If you want to hear a word in Arabic, you can hear it pronounced by a native speaker on Forvo, a website for listening to words in different languages.
Forvo is the place where you´ll find words pronounced in their original languages. Ever wondered how a word is pronounced? Ask for that word or name, and another user will pronounce it for you. You can also help others recording your pronunciations in your own language.
This is such a great idea. Wherever I want to know how to say something in Arabic I have to go shopping for falafel in the Arab neighborhood some 40 minutes away and strike up a conversation. As the joke goes, a Jordanian concluded a ten minute conversation on his cell phone and turned it off. His companion asked what was wrong that the conversation was so short. “Wrong number”, the Jordanian answered. I deeply enjoy these exchanges (and the food), but Forvo might save me some time.
So far, there are 42 Arabic native speakers who have recorded words.
One popular Forvo search is for pronouncing names of world leaders. Here’s how to pronounce:
- America’s president-elect Barack Obama (in English, of course)
- Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (محمود احمدینژاد) in Farsi
- So far, no one has recorded a pronunciation for Russia’s president Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev (Дмитрий Анатольевич Медведев), but (searching in English) there are two somewhat different pronunciations in Russian for Medvedev .
And what about my favorite monarch, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, the son of the late King Hussein ( الملك عبد الله الثاني بن الحسين)? In Jordan we just called him “Malik Abdullah”, but I’m not sure what his proper name is. After all, the world does have more than one King Abdullah. Searching in English, nothing. Searching in Arabic by pasting the official name from Wikipedia into the search field yields ten possibilites, but none of them is our King. Searching in English for Abdullah, still nothing, and a search in Arabic for Abdullah as عبد الله shows “Allah” الله (God) has been pronounced but not “abd” عبد (slave). But skimming the page for male names in Arabic, finally on the last page I see a pronunciation for
So now I know how they say Abdullah in the Gulf states, which sounds pretty much the same as in Jordan, although the guy sounds to me like he has an accent.
If there are any Jordanians reading this who know how to pronounce the King’s name properly with a Jordanian accent, this is a perfect opportunity. I have added the name to Forvo here.