Consonant Clusters at the End of a Word

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by TheFriendlyArab, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. First of all, HELLO! It's been a very long time since I last posted here, but I've been busy with college and I'm applying for my first job and blah, blah, more things that are insignificant to this thread. Anyway, I have a question today. When learning the language I've noticed that, despite there being a strict rule against starting words with consonant clusters there is no rule against ending words with them. For instance: the words فجر and عقل end with consonant clusters that are near if not outright impossible to utter without extra vowels when they are the last words spoken. There are words in English that end in consonant clusters that are still pronounceable like "risk" when they are at the end of a sentence. When I hear the word فجر spoken I always hear it as "fej" or "feg" depending on the dialect. The "r" sound is just kind of...forgotten. Are we supposed to try to pronounce both consonants together or just drop the last letter or what? Sometimes I hear some extra vowels thrown in to facilitate pronunciation (which just might be slurring the words) like pronouncing it "fejir" or "fejrih". I guess the Arabs didn't really consider the difficulty of pronouncing some of these consonant clusters. But it's cool, I like a good challenge.
  2. barkoosh Senior Member


    Don't drop the last letter. The correct way is to add a vowel (generally a short i) between the last two consonants while pronouncing them. So فَجْر will sound like fajer, عَقْل like 3aqel. Please note that in writing, you should always have a sukuun even if the letter is pronounced with a short vowel.
  3. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    “fajer” (with an epenthetic vowel) is what you hear in many dialects, but you will not hear it in (for example) tajwīd. What you need is an unreleased r (you put your tongue in the r position but do not trill it).
  4. Tracer

    Tracer Senior Member

    Wadi Jinn
    American English
    I can't agree that it's "near impossible" to pronounce such words as فجر and عقل due to the "consonant cluster" at the end of these (and similar) words when they appear at the end of sentences. That's because (I'm assuming you're a native English speaker) English has dozens and dozens of similarly-ending words. (In fact, as you may know, English is far more complex in this respect than Arabic is).

    Look at the common word MAJOR. Granted, it has the letter "o" between the "j" and "r" but in reality, the word is pronounced: MAYJR, with no interceding vowel at the end.
    Just like فجر

    Ditto with the words DANGER (dayngr) - STRANGER (strayngr) and so on. (And it doesn't matter where this word appears in the sentence).

    As far as عقل , well English doesn't have a (Qaf) but we have a very similar word ANKLE ending with a (-KL) sound, similar to Arabic's (-QL). Similarly with the word

    Bottom line: pronouncing these "clusters" in both languages regardless of location in a sentence should present no problem. If it does, I wager there's something else impeding proper pronunciation other than innate difficulty of these clusters.
  5. Timesieve Member

    Breaking up word-final consonant clusters is a feature of Levantine dialects. It happens even in loanwords (فيلم = filem).

    Most other dialects do not do this as far as I know. At least not as consistently.
  6. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    I am afraid I need to disagree with Tracer. The English word “uncle” consists of two syllables, with a vocalic “l” in the second syllable. The pausal form of Arabic ʻaql (at least in the elevated style of pronunciation associated with tajwīd) has only one syllable and ends with an unreleased consonant “l”. It sounds thus totally different from English “uncle”. If anything it is more like French “oncle”.
  7. So you just position your tongue (or other part of the body used to produce speech) as if to articulate the letter but you don't actually articulate it? In other words فجر and عقل are pronounced "fej" and "3aq" respectively as the last thing uttered but you should prepare to sound out the last letters?
  8. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    You articulate it, but you do not release it. The vowel has a different quality than in syllables ending with just one consonant.
  9. But then where does the vowel go and what kind of vowel is it?
  10. rayloom Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Arabic (Hijazi Arabic)
    How would you pronounce English "act"?
  11. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    I pronounce it with an unreleased [k] followed by a released [t].
  12. rayloom Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Arabic (Hijazi Arabic)
    Oops...I was posing the (rhetorical) question to TheFriendlyArab :)
    I'm not versed in phonetics, but I see the situation in English and Arabic to be similar when it comes to final consonantal clusters.
    In the end, "act" wouldn't end up being pronounced "ac" in English!
  13. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Yes, exactly.
  14. Actually, saying the word "act" out loud sounds like "ackit" but with extreme emphasis on the "ack" part and the (opposite of) emphasis on the "it" part so that it sounds like there is just a very tiny vowel after the "c" but it's barely there.

    My main complaint with the word عقل is that it's hard to transition from ق to ل since I find ق requires a very large amount of effort to articulate in comparison to ل.
  15. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    It might help if you find some info on تجويد.
    It is meant to be pronounced something like 3aq-l , where the dash is almost like a u/e hybrid.
    Of course, in practice, MSA speakers might put them together and say 3aql.

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