In Victor Maire’s piece about Pinyin in the Language Log the other day, several examples were given of Chinese written with the Latin alphabet, along with the observation that “not using Chinese characters or English is making some kind of statement”.
Here in Saudi it’s the opposite, English words rendered phonetically, sort of, in Arabic. The first word here was easy, “coffee”, and I was even more sure of the intention since I had seen actual tea and coffee exiting from this room. But the second word, might it be “shob” Arabic for “hot”? or maybe something like “shub”, since ﻭ has to stand for both u and o? Neither, explained a white-gowned and red-scarfed dude floating by. The sign says “coffee shop”.
There is probably a statement here as well.