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Labib Mansour 26 Sep 2022

Lebanese Keyboards And Other Figments Of The Phoenician Imagination

Another day, another attempt at creating a separate “Lebanese” language to bolster an already formed identity. This time, it’s an initiative launched by Kelme-Lb to create a completely separate “Lebanese” keyboard for iOS and Android.

As they proudly announced, “keyboard l lebnéne ṣár ƹal AppStore, w ƹa qbél l android!”

The keyboard makers put up a 2,500 euro GoFundMe goal to finance the development of the keyboard that they said is a result of a year of “research, brainstorming and surveying.”

The keyboard includes such innovative letters as a T and S with a dot underneath and a C with a little hat on top. The crown jewel of the keyboard is perhaps the flattened and flipped 3 that acts as the Arabic “ع” sound. We wonder if during their year of laborious research they wondered why so many of their “new” alphabetical inventions had an already-existing Arabic alphabetical equivalent.

The obsession of Phoenician-Lebanese nationalists with creating a language and identity separate from their “barbarian neighbors” has become a meme at this point. In their attempts to forge an Ataturkian path to save us all and enter “modernity” they have failed to realize that no one wants this.

We speak Arabic, a local dialect of Arabic that you can call Lebanese, but it is not a separate language. If some say bonjour and merci and a few Armaic words have slipped in there, that just shows the richness and flexibility of Arabic and our dialect.

Phoenicians, it’s time to come up with a new grift, because we don’t think anyone is buying the idea that adding a few quirky letters to a normal Latin alphabet is worth 2,500 euros.