Q: Why do you use the C to represents the “Sh” sound as in “show” or “sheep”?
A: The reason is that the combination of these 2 letters to represent one sound conflicts with the Lebanese language where you have words that have “s” and “h” or the “c” and “h” sound following each other such as “shirna”, “chur ssine”, “shayl” or “cheb”, which cannot be written as “shirna”, “shhur ssine”, “shayl”, or “chheb”, they simply will be incomprehensible. Therefore, a letter needs to represent one sound in each instance.
Q: Why don’t you use the “ai” combination as in “fair” or “hair” to denote the Lebanese letter “e”?
A: The reason we did not use the English “ai” is to avoid confusing two sounds represented by the same combination. In English, the combination of “ai” could read as ” chair” or “maid”. These are 2 very different sounds, and cannot apply to Lebanese. This deviation from the English nomenclature was necessary. We also did not only have the English language speaker in mind when we developed the system, because, how do you pronounce the” ai” in Spanish, or in French or German?
Q: Why do you need to use ”ee” or “aa”? Some words are memorized despite the inadequate letter significance.
A: That is true. But since we are working on a new alphabet, we are trying to cover the most of our modern speech. We are also developing a “text to speech” software for the Lebanese language, and through testing all these sounds, we have deduced that this is the best way to reproduce certain Lebanese sounds that are otherwise “accepted”. We are trying to modernize the way we record our speech, and make it compatible with new technology as well.
Q: Why did you use the X for the stretching sound, the “Xen”?
A: This is one of the most commented on characteristic of our alphabet. We have originally developed our script to integrate with existing technology, and with western standard hardware and software. What this means, is that you can use the existing western keyboard, in lower case, without any modification whatsoever. The Lebanese specific letter additions, happen only on a caps level, or a shift level, with as minimum disturbance as possible. The X was selected because it is a composite sound, meaning, you could represent it as an “eks”. So, in a way, it is dispensable, therefore, that was the only outstanding item, and a perfect match. Our studies on the other hand, showed that it is very easy to get used to this modification.
Q: Why did you change the commonly agreed on rule for pronouncing the “Gh” and the “Kh”?
A: For two reasons: The first is that we are trying to make the writing and pronunciation of a letter unique. Each letter designates only one sound. The second is what do you do with words such as “Fekha”, meaning fruit, and also the name of a village in Lebanon? The correct way to write such words is “Fekha”, with the “K” pronounced, and the “H” also pronounced.
Q: Why didn’t you create new letters instead of using existing ones?
A: Our system does not really create new letters, but rather uses existing letters, and creates modifications and nomenclatures. There are several letters that are pronounced differently in different languages. For example the letter J is English sounds different than it does in Spanish, or in German.
Q: Why didn’t you use the Arabic Letters to write the Lebanese Language?
A: There are 2 distinct approaches to writing. The Arabic System uses an approach that is typical of most Semitic based languages, and lacks the use of vowels, and relies heavily on accents for exact word pronunciation. In addition, the letter in the Arabic language has many forms depending on where it is located in a word. Arabic letters, although beautiful, are extremely complicated to learn. According to “CADIM: Columbia’s Arabic Dialect Modeling Group”:
The morphological analysis of a word (in Arabic) consists of determining the values of a large number of (partially orthogonal) features, such as basic part-of-speech (i.e., noun, verb, and so on), voice, gender, number, information about the clitics, and so on. For Arabic, this gives us about 333,000 theoretically possible completely specified morphological analyses. In contrast, English morphological tagsets usually have about 50 tags, which cover all morphological variations.
In an attempt to simplify the learning process, we have determined that the “vowel” based system is a much easier system to learn and use.
Developing a modern alphabet faces great challenges. If this alphabet is not flexible enough, it will die. If the alphabet is too complicated, it will not be popular. We have looked at new technology, and we understand the way it functions. Our system is fully compatible with Unicode 5.0, and will be compatible with all versions of Unicode thereafter. This means that there are no more boundaries for implementation or development anymore. Our system could be applied to cell phones, PDA’s, computers, and any form of new technology that will be developed in the future. The reason is that we are using the basic elements of the universal system that governs all new technology, and are not developing our own. When technology advances, our system automatically advances with that new technology, because it is located at its heart.
Our main goal was to develop a comprehensive system that will allow us to write what we speak and properly pronounce what we write. It is our way of reaching out to millions of Lebanese in the diaspora, and to millions more who want to learn the way we speak.
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