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Madha? Shlon? Eyy? Waysh? Shu?

Reader comment on item: Two Opposing Views of the Islamist Threat

Submitted by Pied Piper (Saudi Arabia), Aug 27, 2016 at 05:22

Thomas Strothotte's suggestion that all German children in elementary and secondary schools should be taught Arabic is typical of the ignorant and head-in-the-sand reactions European nations exhibit as a result of the continuing Islamic onslaught of Europe. No matter how you slice it, and at all levels, the idea is preposterous.

Just the linguistic entanglements alone present formidable problems for such an enterprise. As any student of beginning Arabic quickly learns, the question arises and has to be answered: Which form of Arabic are you going to learn?

The fact is, there is no "one" Arabic". Instead there are about 6 different major dialects each distinctive enough to merit a "course" in itself. Are you going to choose Egyptian? Or Lebanese? Or Moroccan? They are all very different from one another. Then you have the "standard" Arabic which is really the written form found in newspapers and used in radio broadcasts and so forth. This form of Arabic is standardized throughout the Arabic speaking world. But no one actually "speaks" this form on a daily basis - they use their own dialect.

Yes, there is a generalized educated Arabic used by elites to communicate but to become fluent in this form presupposes fluency in a dialect and the "standard" Arabic.

Most Western students are taught the "standard" Arabic (which no one speaks) in college and formal courses on the misguided assumption that they can learn a dialect "later". (In fact, one should really study both forms together.....a dialect and the standard). Six months into the program and students realize they can't order a cup of coffee in an Arab café anywhere. For this reason, drop-out rates in Arabic courses are severe.....classes of 25 students typically end up with 3 or 4 students by the time final exams roll around.

Thomas Strothotte's macabre idea for teaching Arabic to German children will end in total disaster. Another pie-in-the-sky proposition with no basis in reality proposed by someone who hasn't the foggiest notion what he's talking about.

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Colloquial Arabic terms (there are others) for the question word "What?" in some dialects:

Madha? (written standard which no one actually uses in everyday spoken Arabic).....

Shlon? (spoken Gulf/Iraqi)..... Eyy? (spoken Egyptian) Waysh? (Saudi/Gulf)........

Shu?(general Levantine)...... Ash-No'? (Moroccan) etc.

Submitting....

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