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I’m Wrong About ‘Nakba.’ The Spelling, Anyway

Israel/Palestine
on 18 Comments

Dan Sisken of Mideast Brief has corrected my spelling of the Arabic word "nakba," referring to the disaster of ’48. I spelled it "naqba."

I think it's important to try to use accurate transliterations of Arabic.
It should be "Nakba" and not "Naqba." Using the Q in this instance follows
a very common Israeli mistake. There is an Arabic letter that is often
transliterated using Q (as in Al-Qahira for Cairo or Al-Qa'ida), but in
the word Nakba, it's a straight "K" that corresponds with the K in English.

Same thing happens in the words Hamas and Hizbullah. Israelis tend to
say "the Khamas" or "the Khizbullah" using a sound like the kh in
German. To be sure, Arabic does have that letter/sound, but that
letter is not used in Hamas or Hizbullah.

It's hard to articulate why I feel strongly about this. Maybe it has
to do with the possibility that using a more alien word or sound
distances the American or western reader from the reality. Or maybe
I'd rather that we use the Arab-informed transliterations instead of
letting Israelis define these terms.


Thanks, Dan.
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