Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Speak of inferiority complexes…

Hafeth al Marathi: He thpeakth not with a lithp, but with a calculated twitht:

"Unlike most of his compatriots, too, since the mid-1980s he has shed all vestiges of Egyptian self-centredness, an attitude that expects other Arabs to understand Egyptian dialect and appreciate Egyptian nuances of culture even as Egyptians brazenly fail to return the favour, however minimally. Even informally, he speaks a kind of pan-Arab lingua franca in which he has reverted back to the classical "j" sound of his upbringing in Maghagha, in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Minya (in contrast to Cairo and the Delta's "g" sound, famously preserved by anchor Ahmed Said), pronouncing the qaf as often as not; Marazi questions the long established though by now groundless notion of Egyptian cultural and media hegemony; and half-jokingly he describes his marriage to a Tunisian in terms of loyalty to the principles of the station in which his career took off."

Al Jazeera has a written or unwritten rule for its Egyptian anchormen, reporters and guests...Come be a guest on our channel, but first, before you do so, we require only one little thing of you...you must drop all vestiges of your mother tongue; Sell us your soul!

Now I have no problem with Al Jazeera dictating to their staff to speak in a certain way, and I have no problem with "Hafeth al Marathi" choosing personally to speak a certain way...that is his personal choice and I totally respect that. But I do have a problem with him lecturing the Egyptian viewers of his show on how bastardized their Egyptian mother tongue really is, and how they should revert to a "more proper" classical Arabic lingo similar to his own...whatever that is he thinks it is.

Hafeth el Marathi: Speaking like an outdated mechanical reader of the classical text, and substituting the pronounced letter z for the sound th, and the Egyptian pronounciation of the letter g for the softer Syrian pronounciation of the letter j, does not make you more of "a proper" speaker of the Arabic language. Asshole.

If you want to speak a more proper form of Arabic, then why don't you adopt the Saudi dialect instead? Why don't you substitute your softer Syrian pronounciation of j for the heavier Saudi pronunciation of "dJ"? Isn't the Saudi dialect the more proper of the two? And what is a more proper accent anyway? I imagine that there is more than one accent in the Arabian Gulf...which one is it, in your opinion, the more proper Arabic tongue for you to choose?

And the excuses he uses are silly; reverting back to his native Minyan accent, he says. Well good luck to him telling his bosses that he wishes to use the Minyan accent on his show. As for other Arabs not understanding the Egyptian pronounciation of words, and him fixing this by substituting the pronounciation of these two letters in order for them to do so...well I can see exactly how that works; God forbid he introduce himself once on his show as "Hafez el Marazi", instead of "Hafeth al Marathi". His shocked bosses at Al Jazeera would certainly say: "Who is that anchorman on our channel? He looks just like our Hafeth al Marathi...but he most certainly isn't! And what language is that he speaks? We cannot understand!"

Now if you find this funny, here is the ultimate height of the absurd:

When the Alyoub province train wreck happened I flipped through all the satellite channels to gather what had happened, and I settled on the Nile News channel which was the only one covering the event. This is the scene that unfolded in front of me...

For the duration of the hour or so I was watching, the anchorman was speaking in classical Arabic on the phone to the eye witnesses on the scene of the crash, who on their part hardly understood what he was asking, and after almost every question would retort back with: "ehh??" (meaning, "what??"). Every now and then the anchor would forget, and his darned Egyptian accent would slip out of his tongue, but no sooner would he notice this than he would immediately correct it once again.

That would be the equivalent of the anchor on CNN or ABC news asking eyewitnesses in New Orleans standing on the scene of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in old Shakespearian English: "Ummm...And how doth thy tempest tither??" (I'm sure that makes absolutely no sense, but that's exactly the point!)

The Nile News anchor was obviously vying to be eyed and adopted by the bosses of his idol Hafeth Al Marathi, and hoping to be rescued from this wretched country which pays little and cannot pronounce words right.


شهرزاد Shahrazad said...

I'm going to notice the whole accent thing from now on. I had no idea they were adapting their accents to please the gulfies. I just always thought they were prats.

demira said...

I think it all goes back to the very unfortunate Egyptian trait that goes by the name: 3o2dit el khawaga. It actually started looooong before European colonialism. The famous Egyptian self-centered attachment to the land and to custom is almost rivaled by an Egyptian self-hatred that the Nasser generation has fostered and allowed to fester. I feel pity for people like that, though take enough comfort in that no amount of national self-mutilation will take over or obliterate the Egyptian personality and psyche no matter how hard they try. You can take the Egyptian out of Egypt, but you can't take Egypt out of the Egyptian.

Btw, anyone read the article in Sawt el Oumma newspaper about the random killing of Egyptians in Libya?

شهرزاد Shahrazad said...

do you have a link for that article?

Memz said...

hey you cant escape a tag sir!

Anyhow, I have coined (or maybe borrowed) a phrase that really captures my experience this trip to Egypt [Eli maskenha 7aramiyam, we eli 3aysheen fiha 3arbageya, we el mo7trameen malhomsh da3wa bel 2adeya]

Seneferu said...

"...we el mo7trameen malhomsh da3wa bel 2adeya"...very true, sir:)

demira said...

ٍShahrazad- I don't believe Sowt el Omma has a web site. Perhaps Senefru can scan the article here. It was in last Sunday's edition.

Egyptian_Patriot said...

It all spirals down to money, my dear compatriots. Money or rather people responsible for controling your money and income dictate who you are in our beloved region. The man is a typical self righteouss Egyptian journalist sell out. It's true, Al jazeera which slanders Egypt as part of it's philosophy employs hundreds of egyptian sell outs who couldn't be any happier. As long As Egypt depends on foreign bedouin money, our culture and heritage even the way we fucking speak is no longer acceptable. So fuck you 7afith al marathi (yuba), and fuck you Al jazeera. we ra2asni ya gada3.

Seneferu said...

Demira, I haven't seen that article.

Shahrazad,"...I just always thought they were prats." lol.

Egyptian Patriot,

While I agree with you that this seems to be the policy of Al Jazeera and the government of Qatar vis a vis Egypt, triggered by some reason going back to a feud between the two ruling families (they say Mubarak opposed the coup which the emir of Aljazeera led against his father), we should also avoid generalizations because not all countries and peoples of the region are like this.