King Saud University
College of Languages & Translation
Language Unit
December 2009
Amina A. Matar
A phonological process or a kind of ease of articulation process
where there is a change of one sound into another because of a
neighboring one. A segment takes on features from an adjacent or a
nearby one. A consonant may pick up from a vowel, a vowel from a
consonant, one consonant may influence another, or one vowel have
an effect on another.
E.g. Does she?
Sit down.
‫هو ظاهرة عالمية يقصد بها تغير صوت ما الى صوت آخر بسب أصوات مجاورة‬
‫أو اكتساب صوت ما خصائص صوت آخر كاكتساب حرف صامت‬،
‫خصائص حرف صائت والعكس صحيح أو تأثير حرف صامت على صامت‬
‫أو صائت على صائت مما يؤدي سهولة أكبر في النطق‬
- Regressive )‫ (رجعي‬: a sound causes changes to one that precedes
e.g. that person /p/
good girl /g/
– Progressive )‫ (تقدمي‬: a sound causes changes to one that
follows it.
A final consonant becomes like the preceding one
as in voicing.
e.g. cats
dogs /z/
opened /d/
kicked /t/
– Reciprocal )‫ )تبادلي‬: a change results in a segment with features
of both affected segments.
- Complete )‫)تام‬: the insertion of one sound into a neighboring one
in two separate words without keeping any traits of the
inserted one.
- Incomplete )‫)ناقص‬: the insertion of one sound into a neighboring
one in two separate words but with keeping some
traits of the inserted one as nasalization.
- Contiguous )‫)متجاور‬: the affected sounds are adjacent either in
one word or in two separate words
- Incontiguous )‫)غير متجاور‬: the affected sounds are not neighbors.
• In Attajweed Science ( the phonology of the Qur’an), three
main phonological processes are found having
assimilation. The common feature of the three processes is
the presence of the alveolar nasal /n/ of the consonantal
‘silent n’ or the inflectional nunation ‘attanween’.
Regressive assimilation is more applicable than
progressive one.
In the Recitation of
Reciprocal Assimilation
Regressive assimilation
Partial Regressive
• It is the alveolar nasal /n/ consonant whose sound undergoes
certain phonological changes when it occurs silent in the final
position of the last syllable of a word whether a noun, verb or
preposition e.g. ْ‫ من‬/ ْ‫عن‬
• It is silent when it is unexploded or unreleased by any
Arabic inflection:
known as:
1. fatha
2. kasra
3. Dama
written as:
/ /
/ /
pronounced :
• It is inflectional sounds added to the last syllable of words
especially nouns to indicate their grammatical cases.
• It has three different notational but not consonantal forms
depending on the grammatical case it shows.
• Each notation consists of one of the short vowels: /a/, /u/, /i/
plus the final silent /n/:
/an/ = ( ً )
/un/ = ( ً )
/in/ = ( ً )
• The consonantal or the notational silent /n/ will change to the nasal
semi-bilabial /m/ if followed by the bilabial stop /b/ in a word-initial
position (in two words) or within a word.
• It occurs as a result of the anticipatory co-articulation of /b/.
• There is a change in the place of articulation; the alveolar ridge
position of /n/ becomes nearly bilabial.
• There is a change of manner; the lips are not tightly closed to
produce the nasal /m/, nor neutral for the nasal /n/ but it takes a midposition to produce the semi-bilabial /m/ allowing some air to pass
through the nasal cavity and some through the oral tract.
• Idgham is the deletion of the alveolar nasal sound of the silent /n/
(consonantal) or tanween (notational) whenever it occurs in final
position and followed by one of the six following sounds: /m/, /n/,
/y/, /r/, /w/, and /l/.
As a result, these sounds will be geminated (tashdeed).
No assimilation will take place within a word.
• There are four types of idgham here depending on the
way and degree of assimilation:
1. with nasalization
2. without nasalization
3. complete
4. incomplete
• The insertion of the final non-inflected (silent) /n/ into an initial
inflected sound.
• The silent /n/ will disappear completely and nothing stays of its
previous traits.
• The inflected sound will be geminated.
