Emphatic R?

Harrell, page 6, says there are two kinds of r sounds, plain and emphatic. I know that in MSA there is a difference between two s sounds, sin and suad, each with their own letter, and I know there is ra, but I don’t know where Harrell gets a second r from. He then goes on to say the plain r sounds like the t in the English word water. Well, if that’s so, why call it an r at all? The Peace Corp Manual does not talk about two r sounds, but it also insists that the darija r sounds like the t in ‘gotta’. When I hear Moroccans say things like ‘rajl’ I hear an r, even with the so-called flap of the tongue. I do not hear a t. Nobody says anything that sounds anywhere close to ‘tajl’ or ‘ftansawi’ or ‘datija’ or ‘maghteb’. So what are these books talking about?

Oh boy oh boy oh boy; you are trying to learn from Harrel’s book; I admire you. I had to obtain a copy of it many moons ago when I was on fellowship in Morocco. I found it to be absolutely useless, personally. You must be quite a bit smarter than I to have proceeded far enough to note such, um, non factual statements. …Our own prof.s, who made us bring the book, didn’t actually attempt to USE it.

Now, I see that you have called the Saad a suad; I suppose that is a typo. Let me tell you, all these years and plenty of effort into this language and I still find Sin and Saad to be the most difficult letters to differentiate. People think that ain and ghain and kha and qaf are the hard ones; the truth is, lam, saad and sin are the hardest to master for most English speakers…because we think we know how to say them when, in fact, we don’t.

Regarding “r”, I can tell you that the people of Fez say Ghain as though it were a r; “alluratul arabiyyah”; they are proud of their distinctive accent.

If you are much into Qur’an you will find that the rules for tafkhim and tarqiq of ra differ in Hafs an Asim (Middle Eastern Standard recitation) and the others, including Warsh am Nafi3, which is the qira’at normally used in North Africa. Have you had the pleasure of examining al Khatt al Maghribiy al Ifriqi al Muwahhad? That is worth looking at. Qaf is represented by one dot on the top while fa becomes one dot on the bottom. The hamza found in “Al Mu’minuun” is elided. dummas carry over to new words where in Hafs they remain maskoon. When ‘N’ is at the end of a word it has no dot. You ought to get a copy in the local manuscript; they have become more scarce than they once were; the last two or three MaSa7if I received from Morocco, which were Warsh readings, were written out in Uthmani script.

Malik Rumi, i don’t know whether you’re a native english speaker or not, but generally we don’t pronounce the t in water like an actual t, there is a difference between, for instance the t in “tea” and the t in water, the t in water is sort of a trill, similar to a soft r sound, at least in Australia that’s how we pronounce it, noone really says waTer.

Long story short, the r sound that resembles the t in water is a softer r sound whereas that of “gotta” is stronger ie. emphatic because u emphasize the r in the word.
Hope that helps

“gotta” was actually one of our examples of the hamza, or, glottal stop; they told us to say it like a Scotsman, go’aa.

And, unless I am mistaken, I though MalikRumi was an American, like me.

Unless I am really getting senile, I believe Harrel put together the Moroccan book at, was it Johns Hopkins SAIS, in the 1960s. He wouldn’t have been thinking of an Australian ‘t’ as is ‘water’, which I will concede is a different phoneme than American’s use in ‘water’…and that ‘t’ is also sometimes used as an example of a glottal stop.

Did you, MalikRumi, get a hold of the Moroccan English dictionary of that time period? I don’t think it’s by Harrel. Unfortunately, I lent mine out to someone and never got it back. If :blink:it makes you feel better, it was very nearly useless. I could never master the new sounds which they were attributing to the English letters. …One of the big problems with both of those books is that they attempt to explain Arabic via means of the Roman script, which is ridiculous. People sometimes think that learning the Arabic script is the stumbling block. Truth is, I taught it to myself with a simple little book having nothing to do with Academia in a week or two; the script is the easy part. Heck, it’s even largely phonetic; what else do you want in a writing system?

You are a real student, aren’t you, MalikRumi? So, you already know all which I just said to be true, no?

  1. Yes, I am an American.
  2. Regarding Fez, I hear people make distinctions all the time between the way something is said in Fez v Casa v Marrakesh or Tangier, but I am never clear about where the actual ‘boundary’ between these groups is supposed to be. My wife’s family is in Meknes, so presumably some would classify them with Fez based on proximity, but my wife assures me there is no one to one correspondence between the (language? dialect? slang? usage? pronunciation?) of Fez and that of Meknes. There isn’t even a one to one between the old medina and the rest of the city.
  3. Harrell’s book is published by Georgetown. According to the notes, it, and the dictionary they also published, were part of a much larger project, all of which was cut short when Harrell died in 1964. Apparently Georgetown does not use the Harrell book as a classroom text anymore; from looking at their site online it doesn’t even look like they teach darija except as a field trip to Morocco; but they did tell me they plan a new book in a year or so.
  4. In spite of its many flaws, Harrell is the only structured text teaching darija that I am aware of. It is at least a comprehensive way in, and I will make adjustments as my wife’s family, and you here on SM, help me.
  5. My family is largely uneducated, so to ask them questions that reference English language academic concepts is pretty much pointless, as is any discussion of the ‘proper’ way to romanize arabic script. Some are illiterate, so if I don’t learn to speak there is no communication at all, or someone has to be drafted to serve as translator. As they say, ‘been there, done that’, and I am determined to avoid it in the future. And that doesn’t even get to the older ones who mostly speak Tamazight, which my wife does not understand!
  6. Bottom line, going back to my original question, I infer from your responses that there is in fact no arabic script to delineate an ‘emphatic’ r which is different from plain ra. It is, therefore, something Harrell made up because he thought it would be helpful to his English speaking students.
  7. I continue to believe that any association of ra with an English t sound is just plain confusing and wrong. If you want to say the r has a trill, fine, but that DOES NOT make it a t. It is an r.
  1. Thank you for such an organized and comprehensive response to my queries.

