Friday, July 2, 2010

To 'B' or to 'P'? That is the question!

  Well it is if you're an Arabic speaker learning English or a teacher tearing your hair out in despair at silly spelling mistakes.
   Despite the fact that the Arabic alphabet has 28 characters to the English alphabet's 26, there is no equivalent to the letter 'P' only 'B'. This has lead Egyptians to come up with a unique way of differentiating between the two to help with spelling, there's B khafifa ('light' B) and B tekila ('heavy' B).
   Now if you guessed that the 'light' B is 'P' and the 'heavy' B is B,well sorry you're wrong! For years I was convinced that was the right way round, because to me as a native English speaker it made more sense, and the I had to remember that it was the opposite of what made sense. The only reason I've managed to find so far for the naming is that P is light as its 'hump' is at the top, while the hump of the 'b' is at the bottom making it heavy.Get it?

 So tomorrow I'm off to change my Egybtian bounds into Pritish pounds and sign things with a plue ben!


  1. Caroline LawrenceJuly 2, 2010 at 10:59 PM

    I don't get that at all... sorry! But here's one: try teaching somebody who speaks a phonetic language (ie Spanish) how to pronounce yacht!

  2. Egyptians are forever mixing up their B's and P's , especially in spelling or writing.

  3. I'm alughting like crazy :) cuz i used to be one of those who say B 7'afefa and P t2ela
    Put i always knew how to get it right in sbleeing.... oooooooops :)

  4. I knew this and I always thought it was funny that Egypt had a P in it. What is the proper name for Egypt in Arabic?


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