Learning Arabic

I've been taking Arabic classes for about 4 weeks now, and I've come to appreciate a few things:

  1. The writing system is nowhere as complex as it looks. Vowels can get shortened, the "ah" sound gets split into both long and short "ا" and "َ", but it's no different than putting accents on English words. Some words follow the same conjugation pattern as Latin and definitely can be quickly picked up.
  2. Typing is a whole new struggle. 汉语 still uses Latin characters to type, but learning the Arabic keyboard is still something I'm floundering through.
    • Sidebar on this: 中文 and عربى support on Fedora 26 is very good, far better than I expected.
  3. Arabic writing is spaced weirdly, completely distinct from 中文 style calligraphy. There are no special zones to follow, and the vast differences in stroke width, strength, and style makes the language a loose feel to it. This enables the words to flow smoothly when speaking (there can never be more than two consonants together, unlike English where you can have bstr from abstract), but makes it difficult to write.
  4. Arabic only has a masculine and feminine form, which was a bit of a curve-ball. The other issue is that Arabic feminine form usually matches up (female descriptions are feminine), but words like مدينة (city) are feminine without real reasoning.
  5. Writing is far harder than I thought. This might be due to me having never mastered cursive in English, but the free-flow nature of Arabic certainly makes it difficult to write properly.
  6. The intonation of Arabic is different. English intonation is generally contextual, whereas Chinese intonation has four relative pitches. Arabic can have a differing pitch for each set of consonants and vowels, such as خباز (baker) being pronounced as ha-baa, where the ha is neutral pitch and baaz is a downwards pitch.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend the language to anyone remotely interested. Arabic combines pitches and grammar in a completely distinct way from English or Chinese, and tickles the mind in a completely new way.

Posted: 2018-04-20
Filed Under: ling