My Experience on Studying Arabic: So Familiar, Yet So Strange

As I’ve been progressing from a very curious beginner to a baby step. I would review the language and how I approach them. Perharps, somebody want to study this language on their 30s like me. I’ve been studying some of the languages which are considered difficult with mixed results. Considering Arabic is one of them, my expectation is actually quiet low.

I thought I’d better learn languages that I can be exposed as much as possible. After English and some rusty passive Japanese, I think I’d take Arabic. The reason is purely because of exposure. Unlike other languages I have passed the struggle of reading and writing Arabic due to religious reason. This is almost similar when I studied English, while I already able to read them with very limited vocabulary since I was in high school, and only in 2007 my spoken English improved due to constant exposure from my co-worker. So I think I’d deep dive this time.

Strange, yet Familiar

Morphology studied in Sarf

Unlike other languages, grammar (nahw) only won’t make it, you’d need to know how the three-letter root can form nouns, adjectives, adverbs, along with their gender and numbers. It needs to be studied in separate subject called sarf. I feel that this is still very difficult, but due to exposure of the language, I can somehow manage to grok it. The feeling is like knowing a person long enough but just managed to talk and chat a little bit intimate today.

It’s not a joke when I heard that studying Arabic is not easy. It’s like studying classical text as the formal language has stopped evolving since centuries ago.

Conjugation (I’rab)

In Arabic language all word need to follow the rules of conjugation. Wrong conjugation, will make the sentence have totally different or opposite meaning. For language nerd who has been experiencing language like Japanese, I think Arabic conjugation is Japanese particle in steroid, you can shuffle the word order as long as the conjugation is correct. Normal word order is verb first for verbal sentence and Arabic is very smart on “hiding” to be through word inflection. No wonder many Arab texts and books that I’ve read rhymes, because all words need to agree to the other words’ conjugation. This agreement is one of the basic of i’rab.

My Arabic Exercises and Notes

So far, I enjoyed the experience. I’m still in snail pace. Still stuck in nominal sentences. I hope I can move to verbal sentence soon.