Monday, April 26, 2010

Arab Lingo A-Gogo

Did you know that the Arabs use numbers in transliterating or romanizing an Arabic word because - according to my Arab - there are no English letters equivalent for it.

Let's take for example the word "7iati" from my URL. The number 7 in the word 7iati represents letter and sound that doesn't exist in English alphabet.

7 is the "haa" sound,  almost H but not really H, it is a sound like you are clearing your throat. So 7iati is pronounced haa-yaaa-tee (NOT seven-I-u'tee) and it means "my life".

To understand it more, here are the other explanations and examples of the number "7" in Arabic transliteration that I found on the net:
  • 7= a hard "h" sound that comes from the throat almost like a hard sigh [Source: Diane Beddoe]
  • For “ﺡ” (strong sounding “hhha”) we use “7” – This is a hard "h", examples:  a7mar, 7aram [Source: Transparent Language]
  • 7 = ح (haa) - sounds like an aspirated "h" like the "y" when whispering "yes". [Source: Word Reference]
  • 7 - a7mar, il-7iin, 7aggak - Like breathing on your hands in winter to warm them up. [Source: Gulf Arabic]
The other numbers in Arabic language which do not have a counterpart in English language are 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 and 9. The most widely used are 7, 5 (or 7') and 3 because they have a very distinct sound while the rest can be replaced by English letters that have a very close pronunciation. 

I will explain the other numbers that represent special sounds next time (promise!). ✿