Living Off the Nile

Arabic Lesson 1- Texting in Arabic

December 16th, 2010 by asmetana · 2 Comments

When I text with my friends in Arabic, we use the roman keyboard. Since there are more letters in Arabic than in English and many unique sounds, numbers are sometimes used to express the Arabic letters. Here are some examples of words.

Sab27 2l ‘7eir = Good Morning= صباح الخير
3mal eh? = How are you?= عمل يه؟
bet3mal eh? = What are you doing? = بتعمل يه؟
7ag2t katyr = many things = حجات كتير

It can be difficult at times to write with the roman letters since it is tempting to pronounce things in English and this becomes an issue with vowels and which ones to use.

For example, the word many is كتير which is pronounced like keteer (with the first “e” like the “ai” in “said” and the “ee” like the “ee” in “beer”. Yet it is spelled in Arabic with a fatHa which is often associated with the letter “a”, so should it be spelled with an “a” or spelled more like the way it sounds?

Also, the “ee” represents a single letter in Arabic the, ya or ي , so should it be represented with a single letter “y” or the double “e”? And how does this affect the way that we want to pronounce these words? Should we spell in a way that each letter in the Arabic alphabet corresponds exactly with one letter/number/symbol in the roman alphabet or should it be based more on sound?

In the end, it doesn’t matter too much since the meaning is understood and the pronunciation is already known, but still I often wonder if I am spelling things correctly.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • Justin Mattos // Dec 16th 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Why not get a cell phone with an arabic keyboard? Do they sell those there?

  • asmetana // Dec 19th 2010 at 11:26 am

    They do have cell phones with an Arabic keyboard, but people still use the roman one and the phone that I use is from Europe so it doesn’t have an Arabic keyboard no will it show Arabic characters.