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We can’t see our breath inside the apartment anymore!! Oh, wait. Just kidding.

17 Apr
Winter 2012.  I like the haze that accompanied this snow.  (We were snowed in for 3 days.)

Winter 2012. I like the haze that accompanied this snow. (We were snowed in for 3 days.)

Winter 2012.  We got 5 inches in the heaviest snow.

Winter 2012. We got 5 inches in the heaviest snow.

Poppies at the dawning of Spring 2012.

Poppies at the dawning of Spring 2012.

Yeah, so we thought that Jordan’s endless winter for 2012/2013 was over.  I even packed up most of our cold-weather clothing last weekend — partly because our little closet was overflowing with garments and partly in preparation for moving back to the U.S. in 10 weeks or so.

I wouldn’t say that celebrating coming of spring was premature because it has been very pleasant for the past 3 weeks.  The grass is the greenest it’s going to be all year.  Little red poppies and purple stems of lavender have filled in the sporadic parts of earth that haven’t been paved over or covered with mismatching sidewalk tiles.  Phillip and I even complained of “being hot” a couple of times after walking to and fro from home to CGE/UJ campus. For those who have not experienced a Jordanian winter (more specifically, an Amman winter on the highest hills of Jubeiha which is where our neck of the woods has been), you cannot fully appreciate what I am about to describe (so basically, I mean probably the majority of you reading this except Brittany Barber who braved (and survived!) January/February 2012 with us).

Winter 2012 with Brittany Barber, our Atlanta friend who came to visit & teach English for 6 weeks.  We had unplanned twin outfits for staying warm in the evenings.

Winter 2012 with Brittany Barber, our Atlanta friend who came to visit & teach English for 6 weeks. We had unplanned twin outfits for staying warm in the evenings.

What does wintertime in Jordan mean to me?

(1) Frigid, paralyzing coldness.

(2) Frigid, paralyzing coldness day and night (at least when you’re at home with no central heat).

(3) Frigid, paralyzing coldness day and night that will last from the end of October through the beginning of March.

(4) Going to bed is painful because the sheets are room temperature (i.e., fluctuating in the 40s, Fahrenheit).

(5) Consuming hundreds of bags of tea (mostly decaffeinated for health reasons, of course).

(6) Wearing the same clothes (or at least my leggings & undershirt tank top) for up to 4 days in a row because it’s just to darn cold to change clothes completely.  Hey, body heat keeps clothes warm.  The ones in the closet might as well be sitting in the fridge.

Winter 2013.  Albeit an unattractive angle, this photo represents the layers of clothing I wore to sit around the house, yes, *INSIDE AT HOME*, in order to retain body heat.

Winter 2013. Albeit an unattractive angle, this photo represents the layers of clothing I wore to sit around the house, yes, *INSIDE AT HOME*, in order to retain body heat.

(7) Mold growing in, on, and through the cinder-block walls and along the rubber window seals.  Spray bottle filled with 1/2 water + 1/2 Clorox = effective.

(8) Water conservation!  (again, because the bathroom where I would take a shower is also 40-something degrees)

(9) A higher electric bill — we used an electric space heater this past winter.  My favorite way to enjoy its heat was to bundle up on the couch next to Phillip with a cup of that decaffeinated tea in hand, turn it to the “burn 3 of the 4 elements” setting, and roll it about 5 inches away from my legs.  The only reason I didn’t turn it to the 4th setting was because I was afraid it would actually catch our clothes on fire.  That little booger could throw out some heat.

Winter 2013.  Phillip demonstrates our nightly "perch" with feet propped up to the electric space heater.  Notice, this must've been late winter because there's only one heated element on.

Winter 2013. Phillip demonstrates our nightly “perch” with feet propped up to the electric space heater. Notice, this must’ve been late winter because there’s only one heated element on.

(10) An occasional carbon-monoxide (or is it dioxide?  I always get those confused.) poisoning scare.  Our first winter here, we used a methane-gas space heater.  It made the room generally a great deal warmer than the electric one, but we got freaked out and stopped using it altogether after the wee-morning hours one day in January 2012.  We had used the heater 8 hours or so the day before — always with ventilation, of course; my dad has been a fireman for 15+ years, so fire safety is well engrained in me.  Then, we turned it off, and went to bed.  Forty-five minutes or so later, our carbon-?-oxide detecter beamed in a computerized voice, “Carbon-?-oxide poisoning.  EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY.”  I do believe it was below freezing outside, but that didn’t stop Phillip from catapulting out of bed and opening *every* door and window in the house.  I did not truly know what it was to be cold until that night.

