Saturday, October 18, 2008

More Arabic lessons

My Arabic teacher, who I have described in the past, is extremely kind. She is also, as she herself will admit, a bit disorganized. She carries an oversized handbag and pulls from it pamphlets, photocopies, printed pages from the internet, and builds our lessons a bit randomly. One of the problems for me is that there are serious differences in how Arabic is written when using Latin or Roman alphabet that we use in English. In other words, when using two sources, the same words may be written in quite different ways. I study visually (by looking at vocabulary lists) so her use of eclectic sources poses some difficulties for me. I am studying the same word, written quite differently, in two different sources.
EXAMPLE: small (adjective, plural)
  • suGayyariin (or su3ayyariin), or
  • usayyarin
As a result, I need to learn multiple systems of phonetic notation, which does not seem like a good use of time. However, on the upside of things, this does push me to concentrate on learning the Arabic alphabet a bit more.

There are other ways that the lessons have been a bit haphazard. For example, I haven’t learned how to discuss the weather, which is great way to practice by making small talk with taxi drivers. Also, I don’t know how to tell time, and had the hardest time arranging for a delivery at 6:30 (not knowing how to say “half past”). But my vocabulary does include words:
  • blonde ('aS'ar)
  • brunette ('asmar)
  • plaid (karohaat)
  • fuchsia (fuSiyia): This one got me the most since I already learned pink, as well as light and dark. I don’t think I have ever used the word in any language, and embarrassingly had to be told what it was.
I let my teacher know that this material was a lower priority and she graciously began, at my request, to teach me fruits and vegetables. This material is great since I do go the fruit and vegetable stand and want to know how to ask, specifically, for the local (not imported) bananas that need to be cut from a huge tree branch. Local bananas, which are fresher, sweeter, smaller, and currently in season are moz mahrabi (literally Moroccan bananas) or moz baladi.

No comments: