Numbers in transliterations

Discussione in 'العربية (Arabic)' iniziata da somody, 14 Ottobre 2005.

  1. somody Senior Member

    I don't know Arabic...but if someone could explain to me why there's numbers in the english "pronounciation translation" of Arabic, that would be great!

    And the title was obtained from a translation site! :p
  2. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    The numbers represent letters and sounds that don't exist in English. :)

    2 = أ (hamza) - glottal stop
    3 = ع ('ain) - a "choked" letter sounding like an "a" you can't represent with the English alphabet
    7 = ح (haa) - sounds like an aspirated "h" like the "y" when whispering "yes".

    Hope it helps. :)
  3. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Whodunit explained it well. If you'll notice, the numbers are not chosen randomly. They are similar in some respect to the way the respective letter is written in Arabic - or at least they're the most similar (after all, we only have 10 characters to choose from! :)). The 3 Who mentioned are the most common ones; however, there are some others that are used from time to time:

    5 - خ (German and Scottish "ch" - sometimes transliterated as "x" or "kh.")

    6 - ط (hard "t" sound - otherwise transliterated simply as "t.")

    8 - ق (a guttural k sound - most commonly transliterated as "q." [cf. Iraq and Qatar]).

    Additionally, some people use 3' to transliterate غ, which is equivalent to the French and the German "r."
  4. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Completely correct, but I want to explain it a bit further, since it is not easy to see how a 3 is equal to the letter ع, as I had the same problem at the beginning. ;)

    This may help for the beginning.

    2 - أ, ء looks like a mirrored 2
    3 - ع looks like a mirrored 3
    5 - ح, خ look like very similar to a 5 (خ is mostly replaced by kh, ch, or x, and since 7 is used for ح, one doesn't use the number 5 that often)
    6 - ط looks like a deformed 6
    7 - ح looks like a mirrored 7
  5. somody Senior Member

    Thanks to everyone who helped! Recently, I had a Saudi Arabian teenager stay at my home for 6 weeks while learning English at a language school. When he chatted, and went to websites, there were numbers in the transliterations, I always wondered why!
  6. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    Split from here.

    Does that mean that numbers as substitutes for sounds absent from English are the phenomenon of the 1990s or so? I had thought it was an established way of communication. :eek:

  7. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Exactly. People started using numbers for the Arabic letters ع، ح، أ with the "invention" of chat programs, specially before they (the programs) become Arabic enabled : Arabophones needed to type in a way that is understandable in spite of the impossibility of using Arabic keyboard (at that time). So they (i don't know who exactly) invented this smart way.
    Now we use it on Net, SMS, but not in handwritten texts because when we write Arabic we still use Arabic letters, Thanks God for that :)
    Again for Internet, Arabophones now chat, type, write messages... either in this invented way or, simply, in Arabic alphabet, each person can now choose the way they prefer.

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