Three main Arabic vowels
The three main Arabic vowels are:
fatHah: The first main vowel in Arabic is called a fatHa (feht-hah). A fatHa is the equivalent of the short “a” in “hat” or “cat.” Occasionally, a fatHa also sounds like the short “e” in “bet” or “set.” Much like the other vowels, the way you pronounce a fatHa depends on what consonants come before or after it. In Arabic script, the fatHa is written as a small horizontal line above a consonant. In English transcription, which I use in this book, it’s simply represented by the letter “a,” as in the words kalb (kah-leb; dog) or walad (wah-lahd; boy).
damma: The second main Arabic vowel is the damma (dah-mah). A damma sounds like the “uh” in “foot” or “book.” In Arabic script, it’s written like a tiny backward “e” above a particular consonant. In English transcription, it’s represented by the letter “u,” as in funduq (foon-dook; hotel) or suHub (soo-hoob; clouds).
kasra: The third main vowel in Arabic is the kasra (kahs-rah), which sounds like the long “e” in “feet” or “treat.” The kasra is written the same way as a fatHa — as a small horizontal line — except that it goes underneath the consonant. In English transcription, it’s written as an “i,” as in bint (bee-neht; girl) or ‘islaam (ees-lahm; Islam).