(11) Putting lots of mileage on the Wal-Mart hoodies that I swiped from my Dad’s closet last summer.  And yes, I do wear the hoodie with the drawstring tightly pulled.  (Thanks, Dad :)

Winter 2012.  My great-granny's apple pies in Amman, Jordan!  There's not much to do but eat when you're stuck inside for 5+ months.  What better food?

Winter 2012. My great-granny’s apple pies in Amman, Jordan! There’s not much to do but eat when you’re stuck inside for 5+ months. What better food?

(12) Seeing your breath throughout the house.

Number 12 is especially noticable at night.  Many evenings these past two winters, Phillip and I would burrito-wrap ourselves in 3-4 layers of clothes and then with felt blankets before getting under our 5 layers of bedding and covers.  Then, we’d turn out the lights and watch our smoke-like breath rise into the darkness by the light of Phillip’s ipod.  Our family and friends could also see our breath via skype.  It was powerfully visible.  And freakin’ COLD!!

Now with these details to fill in your mental images of “a day in the life of a Jordanian winter,” you can better empathize with my appreciation for the coming of spring!  Once or twice now I have tried to wear short sleeves at home but have ended up grabbing one of my two $5 Old Navy faux-fleece jackets.  (Best 10 bucks I’ve spent in 2 years, really.)

I do feel like we are making progress here towards continuously warmer weather, but we’re not quite through with chilly evenings, one of which — just a day or two ago — gave us the opportunity to see our breath inside just one more time.

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Gethsemane’s Trees

6 Apr
Dusk at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem

Dusk at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem

Thanks for tuning into this special edition of “Stokes in Jerusalem!” We stayed there 6 days last week for Easter and because we needed to renew our Jordanian visas by exiting and re-entering the country. I’ll be posting some of my thoughts from our time there over the next few days. Here’s the first.

Good Friday (March 29, 2013) — from the Old City of Jerusalem

Yesterday, Phillip and I traveled from our apartment in Amman to the King Hussein Bridge Crossing (there are three international land crossings from Jordan to Israel/Palestine; this one is the closest to Amman). We took a bus into Jerusalem from there.

We’d planned to come for Easter several months ago and stay again in the Ecce Homo Arch Convent – we always stay here when we come into town. (How snooty does that sound??) It took from 8:00am until 2:15pm to get here. Thank you West Bank Crossing and your insanely slow manner of business. From point to point, it’s not any farther than south Atlanta is to north Macon, but customs + international relations = 6 hours and 15 minutes, that’s how it goes.

After sunset on Maundy Thursday -- remembering the events that took place among these trees so many years ago

After sunset on Maundy Thursday — remembering the events that took place among these trees so many years ago

Anyway, the highlight of yesterday (Maundy Thursday) was at sunset when we had the Garden of Gethsemane practically to ourselves. I don’t know why no one else was around, I guess they were in church services. Except for a few occasional passers through, the garden was a serene, quiet, and reflective place. Phillip says that while many of the Christian Holy sites are only speculative (due to the Bible’s lack of precise geographical detail), it is almost certain that the 21 or so preserved olive trees — several of which are at least 2,000 years old – in the garden next to the Church of All Nations/Basilica of Agony there on the Mt. of Olives are growing in the very spot. That is, the spot where the gospels record Jesus’ prayer of anguish, the disciples’ failure to stay awake and keep watch, Judas’ betrayal, and Jesus’ arrest.

My thoughts turned inward as we spent the better part of an hour standing, walking, and contemplating how Christians all over the world would be reading those passages about this place on that very day. I could barely grasp the idea that we were standing among the trees that witnessed it all.

Our thoughts spun.

The sun set.

And the gnarly old olive trees became lit from underneath by spot lights.

What a vivid setting it was.

Phillip and I standing and contemplating after sunset

Phillip and I standing and contemplating after sunset

Thoughts on Life’s Next Chapter

6 Apr
By February 19 (now over a month ago — wow!), we had heard from UT Austin regarding Phillip’s acceptance into their Applied Arabic Linguistics PhD Program.  (Go, Phillip!)  On that day, I wrote an email to our families and some close friends.  I’ve taken some excerpts from that message and posted them here.  I think they are important enough to save and store away for later.  If you care to read, these are some thoughts on life’s next chapter for “Stokes after Jordan.”
The  Main Gate of the University of Jordan, Amman.  This is where Phillip will be completing his M.A. in Teaching Arabic to Non-Native Speakers in just a couple of months.

