Moroccan Arabic (Darija) Language Request
I know that there is going to be a MSA course released on Duolingo, but if native Arabic speakers don't use Modern Standard Arabic in their daily lives, what is the point of learning it? What they do use though are dialects. This is why I'm requesting the Arabic dialect spoken in the north of Africa. Darija is a beautiful language that has been heavily influenced by Berber, French, and Spanish. It is mainly used in Morocco (amazing country), however it is mutually intelligible with the dialect spoken in Algeria and to a lesser extent with Tunisian Arabic.
It is also the language of the remarkable singer and actor Saad Lamjarred ;). So if you are interested in this marvelous language leave a comment and rate it up! Let's see if we can catch the Duolingo team's attention!
Ana m3k akhoya! drs derija f duolingo gha tkoun haja wa3ra bzzzaff!
I don't have my Arabic keyboard on me at the moment but when typing in Maghrebi Dialect instead of MSA there are people use both the adapted Arabic script and an adapted Romanized script. If Duo does a Derija course I'd much prefer it be in Arabic script =)
Anyhow, Moroccan Arabic and Tunisian Arabic are my FAVORITE dialects of Arabic. The feeling of speaking Moroccan Derija feels so amazing because of the result of the Berber influence removing all of the short vowels from words. Some Berber dialects have many words that include zero vowels, which is a very rare linguistic trait. So when these Berber peoples learned Arabic from the incoming Arabs, they removed almost all the unnecessary short vowels and just kept the more necessary long vowels. That's how "Mar7aba" became "mr7ba", which is so much more fun to say! or "kntklm" instead of "atakalamu". After getting the hang of Derija and saying long stretches of speech full of intense consonant clusters with absolutely no vowels it feels like a superpower! And that's why I love Derija Mghribiya! It feels so liberating in the mouth!
Who said that native Arabic speakers do not use MSA? :)
That is not the case at all! I am a native speaker of Arabic who lived in various parts of the Arab world and currently teach Arabic as a foreign language outside the Arab world.
The standard variety of Arabic (commonly referred to as MSA, or fus'ha in Arabic) is used across more than 21 countries in the Middle East and north Africa and in various domains such as news broadcasts, books, novels, most political sermons, religious sermons, documentaries, brochures, street signs, some TV programs and interviews, children cartoons, some films and TV series etc. The standard variety is the variety we study at school from a young age so everyone across the Arab world is familiar with it.
When it comes to learning the language by non-native speakers (e.g. westerners) my personal experience as a teacher is that students find it easier to first learn the standard variety and then learn the dialect(s) they're interested in (if any). Standard Arabic is a good base to start and acquiring a foundation and a level of competency in it is necessary for the learner of the language.
One important issue to bear in mind when one suggests teaching a colloquial/local variety is: What variety are you going to teach? You might be interested in Darija/Moroccan, as the above post states, but others may be interested in Egyptian, which is a lot more popular throughout the Arab world predominantly due to the popularity of Egyptian media. Others may be interested in the Levant dialects, or the Khaliji ones, or perhaps the Iraqi dialect etc! So which one are you going to offer?
For all the above reasons it is always good to start with MSA, the standard and literary variety. Any Arabic language program outside the Arab world usually offers MSA as a start and may later have openings for local dialects. I think it would wise of Duolingo to follow suit.
It is important to point out here that the variations between MSA and colloquial dialects are not as vast as one may think! They mainly lie in pronunciation and vocabulary. These are easily learnt and picked up once one becomes familiar with standard Arabic.
When it comes to learning the language by non-native speakers (e.g. westerners) my personal experience as a teacher is that students find it easier to first learn the standard variety
Well, there aren't too many opportunities to do it any other way (as you indirectly mention in your penultimate paragraph). Sure, MSA has much to commend it, but there are also those for whom it isn't the best fit.
What variety are you going to teach?
I understand why a university language department or language school could be limited by this, but Duolingo isn't. "All the big ones" would be a perfectly reasonable option. It doesn't take anything like Duolingo's scale or resources to go in this direction. uTalk has Egyptian, Gulf, Lebanese, MSA, and Moroccan.
My understanding is that the dialects have simpler grammar than MSA. Given a more feasible choice, there are probably a lot more students who would pick them over MSA to start with than do currently for this and any number of other reasons. It's just that there's not really much of a choice.
Yes, I agree that Duolingo should not be limited to only one variety. However, the discussion here was on whether to have MSA or a colloquial dialect as a starting point (since this is where we are at this point in time). I suggested MSA as a necessary foundation for the aforementioned reasons.
In addition, the reality is that (despite the overwhelming demand and for unknown reasons) it has clearly taken so many years for an Arabic Duolingo course to emerge. We do not know if more Arabic courses will come out and when. This makes the question of 'which variety' quite relevant.
In relation to grammar, I don't know what makes you think that the colloquial varieties have 'simpler' grammar than MSA...? In what ways do you find them 'simpler'?
As a language learner myself, simple grammar to me means a clear and logical grammar system with the least amount of peculiarities and exceptions. That pretty much describes the Grammar and Morphology systems of (standard) Arabic which learners highly enjoy and find intellectually stimulating.
