Jabberwocky in Arabic.

Sometimes posts come in batches. I had two squirrel posts in a row and three with Latin titles; now comes my third on translations, after Balzac and Cervantes. Via Alex Foreman’s Facebook post (“This is fucking awesome”), Wael Almahdi’s Jabberwocky in Arabic:

This is an Arabic translation of Lewis Caroll’s nonsense poem Jabberwocky. It’s the first translation of this delightfully wacky work into Arabic (at least I think it is.) Arabic is an ideal language for Jabberwocky, it being replete with flowery expressions and fanciful synonyms. The morphological structure of Arabic, with three-consonant roots and fluid vowels, makes inventing words equivalent to the original creations an especially delicious task. The major inspiration for this translation, in addition to Jabberwocky itself, is Al-Asmai’s equally nonsense, much more ancient poem “Safiru Sawtu Al-Bulbuli” (The Bulbul’s Song). Al-Asmai was an important 9th century Arabic scholar and poet, known for his books on subjects as wide-ranging as zoology, natural science, and anecdotes. There is an interesting story behind The Bulbul’s Song: apparently the Abbasid Caliph at the time could memorize poems from one hearing. He also had a slave who could memorize a whole poem from two hearings, and a slave-girl who could do it from three hearings. Whenever a poet came to the Caliph with a new poem, expecting a prize, the Caliph would tell him he’d heard the poem before, recite the poem, and have his slave and slave-girl recite the poem. Al-Asmai, knowing there was intrigue involved, invented a nonsense poem that would stump the Caliph and his slaves. Upon hearing the inimitable poem, the Caliph resumed the time-honored tradition of rewarding creative poets.

Almahdi has columns headed Original English, Arabic Transliterated, and العربية Arabic; I’ll quote the first stanza in transliteration and send you to the link for the rest:

Jarâdhilu l-wâbi dhuhâ
Tadarbahat tadarbuhâ
Mufarfirun tanahnaha
Wa tâ’iru l-burburi fahâ

We discussed Jabberwocky translations in 2003 and 2006; I checked, and sure enough, there were none in Arabic back in those benighted days.


  1. David Eddyshaw says

    No Sanskrit yet? The poem surely lends itself to śloka form …

    Having attempted in vain to track down Selyf Roberts’ translations of the Alice books, I discover that by the miracle of the Intertubes, Siaberwoci, at least, is retrievable:


  2. Worldcat lists more than a dozen Arabic editions of Alice in Wonderland (probably with some duplication), but, oddly, none of Through the Looking-Glass.

  3. @Y: That just means no freestanding translations of the sequel. Usually, when Carroll’s work is published under the title “Alice in Wonderland,” it includes both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. This practice might not be followed with complete uniformity in translated editions, by I expect that some of those translations will contain both volumes.

  4. January First-of-May says

    This 1998 translation listing (perhaps incomplete?) has 58 translations into 29 languages (by the compiler’s count), including Choctaw, Jerriais, Klingon, and even (Selyf Roberts’) Welsh, but indeed no Arabic.

    I could swear I’ve seen a larger compilation of Jabberwocky translations somewhere, but forgot where. It was a while ago.

  5. David Eddyshaw says

    Nice listing.

    The Choctaw Chabbawaaki looks as if it must be the original version to me.

    (Broadwell’s Choctaw Reference Grammar is pretty good, too.)

  6. I’d love to hear this read!

  7. Annette Pickles says

    The noted semi-legendary grammarian, lexicologist and courtier Humbatī al-Dumbatī (whose curious and awkwardly-formed laqab perhaps derives from Persian دنبه dumba ‘sheep’s tail, tail fat, buttocks’, perhaps in reference to his reported corpulence or his habit of sitting on the walls of the Round City of Baghdad) is known to have provided a partial exegesis of this poem. He is reported to have considered the name of al-jabarwaq, the monster in Jarādhilu l-wābi dhuhā, to be of non-Arab (ʿajam), probably Iranian, origin. Indeed, jabarwaq appears to be a folk-etymological alteration of a Middle Iranian *gandarwak, doubtless influenced by Arabic jabbār ‘giant, colossus, tyrant, oppressor’, jabara ‘to force, compel’, and so forth. (For the type, compare Arabic Burāq, the name of the supernatural creature that bore the Prophet on his mystical nighttime journey to Jerusalem and thence to Heaven, probably from a Middle Persian *bārag vel sim., ‘a riding beast, a mount’ (cf. New Persian باره bāra ‘horse’), assimilated to the root of Arabic barq ‘lightning’.)

    This *gandarwak would be a derivative (with the ubiquitous Old Iranian suffix *-ka-, originally diminutive or deprecatory but fading into pleonastic meaninglessness) of the well-known Iranian *gandarwa-, which appears in Zoroastrian tradition as Avestan Gaṇdarəβa (Middle Persian Gandarw/Gandarb), the name of an aquatic monster that lived in the Vourukaṧa Sea and was defeated by the dragonslaying hero Kərəsāspa (MP Karsāsp). The poem Jarādhilu l-wābi dhuhā appears to contain other Iranian material—the name of al-ġanḍaba, another fearsome beast which the hero is advised to avoid (rendered as Bandersnatch by C.L. Dodgson in his 19th-century translation of the poem). Al-ġanḍaba appears to be a doublet of al-jabarwaq from an unsuffixed gandarwa- (cf. Avestan gaṇdarəβa-), perhaps reaching Arabic via an Aramaic *gandarbā ~ gandabbā. Possibly we have to do here with an original Iranian family of monsters, gandarwa- and gandarwaka-, along the lines of Grendel and his mother, or Typhoeus and Echidna and their brood. (Note also that al-ġanḍaba is qualified as muzandiq ‘Manichean, heretic, godless’, which is ultimately from the Middle Persian zandīk, denoting a follower of various beliefs considered heretical by Sasanian orthodox Zoroastrian authorities—perhaps the epithet muzandiq in our poem is meant to still convey a whiff of an imagined abominable pre-Islamic Iran.)

    There’s glory for you! 🥚 🍳

  8. There’s glory for you!

    Very nice indeed! I am proud to have provided a venue for such a brilliant exegesis.

  9. Since الغنضب al-ġanḍab (≈ Bandersnatch) is inspired at least in part by غضب ġaḍiba ‘to be angry, wrathful, furious’ and renders frumious ‘fuming and furious’, I wonder what the author of the translation intended by the epithet muzandiq, which has the form of the active particle of form I of the root zndq, although this root does not appear to be used in form I, only in form II, tazandaqa ‘he became a dissenter, freethinker or atheist’, active participle mutazandiq. (As mentioned in the parody post, the root zndq relates to notions of Manichaeism, dualism, religious dissent, freethinking, and atheism and was extracted from the noun zindīq ‘Manichean, dualist, religious dissenter, heretic, freethinker, atheist’, from Middle Persian zandīk ‘Manichaean, heretic, one having beliefs outside Sasanian Zoroastrian orthodoxy’.) I was trying to find Arabic roots relating to binding or bounding and snatching to make into a portmanteau root *zndq, but I wasn’t successful.

    I wonder if muzandiq is meant to connect with Arabic زندق zandaq ‘very avaricious’ (possibly ultimately a derivation from a dialect pronunciation of صندوق sandūq ‘money box’? or a reference to the debauchery or hypocritical poverty of some early heretical sect?), since in “The Hunting of the Snark”, the Bandersnatch attacks the Banker, who tries to save himself by paying the Bandersnatch off:

    He offered large discount—he offered a cheque
       (Drawn “to bearer”) for seven-pounds-ten:
    But the Bandersnatch merely extended its neck
       And grabbed at the Banker again.

  10. “C.L. Dodgson in his 19th-century translation of the poem)”

    Now when you have pointed it out, it is obvious!
    But where can I find the Tumtum tree?

  11. David Eddyshaw says

    Annette Pickles’ scholarship and erudition are indeed awe-inspiring.

    But where can I find the Tumtum tree?

    The “tumtum” tree derives its name from the Kusaal tʋmtʋm “servant”; the metaphor is obvious, and of course derives from the legendary association of the tree with Sancho Panza, known to the Kusaasi from the Arabic version of Borzuya’s Pahlavi translation of the original Panzatantra.

  12. @David, you may call me a freethinker but it is poetry.
    If it is an embellished (rather than literal) account of the actual events, I am not surprised. Particularly, I tend to think that the first verse is based on more than one source, perhaps a poet adapted an earlier tale to her needs. Otherwise it’s difficult to make sense of it.

    But the Tumtum tree must be real.

  13. David Marjanović says

    The Choctaw Chabbawaaki looks as if it must be the original version to me.


    (With a little intergalactic metathesis.)

    There’s glory for you!

    I sit in awe.

  14. Humbatī al-Dumbatī is unjustly ignored, because of confusion with the execrable Humbatī Humbatī.

  15. Charles Perry says

    I keep waiting for somebody to observe that Sawtu Safiri al-Bulbul has been transliterated wrongly.

  16. Stu Clayton says

    You just did so yourself. The glass is now only half full, however.

  17. But where can I find the Tumtum tree?

    Anywhere from Iran to the west of the Mediterranean basin…

    Arabic has تُمْتُم tumtum ‘sumac’ (specifically the useful species Rhus coraria, it seems). This word doesn’t seem to be very common any longer—although Almahdi could not have used it tel quel in his translation, since it would probably have suggested ‘muttering, mumbling’ or ‘stuttering, stammering’ to modern ears. There is a brief but interesting discussion of the word here in a translation of a glossary of names of medicinal plants by Maimonides, with Maimonides’ original Arabic here.

    Compare Persian تتم tutum (but variously vocalized). Is the Arabic of Persian origin?

  18. Interesting question! But the Persian word is quite obscure (it’s not in either of my biggish Persian dictionaries, though you can see it in the 1684 Gazophylacium linguae Persarum, triplici linguarum clavi italicae, latinae, gallicae, nec non specialibus praeceptis ejusdem linguae reseratum, p. 424); perhaps the borrowing went the other way?

  19. @E Thanks!

  20. I can attest to an appearance of the form “Gandravalk” in the wild, in the computer RPG “The Bard’s Tale II.”

    In the first game, “The Bard’s Tale,” there was a single list of monsters, ordered by difficulty, and eighteen different encounter areas. Each of the encounter areas—the town of Skara Brae by day, Skara Brae by night, and then the sixteen dungeon levels (among five dungeons), in the order that you were intended to complete them—drew from a different part of the list, but there was a lot of overlap. For example, sorcerers didn’t appear outdoors by day, but they did at night, and in the first few levels of the sewers; or vampires appeared in the first four (of five) levels of Mangar’s tower. There were also a number of monsters that were only met as fixed encounters—all the end-game bosses and such. For each monster, there was an image; a few of them (not necessarily for important monsters, even) were unique, but most of the images were shared by multiple monsters (the aforementioned vampires and also vampire lords).

    However, in “The Bard’s Tale II,” there was a completely separate list of monsters for each of the twenty-seven (I think) encounter areas. There were a couple dozen random monster types that were each only found on a single dungeon level, and Brian Fargo and Michael Cranford seem to have really stretched to come with enough names just for them. There were both “Man Mashers” (shown with the image used for most kinds of giants) and “Man-Mashers” (which shared their image with stone golems, among other creatures). Moreover, every single single fixed encounter in the game used one or more completely unique monsters.

    Just as they seemed to be running out of monster names, the amount of creativity that went into some of the later dungeon levels in “The Bard’s Tale II” seemed to flag. The second (of three) levels of the toughest dungeon, The Destiny Stone, was the low point. A map* of the level can be found here,** showing that it basically consisted of one room with four statues and a large, lightless, empty area surrounding it. Each of the four statues comes alive if you inspect it, and killing one of them enables a teleporter to the last level. There had been a clue on the previous level about something being “bronze” which meant of the four statues (blue lizard, pale old man, small yellow dragon, knight with a bronze shield), you are supposed to fight the last one. Each of the monsters is, according to the pattern of the game, unique to that single encounter, and they are named: “Basilisk,” “Deathadren,” “Gandravalk,” and “D’Artagnon.” Three of the four seem like reasonably clear references, although I remember being surprised that the programmers had not, by that point in the game, already used the name “Basilisk.” Basilisks certainly appeared in “The Bard’s Tale,” as had the “Jabberwock,” among its toughest monsters that could be randomly encountered. I don’t know what, if anything, “Deathadren” is a specific reference to though.

    * I mapped*** all these levels myself, of course, on graph paper. My younger brother played “The Bard’s Tale” games also, and at one point, he started bragging about how much better he was at the game than me, since he had leveled his characters to much higher levels. I told him that if he was so good, he could play without the maps that I had made.

    ** It is unfortunate, in the age in which it has become trivial for everyone to create their own Web media, that the classical genre of written video game walkthroughs has largely died off. In the early and middle days of the World-Wide Web,**** video game walkthroughs became available for a huge variety of games. I found this to be a godsend. Often with just a single hint, I was finally able to finish some video games that I had been stuck on since the 1980s. Now, however, point-by-point walkthroughs basically no longer exist. Instead, if you want to know how to do something, you have to try to find the information in a monetized YouTube video—which is infinitely less convenient.

    *** Modern computer RPGs (like “The Bard’s Tale IV,” which I really need to go back and finish) usually have an optional auto-map setting. I almost always turn it on; I figure that I paid my dues back in the old days, mapping out maybe a hundred game levels in all the games I played. I have no doubt that I could make maps for the modern games too; it would increase the challenge, but I’m not sure that element of challenge would increase my satisfaction.

    **** For maybe the first time earlier today, I sent a moderator message to a problem user on the Physics Stack Exchange site. There is a lot of boilerplate that the site supplies for notifying users that they are being suspended. I picked the right parts for the message I needed, but I could not bring myself to send the message with the boilerplate’s “websites”; I had to correct it to “Web sites.”

  21. the Persian word is quite obscure

    Interesting for situating the etymology of Persian tutum and Arabic tumtum ‘sumac’ (Rhus coriaria) is Georgian თუთუბო /tʰutʰubi/ ‘sumac’. An Iranian word in Georgian, or a substrate word common throughout Southwest Asia? In this regard (since sumac fruits are used as a tart condiment and sumac leaves are astringent), we can also note Armenian թթու tʽtʽu [tʰətʰu] ‘sour’. Is this ultimately onomatopoeic, after the sound of spitting out something sour? In his discussion of Armenian tʽtʽu, Adjarian in his etymological dictionary of Armenian also cites (in Armenian letters) Lak թութուլ tʽutʽul ‘bitter’.

    Additionally, among regional Turkish regional dialects, there is Maraș dialect tetini ‘leaf of the sumac tree’ (used as a source of tannin). This resembles the Persian tutum, tutm more than anything else I could find.

  22. My modest contribution, into Hebrew.

  23. @Yuval: After I followed that link, I clicked in the wrong spot and accidentally told Chrome to “translate” the Hebrew, instead of dismissing the pop-up. However, the results were so amusing that I thought I would share them.

    At a time of boiling, the hidden torches
    swayed and shook in the distant lap;
    So rejuvenated were the bergos, and
    the luminaries swelled in the parsnips.

    “Beware of the hailstones, my dear

    A burden is his sword that is tied to his hand;

    And while he stands at the thought of Aptuf,
    the Lahagran, and his eyes are flaming, a battle and a tumult in the depths of a deaf-and-
    white, Above,
    a burying-burying.

    Two-and-a-half! Two-and-a-half! In my mind and in his brain
    a shear and cut a flying sword tended to
    kill the monster, he took his brain and a
    chariot returned in a jubilee and a ghetto.

    “Well, did you stimulate the Lahagran?
    Come, come close to me in my arms, son of Motzkar!
    The excited father groaned and snorted.

    At a time of boiling, the hidden torches
    swayed and shook in the distant lap;
    So rejuvenated were the bergos, and
    the luminaries swelled in the parsnips.

    I’m not usually a big promoter of found art, but this has something going for it. (Gibson’s Count Zero is a disappointing follow up to Neuromancerbut that was probably inevitable; however, the one element that I really liked was that the original Wintermute had become the greatest ever curator of found art.)

  24. That may be the best translation I’ve ever seen. I’m going to have to find situations where I can use “Well, did you stimulate the Lahagran?”

  25. David Eddyshaw says

    Two-and-a-half! Two-and-a-half! In my mind and in his brain
    a shear and cut a flying sword tended to
    kill the monster, he took his brain and a
    chariot returned in a jubilee and a ghetto.

    I think we’ve all been there. It speaks to the human condition. (My only quibble is that the Nietzschean reference is rather unsubtle.) The sword tied to the hand is truly our burden.

  26. I think “So rejuvenated were the bergos” and “The luminaries swelled in the parsnips” would make a nice password/countersign combo.

  27. Yuval, what made you choose dactyls instead of iambs? The meter reminds me of some older 20th century style of Hebrew verse, but I can’t put my finger on it.

    I barely remember another translation (maybe Aharon Amir’s?) “גּוּרָה, בְּנִי, מִן הַפִּטְעוֹן! / מֵחֹד שִׁנּוֹ, חִיל צִפָּרְנוֹ”. There are surely more recent ones.

    It’s funny, now I think about it, that the register of children’s literature, in both English and Hebrew, was often more elevated than that of literature for adults.

    P.S. I now find that the Hebrew Wikipedia entry for Jabberwocky has samples of various translations, including Amir’s.

  28. All those years, I thought that “And hast thou slain…” etc. is said by the Jabberwockicide’s mother, and that he himself chortles “O frabjous day…” etc. It seems everyone else thinks it’s the father who utters everything in that stanza.

  29. Trond Engen says

    From J1M’s link:


    Zinken Hopp (1946)

    Det løystra. Lanke lågmælt sjor
    hang darme frå det tarve lap.
    So stige låg den rumse kor
    i sovepaskens gap.

    «For Dromeparden du deg akt,
    min djerve son! Med ilske klør
    fyk Starefuglen ut på jakt
    i bygdene mot sør.»

    Sitt virpe sverd han spende fast
    um midja som var mjuk og mjas.
    Han kvilde under Burketrast
    og leistene han las.

    Og som han låg i bakkeheld,
    ein Dromepard frå dolme skog
    kom fregande med augeeld
    og spuldra der han drog.

    Fram kongsmenn! Fram med snipedov!
    Det virpe-verje hogg og stakk.
    Han skar det ramse hovud av,
    og galdre-blodet drakk.

    «Min gjæve son som slo i hel
    ein Dromepard frå Råme-land!
    Å, gledesdag! Å, nott so sæl
    då du vart Snjoskens banemann!»

    Det løystra. Lanke lågmælt sjor
    hang darme frå det tarve lap.
    So stige låg den rumse kor
    i sovepaskens gap.


    I didn’t know this, but it’s very good, as I would expect from Zinken Hopp. It’s done so well that even if it follows the original verse by verse and in meter, I’m not sure I’d have recognized Jabberwocky out of context. It’s in conservative Nynorsk, which is surprising to me, but shouldn’t be, She was born in Hardanger, so of course she could do that, and the choice makes much sense, since that’s where the register of long forgotten or long-forgotten-sounding words naturally takes us. Stylistically, she also puts it firmly into late 19th/early 20th century national renaissance and translations of Old Norse poetry. It actually ends up making the poem sound less nonsensical for someone who can’t see the parody through the style and archaisms.

  30. Correction: Yuval’s translation is in anapests, not dactyls.

  31. John Cowan says

    It actually ends up making the poem sound less nonsensical for someone who can’t see the parody through the style and archaisms.

    GT of course can’t see the parody, and what it comes out with is indeed less nonsensical:

    It sounded. Lanke low-pitched sea
    hung intestines from the tarve lap.
    So rise lay the rumbling choir
    in the gap of the sleeping bag.

    «For the Dromepard you are careful,
    my bold son! With angry claws
    fyk Starefuglen out on the hunt
    in the villages to the south. ”

    His buckling sword he fastened
    um waist that was soft and mjas.
    He choked under Burketrast
    and the lads he read.

    And as he lay on the ground,
    ein Dromepard från dolme skog
    came freaking out with augeeld
    and sprawled where he went.

    Until the kings! Forward with snipedov!
    The virpe-verje chopped and stabbed.
    He cut off the head
    and the gall-blood drank

    “My gifted son who was beaten to death
    a Dromepard from Råme-land!
    Oh, happy day! Oh, not so seal
    when you were Snjosken’s pioneer! »

    Or rather it is Lear-ish nonsense rather than Carrollian. Once Humpty Dumpty tells you what the weird vocabulary means, the story of the Jabberwock makes complete sense. This is more like:

    They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
    In a Sieve they went to sea:
    In spite of all their friends could say,
    On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day,
    In a Sieve they went to sea!
    And when the Sieve turned round and round,
    And every one cried, ‘You’ll all be drowned!’
    They called aloud, ‘Our Sieve ain’t big,
    But we don’t care a button! we don’t care a fig!
    In a Sieve we’ll go to sea!’
    Far and few, far and few,
    Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
    Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
    And they went to sea in a Sieve.

  32. Lars Mathiesen says

    Judging by the two Danish translations on that site, there was less proofreading than one would wish. That can’t be helping GT either, if it’s the same for other texts.

