The letter Za

The letter Za is a part of the Arabic alphabet. Here you will learn how to pronounce and write Za.

How Za is pronounced

There are two Arabic letters for the dh sound. A normal dh that is pronounced like the English word 'this', and this emphatic one. For clarity, I write the pronuciation of the emphatic one with a capital Z.
When you pronoune this Z, your tongue should touch your tooth.
The letter Za is one of the letters that gives the Arabic language its character. If you want to sound as a professional Arabic speaker and not a beginner, you must pronounce these letters properly. Do not be careful when you pronounce these letters. It is better to exaggerate, then it is easier for the people you are talking with to hear the difference. If you exaggerate the pronunciation, it is also easier for you to memorize the words, and you will know what letter to use when you spell them.

Emphatic consonants has a special pronunciation that also affects the pronunciation of nearby vowels.
Wikander* describe the pronunciation of emphatic letters: 'as if one had a potato or a whole egg pressing down the tongue: the back of the toungue should be pressed down.' The result will be that 'the sound willl have a thick, dark tone. That tone often affects surrounding vowels.'

The vowel fatha (a) is mostly affected by emphatic consonants. As an example, we can use one of these food references.
The Arabic word for egg is written بَيضَة and pronounced 'bäjDa' . The vowel fatha is surrounded by the letters ba (ب) och ya (ي) and ya, and none of them are emphatic. Therefore, the pronunciation is like a Sswedish 'ä' (like in airs).
The Arabic word for potato is written بَطَاطِس and pronounced 'baTaaTis' . The letter Ta (ط) is emphatic and both the short a and the long aa is pronounced like 'a', even a bit like the Swedish 'å' (like in for and door).

In the phonetic alphabet, the pronunciation of Za is written [ðˁ]. On this website, I write the pronunciation Z.

* Source: The book Ett hav i mäktig rörelse by Ola Wikander.

How Za is written

The letter Za has four shapes: isolated, initial, medial and final.

finalmedialinitialisolerad
ـﻆـﻈـﻇـ

Which of the shapes to use depends on the letter's position in the word and surrounding letters. Do not forget that Arabic is written from right to left.

The letter Za is dual joining. That means that it wants to connect to both right and left. If there is a letter before, that also is dual joining, then Za will connect with it. If there is a letter after, then Za will connect with it. How to write with Arabic dual joining letters.

Za isolerad form

This is how the Arabic letter Za is written in its isolerad form:

This form is used in the following situations:

Za alone

When Za stands by itself, the isolated form is used.

Za in the end after right joining letter

When Za is the last letter of a word and comes after a right joining letter, the isolated form is used. It is free to the right since the letter before it does not connect to the left. It is also free to the left since there is no letter after.

Za initial form

This is how the Arabic letter Za is written in its initial form:

ﻇـ

This form is used in the following situations:

Za in the beginning of words

When Za is the first letter of a word, the initial form is used. It is free to the right and has a tail to the left to connect with the letter after it.

Za in the middle after right joining letter

When Za is in the middle of a word and follows a right joining letter, the initial form is used. It is free to the right since the letter before it does not connect to the left, and it has a tail to the left to connect with the letter after.

Za medial form

This is how the Arabic letter Za is written in its medial form:

ـﻈـ

This form is used in the following situation:

Za in the middle of words

When Za is in the middle of a word, e.g. when Za is neither the first nor the last letter, the medial form is often used. It has tails in both directions to connect with both the letter before it and the letter after it.

Za final form

This is how the Arabic letter Za is written in its final form:

ـﻆ

This form is used in the following situation:

Za in the end of words

When Za is the last letter of a word, the final form is often used. It has a tail to the right to connect with the letter before it, and it is free to the left since there is no letter after.

Conclusion: how Za is written

The letter Za has four forms.
The isolated form is used when Za stands by itself and in the end of words (after a right joining letter). In other words: When there is no letter before that wants to connect and there is no letter after.
The initial form ﻇـ is used in the beginning of words and in the middle of words (if the letter before is right joining). In other words: When there is no letter before that wants to connect and there is a letter after.
The medial form ـﻈـ is used in the middle of words (if the letter before is not right joining). In other words: When there is a letter before that wants to connect and there is a letter after.
The final form ـﻆ is used in the end of words (if the letter before is not right joining). In other words: When there is a letter before that wants to connect and there is no letter after.

That's it!
The rules you have learned can be applied to all Arabic dual joining letters, which is most of them.

Za is a sun letter

You get the definite form of a word by putting the definite article al in front of it.

اَل

The Arabic letter Za is a sun letter. That means that the l in al is assimilated with Za and thereby pronounced as Z In other words: The definite article for words that start with Za is pronounced aZ, and not al.

For example the Arabic word for adverb, circumstance, envelope is pronounced Zarf and written ﻇَﺮﻑ. In definite form, it is pronounced aZZarf and written اَل‍ﻇَﺮﻑ.

Read more about definite form

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