Colloquial dialects have their own systems of syntax and grammar of course. However, with these you will find a lot less resources (including textbooks, grammar guides etc) perhaps due to the fact that they are not widely used in written material and are generally perceived unfavourably by the native speakers (pls. research Diglossia for Ferguson, Fishman and others).
I tried to find where I saw this, but I couldn't. Duolingo said that they were only going to do standard Arabic.
The official course request thread has entries for different "dialects" of Arabic. Years ago the CEO said he didn't want to have separate courses for different varieties of Spanish. The from-Arabic courses, obviously enough, teach using MSA. From what I can tell these two facts have combined to take on something of a life of their own, appearing whenever discussions of "dialects" come up, despite the completely different linguistic realities in play. Duolingo has courses for both Norwegian and Swedish; it can certainly have courses for more than one variety of Arabic.
Moroccan Arabic is a subdialect of Maghrebi Arabic, and the Maghrebi dialects are mostly mutually intelligible, so saying that "Maghrebi and Moroccan Arabic are not" mutually intelligible isn't the best example of the lack of mutual intelligibility across Arabic. Maybe "Maghrebi and Hejazi are not" or "Maghrebi and Levantine are not" would be better.
Wow I had no idea that was just a rumour that Luis said there would be no Arabic dialects. I've seen that posted so many times that I thought that was for real, but I have been holding onto hope that they would change their minds a year or two after releasing MSA (if they ever "eventually" do...)
Here's the famous Luis comment. Why people think this is relevant to discussions of Arabic varieties I really don't know, but it gets referenced.
There is the mention in the course request page about MSA being "Duolingo's variety of Arabic." Thing is, I think I may have seen a comment from Luis or a staff member actually addressing Arabic, but it was only about what variety of Arabic is used in the from-Arabic courses. I'm no Arabic expert, but from what I know MSA is just the obvious choice there, so it'd be far from informative on what varieties might eventually be taught as target languages.
Furthermore, it seems like Duolingo has "no plans" to develop any language until approximately the day it lands in the incubator — all the more so for languages that are probably on the back burner until the script-teaching facilities being developed for Japanese are finally available on the web. Of course, somebody could well come along and point me to some statement I'm not aware of, at which point I would change my tune.
Wow, thanks for the info!
Hmmm. Yes of course.
I think that MSA is definitely the best way to come closest pleasing the most people if only one course is done, so MSA should be the first Arabic as a target language course that Duolingo should do. But if they move on to dialect courses after MSA those will be the most exciting to me. =)
Just so you know, I actually saw something on a forum or discussion put out by admin that said they had no plans on ever doing anything besides standard Arabic. I never heard about the Spanish thing until I read it from your comment.
I suspect you're referring to the course request discussion, which isn't actually from admin and says "no plan," not "no plan ever." If you pay attention to Duo "PR" and what actually happens long enough, things for which there is "no plan" today have a way of happening tomorrow. I'm sure it's true there is no plan for Arabic dialects; I bet there's no "plan" for MSA in Duo-think. They've merely promised to add it.
I would like to drop a comment in support of this course.
I saw the master post of requested courses says that Arabic dialects other than Standard Arabic will not be developed, and I seriously hope that you will reconsider.
I am writing as a non-native speaker who learned Standard Arabic and other dialects for over a decade.
For anyone interested in learning the Arabic language for travel or to communicate with a specific community or interested in music or pop culture, learning a specific country's dialect is ideal. Standard Arabic is important if you are learning for academic purposes or interested in books or religion or understanding news broadcasts.
I saw it recommended that all learners should learn standard Arabic first and then a spoken Arabic dialect. However, it can take a ridiculous amount of time to master fusha before you can begin learning and then acclimating to a spoken dialect. If your main motivations for learning the language are the former, this daunting process will take years and can be very discouraging to once enthusiastic learners who want to understand average day to day speech.
The reality is that dialects are very distinct from one another: there is a reason why for example the Mango languages app has separate courses for four different Arabic dialects (Standard, Levantine, Iraqi, and Egyptian.) Besides that, the resources available to learn the spoken Arabic dialects are unfortunately underdeveloped in comparison to the standard and it would be great to see one of the most popular apps support them.
Beyond that, Moroccan Darija is one of the Arabic dialects to get the least exposure worldwide despite its large community in diaspora in Europe and elsewhere and it would be amazing to see more people have the opportunity to learn it.
Most importantly I really want to learn it.
i would be interested in a courses in some of the more divergent Arabic dialects.
but [i hope] MSA is not useless...
"if native Arabic speakers don't use Modern Standard Arabic in their daily lives, what is the point of learning it?"
they still understand it, and most Arabic media is in MSA.
like in Switzerland they speak their own dialect of German, i could not understand it, but speaking to people there in standard German resulted in responses in extra slow and clear standard German with small words. Whereas trying to speak English on the French side... i do not recommend trying to speak English to French speakers.
Moroccan, Egyptian, or Levantine Arabic would be a great addition to Modern Standard Arabic. It would extend the usefulness of the language.