Friday

Confusion between the letters "P" and "B"

Just as many speakers of Asian languages have trouble distinguishing "L" and "R", lots of Arabs have difficulty in telling "P" and "B" apart. Since Arabic only has the "B" sound, "P" is unfamiliar to them. This can make for some hilarious mistakes if a native Arabic speaker hasn't quite mastered the nuances of English. Once I was sitting in class and on Mondays the teachers would always ask us what we did over the weekend. This particular teacher spoke and understood English very well, but still had trouble with "P" and "B". He'd say things like "banda bear" and the words "pet", "bet", "bit", and "pit" all sounded alike to him. He'd only be able to tell by context what you meant.

Well anyway, this one Monday he was going around the room and everyone was telling him what we did over the weekend. When he got to me I told him that I had watched the The Bourne Identity. When I said that he started to look a bit uncomfortable. He told me that I should keep things like that to myself. I asked him why and he said, "Porn isn't an appropriate topic for class." After the rest of the students and I explained to him why we were laughing so hard he realized his mistake.

9 comments:

Maya said...

lol, nice :P

Belkacem said...

remember me the joje egyptians made about the last egypt king (britain's puppet with P ). This king was not arab but albanian. He was known to have lot of problem with arabic language. When he spoke to his girlfriend he use to say "ya kalbi" instead of "ya qalbi" , My dog instead of my heart ;)

The Arabic Student said...

@Belkacem lol Yeah, lots of English speakers learning Arabic do that too. They also confuse حرب and هرب.

Chris said...

haha.. I feel sorry for everyone named Paul in an Arab country, because as it is written بول it is the word for urine.

ILuvEire said...

That was really funny! I love to hear about things like this. :)

Yu said...

Hi, I'm a Japanese learning Arabic (having trouble distinguishing L & R).
Once my Egyptian teacher said "What's your jop?" I wondered "jop???" cause I neither English naive speaker, so I was not sure if there's a word "jop" or just he mistook.
For me a poor English speaker, his Arabic is easier than his English :-)

alhameeri said...

Yes it is so difficult for young learner to divide this two letter B and P

confused student said...

he hee heee , me too can't distinguish the pronounciation of these two different letters.

CAN YOU HELP ME?

Oniyih said...

Im convinced that B and P are the same phoneme. But that "b" is the phoneme pronounced upwards, whereas "p" is the phoneme pronounced downwards. similarly, f and v i believe is the same phoneme, just different direction. "v" is upwards, and "f" is downwards.