What Type Of Arabic Should I Learn – As always, activate the Youtube subtitles option to view Arabic subtitles like this, hope you enjoy this intro!
In this video, I meet Nevein, an Egyptian who works for British Airways. Since she travels a lot to other Arab countries, I thought we might as well talk about this – what the hell
What Type Of Arabic Should I Learn
Questions (maybe I should have prepared them better as I’m trying to come up with good questions on the spot), this video isn’t the best for my current language level, so I’ll make sure you have someone to interview
Which Kind Of Arabic Should I Learn?
Before my time in Egypt is over, so you can hear me speak more, with less procrastination (doing the interview keeps me more focused).
But for now, I prefer to let others do most of the talking, especially when it comes to cultural video updates! I prefer to share
This is probably one of the most common comments I get about learning Arabic, usually from people in Arab countries
Egypt, or from elite academics, who have overlooked the point of my travels in Egypt, has been “You should learn Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)!” Much better than dialects! “
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Now I’m actually using something I’ve spent months preparing, and in this country, I can confirm that learning a dialect is much better than learning an MSA if you’re going to speak the language. (Note that I’m not advocating that Egyptian dialects are better; if I were going to any other country, dialects would be my focus)
(or religiously) then stick with MSA as it’s probably the best option for you.
But if you plan on making friends, shopping and negotiating, traveling, trying to mix and match without rushing, watching a lot of TV like comedies or soaps, or even working some big jobs, you’re going to be crazy. Learn MSA first. Even the locals (most of them) can’t speak it. they do
, but you must significantly and impractically limit your interactions if you want to respond in the MSA.
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Let me say it again, because it bears repeating: Most people in Arabic-speaking countries do not speak Modern Standard Arabic. They don’t speak their dialect.
MSA is for reading, understanding religious texts and following very formal procedures or watching the news. (Though I’ve heard radio news in some dialects).
Biggest misconception, many conversations with locals told me this is not true, even Arabic speaking people don’t use MSA when traveling to other countries.
As you might imagine, the “lingua franca” that is actually used outside of formal settings. Almost all Egyptians I’ve talked to have told me that when they travel in other Arab countries they just speak in their dialect and get by (like Spanish speakers in Italy or Brazil) or try to learn the local dialect.
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I use the word “dialectic” because that’s generally accepted, but I don’t like using the word in this context. It is far removed from the dialects we know in Europe, like the difference between my Irish dialect and other English dialects, or the difference between Rio Portuguese or Colombian Spanish and other dialects.
Dialects that diverged from each other (sometimes containing features of a second language) that occurred within the past 500 years or less.
The only major difference is vocabulary, as MSA introduces new words to fit the modern world. However, judging by its grammar and most commonly used words, it is mainly Arabic that existed 1300 years ago and has been preserved to this day because of its importance in understanding the Qur’an in its original form.
Despite the lack of formal recognition of a “dialect”, despite the fact that Classical Arabic has been taught for centuries, the way people speak has naturally changed. So Latin was officially in use 2000 years ago, which gave rise to Vulgar Latin as we see it today, which itself developed into French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, etc. .
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In fact, when you study MSA and wish to travel in the country, you are doing almost as if you were studying Latin in order to travel in France or Italy.
A typical example is how different the grammar is, such as the use of cases (nominative, accusative, etc.).
In MSA, you add -u to the subject of the sentence, -i if some preposition affects it, etc. (Latin has this grammatical problem too, but Modern Romance almost never does.) So in MSA you always have to consider whether a word is a subject, object, or verb with a preposition, or you say it wrong.
This doesn’t work for Egyptian dialects (and others I’ve heard). In the sentences “the house is there”, “I put it in the house”, or “I like this house”, the house is always “
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Then there are several completely different terms. “How” is “Izzay” in Egyptian Arabic, but is “Kayf” in MSA. “Where” is “Fayn” in Egyptian Arabic, but “eyes” in MSA. Tomorrow is “bokra” in Egyptian Arabic, but “
, differences in the pronunciation of vowels, and the use of certain consonants make them more or less similar to different words.
For French and English, I’ve noticed that young Egyptians (older ones don’t remember you) just say the names of European languages in English (“English”, “French”) and shake a bunch of English words into their sentences middle. You can hear it in the video above; not for my own good, but because I hear young Egyptians talking to each other.
Sometimes I ask them what is the Arabic equivalent of a very English word they wrote down in an Arabic sentence, but they don’t know!
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One of the biggest surprises is that many young people don’t use the Arabic script itself (which looks like any phonetic script, no problem) to represent Egyptian Arabic.
Text messages, emails, and sometimes even informal speeches are written using the same alphabet we use in European languages. Here’s a clip from my friend’s Facebook page of a congratulatory message on his wedding: “Mbroooooook ya 2maaaaaar anbs6lk ya 7lwee anshla shofk mbso6a wytmmlkon 3la 5er”. The numbers you see are used to represent Arabic letters that have no clear English equivalent, but the numbers are shaped like Arabic letters.
The problem is that the Arabic script, while a good fit for Classical and Modern Standard Arabic, is far from being an accurate description of Egyptian Arabic and other “dialects”. Vowel pronunciation changes, and sometimes a word can be pronounced in a classical way, and sometimes in a more Egyptian way. You can show this more effectively in Latin script.
As mentioned in the video, to replace certain sounds that don’t exist in European languages, you’ll see numbers being used heavily. Unfortunately, this is not standardized, so you’ll see it’s different
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Depends on who is writing it. But this wikipedia article gives a good overview of how most people use it.
I hope I’ve emphasized that you’re really dealing with different languages here. They are called dialects and are not officially recognized as true languages, mainly because every country likes to have its own official language.
Anything else is “just the colloquial version, spoken on the street”, which is a really big problem when you consider Egypt’s population of 80 million, most of whom probably don’t speak Modern Standard Arabic (although they certainly do .
There is no point in challenging the status quo (official language is political, religious, and full of lies for other reasons.
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Languages shared by most of the citizens of the country), but as language learners, learning these languages is very difficult due to the lack of official status… (sorry, “dialects”), due to the very lack of useful learning materials for them.
Most language learning materials focus on the MSA. This is for two reasons: First, because it is indeed the “official” language of the country you are visiting (although this status may not help some citizens actually interact with the masses).
Second, because telling people they’re learning a language “spoken by nearly 300 million people,” or “the fifth most native-speaking language in the world,” is good for marketing. These numbers, while reflecting those of the countries where the MSA is officially located, are complete rubbish. Arabic is not an important language because when going out for tea with friends, spending time with family, or ordering food, etc., no one in the hundreds of millions (except perhaps a professor) speaks MSA.
If you’re trying to sell a language learning course, it’s easier to make a course that works for everyone, and go with the flow so you’ll be happy with the course wherever you go. . From a business standpoint, it makes more sense because you’ll sell more copies and the cost of production will be much lower. but i still feel