Classical Arabic

Allophones of /a/


  • Open or closed syllable
  • Type of back consonant involved
  • Whether it appears before or after /a/
  • Vowel length

In terms of vowel quality, there are four flavours of /a/.

[æ] [æħæd] ‘one and unique’default
[ɐ] [qɐlb] ‘heart’ 
[ɑ] [ʁɑɑb] ‘he stayed away’ 
[ɒ] [tˤɒɒb] ‘it ripened’, [ðˤɒll] ‘he became’ 

Back consonants

The phrase خص ضغط قظ can be memorized to remember all the back consonants.

  • 4 emphatic: /sˤ/, /dˤ/, /tˤ/, /ðˤ/
  • 3 uvular: /χ/, /ʁ/, /q/
  • /r/

Everything else is a front consonant.