Arabic script for English ارابيك سكريڤت فُر يعگليش

The Arabic script is one of the most widely adopted writing systems in the world, together with Latin and Cyrillic. Its main distinctive characteristics are that letters are written right-to-left, and letterforms merge with each other in a cursive manner.

Adaptation process

Most consonant letters were fairly straightforward: ف = /f/, ر = /ɹ/, etc. Still, some changes had to be made due to the different consonants – ط, ص and their dotted variants were excluded as their sounds did not exist in English. Additional letters were also added: ژ /ʒ/ and گ /g/ come from the Perso-Arabic variant, while ڤ /p/ and ۏ /v/ come from the variety of Arabic script used to write Malay, called Jawi.

Jawi also uses the letters ڠ to write /ŋ/ and چ to write /tʃ/. Both of these are very common sounds in English, and it would be simply easier to write /ŋ/ as ع (/ʕ/ in Arabic) and /tʃ/ as ح (/ħ/ in Arabic), without the 3 dots.

Another issue I faced was the vowels. Classical Arabic only distinguishes the 3 vowel qualities /a/, /i/ and /u/, which is reflected in the writing system. To fix this, I took advantage of the fact that Arabic script also has diacritical vowel markings for َ /a/, ِ /i/ and ُ /u/, and re-assigned them to represent /ə/, /ɛ/ and /ɔ/ respectably – the traditional ا /a/, ي /i/, و /u/ is then mapped to English /a/, /ɪ/ and /ʊ/. Another source of additional vowels were the ‘nunation’ vowels ً /an/ and ٌ /un/ – these were re-assigned to /æ/ and /ɔː/. And finally, the ‘shadda’ diacritic ّ was used to turn /ɪ/ into /iː/ and /ʊ/ into /uː/.

Letters

Consonants كُنسُنَنتس

/p/ ڤ (port)/b/ ب (born)/f/ ف (free)/v/ ۏ (van)/m/ م (muse)
/t/ ت (tree)/d/ د (drive)/θ/ ث (thank)/ð/ ذ (the)/n/ ن (new)
/k/ ك (call)/g/ گ (get)/x/ خ (loch)/ɣ/ غ/ŋ/ ع (sing)
/s/ س (soon)/z/ ز (zoo)/ʃ/ ش (share)/ʒ/ ژ (azure).
/tʃ/ ح (change)/dʒ/ ج (joke)...
/ɹ/ ر (run)/l/ ل (laugh)/h/ ه (house)/w/ و (way)/j/ ي (yell)

Vowels ۏاوَلس

There are 2 kinds of vowels in Arabic script for English: standalone vowels, which stand on their own, and diacritic vowels, which need to be written above or below the preceding consonant.

Standalone vowels

/a/~/ʌ/ ا (sun).
/ɪ/ ي (bid)/iː/ يّ (bead)
/ʊ/ و (pull)/uː/ وّ (pool)

Diacritic vowels

To write the vowel after a consonant, replace ا with the consonant letter: /kæ/ = كً.

./æ/ اً (can)
/ə/~/ɜ/ اَ (sure)/ɛ/ اِ (red)
/ɔ/ اُ (pot)/ɔː/ اٌ (call)

Diphthongs ديفثُعس

/aɪ/ اي (side)/aʊ/ او (now)
/ɔɪ/ اُي (toy)/oʊ/ اُو (dough)
/eɪ/ اِي (say)/ɪə/ يَ (hear)
/ʊə/, /wə/ وَ (tour)/juː/ يو (news)

Triphthongs تريفثُعس

/aɪə/ ايَ (flyer)/aʊə/ اوَ (tower)
/jʊə/ يوَ (cure).