• The initial inflected sounds are: /l/, /r/, /m/, /n/
• Examples:
• ‫منْ لدنه‬
‫ماال لبدا‬
• ‫منْ ربهم‬
‫في عيشة راضية‬
• ‫منْ معين‬
‫ماء مهين‬
• ‫منْ نصير‬
‫صابرا نعم العبد‬
It takes place when any one of these four sounds (/m/, /n/,
/w/, /y/) comes initially in a word preceded by a final consonantal
alveolar nasal /n/ as in the silent /n/ or non-consonantal as in
The two neighboring sounds found in two separate words are
assimilated into the second sound which in turn will be geminated.
Nasalization will stay as a trait of the disappeared /n/.
‫منْ نعمة‬
‫منْ يعمل‬
‫منْ وال‬
‫قبضا يسيرا‬
• When the final silent alveolar nasal /n/ (consonantal or nonconsonantal) is followed by the alveolar lateral /l/ or the alveolar
trilling liquid /r/ as an initial sound , the /n/ sound will disappear
• No nasalization will take place.
• /l/ and /r/ will be geminated ( tashdeed).
• No traits of the deleted sound remains.
• There is a regressive assimilation with complete merge of the
final sound into the initial one.
• Examples:
‫منْ ربك‬
‫أنْ لو‬
‫ويل لكل‬
‫غفورا رحيما‬
• It is the merging of two neighboring sounds within words boundaries
which results in the deletion of the final sound and the preservation
of the second one .
• Nasalization is a marker of the deleted sound.
• The final sound is the silent consonantal and non-consonantal /n/.
• The initial sounds are the bilabial glide /w/, and the palatal glide /y/.
• Examples:
‫منْ يؤمن‬
‫منْ وراء‬
‫خيرا يره‬
‫مال و بنين‬
It takes place whenever the alveolar nasal /n/ of the consonantal ‘silent
n’ occurs either within a word or across word boundaries and followed
by one of the 15 ‘faint sounds’.
It also happens whenever the alveolar nasal /n/ of the nonconsonantal ‘tanween’ occurs across only word boundaries not within
a word and followed by one of the 15 ‘faint sounds’.
The /n/ will change its place of articulation to be nearer to that of the
following sound, then it will stay in a neutral position opposite to the
new place for sometime enough to produce the nasalization as a
feature of the hidden /n/. Then the tongue will rest in its new position.
Partial regressive assimilation takes place because the affected /n/
exists, not deleted, but it is not pronounced explicitly.
• These consonants include all Arabic stops except /b/ and / ‫؟‬/. These
are classified as:
• The stops: / t / = / ‫ ت‬/
/d/ = /‫د‬/
/k/ = /‫ك‬/
The fricatives:
/ s/ = / ‫س‬/
/z/ = / ‫ ز‬/
/ f / = / ‫ف‬/
/ θ / = / ‫ث‬/
/ð/ = /‫ذ‬/
/š/ =/‫ش‬/
The affricate: / j / = / ‫ج‬/
The emphatics: / ѕ̣ / = / ‫ ص‬/
/ ḍ / = / ‫ ض‬/
/ ṭ / = / ‫ ط‬/
/ ð̣ / = / ‫ ظ‬/
/q/ =/‫ق‬/
Assimilation is a universal phonological rule found to be
systematically applied in the recitation of Qur’an it is realized in
three forms : ‘iqlab’ ‘ idgham’ and ‘ ikhfaa’ . Each has its own
environment of occurrence and conditions of articulations .
Mastering these rules and few others is of extreme importance
and will hopefully help the non-native readers in reciting Qur’an
the way God intends it to be , and the way Prophet Mohammad ,
peace be upon him , and his followers did .
Moreover , the application of attajweed rules were reciting Qur’an
has a great reward from God. Prophet Mohammad said :
)) ‫(( الماهر بالقرآن مع السفرة البررة والذي يقرأ القرآن ويتعتع فيه وهو عليه شاق له أجران‬
‫رواه البخاري ومسلم‬
This saying (hadeeth) means that any excellent reader of the
Qur’an will be with angels in the Hereafter whereas the one who
reads it with difficulty will be reward it twice over .

By Amina A. Matar