Minimal pairs in Standard Arabic

December 20, 2017
Tags: teaching-materials
Length: short

Update 2023-09-23 — Added examples of minimal pairs with shadda. Changed to LOC transcription.

Minimal pairs are a good way to highlight and practice unfamiliar sounds in a foreign language. Often in lists of Arabic minimal pairs in teaching materials the authors feel they have to reach towards the very bottom of the Classical Arabic vocabulary bowl, listing words that students may never come across in real life. In the document below I have only included words that are in actual use in Modern Standard Arabic, that are fairly frequent, and that students sooner or later will have to learn.

The list gives examples of contrasts in phonemes which speakers of European languages typically find difficult to reproduce. It is meant as a pronunciation exercise for first semester students, preferably a few months into their studies when they are familiar with the script but before they master pronunciation. All words are given in Arabic script, transcription (Library of Congress), and in translation.

There are two versions of this document, one with words translated to English and which can be accessed through this link or by clicking on the image below, och en med orden översatta till svenska och som kan laddas ner genom denna länk.