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Spelling tips for Arabic based words:
The following spelling tips come from Merriam-Webster's Spell It!
spelling bee preparation list for English words from Arabic. These spelling tips apply specifically to
the Spelling Bee Practice: Words From Arabic spelling list
"Tip from the Top: The Arabic alphabet has 28 letters, and among these are letters
that represent half a dozen sounds that do not even exist in English. Thus, when a word crosses over
from Arabic to English, there is always a compromise about how it will be spelled and pronounced, which
sometimes results in inconsistencies. Some English consonants have to do double or triple duty,
representing various sounds in Arabic that native speakers of English don't make."
Click here to download the Spelling Bee Practice:
Words From Arabic spelling list for SpellQuizzer.
"Folk Etymology: Is it just coincidence that mohair describes the
hair of a goat? Not exactly. Mohair—like dozens of other words in this book—is the
result of a process called 'folk etymology.' Folk etymology sometimes occurs when a word travels from
one language to another. Speakers of the new language (ordinary 'folks') often change the word in a way
that makes it more like words in their language. To help them remember just what the word is, they might
even change a part of it to match a word that is already familiar to them. The original Arabic for
mohair is mukhayyar. The element hayyar doesn't mean "hair," but its
sound was close enough for English speakers to make the connection. Watch out for other words that you
suspect might have elements of folk etymology in them!
"Double consonants are often seen in words from Arabic. More often than not, they occur in the middle
of a word as in mummy, cotton, henna, foggara, coffle, tarragon,
and several other words on the list. Their appearance at the
end of a word (as in albatross and tariff) is usually because
of the spelling conventions of English or some other
language that the word passed through to get here."
"A typical word from Arabic has three consonant sounds, with
or without vowels between them. Gazelle, safari, talc, carafe,
mahal, tahini, alkali, hafiz, and salaam are typical examples."
"Note how many words on this list begin with al: This spelling can be traced to the
definite article al (“the”) in Arabic, which sometimes gets borrowed along with a word.
Most of the time the spelling is al in English, but note el in elixir."
"A long e sound (\ē\) at the end of a word from Arabic is often spelled with i as in
safari and several other words on the list but may also be spelled
with y as in mummy and alchemy."
"The schwa sound (\ə\) at the end of a word from Arabic is usually
spelled with a as in henna, tuna, algebra, alfalfa,
foggara, and diffa."
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Preparation page. We also have more downloadable spelling lists for SpellQuizzer
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