Here is a link to the archive of my Tumblr. At the time of writing this, I have 52 posts, but I will probably have more by the time anyone reads this, as I am updating it almost daily. Every post is adorned with tags and commentary.
My first post on the Tumblr was of a graffiti near my house that said “B7IBBIK” which means “I love you” in Arabic.
I tagged the post with the hashtags:
#arabizzi and #arabic because the written language used is what I found significant. Instead of being written in true Arabic, it is written in a modernized Arabic that is often used in chatting online. It is almost a mixture of Arabic and English, hence the name Arabizzi (Arab- for Arabic and -izzi for Englizzi–the Arabic word for English).
The same kind of Arabizzi is found in this Facebook comment that I posted in here.
The man is writing in Arabic through Romanized characters. The most obvious difference is the English name “Bruce” becomes “Brous” in Arabizzi.
These examples of Arabizzi that I described in my Tumblr represent the contact between Arabic and the highly Westernized Internet. Using the Arabic alphabet is often inconvenient as it requires using a special keyboard, and many softwares don’t support the script. This forces Arabic speakers to “make do” with the Latin alphabet that is available to them.
Arabizzi in Beirut Signage
As I focused my attention on my language mapping project that I prepared for the Multilingualism Across Disciplinary Borders 2014 conference (which I am still working on completing), I began to post more original observations of signage in Beirut, focusing on the languages in contact.
In certain areas of the Hamra neighborhood in Beirut, I found a dominance of Arabizzi in signage. This means that Arabizzi is no longer primarily linked to the Internet and mobile technologies, but has become mainstream in its high amount of public presence.
In this post, I share an example of Arabizzi in signage: Shabrou2a.
Other variations were also popular, including the Arabization and Romanization of Arabic or English words.
For example, in this post, I shared the sandwich shop named “Sandwishti.” The Arabic is a transliteration of the Romanized word:
On this old garage door, which I share in this post, “Extra” is written in English and is also transliterated into Arabic.
There is still a lot more to discover about the languages in contact in Beirut. It is a diverse and chaotic city that continues to surprise me even after three years of living here. I suspect I will continue updating my Alice in Beirut Tumblr account for a long time.