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Places of Articulation
Introduction to articulation points of the Arabic letters
The articulation point of a letter is the place the letter is emitted, meaning a sound that comes out of the mouth relying on a specific place of articulation or an approximate one. Using the correct articulation point of a letter is necessary to utter the letter correctly, and of course this is even more important when reciting the book of Allah, the Holy Qur’an. Almost all the articulation points in Arabic are specific places, but there are some that have a general area of articulation. There are ways for you to see what articulation point YOU are using for a letter (not necessarily the correct one), so that you can compare what you are using to the correct way of articulating a letter: 1. 2. Pronounce the letter with a shaddah; in other words, double the letter. Pronounce the letter with no vowel and put a hamzah before the letter you are checking.

You can then check the position of your tongue, mouth, or feel what area of the throat you are using. There are five general areas of the throat and mouth that have within them the specific or general articulation points of the Arabic letters. 1. The empty space in the mouth and throat has in it one articulation point for the three lengthened letters, which are wow with no vowel with a dhammah before it, ya’ with no vowel with a kasrah before it, and an alif with a fath before it. 2. The Throat: It has three articulation points for six different letters which are pronounced from the deepest, middle, and closest part of the throat 3. The Tongue: It has ten articulation points for eighteen letters 4. The Two Lips: The lips have two articulation points for four letters 5. The nasal passage: From the hole of nose towards the inside of the mouth, here there is one articulation point, that of the ghunnah The following pictures shows these areas:

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and a nasalization (or ghunnah) of one or all of these letters then occurs. insha’ Allah. The lengthening when there is a hamzah or sukoon after the medd letter will be covered.The alif preceded by a letter with a fat-hah (and the true alif is only in this state). 2 and a lowering of the jaw with the lengthened . The medd letters are lengthened two counts if they are not followed by a hamzah or a sukoon. These medd letters should be pronounced with using only the vibration of the vocal cords and an accompanying opening of the mouth for the alif. The three medd (lengthened) letters originate from this general area. To tell if this mistake is present. the Arabic alif never takes a vowel and is always preceded by a fathah ( ) 2. in future lessons. The resultant sound is usually a cross between one of the letters that are supposed to be articulated from the throat. unlike all the other letters. the sound needs to be focused up and out the mouth. Common mistakes in these letters: Many times a reciter lets the sound of some or all of these letters come up from the empty space of the throat into the nose. it is indeed coming up through the nose. it is then incorrect. ya’. The ya’ with a sukoon preceded by a letter with a kasrah These three medd letters do not have a specific place that they are pronounced from. instead these letters finish articulating with the stopping of the sound. and if there is a pull in the throat. these letters are: 1. A less common mistake is pronouncing one or all of these letters from a specific place in the throat. To rid oneself of this error. one needs to say the medd letter. if the sound becomes muted with the pinching off of the nostrils.com The empty space in the throat and mouth The empty space in the mouth and throat is a place and an articulation point at the same time. The wow with a sukoon preceded by a letter with a dhammah 3. and the medd letter. To practice and see if this error is present one should close off the nostrils and say the medd letter. a circling of the lips for the lengthened wow.AboutTajweed. The most common letter for this to happen with is the lengthened “wow”. and therefore incorrect. or if it sounds like one has a cold.

