conversely, English learners of foreign languages, and most Europeans for that matter, are far more familiar with prosodics In the following sections, some of the above comparative prosodic features will be handled in description and teaching since cross-interference is readily noticeable especially in stress placement and overall rhythm.

8.2 Pitch Movement ‫ﺣﺮآﺔ اﻟﻨﻐﻢ‬ Intonation is pitch level, direction and shift within a sentence. In English and Arabic those features are used to signal a combination of syntactic, semantic and attitudinal features of the utterance. For an introductory acquaintance of learners, especially Arab learners of English, they should be made familiar with the concept of pitch and its direction. They must be made familiar with rising pitch and falling pitch as represented by the direction of the arrows below:

Low Fall

Low Rise

Obviously, the above demonstrates only a low fall and a low rise which means their pitch range is limited and hence, is not sensed as sharp and crisp. It is a great help for the learners to be equally familiar with high fall and high rise as indicated below:

Teaching Salient Prosodic Features of Arabic and English

High Fall


High Rise

It is interesting to note the commonality between the basic pitch patterns across languages and the shared nuances. The falling pitch patterns have the general purpose of expressing an utterance with a sense of completeness, while the rising pitch patterns imply a sense of the incompleteness.

8.3 Stress and Rhythm ‫@اﻟﻨﺒﺮ و اﻻﻳﻘﺎع‬ The study and teaching of rhythm is largely dependent on the ability to control stress placement and the shift in vowel quantity and quality. In the traditional approach to teaching stress and rhythm the predominant technique has been that of repeat-after-me. This technique may work with a small number of learners who have linguistic aptitude or have an ear for picking up sound patterns. However, classroom experience has shown that for the majority of learners a step-by-step procedure in terms of perception, recognition and production is inevitable. Besides, the procedure should be based on diverse sensory modalities including auditory, visual and kinesthetic. 8.3.1 Techniques of Teaching Stress Perception, Recognition and Production in English ‫اﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﺣﺴﺎس و ﺗﻤﻴﻴﺰ و اداء اﻟﻨﺒﺮﻓﻲ اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ Check first whether the learners do perceive the difference in the position (location) of stress. If Arabs are embarking on learning English, the best linguistic materials for their training are the verb-noun categories of words in English which are solely distinguished on the basis of stress placement such the pair below: y con

z tract

z con

y tract

If you discover that some learners have difficulty in perceiving the difference in stress position through the auditory modality in the form of oral repetition, try to reinforce that through banging or beating on something hollow (a desk, container, a small drum).You can also reinforce it visually by capitalizing, boldfacing or coloring. The contrast below is reinforced by both capitalizing and boldfacing: CON tract



Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

If the instructor wants to check the recognition skill of the learners, it is better executed through a longer list of English verb-noun contrasts as in the table below that are randomly played on a tape-recorder or simply demonstrated in class: Noun produce rebel project frequent perfect increase

Verb produce rebel project frequent perfect increase

Table 8.1. Noun-verb contrasts triggered by stress location. The list in table 8.1 is also very useful for training on production. If further recognition and production exercise materials are needed, the focus should move to certain roots from which some common derivations are available such as the linguistic materials below in which the stressed and unstressed syllables are visually depicted:

= zyy = yzyy =yyyzyy If the instructor wants to identify some of the most common patterns of word structures for which Arab learners misplace the stress and cause noticeable mispronunciations these patterns should certainly relate to verbs and nouns ending with suffixes as in , , and , respectively. These mispronunciations happen to be some of the most lingering ones even among educated Arabs who have, otherwise, achieved high level of proficiency in English in general. In teaching those suffixes, the first three will be clustered together due to similarity in their stress placement in English and their misplacement by native Arabs. For details of the cause of stress misplacement go back to §7.2.3 above. Word patterns with ending, though similar in behavior to the above suffixes, will be treated separately. Word patterns with endings such as , or that have more than two syllables never receive stress on the final syllables. An overall general rule for the placement of stress in these word patterns is that stress falls on the initial syllable if the verbs are trisyllabic.

Teaching Salient Prosodic Features of Arabic and English


Stress is advanced one step (in terms of syllables) with the addition of an extra syllable. In other words, if the verb is of, say, four syllables, stress falls on the first but one, i.e., antepenultimate. Now regardless of where the position of stress in words with those suffixes is, Arab learners have a very strong inclination to shift the stress to the last syllable. Notice the following examples: Verbs with ending/three syllables English Rendition

Stress Pattern zyy zyy zyy zyy zyy

Arabic Rendition

Stress Pattern yyz yyz yyz yyz yyz

Verbs with ending/four syllables

< diversify >

yzyy yzyy yzyy yzyy yzyy

< declassify >

yyyz yyyz yyyz yyyz yyyz

Verbs with ending/three syllables

zyy zyy zyy zyy zyy

yyz yyz yyz yyz yyz

Verbs with ending/four syllables

yzyy yzyy yzyy yzyy yzyy

yyyz yyyz yyyz yyyz yyyz


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

Verbs with ending/three syllables

zyy zyy zyy zyy zyy

yyz yyz yyz yyz yyz

Verbs with ending/four syllables

yzyy yzyy yzyy yzyy yzyy

yyyz yyyz yyyz yyyz yyyz

English word patterns with suffix receive their stress on the antepenultimate or pre-antepenultimate syllable, but they never receive it on the penultimate or final syllable. Quite contrary to this, in the pronunciation of the Arab learners of English, it is often noticed that stress in such word patterns tends to be consistently shifted to the penultimate (before the final) syllable as in the following examples.

zy y zyyy zyyy zyyyy yzyyy yyzyyyy

yzy yyzy yyzy yyyzy yyyzy yyyyyzy

8.3.2 Techniques of Teaching Stress Perception, Recognition and Production in Arabic ‫اﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﺣﺴﺎس و ﺗﻤﻴﻴﺰو اداء اﻟﻨﺒﺮﻓﻲ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ Some of the most typical word patterns of Arabic that are convenient for teaching stress perception, recognition and production to English learners are those of the present, past and imperative verb forms based on triliteral (verbs with only three radical consonants) verbs as well as regular masculine and feminine plurals. All the above verb forms receive stress on the first syllable. Below is a list of such verb forms with their phonetic transcription and the visual stress pattern representation.

Teaching Salient Prosodic Features of Arabic and English

Tense Present Past Imperative Present

Verb ‫ﻳﻜﺘُﺐ‬ ‫ﺐ‬ َ ‫َآ َﺘ‬ ‫اُآﺘُﺐ‬ ‫ﻳَﺴﻜُﺖ‬


‫ﺖ‬ َ ‫ﺳ َﻜ‬ َ

Imperative ‫اُﺳﻜُﺖ‬

Meaning writes wrote write! becomes silent became silent be silent


Pronunciation jktb ktb ktb jskt

Syllabic Structure zyy zyy zy zyy





Table 8.2. Stress patterns of present, past and imperative forms of verbs. As for the regular masculine and feminine plurals of singular nouns, stress consistently falls on the ultimate (final) syllable as opposed to the singular form which receive it on the penultimate one as in the examples in table 8.3, below. Noun Sing. ‫ﻣُﻌﻠّﻢ‬ ‫ﻣُﺴﺎﻓِﺮ‬ ‫ُﻣ َﺜﻘّﻒ‬ ‫ُﻣﻬَﻨﺪس‬ ‫ﻣُﺮﺷّﺢ‬

Pronunciation mllm19 msafr mqqf mhnds mr

Sylla. Struc. yzy yzy yzy yzy yzy

Noun Plural ‫ﻣُﻌﻠّﻤﻮن‬ ‫ﻣُﺴﺎﻓِﺮون‬ ‫ُﻣ َﺜﻘّﻔﻮن‬ ‫ُﻣﻬَﻨﺪﺳﻮن‬ ‫ﻣُﺮﺷّﺤﻮن‬

Pronunciation mllmun msafrun mqqfun mhndsun mrun

Sylla. Struc. yyyz yyyz yyyz yyyz yyyz

Table 8.3. Stress placement in regular masculine and feminine nouns in Arabic.

8.4 Techniques of Teaching Rhythm ‫اﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻻﻳﻘﺎع‬ Rhythm is the distribution of stressed and unstressed syllables within a sentence or a piece of discourse in a given language. Languages of the world display a wide range of rhythm types. Traditionally, albeit simplistically, they have been clustered into a dichotomy of stress-timed or syllable-timed rhythm types. In reality, they are more diversified to be captured by a dichotomy. To place the different rhythm types along a continuum yields a far more realistic representation. However, there are some linguists who tend to think that the concept of a dichotomy is too rigid a characterization to realistically portray the nature of rhythm in human language. Like any other area in teaching pronunciation, it is quite practical and functional to familiarize the beginners with the most distinguishable 19

If these nouns are fully marked, one should add [n] to the end of their pronunciation, an ending which is called in Arabic. Notice that with the addition of nunation the difference in pronunciation between the singular and plural forms will be confined to a shift in the placement of stress and the concomitant lengthening of the vowel due to stress shift. In other words, stress pattern and syllabic structure will become .


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

and contrastive rhythm types. In Odisho (2003b), rhythm types were connected with the types of vowel systems within given languages. Vowel types were generally classified as centripetal vowel systems vs. centrifugal vowel systems. English was described as having a typical centripetal with a wide variety of very short, short, longish and long vowels which, in turn, yielded a wide variety of syllable structures and patterns. Because Arabic does not have a vowel system with extensive vowel qualities let alone the fact that Arabic does not allow considerable vowel reduction as is the case in English, it is quite natural to expect a noticeably different rhythm type than English. Taking these differences into consideration, the next sections will focus on some of the most rhythmically representative aspects of English and Arabic rhythm patterns and how to teach them. 8.4.1 Techniques of Teaching Rhythm in English ‫أﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻻﻳﻘﺎع ﻓﻲ اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ In teaching English rhythm, it is imperative that learners be aware of the concept of vowel reduction both qualitatively and quantitatively. A Spanish learner of English tends to impose his native rules of pronunciation and the dynamics of his overall native rhythm on English. Thus, it is not unlikely that the English word will be pronounced [komfortabl] rather than [kmftbl]. Regardless of the aspirated and non-aspirated consonant difference between the two languages the more important differences are in the drastic deviation from the expected contextual rendition of the English vowels. Typically, notice the total absence in Spanish of reduced vowels. This change in the Spanish and English pronunciation renditions is not confined to segments (vowels and consonants), it goes beyond that to determine the overall rhythmic rendition of the word as a whole. Similarly, when an Arab learner of English transliterates and/or pronounces the name as ﻣﺎرﻳ ﺎن اﻧﺪﻳﺮﺳ ﻮن‬marjan andrson] instead of [mærn ændrsn] the divergence in not simply confined to vowels; the overall stress placement and the rhythmic pattern are made conspicuously rendered unEnglish. Imagine, if this much divergence is created in two names, the divergence must be multiplied within a longer piece of discourse. The most practical technique to teach vowel dynamics and rhythm of English for its Arab learners is to enable them master vowel reduction. The best materials in this regard are the nonsense syllable structures of a consonant plus vowel (CV) in which the vowel changes from [æ or a] to [] with the shift of stress as in the following examples. ma m m m






Teaching Salient Prosodic Features of Arabic and English


Instructor has to use as many different sensory and nonverbal modalities to demonstrate the change in stress location and vowel quality change. Once the instructor is confident that learners are able to perceive, recognize and produce the differences, a move should be made to linguistic materials. In English, there is no better material to serve the purpose of teaching and learning vowel quality reduction than the so-called English words with strong and weak forms. These words which are some of the most frequently used items in English have an enormous influence on the nature of rhythm in English. It is the view in this book that no course in the pronunciation of English is expected to be effective and efficient without a major emphasis on practicing pronunciation of texts with those words. Table 8.4 is an expanded list of such words which were initially introduced in table 7.2 above. Word

Stressed (Strong) Form a ei an æn and ænd been bin ; bn but bt can kæn for f; f from fr(o)m had hæd have hæv must mst of v shall æl some sm the i to tu us s who hu would wd

Unstressed (Weak) Form  n ; n nd; n; nd; n bn bt kn ; kn f ; fd frm hd ; d ; d hv; v; v mst v; v;  l; l sm ; sm  (V);  (C.) t (V); t(C) s; s h wd ; d ; d

Table 8.4. Weak and strong forms of some of the common words in English. After some good practice and drilling on the above strong and weak versions in citation (isolation) form, learners have to be moved to real and authentic sentential and discourse materials as in the following sentences:


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

I’ve had a dog. v hæd  d. A large part of the yard is empty.  l(r)® pt v  j(r)d z mpt Did you see the man? dd j si  mæn No, I saw a man not the man. no  s e mæn nt i mæn (emphatic) No, I saw a man not the man. no  s  mæn nt  mæn (unemphatic) 8.4.2 Techniques of Teaching Rhythm in Arabic ‫أﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻻﻳﻘﺎع ﻓﻲ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ Two important characteristics of Arabic rhythm have to be considered by any learner of Arabic, especially those whose native language is English. It has already been repeatedly mentioned that native speakers of English practice an extensive degree of vowel reduction– typically into a schwa. Such learners have to be cautioned against allowing a schwa urge20 to dominate their rendition of Arabic. For instance, the most frequently used verb form in Arabic is the past tense whose most common syllabic structure is CVCVCV as in َآ‬, and which are pronounced [kf] ‘uncovered’, [sq7] ‘fell down’ and [skb] ‘poured’, respectively. Watch carefully whether the English learners of Arabic are rendering those verbs as [kæf], [sæq7] and [sækb], respectively. If, indeed, they are doing so, stop them and bring to their attention the need to restrain the schwa urge. In sentential or discourse contexts, such comprehensive substitution of [] with [] results in very conspicuous shift in rhythm. Consider the following short Arabic sentence < ‫ﺐ‬ َ ‫َآ َﺘ‬ .‫س‬ َ ‫ >اﻟ َﻮَﻟ ُﺪ أﻟ ﺪَر‬the normal pronunciation of which is [ktbl wldd drs ]. It is likely that this sentence will be pronounced by beginner learners as [kætb ælwæld ældærs]21. The reason for the latter highly divergent pronunciation is attributed to two factors. First, the schwa urge and the inability of beginner English learners of Arabic to elide the hamza (glottal stop) plus vowel of the definite article when occurring in middle positions. The definite article in Arabic in citation (isolation) form is pronounced as [l], but when in sentential contexts in medial positions the glottal stop and the vowel [] are elided (dropped) and only the [l] is retained. In Arabic, this elision is called ‘Wasla’ or ‘Hamzat alWa1l’ and is actually pronounced as [hmztlw1l]. Notice the 20

Schwa urge stands for a strong tendency on the part of the native speakers of English to reduce vowels with more distinct quality and quantity features to shorter and less distinct vowel quality typically in the form of a schwa []. 21 The different behavior of the Arabic definite article with the so-called ‘Sun letters’ and ‘Moon letter’ will be clarified in § 8.5.

Teaching Salient Prosodic Features of Arabic and English


dropping of []. Those who are familiar with Arabic are aware that the occurrence of ‘Wasla’ is extremely frequent and it is implemented almost automatically and subconsciously by the native speakers; however, for foreign learners of Arabic, the resulting elision, coalescence and syllable restructuring often tend to be a major pronunciation problem Consequently, if the rules of ‘Wasla’ are not observed in connected speech the discourse pronunciation of Arabic will become loosely connected, inflated in syllabic structures and highly labored. All foreign learners of Arabic should seriously be drilled on mastering the ‘Wasla’ pronunciation because it, first, impacts the tempo of pronunciation and then determines some aspects of rhythm in Arabic. Notice the contrived (incorrect) rendition of each of the following sentences in Arabic followed by their natural (correct) rendition. @ .‫أﺟﺎد اﻟﺘﻠﻤﻴﺬ اﻟﻘﻮاﻋﺪ اﻻﺳﺎﺳﻴﺔ‬

[®ad ltlmi lqwad lsasjj] (contrived pronunciation) [®adl tlmil qwadl sasjj] (normal pronunciation) .‫أآﻤﻠﺖ اﻟﺒﻨﺖ اﻟﻮاﺟِﺐ ﻓﻲ اﻟﺒﻴﺖ‬

[kmlt lbnt lwa®b f lbjt] (contrived) [kmltl bntl wa®b fl bjt] (normal) .‫س اﻟﺮﺟُﻞ اﻟﻠﻐﺔ اﻟ َﻌﺮَﺑﻴﺔ‬ َ ‫َد َر‬

[drs lr®l llt lrbyyt] (contrived) [drsr r®l l ltl rbyyt] (normal) In the above transcription, notice that after the deletion of [] of the definite article, the remaining [l] is attached to the final syllable of preceding word whose structure is changed from CV to CVC. Thus, in the first example above, the [d] of [®ad] becomes [dl]. This phonetic transcription is preferred to other traditional ones which tend to retain the [l] where it morphologically belongs connected to it with a hyphen and transcribed as [®ad l–tlmi]. This traditional transcription is rejected for two reasons. First, in connected pronunciation, the [l] does become a part of the preceding syllable. Second, if the [l] is retained where it belongs morphologically, it results in the creation of an initial consonant cluster [ld] which by the rules of Arabic pronunciation is an inadmissible cluster. The latter point is readily substantiated by the phonetic transition from a consonant-final


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

word to an [l] initiated word as in [kmlt lbnt] where the first word ends with the consonant [t]. In such cases, the [] of [l] is deleted and the [l] is coalesced with [t] through an intrusive vowel [] without which a consonant cluster [tl] would emerge; in fact, the two-element cluster would even abut on [b] of [bnt] to create a more complicated three-element consonant combination that is categorically inconsistent with the sprachgefühl (linguistic intuition) of the native speakers of Arabic. Another interesting phonetic rule which imposes itself on the overall native and acceptable pronunciation of Arabic is the assimilation process to which the definite article أَل‬l] is susceptible. This rule is the phonetic manner in which the Arabic definite article behaves in the relation to the initial sound of the word to which it is prefixed. Because this phenomenon of assimilation is pervasive and is a feature that affects more than one sound segment, it naturally becomes a prosody and it is so treated in a separate section below.

