Monday, November 29, 2004

Writing Lebanese

Yo Lebanon!!! Wazzzzzzuuuuuuuuuup?

Another Monday, another week... I hope everybody had a nice weekend...

When the Internet was introduced in Lebanon, it was impossible to write in Arabic. Email programs and chat rooms only supported few non-Latin languages, and Arabic wasn't one of them. We had to stick to English or French when typing until we found a way to overcome this problem...

We started to write Lebanese*... Lebanese!?

Yes Lebanon, and by writing Lebanese, I mean using Latin characters to write Arabic words. We had already done so a million times... Since schooldays, we had to write the names of our cities and villages in French and English on non-Arabic forms. Even now, my home address contains the word "Jdeideh", the Lebanese equivalent to "new".

Having the reputation for adapting to all situations, Lebanese people started to write Lebanese in chat rooms... We even created characters for the sounds not available in Latin. So instead of using "h" for writing "habibi" (which means "my love"), we started to use the number 7 to write "7abibi". This way, translating from characters to sounds was faster and clearer. We also used the number 2 for the Arabic "A" and its variations, and the number 3 for a previously written "aa" sound. For example, the translation of the word "crowded" became "3aj2a", a word impossible to write previously.

Lebanese became the standard for writing in chat rooms, and later the same thing happened with mobile phones’ messages known as SMS.

Few years later, the option to write Arabic became available, but apparently, few are the people who can type it quickly on a computer or a mobile phone. The Lebanese language proved to be more practical, faster and more effective when it came to expressing ourselves in writing.

We think Lebanese, we speak Lebanese and we write Lebanese.

Some say we are Arabs, others say we are Phoenicians (I know I say so), but one thing is for sure... We are LEBANESE!!!

* I believe Mr. Said Akel was the first person to come up with the Lebanese language idea, but he encountered opposition by the advocates of the Arabic Lebanon ideology.


8 comments:

Amin June said...

Hello Ziad,

Writing Lebanese has a different impact and is vital to descendants of Lebanese immigrants who know Lebanese from their parents or grandparents but do not know classical Arabic.

Consequently, as an immigrant, I've started a project of translations beginning with the Bible and maybe later will include world literature written in Latin script and using the 7, 3, 2 for the sounds that cannot be written in Latin/English.

The purpose of this translation of the Bible is not purely religious but linguistic. Non-Christian Lebanese immigrants could make use of the same text to enhance their knowledge of their original language, as well. Had I had the skill and the knowledge of difficult language of the Koran, for example, I would have translated it to Lebanese, if it is not offensive to Muslims so to do. For now, this major project will slowly take on the Bible and maybe include the Byzantine and Maronite Masses. Readers of this page who do not know what Lebanese sounds like are welcome to use this page to acquaint themselves with the language; however, this is not a tool to teach it to them, if they are not already familiar with it. A secondary purpose of producing this translation is to publish a corpus of materials in Lebanese using the Latin script.

Note: The script used to produce this publication is the most commonly used by users of Lebanese in the Internet whether in e-mail, chat or other protocols. There is a more serious, though more difficult, standardized script for writing Lebanese in Latin characters (see abcLeb.com) but it is not commonly used and it harder to learn and employ. Non-Lebanese speakers are encouraged to visit the said site to learn Lebanese.

You can find part of my translation in my website about Phoenicia http://phoenicia.org and specifically on this page:
http://phoenicia.org/johnleblang.html

I am attempting to produce a Lebanese spell-checker so that I can standardize my Lebanese spelling and double check work.

Salim George Khalaf
slim@phoenicia.org
http://phoenicia.org
Chapel Hill, NC, USA

Anonymous said...

Abou el Zouz, I have nothing to say except that I'm really, really thrilled to get to know this site!
Thank you a lot
And Best of Luck!
Bless you
Sarah J.
CA

AzZi said...

hey!! Im looking for how to say things in lebanese to spell them! I speak it cause I am lebanese but I just cant spell it right! lol anyone know where i can find translators for lebanesE?

yours Truly
MiZzZ. AzZi

Anonymous said...

Hi, excuse me, but I have some questions to ask, but I don't know where else to find the enswers so I write. My name is Mohamed. My father is Lebanese, he's muslim-shia, my mom's from Europe, we all live in Europe. She's Greek Orthodox, so am I. I wonder can I be christian with the name Mohamed. Please it is very delicate matter. I have a christian name wich is Mikhail. But it is not official. Can I stay with my official name, and still be true christian?
Thank you in advance.
3sha Lubnan

Hamoudi said...

Hi, excuse me, but I have some questions to ask, but I don't know where else to find the enswers so I write. My name is Mohamed. My father is Lebanese, he's muslim-shia, my mom's from Europe, we all live in Europe. She's Greek Orthodox, so am I. I wonder can I be christian with the name Mohamed. Please it is very delicate matter. I have a christian name wich is Mikhail. But it is not official. Can I stay with my official name, and still be true christian?
Thank you in advance.
3sha Lubnan

Salim George Khalaf said...

To: Hammoudi

Of course, you can become Christian and have the name Mohammad. One of the very famous Lebanese authors who did not believe in segregated names was a Christian and called his son Ahmad Faris Al-Shidyak (Al-Shidyak means the priest).

Faith and names are two independent things.

-----------------------------
To: AZZI

Please go to my website to learn how to write Lebanese, if what you read here is not enough. Follow this link where you can find examples of sentences and how to spell them:
http://phoenicia.org/leblanguage.html#Samples

Anonymous said...

heyy !
im half lebanese and i speak lebanese but i cant spell or write since i didnt live in lebanon i just visited ! i need help so i can write i really want to ! can anybody help me out here??
thanks

Dwardu said...

Exactly the same sounds you write as 7, 2, 3, in Maltese are written as ħ, q and għ. The last one, the għ (għajn), is considered to be one letter, even though it takes two to write it (e.g. in a Maltese dictionary the letter "GĦ" has its own section).

It is said that Lebanese and Maltese are quite similar (except that then Maltese has many words/constructs from Italian and Sicilian and some from English). See for example this and see if you manage to understand… :)

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