The Main Gate of the University of Jordan, Amman. This is where Phillip will be completing his M.A. in Teaching Arabic to Non-Native Speakers in just a couple of months.

Thoughts Related to Logic & Critical Thinking :)
 
1. Our 2 year investment in Jordan has been & will have been worth it!  Phillip has the option of Arabic PhD as well as the qualifications to teach in a variety of schools, military language-training programs, and adjunct positions at the university level with just his M.A. in Arabic.
 
2. If he turns down UT Austin, it is very unlikely that he will ever be admitted to the PhD program again in the future.  (It’s kind of a “now or never” opportunity.)  So, unfortunately, there’s not the possibility of delaying his enrollment to this program — we had thought it would be nice to spend a year in Georgia after having been gone for 2 years before relocating again.
 
3. Obtaining a PhD (which will take 4-5 years) will only broaden his employability, stability at a job, and salary options.  His career is an important investment to both of us because I’d like to stop working for a while whenever we have children.
 
4. We are considering our current financial situation.  We have some student loans to pay off — and we’ll have to start making payments as soon as Phillip is no longer a student.  We also have a mortgage — which our renters have been helping us pay off.  If we turn down the PhD option, we’d probably (eventually) both be able to find jobs, but life would be a lot more expensive a lot sooner, not to mention our finances would be much tighter over the long haul than if he completes a PhD.  (And not to mention that our income for the past 19 months has been way under poverty line by U.S. standards; hey, that’s life in a 3rd world country!).
 
The University of Texas at Austin.  This is where we are headed next!  Phillip will start the PhD in Applied Arabic Linguistics this fall.

The University of Texas at Austin. This is where we are headed next! Phillip will start the PhD in Applied Arabic Linguistics this fall.

Thoughts Related to My (Rachel’s) Feelings :)
 
5.  Yes, I am sad at the thought of not coming back to Atlanta right away.  We both feel disappointment about that — mostly due to the fact that we have fantastic friendships existing there and that our home is located within an hour or two’s driving distance of family and friends outside the city.
 
6.  I am sad at the thought of not living in our house.  The thought of returning to our house in Atlanta (and being able to do some improvement projects on it — yes, I am my father’s daughter!) is what has gotten me through many of my difficult days here abroad.  While the thought of putting up wallpaper, installing antique light fixtures, and laying down hardwood floors may sound like a silly reason to be sad, there is real grief associated with both #5 and #6.
 
7. Before we ever decided to come to Jordan, we had talked about Atlanta/Georgia being the bull’s eye of our efforts and our “landing spot” where we’d like to be long term, raise a family, and be close to loved ones.  That is still our goal, and I feel hopeful that it will be a real possibility (with a much better financial situation) if Phillip does this degree.
 
8.  A 2.5 hour flight to visit family/friends is much, MUCH better than a flight where, as my Dad pointed out, you wake up 2 days after the initial take off!  haha!  And the cultural transition (while Austin is not a place I have ever been) will be far easier than the one we/I dealt with coming to Jordan.  Initially, I was pulling so hard for Atlanta because it is a place that is completely familiar and comfortable to me, but I hear that they speak English in Austin and that American culture is fairly prevalent there.  :)
 
9.  I feel excited about starting fresh in a new city like Austin — people say the music/art scene is great, restaurants & people are diverse, and the population/traffic are comparable to a city like Charlotte (just under 1 million people) where Phillip grew up.  I did a general scan of potential programs to which I could apply to work/teach a few weeks ago.  And it seems like a place full of opportunity.  While it will take energy to make new relationships, make 15 hour drive with all our stuff, and find a place to settle, we have friends of friends who have already offered to help/advise us should we relocate to Austin this summer.  In any case, I am happy about moving back to the U.S. soon!
  
Wow, maybe that wasn’t a summary after all!  (Phillip’s long-windedness must be rubbing off on me ;)
A few days after writing this message, we got word that Phillip will receive a full tuition-waiver along with a (paid) teaching assistantship that will begin right away this fall.  (Go, again, Phillip!)  I am thankful for our friends’ and families’ prayers and support of us during this whole Middle East stretch!  They are all so dear to us, and we look forward to being in-person with many of them in about 12 weeks.

Petra: The Rose-Colored City

28 Mar

….

