Ultimate Amr Diab blog

Egyptian megastar, Amr Diab, has remained in the limelight for decades, setting trends, beloved by millions, sometimes controversial, always blogworthy.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Fluency in classical Arabic is its own reward

His muscled body hovers over the Cairo highways these days. Drivers zip under his seductive gaze as he poses in a white tank top. The Egyptian superstar, Amr Diab, has a new album out this summer, and the billboards urge you to buy it ASAP. But after, ehem, appreciating his tanned self, I notice the title of his album and his name on the giant posters are written in a mix of English (or Latin really) and Arabic letters.

His first name for example is a combination of the letter “ain” in Arabic, and then “amr” in English letters. And almost all the other billboards for artists and movies are the same – the titles and names are Arabic but in Latin letters.

This isn’t really a new phenomenon – with the advent of SMS, instant messaging and computer lingo, Arabs have created a new written language. Letters that sound the same in English remain in their natural form, and letters that are unique to Arabic are replaced by numbers that look like them.

There are even websites such as yamli.com, where one can write Arabic in Latin letters and numbers into a box, press Enter, and the word gets rewritten in Arabic letters.

Link to the full opinion piece


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