Following on from the previous post on a Revert's Relationship with Arabic, here are some reflections on learning the Arabic Alphabet...
This image pretty much sums up my initial feelings towards Arabic; the letters felt like strange squiggles slipping through my fingers. Although the Arabic alphabet is worlds apart from the Latin one I’m used to, I've begun to find comfort in the logic of Arabic. Once you know the sounds of the alphabet you can read basically anything. You’ll have no idea what it means of course but you can at least sound it out. This is in stark contrast to English as anyone who’s ever attempted to teach English to young children will be aware of the oddity of English pronunciation.
You only need to look at words like ‘tough’ or ‘knight’ or have a quick glance at the photo above to see that English spelling is more like a graveyard, haunted by the ghosts of dearly departed sounds and letters. We don't acknowledge their existence but there they are cryogenically frozen inside a language that’s simply moved on without them!
After studying the way Arabic is written, it came as no surprise that Arabic is the language which gave rise to algebra and geometry. The Arabic script is designed for the letters to flow together depending on whether they’re at the beginning, middle or end (where it ends with a flourish) unlike a lot of English handwriting where the letters seem to be allergic to one another! Take the letter Mim for example (above), the equivalent of the English ‘m,’ which has three forms when written: at the beginning, middle and end.
You can see this using the example of ‘Ta’ which looks like a smiley face. One of my favourite new words in Arabic is ‘tut,’ pronounced ‘toot,’ which means strawberry (below). I like it because it looks like a snail wearing a squiggly cap. It’s a good example of how letters change depending on where they are in the word. Although the sound of both T’s is identical, the‘t’ at the beginning of the word looks completely different to the‘t’ at the end.
Although I may have only learned several letters and have a long way to go to complete the alphabet, it's been incredibly satisfying to have been able to read several words on the Tunisian date boxes in the cupboard and even recognize the handy word 'halal!'
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Have you started to learn a new language?
Have you ever tackled the Arabic alphabet?
Today's link is Learn Arabic with Maha, an Israeli Palestinian living in Italy. I began watching her videos two years ago as a way of improving my Italian and now I'm going through her English videos to learn Arabic properly. She also teaches Hebrew and Italian; and speaks several other languages too. Here are some of her lovely videos including several on culture and food as well as Arabic itself. Enjoy!
Arabic Beginner Lesson #1: My Name Is...
5 reasons that will make you fall in love with Arabic
How to Make Falafel