One tricky challenge students of Arabic encounter is reading an Arabic name or word without its vowels.
As students know, Arabic is not always written with its vowels. Sometimes you’ll come across a name like this:
If you’ve never heard the name before, how could you know how to say it just from reading it?
Is it Ibn al-Malqan? al-Mulqan? al-Milqun?
Fortunately, the Library of Congress assigns standard transliterations of Arabic names that libraries all over the world follow. If you type an Arabic name into world-wide library database Worldcat.org, you’ll probably find it in a record somewhere.
Let’s see what we find this time:
Looking at all these records, we now know with a high degree of certainty that the author’s name is ʻUmar ibn ʻAlī Ibn al-Mulaqqin. There is a double consonant (shaddah) on the qaf. Wow, I was way off!
I use Worldcat all the time to help me vowel Arabic words I’ve never heard before. If you use another way, let us know!