A long vowel in Arabic is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a lengthening of the short vowel. It is exactly like the short one, but held longer in pronunciation. This is usually accomplished in English by using a double letter just like in the words “loop” and deep”. There are three long vowels: ā, ū, and ī written medially as ‘alif ا, wāw و and yā’ ي, respectively. Occasionally, ā is written using a yā’ without dots (ى) rather than an alif. This always happens at the end of a word and is called ’alif maqsūra as in على (alā) which means “on”.
- ā: (long a) is pronounced like a short “a” in ordinary environments but held for a much longer duration, some say “twice as much time”.
- ū: (long a) is pronounced like a short “u” but held for a much longer duration, like “oo” of “moon”.
- ī: (long i) Similar to the “ea” in “beat”. In velar environments the quality is significantly “clouded”-rather like “ea” in “peal”.
|Long vowels in Arabic
|(implied fatḥa) ʾalif||ā||/aː/|
|(implied fatḥa) ʾalif maqṣūra (Arabic)||ā / aỳ||/a/|
|(implied ḍamma) wāw||ū / uw||/uː/|
|(implied kasra) yāʾ||ī / iy||/iː/|
Diphthongs in Arabic:
Diphthongs in Arabic are vowel sounds consisting of two parts, a short vowel and a consonant. the diphthongs “ay” and “aw” are written ـَ ي as in “بيت” [baitun] a “house”, and ـَ و as in “خوف” [khaufun] arabic name for “Fear”.
|Long vowels and diphthongs||ـَا||ـُو||ـِي||ـَو||ـَي|
|Transcription||/ā/ (long a)||/ū/ (long u)||/ī/ (long i)||/aw/||/ay/|