Lebanon 1

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AGE: 60


PLACE OF BIRTH: Batroun, Lebanon

GENDER: male

ETHNICITY: Lebanese (exact ethnicity unknown)

OCCUPATION: He owns a marketing company that deals with the oil industry.

EDUCATION: some college study


At the time of the interview, the subject had lived in Los Angeles, California, in the United States, for 42 years.


As a resident of Los Angeles, California, the subject took courses in English and learned practical English from working various jobs.

The text used in our recordings of scripted speech can be found by clicking here.

RECORDED BY: Jeffrey Martin (under supervision of David Nevell)






Let me, uh, give you a little bit background on the culture, uh, the Middle East culture, in particular Lebanon.  Lebanon is a, it’s a diverse, uh, a, a diverse population, which is half of the population is the Muslim and the half of it, is, uh, the Christian.  And this Christi – and they, and they, the Muslim sect is the also divided, there is also Druze and others like the Christian, there are the Orthodox and the Catholics and everything.  So, uh, Lebanon for a long time was under, after World War Two, was under the, the, was it like under the French supervision, like, um, like, like Germany was, you know, the east and west Germany, you know.  Uh, so, we were, ah, we were under the French and we were kind of, ah, we had the, we had the, we were kinda, ah, we, we got s-some of the, the French culture.  So we were impressed by the French, and uh, they were, they kind of download their culture on us.  I mean, we would speak the French language, well, first language was Arabic, second was French.  Like, you know, when England, which you have, for example, they had Palestine and Israel and, for a long time, and their, their first language was the French, was, uh, was Arabic, and was uh, English, you know?  So we, we’ve got, uh, we’ve got the, the, that French culture kind of impacted the Lebanese, in a way.  Especially the Christian Lebanese.  The Muslim always wanted to be, kind of pro-Arab, and be, be in the other sect of thing.  So that, that for that, that culture that was always as a conflict, a conflict, not only a religious conflict, but it was a political conflict as well.  The Lebanese Christian thought that they were finishing uh, you know, pro-west and the Muslim, were, they thought they were Lebanese, uh, you know, Arab, pro-Arab, OK?  So that always created a conflict and that conflict translated into, uh, wars, too many wars right after that, like, civil wars.  And, uh, that civil war impacted the country with, uh, economically, and, and, uh, socially, and, uh, and on all different levels, and, and, put a lot of stress on the population.  So, what, the area I was grown, I grew in in Lebanon was not really not that bad.  Was like in a transition, we were in between, were in between, but uh, the impact, we felt the impact always, we felt the stress and the pressure.  Uh, culturally?  Culturally, uh, and socially, it was a pretty acceptable place to be, because Lebanon is open, it’s, it’s between the east and, and the west, and it was open to the, to the west because we are a, a center for banking, and all the Arab world use, put their money in.  Also, the, the Western world also pour into Lebanon.  Every deal was made with our political business, everything was made in Lebanon.  So we were uh, were open, were open to all different culture. You walk into the street in Lebanon, you speak different languages, you speak French, English, Spanish, Italian, you know, uh, Swahili, any language, you know?  ‘Cause Lebanese venture, and, and they are, there’s only two, two and a half Lebanese left in Lebanon, sixteen million live outside of Lebanon.  So therefore, I think you have an idea now, that Lebanon is very, uh, highly cultured country.  They’re highly educated people.  Uh, the average household, you gotta find at least uh, three or four college degrees, depending on, on how big the family is, and uh, oh – and lately it became all the way across the board, even Christian and Catholic, both of them, are totally educated.  In the past, in the first era, the sixties, were mainly the Christian, because the French were pro-Christian, and they were helping them, you know?  Uh, this way.

TRANSCRIBED BY: Jeffrey Martin (under supervision of David Nevell)






The subject speaks about the various cultures that have affected Lebanese culture throughout the years, and why this cultural diversity makes Lebanon such a great place to live. Various sound changes found include some heavy French-influenced consonant changes including the devoicing of [z] > [s] at the end of words, changing the approximate retro-flex “bunched r” to the alveolar “tapped r” in the sound change of [ɻ] > [ɾ].  Also, there is prominent use of the [h] > [X] sound change.  Also, there are many instances of changing [ð] to [d] in words beginning with “th” such as “there,” “those,” and “these.” While the sound changes in Lebanese-Arabic are fairly easy to understand, what really define the dialect are the characteristics.  These are five prominent traits you’ll hear if you listen to a Lebanese-Arabic speaker: frontal placement, de-voicing final consonants, emphasis with volume, rounded lip exaggeration (when appropriate) and rapid-fire sentence structure. Many cultures helped influence the Lebanese dialect, which is the interpretation of Arabic spoken in Lebanon.  French is the second-most common language (behind Arabic) spoken in Lebanon, and French culture has had a tremendous impact on some of the sound changes you’ll hear.  However, since Lebanon is such a market country, there are lots of other languages that you’ll hear spoken including (but not limited to): English, Spanish, and Swahili.  These sound changes reflect those cultural influences, especially the French influence on Arabic. Note [ɻ] > [ɾ], the “bunched r” changed to the alveolar “tapped r.” Examples:  for, north, sore, shore, railroad. Also note [h] > [X], the change from glottal fricative to the unvoiced to the uvular fricative. Examples:  hello, highway, how, hummus. Further characteristics of this speech include [ð] > [d], changing the dental fricative to the alveolar plosive, with the examples of there, those, and that; [θ] > [s], putting a devoiced alveolar fricative instead of a dental fricative, with the examples of north, Theremin, therapy, thought, and think; [I] > [ɛ], changing the near-close vowel sound to the open-mid vowel sound, with the examples of conflict, picture, and is; and, finally, [oʊ] > [ɔʊ], making the diphthong slightly more rounded and forward, with the examples of  old, boulder, told, and sold. These simple sound changes are the ones you’ll hear most often.  Of course, it’s easier to say them alone than it is to piece them together in those rapid-fire sentences.

COMMENTARY BY: Jeffrey Martin (under supervision of David Nevell)


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