I was conjugating some verbs in the present simple tense today and once again had some trouble with short vowels.
Firstly, the verb ياكل (yaakul). Why is it “enty betaklee” instead of “enty betakulee” ( with an ‘u’ like the root of the word)? What happens to the short vowel و after K?
Secondly; Is there a rule to choose what short vowel we use after/with the suffixes? Because إنت بتذاكري is pronounced and transliterated as “enty betezakree”, انتي بتطبخي as “enty betutbu5y” and انتي بتاكلي as “enty betakly”.
1. This is the same rule as we saw with the kasra in -it (example: صورْتي Surti) that drops when it is unprotected (that is, a short unstressed i or u when its omission doesn’t result in three adjacent consonants). The root of this verb is ء ك ل and it’s irregular, so you just have to memorize the present tense form has a long ‘aa’ and a ‘u’ but the u is unprotected.
2. you (f) study is بِتْذاكْري bitzákri (stress on ‘a’), not bitizákri because the second i drops (unprotected). Verbs can be categorized by patterns called measures. The most complex are measure “1” verbs because the vowels are not predictable. You may have fathas in the past tense and kasra in the present and so on: katab → yiktib. “Cook” is Tabax → yuTbux You just have to memorize them by grouping them by common vowels.
I recommend our books Egyptian Colloquial Arabic Verbs, which organizes all verbs in groups with tables for each pattern. It also has a helpful pronunciation section that lays out all of the rules for the sound changes when suffixes are added (when vowels drop, are shortened, lengthened, etc.) And its exercise book helps you better understand the patterns so you can conjugate fluently without having to think about it much again (once you finish the exercise book). 😃 The Big Fat Book of Egyptian Arabic Verbs is also useful for exploring conjugations and seeing lots of example sentences.