Foreign Signs in Arabic (Visual Gallery) [Reading Activity]

Arabic Language - Microsoft PowerPoint

Mourad Diouri

Mourad Diouri is teaching fellow and e-learning instructor/developer in Arabic Language Studies at CASAW (Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World) at the University of Edinburgh.

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13 Responses

  1. David Warren says:

    Hi Mourad,

    A very interesting program to be sure, I have a couple of questions:
    – on the slide showing “google” there is a triangle of dots (as in “sheen”) above the letter ‘g’, what is this supposed to denote?
    – again, on a later slide showing road signs (to zagora, mhamid etc.) there is a similar triangle of dots above the letter ‘kef’, why is this?

    I also have a few suggestions as to how this program could be extended:
    -perhaps it could include photos of well-known arab products, more the purpose of brand recognition once we get to middle east, rather than as an aid to beginner’s reading.
    -furtermore, maybe ths program could begin to include “text-message” arabic (i.e arabic using latin script) in some way – maybe there could be shots of people’s blogs/ pictures of mobile phone displays etc. etc.

    As a more general comment, I was interested to note that the Israeli road signs transliterated the Hebrew names of towns into arabic, rather than using said towns’ original Palestinian names.


  2. Rachel says:

    This realia slideshow provides a stimulating and refreshing environment for reading practice. I was able to figure out some of the signs and look forward to trying this again as I learn more letters of the alphabet. It is also really good to test reading in different fonts from the textbook. I’ll look out for more images when we study in the ME during 2009.

  3. Jones.Marc says:

    Kentucky chicken? What about the fried?

    I was rather upset by the transliteration of pizza king into bizza king. What about malik al bizza or malik bizza.

    It’s interesting how you see internet transliterated but often see ‘world wide web’ or ‘the net’ referred to as الشبكة العالمية – (ashhubka al3aalamiya)

    shubka شبكة = net,
    3aalamiy عالمي= worldwide
    note: 3aalamiy عالمي is the adjective formed from the noun 3aalam عالم (world)
    note: 3aalamiya عالمية is simply agreeing with the feminine shubka شبكة

    Other than that this slideshow made me very hungry.

  4. Tom Pember-Finn says:

    I thought these were fun and interesting. It was also somewhat of a surprise to see so many words transliterated directly from English, even when an Arabic translation would have been simple (what would be wrong with burgar malik?). Also the prevalence of actual English script along with the Arabic, as well as forcing Arabic words to recall the original logos (e.g.: Subway).
    I also notice that, in addition to David’s mysterious triangle of dots, there’s also a set in fuutuukuu(p?)ii. Isn’t something similar to this used to construct a ‘p’ sound in Farsi? Is it doing so here? I am also confused! Otherwise, a useful tool for us beginners.

    I think this program also highlights problems in reading handwriting, where everything can get very close together and stylised – the names for example were extremely confusing: so some more practice reading handwriting would be good!

  5. Tom Pember-Finn says:

    Mourad, as requested, a few answers to the Flickr exercise (and some questions too!):
    Pepsi – I assume maaks and diyat on the cans are transliterations? (for Max and Diet)

    Tang orange drink – miiks – a transliteration for mix

    Krispy Kreme – dunaats – I assume they sell donuts?!

    KFC – Chicken Kentucky

    Starbucks Kafee – Café.

    Hotel Miramar – I assume fanihiq is hotel?

    Mobile Phone – Bee Bee See (BBC!) Arabic

    Parliament – Al Barlimaan

    Twinings Tea – I can’t understand the bottom writing, after Shaay (Tea)

    Lipton’s – Tea of the World

    The names – I find incredibly confusing! The first, I think, may be Lolita (although the final letter looks as though it could be a stylised nun, ta, or tha) the second Kir…tine ? It is extremely difficult to tell without the vocalisations, and also the stylised design of both further complicate things.

    T-Shirt: Barnard Ruth?

    I am also looking for some Arabic-letter keys to stick to my keyboard (so I can type Arabic instead of bad transliterations!). Do you know anywhere in the UK where I could get them, the cheapest I can find are around £20!

  6. David
    Few comments about your questions.
    “Pepsi – I assume maaks and diyat on the cans are transliterations? (for Max and Diet)” – That’s correct.
    “Hotel Miramar – I assume fanihiq is hotel?” : The Arabic word for Hotel is Funduq : فندق
    The names :
    First image (Louis)
    Second Image (Kristine)
    Third Image (Bernard Ruth)
    Arabic-letter Keyboard stickers : If you search for (Arabic Keyboard stickers) at or .com, the cheapest you can get is for £2.8
    Hope this clarifies everything
    all the best,

  7. Nicholson.Elin says:

    I enjoyed these pictures; however, because the brand names were so recognisable, I found it quite difficult to try to read the arabic without already knowing what it would say. Perhaps there could be a way in which the logos could be covered up and then revealed after. But a tasty exercise nonetheless!

  8. Henley.Alex says:

    This is great. The most useful thing I find with these is just seeing different forms of Arabic script as it appears on labels/signs. When I got to the Middle East after learning the alphabet I found I still couldn’t read any signs because they were so stylised! It is easy to get too used to textbook lettering.

    One confusing thing is where words are extended, with long lines in the middle – when I first saw this I always read the straight line as “siin”, whereas they are just meant to make words look good.

  9. Dear Alex,
    Thanks for your feedback.
    What you found confusing (extended words) is normal practice in advertising language. An extended letter/word is simply justified or aligned text to the right and left to fit within the line. I used to do it myself in High school!

  10. Macdonald.Alisdair says:

    Interesting stuff! I agree with a lot of the comments that have already been made. Why not translate the ‘king’ in Burger King rather than just writing the English word in Arabic? So the company can keep brand recognition intact, their name sounds the same no matter what language it is written or said in. Similarly, it is very easy to simply recognise the sign without reading the letters – the logos of these multi-national corporations are so widely known that the writing is almost obsolete.

  11. Hine.Sebastien says:

    Very useful, especially for reading unvowelled words/phrases. I particularly enjoyed seeing “Asterix” in arabic. Some of them without the western script on them were still indecipherable to me, which is a shame – these generally being the names say on t-shirts or signs…

  12. j.bradley says:

    Super resource. Really good for contextualizing the work, and reminding us that it’s all rooted in the real wold.

  13. Sara says:

    So I just did this homework assignment and I thought it was really easy to do. Probably one of the easiest assignments we’ll have but yea. For many, I don’t know how well I read the Arabic per say because the signs themselves gave huge hints as to what they meant, but I did understand most all of them. Some I can translate but still have no idea what they mean like the كازوال one. No idea, Kazooal? Shell.. that might be an Arabic translation of shell, but I have no idea.

    Some script was easier to understand than others, if the CocaCola one wasn’t so obvious from the can I would’ve gotten it wrong. I’m not great at reading calligraphy and that was some pretty swirly font. I much prefer the intermediate fonts, the ones that aren’t too swirly and aren’t too harsh. The Ikea one is a great example of harsh font. It looks more like a game of tetris than Arabic.

    The only two that I would really change would be the MacDonald’s and Mac ones. First the MacDonalds, while having an ‘o’ in it, but the ‘o’ is more of an ‘ah’ sounds so maybe change the و out for something else. And the Mac Store one is far too literal. Why not translate the word store into actual Arabic rather than s t o r e…

    Well, that’s my take on the assignment. I really hope this wasn’t supposed to be completely in Arabic, my apologies if so… I can try and fix it if you like, but fair warning, it will be much shorter than this!!


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