Goals: learn as much Arabic as possible before the end of the university year (late June), hopefully be able to read a short text by this time.
Be able to converse freely in written form by the end of the year.
Arabic has long held my attention – as I told a friend once, ‘I want to know what these pretty squiggles mean!’ And Google Translate allowed me to understand that a line of ‘pretty squiggles’ I got on my birthday meant Happy Birthday!, and to copy’n’paste a thank you.
Once my Yemeni friend announced she will be giving Arabic lessons, I jumped at the chance.
Before my first lesson, my knowledge of Arabic was limited to the following:
· It looks pretty!
· You write and read from right-to-left
· Yemeni Arabic differs a lot from Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)
· It has that weird deep-in-the-throat sound
· It has these neat word roots like k-t-b or m-t-b or whatnot
***Lesson 1, 6 Jan 2013
Arabic has 28 letters. Several of these are pronounced the same (kha
As if that weren’t bad, to my ears θaa
, as well as ðal
, sound the same. It’s a good thing Sarah knows IPA, otherwise I’d be completely lost – I’ve got 90 dB of hearing loss, and θ
~d sound the same to me.
I learn some pronouns – all personal pronouns begin with A and all pronouns used for somebody not here begin with an H. Not that bad, especially since virtually all demonstratives begin with an H too.
Numbers are neat, but I can’t remember them – except for sefr, khamsa, settah
, since 3 of these are similar to their European cognates.
Sarah shows me a few phrases, but I only know 2: Ahlan
and Al Salam Aleikom
Also, I learn about Al
, which apparently works like ‘the’, and Sarah tells me a lot of Arabic surnames start with Al
. (The thesis is quickly confirmed when I watch a handball match between Poland and Saudi Arabia).
At home, I try to find a way of typing Arabic. I locate an Arabic font and install an Arabic keyboard layout and… and nothing. I press ‘w’ key and I DON’T get waw
. Pissed off, I cancel Arabic keyboard and start some frenzied Googling. 20 mins later – success!
I’ve found Intellark
, which allows me to type in Arabic using Latin layout. I press ‘s’ key and I get seen
, I press ‘s’ twice and I get sheen
Over the weekend, I practice typing. I can reliably type madrasah
, and two personal names I’d already known: Khalid خالد
and Mustafa مصطفيَ
. I misspell Aisha
every single time, before I realize it contains a hamza
and I give up, because I can’t find it in Intellark.
I try typing Sabah alkheir
to Sarah on FB and I misspell it (differently) three times. Also, I realize that I need to copy the alphabet on an A4 sheet, which I do on Wednesday.
I run into Sarah a day earlier and she quizzes me a bit. The only phrase which escaped me was shukran
. She was really impressed – and I haven’t had time to review beyond typing Mustafa
Some words are missing, because the list is very long.
(I cheated and used Google Translate to get some Arabic words, but for others I had to use Intellark from scratch)
The order is IPA pronunciation - Arabic spelling - Meaning.Al ال
helloAl Salam Aleikum السلام عليكم
hiSabah Alxeir صباح الخير
good morningMasaa Alxeir مساء الخير
good eveningShukran شكرا
you’re welcomeKeif haluk كيف حالك؟
how are you?Ana bixeir أنا بخير
I am OKIla Al-leqaa إلًى اللقاء
so longMaa Al-Salamah مع السلامة
you (male)Anti أنتِ
you (female)Nahnu نحن
they (male)Hunna هنَ
they (female)Sefr صفر
this isHaðehi هذه
this is (female)Haula هؤلاء
these areÐalika ذلك
that is (male)Tilka تلك
that is (female)Ila