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
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
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 than 'het.
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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