Hannah and Je together

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Forty Third Day – Bethlehem and Beit Sahour

I study in Bethlehem University in Bethlehem, and I stay in a family house in Beit Sahour.  I walk back and forth everyday.  One way takes about 50 minutes.  Both Bethlehem and Beit Sahour are very small town, and it would be more natural if they are one city.  The house where I stay is located in the other edge of Beit Sahour which made my walking longer, but if I walk from downtown Beit Sahour to downtown Bethlehem, it takes around or less than 30 minutes.  You can imagine how tiny those towns are.

Christians are easily found in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour

Christians are easily found in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour

Because of the close vicinity, there are many similarities in both towns, and they make one economic zone with Beit Zala, which is located on the other side of Bethlehem.

But there are quite many differences between the two towns – much more than I expected.

The both towns have huge amount of Christians.  It is mainly because of the special location.  Bethlehem is the birth place of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of Christian religion.  Beit Sahour is where the shepherd’s fields are – the place where the angels appeared to the shepherds and noticed the birth of the Saviour.  But the Catholic is the majority among Christians in Bethlehem while Greek Orthodox is the majority in Beit Sahour.

They both speak Arabic, but they speak in different ways.  Their pronunciations are different, and words and expressions are also different.  People say that they can tell 100% if a person is from Bethlehem or Beit Sahour when they hear his or her speaking.

For example, kalb is dog and qalib is heart in Bethlehem.  But the pronunciations are opposite in Beit Sahour.  So if Sahouri (people of Beit Sahour) says, “take my heart,” it sounds like “take my dog” in Bethlehemite’s ear, and vice versa.  Even the verb conjugation is different.  For 2nd person masculine singular of the verb “baqol,” one says “btoqil” and the other says “btaqol.”  When they say “I don’t know,” Sahouri says “Ma baraf,” while Bethlehemite says “barafish.”

Because of this language variation, they say that they have different dialect even in those close towns – just thirty minutes of walking distance.  This means there were very few moving between those two towns in the history.  As you may know, it is Bethlehemites who makes fun of Sahouri, not the other way.  If you think about it, it is crazy – people in Hyde Park and in Woodlawn speaks different English.

And they both have very clear identity of their own as Sahouri and as Bethlehemite.  Not to mention that they both have very strong identity as Palestinian.

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