Newsgroups: soc.culture.lebanon
Path: fenris!nuug!!sunic!mcsun!uunet!wupost!eclnews!wucs1!omar
From: (Omar El-Ghazzawy)
Subject: Re: labanese latin alphabet
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Organization: Washington University, St. Louis MO
References: <4614@d75.UUCP> 
Date: Fri, 24 Jul 1992 19:31:19 GMT
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This is being posted for a friend. Please, send me no e-mail.

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This article is a follow-up to articles posted to scl by Elie W., Naji,
Mazen, and Bassem on creating a Lebanese Latin alphabet.

I would like to propose yet another method of doing this, but one that
perhaps takes a more simplified approach.

I propose using only two extra characters to resolve ambiguities:

   1) The character " ' "
   2) The character " - "

The first character, the "single-tick" as some people call it, can be used
to represent all *guttural* characters in the 'new' language.
examples: 'oud (the string instrument).
          'Ali (the Imam)
          mal'aa (spoon)
          ma'alesh (never mind)
          'sada    (echo)

As you can see, overloading the character " ' " to act on more than one
character simplifies things. The reason for using the " ' " is that there
are no guttural characters in the Latin alphabet.

The other character, " - ", can be used in certain situations to further
resolve ambiguities.

examples: k-houf or kuhuf (caves) [ i would have used maghawir ]
          as-hum ( "-" needed because of the meaning of the tuple 'sh'
                   without a hyphen. note the use of the tuple 'gh' also).

Here are some examples that appeared in past postings, expressed in the
simple scheme that I propose:

ana             (I)
bayt            (house)
tannura         (skirt)   [ some dialects may use 'tannura ]
jarur           (drawer)
'hmar           (donkey)
khaymi          (tent)
diib            (wolf)    [ no use of " ' " because 'ii' is not guttural ]
dibb            (bear)
rakad           (ran)
zaytoun         (olives)  [ alternatively zaytun, take your pick ]
samki           (fish)
shams           (sun)
'sayda          (sidon)   [ or 'Sayda, no difference in pronunciation ]
'day'aa         (village)
'tari'          (road)    [ this is the only exception: when the guttural
                           is the last character in the word, it is post-
                           fixed rather than prefixed ]
'zulm           (opression)
zilm            (men)      [ or as in the south, zolm ]
'ain            (fountain)
ghaymi          (cloud)
fijli           (raddish)

'um ta n'ar'is 'amh'       [ common pronunciation
'qum ta n'qar'qis 'qamh'     Druze pronunciation
                             (Note how the postfix exception appears here
                             again ]

kalb            (dog)
lamba           (lightbulb)
nijmi           (star)
hawa            (wing)
'hawa           (contained)
wedi            (valley)   [ or wadi or weidi ]
yalla           (come on!)
'a'dda          (a bite, or he bit her)
'himm-el        (porter)   [ the '-' is needed because it is too easy to
                             confuse between 'himmel (porter) and 'himl
                             (heavy load) ]
'ittel          (porter)

No simple syntactic addition to the Latin alphabet will be able to cause
a unique mapping from latin to arabic, i.e. there will always be words
that can be written in more than one form (as you can see from the examples
above), especially that people with different dialects will write things
differently, so I think that there is no need to devise complicated schemes
to precisely define the syntax because it is a truly colossal task. The
way I see it (IMHO), we need some simple convention that will work in the
very majority of the cases.

I have been able to express almost everything with these simple rules in
the past.  Please let me know what you think.


  -- edmond

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