Question about Arabic-English transcription
Thread poster: ThorinE

ThorinE  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:55
German to English
+ ...
Mar 22, 2015


My apologies that this post is not in Arabic. I am learning Arabic, actually, and purchased an educational pamphlet that I cannot find many reviews for online. It is called "Arabic - a language map".

Anyway, on the very last page is a category called "Police". The header reads as follows:

Police (il-boo-lees) شرطة

Is there any reason why the word شرطة would be transcribed as "il-boolees"?



Thorin  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:56
English to Arabic
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Foreign words used in Arabic Mar 22, 2015

These are foreign words used in Arabic:

Police: both "el bolees" from "police" and الشرطة "el shorta" are used exchangeably.



arwam  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to Arabic
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Il-boo-lees Mar 22, 2015

Hi Thorin,

The 'police' has different names in many Arab regions and Arabic dialects; and one if them is 'boo-lees', which, as I am sure you have noticed, is a localized pronunciation of 'police'. Another localized pronunciation is 'polisia' (probably from Italian/Spanish), which is used in many Arab Maghrib regions. Other names are 'hokouma', which literally translates to 'government' (in Egypt), 'watan', which literally translates to 'homeland' (in Lebanon) and 'amn', which literally translates to 'security' (in many countries).

As for شرطة, it should be 'shorta'.

I hope that was helpful.

Good luck!


Noura Tawil  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:56
Member (2013)
English to Arabic
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colloquial Egyptian! Mar 22, 2015

Hi Thorin,

It's a mistake. The phonetic transcription should match the written Arabic word in this type of educational material.
so, الشرطة, should be transcribed as (ashshurtah) - the two "sh" are pronounced as an emphasized "sh".

(ilboolees) is the colloquial word for "police" in Egypt.

Note that (boolees) is sometimes used in formal contexts, but in your pamphlet it shouldn't appear for 2 reasons:
1) The written Arabic word here was الشرطة, therefore the transcription must match it.
2) In Modern standard Arabic, البوليس should be written as (al-boolees), not (il-boolees), unless the pamphlet specifically teached colloquial Egyptian.

[Edited at 2015-03-22 22:59 GMT]


French to Arabic
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Dialect Mar 23, 2015

Hi Thorin;
The word (il-boo-lees) is a phonetic transcription of the word police in middle eastern arabic variety. Actually, the MSA word for police is شرطة "shorta".

as Noura said, it shouldn't be transcribed that way. in my opinion it should have been in a section dedicated to arabic varieties where they can add the different variations of an "x" word in different dialects.


Amel Abdullah  Identity Verified
Arabic to English
+ ...
Typo Mar 23, 2015

I agree with Noura that it is most likely a typo. Both words (shorta and bo-lees) are used throughout the Arab world, and the pamphlet's author or editor probably just provided the transcription for the wrong word.


GHANIA Khalifa  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:56
Member (2017)
Arabic to English
+ ...
Arabic transcription Aug 11, 2015

Arabic transcription changes from one place to another for instance in Algeria. We have Arabic language as the Mother tongue. However in many cities a lot of people speak French language very well. This may lead people to mix French words in Arabic. In the word (Police) they pronounce it as (la-boo-lees) Here is influenced by the French language. They call it in Arabic as (Shourta). In the other hand (Policeman) as boo_lissi or shourti. Boo-lissi is originally a French accent which is (Policier) while Shourti is an Arabicشرطي . but the problem here is in (policewomen) in Arabic we add (ta التاء) to change from masculine to feminine so (policewomen) is shourtia شرطية. But in Algeria they add French word of Policeman (boo_lissi) the rule of Arabic so they call (policewomen) as (boo-lissia) بوليسية but the french word of policewomen is policier.
To conclude the Arabic transcription is different from one place to another. Only the academic Arabic normally is the same. So Police is shorta

[Edited at 2015-08-11 14:24 GMT]


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