A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

drinking milk in Egyptian

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on May 22, 2007

Like most people here, I spent much of the day working in a state of semi-distraction, devoting the rest of my energy to checking up on – and discussing – the news and the rumors circulating throughout the country.

In between discussing whether warnings like:

فتح الاسلام تعلن عن وجود 300 متفجرة في شوارع بيروت و عن نيتها بتفجيرها خلال ساعتين

اذا لم ينسحب الجيش من حدود مخيم نهر البارد

فتح الاسلام ترمي مناشير تطلب فيها من سكان بيروت بمغادرة المدينة و تتوعّد الّلبنانيّين بمزيد من التفجيرات

were valid, and laughing over sms alert advertisements that solicited customers by asking:

“What more could happen in Lebanon?”

I found time to return to an earlier topic: dairy issues.

On my way to work, I stopped at the grocer’s to pick up milk for my tea. The store was out of Silhouette, my usual brand, but the clerk offered me another instead: the rather imperative-ly named Enjoy.

I noticed that the milk was Egyptian, but thought nothing more of it until I went to make my first cup of tea.

The English side of the  milk box was ‘normal’: Enjoy was spelled e-n-j-o-y.

The Arabic side, however, was not.

Arabic has a perfectly good letter – the jeem – that corresponds to the English “j”.  Were “Enjoy” to be transliterated in standard Arabic, the letters should read:

 أ ن ج و ي

Instead, however, the Arabic side read:

 أ ن چ و ی

In other words, “Enjoy” was written in Egyptian. In Egyptian Arabic, the “jeem” is pronounced as “geem”. Hence to indicate the hard “j” sound, the graphic designers put three dots below the “jeem”, instead of the usual one.

(The missing dots on the final “yaa” are a stylistic choice – often used in Egyptian printed works, but also found elsewhere in the Arabic speaking world. Its the jeem/geem that makes the spelling truly Egyptian!)



7 Responses to “drinking milk in Egyptian”

  1. SparklePlenty said

    Oh no. I simply can’t resist. Given all of the above, I must ask “how you are Enjoying your time, now?”

  2. 😀 😀 😀

    dying, dying laughing – rolling on the floor and laughing – what a perfect question for now!

    at times like these I often think of the “may you live in interesting times” curse :-P!

  3. intlxpatr said

    You’re living an interesting life and having great stories to tell at the dinner table or at the lecture podium.

  4. Med said

    I always wondered how to write my sister Angela’s name. Now I know.

  5. […] drinking milk in Egyptian […]

  6. […] Even the Arabic script in Egypt has minor differences from other Arabic scripts. This post shows that the differences, though minor, are important enough to need some localization when used […]

  7. Xeper, thank you for linking to this post! Your post on the development of Egyptian is very rich – I am honored to be a part of it.

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