is the second letter from this area is pronounced from the same point. It may not be practical for the reciter to find a camel and practice this sound that way. and many would say the ha’. each place has two letters emitted from therein. The two letters from the middle of the throat need practice to succeed in their proper pronunciation. 3 . but has more of a rolling sound. Two letters are articulated from this area. they are: Common mistakes in these letters: These letters are uncommon to many languages. The middle part of the throat 3. The first step is getting used to using the throat. The sound emitted with a deep gargle is close to the Arabic letter. One Qur’an teacher described the sound as of that of a camel. so listening to a Qur’an tape and trying to imitate the sound of the reciter will work well instead.AboutTajweed. beginning and the end of the throat. The deepest part of the throat 2. The “k” is not articulated from the throat. the closest to the mouth. rather it is articulated from the posterior portion of the tongue and the roof of the mouth. 1. and try to pronounce it from that point. Think of the throat squeezing against itself from the middle. Two letters are articulated from here. The last two letters also need practice to achieve a correct pronunciation. but even the the English especially English. The deepest part of the throat is the furthest away from the mouth and the closest to the chest.com The articulation points of the throat There are three places of articulation in the throat. They are the The middle part of the throat: The closest part of the throat: The middle part of the throat lies half way in between the and . “h” is often pronounced at a position higher in the throat than the Arabic ha’. The closest part of the throat (closest to the mouth) The deepest part of the throat: hamzah and the ha’ . is often mispronounced as a “k” by non-Arabs. The two letters that are emitted from here are: The closest part of the throat is the beginning of the throat. then work should begin on the letter: . or and . many times is mispronounced as a “g” like the first “g” in the word “garage”. There is plenty of air that runs with this letter. outside of the hamzah. One way of finding the articulation area is by gargling. especially the middle.

They are and . or the letter is pronounced not from the tongue. and even the Arabs have substituted this letter for others in different colloquial Arabic dialects.com Articulation points of the Deepest part of the Tongue There are two letters that use the deepest part of the tongue in articulation. Is articulated from the deepest part of the tongue and what lies opposite to it from the roof of the mouth in the area of the soft palate.AboutTajweed. so it ends up sounding like an English “k”. Usually it is a problem in the articulation point. such as Pakistan. Malaysia. Native English speakers tend to make the first type of error. Common Mistakes in these letters The non-Arab has more than a few common mistakes with these two letters. The first letter. The Gulf Arabs use a “g” sound in their dialect for this letter. In truth. Either the letter is articulated on the hard palate or close to it. is not a common letter in other languages. Egyptians and Shaamis substitute a hamzah for the in their dialect. and Muslims of eastern origin tend to make the second type of error. There are two mistakes in articulating this when reciting the Qur’an. The resultant letter is often closer to a than the correct desired sound. there should be a running of air when this letter is pronounced correctly. Native English speakers sometimes pronounce this letter a little further back in the mouth than is totally correct so there is no air heard with the letter. and the resultant incorrect sound is a cross between a and a . This letter is closer to the mouth than the . Indonesia. Is articulated from the deepest part of the tongue and what lies opposite to it from the roof of the mouth in the area of the hard palate. Muslims from the East. is often mispronounced at an articulation point further back in the mouth than the correct articulation point. 4 . and the Philippines tend to have this error. but from the throat.

AboutTajweed.com Areas of the tongue used for articulation There are four areas of the tongue used for articulation. the sides. 5 . The deepest part. and the tip. The following picture helps pinpoint these areas. the middle.

com Middle of the Tongue (JA-YE-SH!) Three letters use the middle of the tongue for their articulation. This letter. . and the middle of the tongue separates with strength from the roof of the mouth when the letters are voweled. can be articulated incorrectly. especially by those with a significant overbite. but is indeed possible to pronounce it correctly. is a strong letter. and there is imprisonment of the running of the sound. When the ya’ saakinah is preceded by a fath. which was previously stated to be articulated from the non specific area of the empty space in the throat and mouth. They are the These three letters are articulated from the middle of the tongue and what lies opposite to it from the roof of the mouth. This letter should not have air running with it. 6 . There is a lot of air that fills the mouth and runs out with this letter. NOT a fath. The sometimes mistakenly is articulated with an accompanying running of air. The ya’ here is not the medd letter ya’. in Arabic. The is often mispronounced by Arabs and non Arabs alike. but not exclusively so. The medd letter ya’ is a ya’ saakinah preceded by a kasrah. Those that may have an overbite have to take the extra measure of protruding the lower jaw until the bottom and top teeth are aligned. and imprisonment of the running of air. like the French “j”. first make sure the middle of the tongue is being used. then concentrate on not letting any sound and air run out when saying the letter. so care needs to be taken to control the air and suppress its excessive outward flow. which has a more forward position than the Arabic . . with a running of the sound. Westerners sometimes pronounce this like the English “sh”. It may take a little practice. This means the middle of the tongue collides with the roof of the mouth when these letters are articulated without a vowel. and Common mistakes in these letters The mistakes that may occur with these letters tend to more in the area of characteristics than in the specific articulation point. To pronounce it correctly. this currently discussed articulation point is used. even with the overbite. and not the anterior portion of the tongue.AboutTajweed.

