The IPA for "man" in American English is mən. Arabic, however, doesn't have the vowel sound ə. So, what's the most related sound in Arabic? I know there are some short vowels (Harakat) but I don't think they include this specific sound. In addition, when Arabic speakers want to mimic this sound, they presumably sound odd a little bit. So, I was thinking to "approximate" this sound to one of the existing sounds in Arabic.

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    “mən” is the pronunciation of “-man” as an unstressed syllable in words like “postman”. It’s not the typical pronunciation of the independent word “man”, which is usually pronounced with an unreduced vowel. Jul 1, 2018 at 4:32

1 Answer 1


First, American English "man" is [mæn], though I suspect that in some dialests it's really [man] (a lower version of [æ]). Second, a number of dialects of Arabic have [ə] (or close variants such as [ɨ]), though Classical Arabic doesn't. The Arabic vowel typically transcribed as "a" (fatḥah) is the IPA front vowel [a] which is pretty close to [æ].

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    In my accent of American English, "man" is something like [meə̯n] because I have a raised allophone of /æ/ that is distributed according to the "nasal system". Jul 1, 2018 at 5:31
  • The Classical Arabic phoneme /a/ has various allophones ranging from [a] to [ɒ] depending on the context.
    – fdb
    Jul 1, 2018 at 11:04
  • I think the best approximation for [æ].is Alph (ا) followed by Kasra which doesn't happen in Arabic. Just an idea though I'm not sure. @fdb
    – hbak
    Jul 1, 2018 at 14:04

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