Petra!!!! Without a doubt, Petra is the most famous site in Jordan. “What is Petra?” you may ask (Rachel asked!). I’m going to give the short answer, since the long answer could fill a book. Petra is the site of the remains of the ancient capital city of the Nabateans. The Nabateans were an Arab tribe who established a vast network of trade from southern Arabia northward into the area of Damascus. They are mentioned briefly in the Bible (King Aretas – II Cor 11:32), but their influence had been established centuries before, somewhere between the 6th and 4th centuries. Petra, however, wasn’t constructed until much later, sometime in the First Century AD. It become larger, and more populated as the influence and power of the Nabateans grew. That power peaked in the early 2nd Century AD, a power that prompted the Romans to subdue the city, which they finally did in 106AD. The city, however, flourished for another century. It was gradually abandoned, mostly due to the growing influence of cities like Palmyra (north, in Syria). The city was rocked by several natural disasters, including an earthquake in the 4th century. Eventually, it was lost to the West, only to be rediscovered in 1812.

 

 

The layout of Petra is interesting, and lends itself quite well to the visitor experience. When you first arrive, you have to walk about 300 meters or so in order to reach the entrance to the “Siq,” which is a long, naturally occuring canyon. What’s unique, and beautiful, about the Siq is that it is long (over a mile), narrow (sometimes only a few meters wide), and high (between 150-220ft). You can just feel the magnitude of the site as you make your way through. Then, when you think you might keep walking forever, you see it. Any one who has see the 3rd Indiana Jones (and the Last Crusade), will recognize the face of “The Treasury.” In the movie, they all go inside, Indiana faces 3 trials, and finally find the Holy Grail. In reality, it was a tomb cut for one of its kings. It is called the Treasury because those who rediscovered it though it so grand that it must contain treasures. Boy, were they disappointed. There isn’t much inside, it’s actually rather shallow. The architecture, though, is amazing.

The most striking part of the architecture of Petra is the fact that almost everything is carved straight out of the rock face of the mountains. The Treasury is the most famous, but not necessarily the biggest, example. Petra is a Greek word, meaning “Rock,” or “Stone,” and this is not only because of the aforementioned fact that everything is carved from the rock fact. It also has to do with the color and quality of the stone. All of the surrounding areas in southern Jordan are standard yellow stone, with a layer of volcanic rock in many places. But, in this particular area, the rock is rose-colored. Hence, Petra’s nickname is the Rose-Colored city. Rachel thought that all Petra consisted of was the Treasury. She was quite surprised that, in fact, the site continues for almost 6 miles after you reach the Treasury!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we paused for a few minutes to stand in awe of the Treasury, we spotted a few camels taking a little break. The rear camel of the two, let’s call him nibbles, was a bit hungry.

We marched on, Rachel, our friend, Brittany, and I, until we saw the path to go up to the High Place. I (Phillip) had been up to the High Place before, and knew they would enjoy the view, so I prodded us on. It is a hike, alright! One of the ammenities of Petra is the ability to hire a donkey to take you up the narrow path to the top of the mountain. We weren’t brave enough to ride one up, but there were some who risked it. When we finally reached the top, you can still see the stone slab which served as the “High Place” (actually one of many in the area). High Places were ares for the ancient cult where sacrifices were made to the god(s). Rachel wanted to re-enact (see the picture above). God did not provide a Ram, and only my squeels for mercy averted disaster.

It was kinda cold that day. We quickly ate our pre-packed sandwhiches, and descended. On the way down, you can really see the other structures, once again, all carved from the rock face. It’s a magnificent sight. Most of the structures served as tombs, actually, as the Nabateans lived in camps (tents) in the area. There is another beautiful facade (arguably prettier than the Treasury) called the Monastery.

On the way out, we decide to end our 5-hour hike with a camel ride back to the Siq. We negotiated the price down from 20 JD per person (about $30) to 5 JD per person (around $7 dollars). Let’s just say our bargaining skills are much-improved from 7 months ago. After making our way out of the Siq, we boarded the bus for the 4 hour ride back to Amman. It was a great day at Petra!

Aqaba! — part 1

12 Nov

Jordan’s southernmost and only seaport city, Aqaba, is a 4 hour drive south of Amman on the Red Sea — unless you take the cheap bus.  We’ve heard (ah-hem, ah-hem) that it makes frequent stops to allow passengers smoking breaks and may, on occasion, break down in the middle of the desert and add 2 hours to your trip.  But, the Aqaba experience makes up for the miles and miles of sand and volcanic mountains that line the King’s Highway from Amman.  This route, called “The King’s Highway,” is ancient and referenced in Numbers 20:17 and 21:22.  The vastness of the landscape between the two cities harkens Rachel back to a cross-country drive through Nevada once upon a time; only, Jordan’s mountains are a sandy brown instead of a grayish purple.