8.5 Teaching of Shamsiyyah (Solar) and Qamariyyah (Lunar) Sounds ‫ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻻﺻﻮات اﻟﺸﻤﺴﻴﺔ و اﻟﻘﻤﺮﻳﺔ‬ Traditional Arab grammarians tend to recognize this phenomenon as a letter-based one and they, therefore classify the Arabic letters into ‘sun-letters’ or ‘solar letters’اﻟﺤﺮوف اﻟﺸﻤﺴﻴﺔ‬versus ‘moon-letters’ or ‘lunar letters’ < ‫اﻟﺤﺮوف‬ ‫>اﻟﻘﻤﺮﻳﺔ‬. The reality is that it is a pure phonetic phenomenon of sound dynamics. In order to understand this dichotomy, it is necessary to clarify that ‘solar-letters’ represent those consonants to which if the [l] is prefixed, the [l] of the article is fully assimilated thus leading to its disappearance and to the gemination (doubling) of the initial consonant of the given word. For instance, if [l] is added to = [ms] “sun”, the word is pronounced [ms] with the deletion of [l] and the doubling of = []. With ‘lunar-letters’, the [l] of the article is not assimilated nor is the initial consonant of the word geminated; instead, both the [l] and the initial sound are retained. For instance, the word for ‘moon’ is pronounced [lqmr] in which the [l] remains intact. Also Arab grammarian and prescriptive language analysts tend to classify the twenty-eight sounds of Arabic into two equal categories of fourteen solar sounds of ن‬t,, d, , r, z, s, , 1, #, 7, ̣, l, n] and fourteen lunar sounds of ي‬, b, ®, , , , , f, q, k, m, h, w, j]. This classification is still almost intact until this very day except for the sound of [® = ‫] ج‬, which in some of the Eastern dialects of Arabic– typically of Iraq– shows a strong tendency to behave as solar not lunar letter as it is historically stated. This observation was documented for the first time some three decades ago (Odisho, 1979c, 1980). This shift from the lunar category to the solar one indicates a historical shift in the

Teaching Salient Prosodic Features of Arabic and English


sound of the letter ج‬from being a voiced palatal plosive [] or voiced velar plosive [] to becoming a voiced post-alveolar affricate [®]. Tables 8.5 and 8.6 show examples of lunar and solar sounds in the context of words. Sound ‫ء‬ ‫ب‬ ‫ج‬ ‫ح‬ ‫خ‬ ‫ع‬ ‫غ‬ ‫ف‬ ‫ق‬ ‫ك‬ ‫م‬ ‫هـ‬ ‫و‬ ‫ي‬

Word ‫أﻻب‬ ‫اﻟﺒﺎب‬ ‫اﻟﺠﻨﺪي‬ ‫اﻟﺤﺮ‬ ‫اﻟﺨﻤﺮ‬ ‫اﻟﻌﺮب‬ ‫اﻟﻐﺮﻳﺐ‬ ‫أﻟﻔﺄر‬ ‫اﻟﻘﻤﺮ‬ ‫اﻟﻜﺮﺳﻲ‬ ‫اﻟﻤﻮﺳﻢ‬ ‫اﻟﻬﺮم‬ ‫اﻟﻮرد‬ ‫اﻟﻴﺪ‬

Meaning father door soldier heat wine Arab stranger mouse moon chair season pyramid flower hand

Pronunciation lb lbab l®ndi or ®®ndi lr lmr lrb lrib lfr lqmr lkrsi lmwsm lhrm lwrd ljd

Table 8.5. Typical rendition of Arabic definite article [l] with lunar sounds. Sound ‫ت‬ ‫ث‬ ‫د‬ ‫ذ‬ ‫ر‬ ‫ز‬ ‫س‬ ‫ش‬ 1 # 7 ̣ ‫ل‬ ‫ن‬

Word ‫اﻟﺘﻴﻦ‬ ‫اﻟﺜﺎﻟﺚ‬ ‫اﻟﺪار‬ ‫اﻟﺬﺑﺎب‬ ‫اﻟﺮي‬ ‫اﻟﺰاد‬ ‫اﻟﺴﻴﻒ‬ ‫اﻟﺸﻤﺲ‬ ‫اﻟﺼﺒﺮ‬ ‫اﻟﻀﻔﺪع‬ ‫اﻟﻄﻴﺮ‬ ‫اﻟﻈﻔﺮ‬ ‫اﻟﻠﻴﻞ‬ ‫اﻟﻨﺎر‬

Meaning fig third house fly irrigation food sword sun patience frog bird success night fire

Pronunciation ttin al ddar bab rrj zzad ssjf ms 11br ##fd 77jr ̣̣fr lljl nnar

Table 8.6. Typical rendition of Arabic definite article [l] with solar sounds.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

The ease or difficulty of executing the solar pronunciation by foreigner learners of Arabic, in general, depends on two factors; first, ample guidance and drilling and second, whether the learners have gemination (doubling) of consonant sounds in their native language. Since in English doubling of consonants is almost non-existent, mastering the abundance of gemination instances in Arabic becomes a real challenge in pronunciation. To reinforce the two distinct phonetic renditions of [l] with solar and lunar sounds it may be helpful to visually represent the process with the exemplary Arabic words for and .

‫ ﻗَـﻤَﺮ‬Æ [qmr] ‫ أﻟ َﻘﻤَﺮ‬Æ[lqmr] ‫ﺷﻤْﺲ‬ َ Æ[ms] ‫ﺸﻤْﺲ‬ َ ‫اﻟ‬Æ[ms] 8.6 GA and RP ‘r’s between Partial and Full Deletion@ ‫اﻟﺮاء ﻓﻲ اﻟﻠﻬﺠﺎت‬ ‫اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ ﺑﻴﻦ اﻻﺳﻘﺎط اﻟﺠﺰﺋﻲ و اﻟﻜﻠﻲ‬

R-coloring or the so-called rhotacization in GA simply means to give a vowel that is followed by an the acoustic or impressionistic quality of an ‘r’ sound. MacKay (1978) claims that in words such as , and each of the respective orthographic combinations , and shows an ‘r’ where phonetically there is no consonant sound ‘r’ in these words. It was indicated previously (Odisho, 2003b) that the strict validity of MacKay’s claim is phonetically vulnerable to scrutiny simply because a certain phonetic feature of a typical GA retroflex ‘r’, perhaps in the form of a retroflexion gesture, is still being retained through superimposition on the preceding vowel. Consequently, it is believed here that the so-called ‘r-coloring’ in GA is more realistically a partial deletion and not without some consequences. In RP, ‘r’ seems to be fully deleted when not followed by a vowel; however, the full deletion also does not seem without some consequences in the form of phonetic vacuum filling. In other words, the deletion in both cases does not seem to be a sheer mechanical process of elimination that is effectuated without any phonetic traces or residues that are left behind. In case of GA, it was just mentioned that a trace of retroflexion of the ‘r’ is still being carried by the preceding vowel.

Teaching Salient Prosodic Features of Arabic and English


Somewhat unlike GA, in RP the deletion of ‘r’ seems to create a vacuum that is filled with a vocalic gesture reflected in the quality and quantity of the preceding vowel. For example, in the RP pronunciation of = [bd] and = [pt], as one category of words, and = [hi] and = [], as another category, although the deletion of ‘r’ is virtually a full one, the void left by its deletion seems to be compensated for by the qualtitative change in the adjacent vowels. In the first category, [bd] and [pt], the change is in the form of vowel length (Thomas, 1958), while in the second category, [hi] and [], the change is in the form of a glide resulting in a diphthong 22 (Bronstein, 1960). Just to elaborate on the above-mentioned phenomenon of r-deletion in RP and the ensuing qualitative vocalic filler, it is inevitable to notice the connection between the deletion and the emergence of more diphthongs in RP as opposed to GA, especially diphthongs with a schwa [] as the final gliding element as in [], [] and [] in the words , and . In fact, the overwhelming majority of examples cited for the demonstration of the []-ending diphthongs ([], [] and []) in the phonology of RP are words with a deleted ‘r’ (Gimson, 1962 onwards editions; Roach, 1983). This strong connection between the deletion of ‘r’ and the appearance of rhotacized vowels [d, g] in GA and the appearance of [] and [] or the []ending diphthongs in RP does not seem accidental. On the contrary, due to the retroflex approximant nature of ‘r’ in GA and its retroflex-like approximant nature in RP, any attempt to delete the ‘r’ the articulatory void is immediately filled with an [d], [g], [] or [] posture because they have the most similar articulatory posture to that of the approximant [] of GA or approximant [] of RP. With a careful phonetic assessment of the so-called r-coloring in GA, one may also justify treating it as partial r-deletion because it still leaves behind the rhotacization feature of ‘r’ that extends acoustically and auditorily to overwhelm the preceding vowel due to an anticipatory articulatory gesture. Thus, both the traditionally known r-coloring of GA and the so-called r-deletion in RP are only superficially different in their phonetic symptoms, whereas in their deep (underlying) structures they represent a similar process in nature which may be renamed as ‘deletion +’, with the ‘+’ indicating the vocalic change that fills the resulting void. For convenience, all these r-related processes may also be known, hereafter, as ‘r-gesture’ prosody.


Of course there are exceptions. In the word = [ait], in which the ‘r’ occurs in an unstressed position, the dropping of the ‘r’ results, as usual, in a schwa rather than a diphthong, i.e. with minimum qualtitative change. There seems to be a direct connection between the absence of a primary stress and the emergence of a schwa instead of a diphthong.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

8.6.1 Why an ‘R-Gesture’ Prosody? ‫ﻟﻤﺎذا اﻟﺴﻤﺔ اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ اﻟﻄﻮﻳﻠﺔ ﻟﻠﺮاء ؟‬ The reason why this r-gesture is treated as a long segment or prosody is simply because the process of deletion or obscuration of ‘r’ proliferates beyond the ‘r’ segment into the adjacent vowel, thus becoming suprasegmental or prosodic in nature. In fact, in case of GA, one may claim that the articulatory and acoustic features of r-gesture may even be felt spreading throughout a word, especially a monosyllabic one. For instance, in the pronunciation of = [bgd], one can readily sense that the articulatory retroflexion (tilting of tongue tip) gesture is already assumed even before the actual articulation of the initial [b]; in fact, it is also sensed in the final [d]. 8.6.2 ‘R-Gesture’: Phonetic or Phonological Accent? ‫اﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ او اﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ‬ ‫اﻟﻮﻇﻴﻔﻴﺔ؟‬ At the very outset, one has to emphasize the fact that except for the gemination (doubling) of ‘r’ in Arabic, which may trigger phonological differences, r-gesture within English and between English and Arabic tends to result only in phonetic accent; indeed, an acute phonetic accent. In fact, in both cases, the difference plays an important role in shaping the overall phonetic setting of each variety of English, on the one hand, and the phonetic setting of Arabic, on the other hand. In the teaching of any course involving comparative English pronunciation or multilingual pronunciation or, for that matter, a course in communication and intelligence involving accent acquisition, accent reduction and accent faking, a comparative teaching of ‘r’s and their r-gestures becomes indispensable. The acuteness of the phonetic accent, is attributed to several reasons: 1) the relatively high frequency occurrence of ‘r’, 2) the mere difference in the phonetic nature of the ‘r’ s, and, 3) the prosodic (suprasegmental) nature of r-gesture in English and the need on the part of Arab learners to master the phonetic consequences of r-gesture. However, the above three reasons require some additional elaboration. 1) The frequency of occurrence of ‘r’ in Arabic and English is very high. In English, for instance, ‘r’ ranks among the most frequent sounds (Shriberg and Kent, 1982). The sound is used in all types of words, common and uncommon, and formal or informal many of which are of high frequency of circulation. In English, words such as etc… are extremely common. In Arabic, words with ‘r’ such as < ,‫ درس‬,‫ رآﺾ‬,‫ ﻗﺮأ‬,‫ ﻋﺸﺮة‬,‫ارﺑﻌﺔ‬ ‫ ﺻﻐﻴﺮ‬,‫ آﺒﻴﺮ‬,‫ رﺳﻢ‬,‫ >ﻧﺎر‬are also of equally high circulation. 2) The phonetic nature of ‘r’ in the two languages is, perhaps, a very powerful source for the augmentation of the auditory and impressionistic difference between and among the ‘r’s. No doubt, both languages have a wide variety of ‘r’s, but the focus will be on the varieties commonly used in the standard forms of English and Arabic. It has already been pointed out in §6.5 that both GA and RP ‘r’s are approximant in nature, though the former tends to be somewhat more retroflexed than the latter, whereas those in Arabic are either a tap [] or a trill [r]. It is such

Teaching Salient Prosodic Features of Arabic and English


articulatory mismatches that trigger the overall ‘r-based’ pronunciation differences which are additionally augmented by the prosodic nature of ‘r’ articulations in English. Examples to demonstrate such differences in pronunciation will be cited in the next part which elaborates on the prosodic nature of the difference. 3) The prosodic nature of what happens in GA is the deletion of ‘r’, but with the retention of the retroflex rhotacization in the preceding vowel. In RP, the ‘r’ is deleted without leaving a trace of retroflexion in the preceding vowel; instead, the vowel either receives additional length with an overall schwa-like tongue configuration as in [bd] or is tagged with a glide in the form of a schwa resulting in diphthongs such as [], [] and [] as in , and , respectively. The articulatory gymnastics resulting from the execution of GA and RP ‘r’s are highly incompatible with the articulations of Arabic ‘r’s for the following reasons. a) They represent a drastic phonetic difference between the approximant (with/without retroflex) articulations of the former and the tap and trill articulations of Arabic ‘r’s. b) The consequences of r-deletions (partial or full) lean strongly in the direction of neutral and/or central vowels, especially [ d  g] all of which are uncharacteristic of Arabic. c) Furthermore, the simple pre-‘r’ vowels, especially of RP, may enter into combinations, especially with [], to form diphthongs which do not exist in Arabic; in fact, generally speaking, diphthongs are uncharacteristic of Arabic. It light of the above differences and as demonstrated in table 8.7, below, Word RP


card girl bird beard poor there here

kd l bd bd p  h

kd 23 gl bgd bd p  h




Arabic Rendition kd l bd bid pur r hir or hjar dir or djar

Table 8.7. Examples of the rendition of GA and RP r-gesture in the speech of Arabic learners of English Arab learners of English often fail to produce the approximant English ‘r’ let alone when it is with retroflexion as in GA. They, generally, replace the 23

The transcription for GA is after Kenyon and Knott (1953) except for the insertion of an IPA retroflex [] symbol instead of regular ‘r’ symbols.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

approximant with a tap or a trill depending on the linguistic context or the style of the speaker. The retention of the tap or the trill ‘r’ inhibits any tendency of vowels in the direction of rhotacization, retroflexion or schwaization (vowel reduction in the form of []) which are all typical consequences of r-gesture in English. What the Arab learners do, instead, is to pronounce one of their own ‘r’s and select one of the following three options for the preceding vowel. First, they may shorten the vowel before their tap or trill. Second, they may transform a diphthong into a long vowel. Third, they may transform a diphthong to a short vowel followed by a [j] (instead of an [] glide), which is, in turn, followed by another vowel thus adding a new syllable. Interestingly, the tendency to retain the pronunciation of ‘r’ in the speech of Arab learners of English may result in more than a segmental problem. In table 8.8, Word

RP Pronunciation first [fst] burst [bst] turned [tnd] curved [kvd] barked [bkt]

Arabic Rendition Fi-rist Bu-rist Tur-nid Kur-vid Bar-kid

Table 8.8. Syllabic restructuring of English words due to English ‘r’ retention. English words containing ‘r’s, which are monosyllabic in pronunciation, are transformed into bisyllabic words because Arab learners tend to pronounce the ‘r’ thus creating word-final clusters of three consonants which are phonologically and phonetically highly incompatible with Arabic. To illustrate, RP pronunciation of is [kvd], but the retention of ‘r’ in its Arabic rendition yields the word-final consonant of [rvd] which the Arabs have to break up. This type of structural and pronunciation conversion is not only very common with Arab learners of English, but it is also a salient aspect of their mispronunciation of English because of its prosodic (suprasegmental) nature. It simply results in a distinct syllabic restructuring of English words; in this case, transforming a monosallabic word into a bisyllabic one.

8.7 Conclusions In teaching pronunciation, the suprasegmental features (prosodics) receive more attention than the segmental features, vowels and consonants, for two reasons. First, they seems to be the less tangible and palpable features that rarely have any representation in orthography regardless of whether it is alphabetic, syllabic or ideographic. Second, they tend to be more complex features and,

Teaching Salient Prosodic Features of Arabic and English


hence, more difficult to teach without proper training on the part of the instructor. In sum, they tend to be the neglected aspect of teaching pronunciation since the overwhelming majority of instructors in elementary and high schools are not prepared to tackle them. In view of such negligence and lack of preparedness, any course in linguistics or any teacher preparation program should pay greater attention to the teaching of prosodics. The teaching of pronunciation would be seriously deficient without this emphasis.

Chapter IX

Instructional Significance of Phonetic vs. Phonological Accent Distinction ‫اﻻهﻤﻴﺔ اﻟﺘﻌﻠﻴﻤﻴﺔ ﻟﻠﺘﻤﻴﻴﺰ ﺑﻴﻦ اﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ و اﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ اﻟﻮﻇﻴﻔﻴﺔ‬ 9.1 Introduction In the preceding chapters, it was hinted in passing of a formal distinction between phonological accent and phonetic accent. The former was identified as mispronunciation that results in a semantic change (change in meaning) in the targeted language or dialect, whereas the latter was identified as mispronunciation that does not trigger a change in meaning. in the targeted language. The distinction was meant to refine the generic term ‘accent’, often thrown in instructional circles very vaguely with no clear definitions, implications and applications. The primary purpose of this chapter is to refine various realizations of accent, specify their implications and identify their applications. In Odisho 2003b, two distinctions were adduced to serve the refinement. First, a distinction of accent was based on whether the accent was detected within different varieties of a given language or when transitioning between two languages– L1 and L2. The former was identified as intralanguage accent and the latter as interlanguage accent. Second, as pointed out above, a distinction was also made between phonetic vs. phonological accent. The latter distinction will be the focus of this Chapter, especially in relation to the instructional significance of accent in teaching comparative pronunciation in formal or informal situations.

