Learn to write Arabic!

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Athelwulf, Mar 21, 2007.

  1. Prince_James Plutarch (Mickey's Dog) Registered Senior Member

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    I must say:

    Arabesques are beautiful.
     
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  3. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    Arabic is proving to be much more interesting and amazing than I previously anticipated.

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  5. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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  7. Roman Banned Banned

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    Do you ever smear what you're writing since you write backwards?

    I heard the left to right comes from writing on clay tablets. Right handers would erase what they had just written if they went from right to left.
     
  8. Xerxes asdfghjkl Valued Senior Member

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    The Arab race is left handed. Pffff you didn't know that?
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    You'd have a tough enough time with the consonants. Arabic has a series of glottals, usually transliterated as Q and GH, that is absent in the Indo-European languages. Q is the apostrophe in Cockney wa'er and GH sounds somewhat like urban Brazilian R.

    The Latin alphabet was developed for Latin, which is not a very rich language phonetically. Czech, Romanian and other languages had to add letters with diacritical marks. Swedish and Anglo-Saxon created some new letters. Modern English just sticks with the original 22 Latin letters plus the universal J K U W, and doesn't pretend to be phonetic. French bothers to use diacritical marks and still isn't phonetic. Chinese does a better job with the Roman alphabet than we do and they still have to use diacriticals for tone.
    I thought 'alif was the glottal stop, which is represented by the apostrophe? The same letter and same sound as 'aleph in Classical Hebrew. It's silent in the modern language, after sixty or seventy generations of Jews spoke languages that don't have that sound.
    Normally they're not written at all since vowels are almost completely non-phonemic in the Semitic languages, i.e. you'll never mistake the meaning of a word by seeing only the consonants. In Hebrew they're only written in liturgical material for people whose native language is something else who are struggling to recite it phonetically.
    You can learn to read and write Hebrew or Arabic without having any idea how the words sound since you don't have to know the vowels to understand the words.

    It's not strictly true to say that vowels are not phonemic, since, as you say, they change with grammatical inflection. However, there is always some additional or changed consonant to indicate the new meaning so the vowels remain irrelevant and unnecessary for communication. Your examples illustrate this.
     
  10. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    Whenever I write, my hand is below the line. I think for most people, when they write on notebook paper with a narrow-ish space to write, it makes little difference which direction they write in. I remember smudging my writing when I was in elementary school.

    But I still wonder.

    Here's what I understand from looking out of the book I checked out from the library:

    The name of the letter 'alif written in Arabic with all the marks they omit in everyday text is:

    أَلِف

    It sucks that it's so hard to see, but it should be visible enough. Over the 'alif are two marks. The higher one is a "cutting hamza", which signifies a glottal stop. When a glottal stop is at the start of a word, an 'alif with this hamza is written (or in everyday writing just an 'alif). In this case, 'alif only serves as a seat for the hamza and has no sound of its own. This is why the fatha, the lower diagonal mark, is there to give it the A vowel sound.

    This hamza can also be in the middle or at the end of a word, and will either occur alone or set on top of an 'alif, waaw, or yaa', as determined by a complex set of rules. When these letters serve as seats, they don't have a sound of their own, just like 'alif in the previous example.

    So in short, I suppose "'alif" is just a name, just like how in English we call Y "why" when it never makes a "w" sound.

    In cases where there is no glottal stop, 'alif is a simple A sound. It's written when a word starts with this sound, and when the vowel in the middle or at the end of a word is a long A.

    Here are some examples of all these uses of 'alif, without all the extra marks:

    انت 'anta "you (masc. sing.)" ('alif with omitted hamza and fatha)
    البيت 'al-bayt "the house" (same as above)
    تاج taaj "a crown" (long A)
    الله alllah "God" (A at the start of a word)
    آب aab "August" (long A sound at the start of a word)

    While we're on the subject of glottal stops:
    I think Q is distinct, although very similar. My book says the letter qaaf represents the K sound in English but "spoken from the very back of the throat". It doesn't describe it as a glottal stop. I think that sound is further down the throat.

    Same as with the Arabic in the Koran.

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  11. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    yawm- (one) day. This word is made out of three letters, yâ', wâw and mîm. But as you see in the Latin translitteration, there is a forth letter coming through: 'a'. This is the short a, unlike the long a, as in 'alif above. In Arabic this is the source of frustration for beginners: Short vowels are not written. That is, there is a way of writing the three short vowels, is small curls above or under the letter it follows, but beyond sometimes religious works, and school books, these are omitted.