After completing our second month-long set of English classes, we had a full week off because of Eid Al-aDHa, which means “Eid of the Sacrifice.” This is the “Big Eid,” which falls at the end of the Hajj. Muslims buy sheep and sacrifice them, imitating Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son (though the Qur’anic version has him ready to sacrifice Ishmael). They send the meat to feed the poor. Everyone is off work for the week, and we decided to use the time to visit Aqaba. Aqaba sees a lot of tourism, mainly from Europe, the Arab world, and Asia. We didn’t encounter any other Americans. Aqaba is a fascinating city. The contrast between the desert and the sea is quite striking (as you can see in the pictures). Aqaba is, like most places in this area, ancient and surprisingly rich in historical remains. It has been more or less continuously utilized for thousands of years.

We arrived around 3pm on Saturday, November 5, and once we disembarked the bus, we made our way to our hotel (see the pool picture above, taken from our room). We decided to get something to eat, and then take a walk around the waterfront. We ate at Ali Baba’s and, despite the somewhat cliche sounding name, the food was quite good. Rachel got a spicy grilled fish (with teeth and bones still in place), and I tried the traditional Jordanian dish, Sayadiyah (which is from the Arabic word for ‘fisherman’).

After we ate, we decided to take an introductory walk around, and since we were so close to the water, that’s where we began. The Red Sea isn’t ‘red’ at all, but rather a beatiful combination of several shades of blue, turquoise, and Aqua. Depending on the depth, and the presence or absence of coral, the colors vary between these three. Add to that the mountains of the Sinai peninsula across the bay, it makes for an amazing view. We were so tired from the journey that we retired early so that we’d be fresh for Sunday.

Sunday morning we woke up refreshed and ready for our first full day in Aqaba. Our hotel, Aqaba Gulf Hotel, offered a breakfast bar with lots of good European pastries, Ajeh (Egg omeletes), and a variety of European and Middle Eastern breakfast foods (although Phillip was disappointed that the typical Jordanian breakfast falafel wasn’t offered). After breakfast, we decided to head to the beach for some swimming and snorkeling. We’d been warned, correctly, that the public beaches inside the city would be crowded and full of, shall we say, more conservatively dressed beachgoers who wouldn’t necessarily appreciate the sight of a foreign woman in a bathing suit. We’d also been warned the most of the private beaches would cost 40 or more JD per person.

About that time, we met a smooth-talking Taxi driver named Issam, who insisted on calling Phillip ‘Khalid,’ probably because ‘Phillip’ isn’t easy for Arabs to say/remember. After some wheelin’ and dealin’, we negotiated for a round-trip price of 15JD for him to take us to a beach on the south side of the city, a place the locals call ‘Japanese Gardens.’ We set up on the beach, got out our snorkel equipment (masks and snorkels courtesy of Fred and Deb), and made our way into the beautiful water. The water was chilly, providing a jolt to our bodies (though, for November, it was quite warm).

Snorkeling and diving in the Red Sea is world-famous. People come from all across the world to snorkel and dive in the world’s northernmost Tropical Sea. Rachel and I were hoping to see some great fish, and we were NOT disappointed. One of the unique features of Aqaba’s slice of the beach is that, unlike other parts of the area, you can literally walk into the water about 5 meters and instantly be in an underwater world that appears to be straight out of Finding Nemo. We were quite impressed with the variety of fish we saw, and so close to the shore. We snorkeled for several hours.

Snorkeling, however, can make you quite hungry, and so we decided to cross the road to a hotel/restaurant for some food. We ate out next to the pool at ‘Daarna,’ “Our House,” and soaked in the beautiful view, the sunshine, and the relaxing absence of “city life.” We spent several hours after we finished eating just sitting by the pool and soaking everything up.

Rachel’s favorite coral was the neon green “cabbage coral” which grew few and far between the other gnarly fingery-type ones, but luminated a flourescent green glow beneath the surface of the water.

[continued in “Aqaba! — part 2”]

Arabic!!

1 Sep

I (Phillip) thought it would be fun to write a brief post about studying Arabic here so far.

Some of my current reads

I haven’t begun official study yet (at the University, or at CGE), but I have already had lots of conversational practice.