Isolated, final, medial and initial forms

In Arabic script, most letters join with each together when forming words. These are the different forms the letters can take when used:

/p/ ڤ‍ ‍ڤ‍ ‍ڤ ڤ/b/ ب‍ ‍ب‍ ‍ب ب/f/ ف‍ ‍ف‍ ‍ف ف/v/ ۏ‍ ‍ۏ‍ ‍ۏ ۏ/m/ م‍ ‍م‍ ‍م م
/t/ ت‍ ‍ت‍ ‍ت ت/d/ د‍ ‍د‍ ‍د د/θ/ ث‍ ‍ث‍ ‍ث ث/ð/ ذ‍ ‍ذ‍ ‍ذ ذ/n/ ن‍ ‍ن‍ ‍ن ن
/k/ ك‍ ‍ك‍ ‍ك ك/g/ گ‍ ‍گ‍ ‍گ گ/x/ خ‍ ‍خ‍ ‍خ خ/ɣ/ غ‍ ‍غ‍ ‍غ غ/ŋ/ ع‍ ‍ع‍ ‍ع ع
/s/ س‍ ‍س‍ ‍س س/z/ ز‍ ‍ز‍ ‍ز ز/ʃ/ ش‍ ‍ش‍ ‍ش ش/ʒ/ ژ‍ ‍ژ‍ ‍ژ ژ.
/tʃ/ ح‍ ‍ح‍ ‍ح ح/dʒ/ ج‍ ‍ج‍ ‍ج ج...
/ɹ/ ر‍ ‍ر‍ ‍ر ر/l/ ل‍ ‍ل‍ ‍ل ل/h/ ە‍ ‍ە‍ ‍ە ە/w/ و‍ ‍و‍ ‍و و/j/ ي‍ ‍ي‍ ‍ي ي
/a/ ا‍ ‍ا‍ ‍ا ا/ə/ اَ‍ ‍اَ‍ ‍اَ اَ/ɪ/ ي‍ ‍ي‍ ‍ي ي/ɔ/ اُ‍ ‍اُ‍ ‍اُ اُ/ʊ/ و‍ ‍و‍ ‍و و
/æ/ اً‍ ‍اً‍ ‍اً اً/ɛ/ اِ‍ ‍اِ‍ ‍اِ اِ/iː/ يّ‍ ‍يّ‍ ‍يّ يّ/ɔː/ اٌ‍ ‍اٌ ‍اٌ اٌ/ʊː/ وّ‍ ‍وّ‍ ‍وّ وّ
/aɪ/ اي‍ ‍اي‍ ‍اي اي/eɪ/ اِي‍ ‍اِي‍ ‍اِي اِي./ɔɪ/ اُي‍ ‍اُي‍ ‍اُي اُي/ʊə/, /wə/ وَ‍ ‍وَ‍ ‍وَ وَ
/aʊ/ او‍ ‍او‍ ‍او او/ɪə/ يَ‍ ‍يَ‍ ‍يَ يَ./oʊ/ اُو‍ ‍اُو‍ ‍اُو اُو/juː/ يو‍ ‍يو‍ ‍يو يو

Numerals نيومَرَلس

Numerals used are the Arabic variants.

0 ٠1 ١2 ٢3 ٣4 ٤
5 ٥6 ٦7 ٧8 ٨9 ٩

Special cases

There is a ligature of ل and ا used if they follow one another, which looks like this: لا

/la/ لا

Syllable structure

Unlike most writing systems that run from left to right, Arabic script runs from right to left.

E.g.

  • /stɹakt/ = ستراكت (breakdown: س‍ ‍ت‍ ر ا ك‍ ‍ت, literally ‘t k a r t s’)
  • /stɹɛŋθs/ = سترِعثس (breakdown: س‍ ‍ت‍ ر ِ ع‍ ‍ث‍ ‍س, literally ‘s th ng e r t s’)

Sample texts

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

يونيۏَرسَل ديكلًرِيشَن اُف هيومَن رايتس

اُل هيومَن بيّعس ار بُرن فريّ اًند يكوَل ين ديگنيتي اًند رايتس. ذِي ار اِنداود ويث ريّزَن اًند كُنشَنس اًند شود اًكت تُووَردس وان اَناذَر ين اَ سڤيريت اُف براذَرهود.

