"gohr" not in English dictionaries?

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Apr 21 05:10:48 UTC 2009

On Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 12:32 AM, Randy Alexander
<strangeguitars at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 7:56 AM, Benjamin Zimmer <
> bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
>> This is presumably an Egyptian variant of standard Arabic "juHr",
>> which Hans Wehr's Arabic-English Dictionary defines as "hole, den,
>> lair, burrow." The "j" ("jim") of classical Arabic is realized in
>> Egyptian as /g/.
> When you say the "jim" of classical Arabic, is the "j" /dZ/ or /j/?  I'm
> interested in this because you said it's realized in Egyptian as /g/.
>  Manchu /g/ is often realized in Chinese as /tS/ (pinyin "j").  I'm
> wondering if this is a widespread variation, especially in transliterating
> things from one language to another.

Yes, it's /dZ/ in classical Arabic that gets realized as /g/. See,
e.g., Egyptian president Gamal /gama:l/ Abdel Nasser, or Nobel
Prize-winning novelist Naguib /nagi:b/ Mahfouz. Those names would be
pronounced /dZama:l/ and /nadZi:b/ in most other Arabic dialects. It's
a well-known shibboleth, especially with the dominance in the Arab
world of Egyptian movies and music.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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