Discussion:
Eight Reasons To Learn Arabic
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David Amicus
2015-10-09 07:41:53 UTC
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One of which is to understand Islam.

http://www.omniglot.com/language/articles/reasonstolearnarabic.htm
Catherine Jefferson
2015-10-10 08:01:10 UTC
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Post by David Amicus
One of which is to understand Islam.
http://www.omniglot.com/language/articles/reasonstolearnarabic.htm
Arabic is rightly one of the six languages the United Nations speaks in
its meetings, and translates everything into. There are all sorts of
reasons to learn to speak and read it. I'd love to read the classical
era Arabic poets. (And those of Al-Andalus.) I regret that I haven't
learned it; I really should have years ago.

With all the other reasons for learning Arabic, though, The Qur'an is
the great unifying factor. It's also by every account I've ever read --
by Muslims and non-Muslims alike who have read it in the oringal
language and can judge -- the greatest book in Arabic. Reading it would
be the #1 reason to learn the language for most people who don't already
speak it, not just Muslims.

Unfortunately, learning to read the Qur'an wouldn't necessarily leave
you able to talk to modern Arabs any more than learning to read the New
Testament in koine Greek left me able to speak with modern Greeks. I
wonder if Arabs would laugh as hard as the Greeks did when I tried
it.... ;)
--
Catherine Jefferson <***@ergosphere.net>
Blog/Personal: http://www.ergosphere.net
Yusuf B Gursey
2015-10-16 21:25:10 UTC
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On Saturday, October 10, 2015 at 10:10:04 AM UTC+3, Catherine Jefferson wro=
Post by Catherine Jefferson
Post by David Amicus
One of which is to understand Islam.
=20
http://www.omniglot.com/language/articles/reasonstolearnarabic.htm
=20
Arabic is rightly one of the six languages the United Nations speaks in
its meetings, and translates everything into. There are all sorts of
reasons to learn to speak and read it. I'd love to read the classical
era Arabic poets. (And those of Al-Andalus.) I regret that I haven't
learned it; I really should have years ago.
=20
With all the other reasons for learning Arabic, though, The Qur'an is
the great unifying factor. It's also by every account I've ever read --
by Muslims and non-Muslims alike who have read it in the oringal
language and can judge -- the greatest book in Arabic. Reading it would
be the #1 reason to learn the language for most people who don't already
speak it, not just Muslims.
=20
Unfortunately, learning to read the Qur'an wouldn't necessarily leave
One normally should learn what is known in the West as Modern Standard Arab=
ic. There are a few minor points of grammar that are different from Qur'ani=
c Arabic, usually differences in the rules of agreement concerning gender a=
nd number, but these minor points can usually be found in the footnotes or =
appendix of a good modern grammar. There is also some semantic evolution of=
some words from the Arabic of the Qur'an to the Standard Arabic of modern =
times, and finally the Qur'an contains some words no longer in use and Mode=
rn Standard Arabic has much vocabulary that reflect the needs of modern lif=
e for obvious reasons not found in the Qur'an. Finally, the Qur'an is not i=
n straighforward prose but has rhyme and the art of rhetoric. =20

Finally, Qur'anic recitation (as opposed to casual reading) is an art form =
involving rythm, cantilation and more restrictive phonetics.
Post by Catherine Jefferson
you able to talk to modern Arabs any more than learning to read the New
Actual talking to Arabs is whole different ball game. Spoken Arabic has evo=
lved considerably in 1400 years. It has lost the case endings, moods of the=
imperfect, the internal passive, the personal markers of the perfect (exce=
pt a few dialects) of Classical Arabic. These are still used in formal medi=
a speech, speeches of politicians, poetry and literature. Colloquial Arabic=
(Neo-Arabic) is used, aside from everyday conversation, in popular music, =
folk poetry, plays, films and TV shows about modern life, low brow talk sho=
ws and such. Neo-Arabic dialects differ from each other in pronounciation, =
some points of grammar, different selections from and different evolutions =
from Classical Arabic vocabulary and different loanwords from different for=
eign languages. If you know Classical Arabic well, you are familiar with at=
least one colloquial, there is not much problem. Arabs from different coun=
tries with minimal education don't have much problem communicating with eac=
h other, they just avoid expressions and vocabulary they know are only loca=
l and replace them with Standard Arabic ones.
Post by Catherine Jefferson
Testament in koine Greek left me able to speak with modern Greeks. I
Arabs consider the whole 1400+ year history (including the language Pre-Isl=
amic Poetry) of Standard Arabic as being part of the same language, Classic=
al Arabic, i.e. Fusha. They don't divide it into Pre-Classical Arabic, Qura=
nic Arabic, Classical Arabic (as defined by the early philologists), Post-C=
lassical or Medieval Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic (as defined by the m=
odern language academies) as do western linguists.
Post by Catherine Jefferson
wonder if Arabs would laugh as hard as the Greeks did when I tried
it.... ;)
=20
Speaking in the style of the Qur'an is just not done, it would like speakin=
g English in the style of Shakspeare, which was not ordinary conversational=
English even in Elizabethan times.=20