The resultant sound is sort of like a heavy . 7 . patience. or from both sides of the tongue simultaneously. Some areas of the Arab world consistently pronounce this letter using the tip of the tongue and the teeth and the resultant sound is exactly that of a . back to the throat. Some Arabs even sometimes have difficulty pronouncing correctly.com The Side of the Tongue There are two letters that use the side of the tongue for articulation. The resultant sound then is that of a . and dua’ to perfect its articulation. Using the middle of the tongue and what opposes it of the middle of the roof of the mouth is another common error. The posterior one third of the side of the tongue is used for this letter. They do not use the same part of the side of the tongue. has the characteristic of compression of the sound. in this case the sound is similar to a swallowing sound mixed with a letter. rather the two thirds of the side (or edge) of the tongue. This letter can be articulated from one side (right or left) of the tongue alone. and the the mouth) portion of the side of the tongue. This is most noted in Sudan. Another less common mistake is of going too far back to articulate it. uses the posterior uses the anterior one third (closest to The letter This letter is articulated from the one or both sides of the tongue and from the molars and the gum area next to the molars.AboutTajweed. as well as tafkheem (heaviness). so the deep part of the tongue raises up when pronouncing it and compresses the sound at the same time. Common mistakes in the letter The takes practice. The most common mistake in its pronunciation is using the tip of the tongue instead of the side (posterior one third).

and the resultant sound is that of a noon. It is to be noted that it is a fine line of the sides of the tongue that meets up with the gums. just as the English “L”. the two top canines. 8 . not a forward movement like “L” Common mistakes in the letter The most common mistake is that of using just the tip and not the sides of the tongue to pronounce this letter. since the noon is articulated very close to the . The articulation of this letter is then in the shape of an arc. The resultant sound is a heavy sound. and what lies opposite to them of the gums of the two top front incisors. The articulation of the is in English. the two top lateral incisors. is an upward movement.AboutTajweed. and it does not include the top of the tongue.com The letter This letter has the widest articulation points of all the Arabic letters. It is articulated from the anterior one third of the sides of the tongue until the sides end at the tip. and the two top premolars. with both sides until the tongue ends at the tip meeting up with with gums of all the mentioned teeth. Another mistake for native English speakers is pronouncing using the underside of the tongue and the actual plates of the two front teeth.

The letter This letter is emitted from the tip of the tongue with the top of the tip and what lies opposite to it of the gums of the two front top incisors. instead of just the tip. correctly. This usually can be fixed by leaving a small space for the sound to run out at the very tip of the tongue. namely when it has a vowel on it. The English “r” is articulated without the tongue striking on any part of the mouth. is articulated a bit forward on the gums from the place of the . but not correct. It is quite difficult to get the tip and the top involved when the soft tissue area is used. Still other make the aforementioned error of repeated trilling of the tongue when pronouncing the . Common mistakes in this letter: The first and most common mistake in the is not striking the tip with the top of the tip to the gums. or if it has a sukoon on it and is followed by one of the following six letters: The rules for the when it has no vowel (saakinah). If the tip is up tight against the gum. there is no place for the sound to run. One should physically feel Another mistake that some have is using the soft tissue behind the gum for a striking place for the tongue. The scholars have cautioned against this.com The Tip of the Tongue (part one) Articulation points of the The letter This letter is articulated from the tip of the tongue and what lies opposite to it from the gum of the two front top incisors. so the resultant sound is deep and rolling. will be explained later. The most common mistake is that of using too large an area of the tongue and including the top of the tongue. so many native English speakers have to practice a bit to say the the tongue hit the gum of the two top front incisors. and the Common mistakes in this letter: The mistakes with this letter tend to be few. pressure builds up and can only released by the incorrect excessive 9 . and the articulation point is only applied when it is pronounced clearly. This letter is not always pronounced clearly. insha’ Allah. and is not followed by one of the above six letters.AboutTajweed. There should be no trilling of the tongue when pronouncing this letter. The tip with the top of the tip need to strike the gums to produce this sound correctly.

