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The letter ق

Isolated form
ق
Letter name
qaaf = قَاف
Pronunciation
Like the 'uh' from 'uh-oh', or a distinct emphatic counterpart to 'k'
Connector
Yes

And now with the short vowels:

Pronunciation
Example
1. like the sound of ‘uh’ from ‘uh-oh’
رَقَم
number

طَرِيقَة
path

Note this is the most common pronunciation in Syria and Lebanon.
2. ‘k’ in ‘cautious’ but further back in the mouth (see the videos for more)
الْقَاهِرَة
Cairo

الْقُرْآن
quraan (The holy book of Islam)

إِقْتِصَاد
economy

قَطَر
qatar (country)

This less common pronunciation is often used for higher register words or names (and id the only pronunciation in Classical Arabic or الفصحى)

ق is written similarly to ف but instead has two dots on top, and the final version tends to have a more rounded tail than its cousin ف.

Final
Connected only to the letter before it.
ـق
هَلَّق
now

Medial
Connected to the letter before and after it.
ـقـ
الْقُرْآن
quraan
Initial
Connected only to the letter after it.
قـ
قَدِّيش؟
how much?

Isolated
Written alone or after a non-connecting letter.
ق
-

Cultural note: the Druze and the many pronunciations of ق in the Levant

In the Northern Levant, namely Syria and Lebanon, most pronunce ق as the first ‘uh’ sound.

However, the Druze are a community that mainly uses the second ‘q’ sound as in القُرْآن. Outside the Levant, and in Classical Arabic too, this is normal pronunciation of ق. But within the Levant, this consistent pronunciation of ق by the Druze distinguishes them from most other communities [1].

Other groups in the gulf also sometimes use the ‘g’ pronunction as well. In the southern Levantine countries — Palestine and Jordan — the use of qaf ق as guttural q or k sound is more common than in the North. In Jordan, the sound is sometimes associated with masculinity and Jordanian identity [2].

[1] The Sweet Burden: Constructing and Contesting Druze Heritage and Identity in Lebanon, Chad Kassem Radwan, https://digitalcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=7328&context=etd&httpsredir=1&referer=

[2]  The lifecycle of Qaf in Jordan, Langage et société 2011/4 (n° 138), https://www.cairn.info/revue-langage-et-societe-2011-4-page-59.htm

Memory Aid

Looking for one…

Exercise 1: Distinguishing between similar sounds

Listen to the sounds and decide if you are hearing the ك sound which is similar to English or the ق sound which is distinct to Arabic.

Audio coming soon!

Number
ك
ق
1.
كَلْب
قَلْب
2.
كَسر
قَصر
3.
بَكَرَة
بَقَرَة
4.
رَكْبَة
رَقْبَة
5.
كبَّة
قبَّة

Exercise 2: Joining together letters

Please join up these individual letters to form words.

Example: قَ + لَ + م = قَلَم = Pen

  1. قَ + مَ + ر
  2. قَ + رِ + ي + ب
  3. ق + يَ + ا + س
  4. قُ + وّ + ة
  5. طَ + لَ + ا + ق
  6. قَ + لَ + ق
  7. طَ + رِ + ي + ق
  8. طَ + رِ + ي + قَ + ة 
  9. قِ + طَ + ا + ر 

Answers

  1. قَ + مَ + ر = قَمَر = Moon
  2. قَ + رِ + ي + ب = قَرِيب = Near
  3. ق + يَ + ا + س = قيَاس = Size
  4. قُ + وّ + ة = قُوّة = Force
  5. طَ + لَ + ا + ق = طَلَاق = Divorce 
  6. قَ + لَ + ق = قَلَق = Anxiety 
  7. طَ + رِ + ي + ق = طَرِيق = Path/Way
  8. طَ + رِ + ي + قَ + ة = طَرِيقَة = Method/Manner
  9. قِ + طَ + ا + ر = قِطَار = Train

Exercise 3: Dictation

Watch to the video, listen to the word, pause, attempt to write the answer, then compare what you wrote with the written answer.

This is the hardest type of exercise here. Don’t agonise if you can’t do this, move quickly on to the answers. There are sometimes several sounds for the same letter like ‘a’ which has َ  and ا and ة. So just give it your best shot! Or it is too much, move on!

Video coming soon…

Exercise 4: Listening bingo

The idea of the the game is to circle the three sounds you will hear in the recording.

If you get it correct you will be able to draw a line through the three answers from one side to the other like Bingo!

Note the table will display as list on the mobile or at smaller sizes.

قَلَم
قَصْر
قِطَار
طَلَاق
قَمَر
أَقَلْ
سَلَام
بيت
طَرِيقَة

Answers

  1. قَصْر = palace
  2. قَمَر = moon
  3. بيت = home