9.2 Prioritizing the Teaching of Phonetic vs. Phonological Accent Contrasts ‫ﺗﻘﺮﻳﺮ اﻻﻓﻀﻠﻴﺔ ﻓﻲ ﺗﺪرﻳﺲ اﻟﺘﻀﺎد ﺑﻴﻦ اﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ و اﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ‬ ‫اﻟﻮﻇﻴﻔﻴﺔ‬ @

In any teaching situation where learners are being introduced to L2, there is always a large number of pronunciation problems that involve consonants, vowels and prosodics. For a successful confrontation and solving of those problems, the instructor has to have a systematic plan for prioritizing among those problems based on the following criteria: 1) Which problems lead to phonological accent vs. phonetic accent? 2) Which problems are more common and are encountered by more learners? 3) Which problems yield themselves to more readily manageable solutions? In other words which ones are easy to remedy or difficult to remedy. The above criteria will be elaborated on below with as many examples as possible and from different languages.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

9.2.1 Phonological vs. Phonetic Accent Problems ‫ﻣﺸﺎآﻞ اﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ ﻣﻘﺎﺑﻞ اﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ‬ ‫اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ اﻟﻮﻇﻴﻔﻴﺔ‬ @ This is by far the most important criterion for determining the priority. Once the instructor meets the learners, his/her goal should be to identify as large an array of problems as possible and then determine which ones cause a phonological accent and which ones are only phonetic mispronunciations. It may take an instructor some time to identify and sort out the problems; therefore, the first days or weeks should really be devoted to the discovery of those problems. Obviously, to achieve this goal, he/she has to have a set of activities and techniques that might be called discovery procedures. Examples of such discovery procedures would be: a) Know the linguistic background of the learners. b) Listen as carefully and as discriminatively as possible to their pronunciation. c) Afford as much opportunity as possible to as many learners as possible to speak. d) Have well selected testing materials from the two or more languages involved, such as distinctive minimal pairs, to which learners are intentionally exposed. Let us, for instance, take Hispanic learners of English. In any ESL, bilingual or foreign language situation where the instructor meets Hispanic learners, he/she immediately notices many pronunciation difficulties, but the most dominant of all is that of vowels. It, very vividly, overwhelms the other problems and portrays itself in both vowel quantity and quality serious mispronunciations. The most prominent of all those vocalic mispronunciations is the failure to distinguish short vowels and long vowels of English simply because vowel length (quantity) is insignificant in Spanish. There are virtually thousands of English words in which if the length of the vowel and/or its quality changes, a radical and serious change in meaning will ensue. Prior to citing some typical examples, one must clarify the nature of the problem in a more specific and refined manner. Spanish has a vowel system in which not only the quality is confined to five vowels [i, u, e, o, a], but also, very much unlike English, the quality only minimally changes in various contexts; besides, vowel length change in Spanish is almost negligible. Perceptually, a Spanish vowel /i/ sounds as if it has a half-length compared to full length of English /i/, but is slightly longer than English // and somewhat different in quality. To demonstrate the phonetic difference between the two English vowels as opposed to the single Spanish vowel more distinctly, one needs more refined (narrower) phonetic transcription such as [i] for Spanish and [i] and [] for English implying a half-length for Spanish, a full length and minimum length, consecutively, for English. Thus, Hispanics substitute the two English vowels of [i] and [] for their single vowel [i] leading to serious phonological accent and major semantic confusion as in the examples in table 9.1, below.

Instructional Significance of Phonetic vs. Phonological Accent Distinction 115

Minimal pairs Of English pill vs. peel mill vs. meal sin vs. seen ship vs. sheep sip vs. seep pick vs. peak ill vs.eel sick vs. seek chip vs. cheap bitch vs. beach chick vs. cheek

English Pronunciation [pl] vs. [pil] [ml] vs. [mil] [sn] vs. [sin] [p] vs. [ip] [sp] vs. [sip] [pk] vs. [pik] [l] vs. [il] [sk] vs. [sik] [±p] vs. [±ip] [b±] vs. [bi±] [±k] vs. [±ik]

Spanish Rendition for both [pil] [mil] [sin] [ip] or [±ip] [sip] [pik] [il] [sik] [±ip] [bi±] [±ik]

Table 9.1. Typical examples of Hispanic mispronunciation of English vowels resulting in acute phonological accent. The confusion resulting from these mispronunciations is not only confined to the domain of semantics (meaning); rather, the confusion easily extends into the domain of spelling; in fact, many major spelling errors committed by Hispanic learners of English are blamed on mispronunciation. It is quite common to come across spelling errors such as for , for and for or vice versa. The reason for this orthographic confusion has no explanation but only in terms of mispronunciation. Take, for example, the spelling of as which is simply because the Spanish speaker psycholinguistically, (in his mind) pronounces as [is] rather than as [s]. His pronunciation is almost identical with English = [iz]24, therefore, he spells it as his psycholinguistic impression dictates rather than abiding by the formal orthographic spelling in English. Briefly, the above example of mispronunciation by Hispanic learners of English is of major significance and is a typical example of phonological accent that should receive the highest priority by the instructor. Let us take another example of mispronunciation by Arab learners of English that amounts to acute phonological accent and should receive utmost attention. As mentioned in the early chapters, Arabic does not have ‘p’ as a phoneme or phonological unit. Thus, Arab learners of English overwhelmingly face serious difficulty with the correct pronunciation of /p/ and its replacement with a /b/. This affects the mispronunciation of thousands upon thousands of English words and their confusion with words having a /b/ in the same position of the mispronounced


Remember, there is no /z/ phoneme in Spanish, a fact which further lure the speller to commit the error.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

/p/. The mispronunciation is most striking in minimal pairs such as the ones in table 9.2, below. English Arabic Rendition Minimal pairs for both pray vs. bray park vs. bark pitch vs. bitch pill vs. bill pull vs. bull paul vs. ball

/brei/ /brk/ /b±/ /bl/ /bl/ /bol/

Table 9.2. English Minimal pairs with /p/ vs. /b/ whose contrast is eliminated in their Arabic renditions The mix-up in the above minimal pairs does not only lead to semantic confusion, it also results in significant phonetic distortion. Imagine if a sentence as this: ‘I put the piece of paper in my car which is now in the parking place,’ is rendered as ‘I but the biece of baber in my car which is now in the barking blace.’ To contrast the above two cases of phonological accent demonstrated by Hispanic and Arab learners of English, let us consider a case of learners of English from Hindi or Urdu linguistic background. In the majority of the sub-continental Indian languages, the sound phenomenon of retroflexion is prevalent, phonetically and phonologically, as well as segmentally (consonants and vowels) and suprasegmentally (prosodies or long features). Of all the sounds involved, it is the ‘r’ that typically carries the features of retroflexion. When speakers of such languages embark on learning English or other languages they color those languages with a distinct veneer of retroflexion almost throughout the whole pronunciation. Thus, retroflexion in the rendition of English by those learners is the most salient characteristic of their accent. Fortunately, in English, as well as in many languages, the accent resulting from retroflexion is oftentimes phonetic rather than phonological. Nevertheless, it is a very serious phonetic accent and should receive ample attention from the instructor. The seriousness of this ‘retroflexion accent’ is attributed to the following reasons. a) It is both segmental and suprasegmental (prosodic). b) It is relatively a rare feature (highly marked and uncommon) in human speech that easily attracts the attention of speakers of other languages. It is also for those two reasons that comedians stereotype the natives of sub-continental India by impersonating a type of speech that is laden with retroflexion.

Instructional Significance of Phonetic vs. Phonological Accent Distinction 117

9.2.2 More Common vs. Less Common Problems ‫ﻣﺸﺎآﻞ اآﺜﺮ ﺷﻴﻮﻋﺎ ﻣﻘﺎﺑﻞ اﺧﺮى اﻗﻞ‬ ‫@ @ﺷﻴﻮﻋﺎ‬ This relates to any kind of mispronunciation regardless of whether it results in a phonological accent or a phonetic one. Doubtless, those causing phonological accent should receive priority. For instance, in the case of English learners of Arabic, some of the most common problems facing such learners are the plain vs. emphatic sounds, the pharyngeals and the uvulars of Arabic in the domain of consonants and quality and quantity reduction in vowels. The pronunciation of Arabic by the native speakers of English will be seriously handicapped phonetically, semantically and even orthographically if they fail to master those consonants and fail to restrain their temptation for vowel reduction or the so-called schwa urge. To demonstrate, if a native speaker of English fails to recognize and pronounce ﺻﻴﻦ‬China” which is the emphatic counterpart of ﺳﻴﻦ‬letter-name of س‬then he is likely to confuse the two words and even spell them incorrectly. To move to another language, when native speakers of English handle Spanish, one of the most frequently encountered problems is the mastery of the two ‘r’s of Spanish. They have to be able to pronounce and distinguish the two ‘r’s not only because they are phonologically significant, but also because they are phonetically so different from the English ‘r’ whether in RP or GA. Still in the realm of ‘r’ sounds, Arab learners of English bring with them a tap or a trill ‘r’ to replace the (retroflex) approximant one of English. This replacement often results in phonetic accent, but the accent is so acute, widespread and highly detectable that it should be given some serious attention at least for those who seek a high level of proficiency in pronunciation and reduce their accent as much as possible. Let us move back to English and handle the learning and teaching of its interdental pair of /, /. In terms of their frequency of occurrence in English, they are some of the commonly used sounds. The rarity of these two interdentals in other languages makes learners from those language face a major phonological and phonetic accent. The failure of learners of English to master these two sounds amounts to one of the most salient and striking indicators of their accent in English. 9.2.3 Easy to Remedy vs. Difficult to Remedy Problems ‫@ﻣﺸﺎآﻞ اﺳﻬﻞ ﻋﻼﺟﺎ اﺧﺮى‬ ‫اﺻﻌﺐ ﻋﻼﺟﺎ ﻣﻘﺎﺑﻞ‬ @ @ Sounds that yield themselves more readily to visual, auditory and kinesthetic-proprioceptive perception and detection usually tend to be more teachable because they offer greater chance for more diversified input that instructors can manipulate and make available to learners in the form of activities and techniques. In the previous section, it was pointed out that English /, / are some of the most commonly mispronounced sounds by L2 and FL learners of English. However, in sharp contrast to their problematic nature for many learners, their teaching yields itself very handily to auditory, visual and kinesthetic sensory modalities that instructors can manipulate and learners can emulate. Consequently, their teaching should be quite manageable by those instructors who have ample knowledge of phonetics and techniques of teaching pronunciation.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

9.3 Selective Salient Arabic-English Accent-Causing Features ‫ﻣﺨﺘﺎرات‬ ‫ﻣﻬﻤﺔ ﻟﻤﺴﺒﺒﺎت اﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ ﻟﻠﻌﺮب اﻟﻤﺘﻌﻠﻤﻴﻦ ﻟﻼﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ @

@ In the following subsections, a general identification of some of the most salient pronunciation features will be made for English learners of Arabic and vice versa. The identification will be made according to two principles: a) What accent, phonological or phonetic? b) What domain, segmental (consonants or vowels) or prosodic (suprasegmental)?

9.3.1 Arab learners of English: Specimens of Phonological Accent ‫اﻟﻌﺮب اﻟﻤﺘﻌﻠﻤﻴﻦ‬ ‫ ﻧﻤﺎذج ﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ اﻟﻮﻇﻴﻔﻴﺔ‬:‫@ﻟﻼﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ In the domain of vowels, Arab learners may face serious difficulty in distinguishing between the following vowels and pairs of vowels and/or diphthongs: a) // vs. // vs. /o/ as in , and , respectively, all of which are usually pronounced as [o] by Arab learners thus failing to distinguish between and among pairs or triplets of words such as the ones above. Even when the failure of learners does not involve minimal pairs, it does constitute a phonetic accent that is readily detectable. b) /e or / vs. /e/ as in and which are usually pronounced as [e]. In the domain of consonants, there are several ones whose absence in Arabic may cause Arab learners of English phonological accent; however, the seriousness and prevalence of the accent may differ from one consonant to the other. For example, most varieties of Arabic do not have the English consonants of /p v ±  /, but the most serious of all is the absence of /p/ because it is a sound with very high frequency of occurrence in English as opposed to its total phonological absence in Arabic and its highly obscure and marginal phonetic presence in certain highly restricted contexts. Thus, the teaching of /p/ should be of very high priority. In prosodics (suprasegmentals), the most important aspects of English that constitute significant phonological as well as phonetic obstacles in the way of Arabs are the following: a) Dominating presence of schwa in English and the strong tendency towards vowel reduction and specifically towards schwaization. b) Misplacement of stress coupled with the absence of vowel reduction jointly result in the most detectable deviation from an acceptable pronunciation of English. For instance, a joint misplacement of stress and the suspension of vowel reduction makes an Arab learner of English unable to distinguish between = [kmt] vs. = [kmt] because both are often pronounced as [kmt]. Similarly, = [kmt] vs. = [kmt] both are often rendered as [kmt]. One of the most common grammatical and semantic

Instructional Significance of Phonetic vs. Phonological Accent Distinction 119

confusion resulting from the misplacement of stress is the one relating verb-noun pairs discussed in § 8.3. 9.3.2 Arab learners of English: Examples of Phonetic Accent ‫اﻟﻌﺮب اﻟﻤﺘﻌﻠﻤﻴﻦ‬ ‫ اﻣﺜﺎل ﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ‬:‫@ﻟﻼﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ No doubt, all mispronunciations causing phonological accent also, by definition, cause phonetic accent. Although from the instructional perspective, the handling of phonological accent takes priority, the overall purpose of teaching pronunciation should be the reduction of accent, regardless of being phonological or phonetic, and the narrowing of the gap between the model pronunciation of the native speaker and the prospective non-native learner. Obviously, the sources causing phonetic accent are, therefore, far more than those causing phonological accent. However, the intention here is not to survey and identify every source of accent; such a task is too broad to be practical and realistic. Consequently, some of the most salient and common causes of phonetic accent will be identified below. In the area of vowels, if the mispronunciation of // does not result in phonological accent, then it certainly results in phonetic accent. With // being the most frequently used English vowel, its mastery really plays an extremely important role in averting any phonological accent and reducing phonetic accent. Take for example one of the most frequently used words such as . If the word were pronounced based on its orthographic (spelling) form, which beginners often do, its pronunciation would be highly distorted. For an acceptable and accurate pronunciation, the schwas in the word should be realized and the stress should be correctly placed as in [kmftbl]. Also RP vowel // or its GA counterpart /g/, which usually occurs before deleted ‘r’s, has no counterpart in English, but fortunately it often does not lead to phonological accent because Arab learners replace it with vowel [] and retain an Arabic equivalent of ‘r’ thus leading to only phonetic accent, albeit an acute one. For example, which is pronounced as [bd] in RP and [bgd] in GA both become [bd] in their Arabic rendition. For more details on vowel-related ‘r’s see tables 8.7 and 8.8, above. As for the English consonants, other than their total absence in Arabic which causes phonological accent, the replacement of the approximant ‘r’s by the Arabic tap ‘r’ or the trill one is a main source of phonetic accent for Arabs. Also, occasionally, the replacement of a ‘dark-l’ with a ‘clear-l’ or vice versa creates some phonetic accent, but the confusion is usually quite remediable. Additionally, the wide variety of consonant clusters in English and their rarity in Arabic is yet another source of difficulty and often of serious phonetic accent for Arab learners of English. For more details, see materials in § 6.6, above. With regards to prosodics and their role as a source of phonetic accent, there is one comprehensive statement to be made which is essentially related to the misplacement of stress and the failure to implement vowel reduction. If the failure of proper placement of stress and the negligence of vowel reduction do not result in phonological accent, they, certainly, do result in major phonetic accent. It is the view here that teaching Arab learners of English proper placement of stress and vowel


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

reduction should receive foremost attention from the instructor because not only they are important phonetic phenomena by themselves, but also because they are the two main factors that shape the overall rhythm in English.

9.4 Selective Salient English-Arabic Accent-Causing Features ‫ﻣﺨﺘﺎرات‬ ‫@ﻣﻬﻤﺔ ﻟﻤﺴﺒﺒﺎت اﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ ﻟﻼﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰ اﻟﻤﺘﻌﻠﻤﻴﻦ ﻟﻠﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ Here also the focus is on the main sources of mispronunciation and accent of English learners of Arabic. If one intends to make a general judgement to pinpoint the major areas of comparative difficulty for the two groups of learners of each others language, then one would tend to assume that for Arabs the vowel system of English is the most challenging part of pronunciation, whereas for English it is the consonant system that is the source of greatest challenge. With this assumption in mind, let us consider some of the highlights of accent-causing aspects of Arabic for its English learners. 9.4.1 English learners of Arabic: Specimens of Phonological Accent ‫اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰ‬ ‫ ﻧﻤﺎذج ﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ اﻟﻮﻇﻴﻔﻴﺔ‬:‫@اﻟﻤﺘﻌﻠﻤﻴﻦ ﻟﻠﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ The Arabic vowel system being very limited in quality hardly poses any phonological difficulty for English learners whose native vowel system is highly diversified in quality. Equally, the quantitative (length) contrasts in Arabic constitute no serious difficulty because English does have what could be generally described as vowel contrasts based on length. At least, the English // vs. /u/ as in and and // vs. /i/ as in and are highly identical with Arabic // vs. /u/ as in ﻓُﻞ‬and ﻓﻮل‬and // vs. /i/ as in ﺳِﻦ‬and ﺳﻴﻦ‬, respectively. However, English learners face some difficulty in handling the Arabic Fata = َـــ‬ = // vs. alif madd = ا‬/a or æ/. The English /æ/ is practically a long, or at least a longish, vowel and it should never be treated as the counterpart of Arabic Fata َـــ‬.@ Actually, English /æ/ as in is far more readily acceptable as Arabic alif madd = ا‬as in the words هﺎت‬. Thus, the Arabic Fata does pose some difficulty for native speakers of English who often tend to replace with either their longish /æ/ or, conversely, with their reduced // both of which often lead to easily detectable phonetic accent. It is the area of Arabic consonants that pose the most challenging and extensive phonological problem for English learners. It has been repeatedly pointed out that almost all so-called back Arabic consonants constitute the major difficulty for almost all foreign learners of Arabic whose linguistic background is non-Semitic. As for English learners specifically, it is the uvular sounds [  q], the pharyngeal sounds [ ‫ح‬,@  ‫ ] @@ع‬as well as its emphatic sounds [7 ‫ @ط‬,@ # ‫ @ض‬,@ 1 ‫ @ص‬,  ̣‫ ] ظ‬that render the overall sound system of Arabic and its pronunciation immensely unlike English. It is, therefore, beyond any doubt that the teaching of these back

Instructional Significance of Phonetic vs. Phonological Accent Distinction 121

consonants should take the utmost priority in the domain of consonants to avoid or minimize phonological accent. In prosodics, most of the difficulties English learners face are essentially of phonetic nature which will be dealt with in the next section. 9.4.2 English learners of Arabic: Specimens of Phonetic Accent ‫اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰ اﻟﻤﺘﻌﻠﻤﻴﻦ‬ ‫ ﻧﻤﺎذج ﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ‬:‫@ﻟﻠﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ Other than the above-mentioned back consonants of Arabic, which are the cause of grave phonological accent, the rest of the consonants are more or less similar to those of Arabic except for the ‘r’ which is fortunately of only phonetic difference. Nevertheless, the phonetic difference caused by ‘r’ incompatibility is easily detectable partly because of the distinct phonetic difference between the Arabic tap and trill ‘r’s and the English approximant ‘r’ with or without retroflexion and partly because of the prosodic nature of English ‘r’ and the transfer of that prosodic behavior into Arabic. To demonstrate the latter phonetic phenomenon, the English renditions of Arabic words such as ﺳَﺮﻳﺮ‬si] = “bed” and آَﺒﻴﺮ‬kbi] = “large” tend to be [si] and [kbi], in RP, and [si] and [kbi], in GA, respectively. This superimposition on Arabic of a combination of English phonetic features of r-obscuration, vowel retroflexion and diphthongization actually amounts to one of the most salient phonetic accentcausing sources for English learners of Arabic. In the field of prosodics, English learners also do misplace the stress within words and often cause some sort of phonetic accent. If, however, the misplacement of stress is combined with vowel reduction, the accent becomes more acute and quite readily detectable. In fact, at times, the acuteness of the resulting phonetic accent could be quite on the verge of semantic confusion and, perhaps, even socially embarrassing. Take for instance, the highly popular Arabic name of . In Arabic it is written and pronounced [sn] with stress on the first syllable, while in English it is usually transliterated as and pronounced [h´san] with a shift in stress. The English rendition has two serious deviations: first, the pronunciation is easily mistaken for another Arabic name which is transcribed in Arabic as and pronounced [ssan]; second, the English rendition is equally vulnerable to confusion with the Arabic pronunciation of the word for which is [1n]. In this particular domain of prosodics, the focus on the part of instructor should be on training of the English learners to restrain their fervent phonological urge in the direction of vowel reduction, which not only distorts the L2 pronunciation, but also lures the learners to shift the placement of stress. Table 9.3 contains some Arab names of persons or places that have been recently in circulation in news because of international political tension and are often seriously mispronounced essentially because of the misplacement of stress. The reader, however, should be aware of the fact that the mispronunciations involve additional consonants which are also indicated though are not the focus of attention here.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

Arabic names ‫ﻋﻠﻲ‬ ‫ﻋﻄﺎ‬ ‫ﺧﺎﻟﺪ‬ ‫ﻳﺎﺳِﺮ‬ ‫ﻋﺮﻓﺎت‬ ‫اﺣﻤَﺪ‬ ‫ﺣﺴَﻦ‬ َ ‫ﭽَﻟَﺒﻲ‬ ‫َﻗﻄَﺮ‬ ‫اﻟﻘﺎﻋِﺪة‬ ‫ﻣﻮﺻﻞ‬

English spelling

Proper Pronunciation

Visualized correct stress zy Ali li zy Ata 7a zy Khalid ald zy Yasir jasr yyz Arafat fat zy Ahmed md zy Hassan sn zyy Chalaby ±lbi zy Qatar q7r yzyy Alkaida lqad zy Mosul mu1l

MisPronunciation li t klid jsir ærfæt md hsn ±lbi ktr lkæid msul

Visualized inaccurate stress yz yz yz yz zyy yz yz yzy yz yyzy yz

Table 9.3. Typical Arabic names that are seriously mispronounced due to stress misplacement. Regardless of the intricate phonetic transcription of the Arabic names, the visual indication of the correct placement of stress as opposed to its misplacement in the English renditions is too distinct to pass unnoticed even by a linguistically unsophisticated person. This serious deviation in the location of stress coupled with the mispronunciation of quite a few Arabic consonants becomes the source of extremely serious phonetic accent that even if it does not directly confuse meaning, it certainly does contribute to obscuring it drastically.

