Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Do You Speak Arabish?

This post is dedicated to fellow blogger Joyce: your wish, my command my friend :)
*if you’re not Joyce you can still read the post you know.

So I guess a lot of people would like to know how to read “this Arabish language” (Arabic written with Latin letters and numbers), I wish my mom would master it because it takes me ages to write her or dad a text message in Arabic (For those of you who will say “just call her”, this is in cases of meetings, parties and situations where I can’t call). Plus Arabic characters take up more space so a text message can only have 70 characters as opposed to 160 Latin characters.

Anyway, some people use numbers to replace letters that do exist (or are close enough) in English, I don’t like that, I think it makes the written word an eyesore (you know what else is bad for your sight? WrItInG LiKe tHiS, I hAtE iT aNd iT tAkEs mE aGeS tO rEaD iT), back to the point, here’s a list, of course, of the numbers and their uses:

2” is used instead of the Hamza, or the glottal stop, the best example I found was on Wikipedia: it’s represented by the hyphen in uh-oh! So, if uh-oh was an Arabic expression, it would be written like this: uh2o (usually the h in the end is dropped).

3” is used instead of the letter Eyn, as in Arabee (Arabic) or 3arabee, and 3eraq (Iraq).

and 3’ (with an apostrophe) represents the letter Ghain, as in Ughneyeh (song) or u3'neyeh, and a lot of people use "gh" instead.

5” not as popular as the 2 and 3, it’s the substitute of the letter Khaa, similar to a Spanish J, as in Julio (not Hulio), a lot of people just use “kh” instead, for example “sabaah al 5air (khair)” (good morning), some people like to use this: 7’ instead.

6” also not a very popular one, sometimes used instead of the letter Ta, with a heavy T as in Tareq = 6areq.

7” is used instead of the letter Haa but with an intense H coming from further down the throat (imagine an English person saying something is hhhhot, kind of) for example, habeebi and habeebti are written like this: 7abeebi or 7abeebti.

8” is sometimes used instead of Qaaf, a more intense Q, as in 8atar = Qatar but it’s also not that popular.

9” is used in two different ways, in the Middle East, it’s a heavy S, the letter Saad, as in 9adeeq = sadeeq (friend) while in North Africa (countries like Tunisia and Morocco) it has the same use as the “8” above.

10” is used… no I’m just kidding, that would be too much now wouldn’t it?

Also, it wouldn’t be unusual to find words without vowels, since short vowels in Arabic are represented by Arabic diacritics: Harakaat (or tashkeel) and they’re not always used because mostly they are there to show the correct pronunciation of the word, for example my name, Rand, is written in Arabic using three letters only, R, N and D. Now how you read a word that is vowelless and unfamiliar is your problem not mine :)

I think these numbers were chosen based on their similarity to the letter they are replacing in Arabic, as you can tell from the pictures.

That’s the best I can do in explaining them, I hope it was helpful. Yeah Joyce?


Ahmad said...

i did a presentation about this subject in arabic 102,el 7elo bl mawdoo3 enno el doctora found it really interesting!

أشرف محيي الدين said...

Good morning Rand or Rnd :)

I think that the differences between people in spelling the Arabic word by using the Latin letters is the reason for confusion that mostly happens in understanding some words , also using numbers as alternative for some Arabic letters still unfamiliar for a lot of people and that also increase the confusion of understanding , but I do believe that this way of writing began at the 1st generation of mobile when there was no option to write the text message in Arabic letters but now after the possibility for writing the text message in Arabic letters became available , I think that the users of the other way of writing will not increase because the motive for learning and practicing it disappeared .

Thank you Rand for this interesting subject
Have nice day :)

Marvin the Martian said...

That is fascinating! A glimpse into the world of texting in Arabic. I would never have known any of that if it weren't for you. Thank you!

And thank you for visiting my poopy little blog.

emigrant2immigrant said...

Fascinating! I've been wondering about this for a while too. Although not speaking Arabic yet, I've been reading it and when numbers are thrown in with Latin letters my head explodes. Good to know what they all mean!

Rand said...

Ahmad, why not, it is interesting!

Ashraf, you might be right about how it started, but I think people who use it are still increasing in number.

Marvin, thank you for coming :)

emigrant2immigrant, glad you liked it

joycefied said...

I am so flattered and pleased that you took the time to explain this! After all is said and done, I think this will encourage me to study my Arabic letters so that I can see the 3 as the Ayn, etc. I am going to print it and study it until I can write at least one text message using it.

Rand said...

yay am I going to be featured on your fridge then?

kinzi said...

Rand, ma azkaaaaki, 3anjad fridge worthy!

Joycieeeeeeeee, shu brilliant to ask Rand! I have ALWAYS wondered about some of these, and never asked anyone!

Linking now. :)

Rand said...

thank you Kinzi :)

Saman Sohail said...

very interesting, i found this on google cuz im doing research on this :) are there any other sources you could point me to? thanks, very insightful :D

Ahlam said...

Wow Rand,
What a great job! I've been searching Google because I'm writing my Graduate thesis on this topic and I can not seem to find any resources! However, this is exactly what I was searching for, I just wish it were longer :(

Thank you for taking the time to post this! :)

Rand said...

You're welcome :) glad I could help!

mstevensm said...

Here's a collection of Arabish English language mistakes :0 http://sangkancil.net/mod/data/view.php?d=35&perpage=10&search=&sort=158&order=DESC&advanced=0&filter=1&f_158=0&f_156=&u_fn=&u_ln=

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