Notes by Autumn Light

On Hebrew, English, translation, editing, and more—by Jonathan Orr-Stav


Ten simple things every Westerner should know about Arabic


Fed up with repeated mispronunciation of Arabic names and words in Western media, I offer this simple primer of ten things that every Westerner (esp. broadcasters) should know about Arabic names and terms:

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The perils of Ashkenazi pronunciation

Hebrew pronunciation among Diaspora communities is broadly divided between the Ashkenazis (communities originally from Central and Eastern Europe) and everyone else – i.e., Sephardis, the Mesopotamian communities (Iraq, Iran), Yemenites, etc.

The difference lies mainly in the pronunciation of the Hebrew letter tav, and a vowel known as kamatz: in Ashkenazi pronunciation, the tav is pronounced like an /s/, and the kamatz is pronounced /ô/. In other communities, the tav is pronounced /t/† and the kamatz is /ah/, respectively.

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