Monday, February 8, 2010

You Choose How To Learn Arabic


Who are the "Arabs"? A question seems simple, but not easily answered. There are too many variables and too many different perspective to look at. At best, we can pre-define our term of reference. Let us start by looking at the Wikipedia and type in "Arab". ... to my surprise, this is what it says:

"Arab people (Arabic: عربي‎, ʿarabi) or Arabs (العرب al-ʿarab) are a panethnicity of peoples of various ancestral origins, religious backgrounds and historic identities, whose members, on an individual basis, identify as such on one or more of linguistic,cultural, political, or genealogical grounds.[11] Those self-identifing as Arab, however, rarely do so on its own. Most hold multiple identities, with a more localized prioritizedethnic identity — such as Egyptian, Lebanese, or Palestinian — in addition to furthertribal, village and clan identities"

So, the term "Arab" indicate the cultural and linguistic term, rather than the ancestral origin. It is not a surprise, before the spread of Islam; it was spoken by small groups of people, consisting of various tribes, living in the center and southern part of present Saudi Arabia. The peoples in the north, on the coast of Mediterranean were under the influence of the Byzantine Empire and were using different language. Even those in North Africa were having their own languages.

What is the Arab World?

Arab world is the countries that have Arabic as the official language and the people practice the Arabic culture. It consists of 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The counties are Algeria, Bahrain, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Iran and Turkey are not considered as Arab countries as their Primary language is not Arabic, Iranians speak Farsi and Turkey speaks Turkish.

There are about 300 million Arabs and many more live in other countries such as Brazil, USA and UK.

About the Arabic Language.

Arabic is a Semitic language, related to Hebrew and the Neo-Aramaic languages and probably the oldest surviving language with recorded history.In terms of speakers, Arabic is the largest member of the Semitic language family. It is spoken by more than 280 million people as a first language, mainly in the Middle East and North Africa.

It is also spoken as second languages in countries of sub Sahara region. As it is the language of Quran, Muslims in other countries, such as China and India learn Arabic in their religious school.

Arabic has many different version, geographically-distributed spoken varieties, some of which are mutually unintelligible. Modern Standard Arabic is widely taught in schools, universities, and used in workplaces, government and the media.

The Modern Standard Arabic comes from the original Classical Arabic version, the only surviving member of the Old North Arabian dialect group dating back to the Pre-Islamic Arabic inscriptions back to the 4th century. Classical Arabic has been a religious language of Islam as the quran is written in it.

Is Arabic difficult?

YES - I think it is. I had learned English as my second language and studied Arabic as my third.Some of the opinion that it is

less complicated than Latin, and probably simpler than German. I am not in position to comment as I don not know both of the languages..

If you speak a European language, the root system of Arabic is an unfamiliar concept. Arabic words are constructed from three-letter "roots" which convey a basic idea. For example, k-t-b conveys the idea of writing. Addition of other letters before, between and after the root letters produces many associated words: not only "write" but also "book", "office", "library", and "author".

Learning vocabulary may cause problems at first. In most European languages there are many words which resemble those in English. Arabic has very few, but it becomes easier once you have memorized a few roots.

Arabic has many regional dialects, and if you want to master one of these the only really effective way is to spend a few years in the place of your choice. For general purposes – such as reading or listening to radio - it's best to concentrate on Modern Standard Arabic (numerous courses and textbooks are available). This would also be useful if you're interested in Islam, though you would need some additional religious vocabulary.

There are 28 consonants and three vowels – a, I, u – which can be short or long. Some of the sounds are unique to Arabic and difficult for foreigners to pronounce exactly, though you should be able to make yourself understood.

The normal word order of a sentence is verb/subject/object. The function of nouns in a sentence can also be distinguished by case-endings (marks above the last letter of a word) but these are usually found only in the Qur'an or school textbooks.

Feminine nouns add the suffix …at to form the plural but masculine nouns generally have a "broken" plural which involves changing vowels in the middle of the word: kebab ("book"); cutup("books").

Arabic has very few irregular verbs and does not use "is" or "are" at all in the present tense: "the king good" means "the king is good". Subtle alterations in the basic meaning of a verb are made by adding to the root. These changes follow regular rules, giving ten possible "verb forms" (though in practice only three or four exist for most verbs. The root k-s-r produces:

form I kasara, "he broke"

form II kassara, "he smashed to bits"

form VII inkasara, "it was broken up"

Sometimes these must be used with care: qAtala means "he fought" but qatala means "he killed"

My Learning Experience

I consider it as a difficult language, I am comparing to my experience in larning English. The verbs changes according to the gender, not only that, it also varies according to the number of persons, one, two or three and more.

However, with practices, the problem can be overcomed.

Thank you.


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