Monday, June 18, 2007

Siin, Sahd, and Dirty Jokes

Arabic has two letters best transliterated as "s," one called siin and the other called sahd. The main audible difference between them is actually in the successive vowel, since siin comes from the front of the mouth and sahd from the back of the throat. In any case, it's sometimes hard to know which is which when hearing a word and guessing its spelling. One of my classmates will often ask which to use when taking notes, but today her question made the professor stop for a moment.

"That reminds me of a joke," he remarked, then paused.
"Tell it!" Amanda requested
"It's a very dirty joke." Silence.
"If we were boys you would tell it," she retorted.
"Yes." Awkward laughter and more silence.

At least he's honest about it...and perhaps less biased than many. Amanda did bully him into telling the joke, the punchline of which involves a girl's confusion of the two terms "to touch" and "to suck," caused by the fact that the only difference is that one is spelled with siin and the other with sahd. Some days I really wonder about my classes...