Arab's pronunciation of Hebrew's ח, vs ע

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by Albert Schlef, Jul 24, 2014.

  1. Albert Schlef Senior Member

    I've listened, on YouTube, to the following Arabs speaking in Hebrew (most of them are parliament members because I don't know names of others):

    אחמד טיבי
    חנין זועבי
    מוחמד ברכה
    ג'מאל זחאלקה
    רפיק חלבי

    They *all* pronounce the ע properly (not as א) and the ח improperly (as כ).

    That's weird.

    Why's that? Why do they pronounce the ע properly (although sometimes their ע is subdued) but the ח improperly?

    HOWEVER, I found the following two Arabs who pronounce the ח properly:

    איברהים צרצור
    עבדאללה נימר דרוויש

    Can people here shed some light on this? Why does one Arab choose to pronounce the ח as ח whereas another Arab pronounces it as כ yet they all pronounce the ע properly?

    The one difference I can think of between the two groups of people is that the second group (those who pronounce the ח properly) are religious (according to Wikipedia, they underwent Islamic studies). Do you think this is relevant? There are only 7 people in my "study" so it could be coincidental.

    (BTW, I know that "proper" and "improper" are subjective words and that some would say that pronouncing ע/ח as א/כ is just as proper, but please let's not talk about that here. I need some words to describe the phenomena and I'm settling on proper and improper without making any judgment. I could have picked any other words, like red and yellow, but then nobody would understand me.)
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2014
  2. Albert Schlef Senior Member

    I agree with you, but I predicted that somebody would chime in and opine that it's the nature of languages to change and whatever states they reach are all valid. There's no "right" and "wrong". No "proper" and "improper". Ashkenazi's pronunciation, merely because it exists, is as valid as any other one.

    I also predicted that somebody would chime in and steer the discussion into that exact topic, a topic which has nothing to do with my question, and which is about what you're doing now :)
  3. Albert Schlef Senior Member

    (It might be worth mentioning that Arabic's خ usually translates to ח in Hebrew (not to כ). E.g., خمسة = חמישה. Maybe Arabs somehow derive their justification to pronouncing ח as כ from the inverse of this fact?)
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2014
  4. لنـا

    لنـا Senior Member

    Palestinian Arabic, Hebrew
    I think I understand what you mean by "proper" and "improper" from your first post, but somehow, that's not your question!

    Well, the ones who can answer these questions are those you've listed above.
    As for ע I doubt you can find someone who pronounces it as א, he’ll look overacted with א!.
    For ח, the majority pronounce it as כ , also the reason is unknown, I’d pronounce them both as “7et and 3ayin ח ו- ע ” (as Ibrahim sarsour and 3abdallah darwish do) but my parents pronounce them as “5et and 3ayin כ ו- ע”, everyone has his own style, maybe some of them want to look more prestigious or in a high level!
    I really don’t know the reasons behind that, it doesn’t relate to religion because we even don’t speak the language of Quran which is completely different from colloquial dialect. That's how “Arab 48” think !
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2014
  5. k8an Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia.
    English - Australian
    It depends on a lot of things.
    I know many Palestinians who pronounce Hebrew exactly as other Israelis do, including ח/ע.
    I also know many who pronounce them as ع/ح.
    It's a case-by-case situation.
  6. Albert Schlef Senior Member

    Thanks for replying. I suspected that could be a reason, awareness of some stigmatization of the "mizrahi" pronunciation. The mystery I was wondering about is why wasn't the ע ditched as well. Why ditch just the ח?

    Ok, you said "I really don’t know the reasons", so we'll have to leave it at that.

    Yet, I'll bother you a little more: what did you mean by "he’ll look overacted with א"? Why doesn't the כ make him look "overacted"?
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2014
  7. Albert Schlef Senior Member

    Yep. I intended my question only for Arab speakers of Hebrew. I prayed that non-Arabs won't participate because I suspected they couldn't contribute anything except for needlessly lengthening the discussion (a suspicion, I see, you share with me), but I felt that writing "A question for Arabs only" would be rude.

    The reason I finally asked this question, which had bothered me for a long time, is because finally I saw a user here, @لنـا, who I thought could help in dispelling the mystery.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2014
  8. لنـا

    لنـا Senior Member

    Palestinian Arabic, Hebrew
    You’re welcome, I’m trying to make it clear as best as I could, but keep in mind that you won’t get an ideal answer!

    I think, Arabic sounds pretty hard and unyielding which prevents the native speaker from accepting the soft pronunciation of ע as א, a similar case in Arabic would be that in my city we say “צ'יפ חאלק (צ'-as in chair)” instead of “קיפ חאלק” (how are you-in English), if someone, from the same city will come and ask me קיף חאלק I’ll feel like I’m from another planet, I think this makes him overacted. However “כ” is considered as a strong letter in Arabic, so some probably wouldn't mind to adopt it from the Ashkenazi accent!
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2014
  9. Albert Schlef Senior Member

    That's a plausible explanation. Thanks.

    (Oh, I was once told about this.)

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