One of the first steps in learning Moroccan Arabic is learning the correct pronunciation of the Arabic alphabet. Although there are many French words and Tamazight words in Darija which don’t necessarily follow Arabic pronunciation rules, it is nonetheless important to learn the pronunciation of the Arabic alphabet as this will help make pronunciation of Moroccan Arabic words easier. There are some sounds found in Arabic that are not found in English therefore time and effort should be spent learning the pronunciation of these sounds. The time spent learning how to pronounce these sounds will greatly improve your Moroccan Arabic pronunciation. Furthermore, when learning Moroccan you should be prepared to learn not only Arabic words and their pronunciation but also the pronunciation of Tamazight words, French words and Spanish words. So, don’t be surprised that when learning Darija you find at times you’re being taught French.
Here are some of the Arabic sounds, not found in English. These sounds are often used when speaking Moroccan.
H – this sound is similar to the sound made when blowing on the lens of a pair of glasses before wiping them
kh – difficult to explain; you’ll have to hear it. English speakers will have to practice considerably to learn to pronounce this sound
gh – similar to ‘kh’ above but with a g sound; you ‘ll have to hear it to learn it. Again, this sound will take a lot of practice to learn if you don’t already know it
r – a rolled r similar to how the r is rolled in Spanish
ayn – say the word ‘Ah’ then gently squeeze the vocal cords; it’s best to hear this sound
q – similar to the sound of the letter k but this letter has a deeper sound
hamza – glottal stop, the presence of hamza in a word results in a slight pause
In addition to the above sounds, there are also emphatic sounds in Moroccan Arabic which vary from the regular form of the sound. For example, there is a regular d sound and an emphatic D sound. There is a normal t sound and an emphatic T sound. There is a normal dh sound and an emphatic DH sound. There is a normal s sound and an emphatic S sound. Both the normal and the emphatic sounds change the pronunciation of the word, and the meaning of the word.
Here are the emphatic sounds:
d – pronounced da
D – this is the emphatic form. It is pronounced Duh
t – pronounced ta
T – this the emphatic form. It is pronounced Tuh
dh – pronounced tha
DH – this is the emphatic form. It is pronounced Thuh with a deep tone
s – pronounced sa
S – this is the emphatic form. It is pronounced Suh with a deep tone
When studying Moroccan Arabic, you should use audio lessons. Moroccan Arabic pronunciation is unique and challenging to learn. Audio material will help your ears become accustomed to the flow and sound of the language, as well as help make pronunciation easier. Try to replay the audio as many times as possible and imitate the speaker’s pronunciation. You should also make use of any written study material available. Use written material along with audio to help make learning easier. Also, having a native speaker to help you learn is very beneficial. A native speaker can clarify ambiguous words and offer suggestions to help you learn correct pronunciation.
Learn to Pronounce Moroccan Arabic words and find out more about common Moroccan Arabic phrases