Two from bulbul.

Or, more specifically, from his Facebook feed:

1) Sanna: A language written for the first time, a video report by Nikolia Apostolou of BBC Travel. Note that bulbul objects to the tagline:

Aaaagh. No, it’s not a “mix” of Arabic and Aramaic; there are some traces of Aramaic in Sanna (or Cypriot Maronite Arabic, as scholarly literature refers to it), but those have been there since the language was brought to Cyprus from the Levant. Cypriot Maronite Arabic is a variety of Arabic that has been in intensive contact with Greek, much in the same way Maltese is a variety of Arabic that has been in intensive contact with Sicilian and Italian.
Still a cool report, though.

2) 10,000 Arabic books have been digitized to ebooks, by Michael Kozlowski:

The Arabic Collections Online project has just formed and they are making available 10,000 Arabic ebooks across 6,000 subjects for free. […] This mass digitization project aims to feature up to 23,000 volumes from the library collections of NYU and partner institutions. These institutions are contributing published books in all fields—literature, business, science, and more—from their Arabic language collections.

The mission statement behind the ACO aims to digitize, preserve, and provide free open access to a wide variety of Arabic language ebooks in subjects such as literature, philosophy, law, religion, and more. Important Arabic language content is not widely available on the web, and ACO aims to ensure global access to a rich Arabic library collection. Many older Arabic books are out-of-print, in fragile condition, and are otherwise rare materials that are in danger of being lost. ACO will ensure that this content will be saved digitally for future generations.

The ebooks can be read online through any major internet browser and also available by high resolution PDF files. This makes each book available to be read on any e-reader and can be sideloaded from your PC directly to your device.

I approve.


  1. For Sanna or Cypriot Maronite Arabic, Wikipedia has more information on the Latin-based alphabet devised by the Maltese linguist Alexander Borg mentioned in the video. It includes the additional letters δ, ġ, ċ, θ, and ş, but no h or q, though the name of the NGO that endorsed the alphabet, Hki Fi Sanna (“Speak our language”) is spelled with h, presumably for x [x]. One notes the Maltese alphabet influence in the letters ġ and ċ, presumably with their Maltese affricate values, while c is used for [ʕ] as in the Somali latin alphabet. It diverges from Maltese in that j represents [ʒ] while y represents [j].

  2. Trond Engen says

    Here’s one for Bulbul: Or Etienne. Or anyone. My wife and I recently heard a passing family exchange a few lines of dialogue in an unknown language. She asked me what it might be. I first said Maltese, since it sounded like Arabic interspersed with some Italian words. She suggested “Sicilian or Sardinian. What did they speak in The Postman?” After a short thought I agreed that it could be Sardinian, since relaxed colloquial Maltese should contain code-switching with English. But I don’t really know that. Any suggestions?

  3. David Eddyshaw says

    Il Postino was filmed on Procida, so presumably some sort of Neopolitan in that case.

    All together now!

    Jammo, jammo, ‘ncoppa jammo ja’,
    jammo, jammo, ‘ncoppa jammo ja’.
    Funiculí – funiculá, funiculí – funiculá …

  4. Trond: Err, could it have literally been (some variety of) Arabic interspersed with Italian words? After all, there are probably more native speakers of Arabic residing in Italy (the vast majority of whom can be expected to use many Italian loans, if not regularly code-switch if they have lived in Italy long enough) than there are speakers of Maltese.

  5. It could indeed, and I’m ashamed that it didn’t even strike me. I guess it could also be Hebrew with Italian words, if something like that exists.

    Also, my wife reminds me that I mix up two situations. The family speaking “Arabic with Italian words” were sitting at a table near us in a cafe, and they left just after she made me aware of them. The passers-by were a young Slavic couple at the Louvre. Definitely East Slavic, so probably Russian, but I wouldn’t have been able to discern. We play this game often.

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