Sunday, October 10, 2010

Top ten reasons why the Arabic language is HARD!

1) There are twelve pronouns: I, you (singular male), you (singular female), he, she, we, they (male),
they (female), you two (male), you two (female), they two (male) and they two (female) - I'm not kidding!

2) Every verb, adjective, and direct object must be conjugated to agree with one of these twelve.

3) The plural of most nouns is a completely different word.  You have to guess when this applies.

4) There is no relation to English - ever - thus, a creative mnemonic device is always required (this part can actually be quite fun, albeit, naughty).

5) Every letter in Arabic script changes depending upon whether it's at the beginning, middle or end of the word - and the letters all pretty much look the same anyway (picture a cursive, lower-case "w" with some dots around it).

6) Vowels are left out of Arabic script completely.

7) Arabic dialects are so different from one another that Arabs do not always undersand other Arabs.

8) Egyptian Arabic truncates approximately half of every word and always omits certain letters.

9) There are three H sounds, two S sounds, two D sounds, two T sounds, three TH sounds, two K sounds and Arabs seem to know the differences between them.

10) My personal favorite:  the xayn sound:  This is what my Arabic book says about it (verbatim): "You use the necessary muscles when you gag, and if you put your fingers on your throat and make yourself gag slightly, you'll feel the muscles you'll need to pronounce xayn."  Note: this letter is in almost every word!

I had to draw the line at the self-induced gagging, but I have gotten a bit of a feel for the language.  I can now say about half of what I want to say, and I can be understood most of the time.  However, I don't understand my Egyptian movies AT ALL unless I rewind and re-play the same sentence about twenty times while reading the subtitles in Arabic.  We'll see how this works out for me when it comes to, say, hailing a taxi at a busy intersection...five days to go...stay tuned...

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