And, onward… Okay, you speak of, “your” family as being largely uneducated, MalikRumi. Do you mean your parents et al or your wife’s side of the family? And, I still haven’t gathered whether or not you are able to read Arabic script. If you haven’t, go ahead and do so; it is the most truly PHONETIC script of which I am aware; exceptions are few and easily mastered, such as sun and moon letters.

Why do you call yourself MalikRumi, if I may ask? Is it because you are ‘Rumi’, ie, not of Oriental/Middle Eastern ancestry? I call myself Ummaryam because I have four Marayam; four beautiful daughters, the first of whom actually may bear that name…or maybe not; who’s to say?

I noticed you did not address my comments on the tarqiq and tafkhim of the letter ‘r’. There are actually differences in how ‘r’ is pronounced in Classical Arabic, particularly when dealing with issues of Tajweed, and the different readings produce differences in the vowel quality contingent upon the rules established for reading that particular qira’ah; maybe the alif becomes soft; maybe it becomes hard. These things are very difficult to explain with mere words, lacking the advantage of sound.

I have a couple of friends from Meknes; a woman named Saadia with a European sounding last name beginning with an L. Her husband’s name is… gotcha.

Have a nice day.

  1. By family, I mean my in-laws, since I have largely been disowned by those to whom I am biologically related.
  2. I would not say I can read Arabic script. I know the letters, and I can stumble through a few simple words.
  3. My name is derived from The Poet, and from Al Hajj Malik Al Shabazz.
  4. As for tarqiq and tafkhim, I’m just not that esoteric. I’m fine with reading Qu’ran in English. My goal, my priority, is to be able to talk on my own without translators, sign language, or resort to really bad French in order to communicate with my family. That means darija, not MSA or Classical.
  5. [q]… gotcha.[/q]. I’m sorry, but whatever you were after here, I missed it.
  6. Since you have asked me some questions, let me ask you: Did you get the PM I sent you maybe a month or more ago about the distinction between a dialect and a language? May I have a response?

I’ll be right on that, sir.

Okay, sorry for the misunderstanding, i didn’t know you were a native English speaker. Anyway i am actually studying phonetics at uni sigh and i know that there are r’s that sound like some of the t usages in english (butter, water etc), in fact there are about 5 or 6 different r’s in the IPA chart!

Yes, but as my wife has pointed out to me, how many native speakers of any language know or care about the IPA and their charts? What use is that chart, with its insistence that only one character can represent a letter? No one, and I mean NO ONE, writes x to mean khaa on a Roman keyboard. They all use kh. How many people even have the capability on their keyboards to put dots over their g’s? Should I tell my sister - a native speaker - ‘no no, that’s not how you spell chno’ when we are IM’ing? To me the whole thing is a prime example of academic irrelevance. If the academy is not following what the people are actually doing, then the academy has made itself not merely irrelevant, but a negative, so that what is taught has to be unlearned so that the practical and the real can be learned instead once the student leaves (escapes?) the academy. And you can tell your professors I said so. In fact, please do.

One of the most cherished things that any of my Professors ever said to me was, “Do you know the purpose of a Professor? The purpose is that, one day, the student should reach the level where he no longer has any need of the Professor.”

As for the IPA, it is useful to speech pathologists; my sister is one. It helps them to assist not only the most nearly always thought of clients, children with speech impediments, but the much more practical and widely used application of helping the elderly when at all possible (i.e., stroke victims) to recover as much control over their swallow reflexes and consequently their ability to eat on their own, as is possible.

oh, and just by the way, the Maltese use “x” to express “kh”.

DO calm down MalikRumi, i was trying to make life easier for you by explaining why the very smart Harrel used a t rather than an r, if my last post seemed instigating or whatever else that ticked you off, i’m sorry, but it is handy to keep calm, especially when someone else is trying to lend a helping hand?


I am not at all angry with you, and I am sorry if you got that impression. I’m just frustrated with the tools I have available to me. As for the academy, I too, once upon a time, was a grad student, :fouet: (cultural anthropology) and I was amazed at how subjective, trendy, and yes, even outright biased and arrogant many of these so-called enlightened minds were :blink:. But I’m fine now. Really. And I’m off my soapbox. :mdr:
Please feel free to continue to help me when the opportunity presents itself. It is always welcome.

Good to know.