Monday, December 7, 2009

Does not understand! *frustration*

I imagine I'm not the only one with this problem... I learned about Islam mostly from the internet. In the things I read, the Islamic words are written out in "English" (a transliteration) and normally not re-written in Arabic beside it. So I learned about all sorts of terms this way; by seeing it written in a bad transliteration and never hearing the word. So when I try to talk to my husband about things, I pronounce them how I see the words written out online.

AND HE CAN NEVER UNDERSTAND! I tell him to use his imagination to imagine how it might be pronounced in Arabic because of course I cannot know just by seeing the word the way I see it. And there are some letters I simply can't pronounce well at all even if I knew it!

So for example, ربا becomes riba, نكاح becomes nikah, وليمة‎ becomes walima, and all that stuff. So nikah, that I just pronounce like nicka after seeing it, really has a HAH at the end! I tried to have a conversation with my husband about the nikah, he had no idea what I was talking about. I said it was something like the marriage contract -- HE WAS STILL CLUELESS! Then I asked about the walima, which I pronounced wall-imma. He had no clue. Then I saw online that it was spelled with a YEH. So it's actually more like wa-leem-ah...

How frustrating is it that I can't seem to ever pronouce something right?!

14 Comentários:

LK said...

This happens to me every day. The ladies at the school never understand what I'm saying because I only know how to pronounce it the way Ive seen it. Often I have to spell the word. I'm now be tutored so I can pronounce transliterations correctly. Its so frustrating. It can sound so similar and they have NO CLUE what I'm saying! And I cannot for the life of me make that GH sound.

LK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laila said...

Yes, I have this problem!! Transliteration is so ambiguous. There are a lot of words I have never seen in Arabic script so I don't know how they really sound.

Candice said...

And transliterations are different from place to place... So it gets confusing. There's no standard transliteration method. And the ones used in regular artigles are not great (like nikah not showing that the h is a HAH...)

Jaz said...

Oh that sucks. I wish there was a standard translation!
On one hand, everyone could start using 7 for ح and they could use 5 for خ and 3 for ع and so on. Then WE would know what they're talking about.

But what about if people started using that in every Islamic publication? Many non-Muslims would likely be put off and see Islam as something very foreign and inaccessible since they don't understand what the numbers mean.

I'd just suggest you read things in Arabic, when you come across an Arabic islamic word you can quickly look it up in wiki (which has the arabic word written in brackets beside each english entry about islam)

NeverEver said...

I'm in the same boat. It all comes down to whether or not they make a difference in the long and short vowels.

Like salam should be salaam because the second vowel is long. Walima should be waliima or waleema so that you get the effect of the long vowels versus the short ones.

But yeah I have the exact some problem, and am also guilty of perpetuating bad transliterations..
inshaAllah we will get better at it :-)

Candice said...

Jaz: I definitely like the use of 7 and 3... I normally see the use of 7' for KHA and not 5. OH NO! But it's not a suitable way for more proper situations for the reason you mentionned. It's a good idea to use wiki. That's where I got the ones I used in my post :P

Never Ever: Yeah, I guess we need to be concious of that too when writing... :S I just write it down like I normally see it...

Candice said...

Jaz: I definitely like the use of 7 and 3... I normally see the use of 7' for KHA and not 5. OH NO! But it's not a suitable way for more proper situations for the reason you mentionned. It's a good idea to use wiki. That's where I got the ones I used in my post :P

Never Ever: Yeah, I guess we need to be concious of that too when writing... :S I just write it down like I normally see it...

Zuhura said...

Most transliterations approximate the International Phonetic Alphabet, so *usually* the vowels will be written and pronounced as follows:

a pronounced 'ah'
e pronounced like 'ay' in 'hay'
i pronounced like 'ee' in 'see'
o pronounced like the letter o
u pronounced like 'oo' in 'stool'

Hope this helps!

Laila said...

Long vs short vowels could easily be represented by doubling the vowel for a long one, but in practice people don't always do this. That would make a big difference.

One other thing that annoys me is the use of ' - sometimes it seems to represent ayn, sometimes hamza, sometimes nothing in particular! You just can't tell. No point to it if you can't actually tell what it is. Like you say, we need a standard method, but one that isn't too obscure to people with no knowledge of Arabic.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

Yeah Somali has a lot of similar words to Arabic and uses a Latin-based script. Ayin is c though and ha (5) is x (like hajj is spelled xaj. Its not hard to convert to Arabic transliteration with the numbers. Consistent transliterations make things easier.

Jamilah said...

My favorite word was abaya... I would say aabeeeya... so embarrassing!

Anonymous said...

Hi!

The problem seems to be bigger for English-speakers, because they haven't got used to words being read just as they are written. My mother tongue is pronounced just as it is written (each letter corresponds one sound) and that's basicly, too, how Arabic works. Also the importance of using short and long vowels correctly is the same in Arabic and in my mother tongue. Though, still it's difficult to pronounce all the Arabic sounds correctly...
As has been said, the best thing is to check how the word is written in Arabic and learn to pronounce it according to that - then also the transliteration one uses is more likely to be at least somehow correct.

The using of numbers for certain letters is not very accessible for people with little knowledge of Arabic and at the same time people who would know what they mean most likely would have, in any case, the possibility to check the correct spelling in Arabic letters to get the pronunciation correct (meaning that when they would meet a new transliterated term they just should go through the trouble checking the spelling in Arabic - this though might help to remember the new term and also to learn the correct meaning of it), so the use of numbers would not be necessary.

Säde

Candice said...

Laila: Yeah, that would really help!

Sade: You're right that people using a similar system can understand faster. My husband finds it helpful when I even spell out the transliteration because he knows an h will often be a HAH. But still, for HAH and HEH, we can only use h... So why should I think nikah is with HAH when Allah is with HEH? Ahh... frustrating!!

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