Arabic “Raa” between Plosiveness and Friction

Tareq Ibrahim Al-Ziyadat


The study aims to elucidate plosiveness and friction in the “Raa”, (the tenth alphabet in Arabic) benefiting from what the ancient and modern scholars said on the issue. The core issue of the study is Sibawey’s classification of the “Raa” a tense phoneme in whose articulation the sound repeatedly flows leaning toward the articulation of “Lam” (23 Arabic alphabet) avoiding laxity. Had not the sound repeated, we wouldn’t have had the “Raa”. Tensity (plosiveness) and frication are two contradictory features which can never have the same place of articulation. The sound is articulated at stages, each of which has its own features. After analysis, it was found that the articulation of “Raa” passes through three stages. In the second, in the space between vocal cords and top of the tongue the “Raa” is fricative, while in the third, the closure stage between top of the tongue and hard palate, the “Raa” is plosive but this plosiveness is less in intensity than that of plosive phonemes. Therefore the “Raa” can be neither plosive, nor fricative, but in between “medial”.


Raa Phoneme, Plosiveness, Friction, Release, Beats

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