9.5 Conclusions Throughout this book, the main emphasis has been on a systematic cognitive approach to teaching pronunciation away from an ad hoc, spur-of-the-moment or repeat-after-me style of teaching. The systematicness of this approach rests on many prerequisites on the part of the instructor foremost of which are: a) knowledge base in phonetic sciences; b) know-how in the most recent approaches, methods and techniques of teaching; c) familiarity with the latest developments in cognitive approaches to education and teaching; and d) a well-defined plan of instruction with openness to continuous modification and improvement of instruction.. With the last prerequisite comes the urgent need for prioritizing those aspects of pronunciation according to the criteria presented briefly throughout this Chapter. Without this prioritization, less important and less common pronunciation problems may take the place of more important and common problems the long-term outcome of which is the waste of instructor’s time and the loss of effective learning opportunity by the learners.

Chapter X

Orthography and Pronunciation Connection in Arabic and English ‫ﻋﻼﻗﺔ اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﺔ و اﻟﺘﻠﻔﻆ ﻓﻲ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ و اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ 10.1 Introduction The reason why Arabic orthography is invoked as a source of mispronunciation is the fact that thousands of foreign proper names, common names, geographic names and names of thousands of industrial, commercial and ordinary household materials are introduced into the life of an ordinary native speaker of Arabic. These names and words are usually transliterated into Arabic and the transliteration is often based on a rough approximation of the English pronunciation depicted in terms of Arabic orthography which is highly incompatible with the overall sound system of English and the dynamics of its overall pronunciation. The rendition of those items of English into Arabic often leads to mispronunciation, but occasionally it may also lead to serious semantic confusion. Let us consider the following true incident. At one time in Baghdad, an airplane was dropping commercial flyers promoting a new brand of ice cream. The term was transliterated in Arabic in large letters as اﻳﺲ آﺮﻳﻢ‬with no diacritical marks to fine-tune the pronunciation. When the flyers touched ground, a middleaged man picked one of them and after looking at it he said: “Who is this ‫= ﻳﺎﺳﻴﻦ آَﺮﻳﻢ‬ [jasin kim]? He thought that the announcement was about the soon arrival of a dignitary named [jasin kim]. The reason why he mistook the transliterated = اﻳﺲ آﺮﻳﻢ‬as the name of a person known as < ‫[ = ﻳﺎﺳﻴﻦ آَﺮﻳﻢ‬jasin kim]> is partly because the transliteration was poor and partly because the abbreviated form of transcribing the Arabic proper name < ‫ > ﻳﺎﺳﻴﻦ‬may also appear as ﻳﺲ‬or ﻳﺎس‬. The confusion would certainly have been avoided if the term was accurately transcribed with the necessary diacritics to appear as ﺁﻳْﺲ آْﺮﻳﻢ‬.

10.2 Nature and Structure of Arabic Orthography ‫ﻃﺒﻴﻌﺔ وﺗﺮآﻴﺐ اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﺔ‬ ‫اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ Arabic orthography is highly dependent on diacritics (both dots and nondots) for the accurate realization and production of both consonants and vowels. Traditionally, the non-dot diacritics are often discarded in texts which are handled by educated adults who tend to be experienced in decoding even in the absence of some diacritics and also in texts which do not demand strict accuracy in pronunciation such as in silent reading of a book or newspaper. On the contrary, textbooks prepared for children are usually marked with the indispensable diacritics. Also religious texts such as the holy book of Islam, Al-Quraan ‫أﻟﻘﺮﺁن‬, legal texts and poetry are usually marked.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

The significance of the retention or discarding of diacritics to accuracy in pronunciation and even to the teaching of pronunciation becomes very important in the transliteration of foreign names and words into Arabic. Since many such words have consonants and vowels which either do not exist in Arabic or are different from them, the accuracy or inaccuracy of their transliteration becomes very important. Inaccurate orthographic rendition of those items into Arabic results in their mispronunciation and gradually the mispronunciation is transferred to the foreign language of origin when Arab learners embark on learning that given language. To illustrate, the name of the newspaper is usually transliterated into Arabic as آﺮﻳﺴﺘﻴﺎن ﺳﺎﻳﻨﺲ ﻣﻮﻧﻴﺘﻮر‬which phonetically reads as [kristjan sins mnitor]. This transliteration is seriously flawed and it will result in serious mispronunciation in both the rendition of the vowels as well as the shift in primary stress (accentuation). If the beginner Arab reader comes across the English name of this newspaper he, most likely, will pronounce it in terms of the Arabic transliteration because it is the Arabic rendition of the pronunciation that he had first internalized. It is this trend in orthographic misleading of pronunciation of foreign languages that will be the focus of this chapter. Generally speaking, Arabic orthography is made up of two categories of symbols: Core symbols (characters) and ancillary symbols (diacritics). Core symbols are, in turn, divided into two sub-categories, namely those with dots (dotted) and those without dots (dotless). Diacritics also fall into two subcategories: dots and non-dots as in table 10.1, below.25 Core Characters


Dotless Dotted Dotless Dotted Dots Non-Dots 1, over; Ex. ‫ـﹷ ن‬ ‫ﺍ‬ ‫ﺏ‬ ‫ﻙ‬ ‫ﺽ‬ 1, under; Ex. ‫ـﹹ ب‬ ‫ﺡ‬ ‫ﺕ‬ ‫ل‬ ‫ﻅ‬ 2, over; Ex. ‫ـﹻ ت‬ ‫ﺩ‬ ‫ﺙ‬ ‫ﻡ‬ ‫ﻍ‬ ‫ﺭ‬




2, under; Ex. ‫ـﹱ ي‬ 3, over; Ex. ‫ـ ث‬ ٌ








‫ـ‬ ٍ ‫ــ‬







‫ـﹿ‬ ‫ﺀ‬

Table 10.1. Most common symbols used in Arabic orthography.


For a demonstration of the application of dots see Figure 10.1, below.

Orthography and Pronunciation Connection in Arabic and English


With a more detailed look at the diacritics of Arabic, one will discover that, besides appearing in the form of ‘dots’ and ‘non-dots’, they also have additional features and functions. For instance, concerning the consonantal and vocalic functions of diacritics, all dots and combinations of dots, the glottal stop [hmz] ء‬and the geminator [dd] ــ‬have exclusively consonantal functions. The [ft] ـَـ‬, [ks] ــ‬and [#mm] ـُـ‬have vocalic values and they represent [], [] and [], respectively. Another perspective from which one can look at Arabic diacritics is the assessment of their phonetic value as to whether it is invariable (constant) or variable. For instance, dots do not have constant phonetic value or identity. One, two or three dots, regardless of whether they are superscripts or subscripts, do not carry constant phonetic realizations. They only function in assigning a different phonetic realization to the letter to which they are attached. To demonstrate, ر‬stands for the phoneme [r] and when a dot is placed over it, it becomes a [z]. Also the [dd] ــ‬has no phonetic value in itself; it is simply a symbol to trigger the doubling of the letter over which it is placed. Therefore, its value is derived from the consonant to which it is attached. Unlike the dots and the [adda], diacritics such as the [ft] ـَـ‬, [ks] ــ‬and [#mm] ـُـ‬have invariable vocalic values of [], [] and [], respectively.

10.3 Nature and Structure of English Orthography ‫ﻃﺒﻴﻌﺔ وﺗﺮآﻴﺐ اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﺔ‬ ‫اﻻﻨﮔﻠﻳﺰﻳﺔ‬ In the case of English, the orthographic weakness results from an acute lack of a one-to-one correspondence between the letters and the sounds they stand for as opposed to the orthographic weakness in the Semitic languages caused primarily by the abundance of diacritical marks and the frequent suspension of many of them. In the following subsections, a survey will be made of the forms in which the phoneme-grapheme mismatch portrays itself and gives English its orthographic weakness that lures beginner readers into mispronunciations (for a more detailed study of these aspects see Odisho, 2004). 10.3.1 Phoneme-Grapheme Inconsistency in English ‫ اﻟﺤﺮﻓﻲ ﻓﻲ‬-‫اﻟﻼاﻧﺴﺠﺎم اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻲ‬ ‫اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ English is made up of twenty-six letters of which twenty-one are consonants and the remaining five are vowels. Those who are aware of the linguistic structure of English phonology know quite well that English has a relatively rich sound system with a range of thirty-five to forty-four phonemes. RP English has forty-four sounds: twenty vowels and twenty-four consonants, whereas GA has less than forty sounds since it has a very restricted system of diphthongs. With both sound systems, there is obviously a striking inconsistency between the graphemes and phonemes of English. Let us, for the sake of argument, take the sounds of RP as an example to


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

demonstrate the orthographic weakness of English due to a general mismatch between its alphabet and its sound system. Generally speaking, the fact that the twenty vowel sounds which are represented by only five vowel letters simply means that each vowel letter has to be used 4 times. Obviously, the mismatching is worse due to the lack of comprehensive and powerful orthographic rules. For example, the long [i] sound has at least 11 different orthographic representations. In case of consonant representation, numerically, the matching of twenty consonant sounds with the remaining twentyone letters of the alphabet may appear to be more balanced. Unfortunately, this is only an illusion for several reasons. First, the letters are, more or less, redundant. Second, and more importantly, some letters or combination of letters may serve more than one sound value and the reverse is true, too. Stated differently, many sounds are represented by different letters or combinations of letters. Additionally, most of the consonants may be silent in different contexts. After this general account of the causes of inconsistency between the sound system of English and its alphabet and the subsequent weakness of the English orthography, let us briefly summarize the inconsistencies as tackled in a previous work (Odisho, 2004). 10.3.2 Several Sounds without Specific Symbols ‫اﻟﻌﺪﻳﺪ ﻣﻦ اﻻﺻﻮات ﺑﺪون رﻣﻮز‬ This orthographic inconsistency is best evident in the representation of vowels. The five vowel letters are strikingly deficient in representing a vowel system of fifteen to twenty vowels. The second general category is that of postalveolar fricative and affricate sounds, especially [  ± ®]. For instance, the sound [] has least 14 different spellings or orthographic representations as in: nation, shoe, sugar, issue, mansion, mission, suspicion, ocean, nauseous, conscious, chaperon, schist, fuchsia and pshaw (Baugh and Cable, 1978). Several other sounds also seriously lack a systematic orthographic representation. 10.3.3 One or more Graphemes to Designate Same Sound ‫ﺣﺮف واﺣﺪ او اآﺜﺮ ﻳُﻤﺜﻞ‬ ‫ﻧﻔﺲ اﻟﺼﻮت‬ This inconsistency is one of the main causes of difficulty in spelling for young native learners of English or any adult learner of it. This inconsistency is also more evident in the representation of vowels; however, most of the consonants are also vulnerable to this lack of one-to-one correspondence with letters. It is true that some sounds may have some regular spellings, such as /b, d, g, p, t, f, v, s, z, m, n, l, r, h, w, y/, but the mismatch in English is too extensive to be governed by efficient and comprehensive rules. The sound /k/ may be orthographically represented by the following letters or combination of letters (graphemes): , among others. In case of vowels, the long /i/ vowel can be represented with a wide variety of vowels or combination of vowels including: , among others. This high level of mismatch renders the spelling of this vowel sound

Orthography and Pronunciation Connection in Arabic and English


almost unpredictable especially for the native, second and foreign learners of English. 10.3.4 One or more Graphemes Designate Different Sounds ‫ﺣﺮف واﺣﺪ او اآﺜﺮ ﻳُﻤﺜﻞ‬ ‫اﺻﻮات ﻣﺨﺘﻠﻔﺔ‬ This situation is also best portrayed with vowels typical of which is the grapheme which has at least some five different phonemic realizations the most frequent instances of which are the pairs of words which are distinguished by the final as < bath, fat, mat, can, rat> vs. . Among consonants, the grapheme is an interesting instance and one of the most frequently occurring, especially as the phoneme /s/ or /k/. It can also appear as // and /±/ phonemes as in and , respectively. Fortunately, for the /s/ and /k/ phoneme realizations of the rule is highly consistent: is pronounced /s/ when it is followed by the letters , elsewhere it is pronounced /k/. 10.3.5 Abundance in Silent Letters ‫اﻟﻌﺪﻳﺪ ﻣﻦ اﻟﺤﺮوف اﻟﺼﺎﻣﺘﻪ‬ Silent letters in English are the residue of historical change attributed primarily to the drastic difference in the speed of change between writing (which is static in nature) and speech (which is dynamic in nature). Most English letters can be silent in a given context. These silent letters are one of the primary reasons for the difficulty of spelling and pronunciation in English not just for its second/foreigners, but also for the natives.

10.4 Consequences of Frequent Deletion of Arabic Diacritics ‫ﻋﻮاﻗﺐ‬ ‫اﻟﺘﻤﺎدي ﻓﻲ اﺳﻘﺎط ﺣﺮآﺎت اﻟﺤﺮوف اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ The most frequently deleted Arabic diacritics are: ‫ ــَـ ــِـ ـُــ ـّــ‬which are phonetically equivalent to [, , ] and the ‘germination of consonants’. All these diacritics are extremely important for accurate rendition of Arabic pronunciation and grammar both of which lead to accurate semantic comprehension. Therefore, when they are dropped from the written text all other linguistic functions are affected to one extent or another. Let us, for example, take the unmarked root ﻗﺘﻞ‬. In this unmarked form, all the generic meaning that one can assign to the root is an “act of killing”. Without the assignment of the diacritics, specific denotations will not be accessible. If the root were assigned the appropriate diacritics, then each form would render a specific meaning as follows: َﻗَﺘ‬to be pronounced as [qtl, qtl, qutil, qttl ] meaning “killed, killing, was killed and killed (exaggerated form)”, respectively. These examples distinctly signify the major role that diacritics play in the three significant linguistic domains of pronunciation, grammar and meaning. Fortunately, in the transliteration of foreign names and words, it is often the pronunciation that is affected. Occasionally, the mispronunciation may interfere with meaning and result in confusion. For instance, the proper names and are traditionally transliterated as اﻟﻴﺲ‬and


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

اﻻن‬. If these transliterations were to occur in a translated Arabic text, the Arab reader would easily mistake and mispronounce them as the genuine Arabic words of and .

