Sana'a Travel Blog› entry 21 of 38 › view all entries
Some of you will remember my impressions of the Arabic language as a true beginner last year. Yes, its is like reading SMS (TXT message) written with beansprouts ... click here for link to the page from last year.
Here are a few cuties:
- In Arabic, when the phone is ringing, you say "the bell of the phone is knocking". Cute! But not as cute as in Chinese ... when we say "I'm going to make a phone call", in Chinese we say "I am going to hit the phone".
- In Arabic, the word for box ("sunduq") and funds are the same ... I suppose one used to keep funds in a box right? Imagine a hold up at a bank ... give me your sunduq ... and the teller hands over an empty box!
- The Arabic word for taxi is "hujrah" .
English speakers shouldn't mock the language ... "mobile" in English can mean phone, drawers with wheels or the amusement over a baby's cot, right?
Here are the less amusing aspects ... in fact the frustrating aspects of the language. The grammar is complex but fluent students say the rules are very consistent and as easy like some European languages ... I would say learn Malay (or Indonesian) instead ... the rules are simple AND consistent ... all the world's language problems would be solved if everyone learnt and spoke Malay instead ;-)
- There are masculine and feminine versions of numbers! You use the masculine version when the object is feminine and vice versa .
This reminds me of the hotels in east coast Malaysia that display the sign "Berkhalwat akan ditangkap" ... my loose translation being "Adulterers will be caught".
- The rules for indicating "posessive" are complex ... it varies by gender, whether singular vs dual vs plural. Somewhat like English's his, her etc but these are effected by way of suffixes which don't resemble the first, second or third person. In Malay we use a simple suffix "-nya".
- Plurals are another headache ... in English we use "s" and in Malay you say the word twice! Again in Arabic it depends on gender, whether singular vs dual vs plural.
Trust me ... there's plenty more. But here's another goodie:
- In some writing styles, number "2" is written slightly different than the normal script ... which is fine ... but then number "3" is then written to like like number "2". Somebody help me please.