Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Arabic: focus on speaking, which means: return to Egyptian

Two weeks ago I wrote that the time has come to begin a more active phase in learning Arabic. I wrote that I would like to put more stress on speaking than on grammar and learning vocabulary. Well, I got a problem. How am I to focus on speaking since I learn Modern Standard Arabic and... no one speaks it! How come? The truth is that MSA is a language of literature and media, including electronic ones, like Al Jazeera or Al Arabiya. But no one uses it in everyday life. What's the use of practicing speaking in it then? Hm, to make an impression on others? ;) But that's not the clue. Since it's all about speaking, it's necessary to decide on a dialect. In my case: Egyptian.

Deciding on a dialect, you need to answer a very important question: what do we learn it for? If we want to go to work in a country where Arabic is used, the choice is simple. If we have a family somewhere there - alike. Worse, if language learning is a hobby, then we have two main options: we choose a dialect which we like the most (no matter how many people and where use it, it's our satisfaction that counts) or the one which is most widely spread and understood.

Most of the forum users and bloggers agree with the opinion that the dialects that are most widely spread are: Egyptian and Levantine (called also: Eastern, used mainly in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, although it is not homogenous either). As I pointed out earlier, I take on Egyptian. It will be easier for me because I was learning it a little. I have lots of materials for learning this particular dialect. It's worth stressing here that I began my adventure with Arabic from Egyptian colloquial, but then I switched to MSA to get the solid "grammatical" base for further studies. I thought then that I would rarely have an occasion to use the language and then it would be better to learn MSA.

That doesn't mean that I quit MSA. I will continue to learn it, but not to such an extent and I won't dedicate so much time to it as before. Without MSA it's impossible to understand what you read in papers and books or even TV news. Therefore I will learn these two simultaneously. I can only hope I won't mix them into an indefined strange pidgin...

This post is available also in Polish

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