Saturday, November 15, 2014

Egyptian Arabic - once again. And so it happened...

It was unavoidable... I began to mix up two versions of the Arabic, MSA and Egyptian. Is it a sign that I returned to Egyptian too early? Am I hearing a laughing? Hm, in spite of the warnings that I take to early to the dialect, that I haven't mastered my Arabic yet, wanted to get my way, and I might have made it wrong.

To justify myself I can only add that I am planning a short trip to Egypt, so how wasn't I supposed grab my hands on an Egyptian textbook, so flirtatiously looking at me from the shelf... ;)

So again I stand before an eternal (in my case) dilemma, if I should continue the effort and to study both versions at the same time, or should I rather put off the dialect once more. Since if I put off something, it will be the dialect, because I like MSA more and the level of my knowledge is higher in this case.

Perhpas someone reading this has similar experiences and could share them? Any advice for a bit frustrated learner?

This post is available also in Polish


  1. Hi there. I can't give you much perspective from my own experience, but a friend of mine who learned MSA and went to Egypt twice last year came back from the first trip saying he wished he had learned Egyptian Arabic first. He spent months working very diligently and then went back and claims it was a completely different world.

    I am planning on going to Egypt sometime next year, and I had started working on MSA but his point of view changed mine somewhat and I have redirected my energy towards the Egyptian "dialect". I am literally just starting up, so I am in a different boat than you.

    His point was that when he was there he could communicate with people using his MSA, but he found that most of the time people wanted to respond in their dialect and he had trouble understanding his first time. He said while there he almost never heard anyone speaking it regardless of where they were from. It might be worth noting that his primary goal was to be able to communicate verbally with people when traveling through the country and in keeping touch with them since then via skype and such. He also said he was surprised to find most of the people he met used transliteration when sending texts and e-mails, but he got used to it pretty quickly. All in all, he felt that thanks to his switch from MSA to Egyptian, his second trip was far more rich and fulfilling. He continues to work on them both now.

    Anyway... me personally, I'm choosing to focus on Egyptian and move from there to also learning written Arabic later on once I have developed a solid grasp of the language.

    Good luck to us both!

  2. Thank you for an interesting comment. You are right to focus on Egyptian if you plan to go to Egypt and your aim is to be able to communicate with people. I just returned from my second trip to Egyptian and I am now still more convinced that MSA will not take you far there. Some of them even differentiate between Arabic and Egyptian, saying that they speak Egyptian and you speak Arabic (when you talk to them in MSA).
    As for me I guess that was my last trip to Egypt so I am not so interested in continue learning this particular dialect so I will stick to MSA as it is one of my favorite languages (right after Spanish).
    I wish you luck with your Egyptian Arabic studies! :)