If you look at a text message conversation in Arabic, you might see something like this:
The conversation is probably funny, because it says "hahahahaha". It is actually just the letter h repeated a lot of times.
There are some interesting things to note from this:
Let's go deeper into this. And keep in mind that Arabic is written from right to left.
The Arabic letter h looks like this on its own.
It looks like a ring.
If you are texting and your friend writes something moderately funny, maybe you just reply "haha":
Now it looks like two rings connected with a string. Practical for handwriting since you don't have to lift the pen.
And if your friend is being a bit more funny, maybe you reply "hahaha".
Now it looks like three rings connected with strings. Well maybe the middle h looks more like a bow. Still you don't need to lift your pen.
So Arabic letters connect. I think it makes the writing quite beautiful!
You have just seen all four different forms of the Arabic letter h.
Here they are again properly organized in a table:
You use the isolated form when the letter stands by itself: ه
You use the initial form in the beginning of a word: هـ The initial form is similar to the isolated form, but with a tail to connect it to the next letter. Since Arabic is written form right to left, the tail is directed to the left.
In the middle of a word, you often use the medial form: ـهـ The medial form has two tails to connect it to both the letter before and after.
In the end of a word, you often use the final form: ـه The final form has has a tail to connect it to the previous letter. Since arabic is written from right to left, the tail is directed to the right.
If you haven't yet clicked on my link to the letter h, I think you should. There you can see examples of words where the different forms are used.
There are only three short vowels in Arabic: a, i and u. In general, people don't write the vowels in text. Not in books, not in newspapers and definitely not in text messages.
Because there are no wowels in the text, the writing literally just says "hhhhh":
Most people will read it as "hahahahaha", because that is the most logical.
But if you really want to write "hahahahaha", put a short line above each h:
If you are a person that laughs "hihihihihi" and want show that in your text message, put a short line below each h:
If you want to show that you laugh "huhuhuhuhu", put a loop above each h:
Now you have seen the three short vowels in Arabic: a, i and u. You will see them in educational contexts, like this website, but not in most texts. When you become an experienced Arabic reader, you will probably not need them.
Skipping the vowels, just like connecting the letters, can save time when writing.
In the next lesson we will write our first Arabic word. And I can promise that it will be easy 😉