I’m starting a new meme. (Is that the proper word–“meme”? ) Occasionally, I will post a passage from book I’m reading that made me smile, for whatever reason. I hope you can join me!
I have been trying to learn Arabic over the past few years. I have found it exceedingly difficult, and very slow-going. I have accepted that I deserve to wear the Arabic Dunce Cap whenever I am in a room with other Arabic learners.
For that reason, this passage in Elaine Rippey Imady’s Road to Damascus made me smile. Imady moved to Damascus in the early 1960s to be with her Syrian husband and family. This is what she said about learning Arabic:
“Without doubt, learning Arab was the hardest thing I have ever done. With Arabic, you face a completely unfamiliar alphabet containing at least eight letters with sounds that don’t exist in English. In addition, you read Arabic from right to left–backwards for any Westerner. Furthermore, every one of the twenty-eight letters is written three different way depending on whether it is the first letter of a word, the last letter or in the middle of the word. Even worse, modern Arabic is written without the teshkeel, that is, without the short vowels and grammatical endings of the words. You must know enough Arabic to supply them yourself.” (72)
Oh, that’s just for starters! Whereas in English, there are two choices for conjugating verbs: either you add an “s” to a root, or you don’t: WALK or WALKS. In Arabic, there are at least 13 different conjugation forms (I think?)
I could go on, but I won’t. My point is, it was nice to have my struggle validated by Imady.
Did any passage in a book make you smile today?