Daily Archives: Tuesday, 3 February, 2009

My Nemesis: Egyptian Dialect

It’s not the Js that are pronounced like hard Gs. I can deal with that. It’s not the various non-S letters that are pronounced like S. It sounds funny, but I can deal with that. What I can’t deal with is not pronouncing the qaf.

For those who don’t speak Arabic, qaf (ق) is pronounced like a k from the very back of your throat. It’s one of the letters that Arabic has that English doesn’t, that is actually pretty easy to master. So I’m fond of it. Some dialects change it to a hard g sound, and I can deal with that.

But not Egyptian. Not insidious, dastardly Egyptian. Egyptian just doesn’t pronounce it at all. To be generous, you could say they replace it with a glottal stop, if you call that pronouncing it.

On Who’s Line is it Anyway?, they sometimes play a game where the players have to replace a letter of the alphabet with another letter and talk that way, and hilarity ensues. But it’s all for laughs and at the end of the day, nobody’s livelihood depends on their understanding each other.

Since English doesn’t have a qaf sound, imagine talking to someone who doesn’t pronounce Ks at all.

“I’m going to take the ids to the par for a pi’ni’ and ‘i’ the ball around.”

“Hey, you know that Star Tre’ movie where Ri’ardo Montalban plays ‘an, and aptain Ir’ yells out, ‘AAAAAAAAAAaaaaan!’?”

Or the song, “Oo’ie oo’ie, lend me your omb”?


Filed under arabic, language