Friday, November 4, 2011

Arabic – time for a review

I approached the Arabic several times. I love the sound and intonation of the language. Im also passionate about Arab culture. Similarly to other beginners I stumbled on an insoluble problem: to learn MSA, that is Modern Standard Arabic, or a dialect. I browsed a lot of language blogs and forums in search for the right answer and when I decided on a first variant, a further review made me incline toward the other.

Short note for the uninitiated: MSA is an official language used in newspapers, television and radio stations. Its a generally written language, considered grammatically correct, without accretions. However, a dialect is the language spoken in everyday life, in movies and songs. While the MSA is good for watching news at the Al Jazeera or for reading Arabic novels, if you want to communicate while on holiday in Egypt, a dialect is necessary. Be smart
Such being a situation I bought books and audio material both for the MSA and the dialectEgyptian. At least here I had no doubts. This dialect, although its not used outside of Egypt, it becomes more understandable in other countries of the region, due to the high popularity of Egyptian soap operas and pop performers. Besides, Egypt is a country where I would like to travel in the near future.
Because of this indecision between the MSA and the Egyptian dialect first Ive learned MSA for a few weeks, then I switched to Egyptian, then again took to MSA, to return after a few days to Egyptian. At present I stick to this version. In the meantime Ive been learning Arabic letters which against all odds arent that difficult to master. A bigger problem lies in a fact that in Arabic short vowels are generally not written and the letterAlifcan be read asa,ooru. To make it more difficult, in rapid speech its also pronounced ase. A very good book for this: “Teach Yourself Beginner's Arabic Script”.

Lets return to learning, in my phone and mp3 player there are now folders Pimsleur Egyptian Arabic. This language course consists of 30 fifteen-minute lessons. Until this morning Ive gone through five. I wrote more about the Pimsleur Language Programmes in the post about Turkish language course, you can read it here. 
At the same time I study diligently a book Colloquial Arabic of Egypt by Jane Wightwick. The only problem is that the dialogues are given in the transcription, and the Arabic spelling is given in the appendix at the end of the book. This makes it difficult to learn the language well, both in its spoken and written forms. I would like not only to talk and listen, but also to be able to read and write.

November and December will be thus the months dedicated to the Arabic language. I hope that by the end of December Ill manage to finish both the Pimsleur course and the textbook from the Colloquial series. Once I studied part of the material, now I need to do a solid repetition.
I’m also looking for some music, actually songs that I could sing to learn this way some vocabulary. Yesterday, I realized, with regret, that Nile TV, Egyptian TV station, just disappeared somewhere from my satellite. I hope that they didn’t encode its signal, only moved it to another location.
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