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In 1975, over 4 million people attended the funeral of Um Khaltoum
November 12, 2005 5:53 PM   Subscribe

In 1975, over 4 million people attended the funeral of Um Khaltoum who was the dignified voice of female Arabic music. Flash forward thirty years, and the times, they are a-changin'. Unsurprisingly, some consider Nancy an unsuitable role model. Meanwhile, Arab youth are being asked the crucial question, Coke or Pepsi? (Comments more serious than mine appreciated)
posted by IndigoJones (20 comments total)

 
Yowza!
posted by UseyurBrain at 6:03 PM on November 12, 2005


That's Bebsi for you!
posted by ori at 6:12 PM on November 12, 2005


You can't even compare Oum Kalthoum and Nancy Ajram. It's like gold vs. tinsel.
posted by Liosliath at 6:14 PM on November 12, 2005


No Coke! Pepsi!
posted by Mr T at 6:21 PM on November 12, 2005


Don't the slutty western clothing and makeup make these unveiled young female pop stars whores by the standards of the Islamic world?
posted by longsleeves at 6:37 PM on November 12, 2005


No fries! Chips!
posted by tommasz at 6:51 PM on November 12, 2005


Don't the slutty western clothing and makeup make these unveiled young female pop stars whores by the standards of the Islamic world?

Check out the "Nancy Ajram Culture Wars" page at Abu Aardvark.
posted by halcyon_daze at 7:33 PM on November 12, 2005


Damn, how much makeup, lighting, and photoshop can they apply to one person!?!
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:34 PM on November 12, 2005


Interesting context: Although Coke has better worldwide brand recognition, Pepsi made great inroads in the Arab world because of a boycott of Israel-associated corporations. Many multinationals chose to stay out of Israel and reap the rewards of the broader (but poorer) Arab market; others did not.
posted by dhartung at 8:43 PM on November 12, 2005


.
posted by russilwvong at 9:36 PM on November 12, 2005


I always wondered why her name was spelled the way it was, because it's pronounced "kalsoom". I remember my parents tuning in to radio Baghdad (from Tehran) in the 70's to listen to her amazing voice.

She's also influenced some Western musicians, most notably Robert Plant, who did his best to imitate Kalthoum on Kashmir and his solo album Pictures at Eleven.
posted by Devils Slide at 1:03 AM on November 13, 2005


I always wondered why her name was spelled the way it was, because it's pronounced "kalsoom".

It's pronounced different ways in different places, and representing Arabic in Latin letters is always a tricky business. The part you're wondering about, th versus s, is because the classical Arabic sound th (just like English th in think) has become s (or in some cases t) in most Arabic dialects; as far as I know, the Iraqi dialect is the only one to preserve the sound th. So the only universally applicable spelling is the Arabic one; I'll quote the Wikipedia article:
Umm Kulthum (Arabic: أم كلثوم other English spellings include: Oum Kalsoum, Oum Kalthum, Omm Kolsoum, Umm Kolthoum)

And she was indeed an incredible singer.
posted by languagehat at 6:46 AM on November 13, 2005


Joni Mitchell is way into Kulthum.
posted by digaman at 9:33 AM on November 13, 2005


No Coke... no Pepsi! Mecca Cola!
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:44 AM on November 13, 2005


i'd fatwa it.
posted by Kifer85 at 1:29 PM on November 13, 2005


Moroccans still have the "th" sound - so I'm guessing Algerians and Tunisians do too...
posted by Liosliath at 8:19 PM on November 13, 2005


Thanks for clarifying that, languagehat.

I'm no expert on linguistics, but my mother who does know a lot about the Farsi language says we had the "th" sound in Old Persian, but we've also replaced it with "t" or "s" in Modern Farsi.
posted by Devils Slide at 10:58 PM on November 13, 2005


Your mom is right (moms are always right): the modern Farsi word shāh, for example, is from Old Persian khshāyathiya. That particular sound is quite rare among the world's languages; English, Greek, Burmese, and Castilian Spanish are among the few well-known languages that have it.

Liosliath: What are you basing that on? I've never heard it before, and it's specifically contradicted by, e.g., this page:
Like some other spoken varieties such as Levantine, Moroccan Arabic lost its interdental fricatives th (/th/ as in thin) and th (/th/ as in those) which became /t/, /s/ and /d/, /z/ respectively.
Not saying you're wrong (since I don't actually know the dialect), just asking for more information.
posted by languagehat at 8:43 AM on November 14, 2005


OK, I found an excellent Grammar of Algerian Darja that says:
The Dellys dialect is not very different from the more major Algiers dialect; it is slightly more conservative, though, in that (almost uniquely among old urban dialects) it retains not only qaaf but also thaa and dhaa, whereas in Algiers these become taa and daal.
So it's likely that conservative Moroccan dialects also preserve the dental fricatives. Thanks, I've learned something today!
posted by languagehat at 10:21 AM on November 14, 2005


p.s. -- thanks for the Um Khaltoum link. I've since got two of her albums and have been promptly converted.
posted by ori at 12:55 AM on November 17, 2005


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