10.5 Preference of Long Vowel Symbols in Arabic Transliteration ‫ﺗﻔﻀﻴﻞ رﻣﻮز اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻟﻄﻮﻳﻠﺔ )ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﻘﺼﻴﺮة( ﻓﻲ اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ In the Arabic transliteration of foreign words there is a very strong inclination in favor of using long vowels instead of short ones. Therefore, if one remembers that English, for instance, has a strong attraction to short vowels in unstressed positions of a word, it implies that in the Arabic transliteration of English words one expects to see more instances of Arabic long vowels < ‫ ي‬, ‫ و‬, ‫>ا‬. The most relevant question with regard to the understanding of the nature of this vowel conversion is the reasons behind this conversion and the orthographic and pronunciation consequences. Below are some of the reasons to account for the conversion. 10.5.1 Role of Arabic Long Vowels in Shaping Orthographic Identity of Arabic Words ‫دور اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻟﻄﻮﻳﻠﺔ ﻓﻲ ﺻﻴﺎﻏﺔ اﻟﻬﻮﻳﺔ اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﻴﺔ ﻟﻠﻜﻠﻤﺎت اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ Notice that of the three long Arabic vowels < ‫ ي‬, ‫ و‬, ‫>ا‬, only ي‬is connectable to the preceding and following letters, whereas ا‬are not connectable to the following letters. This lack of connectability helps change the shape of the Arabic words and render them less compact, less compressed and, consequently, more visually distinct and distinguishable. For instance, compare the word َآَﺘﺐ‬wrote” vs. آﺎﺗِﺐ‬writer” and ُﻣﻬَﻨﺪِس‬engineer” vs. ُﻣ َﻬﻨﺪِﺳﻮن‬ = “engineers”. The forms آﺎﺗِﺐ‬and ُﻣﻬَﻨﺪِﺳﻮن‬distinguish themselves from َآَﺘﺐ‬ and ُﻣﻬَﻨﺪِس‬, respectively, because ا‬in the first and و‬in the second render them less compressed, less visually dense, more discrete and more readily decodable. In fact, one can claim that the long vowels of Arabic < ‫ ي‬, ‫ و‬, ‫ >ا‬grant the Arabic word a characteristic orthographic identity. Regrettably, this characteristic orthographic identity is somewhat distorted when foreign words are transliterated in Arabic because long vowels are over-represented leading to both visual and pronunciation deviations. The reader is referred, once again, to the manner in which the name of is traditionally transliterated as آﺮﻳﺴﺘﻴﺎن ﺳﺎﻳﻨﺲ ﻣﻮﻧﻴﺘﻮر‬ instead of آﺮِﺳﺘﻴِﻦ ﺳﺎﻳﻨﺲ ﻣﻮ ِﻧﺘَﺮ‬. Let us take another example of the full name of exPresident of the United States of America William Jefferson Clinton. Its expected traditional transliteration would be وﻟﻴﺎم ﺟﻴﻔﺮﺳﻮن آﻠﻴﻨﺘﻮن‬instead of a more accurate rendition of < ‫>وِﻟﻴَﻢ ﺟﻴﻔﺮﺳِﻦ آﻠِﻨﺘِﻦ‬. Obviously, the high orthographic inflation in the former creates the ground for Arab learners of English to exaggerate the vowels both qualitatively and quantitatively and shift the position of stress (accentuation) from the initial syllables in English to the final syllables in the transliterated version. The huge disadvantage of the traditional transliteration is that it reflects the rules of vowel rendition and primary stress application that are dominant in Arabic. In other words, traditional transliteration of English further reinforces the natural tendency of

Orthography and Pronunciation Connection in Arabic and English


an Arab learner of English to impose the rules of his native phonology on English thus causing a serious divergence between the overall rhythms of the two languages. For a better visual demonstration of some of the above differences resulting from the traditional transliteration, notice the English and Arabic versions in which the stressed syllables are underlined and graphically marked: William












10.5.2 Inconsistency of Vowel Systems and the Governing Dynamics ‫اﻟﻼاﻧﺴﺠﺎم ﺑﻴﻦ‬ ‫اﻧﻈﻤﺔ اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ و اﻟﺪﻳﻨﺎﻣﻴﺔ اﻟﻤﻬﻴﻤﻨﺔ‬ We have already highlighted the extensive difference between the vowel systems of Arabic and English. One specific aspect of the difference that causes orthographic differences leading to pronunciation inconsistencies is the relative higher frequency and much greater diversity of short vowel, especially schwas, in English than in Arabic. As a result, if this frequency and diversity of short vowels in English is strictly reflected in the transliterated Arabic versions the number of diacritics will naturally increase. If those diacritics are all marked, the orthographic rendition of Arabic counterpart will look graphically overloaded with diacritics and visually dense. In light of this orthographic fact and the strong tendency of Arabic to discard many of its diacritics, especially of short vowels, the printed versions of the transliterated words will automatically lose too many of their diacritics to enable the reader to produce a correct or even an accurate pronunciation. Let us demonstrate the above English-Arabic transliteration and pronunciation connection by using a commercial context in which the word is attested as in . The traditional transliteration of is آﻮﻧﺘﻴﻨﻴﻨﺘﺎل‬to be pronounced [kontinintal]) in which there are four long vowels as opposed to none in English. If, however, were to be transcribed as approximately as it is actually pronounced, then it should appear as آﻮﻧ ِﺘﻨِﻨﺘَﻞ‬which will have three short vowels in the form of diacritics, instead of four long vowels of the traditional transliteration (see below for an enlarged version of the difference in transliteration)

آﻮﻧﺘﻴﻨﻴﻨﺘﺎل‬ آﻮﻧ ِﺘ ِﻨﻨﺘَﻞ‬ If, however, the trend of discarding diacritics in Arabic orthography were applied, the decoding of آﻮﻧﺘﻨﺘﻞ‬would be almost impossible. In short, because of the mismatch of vowel systems and their dynamics between Arabic and English, the replacement of short English vowels with long Arabic counterparts would result in over-articulation and distinct mispronunciation. On the contrary, if the short vowels


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

of English were retained and marked with diacritics, any discarding of the diacritics would render the English word almost unpronounceable or drastically vulnerable to a wide range of mispronunciations. It is, therefore, clear that in the transliteration of foreign words in Arabic, short vowels are overwhelmingly replaced by long vowels either because they have no counterparts in Arabic or for fear that if the short vowels were marked by diacritics, the diacritics would be vulnerable to omission, which in turn, would result in orthographic and pronunciation ambiguity. 10.5.3 Orthography-Based Pronunciation ‫اﻟﺘﻠﻔﻆ اﻟﻘﺎﺋﻢ ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﺔ‬ There is a strong tradition among all beginners of second or foreign language learners to attain pronunciation through the direct decoding of the most common sound values of the alphabet letters. To cite an example for this trend is to say that Arabs and Hispanics tend to assign the English vowel ‘a’ the phonetic value of [a] though the vowel letter ‘a’ may have some six different phonemic values such as: /æ/, /e or ei/, //, //, // and // as in , , , , and , respectively. For instance, it is quite common for a beginner Arab learner of English to pronounce the word as [lad] instead of [led] or a beginner Hispanic learner of English to pronounce roughly as [nam] instead of [nem]. It is of interest to point out that the accuracy of orthography-based rendition of cross-language pronunciation depends, in essence, on the degree of letter-sound correspondence in a given language. For instance, in Spanish there is a high degree of consistency between its five vowels and their phonetic and phonemic values. For example, the letter of Spanish has, almost exclusively, the value of [a]. A similar grapheme and phoneme matching applies to Arabic vowels. Nonetheless, very much unlike Spanish and Arabic, English is a language in which the grapheme-phoneme matching of vowels is at its worst. In English almost every vowel grapheme has more than one phonetic and phonemic value. Similarly, almost every vowel phoneme in English may be rendered in more than one grapheme or combination of graphemes. In view of the immense grapheme-phoneme mismatch in English, it is highly advisable for all foreign learners of English to avoid deciphering English pronunciation through its letters or its overall orthography. If the latter trend were to dominate, it would be highly expected for a Pole nurse in a doctor’s office to call a patient with the last name = [azk] as [isak] or to hear a German student beginner in English to pronounce the English word = [nem] as [nm]. In both instances, there are drastic differences in pronunciation which are brought about only because the persons involved in the pronunciation used a letterbased rendition of the pronunciation as dictated by rules of their native orthography. It, certainly, is extremely important to caution Arab learners against attempting to pronounce English based on its traditional orthography. In fact, they should be

Orthography and Pronunciation Connection in Arabic and English


further cautioned against learning English pronunciation through traditional transliteration– it can truly be misleading.

10.6 Absence of Arabic Orthographic Counterparts for English Vowels ‫ﻏﻴﺎب اﻟﻨﻈﺎﺋﺮ اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﻴﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ ﻟﻠﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ Strictly speaking, Arabic has only six vowel graphemes / ‫ ـُــ ــِـ‬,‫ ــَـ‬, ‫ ي‬,‫ و‬,‫ ا‬/ = to represent a group of twenty vowel phonemes of RP. Sometimes, certain combinations of the above Arabic graphemes may function as approximates to some English vowel graphemes such the Arabic vowel + semi-vowel clusters of / ‫ ــَـ‬+ ‫ و‬/ and / ‫ ــَـ‬+ ‫ ي‬/ being treated as the English diphthongs of /a and /a/, respectively. With the inclusion of these two diphthongs, the number of orthographically matching vowels stands at eight. This is, no doubt, a very limited range of matching between English vowel phonemes and Arabic vowel graphemes as based on Standard Arabic Orthography (SAO), which results in a sizable discrepancy in the potential of Arabic graphemes to account accurately for English phonemes as demonstrated in table 10.2, below. Eng. Vowel i   or e æ   o u     au ai

Example. Arab. Vowel seen (‫ـﻴ )ﻳﺎء‬ sin (‫ــِـ )آَﺴﺮة‬ bet Non-existent bat ‫ا‬ ‫ـَـ‬ tar Non-existent sought Non-existent con Non-existent fool ‫و‬ full ‫ـُــ‬ bird Non-existent but Non-existent about Non-existent how ‫ــَـﻮ‬ high ‫ــَـﻲ‬

Example. Meaning ‫ﺳﻴﻦ‬ ‫ﺳِﻦ‬

س‬Letter-name” “tooth”

‫ﺑﺎت‬ ‫ﺑَﺖ‬

“spend the night” “decide”

‫ﻓﻮل‬ ‫ُﻓﻞ‬

“broad beans” “jasmine”

‫هَﻮن‬ ‫ﺳَﻴﻒ‬

“ease” “sword”

Table 10.2. Strict matching of English vowel phonemes with Arabic vowel graphemes This discrepancy is a key reason for the high deficiency in the traditional Arabic transliteration of English and other foreign languages, especially those with complex vowel systems such as German and French. The only way to remedy this


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

discrepancy is to reconsider the very principles on which traditional Arabic transliteration is premised. To implement this, one has to consider means of augmenting the SAO primarily through the sets of symbols added to it from other alphabets that are based originally on the Arabic alphabet such as Farsi, Kurdish and Urdu etc. This, however, will be the theme of Chapter Eleven.

10.7 Absence of Arabic Orthographic Counterparts for English Consonants ‫ﻏﻴﺎب اﻟﻨﻈﺎﺋﺮ اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﻴﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ ﻟﻠﺼﻮاﻣﺖ اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ‬ English consonant phonemes that do not have orthographic counterparts in SAO are: /p, v, ±, ¥, , /. Of these the one with the most negative impact on transliteration and pronunciation is the absence of /p/ grapheme in Arabic. However, in an attempt to solve the consonantal phoneme-grapheme mismatch, one has no choice, but to follow the same source of accommodating the vowel mismatch, i.e. search for orthographic counterparts in other Arabic-based orthographies. In fact, Farsi has made the following graphemes گ ژ چ ﭪ ﭗ‬available to designate the first five of the above-mentioned English phonemes. The availability of those five graphemes in extended Arabic-based orthographies, the consonantal mismatch between English consonantal graphemes and Arabic consonantal phonemes is almost completely solved. Further details on this subject will be introduced in Chapter Eleven.

10.8 Conclusions The reason why Arabic orthography and transliteration into Arabic of foreign languages were brought into the domain of teaching pronunciation is the fact that many learners of English, or any foreign language for that matter, are influenced by the inaccurate patterns of pronunciation of great numbers of foreign words that have been transliterated in Arabic. It is an established fact that the drastically different phonologies of Arabic and English do result in serious pronunciation difficulties. What the inaccurate transliteration in Arabic of foreign words does is further enhance and complicate the already expected phonological and phonetic discrepancies. In order to minimize the negative interference of Arabic transliteration, new transliteration conventions have been introduced not only to improve the transliteration, but also to use them as principles for designing an overall Arabic phonetic transcription that may be used for teaching better pronunciation.

Chapter XI

Turning Swords into Ploughshares: Developing Arabic Transliteration of English to Improve Pronunciation ‫ ﺗﻄﻮﻳﺮ ﺗﺪوﻳﻦ اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ ﺑﺎﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ ﻟﺘﺤﺴﻴﻦ اﻟﺘﻠﻔﻆ‬:‫ﺗﺤﻮﻳﻞ اﻟﺴﻴﻮف اﻟﻰ ﻣﺤﺎرﻳﺚ‬ 11.1 Introduction At the very outset of this chapter, it should be made clear that the purpose of writing is categorically not a covert or overt intent to change the standard orthography of Arabic. The intent is squarely to suggest a design for a more phonetic and accurate transliteration of foreign languages in Arabic. It is, in essence, a transcription system premised almost exclusively on Arabic core orthographic symbols to be used for special purposes. The broad meaning of communicative competence in a second language means the acquisition of oral and/or written skills in that language (Savignon cited in Omaggio, 1986:5). Thus, transliteration, which is an attempt to render the pronunciation of one language in terms of the alphabet or script of another language, is yet another vehicle to establish a bridge of communication across two languages, especially when the reader in one language does not possess literacy skills in the other language. Transliteration is not only desirable, but also essential if there is to be mutual understanding among nations of today (Stirling, 1964). In order to set the scene for a better understanding of the process of transliteration and its connection to pronunciation, it is imperative to clarify two concepts at the outset. First, transliteration does not necessarily mean “to represent or spell in the characters of another alphabet”, as it is traditionally defined in most of the dictionaries (Webster, 1981; Funk and Wagnall, 1973); not all languages have strictly alphabetic systems of writing. Moreover, the alphabetic systems also differ among themselves as to the extent to which the alphabetic characters are supplemented with a system of diacritics most of which have an equal phonetic role to that of the core characters in the encoding and decoding of the linguistic message. This point is directly relevant to Arabic, as it has many diacritics which play an essential role in the transcription and the rendition of its sound code. Second, although we agree with Stirling, among others, that transliteration does not mean accurate representation of the speech-sounds of one language (1964), we do not see why consistency and accuracy should not be targeted in any transliteration activity. The transliteration of English words in Arabic is a very common phenomenon in the area of proper and common names, especially in politics, geography, arts and sciences, and in other commercial brand names. Despite the broad scope of this transliteration, there seem to be no standardized conventions to govern it other than the broad matching of the alphabet characters in the two languages. There is ample evidence that such a broad matching of the two alphabets is not


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

sufficient to yield the desired accuracy. If maximum accuracy is intended, then all the potentials of the Arabic script and other Arabic-based scripts should be utilized, a fact which is frequently disregarded. It is, therefore, not uncommon to encounter different degrees of consistency and accuracy in the materials of different transliterators. For instance, in the transliteration of the so-called hard English = [], transliterators from Iraq tend to use the so-called Persian گ‬ as in إﻧﮕﻠﻴﺰي‬and إﻧﮕﻠﺘﺮة‬, whereas those from Egypt use the Arabic character and transliterate the above two words as إﻧﺠﻠﻴﺰي‬and إﻧﺠﻠﺘﺮة‬, respectively. There is also some tendency towards a free variation in the rendition of [] either as ج‬or as غ‬] as in = ﺑﻨﺘﺎﻏﻮن‬or ﺑﻨﺘﺎﺟﻮن‬and in = ﻣﺎرﻏﺮﻳﺖ‬or ﻣﺎرﺟﺮﻳﺖ‬. One can also notice the inconsistency in the rendition of the English sound [±] as in = ﺗﺸﺮﺗﺸﻞ‬, ﺗﺸﺮﺷﻞ‬or ﺷﺮﺷﻞ‬and also in = ﺷﺎرﻟﻲ ﺷﺎﺑﻠﻦ‬, or ﺗﺸﺎرﻟﻲ ﺗﺸﺎﺑﻠﻦ‬. In fact, the inconsistency may also be encountered in the same work of the same author(s). In Elementary Modern Standard Arabic (1983, Peter Abboud et al.), the name has been transliterated in three different forms, viz., ﻣﻴﺸﻴﻐﺎن‬p. 108), ﻣﻴﺸﻐﺎن‬p. 109) and ﻣﺸﻐﺎن‬p. 117). In dealing with the subject of transliteration, per se, the long-term goals of an investigator are the following two. First, identify some systematic principles for a more accurate cross-language transliteration, in general, and transliteration into Arabic, in particular. Second, use the accurate transliteration as a tool to teach cross-language pronunciation. However, if the emphasis at this stage, is on English then it is partly because English is the language with which Arabic has the broadest interaction, and partly because of a need to restrict the domain to allow for an in-depth treatment of the English-Arabic transliteration. Nevertheless, even if some non-English items are included in the examples cited in this study, it is the English pronunciation of those items that is taken into account. In order to develop the most comprehensive treatment of English-Arabic transliteration, the subject should be addressed from different aspects.

11.2 Comprehensive Look at English-Arabic Transliteration ‫ﻧﻈﺮة‬ ‫ﺷﺎﻣﻠﺔ اﻟﻰ ﺗﺪوﻳﻦ اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ ﺑﺎﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ In order to cover all of the relevant aspects of English-Arabic transliteration, one has to go to the root of the problem which is essentially a problem of inconsistency in the process and incompatibility in the comparative systems of pronunciation and orthography. Once those aspects are determined then one should proceed in the direction of alleviating the problems of consistency and secure higher compatibility. A reasonable outline for further investigation of the theme is through coverage of the three aspects mentioned below: 1) The reasons for the inconsistency and incompatibility in the transliteration. 2) The potential accuracy that Standard Arabic Orthography (SAO) can yield.

Developing Arabic Transliteration of English to Improve Pronunciation


3) The means to improve the consistency and compatibility and raise accuracy. Prior to dealing directly with different aspects of inconsistency and incompatibility in an explicit and orderly manner, one must distinguish between the concepts of inconsistency and incompatibility. Inconsistency is much easier to handle than incompatibility. It is simply attributed to the lack of a set of standardized conventions among transliterators to be used uniformly and systematically. As for incompatibility, it stands here for the overall disparity between the English and Arabic orthographies and their respective sound systems. The greater the incompatibility, the greater the inaccuracy becomes.

11.3 Some Aspects of Inconsistency ‫ﺑﻌﺾ ﺟﻮاﻧﺐ اﻟﻼاﻧﺴﺠﺎم‬ The inconsistency among the Arab transliterators is primarily attributed to three reasons. First, free variation among the transliterators in selecting the Arabic symbols to be assigned to some English phonemes and/or graphemes; second, difference in the familiarity and knowledge of the transliterators with the grapheme-phoneme correspondence in English and the transformation of that familiarity and knowledge into the transliteration process and; third, the absence of standardized conventions for transliteration. All those three reasons are interrelated and they could be collapsed under the following conventions a) Try to premise the transliteration on accurate pronunciation rather than on orthographic matching or mere replacement of letter for letter. For instance, the name (as in North Carolina) should not be transliterated as آﺎروﻟﻴﻨﺎ‬, but rather as آﺎروﻻﻳﻨﺎ‬because the latter is more accurate phonetic rendition of the English pronunciation. b) Stop replacing English short vowels–which are many in number and too many in actual spoken form– with Arabic long vowels. For instance, stop transliterating a name such as as آﻠﻴﻨﺘﻮن‬or as واﺷﻨﻄﻮن‬because they should be آﻠِﻨﺘِﻦ‬and واﺷِﻨﺘِﻦ‬, respectively. c) Systematize the conversion of English consonants into their approximate Arabic counterparts. For instance, if SAO does not have the needed counterparts then one should seek– as it will soon be recommended– an available substitute from other Arabic-based orthographies For instance, stop the arbitrary transliteration of English with either ج‬, غ‬or گ‬. If in a certain English word, the letter is pronounced [®] designate it with Arabic ج‬and if it is pronounced [], designate it with the Farsi symbol گ‬, but never transliterate English [] with Arabic غ‬ as in to be rendered ﻣﻴﺸﻴﻐﺎن‬ d) If the trend toward replacing short English vowels with long Arabic ones is restrained, then there should be some conventions to transliterate the short vowels, especially those that do not have one-to-one counterparts in Arabic. Foremost of such short vowels is the schwa, which indeed is the most frequently occurring vowel in spoken English. The most convenient


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

and approximate substitute recommended in this study is the Arabic Kasrah = ــِـ‬to be pronounced somewhat lower and less fronted as it is usually pronounced in some dialects of Arabic rather than in Standard or Classical Arabic. Phonetically speaking, the [] should be replaced with a [] vowel type rather than with [i] vowel type. If this approximation is established as a convention, both Arabic transliteration and pronunciation of English will be much improved. Imagine, hundreds of names in the form of which are traditionally transcribe as < ‫ وﻳﻠﺴﻮن‬,‫ ﺑﻮﺳﻄﻮن‬,‫ واﺷﻨﻄﻮن‬,‫ >ﺟﺎآﺴﻮن‬should really be replaced by the following renditions ﺟﺎآﺴِﻦ‬. Once again, the latter rendition with a = ــِـ‬instead of a = و‬in the above names secures considerable consistency, which, in turn, results in enhanced accuracy of both transliteration and pronunciation.

