Semi-Vowels in English and their Counterparts in Arabic, A Contrastive Study

  • Inst. Mubdir Shihab Ahmed The Open Educational College/ Ministry of Education
Keywords: semi-vowels, production, function


The present study attempts to shed light on a phonetic phenomenon in both English and Arabic related to what is called semi-vowels. The English semi-vowel /j/ and /w/ and the Arabic (و) and (ي) are either considered consonants or vowels depending on certain bases. Hence, this study tries to investigate these bases. The study aims at giving a description of the English and Arabic semi-vowels and showing whether both languages are similar or different with reference to their production and function. The study hypothesises that considering the English Semi-vowels as either consonants or vowels is determined phonetically or phonologically, whereas in Arabic such a case is determined by the phonological environment in which they occur. To realize the aims of the study and to prove its hypotheses, a description of semi-vowels in both languages is presented and a contrastive analysis is carried out. The study concludes that the semi-vowels in both languages are considered vowels in their production and like consonants in their function. Also, the study finds that there is no much difference as regards the production of the semi-vowels in both languages.

How to Cite
Shihab Ahmed, I. M. (2020). Semi-Vowels in English and their Counterparts in Arabic, A Contrastive Study. ALUSTATH JOURNAL FOR HUMAN AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, 59(3), 1-14. Retrieved from