Speaking in Standard Arabic with full case endings like a radio anouncer do=
es sound pedantic. The syntax is sufficiently is sufficiently fixed so that=
these usually don't contribute to the understanding of a sentence. Avoidin=
g most case indication is possible if you recite Classical Arabic "in pause=
," as the final case vowels are omitted (unless there is ambiguity) when th=
ere is a pause (as in the end of a sentence). If you pause after each word =
these case endings disappear, and this is deemed permissible even by staunc=
h advocates of the classical language. It is incidentally, the type of spee=
ch that determines the consonantal skeleton of written Arabic. People were =
not very literate when the writing came into being and paused before writin=
g or reading each word, resulting in the spelling conventions we have today=
. Because of this, and because Arabic spelling indicates differnces in pron=
ounciation that affect meaning and not those that are dependent on one's ac=
cent, the differences betweeen Standard and Colloquial Arabic are narrowed =
down considerably when writing in the normal way, that is without indicatin=
g the short vowels and some other features that are found in the case endi=
ngs.

Let me remark that the Qur'an does on occassion make use of the freer word =
order made possible by the presence of case endings. In al-Tawbah Q 9:2 one=
has "God is aloof from the polytheists and (so is) His Messenger." Reading=
it without the case endings, as would happen in Colloquial Arabic, it beco=
mes "God is aloof from the polytheists and His Messenger", which is blasphe=
mous. One could conclude that common people in 7th cent. CE Hijaz understoo=
d and used the case endings.

from the purely linguistic point of view Maltese is essentially a divergent=
Neo-Arabic dialect with many Italian (standard), Sicilian dialect, Spanish=
and English loanwords and written in modified Latin script. However, it ha=
s had no interaction with Classical Arabic for centuries, Maltese people ar=
e not Muslim but all are Christian most are staunch Roman Catholics and hen=
ce no study of the Qur'an and most importantly don't consider themselves Ar=
ab, even to the point of many denying the Arabic origin of their language. =
But even such religious terms such as God: Alla, Christian: Nisrani, pl. Ns=
ara (Classical / Qur'anic naSra:niyy, pl. naSa:ra") and church: knisja (kan=
i:sa(t)).

Maltese is indeed a different language, with a well defined way of what is =
"correct" vs. "wrong". But the Arabic collquials (except for Chadian Arabic=
) are not crystallized so. There is no eductaional or social apparatus that=
will tell you that introducing a Standard Arabic feature into colloquial s=
peech is "wrong" and this is regularly done by Arabs depending on the situa=
tion and one's level of education. So I am uncomfortable with the way Arabi=
c Colloquials are taught in the West, as seperate languages. Unless I have =
some burning desire to integrate into the society of some particular Arab c=
ountry, to deal with completely uneducated and isolated groups (these are b=
ecoming increasingly rare because of the spread of education and modern tel=
ecommunication) or for some (usually nefarious) reason want to hide my iden=
tity as a foreigner why should I bother with trying to reproduce all the de=
tails of dialect as long as I am alterted to certain features of grammar an=
d vocabulary crucial for understanding and be able to figure out the rest u=
sing knowledge of Classical Arabic and a nimble mind. In most circumstances=
I would be able to make myself understood using whatever register I feel c=
omfortable with, so it would be just be a matter of understanding the perso=
n I am dealing with. For example understanding what "y'all" means is useful=
, but I, a foreign born residing in Connecticut, don't feel the need to use=
it when speaking to my Southern friends or when visting a Southern state. =
I also don't want to waste my time having to learn pages and pages of what =
is in essence a simplified Classical Arabic in order to familiarize myself =
with a particular colloquial for practicle ends. Overviews of the modern di=
alects for people who know Classical Arabic in its modern form are sorely l=
acking.=20
Post by Catherine Jefferson
=20
--=20
Blog/Personal: http://www.ergosphere.net
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