Letter: Mind your Ps and Bs

In quoting from an Egyptian author, Robert Fisk inserts "(sic)" after "Camilla Barker", inferring that the author has a limited grasp of the Royal situation in Britain. But there is no letter "P" in Arabic, and in translating English words which use this letter, "B" is used instead. If you forget this nuance and make a literal translation back again to English, you do indeed get Camilla Barker, and Bebsi Cola for that matter.

There is an Egyptian joke from the time of the Gulf War. President Mubarak returns from a meeting with President Bush, and his first instruction is that all the doors in Cairo should have "MUBARAK" written on one side. His advisors say that they will start right away, but ask, out of interest, why he wants this done. "Ah", says Mubarak. "In Washington, all the doors have on one side the name of their president".

Paul Horsnell

Lincoln College, Oxford