    (Things like hejmad for hjemad, though GT seems to take that in its stride, and søs for søn which it doesn’t. Consistent for ø in the other text, even with a footnote that it stands for “o-ring”! — my best guess is that someone was trying to repair some transcoding mishap and conflated o-slash and a-ring).

    These seem to be published translations though I haven’t tracked down the actual books. One of the translators (Arne Herløv Petersen) also translated much of the American science fiction that was published in Denmark when I was a teen and also The Walrus and the Carpenter, the other (Mogens Jermiin Nissen) was a poet and composer who created melodies for a lot of humorous and children’s songs.

  33. Trond Engen says

    I corrected the text myself before posting. At least I caught the “o-ring”, and there’s nothing else that stands out as wrong nonsense.

  34. @Brett: that’s fantastic, thanks! I’ll hold on to it.

    @Y: to tell the truth, when I sat down to do it I just didn’t give a thought to the meter! It was weeks before someone commented about it being “unfaithful” to Carroll’s (unlike Amir’s, with which I wasn’t familiar to that point). I just started by translating some of the nonce words and went with maintaining whatever stress pattern that created.

  35. Trond Engen says

    John C.: Or rather it is Lear-ish nonsense rather than Carrollian. Once Humpty Dumpty tells you what the weird vocabulary means, the story of the Jabberwock makes complete sense.

    No, it’s Carrollian. It’s following Carroll closely using made-up words to tell a story that makes sense. It’s just that the upmadeness is camouflaged behind a pitch perfect pastiche* — of a register that has the reader prepared to guess the meaning of content words from context.

    * The exception is the word dromepard. That’s both too international for the register and too evocative of typical features of real animals.

  36. camelopardalis.

  37. Stu Clayton says


    First seen at the Games, sez Pliny:

    # nabun Aethiopes vocant collo similem equo, pedibus et crucibus bovi, camelo capite, albis maculis rutilum colorem distignuentibus, unde appellata camelopardalis, dictatoris Caesaris circensibus ludis primum visa Romae. # (Plin. 8, 69)

    How amazing that they had typos back then !

  38. David Eddyshaw says

    Scribes ain’t wot they used ter be. Ubi sunt?

  39. perhaps the borrowing went the other way?

    A walk in the hills among the sumac and lunch at a kabob shop recalled Persian tutum ‘sumac’ to me. This word is already in the Persian dictionary Burhān-i Qāṭi’, completed around 1651 (entry in the middle of the page here), and in subsequent Persian dictionaries like the Farhang-i rašīdī. It also figures in the later (1890) edition of Redhouse’s Ottoman dictionary under the Ottomanized spelling طوتم , defined as ‘sumach, rhus cotinus’ (here). And it appears that totim (тотим) is still the usual Uzbek word for ‘sumac’.

    But all this is still very late, much later than the attestations of tumtum ‘sumac’ in Arabic, such as in the medical glossary by Maimonides linked to above and in the Arabic dictionary, al-Qāmūs, of around 1414.

    (My kabob-eating fat finger error above: Georgian თუთუბო should be /tʰutʰubo/.)

  40. Stu Clayton says

    nabun Aethiopes vocant collo similem equo, pedibus et crucibus bovi, camelo capite

    That must have been one of the smaller Giraffidae. The tall ones don’t have a neck like that of a horse.

  41. طوتم
    Why isn’t this Arabic loanword spelled with a ت in the beginning, as in the latter consonant?

    თუთუბო […] /tʰutʰubo/
    What’s the rule for Georgian mapping [t] in borrowed words into თ vs. ტ, /t’/, as in ტელეფონი ‘telephone’?

  42. A. Z. Foreman just posted a Middle English version (“Þe Grendelving”), with commentary.

  43. David Marjanović says

    What’s the rule for Georgian mapping [t] in borrowed words into თ vs. ტ, /t’/, as in ტელეფონი ‘telephone’?

    Aspiration has something to do with it, and in Arabic, too. თ is [tʰ], ტ is a [d̥] with barely audible ejection.

  44. And of course if they’re Georgianzing a Greek word, they automatically assign თ to theta and ტ to tau.

  45. David Marjanović says

    …for that exact historical reason.

  46. But Arabic /t/ is not aspirated, AFAIK.

    Add.: To be exact, one study finds (Classical? Iraqi?) Arabic /t/ to have a VOT of about 30 ms, in both initial and medial positions.

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