Languages and Fun

I’m not very good at learning languages (although I have a fairly good ear for mimicing their sound), but I’ve been spending my tiny amount of leisure time fumbling through some Russian and I hope to devote more time to the topic soon. And Russian…is not easy. On the other hand, my attempts with Arabic were much less rewarding. Here’s a good explanation of why.

Now it’s on to my Rosetta Stone Russian CDs until I fall asleep.

4 Responses to “Languages and Fun”

  1. Anca Bogdana Rusu

    This is great article but there are some common made mistakes in it.

    First of all, Islam does not mean surrender (the word surrender in Arabic has a very different root, that is khd – khudu), it means peace, but in a more profound way, it’s about inner peace, peace with the universe, some sort of serenity. And there is also a quote in the Koran confirming this, I’m not exactly sure what’s the right translation in English, but it sounds something like this: Ohh, you, the believers! All of you enter the peace!(verse 208, paragraph 2) And here the word Islam is used as peace.

    And secondly, indeed there are a lot of Arabic dialects that have certain differences and obviously common people will not speaking the Modern Standard Arabic or the BBC Arabic, as my teacher used to call it. However they all learn it in school and when traveling abroad, in places where a different dialect is spoken — especially if the differences between their dialect and the one in the region they are visiting are significant — they understand each other exactly by using this Modern Standard form. So I personally think it’s a bit farfetched to compare Modern Standard Arabic to Shakespearian English.

    And as a last remark, Arabic is a special language and it’s totally different from any other language that we generally speak. So I think it’s a great opportunity to start everything from zero, because when learning you don’t risk — to take an example – mixing Spanish grammar rules with French ones, they are similar languages, somewhat similar grammatical rules and it can be confusing. So take it like this: learning Arabic is like discovering&exploring a new land, and it has all the advantages and disadvantages America had compared to old Europe.

    Ma’a-ssallama! (or Yalla bye — as young people use to say; funny how English gets a way to influence any language, even Arabic)

  2. Tom G. Palmer

    Ack! I accidentally deleted a comment (while trying to clear out tons of “comment spam” from online gambling sites, etc., etc.) from Aaron Singleton. As I recall, it went, “If you think learning Arabic is hard, you should try Vietnamese or Mandarin.” Sorry, Aaron. I clicked before I had really inspected the list of spam-candidates carefully enough.

  3. Tom G. Palmer

    My thanks to Anca for her explanations! I’m impressed with her knowledge. (She is also a super sharp thinker in other ways.) And also to Nathalie for wishing me “Wakuz Dro Brugka Spazibo!,” which means “Good Luck!” (or “May God Send you a Sturdy Donkey!”) in Molvanian. (She’s one of the few people I know whose Molvanian is near flawless.)