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do you speak the language?

 
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 8921
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2003 4:22 am    Post subject: do you speak the language? Reply with quote

How many of you living in the Middle East speak the language? HOw difficult is it to learn and how did you learn it?
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ohman



Joined: 09 Sep 2003
Posts: 239
Location: B' Um Fouk, Egypt

PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2003 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You could make the case for English being a second not foreign language in the gulf. It will help to learn how to give directions to a cab driver and these pharses: "Grade changes are not an option." (halas)."My car needs to be repaired" (Chevy halas). "My satellite dish is having signal outages" (TV halas). That should do it.

Last edited by ohman on Sat Oct 04, 2003 8:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15855
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2003 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Much depends on where you are in the "Middle East" however one defines it. And then you have the problem of which dialect do you want to learn as they differ widely by country - so unless you plan to stay in the same country, you have that quandary.

I started out in Egypt where you do need some survival Arabic to get along - for taxis, shopping, and dealing with service people. Fortunately since most Arabic TV and movies are made in Egypt, everyone in the Arabic speaking world tends to understand Egyptian Arabic, but they will still be highly amused when you speak it to Arabs outside of Egypt.

Once you go to the Gulf, you actually have little use for Arabic at all because the taxi drivers are mostly Pakistani, so you need Urdu. In the shops and service industry it is mostly Indians and Filipinas, and they all speak English.

Mostly I learned Arabic as it relates to teaching English. I consulted with Arabic speakers to help me understand why students had problems with particular grammar and rhetorical points.

I found that in Egypt, most expat teachers knew quite a bit of Arabic. Once you get to the Gulf, you encounter people that have taught there for 10 or 15 years and still haven't realized that the reason that their student write so many run-on sentences is because that is proper form in Arabic.

VS
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Cleopatra



Joined: 28 Jun 2003
Posts: 3657
Location: Tuamago Archipelago

PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2003 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

InSaudi Arabia, it is perfectly possible - and,for most people, acceptable - to have spent a decade or more in the country and be barely able to say shukran. As VS has said,there is not in fact much everyday need for ex-pats to speak Arabic in the Gulf, but making an effort is appreciated and is essential if you're going to have anything other than the most superficial contact with the culture.
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ohman



Joined: 09 Sep 2003
Posts: 239
Location: B' Um Fouk, Egypt

PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2003 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I forgot these:
"mafi" (I don't have anything smaller than a hundred)
"taffadal" (You first. There's no way I'm turning my back on you)
"min Canada" (I'm not American)
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shebab



Joined: 17 Sep 2003
Posts: 165

PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2003 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speak the language? That's the best way to confuse taxi drivers, who anyway seem to think you are trying to communicate with them in English and respond, "Ma fi ingelisi!"
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nimra_ghalat



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2004 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

People will rarely respond to you in Arabic even if you know the language fairly well, and if they do, they'll use the same bastardized language they use with "the help", a kind of Tarzan Arabic used by speakers from the subcontinent:

"ana ma fi ma'lum" I does not exist known = I don't know.
"ana fi 'anz dha'yi'" I exists lost goat = I have lost a goat. or I am a lost goat.

And so on.

As with all language learning, you will not learn it unless you actually use it for something, and in the Gulf, you will never be addressed in Arabic or get anyone to respond in a meaningful way, but it would be a good place to work on receptive skills like listening or reading. I found the government radio stations to a be a good source of interesting broadcasts, but then again I had already studied the language.
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