    The 3 short vowels are: a, u, i. And that's it!
    There is a system to how these vowels are used,- Arabic is a very organised language. For now, just settle with learning the sound of each word. That is the best.

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    ummî- my mother. With this word, you should note the following: The double letters of mîm, are not written each by themselves, they are written as one letter. There is a curl to indicate just this, but at this beginner's level, the same rule applies as for the short vowels: Learn the sound for each word.

    Note that the suffix of a yâ', is the straightforward way of indicating "mine", "my", or "of "me". When putting yâ' at the very end of a word, pronouncing and writing it as one word, you can't go wrong.

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    wathaba- to jump, to leap This is a verb. Note that it really means "he jumped, he leaped", as masculin singular past, is presented as the core form for a verb.

    Arabic verbs are declined stricly according to 1., 2., or 3. person, gender, and singular, dualis (!!!) and plural. But the good news is: Only two tenses: Perfect (past) and Imperfect (now), while Futurum is simply made by adding the prefix "sa-" to the Imperfect form.

    More
     
  12. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    matār- airport.

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    'islām- Islam. One thing here: Note the connection between lâm and 'alif. These two letters have a couple of interesting forms of joining together

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    Hajj- greater pilgrimage. This is the word for the most central religious act in Islam - the pilgrimage to Mecca.
     
  13. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Personal Pronouns

    I - 'anâ
    you (singular, masculin)-'anta
    you (singular, feminin)-'anti
    he, it -huwa
    she, it -hiya
    they (plural, masculin) -hum
    they (plural, feminin) -hunna
    we -naHnu
     
  14. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    Jazakallah Khairan, Saiyyadati min al-Yasmin Ibtasaamaat.
    Now I can start on the poem... More flaming work!

    Sorry Athelwulf - just realised it was YOU started the topic.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2007
  15. Ziazan Banned Banned

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    Thanks for your recommendation.
     
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Dialects sure do differ. I've heard ane for I.

    Such similarity to Hebrew, where "I" is ani and "we" is anakhnu. These people are so obviously brothers. What a shame. They should get along with each other as well as... oh, say, the Swedes and the Norwegians did until not long ago. Or the English and the Germans, the Serbs and the Croats, the Indians and the Pakistanis...

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    Does anyone know if it's easy for a speaker of Arabic to learn Hebrew, or vice versa? I suppose the only place that happens with great frequency is Israel, but it happens there a lot.
     
  17. TruthSeeker Fancy Virtual Reality Monkey Valued Senior Member

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    Completely different writting though...
     
  18. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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  19. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Last edited: Aug 29, 2007
  20. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    I like that, Sam. Jordanian Arabic sounds nice. And I like the accents of the two people they have there to teach you.

    I notice the "a" sound, to me, doesn't sound like the "uh" sound you once described to me and that I learned about Classical Arabic. It sounds more like /a/ rather than /ɐ/ or whatever the vowel is in Classical Arabic.

    EDIT: Wow, what a coincidence. I was making this post to call your attention back to this thread. But you posted before I did.

    EDIT: Now that I listen to it more, I also hear /ɑ/ in some parts. I'm not sure what to think now. I'll have to consult Wikipedia or something.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2007
  21. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    I like this style but I still have difficulty trying to write in English.
     
  22. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Nobody but scholars speak/write classical Arabic anymore.

    And there are regional differences in pronunciation ; however, they are slight enough that you can be understood pretty much by anyone. A few months back, I was stuck at the airport due to flight delays and responded to a call for help by a stewardess for an Arabic-only speaking old lady. I went forward with some hesitation because my Arabic is hardly that fluent, and she was Palestinian (I've never actually heard Palestinian Arabic, so I was uncertain about the similarities/differences). But it was Arabic alright and a good chance for me to practise my diction. In another one of those odd coincidences, I was sitting in the bus ahead of this old lady and her son, and they were trying to figure out directions using a map, speaking in some form of Arabic. I hesitantly turned around and offered to help and (thank God) they understood what I was saying (very badly though it was). So learning any form of Arabic is useful and pretty much helps to put you in good stead in case you decide to go backpacking there.

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  23. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    What regional variety of Arabic is considered neutral? Is one of them usually taught in Arabic classes, or is classical/standard Arabic taught?
     

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