AboutTajweed. 10 .com trilling.

is a letter that has both tafkheem (heaviness) and sticks to the roof of the mouth. Another problem that may occur in all of the letters in this group is not using just the top of the tip. Since this letter is not common to many languages. It is the strongest of all the letters of the Arabic language. it needs practice to be proficient in its proper articulation. not any farther back than the very tip area. Listening to a known accomplished reciter can assist in learning the proper sound for the . but instead using a large portion of the top of the tongue.AboutTajweed. The gum line is exactly where the gum meets the teeth. This is common in Urdu speaking Muslims as well as native English speakers. their sound gets heavy. 11 . and it contributes to a heavy sounding letter.com The Tip of the Tongue (part two) The articulation point of the These letters are pronounced from the top side of the tip of the tongue and the gum line of the two front upper incisors. When these letters are emitted back too far. The part of the tongue used in these letters is a small part of the top of the tip. Common mistakes in these letters The mistake that occurs most often in these letters is using the soft elevated area behind the gum instead of the gum line. as well as not sticking most of the tongue up to the roof of the mouth while pronouncing it. The English “t” and “d” are articulated at this position which is further back in the mouth than the Arabic and . The most common mistake (outside of the above mistakes) in this letter is not getting it strong enough.

which means “whistle”. These letters are also called letters.com The Tip of the Tongue (part three) Articulation points of the These three letters are emitted from the tip of the tongue and the plates of the two front top incisors. can still learn to pronounce these letters correctly by making a compensation in the lower jaw. at a point just above the two front lower incisors. but rather with the back of the tongue. If the heavy enough. Usually this problem is due to a strong overbite. It is one of is not made the tafkheem (heavy) letters. It sticks to the very back of the soft palate while pronouncing this letter. Those that have a large overbite though. or very close to a . the long axis that is on the internal side. There is a little space left in between the tip of the tongue and the plates of the teeth when pronouncing these letters. The term “plate” refers to the long axis of the tooth. Another mistake that occurs singularly in the is not making it heavy enough. The lower jaw should be protruded until it aligns with the upper jaw while saying these three letters. A note to remember. and it also has the characteristic of sticking. rather than the external side of the teeth.AboutTajweed. the tongue should not press up against the plates of the teeth or the sound will be incorrectly imprisoned when trying to say these letters. and in this case. They are called that due to the accompany whistle type sound heard when they are emitted properly. it sounds just like. 12 . Common mistakes in these letters The most common mistake that occurs in the three letters as a group is in the lack of (whistle). and insha’ Allah they will come out clearly with the proper “whistle” sound. The sticking of the tongue with the is not at the articulation area.

This mistake can occur with both Arabs and non-Arabs. This contributes to nonArabs also reciting this letter incorrectly.AboutTajweed.com Tip of the tongue (Part 4) Articulation point of the These letters are emitted from the tip of the tongue (from the top side of the tip) and the bottom edges of the two top front incisors. Some transliterations of the Qur’an. and not the internal plates of the two top incisors. The tip of the tongue needs to collide or separate with the bottom edges of the two top front incisors. The is a letter that has tafkheem. The solution is again using the top of the tip of the tongue and the bottom edges of the two top front incisors. In summary the common mistake in these three letters is using the articulation point of the “whistle” group of letters instead of their own unique articulation point. It is then understandable the mechanical reason for this letter to erroneously sound like a “z” when the incorrect articulation point is used. The frequently is pronounced as a by mistake. but do not make the necessary tafkheem. or heaviness. and that characteristic tends to be present even in the misarticulated form of the letter. and therefore the heavy “z” sound. Arabs as well as non-Arabs have this error. has carried over to the way some recite the Qur’an. write this letter in English as “z”. The reason for this (mechanically speaking) is not using the top of the tip with the edges of the incisors. which as covered in the last tidbit. The same reason as discussed above is the cause for this: using the wrong articulation point. This error should be attended to and fixed as soon as possible by the student of the Qur’an. The is many times mispronounced as a plain “z”. 13 . Some students of the Qur’an may have the articulation point of this letter correct. The main reason for this is the corruption of pure classical Arabic and the colloquialization of many letters to other forms. Again. or heaviness that is needed when reciting this letter. Care should be taken to make sure the top of the tip is really colliding or separating (depending whether there is no vowel or a vowel) with the edges of the teeth and not the plates of the teeth. The is often mispronounced as a heavy form of “z”. There should be enough protrusion of the tip tongue in all three of these letters so that it is visible to the observer. and instead using the back plates of the two front incisors. is the articulation point for the . This colloquialization unfortunately. which we caution against using. and with this mistake the reciter could unintentionally change the intended meaning of the Qur’an. The posterior portion of the tongue needs to rise up to the roof of the mouth for tafkheem to take place. Common mistakes in these letters :These three letters are some of the most mispronounced letters in the Arabic language by both Arabs and non-Arabs.

This is Common mistakes in these letters: due to the absence of in the Turkish dialects. The The letter is articulated by forming a circle of the two lips without the two lips meeting is articulated by closing the two lips together is articulated by closing the two lips together. namely the running of the sound as well as the breath. The natives of these countries tend to substitute a “p” for an “f” when they are speaking a language that has an “f”. but an English “f”. which does not exist in the Arabic language.AboutTajweed. There is no “v” in Arabic. the inside of the lower lip is used. The is often mispronounced as a “v” by some Urdu speaking Muslims as well as Turkish speaking Muslims from Turkey and former Russian republics. but they do not all three share the same mechanism in articulation. The sound will not be a true Arabic then. some of the characteristic of the . and the presence of both the wow and va’ in Urdu. Some areas in the Far East do not have an “f” in their language. The student of the Qur’an may 14 . If the English speaking student of the Qur’an does not make a conscience effort to use the inside of the lip. This means that there is a meeting of these two parts of articulation to make the correct sound of this letter. The unlengthened completely. will be imprisoned. This obviously will carry over to the recitation of the Qur’an when there is a word with a the Arabic in it. This problem can be overcome by practicing using both lips and pressing on them when pronouncing the unlengthened . Practice is needed to pronounce . As mentioned above in the articulation point definition of the Common mistakes in this letter: Arabic . At the beginning much practice will be needed to overcome this mispronunciation. The English letter “f” uses the middle of the lower lip and the edges or tips of the two front top incisors. Articulation point of the two lips There are three letters that are articulated from the two lips. but a stronger closing than the meem. and “v” has the same articulation point as the “f”.com The articulation point of the fa' and the two lips Articulation point of the letter The articulation point of the is between the inside of the lower lip and the tips (or edges) of the two top front incisors. and not use a “p”.

and the resultant sound is that of a “p”. which as stated before. The sometimes gets air in it. There is an imprisonment of both the running of the sound and the running of the breath in the letter which makes it a strong letter. whereas “p” uses more of the outside of the lips.AboutTajweed. and practice those phrases or words to make sure they all come out correctly. The is not a letter that commonly has mistakes. which is not the same sound as the Arabic . The only thing to take heed of is not to press the lips together too hard.com want to make note of all the unlengthened in a passage he/she is reciting or memorizing. does not exist in the Arabic language. Westerners have to take care that they really do put pressure on the two lips when pronouncing the otherwise the sound comes out weak like a “w”. 15 . and has running air with it. which is not a characteristic of the Arabic . The pressure on this letter is more on the inside of the lower lip than the outside. .

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