Linguistically, Arabic exists as a rather broad continuum. It is spoken natively in countries from Mauritania and Morocco in the West, through North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, Libya), North/South Sudan, on into the Middle East proper — Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, The United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. It is also spoken in a number of countries where it is not the dominant language throughout northern Africa and on into Asia. Needless to say, it stretches over a vast geographic area and is spoken by an estimated 250,000,000 native speakers.

Everyone from scholars of Arabic to the native speaker refers to the spoken variety of Arabic as “3aamiyah,” which means something like “having to do with everyone, the public.” Though everyone refers to what they speak as 3aamiyah, the dialects differ substantially depending on the geographic region, as well as a whole host of social and religious factors.

The formal, written variety of Arabic is relatively stable and uniform, and is referred to as “FusHaa,” or “most eloquent.” Arabs tend to refer to everything written, from Newspapers to the Qur’an as “FusHaa,” whereas scholars of Arabic tend to draw a line between CLA (Classical Literary Arabic) and MSA (Modern Standard Arabic). There are certainly subdivisions within these groupings, but as broad categories they are helpful.

More Arabic Books!

The two varieties, FusHaa and 3aamiyah, are two ends on a linguistic continuum, from most formal to least formal. FusHaa tends to be used only in formal writing, news broadcasts, political speeches, etc. 3aamiyah is the language of the household, the marketplace, and dialogue between friends. Before the 19th century, there existed a much larger gap between the two varieties, but thanks to broadened education, as well as Television/Internet, more and more people are exposed to FusHaa, and, for that matter, to each other’s dialects. The resulting situation is incredibly fascinating, and equally complex.

When one goes to the Mosque (or church), one reads the Qur’an the most formally. The text is fully pointed (the Arabic alphabet contains 28 consonants, with two, the w and y functioning as ‘semi-vowels,’ but most vowels are not printed in writing) to ensure correct pronunciation and interpretation. The Qur’an is, according to Muslim belief, the very words of Allah communicated to Muhammad through Jibril (Gabriel). When news reporters or politicians speak, they tend to use FusHaa, but with fewer of the nuanced markings pronounced. Interestingly, speakers in many areas where the dialect is distinct and prestigious, like in Egypt, have begun to allow dialectical pronunciations, word choices, etc. bleed through into formal contexts. In Egypt, for example, the most characteristic phonological distinctiveness of the dialect is the pronunciation of the ‘j’ as a ‘g.’ If you listen to much of the Egyptian news, political speeches, etc., you will hear this throughout. Different words also have slightly different meanings in each region, and this shows through even in their usage in formal contexts (like “MuHeet,” which in Africa means “Sea, Ocean,” but in the Middle East means “Environment”).

At the informal level, again thanks to the internet, television, and also due to frequent travel and refugee situations, inter-dialectic communication is common. The resulting situation is that many native speakers can adjust their 3aamiyah depending on the background of their dialogue partner. I experienced this recently as I spoke with two Jordanians, two Egyptians, and an Iraqi. I heard the Egyptians using “bidd,” the modal used in the Levant for “to want,” instead of their native “3aawiz.” The Iraqi would in turn pronounce his ‘j’ as a ‘g’ to accommodate Egyptian usage. As I learn more and more words from various dialects, I am finding myself more and more able to make adjustments in my speech depending on the person with whom I am speaking!

Some of the phonological differences include:

q in FusHaa becomes ‘ (a glottal stop) in most Levantine city speakers, as well as most speakers from Cairo, whereas it is pronounced ‘g’ by most Bedouin, most people who live in smaller villages, Gulf speakers, and western North Africa. So, the word “Qaal,” “He said,” is pronounced variously as: ‘aal in the cities of the Levant; gaal in rural areas, the Gulf, and western North Africa; sometimes either kaal or qaal in bedouin pronunciation.

‘th’ in FusHaa becomes ‘t’ or ‘s’ depending on the word in 3aamiyah. This is common among most dialects, though many bedouin dialects have maintained the FusHaa pronunciation.

Another interesting case is the letter Daad. In classical tradition, it is pronounced as an emphatic counterpart to daal. In Gulf speech, however, it was analyzed differently, and it merged with Dhad, emphatic lateral counterpart to dhal. A hint at the complex background of this particular letter is detectable in a nickname for Arabic, “lughat al-Daad,” “The Language of the Daad.”

Well, I could write on for hours, but I supposed the one or two of you who managed to stay awake to the end of this post would prefer I stop there. Rachel will be posting again soon, so please don’t let this particular post chase you away from the blog for good!

الى لقاء