Audio with Theyab's pronunciation

Salem Al-Qassimi, holding on to the :ayn


What is this?

:ayn is a letter of the Arabic alphabet that does not exist in English. It comes from the hieroglyph
and to this day :ayn in Arabic means "eye." 
Can you see?

In this blog, when words are transcribed into the English alphabet, the letter :ayn is written as a colon : because as was mentioned before, :ayn does not exist in English. However it's useful to know that in Arabish (or the Arabic used on the Internet or for SMS) you'll see this letter written as the number 3. Example?

But don't do this

How do I say this new letter?

Get ready to retch.

:ayn is pronounced from the middle of the throat, as if you are gagging.  This letter is notoriously difficult for Western learners to say or even hear, and guess what, it's one of the most common letters in the Arabic language. Fear not - one wisdom for aiding people with their pronunciation of :ayn is to "sing the lowest possible note, then go one lower."

Due to its position as the innermost letter to emerge from the throat, the author of the first Arabic dictionary, Al-Khalil ibn Ahmad al-Farahidi began the dictonary with :ayn as the first letter. He viewed its origins deep down in the throat as a sign that it was the first sound, the essential sound, both voice and representation of the self.

How do I write it?

Isolated form                        Final form                                     Medial form                        Initial form                               


Now wipe that sweat from your brow and enjoy this all-singing, all-dancing video about the letters :ayn (ع) and ghain (غ) which is basically :ayn with a dot above it: