Sabahl khair.

Marhaba Sadiiqs

Kifak intuu?

Anna mabsuut.  Eid 3Tlii!

Shuu fii jdiid

Kiif Shughil?

Kiif suha?

3ayltak mniih.

Bhib saf Arabi

Bh-kii shway Arabi.

Yallah, bye.

First of all,  I will apologize to any Arabic speakers who listen to this attempt at Arabic.  My Arabic is coming along…..oh so slowly.  Along with four other ajnabis (foreigners), I am taking a class in Arabic.  We meet each week for 90 minutes.  Fortunately, the teacher does not restrict herself to speaking only in Arabic.  The class is difficult but fun.  We stumble,  almost always give it a try, but frequently  admit, “I don’t know.”  That seems to be ok with Wafa, the instructor.  We are not attempting to learn the Arabic alphabet.  It is purely a class in spoken Arabic to facilitate us using the language while in Lebanon.   Speaking of Lebanon, we are learning the Lebanese style of Arabic, which apparently is quite different from classical Arabic.

Such a pretty alphabet!

One of the hardest aspects of the class is speaking the guttural sounds that are so common in the language.  I am reading a book about the explorer who rediscovered the city of Petra in the early 19th century.  The author quotes a letter he wrote to his parents while exploring the Middle East in which he refers to the language as one that is “not so much spoken as ‘gargled’.”  That is a great description.   These guttural sounds come from deep in the throat and are completely foreign to speakers of Romance languages.  When I first attempted to say good morning to kids in Arabic (Sabahl khair) they could only giggle at my attempt. The guttural sound is represented by /h/.  It takes time to learn how to produce these sounds.  I’m slooooowly getting better.  You may have noticed the “3” in some of the words.  These represent a soft, hardly spoken /h/ sound.  While it is not at all necessary to know Arabic while living in Beirut, it does come in handy on occasion to know a phrase or two.  Unfortunately, I rarely know the phrase I want to use when I need to use it.  But I have a few basics down, such as thank you (shukran), Good Morning (sabahl khair), hello (marhaba), how are you ( kiffik) (female), kiffak(male), and numerous response to kiffak, such as hamdala (thank God), aziim (great), tamaam (perfect), and mniih(fine).  Oh ya, I also know how to say, “I want a beer.”(Baddii beera.)  Rolls right off the tongue!  So, I have given you a few phrases to help you decipher my greeting to you.  Here is the complete translation.  (I think.)

P.S. This is my first attempt at imbedding video.  I hope it is not as choppy for you as it is when I view it here.

Kids at ACS have 80 minutes of Arabic every day.

Good Morning.

Hello Friends.

How are you?

I am very happy.  Eid vacation!

How is work?

How is your health?

My family is fine.

I like Arabic class.

I speak a little Arabic.

Let’s go.  Bye.

Mime seemed to be a safe bet for an Arabic theater performance.

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2 Responses to Arabi

  1. Lauren von K says:

    hi mr. friel,
    we are visiting your blog for the first time!!… finally got the address from mrs strong. we are very excited to look at it, as well as see you! it looks beautiful there!
    we’re having a fun year at OGS, yet we miss you!
    love, zola and magnus (lauren and konstantin too!)

  2. Ben says:

    is that a vermont accent i detect in your arabic?

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