(ارتيكَل ١ اُف ذَ يونيۏَرسَل ديكلًرِيشَن اُف هيومَن رايتس)

Excerpt from a short story I wrote a while ago

For comparison, you can view the original one here.

اي هًد اَ سترِينج دريّم ذًت نايت.

ين ذًت دريّم، اي فاوند مايسِلف اَوِيكَنيع، لاييع اُن سُفت گريّن گراس، ين اَ فًنتَسي ٨-بيت وَرلد سَراوندَد باي كُمڤيوتَرس. ذَ لومينَنس اُف بليعكيع مُودِمس اًند وٌم، حيَرفول حيڤتيون ميوزيك فيلد ذي اِر. اُلذُو اِۏريثيع لوكد بلُكيّ اًند سكوِر، يت برُت مي بًك تو ذُوز دِيس. اُف اُل ذَ كُمڤيوتَرس اي سٌ، ١ اُف ذِم وَس ڤلِييع ماي فِيۏَرَت سُع! اي جامڤ اًند ليّڤ ين جُي اُوۏَر ذَ سايت. اي ذِن سٌ ماي هاوس، اًند اي سِد “هاي” تو ماي بِست مِيتس، هو وَر وِيتيع اوتسايد. وي وٌكد توگِذَر، هًۏيع اَ حيَري حًت اَباوت ذَ كُمڤيوتَر گِيم اي وَس وَركيع اُن اَرليَر.

“سُو واتس ذًت كول گِيم گُنا بي اَباوت، اِي؟” وان اُف ذِم اسكد.
“يف يو لَۏد مارياُو، يول لَۏ ذيس!” اي سِد.
“اٌسَم!!! كانت وِيت تو سيّ يت!” ينسايد ميّ ذَ فاياَر تو كيّڤ ميّ گُويع بيكِيم سترُعگَر.

وي وٌكد ينتو اَ ۏيۏيد سانسِت. اي رِمينيسد ذَ مِمُريس اُف ڤاست سامَرس، ڤلِييع رِترُو ۏيدياُو گِيمس ين ذَ كول شِيد، يۏَن ذُو ذَ سان اوتسايد ڤيّكد اًت ٤٢ ديگريّس اًند مِلتَد اِۏريثيع اِلس.

4 thoughts on “Arabic script for English ارابيك سكريڤت فُر يعگليش

  1. I’m using an adapted version of this. ə=أ/ء/ ٔ / ʌ=ا»اَ i:=اٍي. the diphthongs change too. I used ء because it is an ‘ə’ sound in arabic & isn’t already being used in this script. اَ is more like ‘ʌ’. ‘P’ could also be ‘پ’. Arabic uses it for loanwords from other languages, even though the sound doesn’t exist in Arabic.

    – ستًندالُون
    اَ ʌ | ي i | يٍ/اٍي ee | و ʊ | وو/وّ oo
    دياكريتيكس
    اً æ | اِ eh | أ ə | اُ ah | اٌ aw
    ديفثٌعس
    اَي ai | اَو aʊ | اُي oi | اُو oʊ

    اِي ei | ئ iə | ؤ ʊə | يو ju

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  2. I also use ‘ ٰ ‘ above ی to represent the ‘ee’ sound to preserve ‘ ّ ‘ for words with double letters (letter=لِتّئر) if needed. it is a long ‘a’ sound in Arabic, but it looks like an i anyway so it’s a good fit. “Beings” would be بیٰعْس but I usually omit diacritics as Arabic does. If you always write ا with diphtongs it makes it easier to read. “Rights” would be راَیتْس. You can use ‘ ْ ‘ to show that there isn’t a following vowel (“rights” = راَیتْس). I even saw a suggestion elsewhere to use alternate letters for things like ‘c’ when pronounced as ‘s’, like writing ‘ceiling’ as صیٰلیع as a visual indicator that it’s pronounced with an ‘s’ but spelled differently. ط is a variation of ‘t’, but I don’t know what

    .اٌل هیومَن بیٰعس اَر بؤرن فریٰ اًند یٰکؤل ین دیگْنیتیٰ اًند راَیتْس
    all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

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