11.4 Some Aspects of Incompatibility(‫ﺑﻌﺾ ﺟﻮاﻧﺐ اﻟﺘﻀﺎرب )اﻟﺘﻌﺎرض‬ Generally speaking, incompatibility is attributed to several reasons, foremost of which are: a) The basic differences between the two sound systems. b) The extent of the familiarity and knowledge of the transliterator with the rules and dynamics that govern the grapheme-phoneme (letter-sound) correspondence within one language and across the two languages. c) The availability of appropriate graphemes (symbols) to match the existing phonemes (sounds). Each of the above three reasons needs further elaboration supported by examples and other evidence.

11.5 Basic Matching and Mismatching between English and Arabic ‫اﻻﻧﺴﺠﺎم واﻟﻼاﻧﺴﺠﺎم اﻻﺳﺎﺳﻲ ﺑﻴﻦ اﻻﻨﮔﻟﻴﺰﻳﺔ و اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ The basic difference between the sound and the script systems of English and Arabic could be portrayed in terms of their consonants, vowels and other prosodic features (e.g., stress placement and rhythm), and the graphic symbols available to represent them. 11.5.1 Consonant Matching ‫اﻧﺴﺠﺎم اﻟﺼﻮاﻣﺖ‬ English has 24 consonantal sounds of which 18 have, more or less, accurate graphic representations in SAO. Table 11.1, below, shows the matching:

Developing Arabic Transliteration of English to Improve Pronunciation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

English Phoneme b t d k f   s z  r l m n w y [j] h ®

Example Arabic Grapheme ban ‫ب‬ tab ‫ت‬ dam ‫د‬ can ‫ك‬ fat ‫ف‬ thor ‫ث‬ that ‫ذ‬ Sam ‫س‬ zap ‫ز‬ sheen ‫ش‬ ream ‫ر‬ lamb ‫ل‬ mat ‫م‬ noon ‫ن‬ win ‫و‬ ya(h)! ‫ي‬ hat ‫هـ‬ jar ‫ج‬


Example ‫ﺑﺎن‬ ‫ﺗﺎب‬ ‫دام‬ ‫آﺎن‬ ‫ﻓﺎت‬ ‫ﺛﻮر‬ ‫ذات‬ ‫ﺳﺎم‬ ‫زاب‬ ‫ﺷﻴﻦ‬ ‫رﻳﻢ‬ ‫ﻻم‬ ‫ﻣﺎت‬ ‫ﻧﻮن‬ ‫وِن‬ ‫ﻳﺎ‬ ‫هـﺎت‬ ‫ﺟﺎر‬

Table 11.1. Matching of equivalent English-Arabic graphemes and Phonemes The remaining six English consonants without graphic representations in SAO are [p], [], [v], [], [], and [±], as in , and , respectively. It follows from this comparison that SAO can yield a neat 75 % accurate matching of English-Arabic consonants. 11.5.2 Vowel Matching ‫اﻧﺴﺠﺎم اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ‬ Of the basic fifteen (15) GA and twenty (20) RP vowels and diphthongs, Arabic can accurately or approximately render only 8, as displayed in table 11.2 modified from table 7.1, of Chapter Seven. Table 11.2 below, implies that there are at least seven (7) vocalic elements for GA and twelve (12) vocalic elements for RP which remain largely or categorically unrepresented. If one assumes that the mastery of any of the two vowel systems of GA and RP is a legitimate and praiseworthy target for an Arab learner of English and a transliterator. Thus, if one considers the GA system for comparison with Arabic, the vowel elements that will remain unrepresented will be the following: /, , , , e = [ei], o [ou] and [oi]/ as in and , respectively. Based on the GA and Arabic


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

comparison, SAO can yield about 53% accuracy. Overall, SAO has, at least theoretically, a maximum potential for an approximate 67% accurate rendition of the English consonants and vowels, which is actually not a high level of accuracy. However, the most serious question in this regard is how to maintain the maximum potential of 67% accuracy consistently. If the diacritics are not marked, we are left with only three long vowels which have graphic representation, i.e., < ,‫ا‬ ‫ ي‬,‫>و‬. Thus, the actual accuracy of vowel representation may drop from 53% to 20% which is too low a percentage to claim reliable accuracy. What, then, are the means to maintain the maximum potential of SAO for 67% accuracy? There are three ways to maintain it. First, retain the application of the relevant diacritical marks of Arabic. Second, be familiar with the rules of pronunciation in English. Third, resist the phonetic/phonological interference from the native language (Arabic). Eng. Vowel i  æ  u  au ai

Example. Arab. Vowel seen (‫ـﻴ )ﻳﺎء‬ sin (‫ــِـ )آَﺴﺮة‬ bat ‫ا‬ but ‫ـَـ‬ fool ‫و‬ full ‫ـُــ‬ how ‫ــَـﻮ‬ high ‫ــَـﻲ‬

Example. Meaning ‫ﺳﻴﻦ‬ ‫ﺳِﻦ‬ ‫ﺑﺎت‬ ‫ﺑَﺖ‬ ‫ﻓﻮل‬ ‫ﻓُﻞ‬ ‫هَﻮن‬ ‫ﺳَﻴﻒ‬

س‬Letter-name” “tooth” “spend the night” “decide” “broad beans” “jasmine” “ease” “sword”

Table 11.2. Strict matching of English vowel phonemes with Arabic vowel graphemes As was mentioned earlier on, the diacritics rarely come into general use; they are often used only in texts of the Al-Quran, in grammar books and reading books for children, and to some extent in poetry (Beeston, 1970). In fact, the disuse of the diacritics is traditionally more noticeable in transliteration than in the original Arabic texts. Thus, if the short Arabic vowels /‫ ــِـ‬,‫ ــُـ‬,‫ـَـ‬/ are not marked, the accuracy of the vocalic representation, as mentioned earlier on, will drop to 20% since the absence of these diacritics will also hamper an approximate rendition of the Arabic diphthongs /ai/ and /au/. It is true that the sentential context usually helps with the prediction of the diacritics, but this is not necessarily so in the transliteration of non-Arabic words, especially when the reader is not familiar with the source language and has little time to consider the text and the context. Such cases typically occur in broadcasting for which many examples will be cited in due course.

Developing Arabic Transliteration of English to Improve Pronunciation


11.6. Familiarity with Rules and Dynamics of Pronunciation ‫اﻻﻟﻤﺎم‬ ‫ﺑﻘﻮاﻧﻴﻦ ودﻳﻨﺎﻣﻴﺔ اﻟﺘﻠﻔﻆ‬ Familiarity with the rules of pronunciation in English and Arabic, the dynamics of their sound systems and the overall grapheme-phoneme correspondence is very important in maintaining the maximum potential of transliteration or lowering it. English is a well-known language for its graphemephoneme inconsistency (Odisho, 2004). It is more so in the representation of vowels than consonants. It is true that almost every consonant in English may appear as silent; therefore, words such as or should not be transliterated as آﺎﻣﺒﺮدج‬and إﻟﻴﻨﻮﻳﺲ‬since the in the former and in the latter are silent. It is also true that in English one letter or a combination of letters may stand for one sound or more; therefore, the transliterator should know that, for instance, the in ‘Heath’ stands for the Arabic ث‬, while in stands for Arabicذ‬. However, despite all this consonantal inconsistency, the manner in which the fifteen (15) vocalic elements of GA and twenty (20) of RP are graphically represented in terms of the available 5 vowel characters reveals far more extensive inconsistency with vowels than is the case with the consonants. This extensive inconsistency requires a thorough knowledge by the transliterator with regard to this aspect of English pronunciation. The most salient characteristics of the vowel systems and their dynamics in Arabic and English were best captured through the global concepts of centrifugal and centripetal vowel systems first suggested in Odisho 1992, elaborated on later in 2003) and revisited casually in this book.

11.7 Enhancing Consistency and Compatibility of Transliteration ‫ﺗﺤﺴﻴﻦ اﻟﺘﻨﺎﺳﻖ و اﻻﻧﺴﺠﺎم ﻓﻲ اﻟﺘﺪوﻳﻦ‬ Up to this juncture, the focus has been on maintaining the maximum potential of SAO in transliteration and on avoiding any decrease in accuracy or any unwarranted deviation and distortion of SAO. Any further discussion of enhancing the accuracy beyond what SAO provides will lead us to the introduction of a modified version of SAO which is to be called the Augmented Arabic Orthography (abbreviated, hereafter, as AAO). The core of AAO lies in the addition of slightly modified Arabic alphabet characters and one additional diacritical mark, all of which have been historically added to the original Arabic script when the latter was adopted for the transcription of non-Arabic languages as in Farsi, Kurdish, Urdu etc... Additional symbols such as the Farsi < ‫ >گ ژ چ ﭪ پ‬and the superscript hacek < > are all very important for two reasons: (a) They do not disfigure or distort the identity and the neatness of SAO. (b) They considerably contribute to the enhancement of the accuracy of transliteration.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

The use of ﭪ‬for /v/, پ‬for /p/, ژ‬for // and چ‬for /±/ is utterly consistent with the Arabic script, since the addition of three-point diacritic to a character is already an existing device in SAO as in ث‬. The addition of a diagonal stroke to ﮐ‬i.e. ﮔ‬to stand for [g]) hardly causes any disfiguration of the basic alphabet character. In fact, the addition of the stroke to ﮐ‬indicates that it shares the same place and manner of articulation with []. Perhaps, most important of all is the fact that by adding those modified characters the accuracy of the consonantal transliteration will be raised to almost 100% since the only remaining unrepresented English consonant // could easily be accounted for by a combination of < ‫ن‬+ ‫ = >ﮔ‬/‫ ﻨﮔ‬/as in the transliteration of = رﻳ ِﺪ ﻨگ‬and = راِﻴﺘﻨگ‬. In the area of vowel transliteration, the adoption of the symbol < >, which in Kurdish is used as a superscript with ﻮ‬and ي‬to represent mid vowels similar to those of RP English in and , respectively, will graphically change SAO only minimally. However, what is of paramount importance is that with the adoption of this single diacritic, the accuracy of the vocalic representation of English is drastically increased. Besides enabling the transliterator to transcribe the [] and [] vowels, it also serves as an expedient device to transcribe the diphthongs [oi], [ei] and [ou]. For the application of this diacritic and the demonstration of its phonetic significance, notice the transcription of the following English words in AAO in table 11.3, below. Word bell

Transcription AAO /bl/ ‫̌ﺒﻳل‬ bail /beil/ ‫̌ﺑﻳﻳل‬ bought /bt/ ‫ﺒۆﺖ‬ boat ‫ﺒۆﻮﺖ‬ /bout/ boy ‫ﺒۆي‬ /boi/ Table 11.3. Samples of more phonetically accurate transliteration of vowels. With the use of the Kurdish hacek, AAO will be able to transliterate with reasonable accuracy 13 of the 15 vocalic elements of GA which represents an increase from 53% to over 87%. This in itself is a remarkable improvement in accuracy through the use of a single diacritic. And with the approximation of English [] to either the Arabic fat/ia or kas’ra, according to the graphic form of the English words, both SAO and AAO will achieve even more accuracy in the transliteration of English according to its pronunciation rather than through the mechanical transliteration of its orthographic forms, i.e., the alphabetic characters. Up to this extent, AAO represents the farthest limit to which SAO is carried in terms of modification to yield more pronunciation accuracy. No other modifications will be introduced here because any such additional modifications

Developing Arabic Transliteration of English to Improve Pronunciation


will cause readily noticeable disturbance to the formal uniformity, compactness and overall identity of SAO. However, if the intention of AAS were the creation of a phonetic transcription for teaching pronunciation, there would be a need to add a few more modifications and conventions.

11.8 Practical Implications of SAO and AAO ‫اﻟﻤﻀﺎﻣﻴﻦ اﻟﻌﻤﻠﻴﺔ ﻟﻠﻜﺘﺎﻳﺔ‬ ‫اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ اﻻﺳﺎﺳﻴﺔ و اﻟﻤﻮﺳﻌﺔ‬ Now, attention will be focused on the advantages gained through strict adherence to SAO or through recourse to AAO. The maintenance of higher consistency and compatibility in the transliteration of English, or of any other foreign language for that matter, into Arabic is not just academic; there are many practical advantages to be gained. From the personal experience of the writer in the field of teaching languages and linguistics and his involvement in the training of newscasters in Arabic, AAO in particular has three main advantages: (a) It helps avoid mistaking foreign words for native words, especially in broadcasting when the reader is, quite often, not given ample opportunity to consider the text and the context of his materials. Most of the examples cited in table 11.4, below, are real mistakes on the part of Arab newscasters in English with the Iraqi radio and television station, in the period from 1967 through 1980 English Words Paul Alice bridge park Roy Mason

Attested Pronunciation ‫ﺑﻮل‬ ‫اﻟﻴﺲ‬ ‫ﺑﺮج‬ ‫ﺑﺎرك‬ ‫روي‬ ‫ﻣﻴﺴﻮن‬

Mistaken for Arabic word ‫ﺑَﻮل‬ ‫ﺲ‬ َ ‫أﻟَﻴ‬ ‫ﺑُﺮج‬ ‫ك‬ َ ‫ﺑﺎ َر‬ ‫ي‬ َ ‫َر ِو‬ ‫ﻣَﻴﺴﻮن‬

Meaning urine isn’t it? tower blessed irrigated name (f.)



‫ﺖ‬ ُ ‫آُﻨ‬

I was

Alan cream

‫اﻻن‬ ‫آﺮﻳﻢ‬

‫أﻵن‬ ‫آَﺮﻳﻢ‬

Recommended SAO/AAO ‫ﭙۆﻞ‬ ‫ﺁﻟِﺲ‬ ‫ْﺑﺮِج‬ ‫ﭘﺎرك‬ ‫رۆي‬ ‫̌ﻣﻴﺳِﻦ‬

‫̌آﻴﻨﺖ‬ now ‫ﺁﻟِﻦ‬ name (m) ‫آْﺮﻳﻢ‬

Table 11.4. Examples of traditional transliterations of foreign words mistaken for Arabic words with recommendations to improve the accuracy. (b) It helps avoid mispronouncing foreign words, such as those in table 11.4 above and table 11.5, below.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English

English Words Cambridge Winston Churchill Pan American

Attested Transliteration ‫ آﺎﻣﺒﺮج‬or ‫آﺎﻣﺒﺮدج‬

Recommended AAO Transliteration

‫̌آﻴﻣﺒﺮج‬ ‫ وﻳﻨﺴﺘﻮن ﺗﺸﺮﺗﺸﻞ‬/‫ﭽﻴﺮﭽﻞ وﻧﺴﺘﻮن‬ ِ ̌ ‫وِﻧﺴﺘِﻦ‬ ‫ﺑﺎن اﻣﻴﺮﻳﻜﺎن‬ ‫ﭙﺎﻦ ̌أﻣﻳﺮِآَﻦ‬

Margaret Thatcher ‫ﻣﺎرﻏﺮﻳﺖ ﺛﺎﺗﺸﺮ‬ Chicago ‫ﺷﻴﻜﺎﻏﻮ‬ Bush ‫ﺑﻮش‬

‫ﻣﺎرﮔرِت ﺛﺎﭽِر‬ ‫ﺷِﻜﺎﮔو‬ ‫ ﺑُﺶ‬26

Table 11.5. Examples of AAO transliteration securing higher accuracy of pronunciation. (c) It teaches correct pronunciation of foreign words and inhibits or reduces the chances of their distortion. This last advantage of AAO is equally important to points (a) and (b) above; in fact, in certain ways it is perhaps the most important of all. The replacement of the diacritics /‫ ــِـ‬,‫ ــُـ‬,‫ـَـ‬/ with their long counterparts /‫ ي‬,‫ و‬,‫ا‬/ is very pervasive with most of the Arab transliterators and it leads to extensive discrepancy between the pronunciation of the source words and their Arabic versions. It also nurtures bad pronunciation habits and, in the long run, it interferes with the natural ability in mastering or learning the best possible pronunciation of foreign languages. It is obvious that Arabic transliterators tend to avoid using the short vowel diacritics /‫ ــِـ‬,‫ ــُـ‬,‫ـَـ‬/ for the following three reasons: (a) Their symbols are not incorporated in the body of Arabic alphabet; therefore, they have less visibility and, consequently, less frequent use; (b) In general use, they are deleted both in writing and printing for ease of writing and printing and the avoidance of visual density; and (c) Only their long counterparts are incorporated in the body of Arabic alphabet; therefore, they have more visibility and, consequently, more frequent use. Notice that the examples in table 11.6, below, very vividly display the above three trends in traditional Arabic transliteration, while AAO abides by the pronunciation version of those words thus avoiding the unwanted long vowels and replacing them with their approximate short vowels of Arabic.


WBush> is traditionally transcribed as آﺎف< ”ق‬ “people” آَﻮم‬ “fate” َآﺪَر‬ “slept” َر َآﺪ‬ “locked” َآ َﻔﻞ‬ “say” آُﻞ‬ “said” آﺎل‬

Pronunciation Meaning@ /kaf/ /kwm/ /kdr/ /kd/ /kfl/ /kl/ /kal/

“nomeneme ‫”ك‬ “heap” “sorrow” “settled” “guaranteed” “eat” or “all” “measured”

Exercise 13. The pharyngeal fricatives /,/ are some of the most uncommon sounds in almost all languages of the world; therefore, they are very difficult sounds to teach; in fact, the most difficult to teach. One of the best ways to perceive the phonetic nature, recognize and produce it is to compare and contrast the two sounds as in the following minimal pairs. Word Pronunciation Meaning


Pronunciation Meaning@

ﻋَﻦ‬/n/ ﻋﺎج‬/a®/ ﻋﺎل‬/al/ ﻋﺎر‬/ar/ ﻋﺎﻣﻞ‬/aml/ /sl/

ﺣَﻦ‬ ﺣﺎج‬ ﺣﺎل‬ ﺣﺎر‬ ﺣﺎﻣﻞ‬

/n/ /a®/ /al/ /ar/ /aml/ /sl/

“about” “ivory” “excellent” “shame” “laborer” “coughed”

“yearn” “pilgrim” “state” “hot” “pregnant” “dragged” Prosodics The focus in the prosodics of English learners of Arabic will primarily be on restraining the learners from a strong urge for vowel reduction and the subsequent Anglicization of the rules of stress placement. Exercise 14. Caution the learners especially against the replacement of Arabic // with a schwa // as in the following names/words which have been in circulation due to conflicts in the Middle East. Model the correct pronunciation as opposed to the deviation.


Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English




Expected Deviation

ﻣَﺪرَﺳﺔ‬ َﺑﻠَﺪ‬ أﺳَﺪ‬ ﺧﺎﺗَﻤﻲ‬

ﻣﻮﺻِﻞ‬ َﻧﺠَﻒ‬

“school” “town name/Iraq” “Syria’s President” “Iranian President” “Iraq’s dictator” “city name/Iraq” “city name/Iraq”

/mds/ /bld/ /sd/ /atami/ /1ddam/ /mu1l/ /n®f/

/mds/ /bld/ /sd/ /tm/ /sdm/ /msul/ /n®f/

Exercise 15. Caution against imposing the English rhythm on Arabic typically represented by unwanted weakening of stress and reduction of vowels on words that are usually stressed with no vowel reduction as in the following examples: Utterance: آﺎ‬ Normal Pronunciation: /kan ma kan w ll lht tklan / Expected Deviation: /kæn m kæn w l lh æltkln / Utterance: َذ َه‬ Normal Pronunciation: /hb l wld ll mdrs/ Expected Deviation: /æhb lwæld læ ælmdrs/ Utterance: َد‬ Normal Pronunciation: /dlr r®ll bjt w r® mnh/ Expected Deviation: /dæl lræ®l lbæjt w ær® mnh/

Glossary of Recurrent Terms Abutting consonants = ‫ﺳﻮاآﻦ او ﺻﻮاﻣﺖ ﻣﺘﻤﺎﺳﺔ‬ Two consonants that are juxtaposed, but each of which belongs to a separate syllable such the in the word Accent = ‫ﻟﻜﻨﺔ‬ Failure to produce a given sound or sound feature in the manner the native speaker of a given language or language variety does. Accent Acquisition = ‫أآﺘﺴﺎب اﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ‬ An attempt by a speaker to willingly acquire a given accent in a target language or language variety so as to sound like the native speakers. Accent Faking = ‫ﺧﺪاع اﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ‬ An attempt by a speaker to momentary impersonate a given accent in a target language or language variety for various purposes including comedy, conceal one’s identity or conducting some intelligence activities etc. Accent Reduction = ‫اﺧﺘﺰال)ﺗﺨﻔﻴﻒ( اﻟﻠﻜﻨﺔ‬ An attempt by a speaker to acquire the most distinctive sounds or sound features of a given target language or language variety and minimize the transfer of the most salient features of the native language or language variety to the second language. Acoustics = ‫ﻓﻴﺰﻳﺎء اﻟﺼﻮت‬ The physical study of language in terms of sound waves and vibrations to determine the nature of voice, noise, durations etc. Active articulator = (‫اﻟﻌﻀﻮ اﻟﻤﺆدي اﻟﻨﺸﻂ )اﻟﻤﻮﺟﺐ‬ A mobile part of the vocal organs which moves to produce an articulation. Aerodynamics = ‫دﻳﻨﺎﻣﻴﺔ اﻟﻬﻮاء‬ The study of speech in terms of airflows, pressure buildups and releases. Affricate = ‫اﻟﺼﺎﻣﺖ )اﻟﺴﺎآﻦ( اﻟﻤﺮآﺐ‬ A complex consonantal sound initiated by a stop [plosive] and terminated by a fricative sound as in [°], [−], [±], [®]. Allophone = ‫اﻟﺼﻮﻳﺖ‬ A variant sound of a phoneme. In other words, any phoneme portrays itself in real speech in different phonetic renditions each of which is called a phone or allophone. Alveolar ridge =‫اﻟﻠﺜﺔ‬ The bony ridge connecting the upper teeth to the hard palate. Approach = ‫ﻃﺮﻳﻘﺔ‬ A set of theoretical and foundational principles that guide the application of educational instruction. Approximant = ‫ﺻﻮت ﻣﺘﺪاﻧﻲ‬ A relatively new phonetic term embracing a wide variety of sounds that are produced with a wide approximation of the articulators resulting in frictionless mellow sounds. In this book, the term has been used broadly to include liquids, glides, frictionless continuants and nasals.


Arbitrary relationship = ‫ﻋﻼﻗﺔ اﻋﺘﺒﺎﻃﻴﺔ‬ The absence of any one-to-one relationship between content and form. For instance, the connection between a four-legged animal and the word is arbitrary. Aspirated sounds = ‫ اﺻﻮات ﻣَﻨﻔﻮﺣﺔ‬: Sounds the production of which is followed by a puff of air. For instance, English are typically aspirated sounds and are transcribed phonetically as [p,t, k], whereas, the same sounds in Spanish and Greek, among other languages, are unaspirated and are transcribed as [p, t, k]. Aspiration = (‫ﻧَﻔﺤﺔ )هﻮاء‬: A puff of air that follows the production of sounds usually plosives and affricates. Auditory input = ‫اﻟﻮارد اﻟﺴﻤﻌﻲ‬ Any stimulus or feedback relevant to sound that is heard and detected by the brain for processing. Augmented Arabic Alphabet (AAA ) =‫اﻻﺑﺠﺪﻳﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ اﻟﻤﻮﺳﻌﺔ‬ Arabic alphabet that is made of twenty-eight letters, unlike the core Semitic alphabet of twenty-two letters traditionally known as ‫ اﺑﺠﺪ َهﻮّز‬as opposed to ‫ا ب ت‬ ‫ثجحخ‬ Augmented Arabic Orthography (AAO) = ‫اﻟﻜﺘﺎﻳﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ اﻟﻤﻮﺳﻌﺔ‬ It is the writing system of Arabic in which additional letters and symbols from other Arabic-based alphabets, such as Farsi, Kurdish and Urdu are included. Those letters and symbols are added to achieve better phonetic accuracy in transliteration of foreign words in Arabic. Bilabial = ‫اﺛﻨﺎ ﺷﻔﻮي‬ Sounds that are produced by the joint action of the two lips. Cavity =‫ﺗﺠﻮﻳﻒ‬ Space or small chamber along the vocal tract that helps with the resonance and amplification of sounds. Centrifugal vowel system = ‫ﻧﻈﺎم اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻟﺘﻨﺎﻓﺮي‬ A vowel system in which the individual vowels tend to position themselves away from the center and near the periphery of the vowel range. Usually, this type of system is without the neutral vowel schwa [] and the rest of the vowels rarely change their quality and quantity. Spanish has a typically centrifugal vowel system. Centripetal vowel system = ‫ﻧﻈﺎم اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ اﻟﺘﻤﺮآﺰي‬ A vowel system in which the individual vowels tend to position themselves in different places within the vowel range including the center. They usually undergo quality and quantity change associated with the placement of stress. This type of system is characterized by the presence of the neutral vowel schwa []. English has a typically centripetal vowel system. Classical Arabic (CA) = (‫اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ اﻟﻔﺼﺤﻰ)اﻟﻘﺪﻳﻤﺔ‬ Old version of Standard Arabic used in the Qurān and other classics of Arabic literature.


Cognitive habit =‫اﻟﻌﺎدة اﻟﺬهﻨﻴﺔ‬ Internalization of a process or information by the brain and is retrieved automatically and subconsciously when needed. Cognitive habit formation = ‫ﺑِﻨﺎء اﻟﻌﺎدة اﻟﺬهﻨﻴﺔ‬ The process of transforming conscious and mechanical articulations into subconscious automatic pronunciation controlled by the brain in all aspects of sound perception, recognition and production. Cognitive modalities = ‫اﻻﻧﻤﺎط اﻟﺬهﻨﻴﺔ‬ Manners in which the brain processes or handles a given sound activity. Cognitive training =‫اﻟﺘﻮﺟﻴﻪ )اﻟﺘﺪرﻳﺐ( اﻟﺬهﻨﻲ‬ When the brain is exercised to internalize a process and retain information subconsciously. Consonant cluster = (‫ﺗﺠﻤﻊ( اﻟﺴﻮاآﻦ )اﻟﺼﻮاﻣﺖ‬:)‫اﻟﺘﻘﺎء‬ Two or more consonants that are articulated jointly within one syllable such as in . Core letter (core grapheme) A basic character of the alphabet which appears on the base line to which diacritical marks are attached. Core Arabic Alphabet (CAO) =‫اﻻﺑﺠﺪﻳﺔ اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ اﻻﺳﺎﺳﻴﺔ‬ Arabic alphabet that is made of twenty-two letters shared by other Semitic alphabet such as Aramaic and Hebrew. Diacritics = (‫ﺗﺤﺖ اﻟﺤﺮوف‬/‫ﻋﻼﻣﺎت اﻟﺮﺳﻢ)ﺗﻮﺿﻊ ﻓﻮق‬ Symbols that are placed over, under, within or next to core letters or characters to modify their sounds or functions such as placing a tilde over Spanish to render it . Diphthong = ‫ﺻﺎﺋﺖ ﻣﺮآّﺐ‬ A combination of two vowels that merge together to form a new vocalic sound such as the sound of = [ai] in . Dynamics = ‫اﻟﺪﻳﻨﺎﻣﻴﺔ‬ Rules that govern the function of sounds in isolation and in context. Emphatic =(‫ﻣﻔﺨّﻢ )ﻣﻄﺒﻖ‬ See below. Emphatic sounds = (‫اﺻﻮات اﻟﺘﻔﺨﻴﻢ)اﻻﻃﺒﺎق‬ A class of sounds in the Semitic languages, especially Arabic, which is created as a result of subjecting plain front sounds to a drastic backing gesture of the tongue such as transforming a plain /t/ = ت‬to an emphatic /7/ = ط‬. Fossilization = ‫اﻟﺘﺤﺠّﺮ‬ A cessation of further language learning, especially in L2, usually associated with adulthood. Fricative = ‫ﺳﺎآﻦ )ﺻﺎﻣﺖ( اﺣﺘﻜﺎآﻲ‬ A sounds that is produced by forcing air through a narrow opening usually resulting in turbulence noise such [s] and []. Graphic spelling = ‫اﻻﻣﻼء اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﻲ‬ The type of spelling in which the graphemes of a word are written in the sequence in which they occur in a given word.


Grapheme = ‫اﻟﻮﺣﺪة اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﻴﺔ‬ Traditionally, it represents a symbol or joint symbols [letter or letters] to represent a sound. In this study the term has been redefined to render a much broader sense to include diacritics, punctuation marks and even spaces. Input = ‫اﻟﻮارد‬ Any signal, impression or information that is taken in by the brain through the different sensory modalities for processing, assimilation, accommodation and retrieval. Internalization =‫اﻟﺘﻤﺜﻴﻞ )اﻻﺳﺘﻴﻌﺎب( اﻟﺬهﻨﻲ‬ A cognitive process which enables the brain to subconsciously store sounds or information that are retrieved automatically and instantaneously. Interdental = ‫ﻋِﺒﺮ اﺳﻨﺎﻧﻲ‬ Sound produced by the tip of the tongue placed at the biting edge of the upper teeth such as the interdental fricatives [] and []. Intonation = ‫اﻟﺘﻨﻐﻴﻢ‬ Demonstration of pitch patterns and their functions within a sentence. Kinesthetic-proprioceptive ‫اﻟﺤﺴﻲ‬/‫اﻟﻠﻤﺴﻲ‬ The sensations and impressions detected by existing receptors in human vocal organs as a result of movements, contacts and pressures and pressure changes. Kinesthetic-proprioceptive input =‫اﻟﺤﺴﻲ‬/‫اﻟﻮارد اﻟﻠﻤﺴﻲ‬ Any stimulus or feedback relevant to sound processing that is felt or sensed and taken in by the brain. Labial =‫ﺷﻔﻮي‬ A sound in the articulation of which either lip is involved. Labio-dental = ‫ﺷﻔﻮي اﺳﻨﺎﻧﻲ‬ A sound produced by the lower lip approaching the upper incisors such as [f] or [v]. Larynx = ‫اﻟﺤﻨﺠﺮة‬ Part of the speech mechanism that houses the vocal folds. Lateral =‫ﺟﺎﻧﺒﻲ‬ A sound that is produced from one side of the mouth. The term is usually used for the articulation of ‘l’ sounds. Lax vowel = (‫ﺻﺎﺋﺖ ﻣُﻨﺸﺮح)رﺧﻮ‬ A vowel sound that is produced with less articulatory force which usually results in a shorter vowel. Letter = ‫اﻟﺤﺮف‬ A unit of the alphabet. letter-name = ‫اﺳﻢ اﻟﺤﺮف‬ The name of a letter or the so-called nomeneme. For instance, the letter-name of is {bee} and of is {double u}. Manner of articulation = ‫ﻧَﻤﻂ اﻻداء‬ The way in which the airstream is obstructed to produce a given sound; thus, according to this manner sounds are categorized as: stops, affricates, fricative, approximants, vowels etc.


Minimal pairs =‫ اﻟﺜﻨﺎﺋﻴﺎت اﻟﺼﻐﺮى‬: Two words that are the same in pronunciation except in one sound which triggers the difference in meaning between the words. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) = ‫اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ اﻟﻔﺼﺤﻰ اﻟﻤﻌﺎﺻﺮة‬ Formal Arabic used as the medium of education and information dissemination that is understood by the literate and educated people throughout the Arab countries. Morpheme = ‫اﻟﺒﻨﻴﺔ)اﻟﻮﺣﺪة( اﻟﺼﺮﻓﻴﺔ‬ A minimal grammatical unit that may have some sort of meaning, but must have a grammatical function. For instance, the word consists of four morpheme: , , and . Multicognitive = ‫ذهﻨﻲ ﺗﻌﺪدي‬ An approach that stipulates the simultaneous use of more than one cognitive process such as association, comparison, analysis, synthesis, memorization etc. Multiple Intelligence Theory = ‫ﻧﻈﺮﻳﺔ اﻟﺬآﺎء اﻟﻤﺘﻌﺪد‬: (MIT) The theory developed by Howard Gardner assuming that human intelligence portrays itself in real-life situations in different forms and categories such as linguistic, mathematical, spatial, interpersonal etc. From the pedagogical and instructional perspective, MIT is far more realistic and practical than the traditional I.Q. approach to intelligence assessment. Multisensory = ‫ﺣﻮاﺳﻲ ﺗﻌﺪدي‬ An approach that stipulates the simultaneous use of more than one sensory modality such as visual, auditory, kinesthetic etc. Nasalization = ‫اﻟ ُﻐﻨّﻪ‬ A process of coloring a sound with a nasal articulation. Nomeneme = ‫اﺳﻢ اﻟﺤﺮف‬ It is a letter-name or the name of given letter such {dee} for , {aitch} for and {double u} for . Non-alphabetic systems = ‫اﻻﻧﻈﻤﺔ ﻏﻴﺮ اﻻﺑﺠﺪﻳﺔ‬ Primarily, they refer to syllabic, ideographic and logographic systems of writing. Oral spelling = ‫اﻻﻣﻼء اﻟﺸﻔﻮي‬ The type of spelling in which the names of the letters (nomenemes) are pronounced in the sequence in which they occur in a given word. Orientation =(‫اﻟﺘﻮﺟﻴﻪ )اﻟﺘﺪرﻳﺐ‬ Training a person in a certain procedure or process. Orthography = ‫اﻟﻨﻈﺎم اﻟﻜﺘﺎﺑﻲ‬ The writing system as used in a given language. Palate = ‫اﻟﺤﻨﻚ‬ The arch or the roof of the oral cavity between the alveolar ridge and the uvula primarily made up of the hard and soft sections. Passive articulator = (‫اﻟﻌﻀﻮ اﻟﻤﺆدي اﻟﺨﺎﻣﺪ)اﻟﺴﺎﻟﺐ‬ An immobile or less mobile part of the vocal organs which receives the movement of the active articulator to produce an articulation. Perception = ‫اﻻﺣﺴﺎس‬ The auditory sensing of sounds.


Pharyngeal = ‫اﻟﺤﻠﻘﻴﺔ‬ A sound produced in the pharynx. Pharyngeal sounds are very rare and they are typically attested in the Semitic languages such the Arabic [] or []. Pharynx = ‫اﻟﺤﻠﻖ‬ Part of the speech mechanism that is between the larynx and the posterior end of the mouth. Phonation =‫ﻋﻤﻠﻴﺔ اﻟﺘﺬﺑﺬب‬ The vibration of the vocal folds [cords]. Phonatory Status = ‫@اﻟﻮﺿﻊ اﻟﺬﺑﺬﺑﻲ‬ The condition in which the vocal folds are in terms of vibrating or not. If they are vibrating the sound is known as voiced if not it is voiceless. Phoneme = ‫اﻟﻮﺣﺪة اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ‬ A unit of sound in a sound system or phonology of a given language. Phonemics = ‫ﻋﻠﻢ اﻟﻮﺣﺪات اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ‬ The study of phonemes; it may broadly be used for phonology. Phonetic accent = ‫ﻟﻜﻨﺔ)ﺻﻮت( ﺻﻮﺗﻴﺔ‬ Failure to produce a sound in a language or language variety that does not result in semantic change (change in meaning). For instance, to produce an /r/ in English as a tap [] or trill [r] or approximant [] does not result in semantic change. Phonetic setting = ‫اﻟﻘﺎﻋﺪة اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ‬ A set of the most salient features of a given language that are usually mastered the earliest by a native speaker and the latest by the non-native speaker. The features of the phonetic setting may be the most common sources of phonetic and phonological accents. Phonetics = ‫ﻋﻠﻢ)اﻟﺼﻮت( اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺎت‬ The scientific study of human sound production potential in terms perception, production, description and classification. Phonics = ‫ﺻﻮﺗﻴﺎت‬ A set of letter-based procedures to associate sounds with letters. It is a nonlinguistic orientation and should, therefore, not be confused with phonetics which is the linguistic and scientific study of sounds regardless of alphabetic letters. Phonics is extremely vulnerable to confusing phonemes for nomenemes. Phonology = ‫ﻋﻠﻢ)اﻟﺼﻮت(اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺎت اﻟﻮﻇﻴﻔﻲ‬ A comprehensive study of the sound system of a given language including all segmental and suprasegmental features and the rules that govern them. Phonological accent = ‫ﻟﻜﻨﺔ)ﻣﻌﻨﻰ( ﺻﻮﺗﻴﺔ وﻇﻴﻔﻴﺔ‬ Failure to produce a sound in a language or language variety that results in semantic change (change in meaning). For instance, the failure to distinguish a Spanish tap [] as in from a trill [r] as in will result in confusing the meaning of “but” from the meaning of “dog”. Place of articulation = ‫ﻣﺨﺎرج اﻻداء‬ The part of the vocal tract at which a sound is produced or where a sound is produced along the vocal tract. Plain sounds = ‫ اﻻﺻﻮات اﻟﻤُﺴﺘﻔﻠّﺔ‬: Are the counterparts of the emphatic sounds.


