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Khadija – Hatice

10 March 2007

When the Dutch politician Khadija Arib (in Arabic script: خديجة أعريب ) was discredited, I wondered where this first name came from. In Wikipedia I learned it was the name of the prophet Muhammad’s first wife, and that the Turkish version of the name is Hatice. The latter seems unlikely at first sight, because Hatice looks so very different, and from an English perspective one would be inclined to pronounce it something like Hattiss.

But when considering the Turkish spelling rules, it soon becomes clearer: the letter c represents the first sound of the English names ‘John’ and ‘George’. In classical Arabic, this is also the sound of the letter jiim (ج). (In more modern varieties of Arabic this may sound as the g in espionage, or in Egypt as the g in great and girl.) So this explains why the letter c represents this Arabic letter ج in Arabic loans in Turkish.

In Turkish, voiced sounds (like d) tend to become voiceless (t), compare the name Mehmet. Apparently this is also the reason why the ‘d’ in Khadija becomes a “t” in Turkish Hatice.

De Arabic kh (خ) has the rough and throaty sound that is written ch in the Dutch and German word lachen and in Scottish ‘loch’. The Turkish language doesn't have such a sound, it only has the much softer, smoother sound h (which Arabic, German, Dutch and English also have). Apparently Turkish uses this h as its best attempt at imitating the Arabic original.

So this is how the Arabic name Khadija could become Hatice in Turkish.


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