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؟cibarA kaeps uoy oD

Week 17, Episode 34

The Arabic language is established as oficial in 26 countries from North Africa to Middle East, amongst which Egypt has the biggest population.  However, don't think it is all the same Arabic. And by the way, did you know that oficial language of Malta—Maltese—is actually Arabic dialect?

But let's take it step by step. Although the amount of varieties of Arabic is vast and hard to put in numbers, only one form was declared as official—the so-called Modern Standart Arabic (also written as MSA), or Literary Arabic. This language is understood by the majority of people in the Arab world who in day-to-day life normally use a dialect of their own region: Palestinian Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, Nigerian Arabic, Emirati Arabic, etc., i.e. colloquial Arabic. The third designated variant is Classical Arabic—this of Quran, and there it lives.

If you learn Arabic, it is MSA. But when you actually go to an Arabic speaking country, be prepared to learn some of that country's dialect. Though people will understand you anyway, MSA sounds a bit too formal and kind of funny to locals.

The only variety of modern Arabic to have required official status is Maltese, spoken in Malta. It is the one that is written in Latin—by the way, a change that was several times undertaken in order to convert Arabic script into Latin script, or to romanize the language. 

I guess, it is easy to understand the reasoning behind it, as the failure of the attempts. Rich with history, culture, meanings, and basically cosmic power, Arabic letters made all the way through more than 2 millenia to grant its holders with knowledge and wisdom of centuries. But when you only start learning the language to communicate with others, all you want is a fast and easily acquired skill that preferably in addition to that may be a useful knowledge when learning other languages.

Well, Arabic gives it to you. You may struggle a bit in the beginning trying to wrap your head around the unusually written letters, but when it comes to grammar, the language becomes meek and logical. 

Two types of sentences (noun sentences—starts with a noun, and a verb sentence—starts, yes, with a verb) that consist of three types of words (nouns, verbs, particles) including verbs changing in just three tenses: past, non-past and command. What about the Future tense? It forms by adding a prefix to a Present (or non-past) tense form.

Arabic words change by number: singular (one candy), dual (two candies) and plural (candies, i.e. 3 or more). And all the words are read the way they're written, so no surprises there.

And of course, roots, or stems,—three letters that let you realize what idea a verb holds. Using these roots you modify verbs according to the rules to get the gender, number and tense needed. Like, S-L-M relates to "being safe, secure, protected" (salam), or SH-K-R implies "to thank, to be grateful" (shukran).

See, so logical! Don't buy into the illusion that Arabic is the easiest language to learn, but also keep yourself away from the myth about its complexity.

حظ سعيد (Hadh sah-eed) Good luck!

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