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A Note on Transliteration
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A Note on Transliteration

Transliterating Arabic words into English is made difficult both by the differences in orthography and phonology between the two languages, and because “Modern Standard” Arabic differs from Egyptian dialect. There are five pairs of consonants that pose a special problem, because although their Arabic forms are quite different, their pronunciation differs by only a slight raising or lowering of the tongue, or a difference in aspiration. I have chosen, despite the problems this causes, to use a simple transliteration that represents these with identical letters in English. I have retained double consonants, but not double (long) vowels, and have elided the final ta marbuta (word-final h) in words with the feminine ending, and word-final glottal stops. The symbol represents the glottal stop, which is to be distinguished from the symbol , representing the consonant ‘ayn, a voiced pharyngeal fricative. Commonly recognized words and proper nouns, including place names, are transliterated in their most recognized form; for example, Cairo rather than al-qaahirah, and Sayyida Zeinab rather than the more consistent Sayyida Zaynab. Formal Arabic is transliterated as it is written (without, for example, the assimilation of the l of the definite article to certain consonants). Since Egyptian Arabic is not usually written, I have transliterated Egyptian words as they sound, rather than as they might be written in Arabic.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations from the Qur’an are from the translation by A. Yusuf ‘Ali, and other translations from Arabic and French are my own.


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A Note on Transliteration
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