22 July 2006

6eeba Explained

Q: Why is there a 6 in the word 6eeba in the previous post? And how is it pronounced?

A: It is pronounced TTeeba, using the hard Arabic consonant ط (TT) pronounciation instead of the regular, softer t found in the English language. Arabs who do not have access to an Arabic keyboard, and who have to revert to typing transliterated Arabic speech using Roman letters when they want to correspond in Arabic, have recently developed a way of using certain numerals and other symbols to represent Arabic letters and consonant sounds that do not exist in the Roman alphabet. For example, the throaty ح (H) sound is represented by the numeral 7, just because the numeral 7 looks like it somewhat.

The throaty ح (H) sound, such as in the word "hayat," meaning life, is an altogether different letter than the softer (H) sound, such as in the word "hawa," meaning air. is the letter that sounds exactly the same as the English H. Hence the problem: How does a transliterating Arabic typer distinguish between and ح? Solution: The numeral 7, which resembles the letter ح, has come to be used in its place, just as the numeral 6 is used to represented the harder (TT) ط sound, which is an altogether different Arabic consonant than the regular . sounds the same as the English letter t.

There are many other examples:

  • the numeral 3 is used to represent the letter ع , a sound that does not exist in the Roman alphabet. Example: ...inab, meaning "grapes," is missing the ع sound the beginning of the word, so it is written like this: 3inab.
  • the numeral 5 is used to represent the letter خ , a sound that does not exist in the Roman alphabet. Example: a...khi, meaning "my brother," is missing the خ sound in the middle of the word, so it written like this: a5i
  • the numeral 2 is used to represent the letter ء , the gluttoral stop that does not exist in the Roman alphabet. Example: asmaa..., meaning "names," is missing the ء glutteral stop sound at the end of the word, so it written like this: asma2.

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