Production = (‫ اﻻﻧﺘﺎج)اﻻداء‬: The articulatory maneuvers that result in the performance of a given sound. Pronunciation = ‫اﻟﺘﻠﻔﻆ‬ The overall rendition of sounds in isolation or in context of different grammatical and syntactical structures including words, sentences and suprasentential structures. Prosodic feature = ‫اﻟﺴﻤﺔ اﻟﺼﻮﺗﻴﺔ اﻟﻄﻮﻳﻠﺔ‬ A suprasegmental sound feature [or long sound feature] such as stress, rhythm, tone and intonation. Psycholinguistic deafness = ‫اﻟﺼﻤﻢ اﻟﺬهﻨﻲ‬ The temporary or permanent failure of the brain to perceive, recognize or produce a given sound due to lack of exposure and sensitivity to L2 sounds and sound system usually more commonly associated with adults. Pulmonic = ‫رﺋﻮي‬ Related to the lungs. Pumping ‫ ﺿﺦ‬J Obstructing ‫ اﻋﺎﻗﺔ‬J Amplifying ‫ﺗﻜﺒﻴﺮ‬ Recognition = ‫اﻟﺘﻤﻴﻴﺰ‬ Ability to perceive sounds and be able to sense and tell the difference between them. Resonance cavities = ‫ﺗﺠﺎوﻳﻒ اﻟﺼﺪى‬ Spaces or small chambers that are used for the amplification of voice and noise. Retroflex ‘r’ = ‫اﻟﺮاء اﻟﻤُﻨﺜﻨﻴﺔ‬ An ‘r’ produced with the tip and/or blade of the tongue tilted backwards. Rhotacized vowels; R-colored vowels = ‫ﺻﻮاﺋﺖ راﺋﻴﺔ‬ Vowels that acquire a touch of the articulatory and acoustic feature of an ‘r’, especially a retroflexed one. Rhythm = ‫اﻻﻳﻘﺎع‬ A distribution of weak and strong stress placements within a stretch of speech. Rolled ‘r’ = ‫اﻟﺮاء اﻟﻤﻜﺮرة‬ An ‘r’ that is produced with two or more taps (hits or touches) at the alveolar or post alveolar area. Schwa = ‫اﻟﺼﺎﺋﺖ اﻟﺤﻴﺎدي‬ The neutral vowel usually reduced in both quality and quantity and represented by the symbol []. Schwaization = ‫ﺗﺤﻴﻴﺪ اﻟﺼﻮاﺋﺖ‬ The process of reducing other vowels to schwa [] which is the maximum degree of vowel reduction. Sensory modalities = ‫اﻻﻧﻤﺎط اﻟﺤﻮاﺳﻴﺔ‬ Manners in which the senses process or handle a given sound activity. Standard Arabic Orthography (SAO) Use of the basic letters of the Arabic alphabet and its basic diacritic marks in transcribing Arabic and transliterating foreign words. Stop (plosive) = ‫اﻻﺻﻮات اﻟﺸﺪﻳﺪة‬ A sound that is produced as a result of total stoppage of airflow after which the pressure is released suddenly such as [p], [t] and [k].


Stress = (‫اﻟﻨﺒﺮة )ﺗﺸﺪﻳﺪ اﻟﻤﻘﻄﻊ‬ The additional physical effort which a certain syllable receives within a bisyllabic or multisyllabic word. Stress placement =‫وﺿﻊ اﻟﻨﺒﺮة‬ The syllable within a bisyllabic or multisyllabic word which receives the stress. Subscript = ‫ﻋﻼﻣﺎت ﺗﺤﺘﻴﺔ‬ A symbol that is placed over a core on-line letter or character. Superscript = ‫ﻋﻼﻣﺎت ﻓﻮﻗﻴﺔ‬ A symbol that is placed under a core on-line letter or character. Syllable = ‫اﻟﻤﻘﻄﻊ‬ Linguistic structure that is made of a single vowel with one or more consonants. Syllabic structure = ‫اﻟﺒﻨﻴﺔ اﻟﻤﻘﻄﻌﻴﺔ‬ The form or structure a syllable assumes in terms of the vowel and consonants involved in its composition. Usually syllabic structures are schematically made up of ‘C’s and ‘V’s standing for consonants and vowels, respectively. For instance, V, VC, CV, CVC, CCVC, CVCC are different examples of syllabic structures. Tap = (‫ﻧَﻘﺮة )اﺣﺎدي اﻟﻀﺮﺑﺔ‬ A sound that is produced by a single hit or touch of the tip of the tongue at the alveolar ridge. Tap ‘r’ = (‫اﻟﺮاء اﻟﻤُﺴﺘﻠﺔ )اﺣﺎدﻳﺔ اﻟﻨﻘﺮة‬ An that is produced with a single hit or touch of the tip of the tongue at the alveolar ridge. Tense vowel = ‫ﺻﺎﺋﺖ ﺷﺪﻳﺪ‬ Vowel that is produced with greater articulatory effort which usually results in a longer vowel. Tongue back = ‫ﻣﺆﺧﺮة اﻟﻠﺴﺎن‬ The section next to the root and opposite to the velum. Tongue blade = ‫ﻧﺼﻞ اﻟﻠﺴﺎن‬ The section next to the tip and physically facing the alveolar ridge. Tongue dorsum = ‫ﻇﻬﺮ اﻟﻠﺴﺎن‬ The section physically facing the hard palate. Tongue root = ‫ﺟﺬر اﻟﻠﺴﺎن‬ Extreme posterior end of the tongue attached to the lower jaw. Tongue tip = ‫َأﺳَﻠﺔ اﻟﻠﺴﺎن‬ Extreme anterior end of the tongue. Transliteration = ‫ﺗﺪوﻳﻦ اﺻﻮات ﻟﻐﺔ ﻣﺎ ﺑﺤﺮوف آﺘﺎﺑﺔ اﺧﺮى‬ Transcription of the sounds of one language in terms of the a different system of writing such as writing English words in Arabic letters. Trill = ‫ﻣﻜﺮر‬ A sound that is produced by repeated (usually two or more) hits or touches of the tip of the tongue at the alveolar ridge or the uvula at the back of the tongue. Unaspirated sounds = ‫اﺻﻮات ﻏﻴﺮ ﻣﻨﻔﻮﺣﺔ‬ Sounds that are produced without being followed by a puff of air. Uvula = ‫اﻟﻠﻬﺎة‬ The extreme fleshy end of the velum (soft palate) which is vulnerable to vibration with forceful flow of air.


Uvular = ‫ﻟﻬﻮي‬ A sound produced by the extreme back of the tongue and the Uvula [the extreme end of the velum] such as [q], [] or []. Velar =‫ﻃﺒَﻘﻲ‬ A sound produced by the back of the tongue and the velum [soft palate] such as [k] or []. Velum (Soft Palate) = (‫ﻄﺒَﻖ )اﻟﺤﻨﻚ اﻟﻠﻴﻦ‬ َ ‫اﻟ‬ The soft section of the roof of the oral cavity between the hard palate and the uvula. Visual = ‫ﻣﺮﺋﻲ‬ Any stimulus or feedback relevant to sound processing that is seen. Visual input = ‫وارد ﻣﺮﺋﻲ‬ Any stimulus or feedback relevant to sound that is seen and detected by the brain for processing. Voiced = ‫)ﺻﻮت( ﻣﺠﻬﻮر‬ A sound accompanied by vocal folds vibration such as [d] or [z]. Voiceless = ‫ )ﺻﻮت( ﻣﻬﻤﻮس‬: A sound which is not accompanied by vocal folds vibration such [t] or [s]. Vowel quality = ‫ﻧﻮﻋﻴﺔ اﻟﺼﺎﺋﺖ‬ The impressionistic impact of a vowel on the ear that differentiates it from another vowel. For instance, [a], [i] and [u] are maximally different in quality. Vowel quantity = ‫ﻃﻮل اﻟﺼﺎﺋﺖ‬ The difference in the length or duration of vowels. For instance, a schwa [] is usually much shorter than [] and the symbol [] makes [i] the long counterpart of [i] or [] as in vs. . Vowel reduction = ‫اﺧﺘﺰال )ﺗﺤﻔﻴﻒ( اﻟﺼﺎﺋﺖ‬ The tendency to render a vowel shorter in quality [length] and less distinct and well defined in quality.

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Index abutting consonants, 83, 175, 188 accent, 175, 180, 181 Acoustic Phase, v acoustics, 175 Aerodynamic Phase, v aerodynamics, 175 affricate, xii, xiv, 42, 44, 70, 118, 143, 175 allophone, 175 alveolar, xi, xii, xiii, xiv, xv, 11, 12, 13, 40, 44, 68, 70, 72, 80, 81, 82, 118, 180, 182, 183 alveolar ridge, 175 American English, xviii, 29, 54, 185, 186, 189, 190, 191 approach, 29, 33, 176, 179 approximant, xii, xiii, xv, 7, 20, 23, 40, 42, 47, 79, 81, 82, 120, 122, 131, 134, 136, 176, 180 approximants, vi, 38, 42, 47, 57, 81, 179, 189 Arabic, iv- xix, 1-6, 12, 19, 24-28, 3139, 40-49, 51- 59, 60-69, 71-79, 8089, 90-99, 100-109, 111, 112, 115119, 121-124, 130, 131-139, 140, 141, 144-149, 151-159, 160-163, 168, 169, 170, 172, 176, 177, 179, 180, 182, 183, 185, 186, 188, 189, 190, 191 Arabs, 80, 91, 93, 94, 99, 101, 102, 106, 108, 109, 124, 133, 134, 147 arbitrary relationship, 176 articulatory musculature, 49 Articulatory Phase, v aspirated, xi, xii, 2, 24, 26, 43, 44, 58, 61, 63, 64, 66, 67, 68, 70, 113, 167, 176 aspiration, xiii, 176 audiolingual method, 3 Auditory Orientation, 6, 68 augmented, 90, 122 bilabial, xi, xiii, xiv, xv, 4, 5, 11, 17, 43 Bill Clinton, 99 centrifugal vowel system, 176 centrifugal vowel systems, 55, 112 centripetal vowel system, 176 centripetal vowel systems, 55, 112, 158

Cockney, 43 cognitive habit formation, 2, 177 cognitive internalization, 3 Cognitive Orientation, 6, 67 comparative, xvi, xviii, xix, 11, 16, 49, 54, 55, 57, 60, 80, 83, 86, 96, 105, 106, 121, 127, 134, 153 completeness, 105, 107 consonant cluster, 177 consonant clusters, 83, 85, 134, 189 consonant sound, 21, 119 cross-language, xvi, xix, 47, 93, 147, 152 dentals, 4 description, 9, 12, 15, 17, 21, 22, 38, 42, 43, 47, 49, 50, 51, 55, 67, 79, 107, 180, 187, 189 diacritical mark, 25, 158 diacritics, xi, 20, 26, 28, 32, 33, 34, 35, 102, 139, 140, 141, 144, 146, 147, 151, 157, 161, 162, 177, 178 digraph, 25 diphthong, 28, 52, 53, 93, 100, 101, 120, 122, 165, 166, 177 double function, 26 emphaticness, 105, 106 emphatics, 5, 43, 57, 58, 61, 86, 106, 188 falling pitch, 105, 107 flaps, 106 foreign language, xvii, 9, 18, 106, 128, 140, 147, 149, 160, 162, 189 fossilization, 178 fricative, xii, xv, 143, 175, 178, 179 Fricative, 27, 31, 32, 42, 178 GA, viii, xviii, 29, 55, 79, 81, 82, 101, 102, 105, 106, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 131, 134, 136, 142, 156, 158, 159, 165, 166 gemination, 117, 119, 121 glottal stop, xiv, 41, 43, 115 grapheme, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 30, 32, 33, 34, 69, 141, 142, 143, 147, 149, 153, 154, 157, 177, 178 graphic spelling, 33, 178 Hard Palate, 13 identification, 5, 21, 22, 38, 39, 64, 132 impressionistic timbre, 49 incompleteness, 105, 107 indefinite articles, 20 interdental, xii, 178

170 interdental fricatives, 46, 73, 178 interdentals, 4, 11, 131 intonation, 105, 106, 178, 181 IPA, xi, xiv, 15, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35, 37, 43, 45, 47, 50, 53, 78, 123 kinesthetic, 178, 179 Kinesthetic/Proprioceptive Orientation, 6, 70 kinesthetic/tactile, 3 labio-dental, xii, xv, 4, 11, 17, 178 laryngeal, 14, 41 larynx, 15, 26, 178, 180 lax vowel, 178 laxness, 15, 49 letter-name, 179 linguistic identities, 19, 24 linguistic intuition, 117 long counterpart, xv, 21, 22, 183 lunar letters, 117 manner of articulation, 31, 179 Manner of Articulation, vi, 26, 31 mechanical habit formation, 2 mellow, 80, 101, 176 mental construct, 23 minimal pair, 179 minimal pairs, 23, 39, 59, 65, 66, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 80, 92, 99, 128, 130, 132, 165, 166, 167, 170, 171 Modern Aramaic, 4, 40 Modern English, 186 Modern Standard Arabic, xviii, 38, 152 multicognitive, xvii, 1, 179 Multiple Intelligence Theory, 179 multisensory, xvii, xviii, 1, 2, 3, 4, 86, 179 names of the letters, 24, 35, 179 nomeneme, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 33, 34, 171, 179 Non-alphabetic systems, 179 oral spelling, 33, 179 orthography, xviii, 25, 30, 69, 93, 124, 139, 140, 141, 142, 146, 147, 149, 151, 153, 163, 180, 190 pedagogical basis, 5 perception, 1-3, 16, 24, 59, 60, 63, 64, 69, 70, 71, 72, 74, 75, 77, 82, 97, 99, 108, 111, 132, 177, 180, 186 pharyngeal, xii, xiv, xv, 13, 14, 15, 37, 40, 45, 58, 72, 74, 75, 135, 171, 180

pharynx, 12, 40, 50, 180 phonation, 38, 180 phoneme, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 30, 33, 71, 129, 130, 141, 142, 143, 147, 149, 153, 155, 157, 175, 180 phonemics, 25, 180 phonetic accent, xviii, 6, 7, 43, 47, 59, 67, 78, 121, 127, 128, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 167 phonetic quality, 21 phonetic sensitivity, 8, 23 phonetic setting, 180 phonetics, xvi, xvii, 6, 19, 20, 21, 23, 25, 106, 132, 180, 181, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 191 phonics, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 180, 185, 190 phonological accent, xviii, 6, 7, 67, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 167 phonology, 5, 6, 19, 20, 23, 25, 46, 66, 79, 83, 106, 120, 142, 145, 180, 181, 185, 186, 189 physical maneuvers, 1, 8 place of articulation, 31, 181 Place of Articulation, vi, 26, 31 plosive, xi, xii, xiv, xv, 1, 17, 20, 26, 42, 43, 63, 64, 67, 68, 70, 117, 171, 175, 182, 188 posterior half, 26 production, 1- 4, 7, 9, 10-12, 16, 17, 40, 42, 50, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 65, 66, 68, 70-75, 77, 79, 81, 82, 89, 97-99, 100, 108, 109, 111, 140, 167, 169, 176, 177, 180, 181 proprioceptive, 178 prosodic feature, 181 prosodic features, 4, 6, 57, 105, 106, 107, 155 psycholinguistic abstraction, 23 psycholinguistic deafness, 2, 181 psycholinguistic slot, 24 Received Pronunciation, xviii, 29, 54 recognition, 1-3, 59, 60-63, 67, 69, 7072, 74, 75, 77, 82, 97, 98, 99, 100, 108, 109, 111, 177, 181 repeat-after-me, xvii, 3, 8, 108, 137 rhythm, 4, 5, 52, 55, 83, 85, 89, 92, 93, 94, 96, 105, 106, 107, 112, 113, 115, 134, 155, 163, 168, 172, 181, 185

171 RP English, xiii schwa, xi, 55, 89, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 115, 120, 122, 131, 133, 154, 166, 169, 172, 176, 177, 182, 183, 190 schwaization, 182 segment, 5, 105, 117, 121 sequence of the letters, 24 shapes of the letters, 24, 35 short counterpart, 22 simple vowels, 20, 28, 30, 53, 54, 91, 92 Soft palate, 13 solar letters, 117 sound units, 23, 25 sounds of the letters, 24, 35 stop, xii, 26, 141, 175, 182 stress, xiv, 177, 181, 182 stressed, 4, 5, 96, 97, 109, 112, 145, 169, 172 strong form, 94 subscripts, 25, 35, 141 suffixes, 5, 109 superscripts, 25, 35, 141 syllable-timed, 112 tag-question, 105 taps, 57, 81, 82, 106, 182 tempo, 116 tense vowel, 182 tenseness, 15, 49, 70 transliteration, 92, 93, 99, 102, 139, 140, 144-149, 151-154, 157, 158, 159, 160-163, 176, 189, 190 trills, 57, 106 unaspirated, xi, xii, xiv, xv, 1, 24, 26, 43, 44, 46, 47, 58, 61, 63, 64, 67, 68, 70, 167, 176, 188 unstressed, 29, 96, 97, 98, 99, 109, 112, 120, 144, 169 uvula, 12, 13, 14, 26, 40, 180, 183 uvular, xii, xiv, xv, 1, 12, 37, 43, 63, 64, 65, 135, 171, 183, 188 velar, xii, xiii, xv, 2, 11, 12, 40, 63, 64, 76, 78, 117, 183, 189 Velar, vi, vii, 26, 31, 32, 44, 47, 65, 79, 183 Visual Orientation, 6, 68 vocal tract, 9-12, 14, 26, 39, 40, 41, 42, 45, 49, 50, 70, 74, 176, 181 voiced, xiv, xv, 38, 40, 44, 47, 63, 68, 70, 73, 77, 117, 170, 180, 183

voiceless, xiv, xv, 1, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 63, 64, 67, 68, 70, 72, 77, 170, 180, 183, 188 vowel letters, 20, 22, 28, 102, 142 vowel quality, 183 vowel quantity, 183 vowel reduction, 89, 91, 93, 95, 96, 97, 99, 106, 112, 113, 115, 122, 131, 133, 134, 136, 168, 169, 170, 172, 182, 184 vowel sound, 21, 143, 178 weak form, 94