Encyclopedia of the Middle East
Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being
constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of
existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org. Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary
is at our Middle East Glossary.
Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is
often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or
Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew.
There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for
Pronunciation - Arabic and
Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a"
in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat." The " 'A " is guttural. " 'H "-
the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah')
designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching
the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant
The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural
sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is
not like the English "r."
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